giving thanks

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Good Morning Thanksgiving Eve!

Today my little family heads up to Sedona but not before stopping for a little dinner theatre en route.  There is a pretty fantastic Broadwayish theatre in West Phoenix called AZ Broadway Theatre that not only has fantastic performances but pretty decent food too.  We will be seeing the matinee of The Sound of Music then head right on up the road to Vista Bonita for the holiday weekend.  I’m psyched.  My car is packed like the Grinch as I’m bringing up a ton of Christmas decorations plus my usual get crap out of my house that’s just taking up space and move it up there plus my paleo gingerbread and cranberry sauce I made last night.  Plus of course my own personal stuff.  Needless to say, we are taking two cars.

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When I woke up this morning and still lying in my cozy bed, I got to thinking about what I might want to write for Thanksgiving.  As I only have an ipad in Sedona I don’t do much blogging because it’s too much finger pecking so I’ll just do my T-giving post here this morning with some soft jazz in the background and a fresh small breeze winding in from the front door.  And my strong hot coffee and warm cozy white blanket of course.

While at the Ranch I attended two classes that had us do a lot of free form writing.  I decided then and there in one of those classes to do this exercise with my family/friends on Thanksgiving Day as a kind of, I don’t know what, a kind of fun way to share.  The instructor would give us one prompt, then instruct us to write for 10 minutes non stop and see what comes through.  It’s kind of astounding what does flow through your brain when you are asked to simply put the pen to the paper and not let it stop moving.

This morning, in a tangential keeping with the first Thanksgiving, I’m going to share my homage to a corn plant that came through.  Then the little collage I made inspired by the writing.  I love this instructor/artist/angel Erin Gafill who inspires creativity in so many ways.  I love her so much in fact, that I’m signing up for her online creativity course in January.  Totally psyched.

So here it is, my ten minute writing about a corn plant.  The beginning words were “I remember…”.

I remember growing that corn stalk in the sixth grade in that cut off milk carton.  I remember sitting it in the window of our class, as a seed, rushing in to see it sprout.  I remember it becoming about six inches tall at the time the school year ended and taking it home, planting it close to the fence in the back yard to the right.

I remember going on that long road trip that year.  AZ, California, Colorado.  Maybe the first with Marj.  In the small camper.  I’d lay in bed at night obsessing about my corn plant.  I’d ask my Dad how tall it would be.  Would there be corn?

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I think that particular exercise may have been less than ten minutes but you get the drift.  It’s fun, interesting and a way to get to know yourself and each other in a unique way.

The words I’m going to give us all tomorrow are “When I think about gratitude…”

I think in fact I will do this right now, right here, in this moment.  As a little dress rehearsal for tomorrow, of course knowing completely different thoughts/words/streams will emerge then.

Instead of pen to paper, it will be fingers to keyboard.  I’m setting the timer now for ten minutes and this is what you get.  Wait one minute as I down some caffeine to get my fingers moving (and my brain opening):

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When I think about gratitude I’m thinking right now about this moment, this one right here.  I’m thinking about Mark Nepo and his testimonial about surviving cancer and living with that legacy every day and how it informs his life.  I think about Rob and his cancer survival and I wonder, how often does he think about it anymore?  How often does he remember that horrible terrible time we all went through with him.  I’m aware I almost never think of it.  I can’t think of it. I can but I don’t.  I can’t and don’t and don’t want to imagine my life without Rob in it.  I was in denial of his cancer right from the start but that denial was in a strange way a good thing as I just kept knowing he was going to get back to himself and I wasn’t as afraid as maybe I should have been.  I’m so grateful for Rob.  I’m grateful for thinking right now about arriving at his house, later tonite, with some kind of fun cocktail he’s dreamed up or read in a magazine or seen online.  I’m remembering how he said that the only reason he got Men’s Health Magazine was for the monthly cocktail recipes. 

I’m imagining sitting on the cold patio tonite with Rob and Sean and maybe how they will have a fire in the chiminera and the cold stars beaming down at us and the many Thanksgivings we’ve already shared together and how many will come now that my family will be spending all our holidays in Sedona from here on out I think.  I say my family but they are my family.  Those boys have been my family from the moment Rob decided I would be his friend.  I remember feeling so daunted when he shared that he sought me out for friendship when he moved to Sedona.  That he saw me and believe me I was prickly toward him back then–dynamics, strange politics going on and he was a NEWCOMER and interloper of sorts and sometimes I guess I don’t take too kindly to that.  But he saw something in me that he sought out, thank God because he and Sean have been so good to me, rescued me so many times, usually from myself.

We’ve danced in their living room all day once making a music video to “Call me Maybe”.  ALL DAY we worked on that video using an Ipad as our camera.  Then I spliced it for hours not knowing what the hell I was doing and we were so proud as we debuted our music video at Rob’s party. We also danced “the Wattleseed” dance up by the TV which we decided we had to do to earn our ice cream that night that was oddly called “Wattleseed flavor”.  So many memories, so many fun times so many to come. 

