The Leap

lion on fireToday I’m thinking about that space in between. The space between what you have and what you want. I’m thinking about the effort and trust required to go from solid ground into thin air, with the belief that your leap will be met with footing that is not apparent until you step into nothingness.

The idea of nothingness lands heavy, like breath stuck in your chest, inviting fears that have been  neatly tucked away to reveal their shadowed face. A visit that leaves brief paralysis.

But that is not who you are and you know it, so you gather yourself, breathe, and call on the light. “Yes, you can do this,” it encourages. “You can be terrified, unsure and resistant, and still step away.”  And you can trust. Not from blind faith, but from something older and wiser that oversees such things, something that knows that the death of the old can be endured, and even celebrated given time.

But these fears  don’t go away with good thoughts and pretty words, because you are opening and vulnerable. In this place you deny, reach for food, entertainment, drugs or anything that will numb the knowledge of what you must do.

Your dreams encourage you to jump, painting radiant pictures of a future self, while a frightened part believes that it cannot, and will not rise to the task.   “Retreat,” it cries,  “into places where growth is not required.  No, no, not today please, maybe tomorrow.”

And so, night after night,  you go to bed with the dark privacy of your deepest fears, wishing things could magically change, or that someone else could save your life. But there is no one else.  When morning comes, you wake raw and exposed, knowing you can no longer live with the pain of staying still and small, because something inside has shifted, something you can no longer deny, numb or turn away.  And so you prepare, asking what must be taken and what must be left, but not with words, because the answer lives in the language of feelings and instinct.

You know that the only way out is through, but even as you prepare to leap, the dying self clings, screaming excuses in your ears. “Stay small, stay safe!” But your listening is all used up. So on that terrifying and celebrated day, you close your eyes, call on whatever forces may guide and protect you, and finally, both with and without courage, you step away from what was. And that very act, that willingness and broadness of heart, opens and delivers you.

Transitions

street with lightAre you feeling restless and ill at ease?

There is a great stirring now to put away the small version of ourselves so we can open and allow the brilliance of our inner being to have voice.  Friends describe the process in conversations, clients seek guidance through the discomfort of the birth canal and I am pulled in the very same way.

It feels like our souls are trying to burst from confinement, so we can wear our purpose and passions on the outside for all to see.

I believe this is the revolution the Mayans foretold, the great ending and new beginning of civilization.

And since my feet are in the fire with everyone else, and my granddaughter thinks I’m older than God, I thought I’d offer a few insights for the journey.

First, pay close attention to the connection between your thoughts and actions, for it’s your thoughts that direct your life and mood. The phrase, whatever we think about we become, is absolutely true. Is your head filled with the beliefs and opinions of others or past hurts? This is a good time to sort all of this through because it’s yourself you owe. No one else.  If you feel stuck, invest in therapy or a shaman or whatever works to move you beyond limited vision.

Trust your intuition! In your heart you know where you should be and what you should be doing, so learn to trust that voice. Listen to your impulses, urges and inner guidance. That voice knows what is right for you and will lead you to your best realization.

Next, imagine what it is you want and know yourself capable of, then project it forward with emotion, desiring it with your whole heart. Think about what you can do and forget about what you can’t do, because everything is what you think it is, no more and no less. Everything you have ever imagined you lived, so put a picture in your head of whatever you want to become. It’s your thoughts going ahead of you that become your present, thoughts that always bring precisely what you expect.

Notice the creative force in all life, the divine part of everything that lives. This creative force is in the earth and every plant and flower and every creature that walks and flies. This divine force is in you, awaiting your instruction. It wants you to succeed and come forward in the fullness of your best self, because the world needs you be seen, present and living your gifts.

And last, appreciate the visionary in you. Because you can set things in motion there is often impatience, thinking that because you saw it as already done, that it should be manifest. It’s difficult to allow the passage of time necessary for dreams to become physical, and with waiting comes doubt and fear and thoughts that perhaps your inner voice was wrong. Well, its not. The best way to deal with that is to create a fearless confident self who refuses to have anything to do with fear and doubt.  The old you might feel overwhelmed but the bigger you can hold steady, knowing that what you want is on its way.

Case in point:  Years ago, as a young therapist, I worked with a woman from Science of Mind who affirmed every day that she was going to receive a huge inflow of money, I forget the amount but it was very large. I thought privately that her time and energy would be put to better use tending the poverty of her life than fantasying an improbable future. But she proved me wrong. It took nearly ten years but a distant relative died and left her the exact amount she’d asked for. A strong lesson for me in the ability of our minds to create our reality.

The Gift

He couldn’t stay in his body, the pain was too great. It was Joe’s leaving time, but my mother couldn’t let him go.

I was in Oregon, gathering car keys, handbag and notebook. It was a racing-out-the-door morning, my thoughts intent on teaching and the forty-five minute drive between my house in the Columbia River Gorge and Marylhurst University. Photographs of my New York family were ensconced above the fireplace, mingled with decorative candles and a ticking clock.

