Thanks and Gratitude

Every once in a while I notice something different. I react to situations differently than I used to. Instead of seeing the worst in people and what’s wrong with the world, what pops into my head are the silver linings. Sure, I have “oh shit” or “oh crap” moments, but they tend to pass fairly quickly these days.

A few weeks back I went out running errands. My list was pretty short, so I expected to pick up some groceries at one store, pick up a few other things from the local drug store, and zip home. We live in the country so I expected to be gone for about an hour and a half. Just before I turned off the boulevard by the grocery store, sitting in the center turn lane I smelled something wrong. It smelled like oil that had leaked and was burning on a hot engine. You know, the smell of an old beater that you have to add oil to every now and then. I assumed it was the ancient van in front of me.

I’d been having trouble with my rear window wiper blade wiping away the light rain as I drove down the highway, so once I parked at the grocery store I took some paper napkins and wiped off the blade. I thought it was weird that the window seemed oily, but that’s as far as those thoughts went. Walking up past the front of my car I noticed the smell emanating from the front of my car. Burning oil.

Crap. I needed to check under the hood but decided to get my groceries first. Stashing the few bags behind my seat, I popped open the hood, smelled the smell even stronger and then I saw it. Way down on an engine mount crossbar there was something puddled and shiny. I knew it wasn’t water. It had to be oil.

Ok. No big deal, my dealership was about a mile away or less, so I headed there. But as I drove, this time with the radio off, the engine began to sound funny. And when I stepped on the brakes there was an odd sound. Not the squealing sound of worn-out brakes, but an odd pulsing sound. My mind raced as I pondered if I’d lost engine oil or brake fluid, so I watched the engine temperature. As I sat at one light and crept down the boulevard in moderately heavy traffic, I saw the temperature gauge slowly rise. Not good. This meant engine oil. Then a red light of an oilcan lit up briefly and went out. Not good.

I remembered back in driver’s ed when they told us if you drove a car without oil in the engine the temperature would increase so quickly that the engine block would melt in less than a mile. The funny sound of the engine was getting worse, as were the sounds when I braked. Thankfully the brakes were working fine.

Could I make it to the dealership? Should I just turn into a store parking lot? I’ll take it light by light.

I passed one parking lot with a mile to go and by the time I went through a few more lights and was nearing my destination I stopped for a red light. The engine was sounding really scary and the flickering red low oil warning light was now almost steadily on. I gauged how long it would take to go the last half mile, with 2 more traffic lights, a three-way stop, and a fair bit of traffic, saw that the lane to my right was empty, and made a last-minute decision to pull over. There was a Park and Ride parking lot right beside me and I pulled in shutting off the car.

Phew. I wouldn’t melt the engine.

My husband was home, so I called him to let him know I was about to call for a tow truck to take me the half mile to my dealership. We have an auto club membership so the tow was free, and all I had to do was sit safely in my car and wait.

While I sat, I realized I hadn’t even checked the car’s various fluids to make absolutely certain it was engine oil that was leaking, so I went to the back of my vehicle to grab some paper towels only to discover the handle to open the hatch door was very oily. Oh! That’s why the rear window wiper wasn’t clearing the windshield! It’s oily. That makes sense now.

Once I had the paper towels I wiped the handle of the rear door and then popped the hood. Wiper fluid was fine, brake fluid was fine, radiator fluid was fine, and then I pulled the dipstick for the engine oil. There was no oil on it. I gave it a wipe, shoved it all the way back in, and checked again. It was dry. Yup. That’s the culprit. No oil. So glad I stopped when I did!

After calling for the tow I found out the wait might be as long as three hours. But the response time was usually closer to 45 minutes. No biggie. It’s a Friday with lots of people out and about, so it made sense they were busy. At least I’m parked in a safe spot and my engine is off. Besides, we switched phone carriers about a month ago and our new plan has unlimited data. I’d been watching a YouTube video before I left home and was able to watch the rest of it as I waited. Sweet!

This happened around lunchtime, and when I began to get a little bit hungry and needed a restroom, there was a plaza of stores next to where I’d parked, including a sandwich shop. Perfect! I grabbed some food, walked back to the car, and ate. Even though it was raining, it was a light rain and much needed at that.

After a few hours, I checked in with my sweetie who was home puttering around. He was standing by to come get me as soon as the tow truck arrived. Passing the time, I suddenly remembered I’d bought ice cream. Shit! And a second later I remembered the blanket I keep in my car that’s a great insulator. I’ve kept cold food cold and hot food hot. So I wrapped the ice cream. Besides, I thought, if it melts badly, the top is sealed and I can pop it in the freezer and refreeze it.

Passing the time, I realized we’d hit the three-hour mark and then some. When I’d originally called for the tow, the lovely customer service woman told me that if I hadn’t seen the truck by then I should call back, which I did.

Calling back, a man who helped me was also great and checked in with dispatch who let us know the truck was just leaving the call prior to mine and he’d be on the way soon. A moment later I got a text with a link showing me a map of the truck telling me it was twenty-four minutes out. It was so cool to be able to see the tow truck in real-time on a map as it came to me.

Knowing the dealership would be closing around the time the tow arrived, I called them to ask if they could still take my car if they were closed. Absolutely! Yes. I was assured the tow truck driver knew where to put my car and that there was a little station outside with envelopes and a key drop for my key. Great!

