Archive for the ‘healing’ Category

The Secrets in a Rose

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

Photo by Pamela Hale

What do you see when you look at the center of this rose? What emotions do you feel?

When it appeared as one of spring’s first offerings in my garden, I marveled at the perfection of the folds and their graceful sweep. And, I am drawn to the center, wondering in awe at the source of this creation.

The center of all flowers must contain the mystery, the source of their blooming, the secret behind their fragrance and the perfection of their beauty. And of course, if we were to tear the rose apart to discover the secret, we would destroy it. Somehow it is the very form the mystery takes that is part of its perfection. The mystery unfolds on its own, in its own time and in its own way. Just as we do. Just as life does.

I’ve long associated the rose with the power of the Virgin Mary, especially since I live in Tucson, a region where the Virgin of Guadalupe is very present. My husband and I have visited the chapel and shrine to her in Mexico, where a peasant named Juan Diego had an encounter with her and found an imprint of roses inside his poncho afterwards.

For me, the energy and power of the Virgin Mary is paired with Mary Magdalene and the other Marys in the Christian tradition, and the rose reminds me of all of them. They are, for me, aspects of the Divine Feminine that we need desperately now, regardless of our religious beliefs.

And so I was delighted, after I took this photo, to read this article (https://www.thoughtco.com/sacred-roses-spiritual-symbolism-rose-123989 )on the sacred symbolism of the rose that expanded its meaning for me. It turns out that the rose is a key symbol dating from pre-Christian times and associated with devotion to the goddess Venus. For Muslims, roses are symbols of the soul, and are sprinkled through the ecstatic poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. Hindus and Buddhists consider than to be expressions of spiritual joy. And when the fragrance of the rose is present and roses cannot be seen, God is at work.

As for the “mystic rose,” as the Virgin Mary is called, I had never thought of the prayer Catholics offer to her being the “rosary.” The repetition of the rosary is meant to be like a “spiritual bouquet” offered to The Virgin. And since women are particularly devoted to her, she is a powerful spiritual ally for the feminine principle.

I learned that essential rose oil vibrates at 320 megahertz of electrical energy, the highest vibration of any oil. The nearest competitor is lavender at 118. It was humbling to learn that a healthy brain vibrates at a range of 71-90!

If a loved one gives you a rose, no wonder it’s considered a sign of true love. And pay attention to the color. White is said to represent purity, red represents sacrifice and passion, yellow suggests wisdom and joy, and lavender symbolizes wonder, awe and positive change.

I say, be your own lover and give yourself a rose. And you might consider that an invitation for a miracle or angelic encounter. When the deep power of femininity is called forth, mysteries can be solved, wisdom revealed, and the perfection of Beauty can become the medicine for all ills.

 

This post can also be seen on Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58e17d4be4b03c2b30f6a7c2

Healing vs. Curing

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

mesaBreast Cancer Awareness month is October, and so this month I’ll be focusing on how any of us facing illness can take steps to explore more than repairs and curing. We want healing as well!

Allopathic medicine focuses on repairing what is broken and on fixing symptoms and altering structures that cause disease. I am very grateful for our advances in these areas, since I feel that allopathic medicine is responsible for at least half the reasons why I’m alive today after my two bouts with breast cancer.

And, I’m grateful for my training and experience in the other half of the story, which is about healing. The word “heal” means to make whole again. (And my birth name, Hale, comes from the same root as “heal,” and means strong and hearty. This is why I use that name as my author and professional name. I am becoming more and more “Hale.”)

When we “get” or “have” an illness, there are some steps we can take to make ourselves feel whole again.

 We can remember that it’s “both…and.”

On one hand it’s horrible, frightening, evil, a bad sign, and all the other things we could say along those lines. And, it’s still true that the way the shadows of the mesquite trees are dancing on the wall outside my window is beautiful. Can I hold both the horrifying and the beautiful? Actually, I can. And so, I’ll bet, can you.

We can feed the white wolf.

Remember the story about the man who is followed by a black wolf and a white wolf? He visits the village shaman and tells him how these two wolves fight and follow him, and asks which one will win. “The one you feed,” is the answer. How can you feed the white wolf of beauty, truth and meaning right now?

We can decide to be the well ones.

