A Heavenly LIfe

Recently I attended a memorial and took comfort in a speaker’s words about the afterlife. He pointed to a rope behind him and held up the end with about two inches of black tape. The rest of the rope trailed behind him at least thirty feet. He said, “This end with the tape represents our life here, and the rope, our life in heaven and in eternity. The best is yet to come.” I could see the family of the deceased relax at his words, thinking of their loved one in his new home.

Since the memorial I’ve been thinking about our life here and our afterlife quite a bit. I agree with the minister in that I, too, feel there is no death, and believe we are immortal. The only issue I have with believing that the best is yet to come, and this life is only a preparation for the next, is that we may not live as fully here, may not live in the present moment and savor its beauty and connect with those we love as closely.

What if we lived here with the intention of being the best people we can be, loving, generous, kind, compassionate, unselfish, thoughtful, honest, loyal, full of purpose and in service, not because our reward is in heaven, but because we want to live lives that are meaningful and of worth?

What if we live our soul’s purpose here, staying present within ourselves and with others, and we do this so we raise our consciousness and our vibration, evolving each moment into the highest humans we can be? This means we are also happy here, living our dreams with passion, loving others deeply and helping them live lives that are meaningful, too.

Then, aren’t we living in heaven on earth? This is actually the subject of a future book, “Bringing Heaven Home,” but I needed to talk about the topic here as well. To me it is a win/win when we can live a heavenly life here on earth and once we are spirits, continue to evolve higher and higher in heaven. In this way, our lives as spiritual beings are seamless; we can transform here while embodied, and continue to evolve as souls free of our physical form. I am looking forward to no longer having a body and just being a spirit, but am going to savor life as a human while I can. I want to feel sun on my face, and swim in the sea, eat my favorite foods and dance the night away; I want to wrap my arms around my children and friends and tell them I love them. Why not love where we are and look forward to where we’re going?

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Confessions of an Introvert

I’m doing a poetry reading this afternoon and am on a radio show tonight reading from a new book. Sound like an introvert? Not at first glance, but if you look into my eyes, or listen to the tremor in my voice, you will find the real me, not an extrovert who likes to be in the public eye, yet not a recluse either.

My parents urged me to do everything and do it well. They coaxed and prodded and even pushed me out of their nest so I would be strong and successful. I responded by leaving home and accomplishing most of my dreams, and I’ve never stopped. What I’ve realized in the process, however, is that I am not a natural extrovert. I must push myself to go out, to socialize, to achieve my goals in the world. I have to psych myself up, prepare diligently for an interview or a reading; I must practice and talk out loud and build my confidence before leaving the house.

What feels more comfortable to me is sitting at the computer in my bathrobe, hair piled on my head, feet in furry slippers, maybe going out to water the roses or throw a toy for the dog, but then coming in to continue writing the newest chapter or latest poem. I once read that extroverts gain energy from being at large gatherings, and that introverts feel drained by too many people. If this definition is true, I am much more of an introvert, and at this point in my life, I can claim this quieter self. I love to be alone, to have my own thoughts and dreams, can take a breath and enjoy nature and my nurturing home. I no longer need to push or force or be someone I’m not.

And so why am I doing a poetry reading today and being on the Poetry Show tonight? Why am I doing a reading at Bookshop in a week and why have I just signed a contract with a publisher for a new book? Are my parents still alive in my head and are their voices driving my ambition? No.

What gets me out of my bathrobe and into the world is my deep belief that I am fulfilling my purpose here, that I have agreed to come here this lifetime to offer what I can to help others. I feel passionate about my work, want to help as many people as I can, hope to shed light on such subjects as illness, healing, transformation, death and immortality. My passion is what encourages me to leave the house, to show up at my office to see clients, to write more books and to do public readings.

So perhaps I’m not an extrovert or introvert, just a woman with a mission, that helps me get dressed, leave the house and do what I’m here to do.

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Not My Plan

Where have I been since 2012? Yes, 2012. That’s how long it’s been since I wrote a blog! And I loved writing it, loved feeling an inspiration and the words bubbling in my mind, loved putting them down here. So where have I been all this time?

I’ve been grieving. And before that I was taking care of my husband who was dying of cancer. It’s been a long process, six years of surgeries, radiation and chemo for him, and the same time for me to sit in the waiting room not knowing if he would live or die. Not fun, especially for my poor husband Tom, who never complained even when he felt intense pain in his bones. I complained. I complained loudly about the unfairness, about losing my sweetheart, the love of my life, the mate of my soul! We tried every traditional and alternative therapy; I believe we tried everything to save his life and at least I can say this now. I have no regrets about how hard we worked to keep him here.