I’m grateful that at this stage in life I can still make friends!  I can still invite new people in to my life and bond deeply with him because Lord knows I’ve needed and will need friends along this path.  I’m also grateful for learning more about my introvert nature and finding some kind of balance which I rarely succeed at but keep trying between alone time and social time, both of which I crave probably equally.  Maybe the alone time more.

It’s a blessing to find another introvert too.  Someone, like Sebastian, who just understands that style of living and those needs with whom I can just be myself with no explanations.  It’s tired to always explain some fundamental things sometimes.

Grateful I am for friends, new and old, for the openings that keep inviting them in even unbeknownst to me or unplanned.  These little sparks of light that flow in, flow out, surprising me with their true nature, revealing more of mine.

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me with Rob last time in Sedona

And that dingdingding was exactly ten minutes of writing, unedited.

Maybe you’d like to try this for yourself or with your family tomorrow.  I highly recommend it!

And…truly sincerely I’m grateful for all of you out there reading my little thoughts and ramblings and sharing your hearts with me.

I love you all.  Happy Thanksgiving, near and far.

xoxo

catpilgrim

safe

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I wrote at least one poem a day while on my retreat at the Ranch.  On my birthday, I wrote four.  I was surrounded by poetry there–literally and in the poetic sense.  😉

On my last day, I finished yoga, walked the Labyrinth then through a dark treed forest area back to my room and this is what came to me.  It’s about the hypervigilance that plagues me living in a big city.  And options to living that way.

Safe

Home, my Neolithic stone head

Grinds on it’s axis

Cracking and vigilant; always vigilant.

The old guard stands tired, hunched.

~

Parking lots, sidewalks

My own front door.

Eyes pierce dark corners; dangerous curves

Seeking something.

~

Here, my helium filled head

Bubbles beyond it’s spine

Borders; floating, bobbing in curiosity.

Three hundred sixty degrees, breezy.

~

Alert, yes; eyes wide open

Through black trees at dusk.

Begging a visit with a friendly fox;

Seeking everything.

safe

energy

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Positive-Energy

Happy Thursday!

It’s been a busy time so finally able to sit down for a minute and do some writing.

I’m involved in some fun projects right now which have gotten me thinking about the whole concept of “follow the energy”.   If there is a flow in your life right now, then I believe there is an opening right there, something worth checking out at the least and stepping in to to get carried away in to a new world at the most.  😉

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I’m thinking this is just the way I’m going to live my life from here on out.  Not stopping to second guess things or understand them fully.  But simply noticing energy and following it.  Or stepping away from situations/relationships/events/goals which are just not filled with life and magnetism.  I’m thinking this is just a magical way to move through life and without that kind of enchantment, life can get pretty dull, pretty quickly.  I’ve never been a person who’s been comfortable with stagnancy.

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Last weekend in Sedona I went to work out with Rob at his gym and he, being Rob, brought me not only a bottle of water but some headphones for the treadmill.  Lo and behold I got to watch a truly inspiring Oprah show on her “Super Soul Sunday” with the poet and effervescent individual Mark Nepo.  Now if Mark Nepo can’t keep me on a treadmill for 40 minutes, no one can.  I have to say it was so fun walking next to Rob who was elypticalling on the next machine.  I just love him.

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I was particularly struck by this segment with Mark Nepo.  I was only wishing I had a pen/paper on the treadmill to write it down so I’m happy I found it on Huffpo:

Nepo, who is now in his 60s, also shares the most humbling thing he’s learned. “We’re asked to learn how to keep asking for what we need only to practice accepting what we’re given,” he says. “And that’s a paradox. But what’s so important about this, for me, is that asking for what we need doesn’t always lead to getting what we need. Sometimes it does, and that’s great. But the reward for asking for what we need is that we become intimate with our own nature. We learn who we are by standing in who we are.”

“The reward for practicing accepting what we’re given is we become intimate with everything that’s not us,” he continues. “We become intimate with the nature of life. And it’s the rhythm between our own nature and the nature of life that allows us to find the thread we are — the thread we are in the unseeable connections that hold everything together.”

Please take a look at this.  The latter part of this segment, to me, defines prayer in a way that makes more sense to me than anything I’ve ever heard.

I’ve also been thinking about living questions vs. answers and this seems to dovetail, at least for me, with what Nepo is saying here.

I remember these words of Rilke which have been informing my life, literally, since my early twenties:

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Mark Nepo, in this Sunday talk, also spoke about how we identify ourselves in the world.  He was saying something about how we are so quick to label ourselves this or that.  Oh, you’re good at writing, then you must be a writer!  That kind of thing.  How he less wants to be identified as a poet than as a living poem.

That really struck me and got me contemplating.  I’ve been saying since returning from Washington that I’m going to take a sabbatical and go back there to write my book.  And I am going to do that but with a slightly different intention.  I’m going to take some time off to let my life unfold in a different, out of my routine kind of way, to discover just what it is I need to write about.