There is plenty of toxic, sick, fearful, angry energy in our world. We are all tempted to join in, and when we do, we feed that black wolf. So we can decide to say Yes to life, even with its pain and imperfection. We can decide to be healthy emotionally and spiritually even when our body is suffering, and to have well-being.

How do we accomplish these three things? I think we draw on the creative energy within us. For creativity isn’t limited to art; it refers to the ability we have to decide, to make choices, to change and shift things in ways that affect our destiny.

The Divine One isn’t the only Creator; we are co-creators.

Healing involves our claiming our role as co-creators.

We stepped into a world that was already formed, but we create our own experience every day. We create the world within. We create the lens we use to see ourselves and our lives.

How will you create wellness and wholeness for yourself today?

 

This post was adapted from the original, which appeared as Creativity & Healing on theSpiritedWoman.com.

Who is the Divine Feminine?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

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Have you heard a lot about the Divine Feminine re-emerging? What does this mean? Who or what is the Divine Feminine and how can we benefit from Her?

When I traveled in Nepal, the Divine Feminine was everywhere. In the middle of the market were shrines to Kali, or Durga, or other Hindu figures. People and filth abounded and it was hard to tell sometimes if the goddess smelled of incense, urine, food, sweat, or all of the above. She might be covered with filth and/or flowers, but she was accessible, part of life. Sometimes she was portrayed ripping apart an icon of evil or falseness.

Not exactly the image we have of the Divine Feminine as the Virgin Mary, for example. Shouldn’t the Divine Feminine be pure? Beautiful? Enshrined and protected? Full of peace and tenderness?

Of course in many traditions, she is. But as the force in charge of births, she knows about pain and blood and suffering as a way to usher in new life. And as the force in charge of death, she knows about destroying the false that has to die for the true to gain ascendance.

In America, the Divine Feminine is harder to find. In the southwest, we have the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is much more prominent these days. In Latin America, the Virgin is a mainstay, especially for women. In Europe, one can find the Black Madonna.

So, the Divine Feminine is complicated and multi-faceted. Not to be explained by logic, or tamed by too many rules. She is, in fact, wild. And that is why she has been oppressed in so many cultures for so many years. Along with her human feminine counterparts!

These days a lot of spiritual teachers are writing and teaching about the re-emergence of the Divine Feminine. She seems to be showing up everywhere. As Mother Earth, she has been turbulent, unpredictable and changing. As Venus, she has been hidden from us, traveling the underworld, to reappear as a sign of love. As the Virgin, she shows up on screen doors and tree trunks. As Mary Magdalene, she tends those who suffer, and as Kwan Yin, she is the heart of compassion. As the goddess, she has been honored in a variety of renewed ceremonies and myths. And in the form of certain women, we see her incarnate.

These are times of planetary crisis, and so if we ever needed a dose of compassion, tenderness, unbridled fierce protectiveness and signs of death and rebirth, I’d say this is the time.

So, if the Divine Feminine is calling us to awaken, how can we respond? We might begin by looking for her presence, veiled by tradition or culture, at the essence of things. Even, and especially within our own hearts.

Whether you’re male or female, you have the Divine Feminine within your heart. You have that wild, tender, compassionate, fierce force in charge of births and deaths, all within you.

And so I invite you to begin looking everywhere to see signs that it is time to welcome the Divine Feminine back into full equality—in the outer world and in our inner ones. When she has been fully welcomed, hopefully a new balance will begin to be possible in this wild, beautiful complex Earth home.

How to Clean a Foggy Lens

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Tibetan mandala
For me, everything is material for our personal, spiritual, collective treasure hunt. And so I offer you some reflections that have emerged from my weeks of solo retreat…

My journey has had its complications. When two weeks out from surgery my “index toe” still remained blackish purple, the surgeon admitted there was a question about its being viable.

Since amputation was not on my list of desirable activities, and since medically there was nothing to do but wait until outer layers of dead tissue peeled away, I had to do something. What “different lens” was I going to use on this situation?

My spiritual first aid drill was first to call in good help, in the form of local healers and mentors. Next I decided I’d better pull together all the healing tools and experiences I’ve gathered over the years and use them on myself.

The first way to clear out some of the fog over my different lens was to re-frame this as an adventure. 

*******

Metaphors are a way for me to see the bigger picture.

As the purple skin turned blacker and crustier, it began to look like a caterpillar in a chrysalis. Now, there’s a metaphor I could hang onto! A little butterfly was forming inside, and so nothing to do but surrender to the transformation. 

