Of Sticks and Stones BooksCheck out our current titles! Click to purchase on Amazon.
- Abuse is the leading cause of fibromyalgia. April 21, 2019Abuse is the leading cause of fibromyalgia.: Unraveling the roots of this debilitating disorder has...
- What My Heart DidChapter 5, Episode 3Thawing from Below... April 21, 2019What My Heart DidChapter 5, Episode 3Thawing from Below PresentWriting always seems to get harder for a time once I uncover a new element of deeply embedded truth. Since all the discoveries about my grandfather’s murder trial and how that trauma has passed down through the generations, I’ve been numb to the stories that until now have been so important to re […]
- Abuse is the leading cause of fibromyalgia. April 21, 2019
Tag Archives: Awakening
Though we come to this path of recovery shattered, fragmented pieces of ourselves we are still beautiful human beings. The actions and substances we have taken in an effort to feel whole and complete are the very things that have left us in this broken state. We find in recovery through the 12 steps something that will actually mend the broken pieces. Through recovery we discover our own beauty.
We are mended using what we can call the gold powder of the 12-Steps, yoga, meditation, connection with a higher power and being of service to others. These are the elements that make up the golden lacquer of the path of recovery. When we use these tools as the golden glue in which to mend our broken pieces, something incredible happens. We become transformed into an entirely new being more beautiful than what our original self could have been.
When we look in the mirror, our cracks are still there, filled in now with unique golden lines. We see the cracks and our defects of character more clearly. Maybe we felt like fragile dolls before, too vulnerable, too fragile to live without our addictions. Through recovery we know where we have been and we are better now for having been there. We continue to take personal inventories, and make amends whenever necessary. We have combined our fragility with resilience to find a life of such richness that we never could have imagined. We have been damaged, have a history, but now we are more beautiful with our scars and cracks filled in with the golden powder of recovery.
NEW MOON in Aries is the beginning of the Astrological New Year, spring time inspires us to bring in the new. Aries is the sign of the self, and sets in motion the internal and eternal quest for “Who am I?’ and “Who am I now?” We are inspired at this time of year to make changes, clean out our closets, and try new things. We are encouraged to find and trust our own unique expression to embody the changes and the energies we wish to experience.
We literally are able to set the seeds we planted last Winter Solstice into motion. Aries is a go-getter, enthusiastic and all about motion. The old aphorism of Spring fever is true, it moves us to say to ourselves “Where do we want to go? What do we want to do?” We certainly don’t want to stay still and work!
In our quest to define who we are Aries energy can be very cerebral, impulsive, and self-centered. During this time we may need to be reminded that “The hardest journey is from our head to our heart. But once we get there, we’ll know who we are.” When I am feeling comfortable in my own skin, I know who I am and can therefore have compassion and love for everyone I encounter. When I am scrambling to find myself, I stumble, and sometimes inadvertently trip over others feelings. During the month of Aries our competitive energies may also be engaged. We may think we have to “be the best”. That’s when the compassion in Maya Angelou’s statement helps me to pause and find compassion for myself. In recovery I am learning that I am doing better rather than getting better. My soul’s already whole and wonderful, it’s my brain, and heart that need convincing of that truth. Aries people can also be great models of self-compassion, where they believe “all I need to do is do my best today, and then maybe do better tomorrow.”
We must each find our courage—an Aries trait—to become the people we are meant to evolve into. We are challenged to bring our ideas, our love and our purpose to help the larger community. As we find ourselves, we are then able to bring our unique gifts into play. As we share our gifts, the more we find ourselves. The question “Who am I now” becomes a guide to action and more action. What would our future be like if everyday we knew we did our best, and looked for the option of doing better tomorrow?
Perhaps you are like me. All my life I have been told “I am too sensitive”, “too intense”, or “just too something. As a child I took that in as there was something wrong with me, that I needed to cover, adapt, or pretend better. Now as an adult I am finding that these traits can be gifts. They help me to write, to be intuitive, to care about people, to be deliberate in my way of speaking.
With psychological tests I seemed to perch on the edge, neither completely introspective or extroverted. I like people, and I need quiet time to recharge and come back to balance. With all the recovery work I have done, therapy I have undergone, meditations I have focused on there was still a place that felt broken inside. I often asked myself why couldn’t I stop being hyper alert, stop being overwhelmed so easily, stop caring so much about others.
