Mother

mother pin

I hesitate to write about this subject that is the first thought on my mind at 6:00 this morning. It is a subject written about, discussed and psychoanalyed perhaps more than any other. What about this primary relationship we each have with the woman from whose body we entered this life? Some never know their birth mothers while others have life-long intimate relationships. Some of us have the insight that giving birth to a child has brought to the subject. Others are left to wonder what that event brings with it to the human experience.
My mother is 89. I just returned from a visit to celebrate her recent birthday. She lives with my father in South Dakota, the state she was born in. She has lived there all her life. I have moved about, leaving South Dakota and my mother when I was 18, returning a couple of times a year for visits.
When I was a young mother she came to stay with me to help with my babies. We took a few vacations together when my children were young. Mostly our relationship was a distant one. The truth of our realities was kept from one another. I felt as if my mother didn’t want to hear any of the challenges and difficulties I came up against…that she didn’t want to know when I was sad or angry about something. The few times I attempted to engage her in conversation about something that had happened to her when I thought she might need support, I was told, “I don’t want to talk about that!” So I stopped asking.
Now she is in the final chapter of her life. She could live several more years or die tomorrow. I know that is true for me as well, but for her, the odds are she will not live more than a few years. Her memory is failing and she is getting frail. Some days she tells me that she is very tired and “doesn’t want to do this anymore.” There are also times when she engages in a way that makes me think she is enjoying herself. Mostly she is “flat”, going through the motions of her limited life without emotion. I wonder what degree of that “flatness” is the result of the medications her doctors give her.
When she is gone, in truth, not a lot will change in the appearance of my life. The deep connection that exists between my mother and me is in the invisible realms. That is the place where the truths that have never been spoken between us live as well. I’m not sure what to do with this. I feel a regret here but I cannot name it. There are no words.baby stroller

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Early Morning Pages

Ganesha

It is early morning and I am here. I am committed to writing daily for ten weeks as part of Susanna Harwood Rubin’s writing circle, “Write Your Practice-2013.” This writing circle has the added element of Yoga. Susanna is a yoga teacher and student of Hindu Mythology, a subject of long-standing interest for me.
I feel empowered by choosing to write this morning. I realize how much I missed the discipline I kept sacred for six months from January through June of this year. I stopped the practice in July as I prepared to be away from home for five weeks. I am grateful to have found the inspiration to return to my writing practice. Thank you, Susanna!
The theme for week one is “Finding Your Voice” represented by the Hindu deity and mythological being, Ganesha. Easily recognized by his elephant head, I regard Ganesha, the patron of intellect and wisdom, during this writing session. It is a common Hindu practice to honor Ganesha, the Hindu god of beginnings, at the start of a ritual or ceremony.
Today is the start of such a ritual for me. I invoke Ganesha and welcome his support in this new writing endeavor.
Susanna offered some intriguing prompts for this week’s writing. As I read through them, two stand out. The first is to explore my story through the objects around me. “In what ways is my personal creation myth represented by the objects I choose to have near me? What do those objects have to tell about themselves and about me?”
The second concept that attracts me is, “Always be poised at a threshold and then move through it – embrace change.” I wonder about the thresholds I have crossed in my lifetime and how well I have embraced the changes that ensued.
My monitor sits on top of a wooden box that was a gift from my Japanese sister, Keiko. Kay is an artist who creates beautiful objects from glass, yarn, fabric, wood and metal. She built the box and painted it inside and out in a Scandinavian style of artistic design. She incorporated my name on the lid. I have had the box for over forty years and it has until recently held keepsakes and letters that touched my heart. When I remodeled my laundry room into an office, my monitor needed a platform to raise it and the box was perfect. I like that I look at it every day when before it was hidden in a cabinet. I feel my connection to Kay through it.

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As I consider it now and give it a “voice” this is what I hear:
“I am a loving expression of the Divine Feminine. Through me, Kay reveals her compassion. She demonstrates her intention to serve. I am showing you the intricate details of nature finely created by Kay’s pure focus and rapt attention. Feel into my field and experience her joyfulness as she participates in this beautiful creation.”
I feel deeply touched by my experience with this box that I have kept close for so many years. Kay was a heart opening influence in my life for the year she lived with my family. I was twelve years old and she was an eighteen-year-old American Field Service student from Yokohama, Japan. I absolutely adored her. She and I spent endless hours sewing doll clothes, making origami cranes, and playing cards.
I understand now why she spent more time with me than my sister, Sandy, who was eighteen. The more sheltered and innocent upbringing of Japanese youth was not equal to the American teen’s level of sophistication, even in 1962. Kay and I were more alike in our interests and emotional maturity even though we were six years apart…and we shared an interest in artistic endeavors. I loved to draw, paint and sew and she was my more-than willing teacher.
I look at this box she made for me and tears come to my eyes. I miss her. I am so grateful for the gift she was to me at that formative time in my life. She is a gem to be treasured. Ah, now I understand why I have kept this box near me all these years.IMG_4673[1]IMG_4678[1]