So as if it were under my control, I gave the toe permission and let go of any parts of it that needed to die in order for new life to emerge. During this period I had a lot of tears, and many of them seemingly unrelated to the toe, or to anything else I could identify. I just knew certain old ways of walking in the world were passing away.

I did ceremony every day, and made my house even more of a sanctuary than it usually is. It became my own Red Tent for healing and transformation. I read spiritual wisdom, chanted, prayed, and also watched some great movies and ate too many chocolate chip cookies for someone sitting on a couch 24/7.

I was happy when a friend came to visit who had taken a toe reading class. That’s right, toe reading! She told me the left foot is connected to the inner world, the big toe to the soul’s path, ad the second toe to the inner voice. So I did work with healing the parts of me that have muffled that inner voice and strayed from that soul’s path, and called in a new day.

Seeing in metaphors gave me a way to enter that temple within and to do the deep work needed for healing to have a chance. 

 ******

My new art photography collages have emerged from my theory that part of making lemonade out of lemons is calling in the muse.

For me, having creative work is another way to “polish the lamp,” as the Sufis would put it, or to clean my foggy lens.

My future book is taking form, and as I read voraciously and listen to some online teachers, ideas pop onto index card and into my journal and my spirit is happy.

Way back in my cancer journeys I found that one’s world can shrink severely during illness, and so one way for the body to be able to exit that crisis cascade of chemicals is for the soul to remind it that we are creators, capable of unexpected glories, even when our bodies are limited.

Having lost too many body parts at this point, I had to admit that even if worse came to worse and I lost my toe, I would still be me, still live, and walk on. It wouldn’t be my favorite, but I remembered I was more than my toe and more than this particular time. Creating helped me get there.

 ******

I learned to live with limits

Of course, a lot of my learning was the practical kind that we all experience when we’re limited by illness or injury. I learned to get around on a scooter and crutches. Learned how to re-organize the kitchen enough to make simple meals. Figured out how to take a shower when I couldn’t get my foot wet. Signed up for some great online courses so I wouldn’t be bored. Figured out how to do an upper body workout sitting down. And figured out what makes me tired and when to give in to that.

Two things come out of my experience living with limits.
First, gratitude, for sure. If you’ve been on crutches, you know how you tell yourself you’ll never take walking for granted again. I’m so fortunate that my disability is temporary, and I bow to those who have made life work with physical limits.

Secondly, I realize that being human is about living with limits. As spiritual beings, we are limited in certain ways on this earth plane. It’s hard here. Our minds drive us crazy and our bodies don’t always cooperate.

So bringing heaven to earth is about bringing an the reality that we are unlimited to a plane where we perceive ourselves as limited. I want to live with limits in gratitude, while continuing to stretch beyond them and remember my greater being.

******

How to Clean a Foggy Lens:

1. When you can’t see, do a re-frame. 

When all I could see was fog ahead a possible loss, I had to re-frame this incident as an adventure where I would discover and learn some crucial things.

2. Find a metaphor. 

What object or symbol does this incident or challenge remind you of? Brainstorm until you find a metaphor that makes you smile. My toe as a caterpillar in a chrysalis did that for me, and it gave me hints about how to process my own transformation inside.

3. Call in the muse. 

You are creative, and so whether you play an instrument, paint, arrange flowers, or whether you solve corporate problems or are a techie, you ARE creative. So create something that delights you, and watch your world expand.

4. Learn from your limits.  

What is limiting you now? How does it feel? How can you adjust your world and learn to live with the limits in a way that frees you a little? How, how can this situation point to ways you could expand beyond your limits and remember the essential you that has none? 

What happened to the caterpillar?

Even though I was feeling optimistic, I held my breath in the doctor’s office as he peeled off the part of the now-black, crusty skin on the outside of my toe.

It was pink underneath!

I cried and he beamed. Told me I could start putting weight on it. Encouraged me to peel the rest of the black off when it was ready.

I have been celebrating this small miracle, and as I venture out, now able to walk with crutches to my car and drive to the mailbox or even the grocery store…I can’t help marveling over all the butterflies in my yard. They seem to be loving the flowers that are blooming and thriving with our summer rains.

One butterfly lives on inside the house. She’s protected by a boot cast most of the time, but from time to time I unwrap her and let her flap her wings. They are still wet, a bit tender, and not flying yet. But we know what possibilities lie ahead.

