If YOU CAN LAUGH, YOU CAN SING! IF YOU CAN SING, YOU CAN HEAL!

Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

Doing it Differently

Nothing can compare with the mind blowing, life altering, holy shifting words “You have cancer.”   Or in my case, “it’s back again.”   And while the numbers are low enough that I can continue to pretend I am in the clear and healthy, the ever present gift is knowing that I may not be here for long.

So how then shall I live? Do I live for today and create/embrace joy wherever I can?

Acting as if life is short, makes me want to dance and sing, meditate, eat good food, love and laugh with friends and sing and dance. Did I mention sing and dance?  Acting as if life is short makes me want to gather all of the loose threads of unfinished songs and record them with lush and magnificent harmony! Acting as if life is short makes me  want to write about all I have learned this lifetime and impart the information with as much passion as I can muster!  Acting as if life is short makes me want to clean my closets, give away a bunch of once loved stuff, and make simple what I leave behind.

On the other hand,  acting as if I have another 10 or 20 years ahead of me, I would develop a business plan.  I would start looking for gigs, concert opportunities, book signings and  speaking engagements. Acting as if I have another 10 or 20 years ahead of me, I would be learning all I can about marketing  myself and my work in new ways. I would be working hard at making a living.

What occurs to me of course is that none of us knows when we will make our transition. I get that. But dancing with cancer for five years has been such an incredible Holy Shift,  that the questions I have remain deliciously unanswered.  However, living for today… Whatever that means and all that that means, is very different than making a living and marketing oneself.

Maybe singing  and dancing, meditating and eating well, loving and laughing with friends will be all the “business planning” and “marketing” I will need to sustain a healthy happy life for as long as I do live!?  And maybe by acting  as if life is short, I will add years to my life! Hmmmm!!?

Ideas???

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“OK” -The New “Awesome!”

Firstly, Happy New Year. Secondly I’m OK.

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Since before Mom’s death in April, I’ve been riding the waves of grief. Sometimes that feels like standing on top of the surf-board of balance and enjoying the love, joy, song and laughter that was… is my mother. Other times I hang on with both arms and legs wrapped around it as we plummet to new depths.  As time unfolds, I practice being a witness to myself, as I learned to be decades ago. I watch the ride and notice…  Different facets of grief shine through with each descent.  When I bring gratitude with me, it provides more space for the expanse of the dance.

I’ve watched with pleasant amazement as I sang my way through the Holidays. I decided to embrace whatever I could and call it good, so my husband and I went to Unity for a community Thanksgiving feast; we went Christmas caroling; I recorded many songs I had written over the past year; we took part in the candle lighting ceremony on Christmas Eve; we had friends over on Christmas day; I will have performed 2 Burning Bowl ceremonies after tomorrow. When friends ask me how I am, I look into their eyes and honestly say, “I’m really OK!” which means I’m awesome by anyone else’s standards.

This morning in my hot-soaky, I think I was relaxed enough to feel Mom’s presence. As the tears began to well up, she went away but then I smiled and purposefully felt joy and she was back. I think I heard/felt her say, “Little Darlin’ nothing could keep us apart! We are more together now than ever before.” I lifted my chin toward the ceiling light. I almost felt her ever-soft hands on my cheeks. I almost smelled her lotion. Then I felt, “I am SO proud of you and how you are grieving on purpose. You learned well. I love you! Feel me loving you…” Almost… I cried. She was gone.

But something else happened. This time as I descended into the dark, deep hole that is my grief, I saw at the bottom, the black slime had turned to a rich forest green foam and the walls of the hole had a comforting mossy fuzz. As I looked around and felt the feelings that brought me there, all at once I was out of the hole and back in the sun. WOW!

Then, I almost saw Mommy smiling!

Yeah, I’m really OK.  I’m growing more and more OK by the minute. Thanks Mom!

Purging Past Pain

The only way out is through!