Relections on Love and Marriage

I was married on July 17, 1973, forty years ago today. I am no longer married and have no intention to marry again…and, I never know what lies around the bend in my path.
My parents have been married seventy years. They modeled for me a marriage that lasts. The difference between their marriage and mine appears to be that my mother has been an excellent accommodator…not I.
I tried, but never got the hang of accommodating my husband’s wishes without feeling resentful when it was never his turn to accommodate me. Of course, that is my perspective…I am sure his story sounds quite different.
I have two friends who have been married to one another all of their adult lives and they are a joy to be with as a couple. The three of us traveled together for several weeks in a foreign country. We have also house-shared on a number of occasions over the last few years. This intimate sharing of space and time has allowed me an inside look at their marriage.
I have observed gentleness in the way they relate to one another. They have genuine concern for one another’s happiness. They carve out the time to consider each other’s needs and they care enough to try to meet them. They both have generous natures and this extends beyond their relationship to their children, their families, their colleagues and friends. The most significant factors I have observed in this beautiful marriage, is recognition and respect for their diversity and the ability to let down all pretense and laugh with each other at themselves.
Love is a word that is so overused it has lost its power for me. I understand humankind’s constant attempts to conceptualize it; I just feel those attempts usually fall short. Being with my friends, I see beyond the concept into the experience. With them, I see what love is and I realize what makes a marriage not just last, but flourish.
I am in a relationship with a man who gives me hope that I too may have finally found an experience of love that takes me beyond the concept to the experience. Trust is key.

couple sillouette

Motherheart

Original caption from NASA: "S103-E-5037 ...

Oh, Sweet Inspiration
A mere thought?
A fleeting feeling?
A deep knowing.

With knowledge of You
Breath comes deep and full,
Body softens,
Mind relaxes into trust.

Connecting
Deep into the Earth
Body gifted with motivation
Mind ripe with invention.

Brilliance
Light beams of awareness
Clarity of vision
Gems of insight.

Found in Stillness
Presence arises
Drumbeat of Motherheart
Love is here.

Love is the Lesson

Desert SunsetI missed writing yesterday. I am surprised to find that I am not concerned about it. Somehow, it no longer seems important. After one-hundred-sixty-five pages, my fear, that missing one day will end my writing, is no longer an issue.

I was sitting here, ready to write yesterday morning, when my friend arrived to help me with a project. We finished laying the pavers on my 1000 sq. ft. patio! Together we put down almost 300 in a few hours. We rocked!

She left around noon and I continued to work outside. Tackling another gritty project, I dug out from underneath the irrigation system where the main meets six legs that go out into the yard. I slid old pavers underneath the pipes and fashioned a cover from one of the paver pallets. I get great satisfaction from using recycled products. I had a really good time!

When G got home from flying around 5:00, I was dirt from head to toe. Working hard, getting dirty and making headway on the retreat felt great…and I was so tired last night I fell into bed and conked out early without ever laying my fingers on the keyboard. Oh, well…

Sharon Streamer

This morning is Sharon’s Walk. Her sister, Maya, has organized a prayer walk for Sharon and her family. My friend, Christine, will be picking me up in a couple of hours and we will drive up the now familiar road to the res. The walkers are gathering at the Los Coyotes Campground. I expect a large turnout from this small community. Sharon has lived here all her adult life and her family is loved and well respected.

As I worked yesterday, I thought of the potential an event like this has. If two-hundred souls show up in support of Sharon and we walk two-miles in silent prayer, she will be the recipient of a significant amount of loving energy. Love is the only thing that heals.

Love is the Lesson
Love is the only true healer.
Love heals all.
In this life we have been given
Love is The Lesson

It means little to love
When loving is easy.
The provocative question:
Can I love the unlovable?

Can I love the man who raped me?
Can I love the politician who lies?
Can I love the earth polluters?
Can I love the hatemongers?

Can I love my imperfections?
Can I love my defeats?
Can I love my weaknesses?
Can I love my body?

Can I let go of my judgment?
Can I stop holding expectations?
Can I accept what is
With true forgiveness and loving kindness?

No matter what this moment brings
No matter how I feel affected
Can I meet the path’s bumps and turns
Without resistance?

