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The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly. – Frederick Nietzsche

There are times I feel on the periphery of life, that life is an illusion, and not feeling a part of it is, perhaps, less illusory. I’ve heard the theory that our dream life is more real than our waking life. Much of the time, I feel I am living in a liminal state on the threshold of a great adventure.

On the other hand, sitting in my chair twenty-two hours a day, does not preclude me from experiencing a vital and extraordinary life. I thoroughly enjoy the care and relationship with my caregivers, family, and friends. They know how important they are to me and how much I love them. They also know that I love my alone time. I tell them, I love when you come and I love when you go. This statement often relieves any concern they might have about leaving me alone, as I add, I am good company.

Some of my time is spent connecting with people online, supporting people experiencing grief, change, or even perilous challenges in their lives. I enjoy listening to podcasts, my friends’ blogs, archival news programs, or advocating for the latest issue I feel passionate about contacting senators, congressmen, or other officials. I call my chair command central.

The fly can survive the harshest living conditions and still manage to feed, grow, and breed. It is one tough survivor and plays a vital role in the cycle of life. Sometimes I feel like a fly on the wall of life. Often there is sadness when I cannot connect with my family when desired or when I feel out of sync with their lives. If I could fly and visit them on the East  Coast and share their lives, that might be a different story. Recently, I read a book by Robert Monroe titled, Journey Out of the Body, published in 1971, about the author experimenting with separating from his physical body. He was a scientist and took meticulous, contemporaneous notes. When he finally achieved his goal, his hand went through the wall feeling multiple layers of texture until he was on the other side of the wall and could journey freely without the encumbrance of his physical body.

Lately, when I think of myself as a fly on the wall, instead of feeling like there is a wall between myself and others, this wall is beginning to thin, to become permeable. It feels more like a portal, a sacred threshold leading to a sense of freedom I have never felt before in this lifetime. Intuitively, I just know on the other side of the wall is an expanded space of connection and love.

When I was a child, I used to have flying dreams. I could leap from building to building. Flying dreams are common, but often diminish through our lives. I wonder if, as one nears the end of one’s life, these dreams reawaken. Perhaps there is a Knowing that’s getting evoked, like recovering a memory.

People ask me how I could possibly feel so calm, so accepting of my physical circumstance. I sometimes sense a recollection of plans made prior to this lifetime. They are not vivid memories, but more allegorical. The feeling that I am in exactly the right place, doing exactly the right thing, is quite literal.

It is, perhaps, this knowing that gives me the peace and calm that is perceived by others and it is, perhaps, this Knowing that forms a bridge from this reality of matter to the numinous.

Soon enough I will get my wings and fly away from this beautiful life, this identity, this extraordinary curriculum I have so dearly cherish. And in that Knowing, I have no doubt I will assist my loved ones from the other side and be like a fly on the wall, ever persistent and ever present.

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“One world is dying, and another is being born. Let us attend to both with compassion.” Marianne WilliamsonDan-and-Terri-in-MauiSMALL

Terri Daniel became a friend in 2011 after I read her fascinating journey with her son Daniel. At ten, Daniel was diagnosed with a rare neurological illness, much like ALS. Terri was his primary caregiver for the remaining six years of his life. For the last two Daniel could not speak. Terri learned to communicate with Daniel telepathically, so that after he transitioned at sixteen, the communication resumed and they have now written three books together.

Their first book, Swan In Heaven affirmed a revolution in me that was well underway, internally. Daniel disseminated profound teachings, one of which has informed much of my understanding of my process of late. Daniel described a “mirror image” process, where when one dies and their breathing diminishes, on the other side the diminished breath manifests as light. So as the breath from the human body dissipates, the light gets stronger in Spirit, “until the last breath closes one door and opens the other.” I have realized that as my functioning decreases in this denser form, my Light is increasing in function and Beingness. For me, the apt metaphor is one of being birthed. The only experience I can compare this to what is watching a filly being born on our horse farm in Louisiana. With each contraction, the filly was more a part of our realm.

