No…Not what you think

No…not what you think

We decided to take this trip to Tucson…just because we’d never been there. We love the desert but Tucson just seemed like some far off retirement community. A dry desert town of little means but rich in Native American, Anglo and Mexican history. Why not?

We just got back from Nicaragua a few weeks ago and we are both already burnt out. The house we are renting has sold and we have 2 weeks to move. At this point I’m glad to be a minimalist.

We’ve submitted an application for a short term lease in a place where we can work on finishing the van and say our see ya laters and hit the road. A month or so to travel across the lower states getting used to the van and each other. This is actually where we melt together and enter into our element. Life from this point on will be fluid.

So back to Tucson, forgive my ADHD… We rented this cute 4 star eclectic hotel to camp out for the next few days. Great reviews. Earthy crunchy whole wheat little place. I admit when we first pulled in a part of me was not feeling it. I calmed down and thought how unfair that we would not even keep an open mind.

Hotel McCoy even racks my brain for appropriate words to describe it. Take it at face value, you’ll drive right on through the parking lot. Look deeper, take time to walk around…slowly. The artists that created this space left a piece of their heart behind on these walls. It speaks to the seeker in this land of saguaros and deadly critters. Grabs your mind and swirls it around leaving you spinning in your thoughts.

A Child’s Story…

Once upon a time. In a far away land. A land of magic and whimsy. Where dragons fly threw the sky. Animals of the forest, rivers and seas all had voices and stories

One day Otter came upon a small human child. What was a human child doing in the forest she thought. Otter took the child and ran off to the wise old owl. The owl told Otter that she had the motherly instinct and human children need to play and she should take the child as her own.

One day an evil witch came to the forest and saw the child. A rage came over the witch and she took the child from Otter and began to consume her piece by piece. The animals of the forest, rivers and sea saw what was happening and summoned up all their mental powers and caused the witch to turn to stone. The final words the witch uttered was a curse that would haunt the child for the rest of her life.

None of the animals could come up with a solution and the child was plagued with dreams and hallucinations that would throw her into fits. Finally one day she broke into a hundred pieces and scattered on the ground. The animals were unable to save her and they all mourned the loss of this sweet young innocent child.

A hawk flying overhead saw the pieces and heard the sad thoughts and flew off to the vast desert where he found the elephant. The wise old elephant heard the story and contemplated his answer carefully. What seemed like an eternity passed then elephant spoke up and said one word LOVE.

You must all get together and work together with each of your powers and surround this child with all your love. There is strength and great power in love but you must believe with all your heart you can do this. One of you will have to give the ultimate sacrifice of your own life for this child needs a heart. The witch stole her heart and left her filled with echos and torments…horrors no child should endure.

The hawk flew back to the tribe and told them what the elephant had seen in his vision and how they could bring the child back and break the spell. But one of you must give your life to show your love and give your heart to this child. Her heart was stolen by the witch and she will remain tormented without a new loving heart.

Otter stepped up without thought, compelled by her deep love for this child. I have felt the deep sorrow of this child, I have comforted her fears at night and sat with her when she was not well. My heart is already with her. At that point Otter plunged a knife deep into her chest and took out her heart and blessed the child and died.

All the animals of the forest, rivers and seas saw the compassion of the Otter, all put the pieces of the child and the heart of the Otter and formed a tight circle and began to hum.

A whirlwind picked up the pieces and carried them into the sky. The animals continued their vigilance and continued to pour out all the compassion and love they held.

Days later a sleeping child appeared back in the forest as the animals slept. She walked to each and entered their dreams. She told each of them that it was the love and compassion that freed her from this spell. She owed them each her life. The noise and echos, the horrors and nightmares had vanished. In her beat the heart of the Otter and she would learn to nurture herself as Otter did. This would be her promise for the life given.

My”self”

So fragile am I… I don’t even exist. I’ve fought for my being… alive, vibrant. I hold a place on this earth, a marker of an empty shell, only now willing to be… to exist. Not to defend my”self” any longer… but to recover and heal… to risk opening my heart. The small chamber that holds it safe so I thought. A Pandora’s box… a myriad of thoughts, jumbled emotions… a small girl wanting to live. Walk through this door with me, guide me, keep me safe and don’t run away when I breakdown. Just love me and tell me it will be all right… I’ll believe you… I’ve always believed someone. The path is hard… but I am harder, I’m still here aren’t I? My tears may be endless but my resolve even more. I want to believe… I want to exist and no longer defend… my “self”

The Song of The Islands

21 November 2018 Bequia, West Indies

We are eight days into our vacation. Longest one in years. We’ve been bouncing around a couple Islands down here and have just jumped to the small island of Bequia. Home to only 4800 residence. There is no fresh water on the island. The residence fill tanks during the rainy season and make it last. Similar to Bermuda. Strange…but a fact of life here.