I think just asking the question “how does a person like me, living through the mine field of this life I’ve been given, manage to discover and live this amazing magical life I find myself living?” opens my life for me in a new way of finding that amazing life and is really the point of any book–to enhance my reason for living ultimately, then share it.  So what I need to write about is how this unfolds after the fact, not some recipe or lessons learned type of thing.  The juice is in the inquiry. And if a book comes of it, great.  A book is more a motivation to ask the questions, not necessarily serve up the answers.  The practice is not in some goal or aspiration other than living in the continual asking of the question.

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I’m fortunate that I have a life and lifestyle that will allow me this kind of break and time to focus and defocus.  It’s sort of an inside out goal making process but the only one that makes sense to me.

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So back to following the energy, again as Whyte writes in one of my all time favorite poems Sweet Darkness:

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.”
David Whyte, The House of Belonging

I look around my life and energy is pulling me toward writing, toward poetry, toward Watsu, toward exercise, toward smoothies, toward a more healthy lifestyle, toward my family and more soulful relationships.

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my smoothie this morning

At the end of January, I’m going to be bringing Sebastian in for two days of Watsu sessions here then a little fun field trip to Sedona. I decided to bring the mountain to me vs. traveling to him to continue my Watsu practice.   All I did was start mentioning this possibility to friends and clients and within five days had 20 people on the list interested in sessions with him.  That’s what I call energy flowing around an event.  It’s unfolding so easily and effortlessly that all I feel like I’m doing is holding the reins.  I have a lot of energy around this new friendship too as he feeds my soul in a way I’ve been longing for.  It feels like a long lost friend finding his way back to me.  I think he feels the same.

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he made this his Facebook profile pic this week…awww…so I did the same

I believe this commitment to this kind of lifestyle is some serious piece of wisdom infusing me on how to live in this world and make the most of it.  I find myself continually glancing around for openings and flows and more easily drawing myself away from things that feel constricted without asking why or analyzing (I could get better at that so I’m practicing).

How are the ways you are following the flow in your life?

I’d love it if you shared.

xoxo

weekend

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the drive in to town

Just returned from a fun weekend in Sedona.  We caravanned up–Steve and I in my car and John and my Dad in his.  Finally was able to transport this creamy leather arm chair I’ve been wanting to bring up there.

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road trippin

I have to say, the house for the first time really started feeling like a Home having my Dad there.  We did some cooking, went to a movie (12 Years a Slave..wow), watched football, did some setting up of things, going through boxes my Dad brought.  Your basic nesting. We also had a little dinner party with Rob and Sean.  🙂

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my Dad makes the place cozy

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a little impromptu sitting chat in the foyer deciding where to put the chairs

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Alfonse, aka “Poppin Fresh” with his cinnamon roll

Speaking of Rob, he’s been at me to work out with him at his gym up there for years and finally, since I’m in a working out mode, I went with him Sunday morning.  It was fantastic!  We spent nearly two hours there and got to visit while stretching out on yoga mats after our respective workouts (let’s just say I don’t do the pull ups and other buff things he does..yet at least).  We went out for lunch after.  It was so great!

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view from my bed

Steve and I also set up about piecing together and repairing this amazing mosaic table that my parents made when I was about 2-3 years old.  I’ve loved this table all my life and it had broken and was covered in cobwebs when it arrived.  To think my Dad was just gonna toss it but thought to ask if I wanted it.  Wow, this table looks amazing in the house.

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love all the detail

Steve and I glued it all back together, now it just needs some cleaning up and voila…like new or rather like vintage cool with a legacy.  I absolutely love it.

I’m so psyched about being up there for the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving!  Fireplace, coziness, and family.

 

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the one girlie room in the entire house

I love it.

Happy Monday y’all!

bridging

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Meanwhile back in Tempe….

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Most people who hang out with me locally know how much I’m in love with the Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian Bridge.  I fell in love with it at first sight seeing it on the news, was there a few days after they opened it, had a miracle experience on the bridge (which I will write about another time) and since then I hang out there quite a bit.  Definitely I go there for special occasions or when in that kind of need.

I do this ritual each time, either by myself or with whomever I’m walking with.  I think of something in my life that I’d like to transform or sometimes just simply a wish.  I step on the bridge heading the North direction and as I place my foot there I close my eyes and ask that anything inside me impeding this wish to come true be washed away from me.

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As I (we) turn to head back, I ask that everything be brought to me that I need to fulfill this wish.  Then I invite it all in to my body as I’m walking.  I’m telling you, this is a powerful ritual and one that has transformed many things in my life.

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Alfonse and I stepping back last Sunday

Now with that prelude, I’m going to tell you about how just two days after being on the bridge and asking for transformation, I ended up screaming on the phone at a member of John’s refusal to ACT Team and even dropping at least one F Bomb.  This little encounter falls under the categories of “It’s About Time” and “The Last Straw”.