My respiration is greatly diminished, but my Spirit is getting stronger every day. The home health nurse is always astonished at the shallowness of my breath. Also, living at 8000 feet altitude diminishes my breath even further. The introduction of any errant bug can be the catalyst for my transition at any moment. Living on the edge has its challenges and its rewards. The more I reflect on the latter, the more regenerative and joyful my life is.

Moving toward one’s end-of-life can be traversed abruptly or slowly. Some people believe how one proceeds is predetermined prior to incarnating. How free will can interplay with this predetermination can alter the trajectory. We are just beginning to understand what can be called the last frontier.

Exploring my feelings surrounding this transition can bring varying degrees of fear and panic, until I realize everybody does it. We are all birthed into this physical existence, like the filly and we are all birthed out. They are the most natural processes. If you believe in reincarnation, which I do, I have probably done it hundreds, maybe thousands of times. Amnesia, chosen on a soul level, makes it seem new every time, allowing the teachings to be integrated on a deep level.

Thinking about who and what I am leaving brings tremendous grief in the limited knowing sphere. I completely believe that we really don’t go anywhere, we just vibrate at a higher frequency, making it harder to perceive. I told my children they will just have to learn to listen better. Terri learned to listen to Danny better. Imagining where I am going, seems adventurous. I have had a vision from long ago of an amphitheater on an ocean that feels familiar. I know this is a sacred place beyond this frequency. I just know it. I have always felt there will be a great celebration when I cross over and there will be much support, as I will continue to be a support for my loved ones, family and friends.

When I remember to focus on my destination, I become joyful. I am thankful for the sacred trailblazers who are compassionate enough to show us the Way.


“We each have distinct karma and basic elemental natures that shape our unique journey in this one, single lifetime towards that loving intention. But I think this is what we are about–to embody as much love from Source as possible while here with the cards we’re dealt.” -Kathryn Brady

unknownDuring a concert at my home I casually mentioned anger at my former husband for leaving our relationship of eleven years. The male musicians exclaimed in unison and perfect harmony, “I’m angry at him, too!” It was obvious that they didn’t even know David and the room broke out into laughter. The spontaneity of the solidarity surprised and comforted me.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. These musicians who had volunteered their time for a private concert on my behalf have known their share of heart breaks. The energy in the room was electric with empathy and love. The moment made me reflect upon that relationship, the relationship which would be my last partnership, with my last companion for this lifetime. It wasn’t that I was so sad to see him go, but more that I was so sad to let our life go.

It was in that relationship where I finally was able to realize some of the adventures I had always sought in previous relationships. David helped me to hold the container for a life full of adventures, like camping, horseback riding, long road trips and things I had never thought I would be able to experience. Now that I live alone in the wilderness, knowing many other powerful wilderness women, I wonder where that insecurity could possibly have come from. After all, I had ridden my own motorcycle to Key West, jumped off mountains in California on a zip line and learned to jump horses in my 50s.

Granted, David was a warrior in the outdoors. After all, he had been a geophysicist, a public school teacher and was able to operate any heavy machinery needed. He taught me how to hook up, load a horse and pull a horse trailer by myself. I had no reluctance to do so, in fact, I was excited to add this to my repertoire. In our life together, this skill was required.

David could fix anything. And when we connected, many of my things were broken and needed to be fixed; and fix them he did. David appreciated being helpful. What was strong and unbroken, however, was my heart and spirit having just spent three years recovering from a relationship so devastating that it forced me to reflect on the quality of all previous relationships. To do so, I had chosen to extricate myself from romantic relationships in order to focus on the most important relationship, the relationship to Self.

Right from the beginning of our relationship, I was upfront with David about the concerns around my physical body. Along with many of my material items needing to be fixed, I needed a breast biopsy and abdominal surgery for fibroid tumors. Ever since being a young child, I tended to somaticize emotional issues. This gave me much material to address psychologically and many physical issues to deal with medically.

David really tried to be helpful around my physical vulnerabilities, but he was much more capable around the mechanical items. His caring was never an issue, his ability to express that caring was considerably limited. In my opinion, and realize that I am not the most objective reporter, when partners in his life were physically and emotionally vulnerable, David left.