Hearing the symptoms, taking the self-test, and discussing this with friends on FB I am accepting that I am and always have been a Highly Sensitive Person. There are positive attributes of Highly Sensitive Persons that can be remembered as DOES:
- Depth of processing.
- Over aroused (easily compared to others)
- Emotional reactivity and high empathy
- Sensitivity to subtle stimuli
Take a self test here on Oprah.com http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Am-I-Too-Sensitive-Highly-Sensitive-Person-Quiz
This is what I found: you’re a Highly-Sensitive Person (HSP)
With your hyperawareness come many strengths. HSPs consider matters deeply and often have unique and interesting perspectives. You are intuitive and tend to be an emotional leader (the first to be outraged by injustice, for example). But because you’re so tuned in to the subtleties of your surroundings, you can feel overwhelmed in chaotic environments. You’re not necessarily shy or introverted; you simply think more clearly when you’re not overstimulated—which is why navigating unfamiliar places and meeting many new people at once (think cocktail parties or client presentations) can be especially taxing. To avoid shutting down in such situations, it can help to prepare in advance. Rehearse what you want to say. Brainstorm conversation starters. Bring a friend for social support. Take frequent breaks. It’s crucial for HSPs to build downtime into their lives. Make rest a priority at least one day a week. Take time off every three months. Learn to meditate. And try not to overextend yourself when it comes to family and friends. Thanks to their affinity for reading other people’s emotions, HSPs frequently dole out more support than they can afford to give. To handle your physical sensitivities, choose decaf tea, coffee, and sodas. And carry a snack with you (preferably some form of protein) so you never get too hungry. Finally, keep in mind that HSPs tend to change careers several times. More than most people, you crave meaningful work—but a job that’s too stressful won’t make you happy. It may take several tries to find the right fit.
For the first time in 19 years this New Year is also a New Moon. Culturally we are looking at the chance to start over with a new year, or at least list our resolutions. With any New Moon we ‘become open to new beginnings”. The combination has great potential for powerful intention which can lead to profound change.
This New Moon is in the sign Capricorn which is primordial feminine energy. Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign December 22- January 21. The qualities of Capricorn are: organized, ambitious, hard-working, creative, practical, and dedicated. Capricorn is the original planner with great ideas, and a wealth of energy to accomplish goals. However, Capricorn energy also opens the door to thinking we “have the perfect or at least the best” solution to an issue. When we avoid the mental state of having to have things be perfect we can mine great patience, or even better acceptance instead.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for anyone during this Capricorn time is to understand there is a process to everything. Just like our lives and our loves, we cannot make the plants grow faster in our gardens, they have their own divine timing. Acceptance of life on life’s terms is a great adventure. Some days we would rather have things be as we “planned”. And on those days if we listen closely we can hear God laugh at our plans as they skitter away like fish swimming in a pond. When we walk our days with acceptance in our hands and hearts we touch, and share healing.
The Buddhist’s have a great phrase “beginner’s mind”. When we approach this New Year and New Moon let’s experiment and travel this journey with an open mind and an open heart. With this openness we can also choose which words we want to use to define this time. What will be the words you choose? Will it be love instead of fear, or joy instead of settling?
September is national recovery month. What comes to your mind when I say recovery? Recently at a Yoga and recovery retreat at Yogaville, VA I heard this: “What do they mean by recovery? I just had oral surgery, and I am recovering from the treatment. Is that recovery?” In her experience she was in recovery. I have been in recovery from cancer, and in recovery from addictions. Both have their unique challenges.
For most of us who are in recovery from a physical, mental and emotional addiction, our only solution is a spiritual one. Reaching for a spiritual solution is opening to a power greater than the everyday minutiae of life. That power is beautiful and all about love. Finding that beauty in me, and the universe around me is a huge part of my recovery. My spirituality is always creative; it is at the center of all that is good, noble, and inspiring.
