Category Archives: healing

Mind Wanting More, and more

I have two folks to thank for this luscious poem. First, of course, the author. Her name is Holly Hughes. I’ve linked to her bio, below. The other is the delightfully creative force behind a blog I enjoy, Beyond the Fields We Know. Here 

Mind Wanting More

Only a beige slat of sun  sunset
above the horizon, like a shade pulled not quite down.
Otherwise, clouds.
Sea rippled here and there.
Birds reluctant to fly.

The mind wants a shaft of sun to stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky with its barred wings,
some dramatic music: a symphony, perhaps a
Chinese gong.

But the mind always wants more than it has— one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed with the moon;
one more hour to get the words right;
one more chance for the heart in hiding to emerge from its thicket in dried grasses—

as if this quiet day with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren’t strewn all around.
Holly Hughes from America Zen: A Gathering of Poets

Which reminds me of one of my favorite poems from a beloved hero of mine, Wendell Berry. A venerable national treasure if ever there was one.

The Peace of Wild Things 

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

GreatBlueHeron-in-flight

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What I Will Always Remember on 9/11

I can’t seem to answer the most fundamental question about remembering 9/11. Exactly what are we expected to remember?

If it is the terror act and deaths, are we to always remember every act of terror in the US? Or only this one? Are we to forget Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombings that killed 168 people? Or the Aurora movie theatre shooting that killed 12 and wounded 70? Or the Fort Hood massacre that left 13 dead? The Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 dead? Columbine High School where 15 died? And all the others.  Are these numbers too small?

Should we forget the innocent victims of madmen with guns? The families killed and torn apart? The single deaths by acts of terror? If we are to always remember the deaths of 9/11, which deaths are we to forget?

Perhaps we are asked to remember the vastness and egregiousness of the terrorism perpetuated on 9/11. But if that is so, I can’t stop at the horrific acts of 9/11. Wars, a constant on our planet, are conglomerations of acts of terror writ large. Death by starvation in a world that can feed us all is a massive form of terror that knows no end.

If we look beyond our borders, can we ignore that every day some 21,000 people – about 18,000 of whom are children – die of hunger? Even though they are not slamming into our buildings, that’s the equivalent of about 100 deadly jet plane crashes each day. *

The number of people who died in the 9/11 terror attack was shocking for our nation. Watching the Twin Towers collapse, a collectively indelible moment in our history. That NYC and Washington DC were targeted on a grand scale was the iconic moment of a generation. Still, am unable to resolve the refrain of always remember, never forgive, never forget.

When I remember 9/11, I grieve for all who died —  but no more and no less than for the senseless, tragic deaths of others I have not met and did not know. And that was only augmented by our response with acts of war and the senseless deaths we as a nation caused and incurred in a reaction that can hardly be justified by collective grief.

We know violence begets violence and terror is a constant threat. So in my memories, I choose to cross borders and grieve for all senseless deaths. I choose to remember that we as a species are diminished by every one of these deaths, but that humans are overwhelmingly good. I choose to remember and stand shoulder to shoulder with those who do not abide evil. Above all, I choose to remember that spirals of destruction are brought down by the essential qualities of our collective humanity — redemption and compassion.

*This is so disturbing. On this page you see the faces of the hundreds who die of hunger in the hour you are watching.

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Puerto Vallarta’s Writer’s Conference 2013

It was cool. This was my second PVWG conference. I was out of pocket for last year’s, but by all accounts this one surpassed both last year and most people’s expectations for this one. Speaking of which. We were handed a questionnaire to help organizers figure out what went well and what fell in the water.We rated our expectations of the panels, seminars and workshops and then rated our actual experience. With the exception of one event, my expectations were significantly lower than actual. Which is good. Continue reading

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The Grandfather of Stupid Human Beliefs

I have an A list of stupid human beliefs.

Denying the existence of human-engineered climate change.  Making a woman’s personal choice a political issue. Hate crimes. Opposition to any form of weapons control. Believing the Tea Party. Releasing sequestered carbon, using untold energy, spending megabucks and endangering lives so we can pull  non-renewable oil from the earth while ignoring free abundant energy that streams from the sky and blows in the wind. Transporting GMO food grown by megabusiness around the globe instead of supporting small and local. Overfishing. Continue reading

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You Had It or You Are It?

OK. I had cancer. So, now what? Do you view me as a ‘cancer survivor?’ Probably. Did that change anything in your perception of me? Almost certainly. I don’t know how the term got started. Did someone who had been through treatment one day jump up and say “Yay, I’m alive! I’m a survivor!’ And so it began? Perhaps.

More likely it’s a label that was created by those who did not have the experience but wanted to show respect to those who had gotten The Diagnosis and didn’t die. I appreciate the underlying ‘Hat’s off!’ that I believe most people intend when they use the term. There’s probably also a bit of ‘Super! — another win for the good guys! (Translation: If that were ever me or someone I love, I’ve got a good memory to bring up to bat.)