I’m not sure whether my children so vehemently disliked my former husband, because they perceived that he left me when I most needed him, or because he never really was able to connect with them on an emotional level. Perhaps both are true. In the spirit of not tossing the baby out with the bath water, I would like to honestly visit what this relationship was to me.

I met David at the Gurdgieff school during the early 90s when I was entering this work. We were with our respective spouses and I cannot say there was any connection between us beyond the surface level. Fast forward five or six years and two divorces, when he brought an at risk student to the mental health clinic where I was employed. Still, no connection beyond colleagues with the intention to save an adolescent from imploding. A few years later we connected at a play in our neighboring community. At this point he asked me to dinner and a movie. We were slow to connect, but there was something gentle and deep about him.

As I previously mentioned, I had just spent three years consciously turning inward for the first time in my life, forging a relationship with my deepest Self, something I had resisted until, as Anaïs Nin wrote, “…the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” I wasn’t sure about this new person, but I was encouraged vehemently by others whom I trusted, so I continued to explore this connection.

I never really knew myself until I was nearly fifty, so how could I know what was deeply fulfilling in a significant relationship? I would suspect that most people know themselves better than I did. I was a slow learner, after all, my first husband was a Republican who told me the Holocaust never happened. How well could I really have known myself then? My second husband and I shared a deep love and grew a lot together, but he wasn’t wild about being outdoors. He would play racquetball, occasionally, serving with his left hand, which was accommodating, but his idea of camping was staying in the Holiday Inn. With both of these men I had my children for which I am tremendously grateful. And I had a beautiful stepdaughter who initiated me into the teenage years. They all enriched my life tremendously.

When I connected with him, David lived on a peninsula in a pristine Louisiana cypress swamp draped with Spanish moss in a house he built with no running water. Along with our outdoors activities we soon realized we both shared a deep love for horses. We began going on weekend field trips to visit different farms. We began riding and eventually purchased a horse for each of us. When the boarding expense became too great, we purchased a small horse farm in the neighboring village. When the commute became too difficult, for example, when a horse’s life was in danger and required instant attention from us and a veterinarian, we decided to move to a larger farm where we could live on the premises.

9We began boarding other people’s horses and developed a horse community. At this point in my life, surrounded by many animals and like minded people, riding and showing, practicing psychotherapy, driving weekly to sing in my interracial gospel choir in New Orleans, I was living my dream. Concurrently, I was being chased by an unknown specter, a progressive life-threatening degenerative illness. The weakness was progressing steadily as I tried to enjoy every minute I was afforded.

In all fairness, this was not a minor vulnerability. David had to retrieve me off the floor many times and fix many fences that I drove the tractor into when losing coordination. It was not a pretty sight and certainly not for the faint of heart. David was extremely strong, but this strength manifested on a physical level and what was being stretched was on the emotional level.

The majority of marriages with a degenerative, life-threatening illness end in divorce, especially if the husband is the caregiver. Regardless of why this is, it just is. In our situation, we waited too long to ask for help. We could not foresee the level of disability I would incur, not in our wildest dreams. And I was so focused on healing physically, that the alternative was not even an option for either of us. When we were married in 2004, I was already limping. My default feeling has always tended to be fear versus anger. I was terrified. I desperately wanted David to fix this situation and David thought that if he loved me enough, I would heal physically.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have realized that there was a greater healing possible. The wisdom I have accrued from finding the courage to face this challenge head-on can be summarized in this quote I wrote in my book:

“When we talk about healing, what does this mean in its greatest sense? Does it mean the body heals? Does it mean that we feel better? What I have learned in my journey, is that true healing means bringing oneself to wholeness, understanding the totality of our existence; finding love from the inside out.”

From this older and wiser vantage point, it is clear that I needed to do this curriculum on my own. I do not believe a curricula this demanding could at all be arbitrary. I have come to feel in my cells that this is for my highest evolution and for the evolution of those around me.

So, to set the record straight, we all have done the best we could. This invisible taskmaster has demanded it all from each one of us, including and especially my children who were unaware of my unspeakable demand during that accelerated time and forgiveness from that time is my prayer.