His dying was not my plan. His suffering was not my plan. His having cancer was not my plan. We thought we would have at least two decades to travel, swim in warm oceans, cry at our sons’ weddings, dance all night, kiss on every beach, go to sleep wrapped in each other’s arms. This was my plan. But as has been said often, “Life happens while we are making other plans.” Tom’s not here, and for whatever reason, this is the Plan with a capital P.

If it isn’t my plan, then who’s is it? Since my husband’s death, I have been using my ability to spirit travel using shamanic trance journey and have met with him in what I call a level of heaven. I can journey to this upper world any time I wish and we spend time together walking on a beach, and spiraling together in golden light. He has told me what he is doing there, what his purpose is, and that he is helping me, our children, grandchildren and many others. His pure energy was needed to help arriving souls and to assist those of us still embodied. The other day when I was crying, he said to me, “Please be happy for me, knowing I am out of pain, and am being of service in a way I couldn’t before. Don’t cry. Feel joy for me!”

I’m trying to do this. The highest part of me wants his happiness more than anything. The human woman, who is still here, and missing him terribly, is the one crying herself to sleep. I’m just praying that it gets easier as the months pass, and I am totally able to feel joy for him and feel less heartbroken for myself.

And so, no, it’s not my plan, but it’s Spirit’s plan for Tom. I’m working on letting go of my will, and asking what God’s will is for me. I ask this everyday, and as I feel more at peace, I will be able to accept the “Plan” as what is right and best and for Tom’s highest, and perhaps, for mine, too.

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Driven

A few days ago I walked by Lighthouse Field in Santa Cruz (CA) and saw a woman painting. She wore a smock over sweats, and looked totally relaxed and comfortable in her straw hat, paint brush in hand. I couldn’t see her painting on the easel, but saw her face, which was transfixed and mesmerized by her process.

I envied her in that moment. I envied how peaceful she looked. I envied her rumpled and natural look. I envied the time she was filling with her art. I envied her creative muse.

I haven’t picked up a brush or unpacked my paints for over a year. They sit in drawers of a chest just for all my painting supplies. This chest is now covered with file folders and books, an ipad and CD’s. I can’t even see the paint smears on the wooden surface, and one drawer has a cobweb across it.

My life is measured out in book talks and book signings, radio shows I’m on and host; it’s measured by hours at the computer answering emails and sometimes working on my next book. I’m driven, driven to get my message out to the world, driven to fulfill my soul’s purpose, which is to help the planet heal! This is such a huge task and I want to do it but feel overwhelmed sometimes. Like today.

I used to be driven by my insecurity, wanting to prove myself to my father, my ex-husband and the world. Not feeling good enough made me work harder and longer than anyone else, but no matter how many hours I spent or how much I accomplished, I still didn’t get my dad’s love or acceptance. Now he’s dead, and I’ve stopped driving myself for approval.

But I am still driven. This time it’s something internal that matches the energy of the planet, a voice that says, “If not now, when; if we don’t fulfill our purpose to help people and the planet heal, it might be too late for humanity and the earth; do it now; don’t defer!”

And so I keep working to share my message for healing, whether it’s to help those divorcing, or to help anyone struggling physically or emotionally. I have to do it. I am compelled to fulfill my promise when I incarnated this time.

I still envy the woman painting in the field, and maybe seeing her is telling me I need more balance between work and play, doing and being. Balance. That sounds so inviting, so nourishing, and I do feel depleted today from so much giving and doing. A bike ride, a walk in the sun, singing, writing a new song: all these things fill me and keep me full and whole. Who knows; I might even begin a painting.

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Valentine’s Day

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and this year will be different. My husband and I have always celebrated this day with a walk down memory lane. We go to our favorite beaches where he proposed fifteen years ago tomorrow; we walk on the sand and sit where we were when he put the gold ring on my finger. The ring has two dolphins jumping together, and represents our connection and our love. Then we usually go out to dinner and give each other cards and sometimes a small gift, or we plant a tree or flowering bush as a symbol of our love.

This year feels sad to me. My husband has been recovering from cancer treatment for several months and still can’t eat by mouth. He has a feeding tube and takes liquid meals several times a day. We won’t be going out to dinner for another month or two. He gets tired easily and I’m not sure we can walk on a beach tomorrow. I have a card for him, but I’m not sure what else we can do to celebrate our love.

Yes, I’m disappointed, and I’m trying to let go of my wounded child-self this morning, trying to feel grateful that he is still alive, that we are together this Valentine’s Day, that we can just sit with our arms around each other; we can kiss and laugh and cry and feel the energy between us. My husband is my soul mate, the greatest love of my life, and our years together have been magical and extraordinary, a life seen in a romantic film or read in a romance novel. And it’s been my real life. I guess this is why it’s hard to accept the changes this year, but our celebration can still be beautiful, but different from the past.