Did I have everything? I thought so. Just one more pass through the living room to make sure. Then I saw it, Joe’s photo glowing with light, a sure-fire way for the unseen reality to get my attention. I stopped. Everything coming to an abrupt halt as I picked up his picture, dropped to the sofa and closed my eyes. Acceleration and tension drained from my body. I softened and exhaled. Joe was in the hospital in upstate New York but his spirit was there with me.

“I need you to talk to your mother,” he said, hovering in my vision. “Help her to let me go. I want to die before my birthday, but she has to release me first. I need to hear her say it out loud. I need to know that it’s alright to go. Ask her to tell me, then ask her to open the closet and begin giving away my things.”

My chest filled with the light and energy of his message, his words floating around my cells like weightless sand. Then he was gone.

That memory, nearly twenty years old, drifted through my thoughts as I sat at the dinner table listening to Julio describe a week-end with his family.

“When I speak about my art,” he says, spooning brown rice next to carne asada, “it’s as if they can’t hear me. I show them my paintings in The Art Detour brochure and they say nothing, their expressions are blank. Yet I feel disapproval because I am not working in the way they think I should be.”

Julio comes from a family of laborers and field workers who strive to keep their pockets full, their personal dreams diminished by a harsh reality.

“They have no frame of reference for it,” I tell him. “Art is a foreign world.”

A deep well of sadness lingers in Julio’s eyes, a longing for an acceptance that can not be given, a longing I’m familiar with.

I remembered replacing Joe’s photo on the mantel, wondering how I could bring such news to my mother.

“This is my daughter, Karen,” she’d tell her friends. “She is a free spirit.” And later, behind closed doors: “When are you going to get a real job?”

Intuitive work didn’t show up for my family. When I spoke of visions or predictive dreams, my words were met with confusion, talk of brain tumors and lingering looks of concern. Eventually, I learned to keep my mouth closed and a sensitive nature to myself.

I called that evening, knowing what a difficult time mother was having, though she rarely showed vulnerability. I hedged, not knowing how to bring up the topic but needn’t have. Near the close of conversation, she surprised me:

“Do you get anything for me?”

“What do you mean, get anything?”

“You know, psychically.”

I was silent. Joe had openly ridiculed my gifts and yet come to me for help.

“Yes,” I told her. “I do have things to share.”

She listened respectfully as I closed my eyes,  a vision of Joe’s pain-filled body hovering in my awareness.

“He wants to go before his birthday, but your love is holding him here. He wants you to let him leave.”

“I can do that,” she whispered, her voice private and internal. “I’ll tell him today. And there’s a young man from the firehouse that would fit one of his coats. I know Joe would like him to have it.”

I hung up, aware of the healing that had taken place. A warm sense of gratitude washed over me, like some long awaited rain in the desert.

Joe was born on April 8, 1920, and died on April 3, 1993.

I reached for mother’s hand as we stood in the funeral home reception line, hushed pieces of conversation passing between us.

“What made you ask for my vision during our phone call? You’ve never done that before.

“Just a feeling,” she answered. “It’s not that I don’t respect your work, sweetheart, it’s that I’ve never understood it. How could I? My life has been full of children, bookkeeping, salesmen, running a restaurant and hotel. How could I know anything of what you do?”

Julio looked up from his plate,  bringing me back from my reverie. “I wish I had my family’s support. It would make such a difference.”

“Give them time,” I smiled. “How could they know anything of what you do? How could they conceive of the gift you’ve been given? A talent that takes you to the core of yourself, allowing you to heal and shine in ways they never imagined. And when you succeed, and you will, you’ll be doing it for all of them, for all the men and women in your bloodline who never knew the joys of freedom.”

Cody

Kim and Bob’s home is an animal house, alive with dogs, cats and kids. It is one of the most welcoming, loving, accepting homes I have ever entered, but I don’t usually stay long, because I’m allergic to animal hair. Kim supplies a wet washcloth, so I can clean my hands after each caress, since I can’t resist.

When Kim emailed to say they were putting Cody down, I knew I had to be there. He was the oldest dog and my favorite.  Cody was Bob’s companion, found abandoned many years ago in the Columbia River Gorge. Bob was sitting next to him when I arrived, not ready to let go, since Bob was already heavy with grief from his mother’s recent death.  But Cody’s desire was clear. He had stopped eating, drinking and moving, staying on the circular bed that had become his universe. Bob and Kim recounted memories, as I sat inches from Cody’s head, looking into his mournful eyes, telling him what a good job he had done tending the family, how he would be missed and that it was okay to let go. His eyes were like an open door, pulling all my words inside. 

His passing was quiet. A vet came to the house so Cody could die surrounded by folks who loved him. The woman was respectful and efficient, moving skillfully into the family circle as an unmet friend. After the last injection, I felt his spirit leave his body and automatically closed my eyes to track it.  While Bob, Kim and the vet were loading the body into a van for later cremation, I was caught in the experience of Cody’s spirit hovering in a twilight mist toward the ceiling.  