“You wait a lifetime to meet someone who understands you, accepts you as you are. At the end, you find that someone, all along, has been you.” -Richard Bach

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Siegfried Zademack

I recently shared with my dear friend Alice, who is on a similar Journey as me, that with this illness I believe we are being brought into greater balance. The personal journeying she has shared with me recently has affirmed this Knowing. I wanted to share some of my deep, personal balancing.

I have been particularly touched by a couple I have known for some time, who has been journeying through MS together. One has the illness, but they are together in their commitment of seeing this curriculum through. After David left, I communicated with Stephen to ask what enables him to stay. His response was so profound and personal that I will not share it on a blog; suffice it to say that he expressed reverence and deep love in his serving. Hearing his perspective gave me so much hope for humankind and appreciation for these friends whose lives are unexplainably interconnected with mine.

From time to time, we check in with each other to share strategies and mutual respect. As I near the end of my ten week commitment to The Presence Process* with this week’s theme being, I FORGIVE MYSELF, what keeps coming up is that I need to forgive myself for having this illness. Everything else has been forgiven, but this last piece seems intransigent.

During our most recent communication, I must have shared my pain and disappointment about traversing this journey alone in contrast to their shared path. There have been so many similarities and synchronicities along our respective paths, it is surely not a coincidence.

But for me, David left. Stephen expressed something remarkable to me. “… dearest Aliyah, I have fallen for you in a way I cannot explain. Somehow there is a sisterhood of like souls on similar voyages and somehow the two of you have me on the same liferaft. You make it easier for me to care for [my wife]. I feel that I could be with you in your situation with perfect ease…” That last line was the clincher. I could not stop sobbing. He had struck a nerve. Pun intended.

I was able to see the part of me that is so balled up and black that I cannot possibly be lovable. After all, David adored me and he could not leave fast enough. As I sat with the pain in my being, and allowed myself to soften and expand around this pain, I realized that it was myself that I could not forgive. Somehow, this invitation allowed me to see the deepest judgment I held was for myself: I had been so cruel to my mother when she was sick for ten years of my young life. My mother has long since forgiven me, but I had not forgiven me! My healing with this illness has involved revisiting the primary relationship with my mother, as I have described in much detail in previous blogs.

It has taken Stephen’s kindness and devotion for me to access that place that we can perhaps call the missing piece. I also understand why I could never maintain a primary relationship and simultaneously do my deepest healing. I would fetishize and romanticize the love from others to protect myself from touching into this blackness. I had to hear love from another person, but also someone from the same liferaft. It is a wondrous process to unlock the depths of where we cannot love ourselves.

It is by entering our deepest wounds where illness can sometimes be just the medicine we need for bringing us into greater balance.

*a book by Michael Brown

“We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.”–Thich Nhat Hanh

HealingMandala.jpg.w300h300When we talk about healing, what does this mean in its greatest sense? Does it mean the body heals? Does it mean that we feel better? What I have learned in my journey, is that true healing means bringing oneself to wholeness, understanding the totality of our existence; finding love from the inside out.

In my particular situation, I needed to understand that I was not my body. My body is, however, a vehicle to understand the totality of my soul. This can be mind-boggling, because we are not our minds either. The purpose of our physical incarnation is to have experiences and evolve. This in turn will grow and enrich our souls.

Many people who are born at this time, have chosen to enter into a challenging time in history, to be a helper. A light worker can be identified by taking on challenging circumstances and following it through to completion, or transformation.

In order to transform suffering, one has to enter the energy form of the suffering; the greatest healing happens from within the same vibrational frequency. Sometimes the healing manifests within the body, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the heart comes to completion and the body dies. Some of the most profound healings happen when people face their mortality. To limit the concept of healing to the physical body is reductive. Some of the deepest healings I’ve witnessed were when people were working with life-threatening illnesses that were degenerative and irreversible.

Some people believe that certain souls choose to take on significant challenges in order to move themselves and their soul families forward in their evolutionary trajectory. If this sort of curriculum is consciously chosen by the higher self and physical healing is not a part of the program,   and acceptance and joy can be attained, the transformational value is immeasurable.

There are many who believe in the orthodoxy of the “law of attraction.” This is a valid truth, but one needs to consider that sometimes the soul attracts what is in the individual’s highest good, not necessarily what the ego wants. My ego would never have chosen this curriculum. But, in retrospect, and in view of the bigger picture prospective, I acknowledge my courage and growth and the evolution of those my life has touched.