I think we finally settled in, both mentally and physically. There’s a peace and tranquility that just wraps you like a soft blanket. Your breathing slows, you start waking up at dawn… because you’ve gone to bed before 9. You are just present in the moment…What to do or not do next? I feel like the days have finally slowed down. We take time to watch the sunsets, take a nap or just kick back and chill.

The Sweet Retreat: perched high up on the side of the hill. Built going straight up just like all the pieces of land here. It’s a gayly colored home three stories tall. There are many rooms, studios and suites. I love the layout of out little room. Outside there’s a full moon and all the night peepers are singing loudly. The anoles that sneak into your room and sing like a spastic smoke detector that the battery is dying on, you can never find the damn thing. The ceiling fan creeks as it spins around on its rusting components. The island breezes rustling through the trees and the passing rain showers. Finally the sound of the waves on the beach below and the faint music of the bars floating on the island breezes tops off the symphony.

The song of the Islands…

Escape to the Islands: A Journey of Peace and Healing

Part One

It has been nearly 3 months since I got sick. The last three months have found me working on my recovery and my well being on a daily basis. It took nearly 2 months this for me to regain my balance, my voice and my energy. I feel much more alive than I did before my illness. Much more at peace and much more grounded. Now it’s time for a much needed vacation. So off to the islands we go. First a few days in St Lucia to settle in and settle down. It’s said that it takes four days to relax, turn off and unwind. I guess that means my vacation can start today!

We left home four days ago. Chris did her best to stock up the store with great inventory. I made sure the house was properly prepared for a long time away. We made sure our guys were up to speed and had everything they needed to succeeded. What was left was only the unknown. It was time to go to catch our flight and start our adventure.

We chose to take the late afternoon flight than a stay over night in Atlanta before catching our flight to St Lucia, West Indies. Leaving a cold, wet climate to a warm, humid one will be a welcome relief. Enjoying the last of our “known” creature comforts to the unknowns of the Islands.

The Awakening

To say my life has taken a turn is putting it quite mildly. Over the last month I have experienced perfect bliss, extreme pain, illness, dis-ease, sadness, loneliness, fear and a greater awareness of love and compassion. All these exist within me. My physical being continues on its finite path of growing older yet I have awaken something dormant, something that has been there all along, but stuffed deep inside, buried under all the superficial pain and suffering, fear and longing. My soul, my spirit, my inner most aliveness. I have tapped into a wellspring of emotions and feelings and have made a safe place for these not so friendly parts of me. I have opened myself up to being mindful of all my surroundings, each moment as it unfolds, for good or bad. I have found a calmness that has long since eluded me. Through my practice and the teachings I have the tools to be content. I have found a silence that screams loudly yet does not break the peacefulness in my mind and heart. I am learning to make peace with my inner child, my fears, doubts and longings.

As my life unfolds in this new awareness, I am utilizing as many tools as I have available to try to incorporate this into my life. The silent movements of T’ai Chi, the quietness and inner searching of my meditation practice, taking in the beautiful world in my own back yard, all these are teaching me in their own way. The suffering of an illness way beyond my control and acknowledging the fears that it brought. The courage to put my unraveling life into the hands of caring professionals and friends who nursed me back to health, each in their own way. For all these things I have a grateful heart.

Everything that will happen today, that is happening in this moment, will all be gone tomorrow with just an imprint on my memory that will soon fade away into that which was my life, my past. I no longer need to make those memories, my past, my current life’s story or influence my path. They are just experiences that I have had, today is a new day, tomorrow is unknown, so I choose to live in this moment and make myself the best I can be for this moment, this day.

It is hard at times when I am bombarded with outside negativity on a constant basis. Some of these influences I can turn off, like the TV and social media. Others are present and part of my daily life and I am learning to listen with one ear and hear the lessons of my teachers with the other. I have chosen to stop internalizing those negative influences as this is like a cancer eating at my very inner most being, it is poison to my spirit which wishes to be free and happy. I am brought back to this moment by my puppy who sees me as perfect in all lights. He lives a simple life, happy just to get scratches, play, eat and sleep. Ah…to have such a simple life.

This is a second, third, maybe forth chance at this life. I have messed it up so many times before. I listen, learn, practice and then as time goes on… as life presents itself, I allow myself to get drawn back into the haste and forget to take care of myself and I end up in the same situation over and over again, with the same results. Some people call that insanity. So, as always, this new awakening I am incorporating into my “new life”. My intention this time is to cultivate it, nurture it and feed it on a daily basis with silence and practice. I choose to separate myself from the expectations of those around me that would love for me to be sucked back up into the games. This has to be about me this time and that needs to remain my constant focus. I don’t know if I’ll get another chance at another “do over”.

