Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Am I an ass or are you?

Ever hear the expression, 'Never assume, it makes an ass out of you (u) and me'?

Ever wonder why each person ends up an ass?

The obvious answer is because one person assumes.  Let me say that again.  ONE person makes an assumption.

It seems it's a no-win situation.  If we both end up looking like an ass, why do we make assumptions?  Who wants to look like an ass?  Apparently lots of people, given how quick people are to share their opinions in the context of what is wrong with someone else's!

Few of us ever stop to think about the roots and repercussions of our assumptions.  Some of us are so quick to blurt out exactly why the other person's point of view is wrong or what we don't like about it, we forget to check our ego at the door and pay attention to the other person's intent and perspective.  Often it means we miss the opportunity presented to us to see things in a different light, to learn and to grow.  There are always two sides to every story.  It doesn't mean we have to agree with them.  It just means we need to respect what they are trying to convey, do or say.

In so many aspects of my life, choice is paramount to the outcome you experience.  Life is full of choices.  Hundreds of them every day.  Do I wear the blue shirt or the red one?  Do I have cereal or toast?  Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?  Perhaps it's deeper than that.  Do I tell that person they hurt me with their words?  Do I confront someone who is being deceitful?  Do I submit a knee-jerk response to a statement or action because it touched a nerve in me, or do I take some time to be with that reaction myself.  To examine it.  To determine why I had the reaction I did.  To think about my reaction and my response before sharing it.  Was it about them or was it about me?  Chances are high it was really about me.  They were just speaking what they believed to be right and true. Their intent was not to anger me or upset me, and even if it was, why?  Whose issue is it?  Really.  My reaction is about me and the fact I don't agree.  Theirs is about them and their beliefs.  Both of us could be genuine and stand proud in our conviction.  We could both be right, because all that matters is what's right to us.  There is something to be said for counting to 10 before reacting, though.  Interesting, isn't it?

It's really difficult to make a good and truly informed choice if we do not know all the options, benefits, risks and alternatives.  This is true of anything, anywhere.  Every action has a consequence, be it good, bad, or indifferent.

As an example, I write and teach a lot about topics pertaining to safety.  I get many comments and expressions of gratitude for educating people about potential risks and dangers so they can make the choice to protect their children and families.  I give them information they previously did not have.  Is that true of everyone?  No, of course not.  Some people did already know some or even all of that information.  I'm thrilled when that's the case!  My target audience is the people who don't know.  I know I can't control what people think and do.  All I can do is provide information and perspective.

There are always a few people who accuse me of fear mongering.  Of being over the top.  Who take things out of context.  Who accuse me of being paranoid or worse.  They prefer to think they already know everything there is to know (maybe they do) or 'it' won't happen to them.  I used to get really upset by those things, because my intent is pure and truly about saving lives.  I lost a child to something that could have been prevented.  If I had known of the dangers, I would have taken action to prevent the accident that killed her.  I assume others would want the same.  I'm an ass, because not everyone does.

You know what?  I'm OK with that.  Why?  Because I know what my purpose and mission in this lifetime is and part of it involves teaching people how to keep their kids safe.  If I push your or their buttons, good!  They are your buttons, not mine!  If they need to turn it back around to be about me, so be it.  I don't wish them ill will.  I feel sad and sorry that they missed the point, but I know it's out of my control.  It doesn't change what I think, say, write or do.  It doesn't change who I am and why I am who I am.  It doesn't deter me from my mission.  Am I mindful that some people may react negatively to something meant to be full of love and goodness?  Sure.  We are all entitled to our feelings, actions and choices.  Owning them, that's the challenge sometimes.

I think perhaps the lesson here is that nothing happens in isolation.  Every choice impacts someone else, somewhere, in some way.  If we are more cognizant of our choices and think before we speak and act, perhaps we'd all be wiser for it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day - Is one death more important than another?

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

Traditionally, it is a day to honor those who have lost their lives in service to our country.  There are events held locally and nationally to honor the dead.  Their cemetery spots are decorated with flags and markers noting the branch of the service in which they served.  Families tidy up their resting place.  Ceremonies are held.  Parades go through the streets and citizens wave flags.  Children have the opportunity to learn about our country, our freedom, and the path some brave men and women choose to defend our freedom.  They have an opportunity to learn about war and peace and death and heroes.

I am grateful, as I am sure all of you are, for all those who serve and have served our country.  It takes a very special person to do so, and I pause today, like many, to honor, remember and thank them.  If you are a veteran or an active service member, I thank you.

I also think this is a day where we should be asking ourselves where our priorities are as a country.  Particularly in how we treat and care for the members of our military and their families.  Why is it professional sports players and CEO's make waaaaay more money?  Why is it we can't seem to provide the financial, medical and mental health assistance these veterans and their families need when they are in or return from active duty in a violent region of the world?   What a great day to start and be persistent on fixing what is wrong with the system so we can better care for and truly honor our veterans by treating them with the respect and care they deserve while alive, not just when they are gone.  That is far more valuable than one day of parades and ceremonies.

Every year I ponder, why just one day?  While I understand the concept of special days to honor people and things, why are we not celebrating the lives of ALL those who have died, regardless of how, on this day and every day?  Why don't we have a day dedicated to celebrating our loved ones who have died, period?  As a community, not just as a family. What makes the lives of those who serve in the military any more valuable than someone who works at the local market?  Everyone serves someone else in some capacity. Everyone has a family.  Everyone loves someone else.  Every loss is painful, deep and profound to someone, somewhere.

Mexico has the day of the dead on November 1st.  It's a National holiday.  It also coincides with All Souls Day.  They *get* how important it is to celebrate everyone who has died.  As a country and as a collective community, they share a common bond.  Everyone knows someone who has died.  Every life deserves to be honored.  Every death deserves to be honored and that person remembered.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Some people get upset when others use Memorial Day as their personal day of the dead.  When they focus as much, or perhaps more, on their loved ones who have passed than the veterans who have.  I know today is one of my Meggie days.  Her special place is prettied up with flowers and decorations.  I will visit it.  She will be on my mind, as she is every day, but a bit more so today.  It brings me solace to know she lies between two veterans.  I know they protect her, even though she never met them.  I will pause at their special places today and say a silent prayer for their families.

I will never forget one Memorial Day a few years ago.  My oldest son was marching in the parade with the cub scouts.  My youngest was still very young.  It was probably two years after Meg died.  They start the parade at the cemetery where Meggie now 'resides'.  One of my youngest pre-school friends was there.  He took her to Meggie's place and 'introduced' her.  They walked around together.  He told her about Meggie.  They played with her trinkets.  Many of the other children were running around the cemetery and periodically pausing to look at the stones and the flags.  Parents freaked out.  Telling them to stop.  Why?  I don't think it's disrespectful at all.  They are children.  They are exploring.  Reading the head stones.  Asking questions.  Learning about how we honor our dead.  I've said a gazillion times before, we are horrible in our society about dealing with death.  Kids can teach us a lot.  Let them lead us.

I sure as hell hope when I'm long gone, someone stops by my stone someday, years later, who never knew me, and can tell by the words and the decor who I was and why I was important to somebody.  That's what Memorial Day is really about.  Remembering.  Honoring lives.  Honoring love.