5 Lessons From Living With Limits

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

89591-PH-SS-043I’m getting a graduate course in living with limits while recovering from my foot surgery. Since I can’t put any weight on my foot for six weeks and am getting around on a scooter and crutches, the lessons are varied and deep.

I’ll bet many of you know the drill. If you’ve broken a limb, had a knee replacement or been otherwise disabled, then you know the lessons appear to be mostly physical. I’ve learned to sleep propped up, with my foot elevated. I’ve had to learn to maneuver my scooter, and carry things in a tote bag I put on the handlebars, carry liquids in screwtop containers and bathe in a plastic chair in the shower with a showerhead on a hose.  My “nest” in the living room contains everything I need to keep occupied and pretty happy.

Of course there are other learnings I’ve generalized from these limitations, lessons I hope to take into my “regular life” as a lucky, normally able-bodied person:

1. We are adaptable beings! I’ve watched myself invent creative ways to get around restrictions. Like figuring out how to make chicken soup without burning or cutting myself, or falling. I want to remember how adaptable I am and approach what I used to call “problems” as a chance to be creative.

2. Time is relative. When you can’t do much and have stripped life of driving, errands, household chores, hours pass much more slowly. I want to remember this, since in my old life I kept convincing myself that rushing and pushing would somehow create more time. The opposite is actually true.

3. Slowed way down, I notice more. The land around me is even more precious than before, so I keep binoculars in my nest. Really looking and noticing wildlife is my way of traveling outside my “confinement.” I want to continue to heighten my powers of observation and seeing.

4. Dependent on others, I am full of gratitude. My husband bringing me the mail and a drink from Starbucks feels like a major event. Dear friends who call or visit are heroines. I see how much I normally take for granted, and want to remain grateful and receptive.

5. My limitations show me what is really important, and I see that all I care about is what has heart and meaning. I could watch junk TV or eat junk food, but I do almost none of this. I want to walk that path of heart and meaning and just let everything else fall away.

All these lessons are so clear and easy to take in now. The challenge will be to live them when once again, I am on the move. Why is it that we seem to need hardship to really learn? And then back in ease, we forget so easily.

A lot of that return to old habits is just that: habitual behavior. To break a habit and replace it with new behavior takes repetition, rewiring of the brain. Will this recovery period be long enough?

What are the habits that hardship has inspired you to break? What have the lessons been that have come to you when you’ve been limited?

Recalling those lessons now, how can you form a new habit, new actions that will form the life you desire? So many of the patterns we blame on the outer world are really our coopting, our trance behavior where we give up our will. We give up what we say matters, just because it’s easy and familiar.

If you could pick one habit that you think falls into this category, what would that be? And if you could pick one practice to change that habit, what could you begin doing?

For example, if you want, as I do, to choose activities that have heart and meaning, then you could begin the habit of asking yourself every time you’re choosing to watch TV or take a walk or get a snack or pick up the phone…Will this choice bring me heart and meaning?

That way, even though every life has some limits, you might just find you’re freer than you thought!

What to Do When You Get Stung

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

IMG_1311

Two days ago, while trying to help a beautiful looking black bug with broad orange wings to leave the confines of our bathroom, I found that the double layer of toilet paper I used to create a portable cocoon was not enough. I got stung by what turns out to be a “tarantula hawk” wasp. Online I found that their sting is reputed to be the worst insect sting in North America!

I felt stung in more than one way. I felt kind of betrayed. I was trying to be nice, and I got hurt. Ever happen to you? And when it does (because it happens to all of us in some form), how in the world are you supposed to be spiritual?

You might think of your own examples like having the check you reluctantly accepted from someone…bounce. Or having someone you loved a lot betray you. Or find out someone you counted on has just let you down. These all sting. So what to do?

We’ve all experienced letting one hurtful incident ruin our entire day and seemingly take over our whole world. One more thing that went wrong may lead us to the conclusion that everything goes wrong for us, or that the world is evil in general, or that we’re drawing dark energies to us. Going down the victim road step by step, conclusion by conclusion.

Seeing it Through a Different Lens

Here’s a process I tried on myself after the tarantula hawk got me, so that I would not go down the victim road:

  1. Breathe deeply and ask yourself how your heart feels.

Mine answered that it felt hurt and betrayed, whether that made sense to my mind or not. And, my heart said it felt a little hurt that my mind was telling me I was just stupid.

