Hope, The Gift of Life and Embracing Metamorphisis

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As July concludes and August approaches, these are the thoughts and observations that are coming through me:

  • I had the privilege of being a keynote speaker at the national gathering of The Bereaved Parents of the USA in Connecticut this past weekend. I ended my speech by issuing the two-part challenge of Meesha Johnson ( with her permission), which was part of a beautifully crafted and heartfelt piece for my blog titled Left Undone. The line that resonated with me the most for my speech was:

     Celebrate the life of those around you as well because the gift of life doesn’t just happen to us, the gift of life happens through us.

    I ended my speech by suggesting to  those in attendance that if we  are able to celebrate the gift of another’s life through us, then we can be one with ourselves ,one in our grief and one with each other. That is my gentle wish for all of us who are involved in the human experience.

  • I know I am not the same person that I was prior to my daughter Jeannine’s death. I am not the same person that I was five minutes ago. The process of metamorphosis is truly ongoing.
  • During this upcoming year, I am going to reflect on the adventures in my life that I am willing to experience, including the service opportunities that I choose to embrace. There are many categories in my life that need to be honored at this stage of my life.
  • There are days when I marvel at how I have lived so long , so fast.
  • As I get older , my quest for wholeness trumps my quest for happiness.
  • It isn’t the size of an organization that matters; it is the ability of its leaders to make you feel welcomed and truly a part of things that matters. Sadly, many in a position of leadership don’t get that. The ones that do get it are the ones I choose to associate with as I get older.
  • My friend John, a retired military man gave me one of the best object lessons that I have ever received. He told me that the difference between being merely mediocre and outstanding was attention to detail. Sadly, many in a position of leadership don’t get that either.
  • Courage is strength in the knowledge of what is to be feared or hoped.- Atul Gawande: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in The End

  • I identify  with Atul Gawande’s definition of courage, because of my own life experiences and my experience working with substance users and individuals with emotional health challenges.I think one fear that inhibits the development of courage is the fear of change. Though desirable, change represents a departure from what is familiar, even if it is chaos. In situations that demand change our faith and hope must be stronger than our fear.
  • I have developed a deep respect for nature and for all forms of human life.It wasn’t always that way, but catastrophic loss tends to change ones perspective. I am also grateful to all of my spiritual teachers, mentors and friends who have been instrumental in my shift in thinking.
  • Over the years I have discovered that it is the unofficial reasons rather than the official ones that drive certain decisions. Another example of life as illusion masquerading as truth.
  • For a man to conquer himself, is the first and noblest of victories. -Plato-Found this quote on a friend’s Facebook page this morning.I continue to embrace the challenge.

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Left Undone

By Meesha Johnson

Greetings to the readers! What a perfect day for a celebration! Today marks the birth day of a very special friend who transitioned to the spirit realm some time ago. My friend would have been 37 years old today and I’m sure that if he were still here, there would be a party somewhere to remind all tribal members that this is the day that Jason was born. On April 28, 2012, there was a horrific accident that occurred here on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation that took the lives of two of our Warriors. Although this accident left many of our tribal members with a dark void, there are some who have made the choice to celebrate the lives and the potential of the two young men. As I think back on that day, I too remember feeling betrayed but not really sure by what or whom. I think that often times death or the things we don’t understand has a way of making us feel as though we have no control when we are confronted with situations such as this. The truth is that we have more control than we even know or think we do when we are confronted by adverse circumstances in our lives. When I think about the personality of the two young men, I smile because I think of all of the good times had as a community. I am reminded as well that even during the darkest and during the hardest of times, I am very blessed to be a part of a community that instinctively pulls together to grieve and comfort one another. I see as well that we come together to celebrate the accomplishments that we as individuals make because we are all one.

The poem that I have written entitled “left undone” was my way of gaining control of a situation that I had absolutely no control over. This is a poem that was written after the accident and after reading it, I thought to myself that although I didn’t see it then, I certainly employed a level of control by channeling negative energy in a positive way. I realized that this was a choice that I was able to make and must choose to make every time I am confronted by situations where it feels like control is limited. If one takes gasoline for example, we can see that gasoline can be channeled or used to give power to an automobile. Gasoline can also be used to cause destruction. Gasoline may just sit sedentary and never be used to do anything. Regardless of how it is used, the potential of gasoline doesn’t change.

