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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hunting Snipes

Photo by Deb Lecos

          An uncle sent me on a nighttime hunt for a mystical bird called a Snipe. He said that no one had ever captured the elusive nocturnal creature, so the details on what it looked like seemed to change depending on who told the story. For years afterward, I listened for rustling in bushes when the sun lay asleep, peering into shadows in search of the graceful movement of wings. As with most childhood enterprises, I gave up hunting for Snipes letting them fall into the depths of the ocean along with the memories of monsters who walk upright and look like normal people. Decades later the forgottens suddenly surfaced and nightmares screamed.
     A seemingly impossible task befalls the broken, traumatized, and besmirched. The ability for full healing; a tantalizing glimmer sparkling just on the edge of awakening, only to be hidden once again dropping into a silent darkness. Gathering the shards of a shattered heart and mending it requires an understanding of what one looks and feels like whole. This may be found deep beneath the scattered pieces, without fault lines or whisper flaws, the full nature of an unblemished spirit waiting to rise to take flight.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thelma & Louise Minus Brad Pitt And The Cliff Dive.

Photo by Author at Marble Canyon, Arizona

Be forewarned. When a writer goes on a mythic journey, no one can stop them from blabbing a mile a minute with superlatives.

A bestie and I drove 5500 miles, weaving in and out of ten states over thirteen days. No one was killed. Not even the skunk, prairie dog and butterfly who tried to commit suicide using the wheels of my car. I don’t include bugs in this equation since they have a short lifespan that mainly involves chowing on the leavings of animals and the body parts they filch from that spot a tail can’t swat.

The bestie (who shall remain nameless in case the stories I tell make her so famous and sought after she'll only have time for a vacation with me if I book ten years in advance), is Australian. Everyone should have a friend who grew up in Australia. They are fun, saucy, hysterical, raunchy, and can dream up bigger and badder ideas than I can and I'm the ground water for the big, bad, and the epic.

Road Trip 2017 was a hilarious, madcap, old chicks remembering being young chicks event and it included the intentional healing of ancient pain. Ancient is a good word to use when memories sidle alongside dust bunnies and the name of that teacher in sixth grade who was a hippie and the girlfriend of the class co-teacher (that last bit might be the wild fantasy of a hopeful little girl and it stuck).

Ancient pain is worth revisiting if it involves healing. For the first time, I’m able to state that without my middle finger in the air.

Perhaps this change was brought about by endless sandwiches, a crow posse, arrow symbolism, meeting Destiny, tailgating in a Days Inn parking lot, “yoga” in the lukewarm hot springs, angel encounters, wetting my pants giggle marathons, wide open destiny is dignity, a tattoo (did I mention Aussie’s have a penchant for epic?), run Forest run, Moab has no guarantees unless you need to cancel a reservation, a man loves his horse, cowboys(!), wild ponies, feathers, hiking the narrows, canyon wall paintings, drumming, full Circleville, Robert Redford’s very good massage, sleepovers, letting go of the pain stick, rainbows, saying goodbye to ghosts, butterflies, Bonneville County, a giant bear dressed like a fourth of July parade, that weird moment in a truck stop bathroom, and at the top of the world there’s a medicine wheel and when a breeze blows through the heart of a mountain it's a magnificent thing.

As the wind from yesterday unfurls behind, the memories of the spiritual odyssey my Aussie friend and I engaged in will entwine with the roots I always carry with me, nourishing the process of living and healing. And if laughter cures all ills, she and I will arrive safely at death's door decades in the future and will only cease breathing because we decide a new adventure on the other side seems like a journey we're ready to embark upon.

May your own journey be filled with laughter, the healing of ancient pain, and may a beautiful Aussie with a smile that can melt glaciers come along for the ride.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Healing Squared


Photo owned by Author

     In 2016, at fifty-five I went on hiatus from work that I love. As a facilitator for healing, I am fortunate to be doing for others, what I am also doing for myself.
     Healing squared.
     Clients hear me say repetitively, to the point of wearing a tread into the sentence, that “We must put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others." To this day, every single time I say this, I whisper to myself "What about you dear one, are you walking the talk?" My answer before the hiatus was "mostly". A blank calendar taught me that "mostly" isn't ever enough. 
     I started babysitting at thirteen, going straight from graduation to restaurant labor. Paying my own way, I worked sixty to eighty hours a week, only taking an eight-year break to pop out twins, make sure they knew where the refrigerator was, go to school for massage therapy, and then open a practice.
     But not working for an extended period of time meant no income and that isn’t easy to do no matter what condition the bank account is in and ours wasn’t in the green zone. But aside from solvency, work said something about who I am, whether I’m productive or lazy, and the level of dependency there was on my spouse paying the bills. What I do had become a definer on the kind of person I am and that meant I never really listened to what I needed first.
    For the first few days of the hiatus, I bit into the loony side of nothing to do. I nearly caved after ten days but knew that quitting on hiatus would be worse than staying. When I announced that the hiatus was for my deep-dive healing, clients, friends, and family, gave me their unequivocal support—going back early would be a disservice to that intention. Once, my kids who from birth had been told that I am adamantly opposed to theft and lying, caught me stealing their Halloween candy. Though I got sneakier and was never caught again, they've looked at me suspiciously on November first ever since. With the hiatus I'm not referring to how anyone else would have felt if I quit, it's what it would've meant to me and my body, emotions, and my spirit. I made a commitment to me and for once I honored what I originally set out to do for myself.
      With months of blank screen, my mind was startled into stillness. In typical fashion when I stop mindlessly dancing, a transition had the opportunity to begin. The music ceased and I sat in the chairs along the wall, letting other people dance while I contemplated my life. There was a lot to contemplate; the state of my physical and mental being, relationships that I had left one hand on while the rest of me frenetically danced, and ultimately my long-given-the-scraps-of-my-time spiritual connection.
     Throughout the nearly six-month break, I listened. There was the drip of melting ice from the eaves, a gentle breeze setting off chimes, the rustle of feathers from birds in the feeders, and words as they sashayed one by one, from my inner wisdom to a newly awakened self.
     It is long past time to heal.
     Survival is not enough.
     Being whole is enough.