Let me back up a minute.

I know what you’re probably thinking, regular readers.  I thought he was already out of there.

Well it wasn’t quite that easy.  You see, fortunately and unfortunately, John has been on a highly regulated medication called Clozaril for months.  It’s kind of a med of last resort for Schizophrenics but as his Dr. said “when it works, it’s a miracle”.  In John’s case, it was that miracle.  His deeply ingrained voices literally disappeared within two days after weeks of tormenting him.

The bitch though is it’s very regulated by the FDA causing him to have to have weekly blood draws to check his WBC and then it’s only dispensed a week at a time.  The facility where the terrible ACT Team resides has been handling both of these tasks.

I spent my entire afternoon that Friday before heading down to the Ranch calling different pharmacies to see if they dispense it to be hit with a big fat ZERO.  Most of them just don’t want to deal with the hassle.  They also have to keep records of the labs as does the Dr.  I tried my own small compounding pharmacy who did go the extra mile to get on the registry for it but then the funding issue raised it’s head.  They don’t deal with Medicare. I just didn’t have time to get it set up before I left the country for a week.

I finally broke down and called the *#^@^$ ACT Team to request they float him for one more week until I got back and could figure this out.  Aside from the med, I was also needing to set up the labs.  John just can’t handle these kinds of tasks alone and I’m a trained nurse and…it was just something I needed to do for him.

How interesting and fortunate and bizarre that the Clinical Coordinator said to me “we’ve not even discharged John.  He didn’t say clearly HE wanted to be discharged”.  I had to laugh as I knew he did say that clearly.  I knew it from John and I knew it from Manny who were both right there.  That was the entire purpose of the meeting.  I said it myself on the speaker phone!

This reinforces my belief that this team is invested in keeping names on their books (in one email forwarded to me, John was referred to by some kind of acronym like “the bhc”, not even his freaking NAME).  They need to have those names to keep their funding coming in to keep their jobs but they provide next to zero services for those participants.

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his name is John Monkman you assholes

Believe me once this is all settled and finished I will find a way to blow the lid off of this and expose them.  I’ve written letters and filed a formal complaint but I will be taking it to another level:  newspaper, legislature, something. Someone has got to say something.  Think of all the other patients suffering in this highly dysfunctional program who have zero advocacy.  I will be a voice for all of them.  I need to bring this to some kind of completion just for myself even.

Anyway, I’m told he’s not been discharged which honestly I’m totally relieved to hear in that moment because they HAVE to provide his weekly meds while I’m gone and that’s 100% of what I’m caring about in that phone call.

I just go along with it and say we will figure out the rest when I get back, being very nice and accomodating.  Knowing I’m completely using this system right now for only one reason and I’m perfectly fine with this.

Ok on to my meltdown.

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Imagine me at work on Tuesday, anticipating my father’s arrival that evening, on a small break between clients.  I see I’ve had a missed call from a number I sort of recognize but didn’t have listed in my contacts.  The number calls me again on the break so I pick it up.

It’s Lynn, John’s “Compeer”.  This means she’s a participant in the program (not ACT Team, basically the general mental health system) and is a volunteer assigned to visit and be a supportive friend to other patients.  She was set up by another coordinator before ACT Team got on and I don’t even think they know of her existence.  Which is good. They’d probably have tried to knock her off too as they did his counselor saying they’d provide their own, only to have a complete and total zero follow through on that.  TERRIBLE!

Lynn sounded somewhat stressed and relayed a story to me of that morning having gone for her usual visit with John at 11am.  They were planning to go to lunch.  She found him hearing lots of voices (that’s been months) and he told her the voices were telling him to stick a knife in his throat.

Yes, take a breath.  This psych patient herself arrived in to that scene.

As she said “I’ve had suicide training so I knew what to do”.  She called her supervisor, called me (I was with a client) and sat with John.

Here’s where the match lit the fire in me.  John told her he’d been waiting all morning for his daily “med check”.  You know, the one and only service ACT Team has ever provided?  The one he has never needed?  The one where he’s at the mercy of their schedule, waiting between a two hour window every morning so someone can come to the house and watch him put his pills in his mouth and sign a  paper?  That one.

And, they never showed up.  No call, no show, nothing.  John later told me this was the third of fourth time that had happened.  They don’t follow through on all the services they claimed were available that first day we transferred him there:  finding volunteer work, voc rehab, assistance with home tasks, social activities.  They have provided exactly ZERO of those services and the one and only service rendered has been the unnecessary and unreliable and disruptive “med checks”.

I’ve told them, John’s told them that he prefers to take his meds right upon waking.  He feels worse in the morning and gets up early and taking his meds helps.

Well this Tuesday, he had been waiting at least five hours for those *#$#^@ to show up and no one ever did.  All the while his symptoms started escalating in to voices and suicidal thoughts.