May the love of those you have lost surround you today and always.  Take a moment to remember them.  Close your eyes.  See their face.  Hear their voice.  Feel their embrace.  Feel the love.  Give it back to them.  Tell them you miss them, remember them and love them.  Know they feel the same for you.

Never forget.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Metaphysical A to Z: Z is for Zodiac

Is there any other "Z" word more all encompassing?

The Zodiac is a celestial coordinate system that is quite complex, at least to me. I do not profess to know a lot about it or to understand it, for it takes quite a bit of study to comprehend.  Astrology is a huge branch of metaphysical science and one that is too vast and too broad to cover here.  I am intrigued by the Zodiac and the symbolism and meanings associated with it.

As someone intrigued with the vastness of our universe and who enjoys stargazing, the constellations of the zodiac were my indoctrination to the topic.  Each of the signs has many symbols associated with it as well as an elemental association.  There are certain qualities of personality also associated with the different signs of the zodiac that I find fascinating and often ring true!  Those horoscopes based on your astrological sign are always amusing and food for thought!

To me, the signs of the Zodiac, like so many things in our universe, speak to the commonalities we all share.  There is a constant yet there is also constant change.  The astrological calendar is cyclical, just like life.  It is representative of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts.  We all fall under certain signs, yet it takes all the signs to make us one, and then it repeats.  There are no limits to our energy or the time:space continuum.

That old pick up line of "What's your sign, baby?" carries a significant amount of information!  Perhaps that really should be a valid point of discussion when engaging in new relationships.  There is much to be learned about ourselves, others and the Universe at large.

In case you were wondering, I'm a Virgo.  Surprised?  :-)

What's your sign?

Metaphysical A to Z: Y is for yin and yang

Yin and yang are wonderful "Y" words.   The depth of the symbolism is profound, yet simple.  It represents the duality and interdependence of nature and of our very being.  It is everything. 

From the Eastern culture, the symbol (also called the Taiji)  is a circle made up of teardrop shaped black and white swirls, each with a speck of the other within it. Opposites, yet complimentary and inclusive of all that there is and all that will be. It is symbolic of balance, inclusion and the never-ending cycle of life.  

Yin is the black portion of the symbol.  It is associated with female energy, intuition, passivity, the earth and the moon. The energy is ascending in nature.  It is often associated with even numbers, calmness and death.  It is said the color orange and the tiger are associated with Yin in Eastern culture.

Yang is the white portion of the symbol and associated with male energy, the sun and energy and action. The energy is descending.  It is often associated with odd numbers, energy and birth.  Often represented in Eastern culture as an azure blue or with a dragon. 

Within each of the primary color swirls is a small round dot of the opposite color. This speaks to the truth that there is an interdependence and a constant relationship between the two.  You cannot have yin without yang.  They flow into each other.  Day into night.  Birth into death (and re-birth again), hot into cold and so it goes.  In Taoism, it speaks to the universal truth that it is what it is.  The path is about harmony through change. 

Yin-yang speaks to our wholeness.  We are truly greater than the sum of our parts.  We have within us, everything.  Each and every one of us.  We are both yin and yang.  We are darkness and we are light.  We have elements of both.  Our goal is to achieve balance of the two and recognizing and respecting the yin-yang in those around us.  

We are not only part of the circle of life, we ARE the circle of life. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Metaphysical A to Z: X is for....chiastolite!

Gotcha!  :-)

OK, so X words are really hard to come by!  Especially in a metaphysical A to Z challenge. So I am using some creative license here. 

So what is chiastolite and why did I choose it for my X post?  Excellent question!  Wonder no more!

Chiastolite is a stone that just so happens to be found in the town in which I live!  It's often called an "x" or cross stone because it has a distinctive x in it when cut.

It has strongly protective properties. It's often thought of as a stone of power as well. Some associate it with prosperity and love.  I like to think of it as  a stone of balance.  Like the 'x' in tic-tac-toe, it is it's own yin-yang.  The balance of the black cross mark against the brown stone is grounding to me.  The natural markings are often remarkably balanced and evenly spaced.  I think it can help us to recognize the need for balance in our lives.  The 4 quadrants remind us of all our bodies, the physical, the mental, the emotional and the spiritual and the need to nurture and balance all of them equally. 

It is associated with the sacral and root chakras most strongly.  I think it is a great stone to help connect to both earth and spirit, and by doing so, really taps into all of our chakras, again, bringing balance.   It grounds us and allows us to truly bridge the gap between earth and spirit. 

Some cultures associate the cross marking of the stone as a sign from God or assign religious significance to it.  It can be worn as jewelry like may other stones and crystals are, carried as a tumbled stone or displayed as a raw stone. 

If you don't have chiastolite as part of your crystal collection, perhaps you should consider adding it to see what it has to teach you.  Besides, it's a pretty cool stone since it makes an "x" every time! 

Metaphysical A to Z: W is for wisdom

What is wisdom?  We often say certain people are wise.  We thank them or respect and honor them for their wisdom. Some say certain people are 'wise' old souls.  There are many words of wisdom and pearls of wisdom.  We toss around the label of wise and assign wisdom sort of willy nilly sometimes.  How do we determine who has wisdom or what wisdom is and what wisdom is not?

Is wisdom the same as intelligence?  I think not.  There are many types of intelligence.  Wisdom is far more than intelligence.  Far more than being knowledgeable.  Anyone can acquire knowledge.  Wisdom involves more than  learning facts.  It's interpreting, owning and truly, deeply, understanding them. Then, the wise ones are often able to show others the way to wisdom, by example.

By definition, wisdom is the study and application of knowledge.  It is often considered to be coupled with a deep and intuitive knowing and understanding of all manner of things.  Typically, the 'wise one' is able to keep their emotions out of the subject matter at hand.  They can apply their knowledge and give keen insight and examples of their perception and knowledge.  They are able to remain calm and objective, even when discussing topics of controversy.  Their perspective often gives a sense of balance to the subject matter being discussed.

Wise people are usually pretty even keeled.  They are matter of fact.  They are often calm, centered and fully accepting of not only who they are, but of who everyone else is and where they are at in their journey.  They are not judgmental, just matter of fact.  They have an exceptional ability to reason, infer, interpret and explain things to others in a way they can relate to and understand. 

Those who are wise are often portrayed as 'all-knowing', smart or gifted somehow.  While that may be true, they may also just be really good at seeing the forest through the trees AND being able to see every tree for what it is, what it's made of, what it gives, what it receives and how it relates to all the other trees, the earth, the air, the animals and so on. What a gift. 

With wisdom comes the ability to see the big picture while acknowledging and understanding all the little pictures that contribute to it.  They recognize that a person or thing is far more than the sum of it's parts. 
We tend to assign the label of wise one to people in positions of power or those who have documentation to 'prove' their application of knowledge.  I know far more children and non-academic non-overachievers who I'd consider wise than those who have a bevvy of initials and prestigious credentials assigned to their name. 

I am a fan of words of wisdom.  I find many of the inspiring.  Many are from the great thinkers of our time.  Some are simply core values we seem to have forgotten until someone put it on a magnet or greeting card.  What they do is make us stop and think.  They inspire us to be better.  At least, I hope that's part of the benefit we get from subscribing to the wisdom shared by others.