The Primal Purge at Holiday time is a seasonal tradition that has a mind of it’s own. When grief gets overwhelming and longing starts to fit like a second skin, my highest self knows my being is ready to release more of what no longer serves me. This morning I got that swift kick from Spirit to to get on with it. I positioned my singing bowl and went to work to meditate. I was still reeling from the movie we saw 3 nights ago… August: Osage County. Meryl Streep played a bitch of a mother who made “Mommy Dearest” look like Mary Poppins.

It hurt me deeply to see her meanness turn her daughter, played by Julia Roberts, into someone just like her! There have been mean people in my life. But there was another reason that movie effected me. When I was  8 or 9 until I was 14, my own mom was that volatile. Not all the time, of course. There was laughter and singing much of the time, but she was so young when she married Dad. Who knows who they are or why they’re here at age 18? To find out early it was NOT to cater to a self-absorbed creative genius that was my dad, made her a failure in her own mind for a long time. She lost her own daddy when was 8 and her mom had to go to work. Dad couldn’t fill all her holes.

My dad’s father ridiculed him growing up and beat up his mom often in front of him. Mom couldn’t fill all his holes. 2 wounded people never make a whole. They make … 2 wounded people with lots of empty holes!

I remember the fights. Mom once seethed at dad and called him a “crumb” under her breath. Something inside me smoldered hot and burned out cold when I learned how to be that hateful.

Hateful and hurtful, painful lashings out, jagged edged glass inflict wounds that grew both ways.  Held in clinched fists, the shards lacerated the warrior as she dashed about trying to cut out the pain she thought was outside herself.

This morning I purged “MEANNESS.”

Before I continue, may I remind you of my favorite healing tool. I call it the “Primal Purge.” In a meditative state, a peaceful place, I allow my body to hate the hate, basically.

As a kid, we don’t have discernment between fear, abandonment, anger, etc…  what we feel when we are wounded is  “I hate you!”  It’s a natural release that, when encouraged to express, appropriately and in private, is then gone, dissipated, expelled. When NOT allowed to express ourselves, those same feelings are shoved into the body and can become toxic!  Unresolved anger can turn into cancer!  All the more reason to get to poison out!!

So I played the singing bowl, breathed deeply and went within.  As I allowed myself to HATE my beloved mommy for being so mean… once upon a time, her face morphed with mine and I saw how I treated my little sister… once upon a time. So I allowed myself to HATE myself for being so mean… once upon a time.

Then what came up, was last year at this time, when mom was so mean… out of her head from the meds and/or the cancer, I know now… but some broken glass gouges, hateful-hurtful encounters that took me by surprise, opened some old wounds I didn’t even know I had and introduced fresh, new, deep incisions. In healthier times, mom and I could talk about it and cry together, embracing one another and inviting the pain to cure us, like intense heat cures glaze to pottery.

But now, being her caretaker and knowing she was not always in her right mind, I could not deal with the pain at the time and we could not deal with it together. So when I asked for healing today, when I asked to feel a connection with mom, when I asked asked to be shown what to do next… THIS came up to heal!     …MEANNESS

Mom’s meanness, my meanness, society’s meanness… I HATE meanness!! I railed for awhile. As long as it took to feel the pain I felt and and inflicted and hate it all!!   THEN finally…  I FORGAVE MEANNESS.

I forgave all that I could remember that connected Mommy to meanness. “I forgive you, Mommy for being so mean!  I forgive you for being to hurtful! I forgive you for saying… doing…” Everything I could remember. More came up!

Then I  forgave all that I could remember that connected myself to meanness. “I forgive you, Laurie (that’s what I was called as a child)  for being so mean!  I forgive you for being to hurtful! I forgive you for saying… doing…” Everything I could remember. More came up!

Then, I forgave all that I could think of that connected society to meanness.  “I forgive you, society for being so mean!  I forgive you all for being to hurtful! I forgive you for saying… doing…” Everything I could think of. More came up!

I FORGIVE MEANNESS!    I FORGIVE MEANNESS!    I FORGIVE MEANNESS!
I FORGIVE MEANNESS!    I FORGIVE MEANNESS!      I FORGIVE!