For most of my life I have had an awareness of the beauty of this world and an appreciation of what people can produce. Sobriety has made my writing as an art form more accessible. Sobriety helps me to broaden my horizons and see all the beauty around me. Today I see beauty everywhere in paintings, sculpture, music, literature, and the art of nature. Personally I cannot paint or draw more than stick figures, however, I appreciate and have a feeling of belonging to the beauty of this world. In a sense, it all happens and takes shape through me. The deepening of my spirituality has brought the beauty of the universe into my life to a greater level than I thought possible.
Today I know I walk in beauty. My meditation is: thank you for the desire and ability to re-create Your splendor through my experiences.
Today is 9/11. The memory of watching the planes go through the twin towers will always replay in my mind. Those actions continue to put things in my life into perspective. On that day, I could no longer as an American remain untouched by global violence. I was not in New York or DC at the time, however, I had friends who were, and they described eloquently what they went through. My illusion of “it can’t happen here” was busted. 9/11 made it abundantly clear that we are one world. I may not always understand or even like my world family, but we are all still living together on this one beautiful jewel of a planet. We all have a choice whether to live in fear, or live with love. And this day of all days is a reminder of that choice.
Today, I again realize that we are indeed one people, one world, one messy family. With that realization I can no longer focus on the miniscule dramas of my life. The thoughts of “but you said you would, but you promised, but you were going to, stop ricocheting around in my brain. They just don’t seem as important. I can relax into more acceptance for what is. I can let go of fear and move into a place of loving my messy family. I can forgive people for not doing what I wanted them to do. I can let go of my expectations, resentments and come back to being in the present.
Powerlessness, lack of control that is often my dilemma. And when I feel powerless I can find myself wanting to fight back and strive to have control again. When I am caught with that striving I think my vision of how the world ought to be is the correct one. My vision is flawed — after all I wear contacts because I am near-sighted. Though I strive to see a larger perspective I am still limited. And with that limitation I cannot see the perfection of what is.
The planes flying into the twin towers are an extreme example of powerlessness. There was nothing that could have stopped them in that moment. We don’t live in a world where there are Supermen, or other comic book heroes who can step in at the last moment and lasso the planes. Conversely, I am not a superhero. I am not perfect, I am a beautiful woman who is growing into more strength and beauty each day. I have to keep reminding myself that I am not in charge of the outcomes. I am not in charge period. Some days there is comfort in that thought. Other days I want to be the superhero that stops the planes from destroying so many lives.
So on this day of remembrance I offer the message of Hoʻoponopono (ho-o-pono-pono). Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. “Hoʻoponopono” is defined in the Hawaiian Dictionary as “mental cleansing” in a family conference in which relationships were set right through prayer, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution and forgiveness. What can you do today to cleanse your world? What can you do to bring forgiveness into your heart? This is my offering. I love you. I am sorry. Forgive me. Thank you.
Excerpt from the poem “Crazy Wisdom” published in Lightning Strikes Twice
dreaming the primordial word
I nestle in the palm of night’s hand visible yet empty
blinking in the radiance of the galactic eye
embracing whole worlds of the eye within the eye
perching on my shoulder angels sing hallelujah
invisible paws padding by my feet whisper put faith in every pace
smelling restless noise the tip of my tail twitches I lick my lips
don’t stop me before I am lost
curling up against night’s belly her great head turns towards me
her gaze stars full of mercy and magic
accepting timeless wonder my breath embraces dakinis devas
the dry rattle of skulls following every movement
praising the diamond night
I am the crazy wisdom of no hope and no fear
It seems I have always contemplated the stars. As early as I can remember I named the constellations, or made up my own. After midnight I feel more complete. I wrap the silence and the the velvety touch of darkness around me, a cape full of magic. I am safe inside this cape as I soak up the space that is empty of other people’s thoughts, and activity. Whole poems come to me in the quiet. Magic happens in through hearing an owl’s call. The night has always been my lover. Like Galileo I am wildly “in love” with the stars. However, sleeping has always been a challenge. And that is part of my story I want to change.
I am a walking contradiction. I am in love with the night, the stars and the darkness. But I am often sleep deprived. I have lucid dreams. But all too often I can’t remember them because I have not been able to get to a deep sleep. I have been told that acceptance is the key to change. I am learning that I need to accept my contradictions as they are all a part of me. I am a work in progress and I am changing my story.