     I have learned how to hiatus. The experience unsettled me, it uprooted old thinking, old habits, and misplaced items. It shook up my dance card leaving me my only partner and that was the point.
     We are here on this magnificent planet for a very short or very long time, depending on how we look at it. Either way, life deserves the respect of our attention, our participation, and our breath. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Bandanna Shaman

Photo Owned by Author

 **This healing story is from six years ago.
     There should be a rule about healing (says the girl who doesn’t follow any rules).
     Deb’s Rule: Someone must tell someone who is choosing (yeah even the half-assed version with fingers crossed behind the back), to heal, that healing will change everything.

     I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have known what that meant, so an addendum to the rule is:

     Someone should explain to someone choosing to heal, what “everything” means.
     Healing changes everything. By everything I mean well, everything; relationships, the view of the world, what is true, what isn’t, beliefs (did I mention relationships?), have tos, priorities, passions, creativity, preferences, acceptables, relationships, relationships, relationships. People come to expect a fifty-something person to be what they’ve most always been. In our society those are givens. But people aren’t givens.
      I have come to understand in eye-popping-I’m-losing-my-marbles-fashion healing means several relationships are likely done and if not done, irrevocably different. Because of this, I hit the pause button. A breather for healing—time to consider whether I want to hit reverse.
     Can there be a reverse after jumping off a cliff? That’s probably a no.
     I’m sitting on the dividing line of yester-me and I-don’t-know-me and I don’t like the perspective. Un-doing is way harder than do-ing. Discussing this with a longtime friend Brenda, she suggests a particular woo-doo doctor.
     “Maybe you need a soul retrieval done by a shaman.”
I look at her with wide eyes imagining a bloody mess and a Deb doll with pins sticking out of it.
     “What is a ‘soul retrieval’?”
     Brenda relates the drill.
     “A person has a body, a mind, a soul and a spirit. All except the spirit can get injured by trauma. Parts of the soul splinter off at different stages depending on if or when bad stuff has happened.”
     I picture myself as a jigsaw puzzle missing several dozen pieces and someone with weird hair rescuing them from under a sofa.
     “That’s irritating.”
Brenda laughs and shares more.
     “This shaman I hired to collect my soul parts is the real deal. He’s doing it all long distance through dreams and email.”
     The petite woman looks earnestly at me. Silence ensues for several long seconds until I have a reply that won’t sound overly rude.
    “You’re seeing a Long Distance Shaman.”
     The ruder statement I whisper to myself.
     What a load of crap.
     My laughter is kept under wraps but not my smirk. Brenda notices.
     “Seriously, it works.”
     Now I can’t contain my sarcasm.
     “Yeah for him it works really well. He sits at home in a comfy chair in front of a computer and what links up through the cosmos? How the heck is that possible?”
     Brenda shrugs.
     “I don’t know, does it really matter if it helps?”
     The internet shaman is Googled as soon as I’m online. As an impostor, his website is pretty good. Included are articles which had to have taken more than a few hours to write, as well as media interviews and testimonials. I see that the man lives in Sedona, less than four hours from where my husband and I are vacationing the last week of December. Feeling a surprising nudge-shove to participate, I toss a resistance curve ball to the Universe. With a cackle of glee, I send an email to the shaman inquiring about an in-person session the four days before, during and after Christmas. No way would this guy spend part of a religious holiday healing me. Ten minutes later the shaman’s response arrives.
     “I am delighted to meet on any of the dates mentioned.”
     The medicine man finishes with an informative aside.
     “Shaman’s don’t celebrate Christmas.”
     Maybe not, but apparently they’re mind readers.  
     In the following flurry of emails, I receive an address, the session cost, plus a stipulation that I bring a particular brand of tobacco. I am certain the place will be a tee-pee with glass beads covering the entrance accompanied by a huckster standing outside with a serious expression.
     Welcome. You must be in need of a shaman. Your aura is in the shape of a thundercloud.
     When the appointment date arrives, Sedona is clear and beautiful. My husband, Bill, determines it isn’t a good idea for me to wander into a strange guy’s house alone even if he calls himself a shaman and tags along as my protector. When we reach the destination it is a non-descript house, like someone’s grandparents over winter there. I’m not sure why I preferred the vision of a tee-pee, but this boring abode seems somehow less believable. I loudly question the veracity of the situation.
     “I bet he’s a fake.”
     Married close to a quarter century, my husband knows better than to disagree. He mumbles something about getting a margarita if it’s a bust.
     When the door opens the man is and is not what I expect. The shaman has a long Fu Manchu mustache and braided hair cascading down his back. Taking my hand in greeting, his palm feels like the inside of a buttercup. Our skin separates with no discernible impression of an energetic signature, other than he shakes hands like the tooth fairy thanking me for donating teeth. Giving him a squinty eye, I detect nothing but a man with weird hair. I need more information.
    “May I use your restroom?”
     Pointed in a direction, I step past dust bunnies peeking around legs of furniture to enter a much lived-in bathroom. There is a glob of toothpaste on the counter that screams “fraud” and the toilet seat is propped up, verifying we are encountering a “manly man”. Having determined the woo-doo doctor has different approaches to housekeeping than I do, there are no more clues to gather about his qualifications.
