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StephanieStephanie–the Way of the Bodhisattva**

On Sunday, my dear friend Stephanie left her body after a lifetime of illness and activism. She developed a worldwide network to support people with PJS, or Peutz–jeghers syndrome, a genetic birth anomaly that often leads to cancer.

Stephanie was an AIDS and cancer activist, a natural death proponent, and an educator, encouraging living life to the fullest, no matter one’s circumstances or longevity.

Stephanie reached out to me more than a year ago after reading all the archives of my blog, no small feat. Stephanie heard deeply the themes in my essays. She recommended readings including academic papers to support my theories. Stephanie met me where I was and this is one of her many gifts to humanity.*

Three days before Stephanie left her body, she wrote to me, “I love this time of grace when I turn from this world toward a bigger world where I live now. I am giving up my computer to move toward God and moving closer toward the door called death.”

Stephanie said goodbye and encouraged me to shift my attention when I am ready to make this journey. Always the teacher, always the lover of life.

We connected in our love of life and of helping humanity in whatever way we could. We recognized kindred spirits and we were amazed at the depth of love we shared in this unconventional, cyber way.

Godspeed, Stephanie and I will see you in a flash.

* If you would like hear an audio interview of Stephanie, http://tns.commonweal.org/podcasts/stephanie-sugars/#.WDRk66PMyYU

**She has carried many and now she is being carried. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzPTHstpJ2I

Here is a video made by Stephanie’s friends: https://youtu.be/JaaNVKIsffQf

“We never face death unless death unequivocally faces us.” -Christine Longacre

Freedom three

As many of my friends and readers know about me, power has been a significant, rigorous teacher in my life. I believe we are here to work on a particular life lesson or lessons during our lifetimes. For me, the struggle between trusting my own power and abdicating my power has been a recurring theme that shaped my sense of self and ultimately formed my emotional and spiritual well-being. Ignoring these teachings had catastrophic effects on my psyche which led to profound anxiety and depression. Much like playing the childhood game with my brother, “You’re getting warmer, you’re getting colder…” the symptoms shaped a more powerful me. Eventually, abdicating my power began to manifest very subtly in my physical body, where I could no longer ignore it.

Perhaps the source of this illness is arbitrary and abdication of power is not the pernicious cause I suspect, but, regardless, I am in the end-stage of a degenerative, neurological illness which has rendered me unable to move any muscle below my neck. Eating meals results in choking and aspirating which indicates the need for a feeding tube, or gastrostomy if one is to prolong life.

My first professional job was to set up a social service program in a children’s home for profoundly disabled children, facing the end of their lives. These children were given blended foods forced directly into their stomachs with a syringe. They could not taste the foods and also could not object. These were the choices of the medical establishment made in concert with the families in the 70s. I have chosen to not have a feeding tube. There is no right or wrong. In my opinion, the power to choose is not just a right, but necessary for the liberation of my soul. Autonomy has always been important to me; I found my power and my voice by exercising my own right to make my own choices.

Another potentially life-threatening symptom is weakness of my core muscles, resulting in shallow breathing and accelerated heart rate. I choose to live at 8000 feet altitude, despite the breathing difficulties. Again, my choice. It may not be the choice of others, but we live in a pluralistic society of diversity. It is important for me to honor other people’s choices as well as my own. Elimination is another bodily function I cannot perform on my own. Other people’s choices may include a colostomy. I choose to draw a line where others might make other choices for themselves. Isn’t that everybody is right?

My hometown is aesthetically beautiful and offers a caring, intimate community that will accommodate my specific needs, being housebound and bedridden. As a psychotherapist, my love of group dynamics can manifest in this caring, progressive community. I participate in or lead nine groups per month from my chair I call “command central.” Quality of life is more important to me than quantity. My family understands this about me and they are supportive. Ironically, when I was a competitive athlete with many blue ribbons, I never felt as powerful as I do now despite being unable to move a muscle.

A wave of options is moving through the country, state by state. In Colorado it is called the Colorado End-of-life Options Act which has been sensitively and thoughtfully crafted. Organizations that oppose this movement consider these options to be assisted suicide. In suicide, the person wants to die. Assisted suicide is illegal and will continue to be illegal. In my profession, I “talked people off the ledge,” which I was extremely successful doing; you just had to show them some hope. With a terminal illness, people want to live, but death is imminent. In order to qualify, the bill requires two different physicians to assess that the individual will likely die within six months. There is a fear that coercion could be a concern. If one physician suspects coercion or an inability for the person to make an informed decision for themselves, a referral is made to a licensed mental health professional for counseling. In my opinion, patients vulnerable to coercion by family members will unfortunately have that dynamic regardless of the increased options available. A hospice or care team, led by the physician should know the patient well enough to provide the necessary protocols to support the individual and family at this vulnerable time. The end-of-life option is for the purpose of lessening pain and suffering at the end of one’s life by prolonged, ineffective Herculean medical efforts.

I have seen families devastated and overwhelmed by the pressure to prolong their loved one’s life, but instead end up prolonging their pain and suffering which, in fact, diminishes their quality of life. These families have been devastated by the unnecessary medical treatments, literally torturing their loved ones while they take their last breaths in agony. I do not choose this for myself, my family or my loved ones.

From what I understand about the trajectory of my illness, my life will end with either suffocation from choking, sepsis from pressure sores or pneumonia. I have executed a DNR that precludes hospitalization for these circumstances, however each will involve tremendous suffering for myself or loved one. The Colorado End of life Options Act would provide comfort and empowerment during my final transition. No one is required to use this option, but everyone deserves the right. Support our politicians to vote yes on HB 16 – 024 and SB 16 – 1054 and let our last breath be  taken with love and peace.