The Mind Body Connection: How Real It Is?

It’s been two weeks since I got home from my retreat. It’s been a very rough two weeks. I came home and immediately got sick, physically, bad enough to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. It was a culmination of bad food, emotional outpouring when I saw my girlfriend, the many feelings I had had been reacquainted with on retreat, a 180 degree change in my diet and several unknowns at work in my brain. Let’s just say the end result was not pretty. 

I spent the night and half the next day in the hospital being prodded, poked and asked a battery of questions. According to the doctors, nothing was wrong with me but a bad reaction from food poisoning. Somewhere deep inside I knew they were dead wrong. My body felt like I had been plugged into a wall socket and was vibrating, buzzing and my head was pounding. I wrote it off as little sleep and my migraine, that was now on its third day. 

Each day got progressively worse. My hands and legs began to cramp and shake, my head and heart pounded like it was trying to escape from my chest, and I had the feeling of being on a boat, a kind of swaying in my head that made me dizzy. Next came the involuntary and not so pleasant movements and jerks that would tire me out that I had to stop and lie down. I began to get a bit worried to say the least. I went to my chiropractor and message therapist trying to get some relief. I joked that I was impersonating MJ Fox so I could remain in a positive state of mind.  I meditated everyday trying to calm the ever growing panic I was starting to feel. What the hell was wrong with me?!

My practice allowed me to remain relatively calm and I tried to find the root cause of this “dis-ease” in my body and mind. By Friday the movements became so bad I reached a breaking point emotionally and broke down. If there was nothing wrong with me I must be loosing my mind! I reached out to my Holistic Functional Medicine doc, who is also my chiropractor. He got me right in, I could see and feel the alarm when he saw me verses three days before. He did some energy work and found some trigger point that created a wave over my body and stopped the movement, I cried as the release came over me. I explained to him what I was feeling and he listened intently. He gave me some homeopathic serums and explained that I had created a perfect storm. From the diet change, food poisoning, emotional stress and other things that culminated all at the same time, that my body was full of toxins causing inflammation and effecting my brain. He strongly suggested I get an MRI at once. 

brain-health-800x445

Herein lies the turmoil, my neurologist was a month out and she wasn’t even going to be in the office for two more weeks. I took the serums/medicine and by Friday night I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. My head wouldn’t stop pounding, my body wouldn’t stop moving, my hands would not do what I asked of them, I felt like my core was a lightening rod and it would build up energy then zap the muscles in my shoulders or my legs and cause wild spasms. 

I slept almost all day Saturday. I had learned a reset and it was lying down and sleeping. I slept deeply for around 28 hours and when I awoke, I felt calm and just the tingling. I sat quietly with Chris and watched a show until the wave of exhaustion hit me again and off to bed. I thought to myself, yay it’s over, I just needed to sleep. 

Sunday came.  I woke up and took an assessment of how I was feeling. I did my practice, had a cup of coffee and sat outside in the warm summer morning. My arms, hands, legs and feet were doing the jerky thing again and I was swaying. A new motion had started in my head and neck and I began to think this is really serious. I took it easy, napped and meditated off and on all day until I lost the ability to speak. My throat and face would spasm into this horribly painful positions, like someone with cerebral palsy. I couldn’t chew or swallow and I was totally out of my mind with fear. Off to the ER again…

Super-brain

I checked my ego at the door, which was leading to my embarrassment, and with help, walked into the ER. I was scared out of my mind but had a sense of calm at the same time. All through this, my practice has afforded me a safe place I could go when this flared up. I finally got my MRI. Clear… they said I had Dystonia probably caused by a severe allergic reaction from my antidepressant. They gave me Benadryl and told me to stop taking the meds and go see my neurologist. 

Monday came, no change. Chris had taken a video of me at the worst and sent it off to my Holistic Functional Medicine doc. He had other ideas. Since they ruled out MS, Parkinson and a lesion, and the regular docs wouldn’t think outside the box and gave me Benadryl, he began aggressively treating the inflammation in my body and my brain. He strongly suggested that I change my diet since he was pretty sure it was an autoimmune dis-ease that was mimicking all these nasty diseases. 

slide1-n

Fast forward to today. For the first time in weeks, my hands are my own, the buzzing my body feels more like touching your tongue to both terminals on a 9V battery. My body is still, my mind feels like I’ve been on  a month long cruise and never got off the boat, my eyes are focusing better, my voice is not strained though my throat still feels a little tight, only mild tremors in my hands and an occasional random spasm in my face. My whole body aches as if I’ve done a triathlon. My mind is clear and quiet and my heart is feeling joy, optimism and relief.  I am full of gratitude and compassion for the only doc that listened, gave a damn, and never gave up thinking outside the box to the mind body connection.