I have an obsession about my sleep space. I have 100% cotton sheets, a pillow top mattress, and a special neck pillow. I have cleared out the space around my bed so my mind can drift and hopefully fall back asleep. I am willing to do all I can to create a space conducive to slumber.
When I was a senior in high school I just could not get to sleep. So instead, I read most of the night with my flashlight under the covers. Since then I have often joked that I do the 3:00 am, and 5:00 am shifts when I cannot sleep. Lack of sleep has often been my middle name – Mari, lack of sleep, Selby. Sometimes I am able to accept the sleep interruptions as part of who I am, part of whatever healing I am undergoing, and part of my passion for the night. Other times I get mad at myself for not having enough sleep to make it through my day. Then there are those frequent times that I take a nap and then I am not able to sleep until after midnight. And that begins a cycle of late nights, early mornings and then napping. How do I come to peace with this challenge is my question?
Sleep is important to everyone’s brain function and health. As someone who deals with Fibromyalgia sleep is the key to my not being in pain all the time. I have tried so many sleep aids. From melatonin to Calms, to Ambien and other sleep drugs. Sometimes the natural remedies would work for a little while then stop working. Or in the case of the drugs leave me feeling groggy and unable to function. I have even gone to a sleep lab and was prescribed a CPAP machine for sleep apnea.
Since losing a great deal of weight sleep apnea is no longer an issue. I meditate and my mind slows down. I practice yoga and my body is more relaxed. I give myself an Ayurvedic oil treatment before I go to bed and that relaxes my muscles and gives me a wonderful hit of loving myself.
Maybe in addition to calling myself a cancer warrior, I can also refer to myself as a sleep warrior. I have fought and the battleground is inside me. Maybe one day there will no longer be a fight, no longer be a battleground. Maybe one day I will feel more integrated with my passion for the night and sleep. Meanwhile I am willing to do all I can, follow any suggestion, and most of all be open to changing this story. I am tired of this chapter. It is time to turn the page.
** Patti Smith sang “Because the Night” in the 70’s
“The Body is the inescapable factor…you can keep in good shape for what you are…but radical change is impossible. Health isn’t making everybody into a Greek ideal; it’s living out the destiny of the body…You have to know yourself physiologically and people don’t want to believe the truth about themselves. They get some mental picture of themselves and then they devil the poor body, trying to make it like the picture. When it won’t obey – can’t obey, of course – they are mad at it, and live in it as if it were an unsatisfactory house they were hoping to move out of. A lot of illness comes from this.” Robertson Davies –Rebel Angels
What do you think is this true for you? Do you have an embodiment issue?
I can see how it was true for me. I existed in my body as if it was some flawed cloak I could throw off at any time for a better more perfect one. My preferred body was a celestial one. Happily flying to the stars, giving readings as an astrologer, or hanging out with non-corporeal friends were the best of times. Demanding my body obey me – I envisioned a thinner body, straighter hair, and an ability to float from one experience to the next. Instead of receiving obeisance I was stuck in a peasant body. Curly hair, stocky frame, primitive dancer, and a big mouth. Continue reading
Cancer Tribe 101: Awakening the Hero Within is the new title for the anthology I am compiling. The change is based on feedback from colleagues I respect in the publishing world. Their thought is that a title must state what the book is about. Readers have to know what they are picking up based on what they see on the cover. The title must be visual as well as thought provoking. What do you think of the new title?
Too many books treat cancer as a subject of either pity, or seek to glorify the survivors, or adulate those that have passed on. Cancer Tribe 101 signifies that we are learning from our experience. Fighting or surrender are two options when faced with a life altering situation like a cancer diagnosis. There is however another option and that is to look at everything that comes through this experience as a spiritual lesson.
Spiritual progress for me came through working with the medical system and doing everything I could to add to their care. I did acupuncture, massage, emotional clearing, visualization work, asked for help whenever I could, meditated, prayed and received the gift of a hoard of wonderful prayers. This path I call the middle way. I had to find the courage to walk this path, and when I did I found my warrior self. There were daily lessons in digging deep to find the courage to deal with that medical procedure or that emotional pain. I know that I am awakening the hero within as I walk this path and claim my warrior self. My hope is that by sharing this path it will help others find their way.
Are you a member of the cancer tribe? I meet more and more of us daily. I am still accepting stories. What is your story?