Healing is a complex, mysterious and Sacred Journey. In expanding one’s understanding of true healing, our soul’s capacity for love and empathy expands. And, according to me, my fellow travelers and the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

half-cracked-3-500x360As they say in Louisiana, “it’s a gone pecan.” Now you have to pronounce the nut like the previous word so that they rhyme. It’s gone and nothing can bring it back.

I wrote a blog entry about The True Meaning of Healing. I worked long and hard, doing most of the editing myself, manually, which is not an easy feat these days. I felt proud and encouraged. I chose to delay the publishing for a later date to allow for more time between entries and to give myself a rest. Yesterday, the blog entry about the meaning of true healing disappeared into thin air. I waited for a caregiver to try to save it, but unbeknownst to me, it was merely a phantom of the draft I had laboriously crafted. With one click, it disappeared into cyberspace forever.

I spent the evening in what Elisabeth Kubler-Ross clearly delineated, bargaining, depression, anger with a faint hint of acceptance on the horizon, perhaps in a day or two. Not only was my beautifully roasted pecan gone, but the uncertainty of how this could possibly happen has stayed in the air. What is to keep it from happening again? I am once again thrust into the experience of impermanence. The ego vehemently affirms the existence of matter, no matter what.

During week two of The Presence Process, we are asked to spend the week sensing how we become triggered by reflections in the present moment that have roots in the past. Even though I am on week three, I am experiencing the felt-perception of loss. The sense of helplessness was overwhelming after I acknowledged that the blog entry was gone forever. Nothing is going to bring it back, nothing will restore the nerve pathways from my spinal cord to my muscles; certainly not during this lifetime or in this body. Gone pecan.

All that can be done is mourning. People avoid mourning at all costs. Without the ability to mourn, one cannot move on into something greater. In my meditation, unrelated to the presence process, I heard that it was necessary to strip me of the healing blog entry, in order to be raw for another writing about the lack of physical nurturing in my early life. Did I like to hear this? No. Does it make sense? Yes.

It would be easy for me to go into the story of, “I have lost so much, why now this? Why me?” And that story leads into, “it’s just not worth it, why don’t I just give up now?” Fortunately and unfortunately I cannot get away with this archaic sort of drama anymore. I have developed too much presence for that.

So, for now I will continue to mourn my blog entry, the wonderful quote I selected that introduces the entry and the energy it took to complete it mostly myself. That is all gone and I will listen to the nudging of my inner voice to bring my rawness, vulnerability and authenticity to a gut wrenching entry about Touch, or the lack thereof. So, goodbye to the gone pecan. I hope you will be happy wherever you are, lost in cyberspace.

helpless--large-msg-114970372439-2“One who looks outside, dreams; one who looks inside, awakes.”–Carl Jung

Alone and helpless, that was my greatest fear…always; the paradox of having so much love around me, yet feeling none. Maybe that was my deepest Work for this lifetime; maybe power was a secondary teaching.

Right after I wrote the blog entry about pain as an ally, there was a loud pop in my back that rendered me immobile, more immobilized than I had been. I thought I was vulnerable before, but this is a whole new level of vulnerability. A very wise young woman, Elise, named the syndrome the “I’ve got this” syndrome. She is gracefully working with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Well, I thought I had this. That is, until I realized I didn’t. I am not an alarmist, but we called 911. It was not a little knuckle crack; it was a whole joint that dislocated and tore a ligament. I hope it went back into place.

Alone and helpless. That is the absolute opposite expression of my true reality. I have had at least fifteen visitors in the last two days, maybe more. And they are not just casual visitors, but lovers of Love. With all of the love around me, I felt unsupported. How could that possibly be?

I woke up with no internet, no communication. At least, the disconnection must have happened during the night because multiple e-mails were ready to be responded to. None of my e-mail would send; that’s how I realized I had no connection. This disruption has been happening more frequently lately. Sometimes, however, I can text through Skype when my Internet is down. I wrote to Kirsten. It was 6 AM and she responded immediately. We watched the sun come up over Mount Blanca together.