There are two things that I would like to challenge our readers to do today and every day when you think about it. Challenge number 1 is to evaluate the potential and the control you have in every situation that you are confronted with. Decide to channel the control and the potential you see in a positive way. The second challenge that I shall present us all with is to make the choice to celebrate life. I have always been told and I know from my own experience that life is a gift. What we decide to do with the gift of life is up to us. Celebrate the life of those around you as well because the gift of life doesn’t just happen to us, the gift of life happens through us. Wishing you all an extraordinary day full of peace and a successful journey…Love is love 2015 – Eternity

Jason-Tech King Rest in Power 7/1/78-4/28/12

Jason-Tech King
7/1/78-4/28/12 -Rest in Power
©Meesha Johnson 2015

 

Gone from this earth with so much left undone

One last chance we needed, just one

If only we knew what tomorrow would bring

So many things that we would have done right without even thinking

Gone with so much left undone

I never got that one chance to tell you just how much you meant to me

I always thought that tomorrow it could be

Gone with so much left undone

I never would have thought that our kids would grow up like you and me

I always thought that your daughter would play with my son

Gone with so much left undone

I never told you how much I admired your style and your smile

I always thought that one day while talking and laughing as we normally do, I would tell you

Mad at me and asking why it took such a long while

Gone with so much left undone

Even now as I think and reminisce, thoughts fill my head of that kiss

A kiss of life left upon this earth for all to behold

Now that you are gone, warm memories suddenly turn cold

So much left for us to say and do

I am still here and the one thing missing is you

This question I ask not sure directed at whom

But what now is there left for us to do

Gone with so much left undone

I never got the chance to show all that you taught me

I always thought that with time I would do or say something and you could see

So many things that we learned from one another

You are not just a friend, but a brother

So much potential in both of us

Suddenly awakened from this nightmare I can see that all is not lost

Your memory, talent, your life is your legacy

Through me you live on, this is what to expect from me

You may have left us with so much left undone but I see an opportunity to pursue

You have left me now with so much to do and this I promise you

Beautiful memories of life and love live in my heart and mind

Gone from this world but not from me because comfort in your memory I always find.

©Meesha Johnson 2015

The Gifts From My Past and “The Billy Factor”

Since the first week of April, my life has been a whirlwind of events which has redefined my history , my present and perhaps my future.  These events and teachings are summarized in this piece titled : The Quest for Wholeness  that I recently submitted to the Huff Post Blog . Following is some additional thoughts that  have  come to mind since then.

  • For me ,living in the present moment is an illusion. The teachings of my past, particularly as it relates to recent discoveries about my father’s side of the family have helped me understand my present choices more fully. It has also helped me to understand the paths that I embraced to get to where I am today.
  • When we choose to learn from our past and let our history become a teacher to us in the present, a rich part of our life experience has been restored.
  • Having a context or set of conditions to understand our present day path is crucial to redefining ourselves after catastrophic loss. I have discovered that there has been a history of both child loss and sibling loss on my father’s side of the family. As I have also experienced the death of a child, I  believe  that this teaching from The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan, truly applies to me:

We signed up to do this dance together before we were born

  •  Don’t leave any stone unturned in your own personal quest to redefine yourself after catastrophic loss or life altering transitions. The recent  rich teachings from my ancestors have really reinforced this point for me.
  •  Truth exists before we become evident of its existence in our own lives.
  • I am blessed to discover that I have living family on my father Austin Marion Roberts’ side .I look forward to creating new family memories with my cousin Jo Anne. Before I was simply content to be around my “soul family” or those individuals who have had a profound influence on redefining my perspective after my daughter Jeannine’s death in 2003.
  • The universe’s plan is always better than ours.
  • My father was only in my life for five years ,but I love him more now than I ever have. What he taught me can’t be measured by human law.
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Me and my dad ,Austin Roberts circa 1955. I know that I was truly loved.

  • I can not overlook the influence of “The Billy Factor,” in my recent life discoveries. The Afterlife of Billy Fingers  by Annie Kagan was recommended to me by a friend who walks a very sacred path. As she is not one to make spontaneous book recommendations, my curiosity was automatically aroused. I discovered that the book was released on March 1,2013, the 10th angelversary of my daughter Jeannine’s death.Billy  danced with addiction during his lifetime. After his death(or rebirth to a new existence) ,he ascended to the status of a highly evolved and  wise spirit ,communicating divine truths to his sister on earth. The book validated all of what I believe about the afterlife, but in retrospect did much more. Understanding the context of Billy’s life path prepared me to embrace without judgment the life path that my father and his ancestors chose to walk. In fact ,I was able to fully embrace the gifts of their dysfunction and reclaim a part of my history that I thought was forever lost.  