Right about the time I was starting to get chilly, I knew it wouldn’t be long until the tow arrived. I let my sweetie know he could leave home, and he arrived at the dealership just as my car was being offloaded from the tow truck. Grateful everything had finally worked out, I rode home, only slightly damp from the rain with my car in good hands.

The next day I got a call to find out that I’d stopped the car in time and there was no engine damage. The part that failed was a hose, which was straightforward to replace. And after making the repair they cleaned around the engine compartment and under my car to take care of the oil splatter, and put the car through the carwash to take care of the oil that splattered all over the back.

I picked up my beauty and drove her home as the engine purred.

Several years ago I would have gotten angry that I’d lost all the oil from my car less than 200 miles after an oil change. What a waste. I would have been irritated and impatient with the several-hour-long wait for the tow. I would have looked for someone or something to blame and would have complained about the cost of the repair. And I may have even driven the last half mile to the dealership, possibly becoming stranded in the middle of a busy road when the engine quit, risking fire and major damage.

But with every step along the way, I was thankful and grateful. Thankful this happened when and where it happened; not in the middle of the night, miles from civilization with no cell service. Thankful I was able to get a tow truck and that my husband was home and able to pick me up. Thankful the repair was done quickly and properly. And thankful we could easily afford it.

And it’s also not lost on me that I recently picked up a small fire extinguisher for my car fairly impulsively (or perhaps intuitively?). I carried one in my first car for well over a decade and after discharging it because it was years beyond its expiration date, had never replaced it or bought one when I got my current vehicle that I’ve had for thirteen years. (cue Twilight Zone music).

With all the healing I’ve done, there was a sense of peace. The lens I saw through was gratitude. All I can say is healing works.

*As I’m reviewing and writing my last edits, I just realized this happened only ten days before an unexpected drive across the state, around 5.5 hours each way, crossing mountains, and having no cell service in the pass. If this had gone down on our way home while we were in the mountain pass with no cell service, we could have really been screwed especially because they had scheduled a road closure due to weather, and we made it past the closure gate with three hours to spare. But the hose blew before the drive and happened in the most uneventful way possible. Thank you, Universe!!

Posted in inspiration, The Voyage | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Filters

As a photographer, I sometimes use filters to modify images I shoot. These days it’s easy to add a filter after the shot’s been taken. I may soften the look of the subject, tweak with the light, add or enhance a particular color to give an effect or throw on a really fun starburst filter. Knowing how to use filters judiciously makes for a beautiful end result, but I usually prefer my photos #nofilterneeded. Just the right exposure, lighting, and composition.

When I first started snapping photos, cameras exposed film that had to be developed and printed. My first camera had no ability to change its focal point; there was a small square within which I placed a person’s head, letting me know I was five feet from my subject. Any closer and things were blurry. I also had to buy one-time use flash bulbs which were expensive for a ten-year-old, so I shot more pictures outside.

About a decade later in my early twenties, I finally got a single lens reflex (SLR) camera whose lenses came separately. Now I had the standard 50mm lens and picked up a 70-210mm telephoto for shooting humpback whales when life took a tack. I could shoot subjects inside and out, from near to far.

Although many of my early photos were of friends and family, I’ve always loved shooting nature. And quite honestly, most of it filter-free. But when I got more seriously into photography in the early 2000’s, my lenses always had an ultraviolet filter and sometimes a polarizer to cut out glare.

What’s funny about a polarizing filter is from the name you might think it increases the contrast between light and dark, but it does things like cut the surface glare of water so you can see down into the depths. And it lets colors and details of a scene shine through by blocking certain light rays.

Filters make pictures more beautiful. They can also make photographs more dramatic, a bit like our own filters work in life. They help us get along in peace and harmony. But they can also enhance the drama and create chaos, depending on which filter is being used.

Growing up, filters become installed within us as a function of being human. It’s part of the gig. They color the way we see the world and filter a lot of things out. They help us focus on what’s important while letting so much of our day function on autopilot: we only have so much available working memory.

Our filters are created with one purpose in mind: to keep us alive, because the experience of our life depends on it. Many spiritual teachers refer to this life as an illusion, and to Spirit it may be, but we as souls choose it. We very purposely plan to experience life as a human being. Some things we plan are more etched in stone, while others have wiggle room built in.

The first filter most of us install is the veil of forgetting. Forgetting we’re eternal beings. I know I forgot it so completely that I only knew myself as a regular human being and only knew this physical world up into my mid-forties. Sure, I’d heard of life everlasting and heaven, but I didn’t know them deep in my bones.

The next filters we install are ones that bind us to others. We’re a communal species. Around six or seven years old we install the filter that lets us know we’re mortal. And then we begin to create filters that help us operate as individuals and finally filters to help us know we’re unique individuals. The fascinating thing is with each and every filter they’re like a two-fer. A two in one deal. Each filter helps us, but can also hold us back.

If a filter is no longer useful, we develop tools and coping mechanisms and sometimes we find ways to remove them. Instead of needing to constantly use a dark, shaded filter to cut light, we eventually learn to shoot from a different angle or at a different time of day. Instead of adding a yellow-orange light in post-production, we discover the incredible beauty of shooting at sunrise and sunset, when the colors of light morph into golden hues, oranges, reds, pinks, and purples.

As I grew well beyond the noon hour and into my middle years, life conspired to wake me up spiritually. It popped me up above the clouds so instead of seeing only the rain falling, I suddenly knew there was bright light beyond. One of my filters began to dissolve.