 

“Joy is something deeper than a feeling. Joy is a gift deep within. It cannot be rocked by the sound of an alarm clock or by pain.” –Elise Charbonnet Anglette (Casey’s beloved childhood friend fiercely confronting aggressive breast cancer with her husband and 6 beloved youngens. Google her, she will change your life.)

5 Days in the Life of an Addict:*

Day 1– I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I feel lost… I feel helpless. It isn’t my fault! I’m not responsible. It takes forever to find a way out.
Day 2– I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I and I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m back in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. I don’t feel responsible. It takes a long time to get out.
Day 3– I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in… it’s a habit. But my eyes are open, I know where I am. It is my fault. I am responsible. I get out very quickly.
Day 4– I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Day 5– I walk down a different street. This parable is profound when we take it in deeply. I will discuss this more later.   ~Author unknown

 *Note: Addict, to me is anyone who is in a human body. My favorite definition of addiction is anything that is between you and God or Source.
by Kathryn Greene Brady

by Kathryn Green Brady

 

In the afterlife and near-death experience communities it is almost cliché to talk about life review, but for the initiated, life review is an essential part of returning to the Spirit world, our true and eternal Home. For those who have had near-death experiences or NDEs life review is a way of integrating the work of the lifetime just completed. It is a time to assess the work done, how it was done, what is still to be learned and more. During this time, our guides and ascended Masters meet us in loving collaboration. During that time, from what I have read and experienced in meditation, there is no judgment. The only judgment we experience is our own internal remorse that we may carry. From what I understand, there is only unconditional love at Home. It is coming to this Earth school in human bodies where judgment is experienced.

Having this long-term, intractable illness has allowed for an elongated process of life review for which I have received much assistance. I have gratitude for all the support I have received throughout my life which has allowed me to be of help to others. Receiving help and helping had gone hand-in-hand. I have much gratitude for my helpers along my journey, both incarnate and discarnate. Without the assistance and my openness to that assistance I would have been much less helpful to others. So for my helpers, my openness and helpees, I am deeply grateful.

The hole represents a questioning of whether this illness was necessary or whether it caused needless harm to myself and/or my loved ones. Just entering the latter thought makes my stomach turn with grief and anxiety. That is my hole. In a totally open, vulnerable moment in my life I acknowledged to a beloved teacher, while practically on my knees in a proverbial sense, that, “I want to give more than I take while in this life.” I had never consciously thought about this, but it came from the deepest part of my heart and soul. Likewise, it reveals my deepest vulnerability, that perhaps I did not fulfill this prayer, this deep yearning.

This inner questioning has provided an opportunity to explore the value of this illness in my life. It has stimulated a deep exploration that has required much meditation and dreamtime; this process has yielded much benefit. I cry with deep gratitude as I describe this sacred process. And this is what I have learned thus far:

One of my newest helpers, a shamanic practitioner, while in trance acknowledged that I, in fact, did not have to have this illness which triggered much emotional material for me to grapple with. Ironically, I found myself in the very hole the author described in the parable above. I was humbled to see that the hole is still a vulnerable place for me. I was both appreciative and humbled to have this opportunity to revisit this vulnerability, mostly because when I leave, I want to be as complete as I am able.

Not much is in my way of a conscious, liberating transition into Freedom. That is what I am going toward; that is what we are all going for. In my opinion, any vulnerability can be an obstacle toward this freedom. And obstacles are places where deeper self-love can be cultivated.

In the parable, it occurs to me that this illness afforded me the opportunity to become adept at traversing Day 4. I can now see the hole and perhaps even walk around it. Maybe I have not walked down a different street, which may represent a life with perfect health, but a lifetime perfecting Day 4 is pretty damn awesome. I can know that I will no longer get lost in this hole of my ego’s creation. How liberating it is that?!

So thank you my Beloveds, my helpers, my helpees. As I tell my children, I will still be connecting and sharing. You just have to become better listeners.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

Vector illustration of a man in jailI watched a powerful documentary titled Serving Life, narrated by Forest Whitaker. It was filmed in Angola prison, one of the most violent prisons in the US. The Warden decreased the violence by 70% by infusing humanity into convicted murderers and sex offenders. He instituted a hospice program where the felons, acting as surrogate families, took care of each other through their final passage. Their lives were no longer focused on the life they took, but the life they served making his transition.

The closest I got to Angola penitentiary was hiking outside the prison. I have always had a difficult time being in the dense, impacted energy of prisons. I had a student intern who was placed at a local prison. My denial regarding sociopathic personality disorders rendered me vulnerable to their manipulation; prisons were not safe to my psyche. My student introduced me to interesting personalities within that particular system. One such sociopath would wait for a person to walk by his prison cell and ejaculate through the keyhole. His aim was impeccable and a message was clearly delivered. I was out of my element within the prison walls.

It would be a few years before I became initiated to finally accept the intransigence of the sociopathic personality disorder. This excruciating process was described in a previous blog entry titled Dancing With the Devil.

My first male psychotherapist named Ken had spent many years in a maximum security prison until he had systematically taken down the internal walls around his heart and the prison system could not spit him out fast enough. A certain energetic frequency needs to be maintained internally, in order for the external walls to be maintained. Once his vibration raised, his environment needed to change to attain a new equilibrium. It is merely physics.

We create self-imposed prisons based on our internal beliefs and thoughts, which is what determines our energetic frequencies. As we clear the clutter around our minds and hearts, liberation is achieved. From what I have read, which resonates through my Being, we will merge into Unity once we all heal and evolve. The ramifications of this Truth are profound, if we can grasp the reality as our own. It means we all need to help each other. No one can be left behind.

The ones who have lost their way and exhibited predatory behavior are also included in this Whole. When I see the work being done in Angola, the “bloodiest prison in America,”  I can see, without equivocation, that this is possible.