As I rest in that new vibration, my mind and heart are opened. I feel rejuvenated with a new understanding of a deeper layer of forgiveness. I feel Mommy smile and whisper, “Way to go baby doll!”  All at once the sweetness that is the thoughtful counselor, nurturing teacher, cherished friend that is my mom, ascends out of the ashes of my tears. “I’m right here Little Darlin. You just had to burn out the bullshit!”

Forgiveness 101

Thanks Mom. I get it. Happy Forgiving… I mean Thanksgiving!

Asking is Perfectly Normal…?

Holy Shift! I’m reading Sharlette Pumpfry’s book- Heart Connections- In it she says-“Oswald Chambers, a prominent early 20th century Scottish Protestant Christian minister and teacher, best known as the author of the widely read devotional, my utmost for his highest, said, ‘prayer is not only asking, it is an attitude of heart that produces an atmosphere in which asking is perfectly normal, and Jesus says “everyone that asketh, receiveth.'”

“An attitude of heart that produces an atmosphere in which asking is perfectly normal…”
That’s a shift!
Where is asking perfectly normal? I asked this question as I breathed into stillness.

“As a child!” was the answer. As a child I asked “can I have this?” Not in a selfish, greedy way, but in a way to be assured that I deserve to have all the good I see! With that sweet remembering, I became 5 again. “Can I have this?” I asked of many visions of myself, with wide eyed, ear to ear, open- hearted wonder!

“Can I have that?”LauRedBallWtrEdge63Enthusiasm and pure, unrestricted potential bubbled up from a deep, old, happy well. My face was surrounded by my smile in an inside out understanding. Asking IS natural! Asking like a child asks with no holes barred, expecting to receive because that’s who we are! Receivers! And because it feels so good to receive, it feels as good if not better to give, and watch others receive from us! We learn that too as children! Givers!

“…an attitude of heart that produces an atmosphere in which asking is perfectly normal.”

We are givers and receivers of JOY and that’s why we are here! Ask-Receive.  Give- Enjoy.  In Joy.  Mmmm!

End of story! Beginning of Glory!

Embracing Impermanence

A year ago, on the 26th, the day before Thanksgiving, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cAnswer. I will still in chemo myself for a recurrence of ovarian cAnswer. My sister, Kristen and I agreed that one of us would be with her at all times until she healed or died. I stopped chemo 3 treatments short of the protocol so I could stay healthy.

 The following months were beautiful, tender, painful, horrific, desperately sad, filled with joy and love all at the same time. Kristen believes as I do- that death is a part of life, that our experiences can be embraced and that our perception changes everything. I found a clinical study for her which gave her hope. We walked with her through so many examinations and procedures that numbness would have been welcome. But no, I chose to be fully present. And when it got worse than we could ever have imagined it could be, something shifted.

Christmas Eve I heard noise in the kitchen at 3:30 in the morning. I came downstairs to find mom doing a laundry with no clothes in the machine. She had started the coffee pot but had spilled water all over the floor. She wasn’t making sense. I cajoled, then argued with her to get her back into bed. I slept on the couch next to her bed. Christmas day she still was not herself. It was painful to witness, not knowing if these “crazies” were medication induced, a chemical imbalance- her sodium and potassium levels were always wacked, or if the cAnswer had gone into the brian, or she was dehydrated. Then she’d be fine for days and not remember what she did or said.

New Years eve Kristen was with her and dreamt about mom being near her. She got up find mom had climbed the flight of stairs with an empty laundry basket and was now collapsed in a heap in the hallway. All the love in the world had not prepared us for this. We began looking for a respite place to take care of mom for a week so Kristen and I could take a break. There was nothing, nothing, nothing. We stayed in contact and in prayer. Neither of us slept when we were with her. Every other week or two we would go home and try to regroup while the other one stayed with mom.