Lynn told me she’d stayed with him for an hour after he took his meds and his symptoms abated and he decided to go get a massage.  She called me then saying she felt confident that he was better, that he was not going to be alone and that she knew my father was arriving in a just a few hours.

Then she threw kerosene on that smoldering flame inside me, sharing this:

She told me she’d called the ACT Team to report this, was transferred to John’s now third case manager, someone I’ve never met and told her what happened.  She was obviously and understandably still upset and very worried about John (thank God someone was).  And she said to this person “someone dropped the ball here”.  This mental health professional barked back at her “NO ONE dropped the ball!”.

Then proceeded to hang up on her.

Another mental health patient reporting a crisis, involving a potentially suicidal participant in their program. And she was hung up on.

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Ok now my waiting room is filling up with smoke coming from my ears as I said “Lynn I need to get off the phone right now and make a phone call.  You handled this perfectly.  Thank you for calling me and I will let you know how he’s doing” through my grinding and set jaw.  My eyes filling up with blood.

I then called the ACT Team and after much shuffling around (you can rarely actually get one of them on the phone but every time I’ve been there they are all sitting around in cubicles. They certainly aren’t out servicing their clients I’ll tell you that!) I got someone.  Not the case manager who hung up but another person.

And I unleashed.  The words “you guys are TERRIBLE, just so TERRIBLE” were probably said about 15 times and she kept repeating back “I know, I understand”.  Of course she KNOWS!  She works there!  Isn’t that bizarre?

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pity the fool who messes with a Scorpio OR a cheetah

I told her the med checks are over.  That John will be getting up in the morning and taking his medications on his own.  I don’t care what they need in terms of their program, I told her.  I’m swimming as fast as I can to get him extricated this week and they WILL NOT penalize my brother for their own poor performance. That I have a lawyer.  That John is protected and I’m prepared to take this as far as I need to.

I told her John is UNSAFE in their care.  I was just all over the map venting.  I have to say, it felt good. That volcano needed to erupt. F bombs flying and all.  Someone needed to hear the reality of the other side of their incompetence.  Sometimes someone needs to just display that outrage!

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She kept saying “do you want to talk to my supervisor?  John’s case manager?” to which I replied “the time for talking has ended-everything will be in writing now.  We are past a stage of talking.”.  I assured her I would be getting John out of there within the next two days and if he needed his meds filled there this week if we couldn’t find another pharmacy yet then the WOULD be filling them for him.  They will not allow him to walk out of there without a plan for his critical meds.  And my lawyer will make sure of that.

Then I hung up on her.

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Whew!  That was a lot to relive right now.

Sometimes you just do have to go kicking and screaming from a relationship.

The good news is we met with the entire team yesterday (minus Lynn)–Dr. Yasinski who will be taking over, Manny Walker his advocate, me, my Dad and set up the new plan of action.  Manny will be walking in to Hell the ACT Team this week with John and making sure he gives them formal notice of his intent to be discharged clearly and likely in writing.  Manny had to laugh that they didn’t think John had done that already but again it kind of did work in our favor for just one week.  But still….really?

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A Psych patient is more competent at monitoring my brother than this “intensive monitoring program” for the  most acute patients in the system?  Really?

Oh and as a final note on them.  No one, not one person, ever called to check up on John after being told he was suicidal that morning.  It’s just astounding, the apathy.  I don’t even have a word for it.

Yes this will all be documented somewhere where it matters.  These people need to be exposed.  This sham of a program using the mentally ill in my community needs to have a light shined on it. This is tax payer funded!  And I’m just the snappy Scorpio to do just that.  My heart breaks for each and every one of their participants knowing what I know.

They are simply being used.  As if they aren’t disenfranchised enough. The very system designed to help them is abandoning them and using them for financial gain. And that is exactly how I see it with no evidence to the contrary.

So I asked for anything impeding a wish to be washed away on the bridge on Sunday then this erupted two days later.  Interesting huh?

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someone else thinks like me on the bridge

John is doing well now.  He’s happy my Dad is there indefinitely (at least until Feb sometime) and feels good about the new direction he’s headed. That we’re all headed.

We will all be going to Sedona this weekend and showing off all our hard work on the house to my Dad who’s not seen it since it was empty!  I’m excited about that. And Steve’s coming along too.

I’d say we have a lot to celebrate having survived this war.

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saw this blue heron on the bridge

basking

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this wish already came true

I have so much to write about, my Dad’s arrival (safe and sound) last night, of course my trip with all the gorgeous photos I took.  Yet I wake up this morning with something else on my mind so I’m going with it.