     Apprehensively returning to the entry way, the shaman leads Bill and me to a large room. Inside there is a small table beneath a large dream catcher hanging from the ceiling. The Shaman motions Bill toward a folding chair near the door, directing me to sit across from him. Once I’m settled, the Shaman handles an eagle feather and other unusual items on his side of the table. Without looking up from what he is doing, he addresses business concerns.
     “I ask that we settle up financially before we begin. And did you bring the tobacco offering? It is traditional that aside from the fee, the Shaman is given tobacco as I requested in the confirmation email.”
     There had been a specific instruction on the correct brand, but it was elusive, thus I hand over close enough. Limp Handshake Guy mutates swiftly, giving me a narrowed look before placing the inferior tobacco out of the way and then pulling out his own more refined stash. Rolling a cigarette the shaman lights up. Lots of smoking, chanting, whistling and brushing with a bundle of herbs follows. Soon the rhythmic sounds lull my nervousness.
     Even if he doesn’t heal anything, maybe I’ll get high.
     The shaman passes the smoking tool a few times over a bright red bandanna laid out before him. The musical cascades cease and the fabric is tied around his head.
     Dude becomes another dude, shape shifting into a healer who takes up the entire room with presence. In one motion he is everything and nothing at the same time. With a barely noticeable smile, Bandanna Shaman starts the session. He has our attention and knows it. Expelling an age long breath he pauses in the smoking display.
     “Why are you here?”
     Bandanna Shaman gazes deeply into my eyeballs. Swallowing, my throat suddenly dry, words stutter out.
     “U-h-h-m, t-t-o heal my family?”
     The shaman waits a long moment before responding.
     “Are you here to heal your family alone or the family of the world?”
     If I could heal the world and my family in one session that would be pretty cool.
     My lovely thought is run over by the low self-esteem train.
     Who am I to ask for something so enormous?
     I answer what seems the appropriate response.
     “For today, I am here to heal my family.”
     It’s obvious the minute the words are out, I should have chosen B. The air feels charged. The shaman slams his palm on the table.
     “NO! Every time you ask for healing of one family, you ask for healing of all families. There is no healing of only one.”
     My cheeks are red as though I’ve been slapped. I squirm in the chair, already wishing the session were over. The shaman resumes.
     “Do you think you are being haunted?”
     I picture little hitchhiking ghosts at the end of a ride at Disney Land. Embarrassed-filled maniacal giggles threaten to erupt.
     Get a grip on the waistband of those big girl panties.
     “Uhhh, no?”
    “Does this family issue go back generations?”
     I side-look my husband who offers the universal “I dunno” gesture meaning maybe yes, maybe no.
     “Ummmm, possibly. Uh yes…I think.”
     The smoking tool goes back into operation.
     “Then we shall begin. I will travel to the Dreaming Place to get information about your problem.”
     He disappears. Not like a vanishing act. His body sits before us and yet does not. Moments pass. It could have been ten minutes or thirty. In the interim, I go through the rest of the day’s itinerary, wonder about margarita’s, and am creating a mental list of items to buy when the shaman pops back into his chair and resonantly states the view from the other side.
     “I see.”
     I sit up quickly to act as though I’ve been paying attention.
     “The guides have told me that in the last few months you became a great she-bear protecting her family. The journey has brought your people to this place at this time for healing. They also have something to say to Bill.”
     The Shaman shifts in his direction. My husband looks unnerved. He’s come here as a TV viewer, not a reality show participant.
     “About a year and a half ago you received a wake-up call presenting truth. Everything believed before this time was not truth. You know now. All has changed for you.”
     Bandanna Shaman knows things no one knows.
     “The reason for healing is unknown to you. The issue appears as many things, but the long and short of it is you have not been celebrated.”
     The shaman speaks directs the next part to me.
     “I realize this session is because you requested a healing Deb, but the guides are very intent on sending a message to Bill.”
     Scooby-Doo and Shaggy give a big ol’ shake of their heads.
     Profoundly irritated, it is small comfort Bill looks shocked and scared. I grumpily settle deeper in the comfy chair to hear fascinating bits of teachings directed at my husband.
     “For you Bill, a lack of spiritual celebration manifested as a life experience of making an agonizing, grueling trek up a rock wall. Each day it is a struggle to find a handhold, while dragging your body up an incline, gasping with grinding exertion. Slowly moving up the mountain, you see another climber alongside who has someone beneath him ready to catch if he falls. The man is also aided by grappling hooks and a safety harness. Another person waits at the top to encourage him at each stage.”
     Bandanna Shaman leans closer toward Bill.
     “You ask yourself, “What about me? Why must I work so hard, while another man scales life with little of the effort I must utilize?”
     My husband is stilled of breath. His eyes glisten with the awareness of being heard and seen. For the first time, someone understands what his existence is like. The shaman shares more.
     “People who have not experienced a celebration of their life do not know how to celebrate others. Because of this, the wounding can last for generations. This same aspect has traveled through both your families for a very long time.”