I would rather be whole than good- Carl Jung

Behind Every Face: Some Thoughts For The New Year

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Here are some things that I have been thinking about since before the start of the New Year:

1) The older I get, the more my past has to teach me. Because of that I don’t label a moment that I experience, as a present moment. It is simply a moment.

2) I was at dinner this past New Years Eve with some friends , when I was asked if I had any resolutions or new things I wanted to experience in 2015. I simply said no,much to everyone’s surprise. I have gotten away from trying to script any experiences for myself, because of the limitations that imposes. I simply prefer to be open to any experience that continues to be a teacher to me.

3) In the 27 years that I worked in substance abuse counseling I never came close to being a victim of physical violence. I think it was because I was respectful in all of my interactions with individuals with substance use disorder and tried to understand what motivated their actions in certain situations.

4) I was in New York earlier in December, at the time that protests were occurring over the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case. I was walking in Rockefeller Center on Friday evening with my friend Patty Furino when we came across a black security guard with whom we immediately struck up a conversation. In the course of 15 minutes, we discovered that in the last six years of his life he had challenges resulting from homelessness and the death of his mother due to cancer. Yet he transcended those challenges through hard work, determination and an indomitable resolve. We can discover beauty and grace in the midst of challenging circumstances, all we need to do is commit to discovering it.

5) My encounter in New York reminds me of a line from a song by The Wallflowers: “Behind every face is the mask of another” and that regardless of outward appearance ,we are all cut from the same DNA. We are all truly one.

6) I had a brief dream visit from my daughter Jeannine last night. We were in the kitchen of our home. She looked beautiful and radiant, as I always remembered her . All she said to me is that : “We need to be up tomorrow by 4:00 am.” I haven’t yet searched for the meaning or symbolism of her words. If there is any meaning to her words,  it will be revealed to me in time. I was just happy that she wanted to visit.

7) There is truth and the illusion of truth. Both are crucial in shaping our life path.

8) There are individuals who disguise service to others as service to themselves, and there are individuals who are truly about the message and not ego. Learn to know the difference.

9) With the passage of every year, I am increasingly grateful that Jeannine chose me to be her father. With the passage of every year, I am increasingly grateful that my sons Dan and Matt,and Jeannine’s brothers, chose me to be their father.

10) I will end with a great quote that I discovered from a Facebook site called: Let the Wolves Run Free: ” Unless you learn to face your own shadows, you will continue to see them in others,because the world outside of you is only a reflection of the world inside of you.” I will continue to peck at my shadows.

Colors of The Spirit

Embracing Sacred Law

This past weekend, I attended the 37th National Conference of The Compassionate Friends in Chicago, Illinois.I have been attending and presenting workshops for this great organization whose focus is to provide hope and support to families who have experienced the death of a child, since 2008. I always look forward to meeting old friends, making new ones ,and for the opportunity to share  teachings that I have discovered since the last conference. Since my daughter Jeannine’s death at age 18 of cancer, on 3/1/03, I have undergone a metamorphosis from an uncertain, pain wracked soul who couldn’t envision living in a world without his daughter, to a person who has found my peace in spite of the hand of cards that the universe dealt to me. In retrospect, I have found my peace by choosing to play those cards differently, and in the process have learned to embrace sacred law to facilitate transformation after loss.

Airport /Airplane Signs

Honoring sacred law to me , means , in part a willingness to discover the connections in everything, even in events that seem on the surface to be unrelated.  We then endeavor to discover the teachings associated with those connections and utilize them on the path we walk after our children die. To do this requires our commitment to walk in awareness and to view our lives and our loved ones’ death from a different perspective.

I arrived at the airport in Syracuse, New York  last Thursday(7/10) and proceeded to park in the section labeled : “North 12. I immediately focused on the numbers 1 and 2, added them and came up with 3, which is the month of my daughter’s death. On the flight to Chicago, I sat in Seat 10c. C is the third letter of the alphabet, so when I substituted the C with the number 3, I realized that my seat number contained the day and month of Jeannine’s death. These discoveries reinforced to me that Jeannine was not only signaling her presence with me, but would also be my partner in facilitating three workshops during the conference.