When I am able
To Love All That Is
With equanimity,
I will be healed.

Today, I Am Enough

I share Wednesday mornings with my friend Sharon. I drive up to the foot of Hot Spring Peak where she is living on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation with her ninety-year old Grammy, her teen-age twin girls and her 22-year old daughter, Sarah, who is her caretaker. Her father, his wife, and their two boys live in the house nearby.

The drive is a short twenty minutes from home through our beautiful countryside, past huge valleys of pasture lined with groves of live oak and manzanita trees. Horses and cattle graze on the Warner Springs Ranch and I see an occasional hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail. The through-hikers are north now, in the cooler High Sierras, but day hikers still walk the trail as our temperatures climb into the summer range.

I drive past the fascinating rock outcropping known as Eagle Rock as I approach the “res.” I wave to the gate guard as I enter and make the left turn up the steep driveway to Sharon’s house. The yard is a beautiful wild landscape of cactus and fruit trees, flowers and small structures. As I walk down the steps to the back patio, the hummingbirds at the collection of feeders bring a smile to my face and the wind chimes play their melody on the breeze.

Eagle rockLos Coyotes entrance

I open the door, stick my head inside and call a soft hello. She is there, sitting up in her hospital bed. The massage table has been set up in anticipation of my coming. Sarah comes in from the kitchen, her quiet beauty and strong nature (gifts from her mother) strike me every time I see her. Sarah’s path has brought her to a powerful door and she is walking through it with grace and courage. She greets me with a hug…I want to hold her tight and tell her something that will bring more light to her day. I ask about her birthday party of last week and she smiles. Sharon talks about all the friends that came and the great food they enjoyed.

I sit on the sofa next to Garfield, the big orange tabby cat that is Sharon’s constant companion. He is sleeping but lifts his head to acknowledge my touch.  I hear him say as he resettles himself, “She is one of the “okay” ones.” Garfield is like a sentry; Sharon’s feline bodyguard.

garfield cat

Photos of family and friends cover the wall behind Sharon’s bed. I look at the smiling faces of her five children at their various ages. Gazing at the pictures of this tightly knit family, I think about the support network they have created for their mother, daughter, sister and friend who loves them fiercely and has cared for them so well.

Sharon begins to tell me about her experience of the past four days since I was here last. Her story is of pain in various forms and about the therapies and body positions she uses in her attempts to relieve it. Her physical world has become small. Mostly she is on the bed, with occasional trips to the bath for treatments and soaks, and maybe a brief walk to the kitchen for food or a cup of tea. When Sarah needs to leave, Sharon tells me she stays in bed and shifts her body searching for the spot that will allow a few moments of relief and relaxation before the ever-present pain returns.

When Sarah is there, they employ body therapies like castor oil packs, cryotherapy and massage, which may give temporary relief. We share a common story:  when ill or in pain, we therapists often forget the very things we tell our clients with the same symptoms. We forget even the simplest  treatments we have prescribed hundreds of times. It is as if we get temporary amnesia when it comes to taking care of ourselves. We wonder aloud if perhaps that has to do with the bigger lesson of learning to ask for what we need and learning to receive when we are so programmed to be givers.

The primary location of her pain begins in her low back and travels through her hip and down her right leg, ending in her shin. It burns, throbs, aches and mostly never lets up. Standing is especially irritating and at times sitting and even lying on her back is no better. One of the tumors is on her low spine, compromising the sciatic nerve that innervates her right leg. As I listen, I am drawn to decompress her sacrum. Perhaps the relief of that pressure will be helpful. Humbled by her condition, I know not what to do other than listen to her body and follow its instructions. It seems right for her to stay on the bed today. The table looks too hard and unforgiving. We prop her with pillows, raise the bed a bit and I position my hands and body to do a CST sacral release. Once my hands have met her tissue we both drop into silence. As I listen and follow the tissue, I coach both of us to remain neutral, letting go of our agendas, our expectations and our judgments as best we can. Now is the time to trust the wisdom of her body and invite her “all knowing” to guide us. I remind her to feel the support, seen and unseen, that is here for her. I remind myself of this, as well.

After about twenty minutes, the tissues around the sacrum have softened and I feel the bones drop into my hand as they let go of their gripping. Hoping to gain space where the tumor is pushing against the nerve, I gently traction the sacrum towards her feet. Sharon reports that the pain has lessened and changed its character.

As I slide my hands out from under her body. I encourage her to roll onto her side to see if the change in position feels good. She does and says, “Yes, better.” I check in with my “all knowing”, asking, “What next?”