Kim and Bob made conversation when they re-entered, but I couldn’t open my eyes to join them. In that moment I was spellbound, more present with Cody than I had ever been.  He’d just realized that his spirit had passed. I could feel his surprise and relief, but also a deep sadness. I sat with him in the quiet for a long time without words or movement. Finally, I asked Kim to bring a large kitchen knife to help his transition. Standing in the circle where he ended his life, I physically cut lingering ties. Then she brought a small Tibetan bell, so I could summon and speak to the spirits of the four directions in turn.  

“Spirits of the South, this is your son, Cody. Open your arms and receive his loving soul.” 

A whisper told me that his essence would stay in the house for three days before moving on. If any words were left unspoken, they could still be heard.

 All of this was very emotional. Tears ran down my cheeks, my breathing was labored. I had not intended to do a death ritual. I had intended to sit by Bob and Kim to be supportive and that was all. But Cody’s spirit had other ideas, so I listened to his needs and felt honored to do so.

The enemy within

butterfly on guitar

A battle wages within you every day. It happens as soon as you open your eyes. Some of us are aware of it, some are not. It is a battle between light and shadow, a war between living the creative life you dream about or being hypnotized by the distractions that have been with you since birth, distractions you encounter in the daily grid of your life.

We all have a voice within that knows what our gifts are, and dreams of becoming the expression of those gifts. It is what we are here to do; it is why we walk the earth.

The shadow side of our lives is an expression of darkness and strives to convince us that we are incapable, too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too anything that will steal the light of our creative selves and imprison us for one more day. We must become aware of the power of darkness as it urges us to resistance, and finally to illness, alcohol, prescription drugs, over-eating, sex or anything that will take the pain of an unfulfilled life away, putting us numbly back to sleep.

You can wake yourself up from this dream. Understanding your enemy is the first important step. Are you ruled by fear? Good! That means your dreams are important and the work is big. The more afraid you are, the greater your potential. Celebrate your fear for all it represents but don’t let it bury you. The radiance from your soul is real. It is the reason you walk on this planet. It is your duty to fight for your dreams.

Do you want to play the violin, start a company, exercise, diet, paint a picture, write a book?  Then go to war. Overthrow the tyranny of inertia and distraction before it disfigures your life. Make a time to do what you love  and let nothing deter you. Stand in the process and stay with it until the magic shows up – and it will – then love yourself enough to keep coming back day after day, and year after year. 

You can change your destiny in a moment by recognizing the power of darkness, and the seriousness of its influence. How do you recognize it? It can not be seen or heard, but can be felt. You are in its grasp when you feel negative, hate your life, or generally function in low grade misery.  Be ruthless, escape from its prison and keep going. Take charge of your life and your dreams. Insist!

What is your small still voice saying to you? This is your wisdom self. Listen, then sit down and do your work, not tomorrow, begin today.

Change

white roseI feel change in the air, moving like dappled light through darkness, arriving at an unknown destination.

Summer is here at last, the sun we’ve waited for, strawberries, cherries and a scorched nose.

I reach forward into the future eager and impatient.

I pull back wanting security, structure and the voice of old friends.

The air is charged and alive with excitement.

It is stagnant and filled with too much me. I get lost in the space.

There are promises whispered, felt, unseen and unheard.

They are there opening in the mystery.

The sky turns from purple to black.

I rest, and in the morning, do it all again.

I am an egg, cracked, and waiting.

Any day now, the shell will fall away and I will reach out, walking completely and utterly into the dream.

Bloodline Ceremony

feathers

I’ve been taken down to the bone. I spent the day with a Lakota Medicine woman who spent hours walking in other realms to rid me of darkness and the karma stored in my family bloodline. Hers is powerful medicine, which has left me open, raw and renewed.

I have always been the one to heal others, while longing to find someone who could do the same for me. Many people claim to have spirit medicine, but few are authentic and free of ego. This gift has been a long time coming. 

Part of me still journeys in that other realm, while the physical side sits in silence in my quiet retreat of a house. Stepping into the world again was especially hard, like having a split-screen open on the computer. Lucky for me, a friend was there to drive me home or I may have ended up in Idaho. 

Loved ones ask about the experience but there are no words. The details and mechanics defy description, because they are sacred and not of this time and place. I can only say that the work went deep and until I integrate I am left feeling like a visitor in my own life, and a little uncomfortable in my skin. 

June has been a month of pulling back. My worldly self is resting and what little writing I do comes in drips instead of the stream I am accustomed to. I welcome the day when words move through me like a river. I see them waiting and hold out my arms, knowing they will land again when the time is right.

Days at the ocean preceded my ceremony. I spent hours outside, slept in the sun, walked barefoot in the sand and was nurtured by the loving presence of a friend. I found bones, the exact size and shape I was seeking, and feathers, lots of feathers. My essence feels more bird than human, so these things comfort me. 

I am always surprised when people choose not to work on themselves, and to live in their fears and patterns of limitation. That is a choice I could never imagine making, because releasing darkness and making room for more light is such an exquisite thing. It is painful, as any birth is painful, but the other side is worth every second, because everything around you reorganizes to create a flow of ease and love that makes life so much more inviting and welcome. Today I sit with my labor pains and raw open feelings, but soon I’ll soar again with even greater freedom than before. I am humbled in gratitude.