My words of wisdom?  Live your life with no regrets.  Be the best you that you can be.  Live happy.  Die happy.  Share the love.  Be the light.  Eat more chocolate.  Unless you are allergic.  Then, feel free to share it with me and I shall trade you for what you love instead.  Pray for peace.  Sparkle on. 

  This sort of sums it up for me.  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What Mother's Day means to me

Happy Mother's Day to all you mommies!  I hope you had a wonderful day.  My thoughts are especially with those who are missing their own mothers today and those who are missing their children today, especially those who have left this earthly plane.

So, it's 3:49 pm.  I just got home from a double header soccer game for my youngest.  I left the house at 8:45 am, barely, after a late night out (wicked fun!) and running around like a crazy person this morning to get everything organized for half the day on a soccer field.  He gave me a big hug when he got up and wished me a happy mother's day.  He made me a card and taped a dollar in it.  "For chocolate, mom!"  Love that kid... We stopped for lunch on the way home because he was starving and, well, it's mother's day, so I don't cook.  I got a red carnation from the Chili's!  How nice.  He scored a goal today and his team clinched the championship of their division today.  The sun even came out. There were heart clouds, fleeting, but there!

I came home to the house in the same holy mess it was left in since yesterday.  Granted, my husband took my eldest son to his soccer game this morning, but he had a later start.  They were both still in bed when I left.  I had high hopes that I'd arrive home to a clean kitchen at the very least.  Nope.  Not even close.  I thought, perhaps, the bed would be made, as it usually is.  Nope.  Clearly, he got up in barely enough time to get his ass out the door with my son at 11:30 for his game.  No forethought to what might be a nice treat for me when I returned.  Apparently, previous discussions about these things were forgotten.  *sigh*

Part of me is pissed.  It's flipping Mother's day.  Do my GD housework for me!  Do what makes ME happy, even it if inconveniences you.  Get out of bed early for me.  It's not about how tired you are.  I was tired, too.  But I'm mom.  I have no choice.  I can't sleep until the last minute and waltz out the door.  No one offered to take the early soccer shift for me today.  This family would cease to function if it were not for me.  Wish me a happy mother's day before I walk out the door or send me a text, email or post it on Facebook.  Acknowledge the day to me.  No, I'm not HIS mother, but part of his job as step-father is making sure "my" day is about me and not about him or them.  Right?

I know he will do it eventually. I know he intends to do all of those things.  He just forgets that it means more to me to do it on my timetable instead of his.  I just really didn't want to come home to it not yet done. It only adds stress to an already difficult day.

Ok.  Rant over. There. See.  I'm not all sweet and earthy crunchy lovey all the time. I do have a bitchy human side, too.  :-)

So, now that my rant is over, I stop and think.  I'm near tears.  Why?  What is my frustration and anger really about?  I know better than to have the expectations I did.  It only sets me up for disappointment. It's not his fault for not thinking of me, my wants and needs even if only for this day.  Or even if it is, the truth is it's my fault for not spelling out what I wanted or needed and when.  For having the expectation he'd 'get it' and remember it.  It's a common tale.  I have no one to blame but myself.  Knowing he WILL do those things at some point today makes me feel badly that I allow myself to get upset about it not being done my way in the first place.  He's so good to me and the boys, so thoughtful and loving, what right do I have to complain?

Of course, it runs deeper than the fact my house was not cleaned when I return.  It's mother's day.  A harsh and sharp reminder that I failed motherhood 101.  I failed to keep all of my healthy children alive.  It's grief, pure and simple.  Manifesting as irritation and frustration at stupid little things. Meghan is dead.  You all know the story.  You all know the guilt I carry with me and don't for a second bother to tell me I shouldn't feel the way I do.  I do.  It's my burden to bear.  I'm simply sharing how I feel.  I'm not the only one.  Any mother who has lost their child will likely tell you they feel the same way.

On a day when mothers everywhere look forward to being pampered, thanked and acknowledged for the hard work of mothering, a day when they spend the day with their children, the stark absence of one of my children in my life on this particular day makes the pain of the fact Meghan is not here with me all the more sharp.  It's like salt in the wound.  A trigger day that you might not expect would be a trigger day.

Add to it the fact I'm thinking of the fact my mother and aunt and uncle are celebrating their first mother's day without their mother, who died just a week ago.  It hits home with the realization someday my mother, too, will be gone.  That I can't celebrate with her either, in person, because they live in Florida.  We chatted this morning though, before I left for soccer.

I spent all morning being 'on' for my son, Meg's twin, at his soccer game.  He played great.  His team played great.  I enjoyed hanging out with the other soccer moms and dads.  They know about Meghan, but they have no idea the pain I was in, the tears I held back, the nerve all those little girls hit for me today.  The fact she should have been there, too.  It's just...it hurts.

I'm now home.  Exhausted and fighting tears.  I just want to crawl into a hole and sulk.  I want to be alone.  I don't want to deal with the mundane things of the day.  The pain of her loss hits hard now.  It was an undercurrent all day, a subconscious presence.  Now, I sit with the silence of her absence.  I miss her.  Perhaps a bit more than most other days.  On a day when I'm supposed to be celebrated by ALL my children, there is one huge void. I long to hear her voice.  Stroke her silky hair. Snuggle up and read a book.  Dance and be silly.  Watch her and her brothers do whatever they might be doing if she were still here.  I am gazing out my window at the cherry tree losing it's blossoms in the wind.  She would have loved it.  Her brother is out there loving watching the petals fall.  He loves that tree.  It reminds him of her.

Soon my eldest and my husband, his step-father, will be home from his soccer game.  He will clean the kitchen. He will make the bed. He will rally the children. He will love me and acknowledge the pain of my loss.  We will go out for dinner.

It's a double-edged sword.  I want to go.  I don't want to go.  I will go and I'm sure I will enjoy it.  I will feel guilty for all I said earlier in the post, and then again, I won't.

I am a bereaved mom.  All I want on mother's day is what any mother wants.  To be appreciated for all that she is and all that she does.  To spend the day with her children making it all about her.  I don't ever get to have that.  Ever.  Because I no longer have all of my children with me on this earth.  Nothing will ever change that.  Of course I love my boys, even the one who doesn't acknowledge mother's day without serious prompting and the threat of not feeding him.  It's just not the same.  It's not what I want.  It's not what I imagined Mother's Day would ever be.  Yet it is what Mother's day is and always will be for me.

~ 4 hours later~

My writing was interrupted by the return of my eldest and my husband.  As I predicted, my husband showered me with love.  He acknowledged the day is difficult for me.  He cleaned the kitchen and did the laundry.  He gave me a music CD of one of my favorite artists, Michael Buble (he sings only to and for me, you know).  :-)  He arranged to take us out for dinner.  My eldest made me a card in his silly way with a hand made gift certificate.  It made me laugh.  We went out for dinner.  We had fun.  We laughed.  We ate.  There may have been a chocolate martini.  There will be cake for breakfast tomorrow.

I came home and sat in the hot tub.  Alone!  I am now, still exhausted, still missing Meghan, but grateful for my boys and my husband.  They make the pain of this day much easier to bear.  They love me.  They really do. Heaven knows I love them all the way to the end of the Universe and back.