Most people spend their entire life seeing and knowing only what their senses detect, and that can make for a very rich life, but something is changing. More and more people are being born with certain filters either not there, or quite thin. I think of these people as sensitives. People whose bodies take in a lot of information energetically, but who may struggle with processing it all coherently. This may leave a person feeling anxious and uncomfortable.

Often, by the time someone has reached a point in their life when they’ve met all their life goals and everything seems to be clicking along, they may begin to feel an inner sense of unease, like there’s something more to life that they’re missing out on. A mid-life crisis. Or not really a crisis but a sense of inner angst.

Or there’s something in life that no matter how hard you try just doesn’t work out. There’s this nagging thing that bugs us. I believe our soul decides to install some filters to block certain areas of our lives while creating conditions to help us find ways around them until we either make peace with them or find the filters and let them go.

I know that my soul made some big-time plans for healing and evolution. For growth. And several of the filters I created when I was very, very little: beliefs of less-than, have been unearthed and healed. Layer by layer they’re rising up from deep inside and being set free. Filters that affected how I saw myself and felt about myself, which in turn impacted how I saw the world and felt about the world, have been coming up for review and healing.

Our filters are purposeful and much needed until they aren’t. They give us our varied cultures and societies and give everyone a unique signature as a person. Filters create the human condition. They help us exist so we can have this very human experience filled with ups and downs, joy and sorrow, light and dark, and all colors of the rainbow.

Having healed so many of the things that held me back when I was younger, including debilitating shame and all sorts of blame, disempowerment, and self-judgment, I find myself walking a path with few and fewer filters, camera in tow.

Posted in Holistic Healing, inspiration, Photography, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Never Regret Choosing Love

Mothering a child with invisible disabilities is not easy, but it’s rewarding. It’s a path chosen by souls who want to evolve. The interplay between my son’s and my life has included great joys and plenty of times that weren’t so fun. And through it all, he’s been my greatest gift and teacher because of his struggles. It’s also been because of him that I discovered energy healing and about a year later had my very unexpected first spiritual awakening.

Let’s face it, change often happens through suffering – trying to alleviate suffering.

I tend to want to do things well and mothering is no exception. When my son was very little, handling him the way I was raised wasn’t working. He didn’t respond to spanking or my raised voice. Thankfully I was introduced to Positive Discipline when Little Man was around fourteen months old at a mommy and me sort of playgroup a maritime friend turned me onto.

This particular parenting philosophy, developed by Dr. Jane Nelsen and based on the work of psychologists Dr. Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs was designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful, and resourceful members of their communities. Positive Discipline teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults. The fact that the teachings are as respectful of children as adults really felt right to me.

Because meeting out punishment disguised as “consequences” was not part of the program, it also felt right to me. Instead, they advocated letting a child experience natural consequences of their actions, like becoming cold if they don’t wear a jacket.

From the PD website: “recent research tells us that children are hardwired from birth to connect with others and that children who feel a sense of connection to their community, family, and school are less likely to misbehave. To be successful, contributing members of their community, children must learn necessary social and life skills.”

We are hard-wired for connection.

When my son was in elementary school, I took advantage of parenting classes based on the work of Positive Discipline. Our school district offered a ten-week class called Developing Capable Young People, which was held during the evening with free childcare. I took it twice.

Beyond learning by reading the text and watching videos in class, we participated in exercises that gave us incredible insight into how our interactions impact our children. It was pretty enlightening to see how when I received loads of praise with one little criticism at the end, all I remembered at the end of the interaction was the one little criticism. Apparently, the class was an adaptation of a course originally designed for business management. Let’s face it, when people are treated with respect and feel seen and heard, whether they are children or adults you’ll get more from them.

During the years my son was in elementary school, as he struggled and I tried to figure out what was going on and get him help, I engaged him in a variety of therapies and a reading tutor, and somewhere along the way I came across people like psychologist Dr. Ross Greene, whose lenses of perception were free of the harsh judgment I felt when it came to talking to some of the people in my son’s school. They would tell me things like my son just has to learn he’s going to have to work harder than everyone else.

Dr. Greene’s focus is on collaborative and proactive solutions, working on the premise that when children are struggling, it’s because within the school setting they have lagging skills and unsolved problems. These are two things that can and should be addressed by the school. (On my page of ADHD and Learning issues, I collected a few of the websites and people I really admire).

Far too often people focus on things they can’t change and are beyond their control, like telling a child with dyslexia, ADHD, anxiety, and sensory processing disorder he just has to work harder, as if he didn’t already know. (Such BS!)

Little Man recently entered the workforce for the first time in his life, and not unexpectedly, because of all the unknowns it’s been stressful. He got a job at the grocery store I frequent the most. He’s familiar with the store, and as a customer, I’ve always liked shopping there.

As Mom, I’ve had to be supportive and encouraging, having learned years ago that pushing him too hard or using threats is a great way to shut him down.

From day one, with every moan and groan, bitch and whine about this and that, I shared stories from my first jobs and encouraged him. I reassured him that he was going through the learning curve every job has and things would get better. When he complained about his legs hurting I bought him new comfortable and supportive shoes and reminded him that as he got in better condition his body would adjust, after all, he’s been quite inactive for the past few years.

And after a month on the job, becoming somewhat comfortable with the demands of the job and getting to know his co-workers a bit, Little Man’s body began to speak. Instead of complaining less, his legs hurt more and more.