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I love two things about this morning.  A.  I woke up after a solid 7.5 hours sleep, the first in over a week and B.  I woke up feeling so excited to hop out of bed to write.  I spent several months not feeling excited about much of anything when I woke up in the morning, missing myself in that way.  But a constellation of ingredients has changed that; starting with my Dr. telling me I was in severe adrenal exhaustion a couple weeks ago and giving me an adrenal formula saying “this will either be night and day for you almost immediately or you won’t feel much but keep taking it anyway”.  Luckily I fell in the first category.  I love my dear Dr. Peace in every possible way.  Well you know, every possible appropriate way.

shirley

Anyway, what I’ve got on my mind this morning is born out of this Facebook post I made yesterday:

I hereby declare that the Era of Men Treating Kathy Monkman like Crap has drawn to a close. I do not regret to inform you that you’ve been replaced, your roles reassigned. Any stragglers will be shown to the exits by my team of bodyguards. Now go on. Git. Thank you for your swift cooperation.

I don’t want to revisit the past but let me just say this.  I’ve been successful in most areas of my life; work wise definitely, friends wise, school wise, good luck all around me in finding the right house/office/important things have come easy to me.  All my life really.  All except in the area of romantic relationships where all my screwedupness has landed or so I’ve said.  It all just seemed to reside in that dark corner.  I can dig back and tell a story that seemingly explains it all.  But in reality, do any of us really know the whys and wherefores?  And if we did, does it really matter?

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What matters is change.  Not insight.

Pretty bold statement huh?  Well, it’s what I believe.

I’ve tried dating different kinds of men, ones I wouldn’t have considered, ones who were so nice that surely they are out of my pattern, not dating for months or even years, focusing on other things, reading books, seeking guidance, blah blah freaking blah.  Lots of trying.  I’m not one who gives up easily. And I am a person who believes, deep down, that I can fulfill all of my dreams.  I also believe most anything can be healed.

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Alfonse and I stepping on to the bridge making a wish together the other day

Which is why I’m successful professionally I think.  My belief system.  In 25 years of practicing Myofascial Release I have almost never run in to something that I didn’t think could really completely correct.  I think people feel my confidence and are drawn to it.  And it’s not contrived.  It’s really the way I think.

I’m not talking about a confidence in myself.  I’m talking a confidence in the power of healing and the mystery of the human body.  And it’s own power to self correct.

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So let me take this one step further which is the belief that the mind exists everywhere in the body.  And if the body believes something, the mind will follow.  If that belief system is “I’m broken” that’s what the consciousness will go along with.  If the belief system is “I’m freeing up”, then the mind follows that.

It’s kind of a backwards way of looking at things for many people but it’s one I truly and deeply believe in.  From my own experience.

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I’ve written about my recovery from severe anxiety/panic disorder using Myofascial Release as my primary modality (I didn’t know about Watsu yet but having it to do over, I would choose that right up there with MFR).  I was a Psychiatric Nurse when that all hit as the assistant head nurse on a busy Psychiatric unit in a hospital.  And I was as screwed up as some of the patients having constant panic attacks, sometimes even at work.  Covering it all up best I could.

I tried so many things familiar to me then, medication/hospitalization/counseling/hypnosis, you name it.  I went aggressively after this.  I was in my 20’s and nearly housebound at times.  It was bad.

Yet the way this finally left me, was out of my body.  Then my mind followed.  That’s just how it happened.  I had to go after it through my body and what was stuck there and that’s when the relief started coming in.  I could go on and on about that but it’s not what I came here to write about this morning.

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A couple of days ago, after returning from The Ranch, I got to thinking about my “man life” right now.  I started looking around myself 360 degrees and this is what I saw:

I saw that I’d just returned from this week where a man, yes a man, a gorgeous hunky sweet man, treated me like a Princess the entire time.  Unsolicited, unexpected.  Just because he wanted to.  He’d rearranged his entire schedule to be there for me, ate meals with me, attended to needs I wasn’t even thinking about.  It all just kind of blew me away.  Before that I’d only really met him once and most of that time was in silence with me under the water.  Then a little correspondence here and there, and then all that.

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Then I looked around my home when I got back. Steve had been house sitting.  I saw every room ten times neater and cleaner than how I’d left it in my whirlwind to get out of town.  I saw the new hot water heater he’d gone through great pains to get installed which ended up in a huge hassle even though I thought I’d set it all up easily.  I saw two rooms upstairs that he completely reworked and organized for me as we’d discussed, including rearranging furniture.  I saw my back patio all cleaned up from the debris I’d left there after pulling weeds the weekend before.  I saw my frig reorganized.  I also talked to my brother who, when he picked me up at the airport, was doing much better than when I’d left.  When I asked why he said “I hung out with Steve a lot”. Steve took him shopping for my birthday present, to dinner, went to dinner at his house.  Looked after Alfonse along with my house.

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Speaking of Alfonse, he picked me up with a smile, his usual huge hug.  The next day took me to lunch and gave me the greatest soft pink fluffy robe.  He is THE BEST gift giver.  He remembered I was always wearing his huge terry cloth robe in Sedona and figured I needed a big one myself.  He is so thoughtful!  My brother always sees the best in me..always.  He truly loves me unconditionally and no matter how moody I can get around him, he just lets it all go.