Sometimes it's not just about what you've lost.  It's about what you have, what you have learned, and what you have gained from that loss.  This day will never be easy.  It will never hold the joy it fully should for me, but I am still a mommy to three.  And hey, how many people get to mother a spirit daughter and her two earth bound crazy brothers?  :-)

Talk about having your hands full!

One version of the Mommy gym

Another, more fun version of the mommy gym

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Metaphysical A to Z: V is for veil

No, not a bridal veil, but what a lovely analogy that provides!

Many refer to the veil in metaphysics as that invisible barrier between life and death.  The dance our soul does between the earthly realm and the spiritual realm.

A bride wears a veil to 'hide' from her husband to be.  Symbolically lifting the veil is revealing her for all that she is.

The lifting of the metaphysical veil is allowing us to see into the other side.  It reveals to us a wealth of information about who we are and from whence we came.  It often enables us to mingle with spirit, love and light.  It reveals something that before was not known to us.

It's really just an awareness of things beyond our physical experience.  It ties in to many of the topics I've already written about.  It's about seeing, feeling and knowing about the energy in and around you. For some, it's that moment of awakening or the a-ha moment when they realize they are truly spiritual beings.  For others, it's the moment they truly embrace and honor their intuition and/or truth.  Perhaps it's the moment they realize they can communicate with those on the other side or deliver message.

Many believe the veil is lifted or 'thinner' at times of the equinox and solstice.  Yoga and meditation can often bring about an awareness of the veil and what is on the other side. Some people believe it's often lifted as we approach the end of life ourselves or when we are around those who are actively dying.  People who have out of body and near death experiences often talk about the veil, the light and the awareness on a purely energetic and knowing level of something bigger and more beautiful than ourselves.  Some are able to get a glimpse of the other side or even take a short journey there while still firmly rooted here on earth. Others may only see the veil and what's on the other side at their time of transition or death.

Simply put, the veil is the invisible layer or space between Heaven and earth. Like a fog that changes in transparency. It is that space through which we must travel to get from the physical to the purely energetic and spiritual.  For some, it's a peaceful and loving transition literally flown to and through with glee.  For others, it may be more of a difficult journey to commit to go through it and on to the next place.  I do believe that once any inner conflict they have is resolved, everyone does in fact fly through the veil and into pure love and light.

Metaphysical A to Z: U is for understanding

Are you understanding?  Are you accepting of other's beliefs or opinions even if they differ from your own?

Understanding sleeps with comprehension.  Their love child is peace and harmony.

It's that simple.

One thing this world needs is a greater sense of understanding.  We need to stop being so quick to think we know everything or make judgments based on our beliefs and ours alone.

Once cannot attain inner peace, peace among their friend and family and certainly not world peace without  truly making an effort to be understanding of our differences   Of course to do that we also need to be open-minded, respectful and kind.  Other personality traits that are all too lacking in our society as a whole.

So much of what I have already written about in my A to Z challenge, let alone the bulk of my blog musings, contribute to what it means to be an understanding individual.  There is not much else to say, so this one is short and sweet.

Respect others for who they are and what they believe.  Be understanding of our differences as humans.

As Nike says, just do it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Metaphysical A to Z: T is for truth



They seem to go together, don't they?

The bigger question is why is it so flipping hard for people to be honest and truthful?  Not only to others but more importantly, to themselves?  So many of us simply don't want to see, hear or acknowledge the truth about certain things in our lives.  We make stuff up.  We omit information (so as not to actually lie to someone).  We outright lie.  We embellish to make things sound better, or more likely, to make ourselves look better.

Why?  Why is it so hard to be truthful?

I propose it's because we want to be part of the crowd. We want to be liked and loved.  We want to be popular.  We want to be normal, whatever that is.  We want to stay nicely hidden in the middle of the herd.  We feel safe and protected there.  We don't want to stand out as different. We don't want to take a chance that we might upset someone or lose friends, co-workers or family if we admit how we really feel or who we really are.

The problem is that then we lose sight of who we really are.  We get complacent.  We 'settle'.  When we settle for less than what we truly want, it almost certainly will bite us in the ass later in life.  A prime example: how many couples do you know who 'settled' for their current spouse of life partner?  How many are unhappy in their relationships?  How many are having physical or emotional affairs as a result, without the knowledge of their partner?  How many have been 'caught' and sworn to never do it again, and yet, are doing it again?  I know of a few personally in this situation right now.  How many know they are unhappy but don't actually have the conversation about why they are unhappy and explore how to fix it with their partner?   What about those who are unhappy in their jobs but feel obligated to their employer, co-workers, other benefits of the job or simply make it about money despite being unhappy?

How many people acknowledge the unhappiness in their lives but claim to be unable to do anything about it?  Excuses like "it's better for the kids", it's too difficult to change life circumstances now or financial reasons, while certainly important considerations, are excuses plain and simple.  Where there is a will, there is a way.

Humans seem to be conflict averse, especially 1:1 and with those we have the most intimate relationships with.  We think we're so smart, that we already know what that other person thinks, will say or will do, so we act as if they already have.  We are really, really good at making it about someone else instead of about us.  We think we can make them comply with our wishes and then let the wool be pulled over our eyes because it's easier than acknowledging and dealing with the truth of the circumstances.

Guess what?  It's ALL about us.  YOU are a primary player in every single circumstance of your life. In fact, you are the only constant!  Nothing happens in a vacuum.  You are the master of your destiny.  You are your own sherpa along your personal path.  The baggage you take along and accumulate is your choice, your burden and yours alone.  Those you choose to take along with you and encounter along the way all have lessons and messages for you. It's OK if they aren't with you for the entire journey.

One of the hardest things to do is to discover your truth.  Meaning, what do YOU believe?  What are your core beliefs?  What is your gospel?  What is important to you physically, spiritually, emotionally and even sexually?  Once you discover it, embrace it.  Honor the beautiful person you are, just the way you are.  Who the hell cares if no one else gets it?  If you spend your whole life living to be what someone else wants you to be, you will regret it on your death bed.  Why wait until then?

Once you've discovered your truth and embraced it it's time to own it, speak it and live it.  This is not an easy transition for most.  They do say nothing comes easy.  It is incredibly freeing and brings tremendous peace and abundance into the lives of those who have the desire  to live a life of truth.  True to who they really are.

You might enjoy reading the Celestine Prophecy.  Or, as I've mentioned before, my beloved Siddhartha, in your quest to be true to your soul and your purpose here on earth.

Truth: sincerity in action, character and utterance or a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality (Merriam Webster)

Start small if you must.  Be totally honest in everything you say and do to everyone today.  Then try it for two days in a row, then a week.  Write down who you need to be honest with and about what.  Then, do it.  The truth will set you free.  It really will.

Metaphysical A to Z: S is for Spirit

Ah, spirit.  It's a word and a sentiment that is tossed about quite a bit in the 'crunchy' world of metaphysics as well as in more traditional religious and spiritual pursuits.  What exactly does one mean when they refer to spirit?

Well, I suppose it depends on the context in which the word is used and the beliefs one subscribes to in interpreting the definition of spirit.  Since I can't speak for anyone else, I shall give you my interpretation and opinion on who or what spirit is.