I’m not suggesting you look and I’m not going to either, buuut… if we were to look through years of blogging I’m not sure you would find even one post where I mention my journey through breast cancer. It’s not that I hide it. And it’s surely not that I haven’t written about it! During treatment I journaled a good single-spaced 200 pages. About a year or so later I wrote a book about going through crisis (the e-book is “ABC’s for the Hard Times: a crisis survival handbook) and in addition to stories of my hypnotherapy clients I refer to my stage 3 diagnosis and some of the ways I coped.

But right here for now, I want to get back to two thoughts  — one is where I asked if reading that I had cancer changed your perception of me and the other is the term ‘label.’ (Never before noticed if you switch an’ i’ for the ‘a ‘you’ve got libel. OK, that’s really beside the point…) A caveat before proceeding: I know that not everyone who has been through cancer feels the way I do — I suspect it’s pretty well divided actually. But in any case I speak only of myself.

I’ve survived a lot of things and choose not to label myself with them. Trust me — it barely scratches the suface to mention lousy childhood, mother’s death when I was 12, the world’s worst boss, a motorcycle and a few car accidents… Jeez, it’s quite a long list when I look at it that way. The thing is… I don’t look at it that way. I don’t see my life or myself through a prism of what I have survived. I don’t define myself by my illnesses and accidents any more than I define myself by my weaknesses, anxieties, defeats, or losses.

I prefer as much as possible to leave myself undefined and unlabeled. That doesn’t mean I won’t end up in a box. Or various boxes. I will, and that’s okay. We all do that since humans need to understand, define, refine and categorize the world in which we live. It’s how we think and how we communicate. We carry around something akin to little boxes in which we put the stuff of life. Of course that ‘stuff’ includes people.

It’s okay to categorize. It’s just that I want the label and the box to be one of your choosing — not one that is precut by one  part of my life into which all of me is supposed to fit.  I would much rather that it is by what I am doing now. What I give back. My current beliefs. Not the awards I received, the experiences I garnered, or mistakes I made. I do not want to rest on my illnesses any more than on my laurels.

Well, if I’m so damn set against the label, why am I even discussing this?

Because this time when the topic came up it was with someone who deserved a thoughtful answer. Until yesterday I hadn’t thought about it in a long time.  But there I was on my first Vallarta hike, led by Sylvie through her group L.O.C.A. (Ladies Outdoor Club Adventures). Great fun despite the heat and a nice opportunity to chat with interesting, active women.  The woman who got the wheels turning on this topic is in the medical field and devotes herself to service to others. She reminded me of those I came to think of as angels during my treatments, those who go with strangers into sad, frighteningly dark corners and then go back again and again.

If she or anyone finds help in these thoughts it’s well worth the little jaunt back to place in which I once was.

 

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Once were citizens

Once we Americans were citizens first. Now we’re consumers. Some economists are petrified we might start saving just when they want us to spend so we can heal the economy. Like we’ve been doing for the last few decades. Even if they’re right it justs sounds ridiculous. Let’s keep doing what hasn’t worked? 

If a spending spree is not the way out of this mess, what else do we have? How’s about change. 

I’m amazed that on prime time some of the talking heads are asking us to live more consciously. Now that’s headline news! I heard a panelist actually ask the media to stop referring to us as consumers. We’re citizens first, she said. I like it. I prefer the word steward or Earth citizen, but I think we understand each other.  

We elected a president of change, now what about us? Are we willing to take it on?  I mean what if we weren’t the toughest kid on the block, or the richest anymore.  Then who are we, as individuals and as a nation? Are we willing to reconsider how we as individuals and as a nation tread on this earth and do different? 

We and other nations know how to use religion, land, oil, water, and culture as justifications for war. Can we regroup and breathe out life force instead of fire power? Can we turn technology, science and construction green?  Can we listen to the rhythms of the Earth and learn its dance?

We’re in a time of Big questions, and even if we don’t come up with the Big answers, we have a moral imperative to keep asking. There has been a sleepiness in our collective soul and our national conscience that is struggling into awareness.  If we cut our hand, our bodies leap into healing mode the moment we are wounded. Life seeks healing. Our national invincibility cloak is in tatters. Let that be a good thing, and let the healing begin.  

As we heal ourselves we will also heal our planet. That is how we create the collective moment that transforms ‘yes we can’ into a universal yes! so strong and so broad it rebuilds ghettoes and shanty towns and favelas, it draws lines around our rainforests and coral reefs and holds them safe, it criss-crosses borders with ideas and support, with cures and care.  And you?  “You may say I’m a dreamer, but…”  Let me cut you off right there. Yes I am a dreamer. What else has ever changed the world?

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