As I lie on the bed and snuggle up behind her I say, “This is unorthodox, but here I am!” She laughs and asks with pleasant surprise in her voice, “Are you going to snuggle me?” “I haven’t been snuggled in a while!”

I rest and relax into her, becoming a full body of warm support that “has her back.” I feel her soften into me and in a few minutes, I realize she is dozing. As I lie in stillness, I ground and fill myself with the nurturing, nourishing energy of the earth’s field and then expand my field to become a cocoon of loving energy holding my dear friend. I feel the boundaries between us dissolve as our fields unite.

When she moves, I check in with her and we decide to test her for the Garden Essences I brought for her.  I administer three of the essences she tests positive for and a fourth that I am drawn to give her.  We talk about the wisdom of nature and our gratitude for having been shown this way of co-creating with nature to facilitate healing the human form.

Sharon enjoys being read to, so I bring out the book of poetry by Jennifer Welwood I shared with her last Friday.  I open the book randomly and read:
“Freer of our conditioning, we now meet with openness all that we had previously fled from. We discover that everything so met, without grasping or rejection, becomes a doorway to radiant being…”
Unconditional
Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lies within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.

Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game;
To play it is purest delight–
To honor its form, true devotion.

As I walk out the door, she is sitting up on the bed smiling. I walk to my car sending my intention into the Holy Universe, “Today, I am enough.”

Hot springs mountain

Like an Erupting Volcano

erupting volcanoAnger is not an emotion I am familiar with. I stuffed it down for so many years it gave up and stopped bubbling to the surface. Today it erupted like a volcano.

As a child I was not allowed to express anger. Mom taught me that anger was “unladylike” and Dad considered it disrespectful. No one modeled healthy anger management in my household. I saw the extremes of raging and denial/suppression.

In my marriage I was afraid to express anger. My ex-husband was a very big guy who could get his own good rage going, usually directed at me, and my returning anger was like pouring gas on an already raging fire so I learned quickly that anger wasn’t a safe emotion to express. I usually channeled my own rage into cleaning!

Six years ago I left that oppressive-suppressive-depressive marriage and I gave myself permission to express what I feel. I embarked on a mission of honesty and transparency. I wanted to be totally honest and expressive about every emotion I felt with everyone I was in relationship with…most of all myself.

For two years I lived with my cat and dabbled in internet dating neither looking for nor encouraging a long-term relationship. I had just ended one of those and I was in no hurry to dive into those deep waters again. But then…

I have been living with G for four years. We have a good relationship based on a long history (we grew up together) and many similar beliefs and lifestyle choices. We also have magical chemistry, not only sexual but we “get each other”, we respect one another and we laugh at the same things and make each other laugh. We call our relationship “Fragil Majik.” G is an intense personality, and I know I am my own strong flavor, so live and let live is my motto, as best I can. I consider myself a compassionate person. I do my best to appreciate every person’s unique situation and since I don’t walk in their shoes, who am I to judge? But then…

I have some strong opinions and beliefs about the human body, the effect of diet and our health. Natural healing has been my profession for twenty years and I was a student of nutrition and natural healing modalities for ten years before I became a professional. I use food like medicine to treat myself when I am not feeling as well as I would like. I am far from perfect but I am a strong, healthy 60+ woman, and I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that the natural therapies I employ work on myself and others.

G has some health issues. Without going into detail I will say they are long-standing (some since childhood) and have been exacerbated by his lifestyle which does not put health as a priority. I believe that some of the diet modifications and therapies I use would be helpful for him. For four years I have been sharing with him what I have learned from study, from clients, from fellow therapists and naturopaths. It falls on deaf ears. I’m not sure why. Perhaps he doesn’t believe the information is true. Perhaps he has resistance to changing his lifestyle. Perhaps he is triggered by the way I present the information. I don’t know.

This morning something snapped in me. When he did several things that were all contrary for his condition and the alternative healthy choices were all simple and easy I lost it! I told him his behavior was selfish because I live with the consequences of his ill-health. More than that, I couldn’t wrap my head around why anyone would knowingly, intentionally do that! It just made me crazy! I erupted like a volcano. So much energy came pouring out of me. It felt good in a strange way. I said my words to him and then I took off walking fast around the property, crying, cursing, venting…erupting. It lasted about five minutes and then I got a strong, full feeling in my gut. I got very calm and worked hard outside for the rest of the day letting my thoughts move through me, noticing the chain of events that led up to the eruption. It makes some sense to me now.

I don’t feel angry toward him anymore. My compassion has returned. My patience with the situation? I’m not sure…the volcano may still be simmering.