Eventually, he felt so poorly he was sent home early, and he called in sick the day after. The next two days he had off and all he could think about was quitting. We talked and talked, and as much as I’ve spent his entire life supporting, encouraging, and pushing him (even when he had panic attacks and was in tears), it was time to walk Little Man through whether or not to leave this job. Knowing when to say when.

As a parent, it’s not only my job to walk beside my now young adult but to help affirm what are now his decisions. Even though as a healer I know his leg issues likely have something to do with fear of walking forward in life and stepping into what for him is the scary unknown, at this age and stage I need to back off.

In one of my healing sessions years ago, I was shown a decision I made around my son’s age that impacted the trajectory of my life. And the lesson I learned was that it was the first major life decision I made where I didn’t give in to the pressures of society or anyone else. It was all about me and my life. When I was true to myself.

This stage of parenting is helping my son get out into the world as a productive member of society while being as true to himself as he can.

The day before he was supposed to go back to work he asked me if we could go to one of his favorite places – a big museum of flight – which meant an hour and a half to two hours drive each way depending on traffic. I had a few commitments planned for the day but after thinking about it, decided to reschedule my afternoon appointment. He needed the distraction and I needed to spend time with him.

The long drive gave us time to talk and for him to play songs from the soundtrack to Top Gun Maverick, his current obsession. We saw the movie when it came out and it was fantastic. Walking around the museum, there weren’t many people there, and because I was tired and Little Man’s legs were sore, we stopped now and then to sit while he regaled me with facts about several of the aircraft. As he spat out all sorts of info, I snapped photos. Finally, we made it to a part of the museum where they have large aircraft such as Air Force One, the Concorde, a Boeing Dreamliner 787, and the aircraft Little Man had wanted to see all day: an F-14 Tomcat. The aircraft used in Top Gun. Having seen the star of Top Gun, we headed home.

The star of Top Gun, an F-14 Tomcat

Chatting on the drive home, he’d made up his mind that he was going to resign. I could feel the relief. With the decision made, as we worked our way back up the highway my inner teacher kicked in. I talked about things like not burning bridges, mentioning that his next employer would likely call his old boss to see what sort of employee he was, and we brainstormed a bunch of reasons he could use for why he was leaving. The truth is, in the end, it wasn’t a good fit.

The tricky thing about living with invisible disabilities is how much to disclose during a job interview and how much to tell your boss once you’re hired. Although it’s becoming less stigmatized to talk about mental health, I’m hesitant to have him say too much upfront.

The next morning, Little Man sent his supervisor a message telling her he was resigning and I had him copy it to Human Resources. Although language and writing skills aren’t his forte, what he came up with really impressed me. Once his workplace knew he was done they let him know what steps to take to formalize things, and with my help, he wrote and signed a letter formally resigning – short and sweet. Because I needed to go grocery shopping anyway, I dropped it off for him along with his apron and an access card. He was pretty cooked.

It’s important to me that even though he was only at the job for a month, he learned how to leave a job well. As well as he could. I wish he’d been able to give them even several days’ notice, but his body said no quite strongly.

Something I’ve learned over years of parenting my son is when to push and when to lay back. And choosing to go with him to the museum and being with him while he decided to leave his first job was more important than keeping my afternoon appointment and letting my son continue to suffer.

I made the call to choose love.

When my son was little, I found a parenting technique that resonated with me. When he struggled in school I found experts who resonated with me. And I realize the thing they all have in common is they all resonate with unity, nonjudgment, and love.

Posted in Developing Capable Young People, Mental Health, Positive Discipline, Spirituality, The Voyage | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Signs and Synchronicities

I used to think like so many people that coincidences were just that: a coincidence. And that sometimes I just got lucky. The thing is, when you learn to see invisible threads connecting things, coincidences become synchronicities. And luck becomes magic.

Being aware that I’m guided in life, I don’t necessarily sit in meditation and ask my guides questions each morning, although it’s a lovely spiritual practice many people have. I’ve learned how my guides work with me. For most of my life, I wasn’t even aware I had spiritual guides and I was deaf to intuition, so my guides used what I’d listen to – inner impulses and feelings. They know how to lead me by the nose, get my attention, and put ideas into my head through inspiration.

They know how to drop breadcrumbs I’ll follow.

For the past three or so months I’ve had a mystery pain in my right elbow. It started after an afternoon snooze on our sofa. At least that’s when I remember it having started because I woke up and my elbow was in a lot of pain for no particular reason.

As most of us tend to do I waited to see if it would go away on its own. And after a few weeks, when I had a hypnosis session scheduled I went into the pain to see what was going on and resolve it. Hypnotherapy is a fantastic tool for this sort of thing – pain when there was no obvious trauma or injury. And not unexpectedly I was led to a past life and resolved things.

Unfortunately, the pain didn’t go away permanently.

Since then I’ve had a few other healing sessions where more unresolved stuff from both my childhood and past lives came up. And with each session, I experienced temporary relief. But the pain still comes and goes.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about other modalities I’ve used that help with chronic pain and one is acupuncture. Although I’ve been using energetics to try to heal my elbow, this might need something that’s a bit more physical. I’ve been thinking about setting up an acupuncture session for a few weeks and today I finally decided that I want to go with a local community acupuncture center and not go with an acupuncturist covered by my insurance.

There’s one I’ve used before (but not in several years) and they have different practitioners, so before setting up my intake session I read both practitioners’ bios. Lo and behold, one of the practitioners is an East Coast transplant (me too!). And she got her undergraduate degree from the same university I went to. And there were other similar interests. Sometimes all it takes is some level of resonance with a person for me to go with them. (Synchronicity!)