Nature Comes To Life

When I fly , I am always pleased to get the seat by the window. The view of  the outside world from up above the clouds is to me, simply majestic and all-encompassing. I also find that I am able to quiet my mind and focus on the moment at hand much more effectively when I commune with nature. During the trip, I saw heart shaped clouds and an image in the ground that looked like a bald eagle. This is what Ted Andrews has to say about eagle ,in his book  Animal Speaks:

Those with eagle as a totem, reflects several needs:

  • 1) There must be an involvement with creativity.
  • 2) A willingness to experience extremes in a controlled condition and thus facilitate the alchemical process within your life. Andrews uses as an example : The fire of the sun and clear water are opposite elements brought into harmony in a manner that elicits change.
  • 3) A willingness to use your passions and use your abilities even if it means being scorched a little.
  • 4) A willingness to seek out the true emotional aspects of oneself and immerse yourself within them,and by doing so rediscover the lost child and awaken a higher sense of purity,passion, creativity,healing and spirituality.

I didn’t discover the teachings of eagle until after I returned from Chicago, but while visiting them realized that I have embraced creativity,honored the yin and yang of my emotions and immersed myself in them to facilitate transformation and to speak my truth about my experience ,with passion and conviction. Eagle reminded me to continue to embrace this path and to reveal  what I continue to discover with others.

Our airplane flew over bodies of water ,the ripples of water were luminescent and had a life of its own. Nature is one of the many colors of the spirit, with a life of its own and a beauty that can not be described in words. I have developed a reverence for nature and am thankful everyday for its presence and the clarity it has allowed me to develop.

Learning to Witness

One of the highlights of my conference experience was having the privilege to present a workshop with my “soul brother” Kris Munsch of  The Birdhouse Project. We addressed a variety of different topics during our workshop, such as empowerment ,self discovery and tools for transformation. It was effortless presenting with Kris, I felt like we had done this together many lifetimes before. Kris and I are different, yet we are united by the passion we bring to the teachings we have discovered and our willingness to witness those perspectives with each other without judgment. All of us who have experienced loss  due to death or other life-altering transitions embrace different paths to transformation. Being a non-judgmental witness to another’s life path, facilitates understanding. If we wish to be understood, we must first understand. When we commit to understanding, we become teachable. As long as I seek to understand and remain teachable, I will be understood and able to teach others with honor and integrity. If all of us can commit to being each others witnesses, we will be able to transcend the outward differences we perceive in each other and create a world that is governed by unconditional acceptance and love, which to me are the true colors of the spirit.

Many colors of the spirit
Many lives below the sun
We are colors of the spirit
We are many, we are one

From the song, Colors of The Spirit by Journey

 

The Singing Bowl

A Trip to Frankfort…….. New York

This past Sunday( 5/4), my wife Cheri and I went to a psychic fair in Frankfort, New York, which is about a 15 minute drive from our house. It was fun for me to observe all of the different vendors and talk with some about  the circumstances that contributed to them embracing a sacred path and using that knowledge to help others in times of transition. Cheri browsed the tables, bought a few items and  entered  a raffle in an attempt to win one of many health and wellness based items.

And The Winner Is

Later that evening there was a message on our phone.  A caller by the name of Toni, stated that Cheri had won an item at the raffle valued at  sixty dollars and that it would be at her place of business in Ilion, New York( a hop, jump and a skip from Frankfort) until pickup could be arranged. Cheri was going to go by herself on Monday to claim her prize, but could not because Toni’s shop was closed on Mondays. So Cheri and I drove out on Tuesday to  pick up her prize.

Earthly Matters

We met Toni at her place of business, Earthly Matters, where Cheri picked up her prize, a basket of  natural bath and body products. We  also discovered a great collection of crystals, incense, rocks and a variety of other items designed to enhance connectivity to self, others and nature.  In the process of browsing  the shop, I was drawn to this beautiful brass bowl with a wooden mallet inside,mounted on a small pillow ( pictured below)

My Singing Bowl

My Singing Bowl

Toni informed me that the item was called a singing bowl . She told me that the singing bowl is used to clear out any negativity from  a room or other sacred space. I also discovered through some online research, that singing bowls are classified as a standing bell. They sit with the bottom surface resting ;the rim of the singing bowls vibrate to produce  harmonic sounds . They are used for meditation, relaxation, music and personal well being. Cheri encouraged me to buy it and to learn to use it. So after a brief tutorial from Toni, I took my new toy home and began to see what kinds of sounds I could produce .