Bones

eagle in BC

Most women get an urge for a new dress, a china cabinet or a different hair cut, but not me. I woke this morning with an overwhelming urge to gather bones.

I need to find and hold the white bleached bones of an animal in my hands –  not the fragile bones of a small animal, but large weighty bones, bones that hold the energy of transition that is both life and death. Today I woke knowing that I needed them.

I need to hold the wings of a bird to elevate and cleanse my spirit, allowing perspective as I transition into a new chapter of my life and deeper still, into the very essence of myself.

There is an urgency to this that must be satisfied, but the dry lands of La Pine and Christmas Valley are too far away.

I could go to a spiritual bookstore and buy feathers that were neatly beaded and wrapped in leather, but purchasing them wouldn’t satisfy my need. I have to walk and seek and ask and discover. Then these healing tools will have the power of the day and the medicine of the animal still intact.

That is what is on my mind today, bones and feathers and finding.

My whole body longs to hold these things in my hands, so I can complete something unspoken, but felt, something unfinished and reaching. Don’t ask me why, it just is.

Memory

blue woman

Kay is in her 80’s. She calls about once a month to tell me she needs a healing session, specifically to deal with the clutter in her life, but I have learned to wait to call her back and not mention her request for a session. Kay’s clutter defines her and is a needed reminder that she exists and has a history. Instead I call and suggest we meet for lunch. I could offer her a session and send her home with a CD, but she would not remember having it. 

Kay has always been eccentric, in extreme and wonderful ways. She blurts out her truth in a blunt warrior-like fashion, concealing a delicate, almost fragile spirit within. She calls late at night to tell me about a praying mantis that landed on her front door. The wonder and description of him occupies most of the phone call.

Kay was part of a woman’s training I offered that went on for six years. She was clear then and lucid. Crazy Kay, as we called her is a hot-wired red head who gets mad at her 93 year old boyfriend for sitting out more than one dance, legally changed her last name to match the neighborhood she moved to, washes her hair and her underwear in the same bathwater, and was the only person willing to march with me during the Belmont Street fair in nothing but a bathrobe and feather boa.

Her dementia is hard to be next to and often difficult to distinguish from her unique view of the world.

Last time we were together, the conversation went like this:

What would you like to do now, Kay?

Let’s have lunch!

But we just got up from lunch.

I know, but there are several nice lunch spots. Let’s just keep having lunch.

We went into a boutique.

 Kay met the owner. Your business is going to get really bad in five more years, she tells her.

The woman laughs, you mean worse than it is right now, with the recession?

Yes, I read it in a magazine. By 2014 there will only be two planets we can inhabit.

And where would those be, I ask.

Where? Well, how should I know? They didn’t tell me! 

We get back on the road, the air conditioner in her Volvo is broken and it’s really hot outside. She is convinced it should work, so she keeps blasting warm air into a car that is already sweltering. I turn it off and explain that it no longer works. A few minutes later she forgets, reaches for the AC and we do it all over again.

My car is in the garage so she is driving me around. She does some slick maneuvering to cross a jammed traffic lane so we can go in the opposite direction of our destination.

Oh, aging does not look pretty. Maybe that’s why I feel compelled to write these memories out, because one day my mental screen will go blank, there will be nothing left to retrieve, and I’ll be the one who insists on holding up traffic so I can satisfy my urgent need to go in the wrong direction.

Flight Pattern

butterfly finger

He walked in my door in that way people do when their life is falling apart. He married the wrong woman so they battled and tore at each other, until they turned into people they didn’t want to be. He is a fine man, she is a fine woman, but they are not fine together. 

The pretending is over now, the pain is too great. Their foundation can no longer support their lives. They are at the place of no return, because they know too much truth and can’t put the broken pieces together again. He came today with eyes full of sorrow and courage, with words full of failure and fear. 

But this breaking open, this new place is the healthiest he has been. Of course it doesn’t feel that way to him. He no longer sleeps. His mind races towards an unknown future; he can’t eat and is drinking too much wine. 

He is stepping into the void now, that crack in the universe that teaches us so much.

This is the shamanic initiation, the ultimate letting go, the final test of faith in the face of darkness. But I know this man; I know the fabric of his character and the integrity of his soul. He has to let go. He has to let himself fall so he can find his wings. 

He approaches the cliff now, knowing that it means death, the death of an old self, an outmoded consciousness and a way of life. He walks toward this change because he must. The wise man in him is saving his life, while the personality grabs and claws and rails against his fate. 

Any day now he will jump – and he will fly – and he will find himself, as he floats slowly and helplessly toward the new ground that will heal and free him to start again. I will have the pleasure of being his witness.

Jock

black-and-whiteI’ve taken up racquetball. I started last week because my body was screaming at me for becoming a sloth.

