The Blessed Project 2017

Susie at Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride has invited us all to create a post about our blessings and link to her post by Dec. 19.  Since I’ve been practicing gratitude and noting blessings, seems like a perfect project.

 

Another view from my spot

The last couple of years I began making a concerted effort to spend more time on our sun porch.  I love lots of light and our tree-surrounded house tends to be on the dark side except for the sun porch which not only has lots of windows and skylights but is blessedly the only area not shadowed by a big tree.

This year I managed to be really faithful about setting up for an hour or three of computer and/or reading and/or writing time out there most days and the light and airiness have really been a blessing!  Lifts my spirits and keeps the positive mojo working.

Ever since last year’s (U.S.) election, I’ve been focused on living from a place of lovingkindness and compassion.  I’ve been blessed to have learned many great tools for such a journey over many years and from some great teachers.  A number of teachers made videos and books available for free this year and I purchased some books that have helped as well.

As a long-time fan of Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness:  The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, I was pleased to add Real Love.  Louise Hay offered me a book on mirror work and I meditated with Deepak and Oprah too.  Blessings all.

Coffee Love

When the coffee revolution began in the 70’s, some of my college friends pulled me into the world of fine coffees. Honed over the years as I lived in the land of the original (and far better) Starbucks and was privileged to spend time hanging out in cafes in Europe, my taste is pretty picky and I LOVE a great cup of coffee.  I’m able to order really good coffee from La Coppa (founder originally worked for Peet’s and then founded San Francisco’s Spinelli’s –which I loved when I lived there) and my daily pot of espresso is one of my most treasured moments every day.

After seeing Paul Hawken on Charlie Rose (not a blessing, btw, to have lost the pleasure of watching his show…), I got his wonderful book, Drawdown, which outlines the path to ending the climate crisis and, most important, argues that the seeds have already been sown.  I found it so uplifting and encouraging, I recommend everyone to read it.  Truly a blessing.

For some years I’ve talked about heading to Henry’s Clay’s estate, Ashland, to take a walk once in a while.  This year I finally made it something like 4 times (hey, better than the 0-1 times previously 🙂 ).  Childhood memories link me to the place and my love of history finds satisfaction in walking the lovely grounds of this historic place.  Blessed that it’s so close to me and each walk was its own blessing.

L Perfume

One of last year’s Christmas presents was this little perfume with a prominent scent of tobacco.  I wrote a longer post about it,  but the short version is:  it reminds me of driving around Lexington in my childhood at certain times when tobacco dried in lots of barns and the sweet scent filled the air.

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Blessed healing journey

Sunset2 Dec 3 2017

A couple of friends recently commented on my ability to tune into patterns opening in my body.  It’s always nice to hear, but initially I didn’t give it much thought.  Last night, however, I was reflecting on this long healing process in light of their thoughts and noticed how I’ve mostly considered it and written about it as torture.  Now, I often look for the up side and I’ve written posts indicating some positive thoughts, but over all I must admit the general misery and discomfort of unwinding muscles and sleepless nights for the most part fill my focus.

Suddenly I could see more blessing in it.  Not only that the process has forced me to pay more attention to my body than I ever would have given it.  Not only that I have been able to mark progress on many fronts even while many people don’t quite believe healing in this form is happening.  But also a blessing because I seem to be on a very unusual path in this whole unwinding/healing muscle thing and I’m seeing that I’m in the privileged position of being a path finder.

When I first began complaining of fatigue and issues with my muscles, western medicine was swearing up one side and down the other that neither chronic fatigue nor fibromyalgia existed so their diagnosis was that I should see a shrink.  Period.  Alternative practitioners began providing answers and naming the two major issues they found [fyi: when western medicine acknowledged fibromyalgia they also defined it so my symptoms didn’t seem to fit although alternative therapists have often felt my muscles and said I have it…].

According to my first serious therapeutic massage specialist every muscle in my body was wound up like a steel cord, all the muscles in every muscle group were glued together and the groups were also glued to my bones.  Eventually, after many of the larger and surface muscles were in much better shape and most unstuck from the bones, another practitioner saw and helped me realize the underlying intertwining and complex patterns remaining in the smaller and connective muscles.

I’ve been at it for three decades. Some practitioners have been dismissive of what has gone before because they felt it should have all been resolved quickly – and then they failed to resolve it.  I had to accept a long time ago that my muscles were in trouble at a level that was way beyond most practitioners and too complicated to resolve speedily.

It has taken many types of body work, inventing my own exercise program (combining the Psychophysical Method with yoga), emotional release work, past life work, ancestral healing work and more to reach a point where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel pretty brightly.  The process has taken me deep within, led to multiple transformative experiences, taught me a huge amount about how we hold onto the past – not only our own but our past life and ancestral pasts as well – and changed the trajectory of my life dramatically and overall I would say for the better.