Although this practitioner’s education is heavily an East Asian medical background with personal experience using homeopathy, I have no idea if she’s ever worked on someone going through an intense Kundalini awakening process. It doesn’t matter a whole lot if she has or not. I’ll put myself in her hands and trust in her knowledge and talents.

I’ve been led to a number of practitioners who were a great match for me by following inner impulses. In one case I was watching a video of a spiritual healer I follow and when she shared part of a hypnosis session she had I knew I had to meet the hypnotherapist. At the time I was looking for a hypnotherapist to work with that would be a good match. I still work with her today.

In another case, I was mesmerized by a beautiful crystal for sale at a local metaphysical shop, and when I went in to buy it I ended up chatting with the shop clerk, who, unbeknownst to me was a healing practitioner. At the time, my regular practitioner had become unavailable and I was looking for someone to work with. I went for a session and still work with her today.

When I’m looking for something, I pay attention to signs and synchronicities. I pay attention to what resonates with me, to what feels right, and I stick with what works.

And if by chance, acupuncture doesn’t resolve the pain, I still have a few more cards up my sleeve. But I think it’s time to revisit acupuncture. That’s the direction my gut is sending me.

Posted in Holistic Healing, inspiration, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Salt Water

Ever since I was a young girl I’ve loved the ocean. Walking rocky beaches looking for treasure. Looking for shells, sea glass, and rocks with a white line circumscribed around them. Looking for quartz, mica, and garnets. I think my most prized beach find is a few fossilized crabs.

Looking out at tiny wavelets turned into diamonds by sunlight always makes my heart leap. And listening to waves lapping the shore or the hull of a boat is music to my soul.

View from the cottage in Maine.

I remember rowing around in little boats, waiting for high tide so we could look over the side down to the bottom. Watching minnows dart out from under the dock and back again. Jumping off the float on hot summer days to cool down and then catch rays.

Then there were the years of sailing. Learning the nine basic knots, parts of a sail, parts of a small sailboat, how to sail, how to recover a man overboard, how to race, and how to celebrate after a race by throwing the winner off the dock. By age ten or eleven we began to command the sailboats.

Cozy Harbor, Maine

We swept along in stiff breezes, getting splashed every now and then by a wave. Or sat becalmed willing the hull to make way, skulling with the rudder. Heading home, we were salty from both bilge water and salt air.

West coast of Southport Island, Maine

Dad loaded us kids into the runabout for island picnics and trips into the harbor. Teaching us about basic boating safety and navigation, he’d let each of us take a turn at the helm and throttle. Being speed demons at heart, Dad had to remind us when we entered no-wake zones to slow down. In the harbor, we sometimes walked from shop to shop wearing our orange life jackets while picking out penny candy or going for ice cream.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Sailing and swimming eventually gave way to working in the harbor. Working summer jobs overlooking the salt water and boats. Life took me away from the ocean for a few years, but when I got stuck and didn’t know which way to turn in my life, the ocean called again. And this time my job revolved around it.

For almost fourteen years the ocean was where I worked and lived. It was my home. My happy place. Whether I was scuba diving or swimming, in a small boat, sailboat, schooner, or massive ship, or merely looking out upon it, I was connected to the ocean.

Indian Harbour Beach, Florida

Working all over the US and the globe on boats and ships, I’ve been fortunate to see salt water so clear you could see the bottom through ninety-five feet of water. And cruising through the Indian Ocean, days from land, I saw bioluminescence at night lit up the crest of waves and path of our ship.

From the Facebook page of USS Makin Island (not my ship)

I’ve seen walls of rocks underwater covered by what looked like hundreds of tiny lights, only to discover they were reflections of my flashlight in shrimps’ eyes. And have watched humpback whales from the crow’s nest of a hundred-year-old schooner.

I’ve seen the ocean glassy calm and swells so big in almost hurricane force winds I couldn’t see over their top when we were down in the trough (that was freaking scary!), and everything in between.

Underway replenishment of 2 ships simultaneously. My ship would be the one in the middle, replenishing on either side.

Although my home hasn’t overlooked the ocean in the past several years, it’s not too far away. A half hour’s drive and I’m there. Sitting by the salt water, smelling the sea, and watching diamonds sparkle.

These days, other than looking out at the water and riding a ferry once in a blue moon, my interactions with salt water include soaking in Epsom salts as a healing agent after healing sessions or a therapeutic massage. And I love floating in a heavily salted sensory deprivation tank. Salt has long been used by healers.

And finally, walking among mystics and the metaphysical these days, I’ve been told I’ve had past lives on sailing ships and I believe it. I feel so at home at the helm of a schooner.

Me aboard the Schooner Bowdoin 1988.

I can honestly say that salt water runs in my veins.

Posted in The Voyage | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Another Trip Around the Sun

I don’t generally blog about my birthday, but this year the celebration extended to three days. Not feeling quite like myself, I haven’t felt like celebrating for the past few years – which isn’t me. Growing up, birthdays were a handy excuse to have a party and have a bunch of friends over. My parents were pretty social and I especially enjoyed Dad’s parties because they fell during our summer vacation on the coast of Maine.

Dad’s birthday was a combination of cocktail party and cookout. During the earlier years, it was a cook out with a bar set up for the adults, while we kids were treated to a rare soda. Things like soda and chips were for parties and summer island picnics. And as we all grew older Dad’s birthday shifted to cocktail parties with finger food.