First off, the word spirit can have different meanings as I mentioned, depending on context.  If we turn to Merriam-Webster for guidance, among the many definitions for spirit are:

1.  :an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms

: a supernatural being or essence: as
a capitalized : holy spirit
b : soul 2a
c : an often malevolent being that is bodiless but can become visible; specifically : ghost 2
d : a malevolent being that enters and possesses a human being
: temper or disposition of mind or outlook especially when vigorous or animated <in high spirits>
: the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person

To me, Spirit (with a capital "S") can refer to what you might call God or Source.  It is that from which we all came and to that which we all return.  An energetic being, born of love and light.  One of my most favorite quotes is "We are not humans having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience."

Most people think of the Holy Spirit.  I always wondered who or what exactly IS the Holy Spirit?  If there is father (God) and son (Jesus) then where did Holy Spirit come from?  Doesn't the connotation imply something bigger and all encompassing?  Doesn't it sound truly Divine?  Isn't it often imagined as beautiful and full of light and love?  Isn't it beyond our human understanding and existence? If we religiously (for some) invoke the triad of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, then don't we acknowledge that there is an energy of sorts that is there to guide us?

Someone's spirit is akin to their soul or their essence.  That energetic soup that makes them who they are.  Our bodies are but vessels for our spirit while here on earth.  When we die, our soul or spirit is believed to leave our bodies.  Some people can sense when this is going to happen for others or even for themselves.  Some people see or feel the 'spirits' of those around us, especially when someone is preparing to die.

I've never liked the term ghost.  The whole idea of disembodied spirits being somehow bad and intent on scaring people and being mean and nasty just doesn't resonate with me.  It's too Scooby Doo-ish!  I think instead, 'ghosts' are simply spiritual beings that for one reason or another just are not ready to fully 'fly' and leave the earthly realm.  They may have unfinished business here or be afraid to leave loved ones behind. Maybe they are afraid of going to the next place.  Perhaps they are held here by loved ones who refuse to let them go energetically, like a rope of sorts, keeping them from flying free.  Maybe they are just jokesters and are having fun playing with those still here on earth.  Some may find it amusing, others may find it scary.  Especially if you don't know who the 'ghost' is.  Often, all you need to do is ask them what they need and give them permission to move on.

I know people who see 'dead people'.  They are not crazy.  They are well educated and respectable members of the community.  How do you explain that?  Others feel the presence of those on the other side.  it may or may not be a warm and fuzzy feeling.  I'm sure it can be scary.  Sometimes, it's because they bring us messages.  The problem is our wonderful logical human brains can't explain or make sense of it, so we make it fit into what feels good and comfortable to us and write it off as 'wishful thinking' or 'imagination' or 'coincidence'.

I really like the 4th definition.  Spirit is that feeling and knowing part of you.  It is what makes you, you!  If only we listened to it more often...

Spirituality is simply being in touch with your own spirit and the collective spirit of love and light.  Embracing who you are and from which you came.  It doesn't matter what you believe, just that you have something that makes sense to you.

My hope for everyone is that they connect with their spirit and with Spirit and find their path to peace.  Being open-minded and getting out of your head and into your heart is a good place to start.

If you are interested in a really good introduction to spirit, I highly recommend The Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyn Myss.  It was what started me on this journey and it is thought provoking and a worthy read for everyone, no matter what your beliefs.


A to Z Challenge: R is for Reiki!

You can't tell me you didn't see this one coming if you know me well!  :-)

Reiki (ray-kee) is an ancient spiritual (not religious) natural healing method.  Reiki comes from the Japanse ‘Rei’ which means universal and the source of the energy and ‘ki’ which means life force or movement of that energy.  The Reiki practitioner acts as a conduit for spiritual life force energy, which you may have heard referred to as Ki, Chi, Prana, and other terms.  It has been clearly documented that human beings, indeed all living things have an energy field, often referred to as an aura.  In fact, if you remember your physics, we are made of matter, which is energy!  Each of our cells, even our DNA vibrates at different rates. 

Reiki Kanji
When our body is stressed, it experiences dis-ease.  The chakras or energy centers of the body get 'stuck' or blocked.  This can cause physical and emotional symptoms and often a feeling of disconnectedness with one's higher self and purpose.  Reiki can promote relaxation and the relief and release of physical and emotional stress, decrease pain or discomfort and promote healing on an emotional, physical and spiritual level. 

Reiki can help to facilitate the self-healing process by raising the vibratory level of our physical, mental, and emotional bodies where thoughts, feelings, and memories are held, providing an opportunity to release the blocked energy and held emotions.  Reiki can also clear, adjust, and balance the energies that flow through and around our bodies that can be out of balance as a result of injury, illness, or emotional stress.  Reiki can also help to expand our awareness of our own connection to a higher power or simply ourselves.  Anyone can benefit from Reiki.

The Reiki practitioner is only a facilitator thorough which healing energy is conducted and transmitted to the client through hand positions on the body. Using your body's own energy, the Reiki practitioner helps to 'reset' the chakras, release that stuck energy and facilitate whatever healing the client wants and needs. The client makes the choice to accept and use this energy in whatever way they see is in their best interest. The Reiki practitioner is merely a facilitator. 

Reiki can not cause harm or cause injury.  It is a lovingly given divinely guided energy, given only with your permission.  It's long been called 'therapeutic touch' by those who didn't realize they were called to Reiki energy.  It is not a massage, but it can be more relaxing and healing than one!  It is done with the client fully clothed, and really can be done anywhere, even long distance!  The power of intention is strong!  Some Reiki practitioners also use music, aromatherapy and crystals or sound healing in their practice to facilitate relaxation and energy balancing.  

What is the History of Reiki?

It is believed to have originated in the ancient civilization of Mu and was also practiced in India and Tibet.  It was rediscovered in the mid 1800’s by Dr. Mikao Usui, during a spiritual experience.  In 1925 Dr. Usui trained Dr. Chujiro Hayashi who opened a Reiki clinic in Tokyo and developed the Usui system of Reiki. Dr. Hayashi trained Mrs. Hawayo Takata in 1938 and she brought Reiki to the U.S.   My Reiki training is from this lineage.

What Conditions Can Reiki Facilitate Healing?
Reiki can aid in healing any illness, injury, or condition from the common cold or headache to diseases and disorders.  It is very helpful in processing emotional stress as well

Reiki can ease the process of terminal disease but it will not prevent a being from transitioning from this life if it is their designated time.  It can help to ease the transition though and help those left behind process their grief

Reiki can ease pain and stress (both physical and emotional), calm emotions, and create a physical relaxation

Reiki can improve the results of medical treatments, reduce side effects, shorten healing time and reduce pain

Reiki can help you connect to your inner self and spirit as well as to a higher power if you so desire

Reiki is a great way to connect with your baby when pregnant and prepare for birth and parenting

The only requirement is that the client must give the practitioner permission to offer them the gift of Reiki.  How they use the Reiki energy is totally up to the client.  All healing is self-healing.  The Reiki Practitioner is simply a facilitator to help create the conditions for self-healing.

As I say in my brochure, Reiki is a way to relaxation and facilitation of healing for mind, body and spirit. 