  1. List 3 reasons this might have happened.

Mine were: a) I didn’t know it was a stingy creature. (I’ve lived in Southern AZ for 26 years and never heard of this kind of wasp.) B) I made an assumption that an encounter with an unknown creature was harmless  and c) Maybe I needed to learn a lesson about things that sting.

Take a moment to see if anything seems a little clearer.

 

  1. Do a compassion practice for yourself and the person or creature involved.

Breathe into your own heart and offer it your love and gratitude for how it bears all hurts. See if the hurt lightens a bit. What happens inside your heart?

Imagine breathing the person or creature into your heart and ask what it needed when the “sting” occurred. Maybe you’ll at least see something you didn’t see before, and your feeling of anger or resentment might lift a bit.

Do this practice as many times as it takes, even if it takes days or months. Some stings are bigger than others!

 

In my case, I found out that tarantula hawk wasps don’t sting very often, and only when they feel very threatened. I had to admit that if a giant hand with a tent on it came down over me, I’d sting too, if I could.

My husband was able to get it out into the yard in one (slightly wounded) piece, and it disappeared the next morning. Look out tarantulas! This wasp will capture you, sting you, drag you to a hole, lay an egg on you, and bury you. The larvae that hatch will feed on you alive. A much worse fate than mine!

Even with a more personal “sting” than this one, the compassion practice eventually won out over the anger and resentment that can act like poisons in our system. (They are worse than the original sting.)

I love all the versions of compassion practices when bad things happen. By taking the hurtful thing into our heart rather than chasing it away, we open the possibility of re-framing, or seeing the incident through a different lens. It may not take the sting away, but it’s a whole lot more healing than a bandaid could ever be.

Wishing you sting-free days,

Pam

 

Lobo’s Last Lesson

Monday, July 21st, 2014

 

 

L's bedWe owners know intellectually that our dogs’ lives pass by much more quickly than our own, but when they begin to fail, it’s utter torture.

Lobo wasn’t a big fetcher, but over the years, Jon had convinced him to go out to get the morning paper and carry it back to the house for a treat. This was always subject to Lobo’s mood that morning, and his periodic refusals were evidence that he could hold himself above bribery. Sometimes he’d go at it with real enthusiasm, throwing the paper up in the air or ripping it to shreds. Other times he’d decide to take it over to his outdoor bed, as if he was planning to lounge there with his coffee. But eventually, he just didn’t want to spend his waning energy on this ridiculous routine. He’d bark at Jon to remind him to go, but then he’d sit on the step and just wait.

Horseback rides with Jon were once a non-negotiable. It was evidently a manly thing to do to go out with the neighbor men, even when it meant trotting for miles, lying down in the shade and panting when necessary, and begging water from Jon. Even in later years when he’d be sore for days, he was not about to be left behind. When his arthritis became obvious, Jon left him once with me. He kept scanning for the horses in the distance and howling and crying. He knew he couldn’t do it any more, but it was as bad for him as it is for some elderly people to have their car keys taken away.

For years when we took him to our place in the mountains, Lobo would be delighted to take advantage of “ranch rules,” which allowed him to get up on the furniture. But eventually, leaping up on our bed was impossible, and he was relegated to the rug.

When he started refusing to take walks, we knew something was really happening inside that big dog body. He would lie on his outdoor bed and just stare at me with his ears down, a clear “No, thanks.” He would go with Jon up until the very end, when we had to agree with the animal communicator that he was getting ready to leave his body.

Lobo’s last lesson was how to die well. He did what he wanted, following his own instincts rather than our wishes. He was extra affectionate, approaching us almost every day just to stare into our eyes. He talked more, developing sounds that became an understandable language. And when it became clear that there were no options left except his suffering, he had loved ones around him singing and drumming and feeding him all the treats he wanted. I would love such a farewell.

We sprinkled Lobo’s ashes in his favorite places around the house. Some under the mesquite trees where he buried bones, treats and the horse brushes he had stolen. The  container of ashes had sat for weeks on a little kitchen shrine with a Day of the Dead dog figure with a paper in his mouth. Next to it was a card from the vet that always made us laugh. It was to Jon and Patty. (Patty was Jon’s first wife back in the 70’s. Someone’s records need updating.)