When Little Man was young I’d have lunch out with a small group of girlfriends and have a cake and ice cream at home. But the group dwindled as our kids grew up with one dear friend remaining.

This year’s celebration kicked off a day before my actual birthday with Little Man asking me to accompany him to his new place of employment: the grocery store where I generally shop, and telling me to pick out what I want for my birthday while he went to collect his first paycheck. Selecting a pretty bouquet of flowers and some of my favorite dark chocolate, Little Man proudly paid for them with his own money for the first time. His having his first job was actually the best birthday present ever.

That night at home, my guys celebrated me with cards and a few of my favorite snacks (since food allergies make it next to impossible to find a cake I can eat). I don’t eat much in the way of sweet baked goods like cakes or pies anyway, so I’m fine to forgo a birthday cake.

The night of my actual birthday, Little Man had to work so I had dinner out with my sweetheart. It had been far too long since just he and I ate out together and it was nice to share a somewhat private table for two. When it came time for dessert because it was my birthday I was offered a choice of a free slice of cheesecake or deep-fried ice cream. My husband enjoyed the cheesecake.

The day after, my sister-in-law had a barbeque and I was celebrated once again, receiving a beautiful calla lily plant in full bloom and having my nails adorned with sparkly, colorful nail polish strips. My nails are usually kept quite short courtesy of my violin-playing days as a girl, and I generally don’t polish them. Working on boats and ships wasn’t really the environment for long or painted nails either. But they are looking good with a darker coral shade at the cuticle fading to light champagne toward the tips, embedded with plenty of rosy golden flecks of glitter.

With Covid, family get-togethers have been few and far between, and it was good to catch up with a few folks we hadn’t seen in several years.

sun setting through the trees

It’s been a few days since I drafted this post and today I awoke remembering it’s my daughter’s birthday. The beautiful baby I knew I could never keep. Forty-three years ago she was born through me to make a couple a family. A couple who wasn’t able to conceive yet longed for children. I know little about them other than when they adopted her he was an engineer and she was a teacher who left teaching to become a mother. I can only hope and assume they were able to give her the love and life she deserved.

I have no idea if she even knows she was adopted, but if I could have any wish it would be to see her. To see if she looks anything like me and to find out if she’s had a good life. To know a little about her hobbies and see what we have in common. An intuitive friend told me years ago that she’s married with kids, and I imagine it was extra special for her to have family who’s blood-related and who resembles her. Another thing I wish for is to meet her mother. To meet the woman who opened her heart to this baby girl and thank her for adopting her.

I think every birth mother who gives up a baby for adoption wants the best for their child and is curious to know them. Yet I also sometimes take a step back because of how she was conceived. What would it do to her and her sense of self to know she was conceived by rape? By incest? For those reasons, I haven’t searched for her and likely won’t. Yet, years ago I had a letter put into her adoption file with my contact info should she want to find me.

Off I go for another trip around the sun wondering as I set out if this will finally be the year I come out of the tunnel phase or the big squeeze of Kundalini energy. If I’ll finally come back to myself and feel normal again. My new normal. As much as my inner world has dramatically shifted, it won’t mean much until I’m able to feel like myself again and function more fully in the world. Every time I check in with my higher self about this, I hear I’m getting closer. Really close.

Posted in The Voyage | Tagged | 15 Comments

Mother Hunger

Having just watched an episode of Red Table Talk – one of my favorite series – the most recent interview featured former actress Jeanette McCurdy who just wrote a book called, “I’m Glad My Mom Died.” The interview was a peek at her book and relationship with her mother, and so much of what she said brought back memories of my own mother. Not only that but because I never engaged in traditional talk therapy regarding my relationship with my mother, I gained some new vocabulary. Specifically, enmeshment.

In Jeanette’s case, her mother who lived with what sounded like pretty severe undiagnosed mental illness had cancer when Jeanette was only two. Her mother’s fear of her own mortality was played out by trying to keep everything the same. She couldn’t handle letting anything go physically and became a hoarder, and couldn’t handle the thought of Jeanette or her brothers growing up and leaving her. So she taught Jeanette how to calorie restrict when she was eleven so she wouldn’t develop. There were many other very disturbing “coping” behaviors her mother engaged in with all the kids in an attempt to keep them safe and keep them as little children.

One of the things that struck me was when Jeanette talked about the amount of enmeshment between her and her mother. When this sort of co-dependence forms, the child often doesn’t know where the parent ends and the child begins. The child’s sense of identity has been so dependent upon the adult that when the parent is unhappy, it’s the child’s responsibility to fix them or make them better. The child takes on the fears of the parent and both loves and fears them.

In my case, I’d blocked out a lot of fearing my mother except when she’d become manic. That’s when she’d go off the rails. I’d become scared because I was her potential target and because she was unpredictable and out of control. And as a teenager I mirrored her anger.

When Jeanette’s mother died, the source of so much of her identity was suddenly gone and she spun out of control. I remember when I was in jr. high and high school and my mother’s mental health deteriorated over the course of a few years, the more she spun out, so did I. And by the time she was finally hospitalized the spring of my junior year I was barely hanging on. But no one thought it might be a good idea for the kids to have therapy. It wasn’t a thing back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

And not one single teacher or my mother was bothered by the fact that this usually A and B student was suddenly getting C’s and D’s.