I am also particularly drawn to this adaptation of the Reiki Precepts.  We'd all be better off to remind ourselves to live our lives following these 5 simple rules.

Just for Today...

I will have conscious awareness

I will live my life with integrity

I shall gratefully receive

I will live my own truth

I will honor each person to have their own truth

If you've never experienced Reiki I encourage you to try it.  If you have, I'm curious to hear what your experience of it was.  

If you are local, I can give you information on local Reiki shares or on classes where you can learn to be a Reiki Practitioner yourself!  There are 4 levels of Reiki and many different 'flavors' or variations of Reiki now.  

Reiki I is about self healing
Reiki II is about facilitation of healing in others and distance healing
Reiki III Is Mastery
Reiki IV is Master Teacher

If you want to learn more a few good books are Essential Reiki  or Reiki: The Healing Touch.  There are many other books out there. If you have a favorite, let me know what it is! 

Go forth and spread the love and light! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quartz

I consider quartz to be a perfect starter crystal.  Sort of like the mama crystal.  It's plentiful, inexpensive, and easy to find.  It comes in many 'flavors' and is a powerful amplifier of energy and healing crystal.  Everyone can benefit from having quartz in their home, their car and on their body!  Quartz is easily 'programmed' with your intention.  It's also very captivating to look at, especially when in the sun!  Quartz works with all chakras, but is probably most associated with the crown chakra and connecting with your higher self and the Divine.

I'm a fan of pocket stones.  A small tumbled quartz is great to keep in your pocket or purse.  Quartz points are lovely for grids, in plants, in your car or for healing work.  Quartz clusters are delightful to look at and bring with them all the properties of quartz.  I often put another stone whose energy I wish to amplify on top of my quartz cluster.  You could also make a simple grid with quartz clusters around a different stone to amplify it's energy.

Rose quartz is the stone of love and peace.  Who can't use that?!  It's abundant and actually mined in New England among other places!  You can use rose quartz to heal, to facilitate self-love and to bring love into your life.  It's pink, of course and a lovely heart chakra stone.  I almost always carry a tumbled rose quartz heart with me.  I have raw pieces in grids around the house, in my garden and at the cemetery at my daughter's 'special place'.  My rose quartz angel sits on my desk reminding me about love from the other side.

Smoky quartz is a wonderful grounding stone.  It's great for root/earth chakra work and meditation.  It's also a great stone for stress, anxiety and depression.  It's also good for those who are undergoing  chemotherapy or radiation when in it's natural form.

Often times, crystals choose you.  Meaning you will probably find yourself drawn to a particular kind, shape, size, color or an individual particular stone.  Trust that intuition and then look up that stone.  Chances are it will make perfect sense to you why you were attracted to it once you know the properties it has from a spiritual and metaphysical standpoint.

There are many other types of quartz and so much more one could write about it. If you are interested in purchasing quartz, it's easy to find at any metaphysical book store or you can order on line.  My favorite on line store is Healing Crystals.  A simple beginner's guide to crystals is The Crystal Bible.

Everyone should have a little quartz in their life!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A to Z Challenge: P is for Peace

Peace on earth.

Peace be with you.

Go in peace.

The peace corps.

Inner peace.

Peace is something so many of us strive and long for.  There are so many contexts in which is it used, only a few of which I mentioned above.

By definition, peace is a state of harmony, free from conflict.  Often used synonymously with tranquility.  It can be applied on a personal level by trying to avoid your own inner conflict and finding a way to bring peace to your inner self.  It flows from there to attempting to show others how to lead a life free from negativity and conflict.  This is best done by leading by example or perhaps, by teaching something that can help others achieve a sense of peace in their lives.

Sending wishes for peace are most often thought of at times of loss and tragedy.  This often brings comfort to others and helps us to create a sense of closure.  Knowing a loved one is 'at peace' means they are now free from the earthly experiences we perceive to have caused pain and suffering of some kind.  We, too, can feel peace knowing they, and we, are free from that experience.  The challenge there is for us left behind, for grief is a whole other experience.  There can and is peace in grief, but the only way out, is through.

The challenge for many of us is achieving a sense of peace when negativity and conflict seems to thrive around us, despite efforts to the contrary.  Old habits die hard.  Group mentality often prevails without our conscious awareness.  This can work on the side of peace as much as it can work against it.

I, like many, long for a peaceful existence.  I long for violence to end.  For people to truly learn to love one another, respect their differences and live in harmony.  I've said before I am an idealist but I don't think this is an impossible achievement.  It is one that will take a tremendous effort on every individual, family, social group, religion and every country in the world.

Perhaps this is an area where the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts.  Instead of looking at the conflict in the world and feeling overwhelmed and daunted, instead, look inside of yourself.

Let there be peace one earth, and let it begin with me.

And you.

May peace be with you.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A to Z Challenge: O is for Obsidian

Obsidian is a crystal that I've always loved.  It's birthed from volcanoes, literally coughed up by Mother Earth.

Black obsidian is a wonderful grounding stone associated with the root chakra and one that can transmute grief and trauma.  How appropriate I am behind on my A to Z challenge, but because I took a few days off to care for my dying grandmother.  If you were wondering, I have an obsidian heart with me.

Obsidian is also a wonderful stone of truth.  It is highly protective as a shield against negativity and can help you release negative patterns and habits.

Snowflake obsidian is a variation and it literally looks like snowflakes on the black glossy stone.  It is a stone of peace and healing.  It can be used to clear energy blockages and keep focused during times of chaos and stress.

Obsidian can be found raw or tumbled.  In Hawaii, there is a belief that you upset Pele, the Goddess of the Volcano, if you take anything from her.  It's an interesting conundrum.

Rainbow obsidian is a black obsidian that when polished takes on a rainbow appearance of color.  One of my favorite pocket stones is a small heart shaped rainbow obsidian.  It is said to be a powerful meditative stone and one good for transmuting fears and releasing blockages and protecting you from depression. Some say it was a stone used by Nostradamus.

If any of this resonates with you, you might want to head to a metaphysical book store and check out their crystals and stones and pick up an obsidian.

Although I could do an entire A to Z on crystals alone (perhaps my next challenge?), this one will be brief.  If you really want an in depth explanation of crystals and their spiritual properties, my favorite book is called Love is in the Earth.

Answers to the questions posed at 26,000 feet

On Wednesday, I posted about my musings while on a plane to Florida to visit my family and my last surviving grandparent, my maternal grandmother who had been recently admitted to hospice.  I had pondered why my intuition led me to choose this week to come, despite everyone saying I could wait until June.  Despite the fact Gram was doing just fine.

Over the years, I've learned not to question, just to listen and follow my intuition.  Tonight, I am feeling grateful and blessed.  For I now know the answers.

I came to her house right from the airport.  She was sitting up in the chair, waiting for me.  She knew I was coming and wanted to sit in the chair.  She was dozing.  I woke her up.  I'm fairly certain she recognized me and knew who I was.  I talked, I kidded, I goofed around like I always do.  She said a few things but mostly nodded yes or no.  She kept falling asleep, so I had to keep rousing her to have a conversation.  I was my usual sarcastic and humorous self with her, teasing her about her troll doll-esque hair and the fact she was actually wearing shorts and I think it was the 3rd time in my 43 years I'd seen her legs! I fed her rainbow sherbet because she was too weak to feed her self.  I helped to get her back to bed with my aunt.  I positioned her in bed.  I gave her Reiki.  I talked with my family about them, her, hospice and more.  I spent all day with her and my family.