The clinical study and her oncologist was in Goshen, an hour drive on a good day. In January, in 20 degree, snowy, blustery weather, I bundled up my, now tiny, mommy and poured her into her car. My van was too much of a struggle. She had 3 rounds of injections for the study each a week apart. She then had 1 chemo treatment. It knocked her on her ass. She was already weak. Her hair started falling out two days later. Kristen and I knew to look forward to to mommy’s passing, to come to grips with, as best we could, losing her. But we didn’t speak it to mom as long as she wanted to do the study. We supported her in her choices, as best we could. If that meant letting her have her cocktails and eat desserts, plural, then so be it.

In March Mom’s best friend was visiting. Kristen had just left as I arrived. Mom was just sleeping and sleeping. When we realized she was non-responsive and crazy talking when she was responsive, we had an ambulance take to the ER. It was 3 days before coherency came back. In those 3 days Kristen and I were praying for alternative care-taking. It was just too much and we hated to admit that to each other and ourselves, but we just couldn’t do it. The evening she started making sense again I had the urge to paint her toenails. I had removed the old polish weeks before but just hadn’t gotten around to finishing the pedicure. We giggled while she wiggled her toes and we sang. At last they were done. China Red. Perfect! That night at 3:30 in the morning, she called for help to go to the bathroom. She asked to be left alone while she did her business. Instead of calling the tech back to help her into bed, she stands, leans to get something and falls.

Everyone who examined her leg, or who just walked by, commented on her beautiful toenails! Go figure! Her ankle twisted so violently it broke the phibea, her shin bone. There was no going home. They put her in rehab to get her strong enough for chemo…  A weird answer to our need of rest. And while she was not as happy, she couldn’t have her cocktails or her kitties, Kristen and I found this new normal to be more breathable at least. We realized that NOT tending to everything would allow us to be more loving and we could sleep through the night.

By the fifth week mom started to admit that she was not getting stronger but weaker. The last chance to continue the treatments were pulled by the surgeon who told her she was just too weak to continue. That was on a Thursday. The next Monday was Kristen’s 50th birthday. She was in Nashville for her business where they were honoring her. Than morning I white tornadoed Mom’s apartment. I meant to bring her home on hospice in a couple more days. When I went to pick her up for another peracenthesis she couldn’t stand. The rehab nurse called a transport. While they worked to drain her swollen tummy as they did every week for the past 7 weeks or more, I called hospice. I packed up her things at rehab and cleaned her room. I had the ambulance bring her to her apartment where her kitties greeted her.

I avoided calling my sister. I wanted her to have a good birthday memory with nothing tainting it like “Come home. Mommy is dying.” But the next day, that’s what I did…

Mom knew for one week that she was dying. That’s very different than knowing for 5 months. Ten days after she learned chemo and the clinical study were no longer options, one week after I moved her back into her apartment and one week after my sister’s birthday she was no longer coherent. With the help of hospice we tried to keep her comfortable. My husband Phil and come and gone back home to tend to our animals. Kristen’s husband had come. Mom’s last words were recognizing him with a big smile then no more. Just labored breathing. Kristen slept beside her the night before expecting each breath to be her last.

When Jeff came in from the patio in tears, we thought he had been talking about mom to someone on the phone. A young family friend had died that morning. I felt shock waves as I watched my sister and her beloved reel from the news that the 30 year old had taken his own life.  An athlete in his 20s, he had an accident that hurt his back so badly that he lived on pain pills but was still debilitated. My nephews were his friends. Jeff needed to be there, with his boys.

Kristen and I were again, alone with Mom.  We sat on either side of her and held hands over her. Kristen spoke to her directly. “Mom, I don’t know if you have an agenda over there, but someone may need your help. Our friend might be in a dark place. Could you take his hand and show him to the light? Let him know that it’s all ok and that he is deeply loved no matter what. Thank you Mommy”

We sang Angel Flying, one of her favorite songs. “When I’m old woman preparing for my rest, will I see my family of angels from the past? Smiling faces tell me that I’ll not be alone. Winged graces beckoning, they’ll come to take me home…” And she gave us her last breath. We kept singing.