After a few decades of being told by one practitioner after another  they’ve never seen this, that, or the other thing as bad as my… psoas, neck, hip, whatever, I know most people don’t have physical issues of the same magnitude.  I also know from learning to move and to observe how others move, that millions of people walk around with tight muscle patterns interfering with their movement, their ability to process emotions, their capacity to feel energy, etc.  And I feel as though talking about my journey and process might help some of those people to open some channels and pathways for their own lives to receive more healing.  In fact, I hear every now and then from someone who says it has helped them take better care; what a great feeling.

As I survey this history, I feel this glow of blessing.  For once, instead of viewing it only as a burden I have unfairly had to bear, I can see the Universe entrusted me with an unusual but important journey and what a gift it is that I have been able to explore all these nuances and share my experience.  Which is not to say I won’t be back whining about my uncomfortable muscles or being kept up all night 😊  But more than ever I also feel gratitude for being sent on this journey of healing.

The long haul

Screaming it out

I was hunting around today for a post I apparently never wrote, trolling through the first couple of years of blogging.  Looking back always seems to be a big reminder of how incredibly long the muscle problems and the crazy unwinding face/head muscles thing has been going on.  I feel a bit ridiculous because I see myself always expressing the hope that the healing is just about complete.   And incredulous I could have spent this many years, so much money, so many hours of my time on healing my muscles — and it still isn’t over.  So, spoiler alert, I’m whiny…

I’ve mainly only “talked” about the unwinding head portion here.  To those who’ve followed for years even that story probably seems long …  and the unwinding actually started about 7 years before the blog.  The head piece was just the final puzzle to solve in a much longer quest for healthy muscles that started in the mid-80s.  The tightness and pain, etc. that led to the quest had been present for years before I started realizing I had to do something.  By the time someone noticed the muscles in my face and head were blocking the final stage of healing the muscles in my body, most of the major muscles in my body were actually in pretty good shape; you know, except the ones being held in twisted patterns by my head.

For the last several years I have felt more debilitated by all this than at any point before — even when far less healthy I was better able to function.  Something about this head thing — and maybe the weariness of how very many years it has taken — has just been too much.

Today I postponed yet another outing I’d looked forward to because I was awake all night with my face being yanked.  [See here for a little video displaying what you can see of the process from the outside.]  Because I haven’t been able to contribute (compounded by stockmarket issues and bad management), my mother and I are facing some very tough decisions about our future.  I don’t get how I landed here…  And it just feels like too much.

Thanks for listening.  I’m sure I’ll meditate and do yoga and restore balance yet again…

 

So few degrees of separation

William Brewster

William Brewster

My parents, at 92, don’t really shop any more.  So for birthdays and holidays they give a check and I pick my own gift.  This year for my birthday I bought an Ancestry DNA test and then took advantage of a sale and purchased six months of membership so I’d be able to take advantage of the test results.  I’ve been immersed in research ever since and feeling such shifts because of it.

Thomas Prence

I’ve filled in some extensive branches of the tree, found out I’m a Mayflower Descendant, a many times great granddaughter of a governor of the Plymouth Colony and a distant cousin to Frank and Jesse James.  Oh and my great grandfather died as a result of wounds sustained in a knife fight with a Constable who was trying to arrest him.  Whew.

Thomas Gaitskill stabbing

All the research I’ve done before this seemed to lead to poor tenant farmers who left the British Isles to try for a better chance over here.  And everyone I’d found owned a farm over here.  I thought of my ancestors as up-by-the-bootstraps poor folks, some of whom prospered well in the “new land”.  I saw poverty consciousness, anger and repression.

Now I see the Gaitskills were actually ship captains for a few generations.  And bunches of my ancestors were fairly prominent in the Virginia Colony.  It’s hard to describe the inner shift it creates to feel I came from people from all walks of life and that they weren’t all poor and scrabbling.  I have the qualities of those leaders and movers and shakers in me as well.  It makes me feel…  different.

As I discover surname after surname on my tree, read histories of Colonial Virginia that are loaded with these names, check out the migration pattern of all those names into Kentucky, and extend my tree, I’m so amazed to realize all these connections.  To see that I have cousins of various levels by the hundreds of thousands out there [just to give you an idea, they estimate the number of current descendants of my one 10x great grandfather Mayflower passenger is multi-thousands and we all have 4196 10x great grandparents — do the math!!!].  Suddenly it’s so clear that the “one web” isn’t just an amorphous spiritual concept but a physical reality.