As I write this, Jon is away on a fishing trip, and the house is absolutely silent. No need to go out and remind Lobo not to bark. The house hasn’t been cleaned for two weeks, because there’s no dog hair. If Lobo were here, he’d be depressed and would be doing a lot of waiting up on his outdoor bed. And so I tell myself there are advantages. The squirrels and birds are happy he’s gone. But I haven’t been able to get rid of his outdoor bed. Sometimes when I drive in, I think I see him there, scanning the yard, making sure the area is safe for me.

Surely we’ll get another dog. And surely we will love that one, and cry again when that one dies. But I know we’ll never forget Lobo. Just like any member of the family, there are no substitutes.

He was indeed, my teacher.

Lobo

Lobo’s Lesson #6

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

A family of coyotes built a den below our next door neighbors’ property, and must have been mystified for ten years by the next door neighbor dog who chased them one minute and howled with them the next.

We’re not sure what Lobo was saying when he joined in with their songs, but he sounded like a songdog just tuning up and jamming with the band. Since his howl was as loud as his bark, the cuteness would wear off after a few rounds, and we’d either be scolding him into being quiet or escorting the concert outdoors. The most the vet would theorize was that Lobo was part hound. But we knew there was real communication going on.

We always worried when Lobo was young and fit, and after disappearing for awhile he would return panting hard, obviously after having been on an exciting chase. A couple of times tufts of hair were missing from his hind end, indicating he had either been too slow, or had been surrounded by the coyotes’ notorious pack attacks. The fact that he survived meant to us that among the species there was a big game of chicken going on, and that the rivalry was mostly in fun.

Humans are the ones who are out of it where animal communication is concerned. We couldn’t figure out how Lobo was communicating with the coyotes, or with the fierce mother cows whose babies he chased. All we knew was that as we passed certain moms on our walks, he would give way. Not a word was said, but he would put his ears down and slow his walk, chastened. Other times, he chased to his heart’s desire despite the glares of the whole herd. Our horses were the same. Who knew why he could drive one horse crazy with his teasing, while he knew he’d better leave the other one alone.

Even though we couldn’t figure out Lobo’s communication, he had our language down pat. Over ten years he learned a lot of English, but the language that fascinated us the most was the silent, telepathic one.

Sometimes he would get lonely and bark after we left, our neighbors informed us. So we’d put a dreaded bark collar on him before leaving the house. In his later years, he knew we were coming. I would venture into the garage and open the door, the bark collar hidden behind my back. Often he would already be walking away from me to escape, which he would never do when I wasn’t armed with electricity. How did he know?

When his last days were coming and he began to fail, he told us as best he could what he wanted and what he didn’t want. One day I made an appointment to take him to the vet, and he refused to get in the car. No amount of lies about the great drive we were going to take, and no amount of treats would convince him. He already weighed in at 120 lbs., but when he was refusing to be moved, he could effectively make himself weigh 500. I gave up. When I called an animal communicator and had her do a reading on him, she said he hadn’t felt the trip to the vet was necessary. Later when he was sicker, he cooperated.

When his back end was failing him, we both had travel commitments and started to worry about him deciding to leave his body while we were gone. So I had a talk with him. “Lobo, we’re going to have to leave. Now, I know you’re getting ready to move on, and I know you’ll do that in your own time, whenever you’re ready. But if there’s any way you can wait until we’re all together, that would be great.” He stared at me with those golden eyes, as he had done at least once a day, and I knew he got the message. And, I knew he would do exactly as he pleased.

We are the ones who don’t think telepathy is natural. Animals must communicate using energetic frequencies, emotional tones in a scale we don’t even hear. Yet we probably could if we believed in our abilities.

I wish Lobo were still here to teach me all the languages he knew. Maybe even I could turn into a songdog.

Lessons from Lobo #1

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

lobo by Tomar                                                Portrait of the young Lobo by Tomar Levine            (http://www.newyorkpetportraits.com/memorial-portraits.html)

Lesson #1

Lobo first came to me in a wild and mysterious dream. A dream unlike any I’ve ever had. It was 2004, I believe. The year I had my second bout of breast cancer. So perhaps I thought it was effects from the radiation. Or simple madness.