     Bandanna shaman pauses to collect his drum.
     “This can be healed during a drumming ceremony. It’s quite simple. While I drum for about seven minutes, I will take you through different levels of healing. We go in, get the job done and come back.”
     The shaman smiles.
     “You could go to therapy; it works for a lot of people. Usually, that takes at least a few months to figure it all out, but for me, seven minutes seems a lot easier.”
     The Shaman settles in to begin.
     “Close your eyes. When your mind gets in the way, find the space between the beats.”
     The sound of the drum is timeless, endless and expansive. Its tone weaves into the floor, through my shoes, up leg bones, reaching the bladder and intestines to finally resonate throughout my body.
     Is it working?
     “Find the space.”
     Flying, flying, soaring through blue sky
     Traveling to a land visited long ago
     Up, up to the light
     Feathered friend is waiting
     Ruffle, ruffle wisdom in the motion
     Down, down into the earth
     A space of nothing and everything
     Black, dark waves of smoke
     Light, light wisps of white
     Drifting up high into the night
     Stars, shining collecting wisps for the moon
     Our eyes open. The shaman looks to me first, having been the one who came in with the cash.
     “Is there anything you would care to share Deb?”
     Like an over-eager child with wild tales to offer, I speed date him the details.
     “Well, first there was an eagle cleaning tail feathers and then black smoke covered everything as though there was a great fire and then the smoke got white as it traveled up to a night sky and slowly disappeared leaving bright stars behind.”
     Excitedly I wait for the sage to encourage more details and rave about my revelation. Bandanna Shaman’s expression does not change.
     “Thank you.”
     He looks at my spouse.
     “Bill what did you see?”
     The interloper hesitates before responding.
     “I didn’t see anything like Deb. There was a large landscape of bones, bones upon bones everywhere. It was kinda disturbing.”
     The shaman's eyes widen, appearing anxious to hear Bill’s answer.
     “And then what?”
     Bill sheepishly continues.
     “Well, the bones disappear and then I saw a bunch of colors. That’s it.”
     He looks like he failed the final exam. Bandanna Shaman, however, seems thrilled. His smile oozes across the table.
     “That’s great Bill. You had a wonderful journey.”
     I roll my eyes as quietly as possible. The Bandanna Shaman reaches up to remove the red cloth. The dominating force of energy leaves the room.
     “Well guys, how do you feel? Think you have what’s needed to heal your family?”
     The man tidies bits of this and that, straightening the eagle feather and gently setting aside the smoking apparatus. Still, in a state of wondering what happened, digesting pieces, not yet ready to see the whole, my mouth has something else to say.
     “Yes, I think we do.”
     A flicker of emotion crosses the interesting face, with perhaps a glisten of moisture in his deep brown eyes.
     “You have come a long way for this moment. Most of us will do whatever it takes to help the people we love.”
     I answer him as he leads to the front door.
     “There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do or try to find a way to get through this difficult time.”
     Bill and I both sigh in unison. The Shaman follows up with a long expulsion breath of his own, his response sounding timeworn.
     “Love is not possible without pain. What is, is.”
     We thank our host and leave the dusty house. The sky is bluer than remembered, the air full of minuscule smells separate and yet one. Everything is truer, more vibrant, coated with a crisp edge of realness. While Bill speaks of the events, my mind echoes with silence.
     “I feel different, but maybe I’m imagining it? That was crazy weird. Something shifted inside, outside, I don’t know. What about you?”
    “It seemed like we sat in those chairs for ten days and now the world is different.”
     Bill nods, still looking a little shell-shocked. As we walk, I notice an element is missing.
     “I’ve always lived with a low-level thrum of anxiety. Like a pilot light of nervousness, setting the stage for a full blow up if one more thing happened. It’s never left, not until right now.”
     In complete agreement, Bill takes my hand.
     “I know what you mean. Everything seems quiet.”
     A few weeks later, when Bill arrives for a meeting to sell a computer system to a college, above the main door there is a large sign.
     “Robert Morris University Welcomes Bill Lecos”
     Approaching the front desk, he wonders if his cousin with the same name is being honored or perhaps someone is screwing with him
     “Hi, my name is Bill Lecos and I have an appointment.”
     The receptionist smiles warmly.
     “Oh yes, the director is waiting for you in the cafeteria. Go right down the hall, you can’t miss it. It’s great to meet you!”
     At the next door, a duplicate sign is posted.
     “Robert Morris University Welcomes Bill Lecos”
     Perplexed, he cautiously enters the room where a man greets him.
     “Hi, you must be Bill, welcome.”
     The administrator introduces himself as he heads to a table. The two men discuss their backgrounds which happen to include matching spans of time at a college. Knowing many of the same people, they enjoy reminiscing about the school. An equally engaging period is spent discussing the computer system, the original reason for the appointment. There is no mention of the banners until the conversation comes to a close.
     “So Bill, what did you think of the signs?”
     “Uh, they were…cool? I didn’t know what to think. It was surprising and nice.”
     The school administrator fills in the blanks.
     “Waking up this morning, a thought popped into my head. Welcome signs sure would make a guy’s day. So I had them made for you.”
     Bill is transported to the Southwest. This is how to celebrate people.