At one point in Red Table Talk, they brought in an audience member who asked Jeanette a question. She asked her if she’d been able to forgive her mother. As much as I understand why people ask this question, I wish they’d understand that the traditional use of the word forgiveness implies the perpetrator of the pain is able to empathize with their victim recipient. That they’re able to understand the pain they caused and want to sincerely make amends. There are times when this won’t be possible, like in the case of mental illness or when a person has died.

In Jeanette’s case, she started therapy before her mother died and tried to put personal boundaries in place, but her mother was incapable of respecting and keeping them. I never reestablished any boundaries with my mother because we lived 3,000 miles apart and I never even learned about personal boundaries until after my mother was dead and I was working with a transpersonal hypnotherapist who had years of experience as a therapist.

In fact, I didn’t even identify with having been abused by my mother until I worked with this woman and saw what came up in our sessions. The beauty of seeing trauma in my hypnotherapy sessions was not being retraumatized while releasing painful emotions I’d carried for decades. I was able to witness and help the part of me who held the pain without reactivating painful looping thought patterns.

I sometimes see stories like Jeanette’s and think, how lucky was I that Mom only abused me when she was manic. Which is true. But she cycled into mania from before I was born until I was almost finished with high school. The damage was done. And is now healed.

It was so uplifting to see how far Jeanette has come in healing her past. Being thirty she’s just starting to live her own life and I’m excited for her to thrive.

These days I’m able to remember the complicated relationship I had with my mother without becoming emotionally triggered. I can remember and talk about some disturbing things without any emotional reaction thanks to my healing work. I’ve recovered painful memories that wired trauma into my system as a child and have dissolved the trauma. Shame and blame are long gone. I’m able to appreciate her love for me and know we’ll reconnect once I’m back on the other side. I’ll be able to high-five her for the stellar job she did while she was alive for both giving me life and participating in our soul agreement to be my mother with all the colors of the rainbow including brown and black.

The apex of healing the relationship with my mother was when I was able to see things through her eyes and feel compassion for her worst behaviors. That was when something inside me shifted and let go of the rest of the pain. The part of me that wanted her to be different from how she’d been simply dissolved in a moment of grace.

Having seen firsthand how incredibly safe and effective hypnotherapy has been in my life, it’s my hope to one day have the training and skills to work with people who have lived through traumatic experiences or who have some sort of dysfunctional coping mechanism they want to change.

Every time Jeanette got emotional during the interview I wanted to whisper in her ear, “That’s it. That’s the thread to follow and heal. You can do it. You got this.”

Posted in Holistic Healing, Mental Health | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Speed Bumps!

Have you ever been cruising along and all of a sudden, whammo! A speed bump? Sometimes they’re little, and sometimes they’re intense enough to mess up your car’s alignment. Other than dealing with my Kundalini awakening for the past several years, I haven’t had any major speed bumps blindside me since Little Man’s mental health tanked six and a half years ago and I took him out of school to educate him at home. Until the other day.

As the parent of a teen with a few invisible disabilities, there have been rough times and challenges I’ve anticipated, and things that caught me off guard. I wish we had better systems in place to support kids with invisible disabilities who often pass for neurotypical. The thing is, if your child has significant disabilities it’s pretty easy to find out about programs to help them. But Little Man’s issues in general are on the mild side. Yet they are very real.

Over the past year, there have been a number of smaller speed bumps for Little Man, but I’m proud to say he finally had his first job interview at a local grocery store and was offered a job.

Just going through with the interview was a very big deal for him. I was concerned that his appearance (needing a haircut and wearing basketball shorts and a hoodie) would be off-putting, but apparently not. Initially dressed wearing a pair of black slacks, his anxiety was so amped up that they became intolerable and he had to change into comfortable basketball shorts just before going to the interview.

The minute he was offered the job, sheer panic set in that would only increase and roll on for the next twenty-four hours. It was horrible. He could barely eat or sleep. As a parent, there’s nothing more helpless than not being able to help your kid. He slept for a few hours that first night but woke with panic still full on. I gave him Reiki, hugged him, tried to help him with breathing exercises, talked with him, and let him cocoon in his bed. Nothing helped. I also talked about taking him to the hospital where we could get some medicine that would calm him, but he didn’t want it. Probably the anxiety talking.

I was only a few years older than Little Man when I experienced panic attacks. Unfortunately, I was away at college and there was little to no conversation about mental health back then. And what conversation existed was always behind closed doors. Although medication was prescribed, it was a tricyclic antidepressant that did not alleviate my panic attacks and had very unpleasant side effects, so I stopped it after a few months. And no one suggested I might want to talk with a therapist (which I now see would have been incredibly helpful). No one educated me about anxiety or panic attacks, and it’s only been as an adult that I’m not only educated (and still learning) but have healed a significant amount of my own anxiety.

After around twenty-four hours Little Man’s system finally relaxed enough that he could sleep for several hours. Upon waking this morning the panic attack had subsided and has returned to a slightly elevated level of anxiety when he thinks about the job. Finally receiving a call back from his mental health provider, we talked about how to manage his anxiety a bit better and what to do for future panic attacks. Fortunately, he already had an appointment on the books with her which is only a few days away.

Therapy, breathing techniques, medication used very judiciously because it’s addictive, and possibly using EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy). Strategies. At his age and stage of life he’s not interested in the type of healing work I do. Maybe when he’s older.