Joyous Noise

I was instructed to first tap the top of the bowl with my mallet ,and move the mallet around the outside of the bowl. The sounds  are produced by gently applying pressure to the outside of the bowl  . After a few clumsy attempts to produce any harmonic sounds, I began to experience success at producing sustained joyous noise. The harmonic  frequencies I produced energized and relaxed me at the same time. When I have been relaxed and energized in the past, my ability to  walk in awareness is enhanced which allows me to  better develop the clarity I need to negotiate the path that I now walk. The path that has been redefined by the death of my 18-year-old daughter Jeannine, on March 1,2003.

Finding My Music

I have disclosed in previous blog posts and articles the blissful memories  that were created by Jeannine’s and my love of music. Our shared love of music  continues to be a major piece in the ongoing development of  the pure relationship that we enjoy today.  I never played a traditional musical instrument growing up, so any memories that I have of Jeannine and the continued bonds that I have established with her , have been through music we both listened too during her time on earth. It is exciting for me to be able to further strengthen our connection and develop continued clarity and peace through musical sounds that I can produce, while holding her in my thoughts.

The Synchronicity of It All

I would have never discovered the joys and the transformative qualities of the singing bowl had Cheri not entered the raffle last Sunday at the psychic fair, won a prize and picked it up when and where she did. Had Earthly Matters been open on Monday, Cheri would have gone to pick up her prize without me due to the fact that I was teaching most of Monday. If that occurred, I wouldn’t have discovered the joys of  singing bowl. It was the synchronicity in all of these events that contributed to me not only purchasing the singing bowl,  authoring this post in this moment.

All roads ultimately lead to the same place, the present moment 

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers-a true story by Annie Kagan

 

 

My Introduction to Empathy

I am pleased to feature my first guest blogger G.M Lentz and her piece titled My Introduction to Empathy.  Below is her heartfelt ,honest story. I am honored to be able to post her piece on my blog. I know her story will inspire others who have experienced catastrophic loss.


I had a great childhood, including the quintessential pony.  My oldest brother, Howie, taught me how to tie my shoes, ride a bike, and play softball.  He taught me how to creep along the banks of White Creek so we didn’t scare the fish, ultimately reaching our goal of catching the largest trout there. He couldn’t have been more proud if he were my own father.

I remember the last time I saw him; he was gassing up his car and I was drinking with friends. We pulled into the same parking lot.  I told them, “shit, that’s my brother”, trying to hide the fact that I was drinking, underage; he never noticed us.

At 2:30 in the morning, we received a call from the hospital. He had been in an accident. “Is he ok, I asked?” The answer: “Well, he’s alive”.  He had fallen asleep at the wheel, drove through a telephone pole, and crashed into a tree.

He had an old Oldsmobile Cutlass; a 70’s model with the really long front end.  The front end was no longer long and my brother had sustained major head injuries.

He lived for ten more days, never coming out of a coma.  How I wished I had approached him at the gas station.

How does a 15- year- old grieve her dead brother?  I didn’t know. There wasn’t a handbook. I was sad but not tearful. The only time I almost lost it was when his friends came to his wake.  There were men kneeling there sobbing ;I bit my lip and sucked it up. People thought I was handling it wrong.  I just wanted to be left alone.  I was pissed that people came to the house afterwards and ate and laughed and stayed too long. That wasn’t in the handbook. Oh yeah, there wasn’t a handbook; but if there were one, laughing and eating shouldn’t have been in it.

I did not want to go back to school.  “Everybody’s going to be staring at me and feeling sorry for me”, I thought. I hated that people looked at me with pity.  I was angry and everyone knew it.

I don’t remember this changing until my friend, who came from a very traditional Italian family, lost her grandmother.  I remember going to see her and not saying much.  I knew that she knew that I knew exactly what she was going through. My presence was enough.

That is when I discovered empathy.  The loss of my oldest brother; friend, educator, father figure, contained a gift. And that gift was the ability to understand the pain of others.

I am a social worker and have told this story, without as much detail, many times over the years when asked why I entered this field.  I’ve had people tell me that I have saved their lives.  One life for many lives.  Trauma or a gift?  Perhaps a lot of both all wrapped up into one.

Still, I miss Howie…. but he saved his greatest lesson for last.