Friday, March 31, 2017


Photo owned by author

    A week ago a medium shared a vision that I have an arrow impaling my heart. When she told me about it I visualized it as one of those that if it were pulled out in the opposite direction as it went in, it would shred my tissue on the ragged edges of its iron scales.
     Too much Game of Thrones and not enough cartoons.
     When I describe the arrow to a therapist I see for EMDR (Eye Motioning Desensitization and Reprocessing), his eyes roll unconsciously. Dr. Ben and I have an honest and supportive relationship, one where I’m honest and he tries not to let me know that I’m the weirdest patient he’s ever known. He’s not always successful.
     We’ve been working together on a long-term project. I came in with PTSD (Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder), which sprang up in an MRI tube a couple of years ago. Since then we’ve been on and off regularly seeing if there is an end to my wounding. The last few weeks our focus has been on pain.
     Pain isn’t easy for me to remember. There are events that I know happened, but they don’t give a “zing” response. I see them as having occurred in a vacuum. In fact, when I think of them I hear the white noise drone of a machine operating. I am convinced that to heal I must feel or remember feeling the pain that I experienced. With this type of therapy that wouldn’t be the objective. EMDR is about taking what isn’t working in a life and reshaping how someone thinks about the why that something isn’t working. In relation to the pain I have a belief that if a tribe member must suffer evisceration, I would be the best candidate to take that on. As I discuss this with Dr. Ben he is attempting to hide his horror as he comments.
     “Yeah. Like Mel Gibson in Braveheart.”
     “Why do you think you would be the ‘right’ person to be eviscerated?”
     As usual when Dr. Ben repeats my words I see the outrageous nature of what they convey.
     “Not necessarily ‘right’ but ‘better suited’.”
     Even that sounds like something no one should ever say out loud. I keep going to try to bring clarity.
     “Look. We both know that I’ve had my share of pain. I know I’m not the only person who has ever experienced pain. But at this point, I see that in some ways being able to handle pain is a mad skill. It didn’t break me and I don’t see it ever breaking me in the future. So if someone is going to be eviscerated, why not have it be a person who could handle it?”
     “How about no one gets eviscerated.”
     When I laugh it again highlights how weird I am. When the session ends I’ve remembered a few more occurrences when the vacuum noise is primary and whatever pain that I experienced is non-existent. At home, I remember something else the medium said in regards to the arrow in my heart
     “When people come to see you for bodywork, you help them heal. Do for yourself what you do for your clients.”
     This isn’t an original concept to me. When I have experienced a muscle cramp or had difficulty with lung congestion, I use the techniques I learned from excellent teachers on my body. The same facial and energetic pulls that I feel on clients I can feel on myself. A decade ago I first learned about my “broken heart chakra” from an aura reader and yet I never thought to use the tools in my toolbox to heal my heart. I set to do what I’ve never done.
     Both hands over my heart I sit and wait until the tissue shows me what it knows. The intrinsic motion of a heart (apart from the rhythmic beat), is a diagonal motion from the midline to the left lower quadrant of the ribcage. It is generally a slow, methodical and repetitive track that is easily followed. Mine presents instead laterally, left to right, with no downward motion. I wait for it to change. After five minutes there is a gradual shift to the desired motion, another five and my heart is moving normally.
     Wow. That was easy-peasy.
     Figuring that there is most definitely an energetic element to the arrow in my heart, I meditate on filling the hole an arrow would create with light and love. As a mostly rational person for most of my life, I tend to smirk when doing things that would make most rational people smirk or freak. Dusting off my hands I let the matter go.
     At the next Dr. Ben session I have an interesting reaction to an old event. The vacuum sound disappears and I feel a swish of a vibration that rides from my belly and up my spine, a snake slithering from the past. It isn’t a new sensation. If I were to think of a time that I badly stubbed my toe or smacked my elbow, this same feeling would arrive spontaneously. Dr. Ben and I aren’t sure what it means and the appointment ends.
     A day later my left shoulder girdle front to back is in pain. It begins as an “Oh I must’ve slept wrong” quickly escalating to “A buffalo tunneled in with the arrow and has now come out the other side.” Bending down causes a swift intake of breath as pain echoes throughout the area. I wear ice as an accessory for most of three days. Throughout that time more memories come up with a slither of snakes. After a conversation about pain and how releasing it doesn’t carry what would be the expected reward, but instead the betterment of a human life and subsequently the lives of all people; the pain fades like a wave tucking back into the ocean.
     What I thought I needed had happened but not as anyone would’ve expected. Most people would imagine that to access pain that has never been witnessed means feeling it as it happened in the moment that it happened. Shocking, excruciating, and filled with tears and horror, like when Mel Gibson’s intestines were slowly wrenched from his body in Braveheart. But that isn’t how our bodies or our minds work. We’re not a replay of a movie.
     We heal from the inside out.
     Over the decades, while I’ve been engaged in other aspects of healing, my heart has been solidifying around old wounds. Scar tissue formed as a protective measure to keep me upright. The arrow marked the spot, as a divining rod to where I would need to place my hands. The stages I went through were,