I’m feeling more blessed as I write this, blessed to be alive, blessed my husband is alive and healing from the cancer, blessed that we have another Valentine’s Day to share. There is no guarantee that any of us will be alive tomorrow or next month or next year. The only real time is the present, is now. I want to celebrate our love in present time, here and now for what it is, not the way it was, not perfect, but here and to be cherished.

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Was Mother Teresa Co-Dependent?

Years ago I heard a talk that made me think deeply about what it means to care about someone without making them the center of my life or giving up my identity. The speaker said, “Is Mother Teresa co-dependent?” This made me realize that we can be of service selflessly and humbly, and still retain our own life purpose and spirit.

I was reminded of this message last week when someone said my husband and I are co-dependent. I’m sure you’ve had times where you say nothing, but later realize what you should have said!  I realized I should have asked the person: “Was Mother Teresa, St. Francis, Buddha, Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King and others co-dependent?”

I admit I’m sensitive right now, so the words stung. Maybe this is because my husband and I have been on a challenging journey for five years, and just yesterday he ended his cancer treatments. His prognosis looks good according to the doctors and tests, and at the same time, this fight has taken its toll on both of us. He’s gone through nine surgeries, two stints of radiation, 20 months of remission, and six weeks of chemo. My poor husband has been cut, burned and poisoned and has the scars, rash and burns to prove it. And my scars are across my heart from sitting in the waiting room each time and watching him suffer and not being able to stop his pain.

We’ve grown closer during this time, realizing that the only true time we all have is in the moment. We hold each other, cry, laugh and kiss; I can mix his food and put it through the tube in his stomach. I can put ointment on his skin and scratch his itchy back. Often, my eyes meet his, fill with tears and say: This is hard. I love you. I’m sorry you are suffering. I wish things were easier.

When are love, devotion, kindness and acts of service co-dependent? I know I’m not Mother Teresa or St. Francis, but I’d like to be more like them, and I think I’m learning to be. And I know my husband would care for me just as sweetly and lovingly. I wish we had more Mother Teresa’s in the world, more people to model for us what it is to be loving and generous, what it is to be truly human.

 

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Can Only Rich People Be Healthy?

Today I was remembering my daughter as a young single mother in school full time to become a nurse. We were in a local organic grocery store and she said to me, “Mom, only the rich can afford this food. Does that mean that if you’re poor in America you have to eat food with pesticides on it?”

I’ll never forget that moment. I looked around at the people shopping and found they were all white and seemed affluent by their dress and manner. I, too, had enough money to shop here and felt some shame or maybe some collective guilt that only those with enough money can afford healthy food!

My daughter is one of my best teachers. She is now a public health manager of children’s programs and works tirelessly to help kids get the medical care they need. She told me recently of a father who came in sobbing because he couldn’t afford the chemo drugs for his daughter with leukemia. He had a full time job and insurance, and yet, still couldn’t come up with the more than $90,000 for her treatment!

Something is terribly wrong in this country of wealth and opportunity, where the wealth and opportunity are often for the few, while the majority is just out of luck. We need to grow enough organic food for the many, so that the price goes down, and anyone can eat healthily. We need a national health care plan that has in mind the needs of the majority, the needs of the middle and lower classes, not the rich.

This morning as I lay in bed with my husband, best friend and soul mate, I told him I feel so rich, so blessed, so lucky to have been with him for seventeen years. So lucky. Perhaps it is now that I truly get what it means to count my blessings every moment, to feel grateful for every nano second of life on earth and life with my loving partner.

This is partly because he has cancer and is undergoing chemo and radiation simultaneously and it’s been tough to see him tired and covered in a rash, unable to eat except through a tube in his stomach. We don’t know what the future will bring, and yet, instead of feeling poor and a victim of fate, I feel richer than I ever have. I am rich in love.

And yes, I wish there were more equity in our world. I wish every person had decent food and shelter and health care. I wish that every child could go to bed with a full tummy, and every mother and father could relax knowing all is well. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. All I can do each day is my best, contributing in any way I can to helping people heal; to helping our environment heal; to doing my part. Right this moment my part is feeling rich and blessed to be alive.

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Finding Real Heroes

When I listen to the nightly news, and hear the words ” hero” or “courage”, “victor” or “winner”when referring to the current political race, I feel nauseated.

What sickens me is the sham of it all, how candidates will promise anything, declare devotion to an ideology that may change by the next primary. I don’t trust these speeches, don’t trust the motives of any political figure. They are self-serving, self-absorbed and want power rather than equity for the people. Recently, when debating healthcare, a commentator rightly criticized these bickering school boys, saying, ” Don ‘t they see that the American people want and need healthcare, and here they are arguing about having it at all!”

I can’t even watch the news lately. It hurts my stomach and my heart. I want real heroes who are brave and able to face challenge with courage and optimism, who are afraid yet doing it anyway…..whatever is needed.