G.M. Lentz grew up in Clinton, New York. She received a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from SUNY Plattsburgh and a Masters in Social Work Degree from Syracuse University. G.M. currently works for the Office of Mental Health in New York State. She is married and enjoys her horse, dogs, cat and traveling to Provincetown every year for a beach vacation.

 

Enjoy Every Sandwich : Teachings About Life and Death from Warren Zevon

 Connection Through Music

I have had a deep love of music since I was 15 years old. Many of the greatest memories I have of my daughter Jeannine has been through our shared love of music. In the early phase of my grief, music from The Counting Crows, The Wallflowers, Tom Petty, The Goo Goo Dolls and The Gin Blossoms and others helped me get in touch with the pain of Jeannine’s death, while allowing me to stay connected to her. Today in the 12th year of my journey, music is a major part of the ritual and ceremony that I have embraced to not only honor Jeannine’s memory, but to spend some time with her beautiful spirit.

The Wind

Warren Zevon was a brilliant American songwriter and musician who made many memorable recordings during his lifetime, and whose songs were adopted by a number of other musicians. He was diagnosed in 2002 with inoperable mesothelioma and died on September 7,2003. Between the time that he was diagnosed and his death, he recorded his 12th and final studio album The Wind. This album represented, to me his finest work, not only musically but contextually.  The Wind was one of the first albums that I purchased after  Jeannine died in 2003.  In retrospect, I didn’t find The Wind, it found me.

Keep Me in Your Heart

Hold me in your thoughts; take me to your dreams

Touch me as I fall into view

When the winter comes keep the fires lit

And I will be right next to you

From the song Keep Me in Your Heart, lyrics by Warren Zevon and Jorge Calderon

 

Keep Me in Your Heart was the last song on Warren Zevon’s final recording of his brilliant career. It was a touching reminder that his spirit would never die .There was also his poignant request to be remembered, if only for a little while, by those whom he would leave behind. It was one of the first songs that I listened to after Jeannine’s death that spoke to the importance of maintaining connection with our deceased loved ones as a way to navigate our grief.

Finding Grace in Adversity

One of the most important lessons that can be learned from Warren Zevon’s life is how he chose to handle his impending death. Rather than run away from it, he embraced it as another part of his spiritual experience as a human being. He displayed grace in adversity and in the process crafted a recording for the ages, one whose teachings will hopefully be passed on for generations to come.

“You know, you put more value on every minute…I mean, I always thought I kind of did that. I really always enjoyed myself. But it’s more valuable now. You’re reminded to enjoy every sandwich, and every minute of playing with the guys, and being with the kids and everything.”

Advice given by Warren Zevon on The Late Show with David Letterman when he knew he had terminal mesothelioma (10/30/12)

Retrieved from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Warren_Zevon

Spirit Vs. Ego and Other Random Thoughts

On my previous blog, I posted a couple of entries with some miscellaneous and sundry thoughts on a variety of different topics related to grief, loss and transformation. I am going to repost  some of these here along with some additional ones that come to  mind. In a sense, this represents my first new post for my new blog:

  • I read a quote some time ago that went something like this: “Ego says when everything falls in place, I will have peace. Spirit says ,find your peace and everything will fall into place.” Such a simple, eloquent teaching, but challenging to assimilate on a day-to-day basis. For me, the challenge is about the conflict between my soul’s need to just be  and my ego’s desire to maintain or not relinquish or assume control over my surroundings. For any of us who have experienced the death of a child or other catastrophic loss, the ego-soul conflict will surface. Over eleven years into my journey following the death of my daughter Jeannine, most days my soul wins. Other days I honor my humanness. And I am at peace with that.
  • If someone told me upfront that they were self-serving and self promoting, I could deal with that. At least I know what the contents of the package are ; I could choose to unwrap it or leave it alone. What I have difficulty dealing with is someone who tries to disguise their self-serving behavior as service to others.
  • Change is a necessary part of growth;learning to negotiate the pain of loss is a necessary part of managing change.
  • I think it is better to have life changing events shift perspective, than simply put things in perspective. When perspective shifts,movement occurs ;we can embrace transformation from loss due to death or other life transitions.
  • I get more excited promoting the work of others than talking about myself. As long as the message I am promoting is motivated by honesty and integrity of the messenger, I will put it out there.
  • My soul family, past and present, is part of my healing and understanding in the present.
  • I don’t assume everyone that I know wants me to automatically pray for them when they are experiencing challenging times, I usually ask their permission first.
  • Once I stopped asking the “why questions” about my daughter Jeannine’s death, I got all the answers that I needed. There is a lot to be said for sitting in the quiet.
  • Spiritual development occurs when we commit to walking in awareness; paying attention to what is happening around us and understanding how it is all connected.
  • The older I get the more I realize that there is  more to learn, and that I am ready to embrace those teachings from anywhere, anybody and anything. I never not want to be unteachable.
  • Entitlement is another word, like coincidence ,which is no longer a part of my vocabulary.  Gratitude is a word that I use often, now .
  • You can see yourself as a person who is a victim of circumstances beyond your control, or as an empowered person who transcends those circumstances to find new meaning and purpose in life.  In the early phase of my grief after Jeannine’s death, I chose to see myself as a victim of circumstance, now I see myself as the author of my own life experience.