(Click below to hear the song)

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Angel Flying

There is always more to the story and now that I vow to blog regularly, I’ll share more with you soon. Just know that the gift of those 5 months with Mom, walking her home is one of the most breathtakingly memorable experiences of my life. I feel so honored to have spent so much qualtiy time with her, for her. I know for sure that love never dies and I say I love her now in the present tense and feel her loving me back.  Thank you Mommy!

 The hills are alive with the sounds of Mommy.

April 20th at 5pm, daughters Lauren and Kristen sang their mom home. Her singing and piano playing created the foundation of much of their lives. Countless people will carry the memory of singing around her piano. Sandra Lane Powell, known to friends as Sam, was born in San Angelo, Texas, February 12, 1940. She was married to Larry Powell for 16 years. She got her degree in Political Science from Indiana University in South Bend. Living a life of service and social action, she marched with Cesar Chavez, helping shine the light on the unfair treatment of farm workers. She was a social worker and hearing specialist for the Welfare Department and Vocational Rehabilitation, giving of herself tirelessly and touching the lives of thousands. She will be celebrated and missed. Survived by daughter, Lauren Lane Powell, and her husband, Phil Long, and daughter, Kristen Lee Hartnagel, and her husband, Jeff, and their two sons, Ryan and Steven. She donated her body to the Indiana School of Medicine for medical research. Thanks to all who love her.     Sandra Lane Powell   Feb.12, 1940 – April 20, 201511174935_10153304264958293_7184530466803845099_n

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Grandmama’s Waltz

Grandmama’s Waltz Click to hear SONG

ImageMy beautiful, wonderful Grandmama made her transition 15 years ago today.

She was 87. I am so grateful to have been so close to her. Therein lies the story, her story, our story.

As a fine artist and art teacher she raised my dad as a single parent long before it was “popular.” She had a hard life and wore it on her sleeve. I grew up knowing her to be very judgmental, unforgiving and hyper critical. As much as she loved life and appreciated the beauty of everything around her, she seemed to dislike people in general. When she did hug me, it was cold and prickly. She didn’t understand me at all as I grew into a young woman and held a grudge as if it were a trophy.

All of that changed when I moved to Sarasota, Florida at 20 years old. She was my ONLY grandparent and I wanted a relationship with her. A GOOD relationship. I decided consciously that I was going to “make that bitch love me!” She lived in Clearwater, an hour away from Sarasota. So every other weekend I visited her and basically pushed my way into her heart. I loved her into softness. I shared “hug therapy” with her. within the year she did soften. She did open! She learned how to hug without pushing me away at the same time! In fact, before I moved back up north 2 years later, she had made me 2 sets of stained glass hugging bears from the little book called “Hug Therapy.” I treasure then today!

In 1994 she was ready to come up north to be with family. She knew she was slipping and was willing to be cared for. God Bless her! I flew down to drive her and her belongings to Indiana. We left on her 85th birthday. The timing of taking her away from the home she’d known for the last 30 years on her birthday really sucked! The trip north was an adventure to blog later. But for the next 2 years we were both in South Bend so I got to see her often! I video taped some of her stories. We grew even closer.

The last week of February I was on my way to Florida on tour. The day before I left she had fallen again. She was put into the hospital a block away from my home. I went to see her for the last time on this earth plane…I knew.  I rubbed her feet. I brushed her hair. I told her goodbye. Later that day the doctors discovered an inoperable brain tumor. That’s why she was falling. That’s why she was fully cognizant one minute and out of it the next. She knew she was in and out and it pissed her off! She always had her wits about her…until now. She would have to go into a home and move out of independent living and she NEVER wanted to do that.

I drove to Florida, stayed at her old condo and all of that week, long distance, I gave her permission to go to God. “it’s ok Grandmama. You can let go. I’ll miss you but I’ll be ok. It’s your choice. I love you so much.” All week long. On March 1st I got the call. “Thank you GOD!” was my first response.

That night she come to me in my dreams and thanked me for her room! I didn’t understand. She said “Just look at this place!” Out of the mists formed this palatial estate! “Why thank me?” I asked.