Being a writer is not conducive to physical activity. I got computer hip last year, which made me feel really old and walk the same way, so I decided to stand.  I put my computer on top of an ice chest for elevation. I put a board on top of that for stability, then stuck my monitor on a stack of phone books, and covered it with a cloth napkin so it didn’t look so tacky, but the table was still wobbly, so I turned my plastic recipe holder on its side, added a paperback copy of Escaping into the open by Elizabeth Berg, and wedged it in front of the ice chest. Now it’s perfect. I can stand when I write and practice the leg and butt exercises I remember from Jane Fonda’s 1987 workout video.

I have been a swimmer for 57 years. It has been my home place and salvation. I love slipping out of this hard-edged reality and into Neptune’s watery expanse. I love being in a world without corners and the way I feel after a long distance swim.

Two years ago, as I was driving to the pool, I pulled the car onto the shoulder of the road. I sat there fingering the steering wheel, then suddenly announced to myself that I was finished. It’s over, I said, I’m done. I can’t do this anymore, 57 years is enough. I turned the car around and headed home. I got up the next morning ready to swim, thinking perhaps I’d had a bad day, but nope. The resolve was still there. I wasn’t going swimming anymore. I’d had enough. I’ve been in a state of decay ever since. I’ve been swimming a few times, but the joy is gone and so is my muscle tone.

The dentist uses the most disgustingly perfect word to describe what happens in your mouth if you don’t brush your teeth at night. He says the food ‘putrefies.’ What a great word. It has the word puke in it, and terrify. It’s a beautifully wonderfully awful word that feels like spitting, and floods the mind with images of repulsive decay.  My husband hates that word, so I use it alot. I tell him my whole body is putrefying because I can’t figure out a new exercise.

Last week I had a break-through. I grabbed racquets from the closet I’d bought decades ago, got my husband and granddaughter and decided to try racquetball. (Playing with a nine year old is a great way to begin, by the way. She is my partner in crime. Someday I’ll tell you about the time we got into trouble for playing soccer in the halls of the ashram, but not today.)

Anyway, I found a new sport. The room reminds me of a padded cell and slamming the ball is a great way to work out frustration. Now I go alone whenever I can get away. I close the door to that little white room and bang the ball around until I’m purple in the face.  But… in case I may be painting a picture of myself as a jock, I will add that my version of racquetball has no rules, and looks an awful lot like an old lady playing badminton with herself.

Revolution

arc-de-triomphe-moonWhen I noticed the light what I saw was promise, candles lined up dancing and flickering. Nest again, they advised. Remove yourself from the go-too-fast, be-too-busy place and center.

We perch in this place, in this hovering above the world place to gain perspective and a way of knowing ourselves and one another. Life feels raw without it. My days have a razors edge where gentleness should be. Why is that? Too much work and not enough community, too much staying up late and pushing to create a way out of a box I have built to live in.

I need change, a big one. My life needs a new foundation, new wiring.

There is a revolution happening in my heart and it throws me off balance, as any overthrow of the existing regime must.

I don’t always know how to be with this kind of change. I breathe and center, and do what is inside me to be done one day at a time. Today it is my place to come home to the candlelight and my community of sisters, who discover themselves by moving pens across paper. It’s been two months since we’ve gathered, and I have missed it.

Linda Hefferman

 bootsIt was such a relief when Linda came forward to help me. The woman is a gift from the Gods. Her willingness lifted me up and put me back in the game.

Dearest Linda, took all my creative projects off the shelf and gave them life. She is my most personal assistant, and the managing editor of Yorkshire Press. She is handling business details I have no capacity to understand, making phone calls to people I would not pursue and filling in the fine print of bank forms and publishing contracts. She is, in short, the left brain I don’t have. She is willing, eager, intelligent, artistic, affordable, responsive, well-traveled and mine. Obama would steal her if he knew.

Last year I had several of my projects ready to go, but no way to launch them. My marketing person, Anthony, decided to focus elsewhere, Gib got caught up in a pallet company, and I was the only one left to birth my dreams, but there were parts of it, I literally could not do.

I had a dream one night that I was riding a horse in the desert with Anthony and Gib. We were all riding happily along when the horse collapsed from thirst. The men got up and walked away, leaving me alone to figure it out. I was really angry when I woke up because the dream was such a clear statement of where we were. Seemed like a good idea at the time, Karen, but now we’re out of here!

Then came Linda – months later – a referral from a friend. She rode into my life on a strong steady horse, pulled me to my feet, and has carried me ever since.

I don’t forget something like that, because without her I would still be on that broken down steed in the desert, watching the well-intended men in my life high-tailing it for greener pastures.  

Linda is birthing my dreams. She and her friends are midwife to my souls expression. I overflow with gratitude.

Sensible Shoes

The tall black stiletto heels, the sculpted leg leading to a short skirt, folds of silk draped in her blouse and hair falling in cascades of brown – she reminded me of myself at 18, although I’m sure she was closer to 25. I’d been living in Paris and fashion was everything, youth, beauty and fashion.