When I hit speed bumps as big as these it’s both physically and mentally exhausting. Spiraling out for a few hours, my mind went to some very dark places regarding my son and his future. But after getting some sleep and having my other half return from being away for work, light is beginning to return. As a parent, I’ve had years of what I call an anxiety hangover. When my son’s immediate crisis passes and my system can finally let go and begin to process and unwind. The last time we went through a wallop this big, I spun out for days. This time it was hours. Progress.

Little Man has asked for help taking care of a few things he needs before his training begins in a little over a week, assuming he’ll be up to going, which is a really good sign. Baby steps.

Will he go through with the job? If he does, will he last? These are things I really don’t know, and I’m ok not knowing. Will this be the first and last job he’ll ever hold? Absolutely not. I consider it a “starter job”. Something to get him out of the house on a regular basis and interacting with people again. Hopefully making a new friend or two and learning some new skills. And I fully expect the first several days and weeks to be filled with anxiety and complaints because most new experiences for Little Man are scary to terrifying.

It will be his first “real” job. I’m open to all the good that will come from the next several weeks, even if I may not be able to reap it for a while.

Posted in Mental Health, Sensory Processing Disorder, The Voyage | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

The River’s Journey

Once upon a time, there was a river who wondered where they came from. Following upriver they noticed becoming more shallow and narrow until they were actually a stream. They wondered, am I a river or am I a stream?

Then they followed the stream up and up until they became a pond. Am I a river, a stream, or a pond? They found themself on the other side of the pond and went upstream until they were a swamp. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, or a swamp?

Then they turned into an underground spring that fed the swamp. They followed the spring upstream up until they were water dripping from a melting glacier. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, or a glacier?

Then the weather got cold and they realized they were snow. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, or snow? Then they stretched up and discovered they were a cloud. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, snow, or a cloud?

Just about this time the river was beginning to get a bit confused because they were both flowing through the woods and looking down on the woods. But they kept wondering where they came from.

Before long the cloud got lower and lower and they realized they were a fog bank. Am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, snow, a cloud, or a fog bank? As the weather shifted a bit, the fog bank slipped into the vast blue ocean. And the river wondered, am I a river, a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, snow, a cloud, fog, or the ocean?

Reaching the ocean, the river became even more confused because it was so big and was quite salty. And it became a bit more difficult to find its way upstream to anything.

Becoming a bit sad, the river felt somewhat lost because they still couldn’t figure out where they came from, and now they couldn’t find their way home.

Then a salmon swam by. With its keen sense of smell and direction, it recognized the river as where it hatched – as its home – and said, “Don’t worry! Just follow me!”

And the salmon swam and swam and swam until it found the mouth of the river, leading them back home.

After such a long journey, the river realized they were not only a river, but were indeed also a stream, a pond, a swamp, a glacier, snow, a cloud, a fog bank, and the ocean. They were all of those things. And most of all they were happy to be home.

Posted in Random, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Pictures!

This summer had been a time for digging in and continuing a fairly intense healing journey. Moving me forward in my soul’s journey. And something that’s been coming up has me thinking back about a dozen years when I was working with a hypnotherapist who used a repeated regression technique to take me to the absolute root of things. During the regression, we touched on a part of me who was terrified to be born because I believed I had to heal the whole world. I was scared that I’d bitten off more than I could chew as far as my life’s plan.

After questioning the belief, I realized it wasn’t my job to heal the entire world. The thing is, this same belief of ‘healing the world’ has come up a few times in the past several years during healing sessions. And what’s almost comical is becoming more and more aware of my soul’s plans for this life.

It’s become apparent that healing my life more deeply and more completely was part of the plan because I’m actually accomplishing it. Not only that but contributing to healing the collective seems to also be part of the plan. Not exactly healing the entire world, but energetically healing massive amounts of darkness. Healing beyond only myself. Energetically throwing a massive boulder into a still pond and having healing effects ripple out.

And I’m not alone in this. Many people are here to help heal the collective in all sorts of ways. To help us evolve as a species. So far, my contribution is having healing sessions. Working on myself and the collective energetically, transforming darkness into light from the inside out.

Because the energy on the entire planet is quite stirred up and has been for the past several years, we’re all feeling it. And things have felt especially intense for me over the past several weeks. After going down this crazy road for more than five years, I’ve gotten pretty good at TLC. Taking care of myself is non-negotiable these days.

And one of my favorite things to lift my spirits is taking photos. It’s been a passion since I was ten and got my first camera!

Here are a few recent snaps. As much as I miss having the energy to go on photo shoots, I’m lucky to have lots of nature around. Taking the long way home affords me beautiful ocean and lake views, and gorgeous towering trees.

Avoiding a traffic snafu I took a detour home last week and spontaneously pulled into one of our popular parks to have a snack and snap a few photos. There’s a beautiful little lake, short trails through the woods, and a two-mile walking loop around the lake.

This time of year rain becomes scarce here in the Pacific Northwest. As wet as we get in the winter, July and August tend to be quite dry, so any rain is quite welcome. And I’m a sucker for water droplets!

Just the other day, my drive home took me by the ocean and another popular park. Finding an elevated vantage point, there were beach peas and thistle gone to seed calling me. I have such fond memories of walking along rocky shores as a child and seeing sweet peas in bloom. It was pretty warm so my visit was brief as I sipped on some iced tea and took in the view of the bay.

Finally, some of my favorite things to capture at twilight are silhouettes. After sitting and gabbing out on the porch, as the sky began to darken I grabbed my camera and immortalized a few lavender blossoms.

Posted in Photography, The Voyage | Tagged , , | 11 Comments