“You taught me how to love! I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you! You changed my Karma!” WOW!

Just by loving her…WOW! So today I celebrate her life here on earth AND her life on the otherside. The veil is so thin that we are still close. She is with me everyday.

In Florida, she had a calamondin tree behind her condo. She made marmalade out of that sour stuff that not many enjoyed like I did. Last night a gal brought me a bag of calamondins and some jams she had made along with a sprig of flowers from her tree. OMG! Grandmama IS here! I will enjoy the fruit for at least a week and the marmalade all year. Grandmama you rock! Even from the other side she still loves me! I am so blessed!

Reflections

I can hardly wait to start the New Year! 2011 was an awesome year of change, release and renewal! Still touring the country. Still doing the work, but things have shifted. I feel much more secure about my business because I’m working smarter, not harder. I learned how to work with my $$ differently and will soon be completely out of debt!  I learned how to work with my body differently and dropped over 25 pounds! Consequently 2 new workshops were born this year!

My willingness to change allowed “Honoring Your Inner Entrepreneur” to evolve into a full day, action-packed seminar! Imagine marketing from the right side of the brain…all good business tips of course, but imagine going within during meditation and Divining with Spirit a business plan, logo, brochures etc. This is NOT the corporate model, in-the-box way of doing things! This is creating a whole new box then breaking out of THAT!



The new Body by GOD workshop was born this very month as I offered the very first workshop to a full house in Charleston, SC on the 8th! This 2 and a 1/2 hour event was born after my 50th birthday and my excess weight release. After diet and exercise did little to nothing, loving my body as it is (or was) became the catalyst for success. Forgiveness, meditation, willingness and falling in love with the process were all necessary to be the Body by GOD! I love this workshop!

So without recapping the whole year allow me to share my December with you! One of my favorite things to do before Christmas is to go into a New Thought church on a Saturday and offer a “Choir Inspired” workshop. Together we create a choir from scratch, learn 3 songs (two are originals!) and perform the following evening as part of a holiday concert! WOW! Can you imagine! Unity Charleston was such an event. 9 people performed, some for the very first time in public, as a choir for their big Christmas event on Dec 9th. They were awesome! I was so proud! They were amazed and very pleased themselves! No one had a clue how much fun it be with an audience…no one knew but me!

Riding that vibration I packed up and left Charleston at 11:00pm to get closer to Gainesville, Ga. At 10:00 the next morning I let the minister, Sydney, know that I was on my way and would be there by noon. “NOON? We have people here waiting for you! We thought the Choiring started at 9:30!” Well I can assure you THIS never happened before. They evidently never received the email with the schedule change! Mercury in retrograde still?? But there is ALWAYS perfection in the imperfect. Sydney then told me that when she arrived that early morning the church was flooded and water was still flowing!  They had work to do and would not have been able to work with me anyway until afternoon!  As I finally got there water was being sucked up, nerves were starting to calm and lunch was being served. From 1:00-4:00 I gave a 6 hour workshop…expanding time all the way! It worked! The choir was awesome the following night. The audience has rave reviews and we had fun!

That Monday evening, thanks to Rand Fischer, I worked with a large choir at Unity North in Atlanta. Using the voice for healing was new to some of them! I finished my December at the Tree of Like in Lady Lakes in Florida offering a Heal the Healers weekend and Christmas concert.  This was the best December yet!

I flew home to Bloomington via Indy on the 22nd and will fly back to Tampa on Jan 5th. What a year!

2011 was also a year of loss in that 3 of our beloved cats passed. Our house feels so empty without Sunshine who vanished in October and Sterling and Nicholas who passed in May. I got to learn even more about the grieving process and how to grieve on purpose!

Getting ready for the new year. Hmmm, what will I accomplish in 2012? I would love to do podcasts and webinars so I could reach more people. I will learn how to skype. I will make even better use of social media. I will finish writing and publish at least one book! I will become a more regular blogger. I will laugh even more hardily, love even more deeply, play even more often and reach even higher heights!

Happy New Year Everyone!