Paris transformed me at that age. The garter belts with shopping-bagsstreams of scarlet ribbons against black lace, fastened to hold seamed stockings in place. The lacy push-up bras allowing me to have curves I only dreamed about in my slow development. Men who followed me down the street entranced by my beauty; a beauty the boys back home never seemed to notice. Europe ushered me into an exotic womanhood; a womanhood far removed from my rural roots and the full bodied cotton underwear my mother provided, the multicolored ones with each day of the week embroidered on the side.

In Paris I learned to put on thick brown eyeliner that came to rest like little wings at the corner of each eye and to paint my lips alluring colors of bold sensuality. I was excited to move fully into the womanhood I had waited for as a child.  Paris was my launching pad. 

I stood near her, both of us rummaging the Goodwill for hidden treasures. I held my gaze a little too long, and she caught my eye as interest, connection, and smiles traveled through the aisles between us.

My shoes are sensible now. I never venture far from the ground or my arthritic toes would complain. My inner ballerina has left for the remainder of my life. But there she stood with all of life ahead of her, perched on those feminine control towers waiting to soar into the next great adventure, while I’ve become the older grey-haired woman wearing sensible shoes.

Surprisingly I felt no regret or sorrow. My life has been rich and full, my sexuality more deeply profound than the girl in me could have imagined. I didn’t know then, that it was not the trappings that made a woman. It wasn’t the glitter, the allure, or the package, although I loved it all!  It was self-assurance and lots of permission to be fully and completely who I am, whatever that might look like. Untangling my essence from the cultural web and the opinions of others has been a life journey, but in the end, the only one worth taking.

Boeing Aircraft

sky-bikeEvery year Boeing Aircraft invites psychics to come and read for their employees. The aircraft company is a quick drive south from Seattle on Interstate 5. Acres of new planes can be seen along the freeway, lined up on Boeing field waiting for delivery. Inside the main building, we post our photographs with a brief description of what we offer in the lobby.  Employees pick the person they’d like to see, put their name on a waiting list, then enter with questions that fall into categories which include love, money, health, family and business.

The reading room itself is large and warehouse-like with tables placed in rows. Some thirty psychics with various skills offered service. It was a marathon client week-end that paid well and provided a catered lunch. I brought a table covering, business cards, some favorite stones and plucked a single red rose from the twelve near my bed.

One of my first clients was a young woman who had recently lost her father. She came to inquire about including his spirit in their Christmas holiday. She was looking for a ritual, although she did not know how to put her request into words. I remember this reading especially, because it was an instance when I got sidetracked and momentarily betrayed myself. To answer her question, I closed my eyes and waited for images. The scene that appeared showed the family pulling an empty chair, his easy chair, into an intimate circle near the tree. Then I saw the young woman placing a fisherman’s cap on the seat. But as I began to deliver the information my mental sentries jumped forward. I always see them like little soldiers with rifles on their shoulders, red uniforms and tall black boots. It is their job to discredit the information that comes from the realm of spirit, because they work for the mind. They are employed by all that is rational and concrete.

Hey, they say, What’s this doing here? This has no worth. We didn’t approve this? They stepped forward at the very moment I was delivering my message, grabbed the information about his cap and pulled it away. This is too specific, they said. Do you want to look like a fool? What if they don’t have his hat? Be safe! Be careful! Be general! Replace that word. Use the word garment instead. Then you can’t get into trouble. Why get into trouble?

The censors had me in their grasp and had reworked my delivery so quickly I barely knew what had happened. I would recommend, I told her, making a circle near the Christmas tree, include his favorite chair and place a garment on it. Use something that belonged to him and felt special.

She looked at me, clearly pleased. Great! she said. We’ll do that. I can put his hat on the chair. We still have his fishing cap.

I am better than most at keeping the sentries at bay, but every once in a while, when I least expect it, they take me down. 

The other reading I remember from the 40 short readings I must have done that week-end was for a young woman about to be married. She was having nightmares and irrational fears. She wanted to marry in her husband’s faith, but something inside her would sabotage the meeting each time they were supposed to enter the sanctuary. When I asked spirit for information, I found a vivid past life. I saw her seated outside a temple in a country with a dry climate. People were wearing flowing silk robes as they entered a tall building. It was her job to wash their feet before they entered. The building was a holy place. She knelt by the entrance doing her job as they prepared to enter sacred space.

I think you had a job washing people’s feet outside a temple in a hot place like Egypt, I told her. It’s something you did every day. It humbled you and irritated you at the same time.

Oh, she interrupted, I hate peoples feet. I am so funny that way. I can’t stand to look at them and even feel that way about my husband’s feet. They repel me.  I tell him when we are in bed to keep his feet on his own side of the bed.

In that lifetime you were not allowed to enter the temple, I continued. You have a soul memory of that, even though it has been unconscious, it is still powerfully in place. That belief is keeping you out of your husband’s church. Talk with yourself and make a clear distinction between now and then. It is time for you to enter the sacred space of your marriage. You get to enter the temple now. You get to be happy and walk at his side.

She was visibly relieved but still curious. What’s a soul memory?