See things as they were.
Breathe life into them so they become real.
Go to the source where hurt rests.
And finally, at long last, heal.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Woo-Doo and a Wedge of Lime

     Photo owned by author

     Beliefs are not hard-wired. They seem like they are because by the time anyone notices something has been made "true" it's already been tattooed in black ink. But once upon an unlined time, our skin was blemish and idea-free, rosy with hope and endless possibility. That’s why every once in a while I do things that are completely the opposite of having an imprint, scaring the rigidity out of me for at least a few minutes and reintroducing myself to the blank page.
     Going to see a medium or someone who "reads" a life is unnerving. If one is already wobbling, it can be a method of humorous distraction or a complete upending of the status quo. For me, like with many of my loonier enterprises, it is both.
     Tequila shooters all around.
     At fifty-six, I question when someone presents themselves as having abilities mere mortals aren't born with. This makes me the perfect person to pay someone to read my spiritual margarita. I'm also my own oppositional twin, so at the same time, I'm the worst person to hear what a reader says. This is the case today.
     While a medium recounts what guides, angels, and the Easter Bunny have to say, I frantically write notes and make snarky comments to myself.
     "Did you know there is a whole tribe of Indians following you around?"
     Oh yeah, we carpool all the time.
     The fortune teller is a middle-aged woman dressed appropriately in bangles, scarves, and flowing material. Her voice is not what I would expect, the pitch a cackle high C, a sound that is disconcerting when she laughs. She does this often in weird places and tosses asides about Brad Pitt and winning the lotto.
     I shrug a non-committal affirmative. I'd been told a gang of invisible Natives trot beside me on numerous occasions. Apparently, this is something new for this medium, as her excitement increases as she describes them to me.
     "Wow. There’s at least a dozen. Holy cow, they're all dancing and drumming. This is amazing. They’re saying you're a healer and have been for many lifetimes. They're telling me that you can feel and hear spirits."
     Then they ought to talk louder.
     The medium laughs.
      "Oh, and you smell them."
      The Bonni poop aroma.
     Abruptly she switches topics.
     "You have two women here, your deceased grandmothers. The paternal one is distant, but the maternal grandma wants to kiss and smoosh you close. She keeps repeating 'my little darling'."
     I'm flung backward in time, with my four-year-old face buried in Grandma's breast, the smell of bacon grease and roses wafting around me. Grandma is whispering in Spanish "Mi pequenita".
     "She loves you and says that she's always watching over you. Grandma also wants you to know that someone who hurt you is going to show up in your life again."
     Dread pools in my belly.
     "Grandma keeps repeating 'you choose'. She says that you don't have to do anything you don't want to do. There's nothing to be afraid of."
     Instantly and miraculously I am not fearful. My mouth open in wonder, drool nearly drips on my t-shirt.
     "Okay. Everyone is saying that you've got to stop burning the candle at both ends. You need to sleep. They want you to take better care of yourself and meditate."
     No shit.
     Immediately, the medium pounces on my thought.
     "Hey. They're not fooling around. They know you aren't doing what you ask others to do. They want you to do this before getting burnt out. They keep saying "walk softly, stay balanced, be grounded."
     Slightly chagrined, I remind myself to keep my snark volume on mute.
     "Oh. This isn’t good."
     The medium's hand is clutched over her left breast.
     "You've got an arrow coming out of your heart. This is pain that isn't resolved."
     Unintentionally I roll my eyes, remembering the aura reading and the broken heart chakra.
     Here we go again.
     "This isn't something to mess around with. You need to heal your heart."
     I clench my teeth so I don't say something that she'll regret.
     "You help people heal wounds all the time. Now you have to do this for yourself."
     How about some instructions?
     The reader switches gears as another spirit enters the room. Her face softens noticeably.
     "Oh hello there. It's a boy, he's a little boy but has the spirit of an adult. He's your son. You had a miscarriage or did he die young?"
     "He was one of a set of triplets. I lost him before the third month of pregnancy. His name is..."
     "Michael. He says his name is Michael."
     Tears well up as I nod my head.
     "Michael says that he's always with you. He's telling me that he used to play with his brother and sister when they were little, like an imaginary friend."
     The woman's head moves as she converses with what I can't see. Suddenly staring at me dead on, she speaks with resolve.
     "You've got to let it go."
     "You've got to let this anger go. It's sitting there draining you. I know you have issues with forgiveness, they're showing me that, but you've got to figure out a way to move on."
     I stare back without an answer.
     "Is it worth losing a breast? Having a heart attack or a stroke? Is the anger more important than your health?"
     I remain silent. After waiting expectantly, she accepts that I have nothing to say.
     "It's better to be kind than right."
     I sigh heavily. As the session ends, the medium offers me some advice.
     "Look, letting anger go isn't easy. For me, it helped to think of the people who hurt me as having something like dementia or Autism. I suggest seeing them as not being able to do any better and move on."
     Later in the day, I read my notes, allowing the messages to become Deb-ified. It's what I do after an interpreter downloads information for me. There's always a thin veil of someone else's stuff that needs to be dusted off so that I can see what is mine to keep.
     Let go of pain.
     We’re not alone.
     Walk softly.
     Drum loudly.

