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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!

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

Using “Forgiveness” to Create Peace

When I watch the news and it disturbs me, when I hear of atrocities or read of the history of killing each other “in the name of GOD,” whenever I feel less than peaceful I may be contributing to the ills of the world just by my own negative energy! But how can I NOT winch at someone else’s pain? How can I NOT feel the pain of a dying child? How can my heart NOT break when I feel for someone else’s suffering?

What I have learned is this:
It is only through suffering that we grow-individually, as a nation, as a planet.
It is only through chaos that we create.
It is only by shining the light that we dissolve the darkness.
It is only by dying that we find our true life.

When I learned that everything that happens to us is actually happening for us the pain I experience makes a little bit more sense.
When I learned that nothing can happen to/for me without my permission I began to see the perfection in everything.

The ancient Hawaiian philosophy called Ho’oponopono states:
I am 100% responsible for everything in my world-real or imagined.
I am 100% responsible for every thought, every belief, every cause and effect.
IF I am 100% responsible for everything in my world, then at some level I am responsible for my fellow human. The prayer then that follows is:

I’m sorry, forgive me, I love you, Thank you.

Now that may feel a bit heavy, taking on the whole world- but the way I understand this is-
When I feel bad I contribute to the negative energy that I wish to see healed.
“I’m sorry” means “I’m sorry this is happening to/for you!”
“Forgive me” means “Please forgive me for any part I played in this life or past that may have contributed to this suffering.”
“I love you” raises the vibration up and holds me and those I pray for in highest Holy light.
“Thank you” is the highest form of prayer and releases it all to God!

At the very least this prayer makes me feel more peaceful and alive. At the very most it may move me to action! In this prayerful state I may hear what is mine to do! In this prayerful state I may hear what is NOT mine to do!

Through the use of these 4 sentences, life around and within me shifts and changes. Understanding at the cellular level replaces fear and anger. Awareness deepens and expands. Love grows into a tangible force for healing! And so it is!