Wishing you all peace.

The Message is in the Smoke

Feeling Disconnected

Last evening( 12/26/13) I spent some time with my daughter Jeannine. I hadn’t spent quality time with her since August of this year. Since her ninth angelversary date, I make it a point to carve out time to spend with her in ritual and ceremony not only on her birthday or angelversary date but anytime I felt the urge. I always developed a sense of peace and increased clarity after our visits. Since August my schedule was full, between three college classes , helping to plan a candle lighting ceremony with our local Compassionate Friends steering committee,  and facilitating monthly bereavement support group meetings for families who experienced the death of a child. My interactions with my students and families were always fulfilling but as Christmas came and went, I felt increasingly empty and disconnected from myself and out of balance. The imbalance I experienced was due to the fact that I didn’t carve out any time to nourish my soul; and to spend time with someone whom I love passionately and unconditionally. In the process of taking care of others, I neglected to take care of my needs.  I took some definitive steps yesterday at 7:30 pm to address the imbalance.

Smoke and Light

On my desk, I placed a  green sage and citrus candle that we had burned at our Compassionate Friends candle lighting ceremony to the left of me, and incense holder in the center, and an orange candle that came with a wolf medallion, to the right. I lit both candles and incense ,played some quiet meditative music and held Jeannine in my thoughts. I also looked to the smoke of the incense and the light of the candles for further inspiration.

 

The Teachings 

Shortly after our ceremony commenced , I was experiencing thoughts that were coming through me at a faster than normal pace. I got the urge to write these thoughts down so that I wouldn’t forget them. Before I proceeded however, I asked for Jeannine’s permission to do so. I did not want my writing to detract from the time that we were spending together, sacred time. However, I got the clear sense that she wanted me to write, so I did. Here is what came through me and where appropriate, the part of the ceremony that inspired these thoughts :

  • I lit at least two different type of incense sticks and what I noticed with both is that the smoke was divided into two distinct parallel paths that would occasionally intersect. Here is what occurred to me in that moment: Respect the uniqueness of our paths, allow for autonomy, yet know that our paths, though parallel will intersect when spirit deems it to be time. In autonomy then, there is oneness, universality.
  • The flames of the candles also were different. The flame on the citrus and sage candle was dancing with a frenetic energy. The candle was on my left side and the left side represents the feminine. Jeannine, in this lifetime danced with frenetic energy. Further validation of her presence. The flame on the candle located to the right of me burned slow and steady.  Here is the thought that followed: Some flames dance, others illuminate in stillness. Each flame unique, but together provides an energy , a life force that helps us negotiate the darkness that challenges sometimes bring, a darkness that we sometimes allow to consume us. Of course we are human and can’t avoid it. Let us embrace it (the darkness) and find clarity in the flame; the flame of darkness. The flame of darkness now becomes our friend.
  • Others’ journeys will find us as long as we attend to our path and walk it with honor and integrity
  • When we are empowered ,our paths cross by choice, not by force. We share with each other and witness for each other, and our journeys become more enriched. We share our enriched teachings with others who become witness to the transformation and they in turn share with others. Sharing for sharing’s sake, releasing ego and agenda, gives us an earth in balance.

Alright For Now 

After the meditative music was complete, I dialed up the play list that Jeannine and I put together for her ninth angelversary and hit the shuffle button. I also asked her to give me a signal as to when our time should come to an end. If it were up to me, I would not have wanted it to end. The feelings of peace and bliss I experienced  were powerful

Our time together ended with this song by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers called Alright for Now.  This line in the song told me it was time to go…… for now:

Sleep tight baby

Unfurl your brow 

And know I love you

We’re alright for now