     Being right is fun but being kind is better.
Yeah. Toss that last one back with a lime chaser.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Itty-Bitty Questioner

  When I was “told,” by the Voice to “get a massage” I played with the idea that the owner of the directive, that same voice I remembered from when I nearly drowned at fourteen, was God. But in actuality, I had no idea if there was a Chief of Everything. At times, especially during childhood, it seemed like no one was in charge of anything. The odd decree at forty-two to be slathered in oil, jump-started my questioning and Bonni and then Bella’s death sends me into my own version of Truth or Consequences. It begins with an investigation into capitalization.
     Do I believe in god?
     It is mere moments before my thought-question is bombarded with every “Believe or ye shall repent!” I remember from bombastic ministers in black and white films.
     Does wondering whether God exists, make me god-less? 
     It has been my hypothesis that a “god” wouldn’t create humans with the ability to reason about everything except whether he exists or not. Today I’m not feeling very rational.
     Will I be blackballed if the H isn’t capitalized when “him” is typed in reference to HIM? 
     As my thoughts whirl in agitation driven by old fears of being struck by lightning for blasphemy—for this I thank priests telling me stories of hellfire and damnation, my logical-self sputters up more questions.
     Is this experience nothing more than a mathematical equation? A blend of cells that accidentally showed up in the same Petri dish swamp?
     I’ve experienced my life as filled with co-winky-dinks, (coincidences in Webster’s Dictionary), random, yet not random events that have tested my logic-meter. Times like when an old friend called that I dreamed about the night before, an eagle feather fell from the sky and landed at my feet, and the song Calling All Angels played on the radio just as I reached the end of my ability to cope. The Voice is another good example of this.
      When the Voice tosses an idea, they are piercingly relative to my quest to heal. The Voice doesn’t give a hoot if I win the Lotto or remember to pick up eggs at the grocery store. The Voice only focuses on my having a healthy existence, which is a good thing if the objective is a life of possibility in place of pain. But that single “mindedness” doesn’t always feel like a free will gift. Each time I have ignored an important Voice message, it has become more insistent, knocking on the front door of my mind growing loud, louder, loudest. Voice missives seem not to take no for an answer, which comes across to me as a sentient being messing with my resistance to being told what to do. Sentient beings care whether or not someone cleans their room after being asked. The Voice appears to mind if a request (read demand), is acted upon, even if I’m not positive he exists. This lobs an omnificent and ever-present why me question.
     If the Voice is the god, why would it be talking to me? Who am I anyway? Just some doodad human with a history of pain. There’s plenty of those people to go around. Are we all noticing a voice and not saying anything because we’d look crazy or not noticing and I’m picking up the weirdo frequency? Should I be checking myself into 101 for loonies?
     Not that again.
     Oh look you showed up when I was thinking about you. Hmmm. That’s either a point for loony or a point for God. Well. I prefer not to be loony. Notice the G capitalized. This must be my form of a capitulation albeit not necessarily convincing.
     Not knowing whether it’s important or not, I decide to stave off lightning bolts as a precaution.
     God, the Supreme Being, The Master of All That Is, The Creator exists!
     Surely He/She/It is somewhere breathing a sigh of relief that one itty-bitty questioner in the Midwest has something she construes as proof or perhaps just enough ancient have to's imprinting her with a fear of being damned. Feeling somewhat (I’m a questioner, somewhat is an accomplishment), resolved on the God issue, I consider heaven, hell, and ghosts.
     Throughout childhood, I was dreamily told that heaven is full of angels, harps, and clouds while hell, usually discussed in terrified whispers, is a dreadful place of fire, brimstone, and a hideous deviant called the Devil (for some reason his name is also capitalized). Good children would be sent to heaven, that’s how angels got their wings. If one is good (a definition that mercurially changed depending upon which adult was in the room), one’s last breath carries them to the magic kingdom, where a benevolent old white man on a throne allows children to play and laugh for all eternity. In the same seemingly endless rambling paragraph, I was also taught that if I didn’t get a handle on what good meant and was wicked, a description that included back-talking mother, stealing plastic fangs from the dime store, and calling my sibling stupid, I would be sent straight to hell if I inopportunely died before being cleansed with Hail Mary’s (also capitalized for obvious reasons). Based on that premise, most of the kids I grew up with would if not already, then one day surely are going to hell, a place where bad children work day and night on the Devil’s chore list and are whipped, beaten and denied food and water.