Her only son asked for some quiet time alone with her that night.  So the rest of us went out for dinner.  It was lovely.  A nice break for my mother and aunt who have been caring for her non-stop for the past several weeks.  We chatted about the importance of giving her permission to die and about them giving themselves permission to let her go.  About my 'uncanny' intuition.  About the horrible weather!  We talked about calling the priest to give her last rites because it would be important to her.  We toasted to family and peaceful passings.  She slept well and peacefully that night, hardly waking up at all.

Thursday morning I went to her house again.  I painted her toes pink, just like I told her I would and probably much to her dismay!  I gave her Reiki again. She woke up about halfway through my session.  She was trying to sit up in her bed.  She was more confused that day.  But also more alert and active than she had been in days, just not coherent. She had that faraway look in her eyes. She would look at you, but through or past you.  She seemed to see things we couldn't.  Whether they were memories, hallucinations from the meds she was on or those on the other side calling her over, I don't know.

I helped my aunt put what I learned was her favorite necklace on.  The one she had reportedly worn every day.  It has a heart locket with a picture of my daughter in it, a pendant depicting Mother Mary holding a child and a St. Christopher Medal that was her mother's!  I had asked her if she wanted us to put it on and she nodded her head yes, quite convincingly.  She was still in there, just very intermittently. I later told her she could go to the light.  I asked her, "Isn't it pretty?", she nodded her head and mumbled "yes".

The hospice nurse came and Gram continued to get more agitated.  It was the beginning of what would be nearly 6 hours of hell for everyone.  She escalated by the hour.  She would desperately try to get out of bed, moan and then fall back and sleep for a few minutes, only to wake again and start where she had left off.  It reminded me of laboring women napping between contractions, only I think Gram had one foot in the earth realm and the other in the spiritual realm.  We gave her different combinations of medicines to try to calm her down.

I doula-ed her and my family.  We took turns supporting her physically, everyone emotionally and trying to be sure they ate and drank at least a little bit.  I tried to facilitate what I knew Gram would want and avoid what she wouldn't want.  We reminded her she could go whenever she was ready, we'd all be OK here.  She was safe.  I asked if she needed something else to be ready?  Was there someone we needed to call?  Something she needed to be wearing or have near her?  We found her rosary and put that on her. She received her last rites. She did settle for most of the priest's visit.  On some level she knew he was there.  He too, gave her permission to go to God, Mother Mary and the saints and angels.  He assured her they were ready and waiting for her.  He prayed with the family, recited the 23rd Psalm and the Lord's Prayer.

He no sooner left and she got more agitated.

It was difficult to witness her agitation and hard not to imagine it difficult for her to experience. Far more so for her daughters than for I.  At times she looked scared or in pain, but mostly she was just restless.  It was clear she just didn't know what to do or what she wanted, she just wasn't comfortable and was clearly trying to go somewhere.   We allowed her to sit on the edge of the bed with our help, we even finally helped to transfer her to the chair and then back to bed again.  She just didn't know what she wanted or needed and neither did we.  It was the most emotionally difficult and draining 6 hours I think any of us might have ever experienced.  Finally, she slept.

They call it 'terminal restlessness'.  The hospice nurse later referred to it as 'dancing with the angels'.  A period of time many people go through in the process of dying.   It's a transitional  period when they are not comfortable in their earthly skin anymore, but are not yet ready to leave it behind and make the transition to the next place.  It manifests as agitation and restlessness for they are also often lacking the mental and verbal capacity to explain what they are feeling.  For some, it's very brief, for others it can last days.  For her, it was really just those very long 6 hours.  Relatively short overall, but still far too long for anyone you love, no matter how much you understand the physiology behind it.

Today is Friday, May 3rd.  Exactly 6 weeks to the day since she was diagnosed with a massive cancerous tumor in her lung.  6 weeks since she decided she didn't want to biopsy it let alone treat it.  She knew what she did and did not want.  Good for her!

When I arrived this morning I was told she had one more 'episode' early last night of agitation but much shorter and less intense than the one earlier in the day.  The new medication regimen was helping to keep her calm and restful.  Then, she slept soundly.  By this morning, she was essentially unresponsive but resting comfortably.

I went in to see her and the first thing that struck me was that she looked so peaceful.  Her energy was totally different   She was truly at peace, her spirit had already left, just her body was left to finish it's job as her spiritual vessel her on earth.  I knew she was finally ready.  She had made her peace with it and was going to transition soon.  Her breathing was 'funky', with periods of apnea.  Her color was pale.  I gave her some Reiki again, I reminded her of the messages we wanted her to bring to Meggie, I told her to go to the light, to feel it's warmth and love, to fly free and whole.  I felt the familiar sense that there were those from the other side hovering, waiting to welcome her.

The home health aide came for her bath.  She was delightful and sang to her while she got her cleaned up and even washed her hair.  She was dressed in a coordinating outfit.  If there is one thing Gram always was, was monochromatic and matching!!  I pondered if we should put her knee socks on...

Shortly after she left, I felt a nudge to go check on her.  As I walked into the room, my aunt was kneeling at her side holding her hand and crying, she had just called out for my mom as I was walking in.  I got my mom.  No words were needed.  She knew.  Gram had left us.  She was free.  She was at peace.  It was over.  She looked SO amazingly peaceful.

I was surprised it happened that quickly, although I know how quickly it can happen, I also know how long it can linger. Initially, when I arrived, I thought she'd pass Friday night or Saturday.  My gut told me it was going to be today when I saw her this morning, but I expected it would be later in the day. Her body had caught up with her spirit a bit faster than I thought it would.

She chose to pass when no one was in the room, yet we were all there in the next room and it had literally been but a few minutes that she was alone in the room.  It always fascinates me how some people wait to be alone and others wait for certain people to be in the room.  Gram was a woman of control.  No doubt, she felt it was best to slip away so no one had to witness her last breath.  Knowing it wouldn't be long before we checked on her to discover she had quietly made the transition, on her own terms and in her own way.

We joked it was because she wanted to look good to meet God, so she waited for her bath and hair wash.  :-)

My gut told me when I booked this trip 2 weeks ago, that I was not only coming to say goodbye, but that I would be here for her transition.  It became very clear to me when I saw her on Wednesday after I arrived that was part of my guidance to be here.  Just as I doula at a birth, I was here to doula at a death.  A very special death, that of my grandmother.   I was here to facilitate the all important permission, to deliver important messages, to be sure what I knew of her wishes were granted because it can be so difficult for those closet to her and the situation to remember or see the importance of it for her when they are so deep in their own processing of her inevitable death.  I was here to support my family in the loss of their mother.

I was here to 'escort' my gram to the next place, to guide her to my Meggie.  A place she's said she's wanted to be since the day Meghan died.  Today, she is with her favorite granddaughter.  I sure hope she rested enough the past few days to keep up!  :-)

She knew that's why I was here (though no words were spoken about it between us) and I'm sure she knew that's why I was coming. See, that's what I do.  She knew in my coming, it would be 'safe' for her to go.