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I looked on my dining table and there was a huge bouquet from my boys in Sedona–Rob and Sean.  The white shabby chic style they know I love.

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These boys take such good care of me always.  I got a text from Rob yesterday asking if I wanted to go see Fleetwood Mac with him over the holidays in Vegas.  Yes!  Of course!  A road trip with Rob?  I better do some ab workouts for the laughter that will ensue.  We have so much in common–music, food, fun (just bummed Sean has to work).  To have someone I can travel with who I get along with seamlessly? And who I can really talk to about anything?

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laughing remembering Rob saying “is that a wig?” when I came out to head to dinner that evening

Then of course there is my Dad who also loves me unconditionally.  I can’t think of a time, ever, when I’ve felt judged by my father.  Not one.  I can think of a time when he got disappointed in me but that’s even a stretch.  I can also talk to my Dad about ANYTHING and that’s basically been my whole life.  I mean sex, the pot I used to smoke, relationships, every delicate subject we talk about.  For hours.  I’m sure I take it for granted sometimes but I shouldn’t.  My Dad is the best listener of any person I know and he wants to know.  The details even.  He asks a gazillion questions because he’s just so curious.

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So here I was, turning my head 360 degrees around my man-sphere the other day and realized, I’m being treated like a Goddess!  I knew in every cell of my body that those days are over.  The days of bad men, men who don’t appreciate me, men who’ve used and abused me, men who’ve disrespected me, lied to me, been primarily takers.  It’s hard to even write all of that because that person, ME, the person who drew that in, is gone.  I can feel it.

To further illustrate this “mind follows the body” thing, I’d like to share a little piece I wrote while down at the Ranch at a watercolor workshop where the instructor started us with writing.  She told us to just write for ten minutes and not let the pen stop no matter what.  She said start with the phrase “I don’t remember” then go from there. When finished, we read them out loud.  This is what came through that day:

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I don’t remember much of anything about my mother. 

I think most all of my conscious memories have come to me in dreams.  My body remembers though.  I know it does.

Sebastian’s soft caress in the pool today, the way he smoothed the hair from my face like a baker carefully stretching a fragile pie crust.  The tender care with which he wrapped my body in the towel.  Then the second towel for my hair, rubbing it dry–telling me to run inside so I don’t catch cold.  My body remembers these things.  My mind opens doors one after the other, some locked, some ajar, to welcome his touch as it meets my memories. 

Body memories are a funny thing–the ones you long for the most can be those same ones that bring a near panic when they start to surface.  “You can have this now” my mother whispers to the five year old me through his touch.  “You can have this now”.

I say I don’t remember, but I do.  I do remember.  Her, her touch, her smell, her smile, her love.  It’s all deep inside me, in once locked rooms, now bending open.

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My mind is following my body and all I say is you know when something has left  you.

Just like I knew, at age 30, that I would not be having to worry about breast cancer in this lifetime.  That was a huge deal seeing that my mother was deceased of breast cancer at age 36.  Everyone around me worried.

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“I’m going to need to refer you to a surgeon” Dr. George spoke slowly and deliberately in to my answering machine that day.  But that day is the important part of that sentence.  I’d just gotten off the witness stand, testifying in the first of Cindy’s murder trials, that day.  On the lunch hour I checked in for messages and that’s what I heard.  A surgeon, something showed up in my mammogram.  My first mammogram ever.

Like a good little soldier I followed his advice, strangely though not feeling much of any fear.  I figured I have so many emotions on my plate right now, I’m just going through the motions on this one.  But that would be wrong.  I really had no fear on this.

I met with the surgeon, he showed me the “microcalcifications” in a “cluster”.  Explained why this was dangerous and had to come out.  I made the appointment for the biopsy, continued attending the trial with my family.  Maybe I was downplaying it thinking of my father, having lost his wife at age 35 to this horrible disease, sitting in the murder trial for his first born, now hearing this.  Yeah, we’ve been through a lot.

The week before the biopsy was to happen a very wise friend asked me a very wise, life changing wise, question.  “Does this biopsy really feel right in your body?  Like something you need?”.  I had never even considered that–what was right for me.

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I got very quiet and went inside and asked that question and the answer was a resounding “NO”.  I was 30 years old with the family history I had.  It wasn’t fear, it was a warning.  What it felt like was that the surgery would actually be potentially harmful in terms of stirring something up.

The next day, not telling anyone, I cancelled the biopsy explaining I’d like to just watch this.  I’d be willing to do mammograms every 6 months to stay on top of this but it was my very first mammogram and I felt it was premature.

The following week, after some pleading phone calls, I received letters from both my Gynecologist and Surgeon that they were firing me over this risky decision.  It was very clear they were afraid I was playing Russian Roulette giving my family history and they couldn’t support me.

So I went about finding someone who would.  And I did.

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I found a female Naturopath, Farra Swan, and explained my situation.  She talked with me for a long time then said “as long as you understand the risks, I will do this with you and we’ll watch it then take it further if we need”.  That’s all I needed. Someone to order the monitoring and she was willing.