     If the hell thing is true, it’s in a sick way comforting to know that I will discover familiar faces when the elevator door opens in the basement if I haven’t purged the dinge of my lengthy list of faults. As it is unlikely if I were to accidentally take Willy Wonka’s magic elevator to the sky that I will recognize any of the perfect kids, the ones who made it home before the street lights came on and did their chores without being asked.
     By age five I clearly understood that being good isn’t easy and the heaven carrot and the hell stick are strong methods for keeping people in line.
     What about doing things for others without the promise of heaven? That sounds like unconditional love, but what do I know?  I’m just one of those who mucks with the rule book, the one given to me in a childhood littered with pain and harm by people who insisted that I behave.  But not behaving is why I’m still here. Saying “no” without pause is how I made it out of my childhood without turning into a sick freak. And since I’m the boss of me I get to decide what I believe.
     Heaven, hell, and an eraser for bad deeds sounds like a figment of an indulgent imagination. They worked to scare the crap out of me for decades, making them damn good stories, but after a dousing it in the deep end of my awareness pool, no way. This leaves one big dude in an empty basement.
     Do I believe in the Devil?
     If big Mr. Red doesn’t have a place to live, he’s on thin ice. The Voice has come forth as slim evidence that someone or something encapsulates God or my perception of God, but not one single item on the devil (no more capitalized theatrics), list feels true. Especially those things I was told by clergy and people who wanted me to follow the rules.
     “The devil reached in and took her soul.”
     “The devil will take people and make them “bad”.
     And pigs can fly.
      “The devil made me do it!”
      Sounds like an attempt to disavow responsibility for an action taken.
     “Demon alcohol took over and did the deed.”
     Creating a jail to house degenerates at the end of a long life of ugly behavior and a princess castle for do-gooding sounds like the milk and cookies before bedtime. The tales that are told to keep life encapsulated in a nice neat little box. Break the rules then go to hell, follow the rules go to heaven. And if someone gets caught or their conscience talks back after doing something bad, talking to a robed gentleman behind a mesh screen is a Get Out of Jail Free Card. With or without the pass, no one is sending me anywhere. I’m responsible for me and my actions.
     Okay Miss Know-It-All-For-Herself, what about the poop smell? What about ghosts and the hereafter?
      My son helps me consider our body-to-spirit transition.
     “You know Mom, it doesn’t make sense for people to live once and die. How many new souls can there be anyway? Trees and flowers don’t live once and die. Every winter they sorta die and are reborn in the spring. I think we’re like plants. What would you call being born again after dying?”
     My young philosopher looks expectant, waiting for facts to be spoken.
     Moms tell you what to believe.
     There had to be a way to convey my thoughts with words, as well as suggest he not take my ramblings as gospel, but continue learning with an open mind.
     “Well bud, what you’re talking about is called reincarnation. Some people think that when you die, you’re recycled and get born again to do it all over.”
     He gazes over my shoulder.
     “Mom, do you believe in heaven or reincarnation?”
     A comforting wave of calm envelopes me.
     “Your description sounds pretty good to me, but I’m still trying to figure it out.”
     He leans in against me to continue some-posing.
     “Yeah me too, but if I believe in reincarnation, it doesn’t make sense for people to spend a bunch of money on the funeral and casket. Dead people aren’t even in their body anymore. Why does everyone do that?”
     “I guess so friends and family can honor the person who died and it makes them feel better.”
     He sits up looking irritated and impatient.
     “Well, that’s just stupid. I bet the person would rather everyone thought about them once in a while or planted a tree or something instead of spending money on a grave.”
     A week later we have an even more esoteric conversation over a television show on prodigal kids. Our words ripple excitedly over one another.
     “What if they played the piano in their past life and remembered?”
     “Or used to be Albert Einstein?”
     “What about people who are gay?”
       “Maybe they were once the opposite sex and that lifetime made an imprint, but were born into a different body?” 
      My son finishes our other-worldly discussion with a statement.
      “Dying just isn’t the end Mom.”
     Whatever is on the other side of this life has an endless possibility and before I get to know what that means, this side is liberally sprinkled with coincidences, guidance from an insistent voice, and maybe a ghost dog.