Just as I found out several years ago that an acquaintance of several years is actually my double fourth cousin, we’re all probably passing cousins in the street all the time, friends with cousins, working with cousins.  My seemingly all-British roots turn out to go back to Europe and ancestors who entered Britain as part of the Norman invasion, according to the DNA test.  And there are hints of ancestors before that who go back to some sort of migration from India.  Slaveholders in my tree have provided me with Black cousins.  My cousin’s children are half Chinese.  I’m connected to every other race and many ethnicities even though hundreds of years of history say I’m WASP through and through.

I’m sure the same is true of most of the people who wear their whiteness as some sort of badge of honor that makes them better or more entitled or whatever their goofy thought process is.  If they only knew their whole ancestral picture I wonder if it might change them?  It becomes so clear — at least to me — that we are all separated by only a few degrees.  One.  All one.

The Universe is listening

Chapman Dr, Corte Madera

The final ruminations arising from the phone call with my friend last week are intertwined with another friend asking if I’d like to do yoga together once a week.  The yoga offer came first and I quickly realized it would be just the thing.  Then when the phone call wound up with a suggestion to start getting together to help one another hold space as we traverse “the liminal phase” my heart began to sing.

For a couple of years now I’ve been feeling enough better to be realizing I need to get a social life — or some sort of life outside the house — going again.  Sorting through options I realized I really don’t particularly enjoy group activities unless everyone is participating in some sort of spiritual ceremony or meditation, etc.  I prefer one on one or small groups of 3 or 4 and to carry on deep conversations or to engage in some sort of practice that helps us stay grounded, balanced, tuned in…

When I first moved to Lexington I spent the first couple of years in a concerted effort to try out churches, meditation groups, book groups, etc. in order to meet people and make friends.  I wound up involved in a group in another town near here and then, through a couple of people there, in another group here in Lexington.  After a few years a number of the folks I felt close to moved away and then the various groups dissipated, the church closed, and so forth.  By then my struggles with the muscles and not sleeping were severe so I didn’t have much interest in socializing and certainly not in starting over.

I still have no desire to go through the kind of trying and joining and sifting process I went through on arrival here and really not a lot of interest in the kinds of groups I sought.  So, I’ve been hanging around knowing I need to get out and do more things with people other than my 92-year-old mother and that I wanted one on one activities with some kind of deep connection, but not how to make it happen.

So having two people I adore get in touch about starting just exactly the kind of get-togethers I didn’t quite know I was dreaming of felt like a wave of blessings and rightness washing over me.  I feel like the Universe was listening to the whispers in my mind and put together the perfect answer to a prayer I hadn’t quite said.  I also feel it says something about the shifts and opening in me that these two perfect offers appeared within a week or two of each other.

Although a lot of the teachings out there on manifestation are firm about the need to be specific, visualize exactly, etc., I’ve often had experiences more like this one.  Some vague longings and thoughts move through me and sometime thereafter an amazing solution that takes all the ramblings and feelings into account shows up.  In this case I also feel like the direction of both activities toward staying balanced and holding a certain kind of space in these chaotic times is part of my path forward into becoming the emissary of peace I aspire to be even if I still don’t see precisely what the path is.

It just feels like a moment of amazing grace and I’m drinking it in and feeling so grateful and full of joy!

Still in the in between

I’ve been saying for several years now that I feel like I’m in a transition phase.  After years of almost non-stop emotional processing, spiritual practices and physical healing (all intertwined, of course), the journey finally led me to a place where I had no choice but to give all the changing and releasing time to percolate through and integrate.

To someone inclined to want to accomplish things while living in a culture that almost demands everyone at least appear to be constantly accomplishing things, this phase has seemed very long.  I didn’t imagine it would stretch to years although it makes sense that 20 years worth of transformational work with almost no integration or transition time would land me in a long liminal phase.

In a lovely phone conversation the other day a friend brought up the liminal phase, which set off a round of thinking about the “in between” again.  Her comments on this phase as being one in which you’ve left behind the old you and have yet to see who you are going to be in the next phase (I’m paraphrasing LIBERALLY 😉 ) left me ruminating and seeing new angles to my old musings.

To some extent this began back in 1992 when the conclusion of my Fisher Hoffman process group left me in what our facilitator called “the void“.  I’d set off kundalini and for the next few months as I contemplated all that I’d let go of, I realized I had lost a huge amount of who I’d been and that I no longer knew who I was.

As I’ve continued letting go and transforming, the sense of “who am I now?” has been ongoing.  Not that I don’t still know I love coffee and  yoga and that my general bent is toward liberal/left politics and concern for the welfare of all, etc.  But in other ways I’ve been adrift all these years.  So many things about the nervous, inhibited, angry, sarcastic person I was have shifted, so many thoughts about what I like or want to do have changed, I don’t always have a coherent sense of self.