A soul memory is an unconscious knowing that we carry from one lifetime to the next, that can affect us profoundly. We may not be able to bring it forward on our own, but once it comes into awareness, there is always a deep and settling recognition of the truth it holds. Uncovering and embracing that knowledge brings freedom. 

At the end of the week-end, I gathered my belongings, and noticed that the rose on my table had turned color. I held it to the light in disbelief. Must be the lighting in here, I told myself, carefully packing it away. But when I got home and returned the rose to the vase, which held it’s original family, I was struck by what had happened. The rose had turned from vibrant red to a deep shade of purple. The only explanation was that the spiritual energy of 30 psychics had absorbed in the water and again in the rose, turning it the color of the crown chakra, which was the energy center we were all using.

Employment

elevatorI once had a job working for an employment agency. I was young and desperate. My boss was a sleazy guy who liked young girls. He’d call us into his office one at a time to inquire about our love lives. Think of me as your father, he’d say, as he probed for details with a sick curiosity that would make the National Inquirer proud.

Every day I rose from my bed, put on a dress and rode the bus downtown. I pushed against a revolving golden door, walked through a lobby, got in an elevator and pressed the button for the fifth floor. We all stood together in long awkward moments of silence and waiting. When the elevator door opened, I got out, walked to my little cubicle, hung up my coat, and began my day making cold calls. It was my job to find new businesses to hire our applicants. 

When lunch came, I got up, put on my coat, stepped into the elevator, pushed the button for the first floor, waited again, and got out. I walked through the lobby to the golden revolving door, then stepped outside into measured minutes of freedom. I took a deep breath of fresh air and felt sunlight on my face, like a prisoner doing time in the yard. I ate a thirty minute lunch, left a tip on the counter and headed outside. After lunch, you guessed it.  I pushed against the golden revolving door, walked through the lobby, got into the elevator, pressed the button for the fifth floor, waited, got out of the elevator, walked to my cubicle, took off my coat, picked up the phone and made phone calls.

 Sometimes this routine was broken by an orange light flashing on my phone. That meant the manager had dreamed up some excuse to call me into his office, so he could slime me with questions about my non-existent love life. His cubicle was set higher than ours, in case we missed the fact that he was God. He made afternoon rounds of all the young women he’d placed in his barnyard cubicles, strutting through the aisles, like a rooster surveying hens.

Sometimes an actual human being came in to fill out an application, which was a delightful distraction, but short lived.

At five o’clock, I rose from my desk, grabbed my coat and stepped into the elevator. I pressed the button for the first floor, and listened to the elevator squeak and groan as it carried us slowly down. The heavy silver doors opened. I’d walk across the lobby, out the golden revolving door and into the street.

This went on for three entire months, until one day something inside me broke. I picked up the phone to call employers, but had nothing to say. The elevator door was all I could think of. It was large, coffin like, silver and waiting. I saw my whole life being played out like a rat in a maze and wanted to vomit. I knew in that moment that I could never go up and down in that box again. After the rooster-warden made his rounds, I decided to make some very different kind of phone calls. I took out the yellow card files that held the jobs and the white files that held the names of each applicant, and called them one at time. I have the perfect job for you, but don’t tell them the agency sent you, or you’ll be charged a fee. Just go over and introduce yourself and tell them what you’re good at. Oh, and whatever you do, no matter how desperate you are, don’t ever ever come to this agency to find work. You will not be happy with the result.

It was Friday. I collected my paycheck, told the manager I was leaving to start a brothel and walked out the door. I walked straight ahead to the elevator, then made a sharp right turn and took the stairs.

Nancy’s Story

bird-in-handNancy had lots of psychiatric labels when she came to see me; bi-polar and borderline personality to name a few. She was thirty years old, severely overweight and had an attachment disorder that compelled her to phone her father several times every hour. Nancy came for healing at her father’s request.

When she sat down the generator outside the window burst into life, roaring with deafening noise. The button on the tape player refused to stay in the record position, the microwave engaged, the dog began barking and a neighbor knocked on the door. It is not unusual for children with psychic abilities to cause such disruption, but this was a different energy. When I closed my eyes to read for her, I saw the spirit of a large unbalanced man who was sharing her body.

Nancy had been so labeled, treated, medicated and repressed by the medical system that she’d lost all sense of health. Together we found and enforced her healthy-self and brought it back into consciousness, so she had a frame of reference to begin our work. I spoke about spirit possession, and asked if she was aware of it.

I have always felt there was an uncontrollably violent part of me, she said, that is living my life. I do things that frighten other people. When it’s happening, it feels like I get pushed aside, as if someone else is doing it. Then I wake up, look around and wonder what happened.

Nancy went away with a new understanding and spiritual perspective which gave her strength and encouragement, but I knew I couldn’t make progress until the spirit was removed.

incenseI have always seen spirits. For some reason, I vibrate with a higher energy frequency, an openness and sensitivity that allows sight into realms that don’t exist for most people. I have been called to remove disruptive spirits from houses and from clients like Nancy in the past. I do it by quieting, closing my eyes, and allowing them to come into vision. I witness their story, all of which plays like a movie inside my head. I am not always successful in this work, but when there is success, the spirit moves on and their absence changes the person’s life for the better. The spirit I saw in Nancy felt large, male and violent. I didn’t feel that I was strong enough or capable enough to move him out, so I began to research someone who might do it for me.