So, now I know why I am here.  There is no more wondering.  There are no more questions.  It was such an honor to be able to help care for her in her final days and hours.  A gift to be able to be here for her and for my mom and aunt and my dad.

I am grateful for my intuition   I am grateful for this family that has nurtured me and helped instill the values and gifts that have led me to where I am today.  I am grateful I was able to be here and for all the forces in the Universe that conspired to allow me to be.  I am humbled that part of my calling is involved both in bringing new life into this world and in being there when one transitions from this world to the next place.

I once wrote about the similarities for doulas in birth and in death.  I was reminded again today of how similar birth and death are.  How similar the rituals are.  How similar the need for information and support is. How integral family is.

Rest in peace, Gram.  You will be missed and remembered fondly.  Soak in that light.  You were and are loved.  Stop and visit now and again.  Just don't look under my couches.  Not that there are any dust bunnies there or anything...

Virginia McGillicuddy
September 22, 1926- May 3, 2013
Pictured here on her 86th birthday, at my wedding.  She had a blast! 

A to Z Challenge: N is for nature

 Next up in the metaphysical A to Z is N.  N is for nature!  Are you wondering how in the world nature is metaphysical?

Well, it certainly can be an aspect of spirituality.  Nature is all around us.  You can't avoid it.  You really can't even ignore it. Mother earth has many beautiful places, some stunningly so.  We have such an amazing variety of plants and animals around the world.  We have mountains and volcanoes, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and oceans, vast forests and lush meadows and even hot and dry deserts.

Nature is home to many creatures, all with a purpose and place in this world.  Just like each of us.  If you are a photography buff or artist of any kind, nature affords us countless opportunities to capture it's beauty.

Perhaps in the spring, the beauty of nature is most apparent in the re-birth that happens.  Here in the Northeast, seeing the tulips and daffodils bloom, watching the trees bud and suddenly leaf, seeing the forsythia literally explode with color, hearing the peepers and the birds singing their songs and seeing the pairing off that happens in the animal world brings a smile to my lips and happiness to my heart.

We are. in effect, one with nature.  We can't live without it.  The earth provides us with everything we need to survive.  Without the fruits of the earth, we would cease to exist.

Nature also provides us an opportunity to ground, center and connect.  To appreciate her beauty and abundant gifts.  An opportunity to give back by respecting her, taking care of her and doing what we can to protect the resources she provides so that she can continue to provide for future generations.  Too many of us take her for granted.  Too many of us don't appreciate what she has and how quickly we can lose what she has if we are not careful.

Spending time in nature can be relaxing.  It can be freeing.  Whether it's taking a walk, an adventure vacation, a photo walk/tour or exercising outside, making a regular habit of connecting with the world around us and taking time to appreciate her beauty and gifts can help us to be better humans.

For some, connecting with nature can also help us connect with spirit.  Something about feeling the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, the grass or sand or water under your feet or hearing the rain and thunder or seeing the snow softly fall can bring about a sense of peace and happiness.  Something about being out in nature truly grounds us.

If you are feeling stressed or scattered, try going outside for a bit.  You might find it is just what you need.  At the very least, next time you outside, notice nature around you.  Give thanks.  Appreciate the beauty.  Enjoy the nature around you.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Musings from 26,000 feet

I am sitting on a plane.  Window seat!  I am heading to Florida.  I wish it were for a vacation, but it's really not...

It began with leaving the house late, but at 4:44 am, witnessing a pretty spectacular sunrise (there are benefits to getting up at 4 am) and with a compliment from  a TSA agent on my choice of sweater.  :-)

Can I just say I love Southwest Airlines?  Wonderful customer service, great prices, love their boarding system.  As I sat in a comfy large faux leather chair waiting for my boarding group to be called I was witness to the wonder of Disney.  A family was in line in the "A" group.  A mom, dad and two children, a boy and girl who looked to be about 5 and 7.  Mom reached into her carry on bag and handed them each a bag and told them to look inside.  They pulled out Mickey ears with their names embroidered on the back.  Their eyes were like saucers and it was clear it was not until that very moment they knew they were going to Disney for vacation!  It was magical to witness.  Made me smile and almost cry witnessing their joy.

I got a window seat (a requirement for me to manage my claustrophobia), row 7, despite my B14 boarding position.  I sat with a couple whose children were seated in front and behind them with the children of family members they were traveling with.  The mom and I chatted easily for a while.  About Disney, parenting and other idle chatter.  I enjoyed my cookies and apple juice for breakfast!

In other news, I got to read!  For pleasure!  A few magazines and I finished a book!  I 'threw' a Celtic Cross reading on my tablet that was eerily accurate, in a good way.  Now, I write.

As I gaze out the window, I marvel at the beauty below me.  Flying above and through the clouds is always fascinating to me.  The technology that allows for us to actually fly is impressive, at least to me.  My thoughts drift...

I think about my first plane ride to Orlando, I was probably about 7 years old and it was to go to Disney.  I think about my son, who wasn't feeling well yesterday and how I wish I was there to keep my mama eyes on him.  I think about my wonderful husband who is being super step-dad the next few days, wearing my shoes, so I can take these few days to be with my family.  I am grateful for so many things.

And then, my thoughts turn to the reason I am on this plane.

It's nod to my intuition.  One of those intuitive 'hits' that makes me say 'me and my freaking intuitive gifts...'  I booked this trip about 12 days ago, in one of those I just woke up and knew I had to sort of ways.  I'd been toying with the idea of coming down to see my grandmother.  She was recently diagnosed with cancer and admitted to hospice care about 3 weeks ago.  I had a lovely conversation with her by phone a few weeks ago.  She said she was looking forward to seeing me in June.  My gut said she would not be on this earth in June.  I asked my family if they thought I should come or if she or they wanted me to.  They all said no.  I dismissed it.  After all, it wouldn't be easy to plan a trip on such short notice.  The logistics of work time off, soccer, school, life...

Then, that voice in my head said very loudly, "May, May, May..."  Suddenly, there I was on Southwest's Web site, booking a flight for today.  Knowing the Universe would support me in me being where I needed to be when I needed to be there.  And so it is.

Then, the reports came in over the past few days, she is doing worse.  Having more trouble breathing, sleeping more, eating less, getting confused.  She needed more and more medicine and now, suddenly, the liquid morphine.  She is more comfortable with it, but less alert.  She had the proverbial 'really good day' several days ago when she took her 3 children out for dinner at a restaurant.  Since then, she's declined rapidly.

I wonder why I'm really here today.  I was guided to come today, for the next 4 days, for a reason.  What is it?  Is it that she will be having another really good day for us to enjoy together?  Although that was my initial intent, to see her before she declined to the point where she was sleeping all the time, I don't think so.  Is it to try to share in her intermittent awake moments and try to humor her?  Maybe.  God knows I will try!  Is it to support my mom, dad and aunt?  Most definitely.  Is it to facilitate that which she needs in order for her to feel comfortable transitioning when she is ready?  I think so.  Is it to be there when she dies?  Quite possibly, although I'm not sure she's that close or wants me there.  Time will tell...

*ding*  *ding*  *ding*  Descent time.  With that, I shall end these musings and power down.

Thanks for listening.