I saw the face of a German shepherd-like dog, presented up close as if in a picture frame. Which seemed odd (not the picture frame, but the breed.) I had been terrified as a child of the German shepherd down the street, who would throw himself against the chain link that gated his driveway, barking and baring his teeth. He was convincing, and I never would have walked that way again, were it not the only route to Joyce’s house. She was my best friend, and so I was stuck with the terrifying dog, who only lived a couple of houses short of hers.

So the face appears in the dream, but is not scaring me, possibly because of some wonderfully golden eyes that look kind and deep. The face is accompanied by a booming, low male voice. The voice of God, or at least a very good radio announcer. “My name is Lobo, and I will be your dog. And, your teacher.”

That’s it. Over and out. I wake up wondering: Is this a good dream, or not? But as a mystic, I am impressed. It’s memorable, at the very least.

At the time of the dream, we were dogless. We had lost Missy, and were still in mourning. I had almost become convinced that life without dog hair all over everything and everybody could have its advantages. We could observe how much we traveled, and wondered if it wouldn’t be kinder to the canine world to do without.

Then Vicky called. Their bartender at Joe and Vicky’s was at her wits’ end. The dog she had brought home from the humane society was terrorizing her Chihuahua. He had been living at the bar, but got too big for that, so Vicky had him at their house along with their two huge hounds. It was a three-ring circus. Could she bring the dog over so I could at least have a look?

I was reluctant on most counts, especially when she told me the dog was a shepherd mix. But then there was that dream…

It was a bit hard to contain him, even on our front porch. He looked to be a large version of a six-month-old lanky puppy, who came up about knee high. That wasn’t high enough for him, so he kept jumping. My gentle “no” and “down” had no effect at all. But he had kind eyes. Amazing eyes of gold, actually, that look like they go on forever. And he looked right at me for what seemed like a long second, right before jumping on me again.

The name on his tag said “Kenai,” but I knew better. Despite inner warning signals, I told Vicky that even though I had to talk to Jon, I thought we would be taking him.

There was no choice.

 

 

The creative wellspring

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

 

When I was about 30, I entered therapy, thinking that what I wanted was a better marriage, but unconsciously beginning a long journey into becoming more of my real self. I wanted wholeness, the real meaning of the word “healing.”

During that same period, I bought my first 35mm camera and began taking pictures of my two adorable daughters. And then, photographing in a much more serious way. A symbolic way.

One of my photos was of a cutting from a houseplant  The photo was of slender roots emerging into the water contained in a Mason jar.

 I made a print of my photo and gave it to my therapist, explaining that it was a self-portrait. I was like that cutting now—severed from my past and growing my own tentative versions of new roots. When I finished therapy years later, I gave my therapist a tree! I had grown, and now identified as not just the tree, but also a bird whose nest was in the tree. I could fly and also had a safe home. (And, I later wrote Flying Lessons!)

All of this was expressed best by my creative self, who also took up the guitar, filled numerous journals with bad poetry, and played the piano and sang sad old standards. She (that creative self) had come out of the closet, and the observer in me wondered why the explosion of self-expression.

Along with that creativity came a flood of sexuality (I’ve always been a late bloomer) and a deep dive into spirituality. I began to ask myself, “Do creativity, sexuality and spirituality all emerge from the same wellspring?”  And, “What is their connection to my healing journey?”

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to pursue those questions as a writer, photographer and two-time breast cancer survivor. And, I’ve watched many clients now over the years. And here’s what I think:

1.     Creativity, sexuality and spirituality are all forms of the Life Force, and so they do all emerge from a deep wellspring within us, and within the Universe as a whole.

2.     Healing happens from a deeper place than the mind, which understands little of the Creation and its miracles.

3.     When we begin to heal, Life Force is released, and we can’t help wanting to express the joys and sorrows we experience when that happens.

 

4.     When we express ourselves in any creative form, the life force has a place to be seen, appreciated and anchored in our system.

5.     And so, creativity begets more healing. It’s a positive cycle

So here’s the takeaway for you:

1.     What form of creativity is YOU, right now? Remember, it doesn’t have to be art. Cooking, gardening, decorating, creating something beautiful…these are creative acts.

2.     What does it feel like in your body when the life force is moving through you? Call on that feeling and trust that it is healing you in every way.

3.  What if you trusted that just giving yourself time to create might heal all that does not feel well or whole or right within you?

Even if you’re in a period of your life where you feel cut off from your self or your past, you may be growing the roots of a great tree. See if you can trust the life force within you to show you the way.