I heard about a medical intuitive from a friend, and asked Nancy if she would be interested in going.  After Nancy’s visit, the healer informed me that there was no problem at all. If there were I would have seen it, she said. Her casual approach and ungrounded confidence led me to believe that she had no skill in that area at all.

I asked for help from a healer from the Lakota tradition, but he was full of ego and wanted Nancy to show up for weeks of training before starting the work. That would never happen, so I passed on him as well.

I was walking in downtown Portland with my friend, Cora, when we happened upon Nancy. After she and I exchanged pleasantries, Cora looked troubled. Who was that woman, she asked? She has such a dark energy in her. It feels male and angry, like it’s been with her a long time.  Cora’s words were helpful, because it’s easy to doubt myself when I am the only person who sees what I see. I have learned to trust, but there is still the loneliness of a work that is not easy for others to comprehend or share.

I continued to search for the right person for a full year. I asked a local clairvoyant, who is excellent with predictions, but found her uncomfortable with thoughts of possession. I asked a Catholic friend if she knew a priest who was capable, but got no reply. In my frustration, I encouraged myself to do the work, but a wiser part knew that I was out of my depth. This spirit would take a strong masterful personality, not a gentle feminine one.

My daughter and granddaughter live in an ashram, and mentioned that the Abbot, Swami monkChetanananda was returning from a year in Tibet. The term Swami, means teacher and bringer of light in Tibetan Buddhism. I had not met him before, but encouraged Nancy’s father to seek an audience  and explain the situation. He and Nancy went together and I came later. The Swami is a large bodied man, over six feet tall, who has devoted his life to spiritual practice and mastery. We talked about spirits and spirituality. He confirmed my vision and agreed to meet with Nancy for three puja’s, or healing rituals, where he would release the spirit. I was extremely grateful, since it is rare for the Swami to attend the healing of an individual.

It is not uncommon in healing for things to get worse before they get better, which is what Nancy reported after the first session. She exploded in anger and was crippled by migraine headaches. During the second puja, the spirit was released and the third brought her back to normal.

Nancy is a different person now. She no longer lives in cloaked avoidance of light, but seeks it. She can function, react normally, is no longer violent, and no longer calls her father for constant assurance.  She is in school, doing well and working two jobs. When the spirit entered, at about age twelve, her own development was arrested. So she and I met to repair her sense of self, and make sense of many troubled and forgotten years. There is more work for her to do, but that is in the future. For now, she is happy to have joined the world and I am happy for her.

Trust

red-leafAs the last leaves fall, I find myself empty, as empty as a barren tree at twilight. Change is in the air. I’ve been taken down to lath and bone. No layering on top of what was. This is a removal, a time of letting go, a stripping away to allow the new. There is little fear, just an observant eye noticing the process. I see one hand wanting to hold the past because some part of me believes that’s all there is. But another, wiser part, stands back to attend. You’re being stripped bare, she tells me. You’ll move forward in a different form after hibernation and adjustment. It’s just another cycle of life being life, so open your hands, Let it fall and wait. You will receive. This is just life being life.

The Choosing

car-repair

We’re traveling to Los Angeles next week in a new car. A car we have not yet found or bought. The pressure is on. This car is for me, a gift from my husband, but I’m having trouble choosing it, because I’m in an identity crisis.

The therapist in me is stepping back. The seer is closing her eyes. The healer is storing her remedies on the back shelves in the pantry. People still walk though my door. I extend my hand, my heart and my spirit, but I can feel this identity slipping away. She is halfway through the door marked leaving. I can still see her face, the strength in her shoulders and the courage in her stance, but soon, very soon, she will be a shadow. The door will close and she’ll live only in memory. Those were good years, rewarding, exhausting, and sleepless. Open arms defined me, bountiful and willing.

What a difficult time to choose a car, because a car is a reflection of Self. It’s meant to hold me as I move too fast through time and space, arriving at unknown destinations again and again.

My passion has turned to writing. My expression craves storytelling and connection. This is not the performance art of the past, where I stood costumed and elevated to be witnessed and heard. No. This is a private deep excavation of self and soul which leads, encounters, uncovers and continues. This new self does not want to transform pain by receiving, holding and mothering. No. She wants to sit in her nightgown with a cup of steaming tea, wrap her hands around the rim, and watch soothing vapors rise in scents of chamomile or ginger. She wants to cozy up, put her arm around you and say, Let me tell you a story. Let me help you laugh, let me give you perspective. Come away with me, escape. Come back when you are centered, restored and renewed. Courage lies in listening.

That’s the self that’s rising from the core. She is easy and old, with nothing to prove. There is no expectation, just allowing and being. She wants to go in and in, until she finds that precious and revealing wave of truth, then ride it like a wild-haired senior surfer.

So, help me out here. What kind of car does she drive?