My friend is in the same place of limbo, between who she used to be an the unknown self she is becoming.  It felt so amazing to hear someone else speak of the same place I almost cried for the joy of feeling less alone.  She also mentioned there are a number of us at this time who are in the forefront of this transition time and many of us are in this in between place.

I thought of my friends in this blogging community and how many of us are on the same page about so many things.  It has me wondering how many of us are feeling we’re in this in between place?  How many are feeling sometimes like you’re out in front, knowing stuff most people around you don’t get yet– and how lonely that is?

Next time: our conversation also covered a bit about this “trailblazer” position some of us are in and it has set off some deep thinking for me..

Dungeon Prompts: Mission Statement

I’m running behind on everything blog lately so I’m just getting to last week’s Dungeon Prompt and will try to do better with the one that went up today…

If the journey of your life could be boiled down to a particular mission, what would it be?  What has been the primary focus or purpose of your particular birth?  You may believe that all of life is on a big picture path, but I’m asking about your particular journey.  Is there any lesson or goal that has defined the majority of your life?  What is your life’s mission?

Lately this is a good question.  As my long healing journey has progressed I’ve felt less and less sure that any notion I’ve had about my life’s purpose reflects why I’m really here.  That’s a work in progress.

In my youth and early adulthood, I would have unequivocally told you “music”.  My elementary school dreams involved Broadway or being in the newest movie musicals.  Around the time my interest moved more into jazz and rock I realized my beloved Hollywood musicals were pretty much over, so maturing tastes dovetailed with facing reality.  Through those years I also wrote short stories and poetry and pondered a secondary career possibility as a writer.

In my twenties I tried to revive the music love and was lead singer for a band for a short time, but it didn’t work out and I was slowly realizing my many years of studying classical voice left me with a voice that didn’t really fit the style of music I wanted to do.  More important, I could see I didn’t have the kind of “push” it takes to make a big music career.  Scrap that mission.

Having become radicalized in college I put a lot of thought into having a career that would make some kind of difference.  I wound up in law school, which I hated, and then in a short-lived career as an attorney fighting against nuclear power plants.  My writing skills landed me the job of writing all the motions and briefs for my office.  I liked winning those cases and the feeling of having helped to do something good but loathed being a lawyer.  My zeal to be a public interest attorney of any sort died; end of that mission.

In the meantime I’d taken up yoga and meditation, earned a teaching certificate for yoga and regularly spent weekends taking classes on various spiritual topics.  I started putting together a whole toolkit of quick, easy-to-use techniques for reducing tension and using them every day to keep the angst in check.  When I decided I couldn’t take the law I decided to teach stress management.

Around the same time the health issues I’d been fighting for some time turned out to be chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and I reached the point where continuing on a normal work path became impossible.  The next decade-and-a-half was spent juggling between trying to heal, continuing my spiritual and personal growth journey and trying to work as much as my ill health would allow.  I tried stress management, mediation, working as a proofreader and editor for a small publishing company, working part-time for the Institute of Noetic Sciences, wrote a novel, and more.

Throughout these years I kept seeking a career path that felt right for me but none of the hats I wore seemed to be a perfect fit and the health issues interfered increasingly with keeping any kind of regular work schedule. I wound up teaching yoga classes and for myself re-working Robert Masters’ Psychophysical Method into specific sets combining his certain of his triggers of release with yoga.  It made major inroads on the fibromyalgia issues. When I realized the power of this movement work I taught more classes using that than straight yoga classes but have never felt it’s my calling to teach movement.  So no mission statement for that except that I’d like to make it available through recordings so others can be helped by it without me having to be the cheerleader.

Eventually some years back I realized the healing had to come first.  That having the energy and the wherewithal to develop any career had to come first.  Eventually as I’ve worked through not only the physical side but also emotional, ancestral, and past life issues related to the tight muscles I realized that for now this healing journey IS my purpose.  And, since I know we are all one, each a part of the whole, I believe my healing helps others heal too.  So I’ve thought of healing as a mission.

I feel very drawn to work for peace and it has informed much of my blogging.  I designed workshops on the “Journey to Peace” but never managed to market them well enough to draw students in numbers  Put on the back burner while I’ve worked hard to complete the muscle issues, the draw is there but not a sense of “how”.

In these turbulent times my sense of wanting to be peace, to be a voice of peace, to impact world peace in some way has only grown.  I’m drawn toward creating a career path that brings the many things I’ve learned over the years together in service of peace.

But this path has meant letting go of so much of who I used to be and led to so many questions about who I really am, what I really love and what I’m really here for that I have no sense of the mission statement for the next phase beyond “serve peace”.  In many ways I see this desire as a maturing and transforming of my earlier desire to do public interest work and how that desire was born of the hippie protests, etc. of college.

So much is changing in me as my body changes, I’m content to see what feels right when the healing process winds down.