From there, I entered my sacred meditation cave, a metaphor for going inside. I felt all of the love around me and the blockage to letting it in, that could be named “unworthiness.” The sense of unworthiness seemed to be secondary to the fear generated by this injury. It doesn’t matter how much love is around me and love is in me, when that thin veneer of unworthiness is present, it is impenetrable. It is humbling to be this far on the path and to feel this familiar intransigence.

As I began to dismantle the blockage, I noticed my appetite beginning to be regained which is a good sign, so this is recovery in real time. With awareness brings consciousness; the veneer is breaking down, cracks allow the love in. The lower back, the place of not feeling supported [by the Universe], the illusion of unworthiness was clearly keeping the support from being realized.

I used to look outside of myself to be saved from this pattern, to feel Loved, to feel lovable. I now know that this place of feeling loved can only be accessed from the inside. What I am realizing now is that “I got this” is from the limited ego, the part of me that is alive and well. “WE got this,” is the elixir, the cure. I am a microparticle of a gazillion microparticles, and we are all LOVE.

I don’t know if I will be able to return to “my baseline” physically. With this curriculum, nothing is a given; nothing is known. All I know is that I now feel connected to my Self and something greater than myself. The rest is incidental, as my mother used to say.

The Journey continues…..

butterfly

Lynne Kaplan Artography

“Most of the pain we feel is nothing more than a story that needs telling.”
― Ashly Lorenzana

depression

One of the most feared effects of suffering is the experience of bodily pain. I’ve been fortunate to have relatively little neurogenic pain despite having a progressive, degenerative illness. Besides neurogenic pain, there are other forms of pain common in chronic illness caused by inflammation, such as joint pain, effects of disuse atrophy, and more. I specifically designed my diet to exclude foods that are inflammatory. I’ve gone to great lengths to do food sensitivity testing in addition to avoiding known foods that cause inflammation.

I had much more joint pain prior to my dietary changes. For many people with autoimmune issues, a Paleolithic diet excluding dairy and gluten have remediated the symptoms, and in some cases reversed the illness completely. Unfortunately, this was not the case for me. When this became clear, I knew my healing needed to be on a deeper level.

Minimizing daily pain has not only included dietary changes, but riding a motorized stationary bike three times a week to increase circulation and promote skin health. Despite all of my strategizing, there are times that pain is unavoidable. I have undergone various medical interventions that were extremely painful including three abdominal surgeries. There were many less conventional interventions I underwent that were experimental in treating MS, like eight hours of venoplasty to open constrictions in the venous system which was thought to exacerbate progression of the illness. In India, I had a minimum of two injections per day and at least three epidural procedures over eight day durations.

Changing my relationship to pain has been a recurring theme on this healing journey through the body. One of the central teachings has been that I am not my body. I used to believe that I was my body, being identified with my reliable physicality. I used to believe that I thought with my brain. I now feel that I “think” more with my heart than my head. In going through this transformation in belief, my intuition has become stronger and wiser. My relational interactions come more from my heart, more from an inspired place. My work with my clients and friends has become clearer, more heartfelt and effective in encouraging their evolution.

When I think of what has been my greatest ally in learning to separate from the belief that I am my body, I realize that pain has been a master teacher. There have been times when I have experienced pain from pressure sores and couldn’t move for multiple hours due to my disability; there was no way to alleviate the pain. Choosing to live alone, that is a significant consideration. During those times when I could not turn away from the pain, I learned to be present with it. It has been during these times that I realized that there is a part of me NOT experiencing the pain.

This has been a significant practice, developing the “I” separate from the pain. I can remember in childhood having to be wrestled to the floor by the doctor in order to receive an injection. Our tolerance to physical pain increases as we mature. I believe that this is the process of lessening our identification with our physical bodies.

Facilitators like Steven Levine, in the area of death and dying, have been teaching medications to assist people in dis–identifying with extreme pain successfully for many decades. As we identify less as a human body and more as a soul being, our human drama and suffering decreases as our consciousness evolves. This is part of the progression that will assist us when we are ready to make the ultimate transition, to drop our bodies and return Home.