I found my heroes in an unlikely place, well actually not so unlikely, the VA Hospital in Palo Alto. Here men who were once soldiers are sitting in recliners with needles in their arms. It’s the infusion room where chemo cocktails are given, and every chair is filled.

My husband is in one of the chairs listening to his iPod. He greets every vet with a high five or fists that meet, and eye contact that says, “We’re in this together.”

I look around the room at the  men and see such diversity. They all have some type of cancer, but are of every age, every ethnicity, from their thirties to their eighties, and represent every war we’ve fought in. Each week we become closer, and as I look around today, I realize these are the real heroes I’ve been looking for, and not just the patients, but their loved ones: the young wife holding her husband’s hand; the daughter stroking her dad’s head; the partner in biker leather who brought their fluffy dog for companionship. We become a family. I love these strangers, and know in the deepest part of me that I’ve found the real American heroes. They have served their country, have faced and seen death, and are once more fighting for their lives, and doing it with grace and kindness towards one another.

In comparison to these giants, our political leaders are pygmies. They lack the oneness of spirit, the courage to handle the real issues facing real people. They argue about healthcare, jobs, and bailouts for home owners, but mainly disagree based on ideology, while our citizens suffer.

Maybe we should choose our candidates for public office from oncology infusion rooms, where the patients and their families reflect all the qualities I look for: courage, determination, comradarie, inclusiveness, fighting spirit and willingness to face whatever comes with optimism and a hero’s vision.

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The Star Within: How to Heal Yourself

Have you ever noticed how much we listen to the advice of the rich and famous–the “stars”–about everything from how to vote, to which religion to follow; from how to attract a partner to how to look more attractive and younger? Why is it that someone who acts in a film or sings in a band has more power and wisdom than we do? Why is it that we listen to people and things outside us and not to the “star” or expert within us?

I think the answer comes from a lot of directions. For one, our culture deifies famous people, rich people and experts. Doctors to many of us are like gods. We go to the doctor every time we have an ache or pain and often the doctor can’t find what is wrong even after tests. I like Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s view that we should use doctors only in an emergency. Doctors are fantastic in emergencies! If we break an arm, or are in a car accident, or like me when I had a ruptured appendix, then the doctor is absolutely a gift!

What if we could become our own doctor in non-emergencies? What if we knew how to check in with our bodies to see how they feel? What if we could ask our intuition or inner guide about how we feel emotionally or about decisions we need to make? What if we could become the expert, rather than relying on the rich, famous and acclaimed to tell us what to believe? What if we could turn to the teacher or guru, to the “star” inside us?

We can! In fact, you can start right now to reclaim your power by trying a simple technique from my book, Empowered Healer, Gain the Confidence, Power and Ability to Heal Yourself.

Here’s how:

Find a quiet place and turn off your phone, sit or lie down and close your eyes. (You can also do this at work on a break, or anywhere except while driving)! Once you are settled, take a deep breath in, from as far down as you can, breathing in a desire to connect with your deepest truth, and breathing out anything that no longer serves you.

On the third deep breath, imagine traveling down to the area of your heart as you exhale. Just feel yourself arrive near your heart, which is often where your intuition resides. Once “there” ask a question of your heart, such as, “What do I need to do to be happier?” or “What would make me feel healthier?” You can ask whatever question comes to you. Ask that the answer come from your highest self, the part of you that wants the best for you. Then just wait and an answer will come in your mind.

You can do this exercise for physical issues too. You can close your eyes and on the third deep exhale, imagine going to the place in your body that hurts or is holding tension or the place that needs some attention. Once there, say in your shoulders where you are holding tension, ask what it’s doing there and what you need to do to get it to leave. You will hear wisdom in your mind about how to alleviate your stress. Do this for any physical problem you have.

Reconnecting with your inner teacher, your wise guru inside, can change your life. You can feel more empowered, more connected to yourself, more able to take action based on what you truly think and feel.

And the next time you see someone famous on TV, you can shake your head and even laugh, knowing what they are sharing may work for them, but you have your own famous person inside you, your own “star” to consult any time, and for free! You can even change the channel.

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Empowered Healing

I’ve been guided to write Empowered Healer to help you believe in your own power to restore yourself to wholeness. In fact the “empowered healer” in the title is none other than you! It’s true. You are powerful beyond measure, a person with a complex mind that can think and process, who also has a spirit that speaks through intuition and a body with feelings and senses that want to be felt and listened to.

After all, you know how it feels to be healthy. You have the imprint of perfect health inside you; your very cells remember how wellness feels. With the help of my book, you can reclaim your right to wholeness, a right that is at the very root of the word heal, meaning “whole, and “holiness,” which is your birthright.

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