I’ll never forget after two years of these every six month mammograms, the message she left on my machine:

“Kathy, before I send you this report, I’m just going to read this to you.  Since there has been no change in two years, this can be now ruled out as a suspicious lesion.  I think I even heard tears in her eyes.  She participated in a miracle, listening and supporting me.

I returned from my trip last week to this report-I had my routine mammogram the week before I left:

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Those microcalcifications are now gone.  They’ve been gone for twenty years actually. My body just reabsorbed them and they never returned.  I’ve been having clean mammograms for two decades.  I listened to my body and it cooperated.

As a post script, I later learned that Dr. George’s wife had recently lost her long battle with breast cancer at the time he fired me as his patient.  Of course he couldn’t tolerate my decision.  I can’t blame him.

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This is what I mean about trusting the body.  I knew I didn’t really have a problem there.  I knew stirring up that pot with a  surgery could create a problem and to leave it alone.  I knew I was going to be fine.  I have other hills to climb in this life but breast cancer isn’t one of them.  I think I’ve known that since I was very young actually.  We always know if we can dig deep enough.

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The types of therapies that honor and include or emphasize the body are the ones that work best for me for this reason.  I took to the Watsu like a mermaid to water, my therapist I see now is trained in Somatic Experiencing which is why I sought her out and found her three minutes from my house.  Imagine that.  Of course my own work is all about the body too.

So when I looked around my life at the men the other day and saw the reality of what I’m attracting NOW, I realized that era has ended.  It ended quietly and softly without some big last straw experience.  It just completed itself and I got rewarded with Sebastian, Steve, Rob, Sean, Jeff my crepe chef, Martin at the Ranch who insisted on a second cake and looked in to my eyes telling me how beautiful he sees me, Dr. Peace,  my brother, my Dad, any number of men that are floating all around me right now adoring me and showering me with their unique form of man-love.

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It wasn’t a “I’m going to make this happen” move on my part.  It wasn’t a culmination of affirmations or saying “I know what I’m worth!” (believe me, I’ve tried those things).  It was something more subtle, more organic, changing in my cells from just following my body and things that feel right, profound even.

Then I opened my eyes and looked around in to a new world.

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The whole package is on his way.  I can feel that too.  I’m in no rush.  I’m getting ready.

And he will be all of the above and more (and by more I mean great sex, ok?).  I mean, keepin it real!

In the meantime though, I’m happy as a clam, basking in all this radiance.

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Enjoying every minute.

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veterans day

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It feels kind of odd to say “Happy Veterans Day” as what I really what to say is “Thank you Veterans Day”.  I know much of what goes on with and around our Veterans is not “happy” so I want to keep it real.

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I do want to share some resources that are happening out there for our Veterans in the world of true healing and recovery.  Resources that involve nominal or zero financial investment on their part.  We want to help them for the help and service to the rest of us.  This is a very special population and one near to my heart.

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First, I treat returning Veterans for no charge out of my Tempe, Arizonaoffice through an organization I founded in 2011 called the In One Peace Project.

All Veterans I work with need to do is read one book called Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine to have a foundation in the work I practice and call me to schedule an appointment.  It’s pretty streamlined.  I have monthly dates on my website but can also be somewhat flexible.

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There is another organization called the Wave Academy.  This organization, created by Dave Towe, is very active with offering Watsu and aquatic healing to Veterans.  My friend Sebastian Skinner devotes much of his practice to this group.  They are also doing case studies and really taking all of this seriously and to another level of excellence.  Of course I’m personally drawn to Watsu so have my own agenda with promoting this for Veterans.  Having recovered from anxiety myself, I deeply appreciate the value of this healing art.

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My colleague John Ludwig has founded another Myofascial Release Network organizing other practitioners in offering MFR services to Veterans.  He’s getting it off the ground now and stay tuned as this continues snowballing.  His organization is called the Warrior Recovery Network.

I also ran in to this article this morning on the Wave Academy site which is a helpful read about PTSD, identifying it, etc.

Please share this resources with anyone you think could benefit. We’re really trying to spread the word..and the healing.

Now with the business out of the way, I’d like to share a poem by David Whyte called The Journey that came in to my mind upon waking this morning.  This speaks to me on many levels and it’s something I think our Veterans might respond to.

As I just went looking for that video again, I ran in to this one which is in it’s way even more applicable.  Take a listen please.  It’s just two minutes, trust me on this one.

Finally I want to share this song.  Taking this post full circle, to me, today is not a day to be perky and happy but today is a poignant often melancholy day.  But through melancholy can rise the greatest inspiration.  We get honed in the dark fires of our grief and pain sometimes.  Being real about this and not sugar coating anything is something I aspire to personally and with those I’m fortunate enough to work with.

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Again, please take in the soulfulness of Karrin Allyson.

I bow my head in respect toward all our Veterans, past and present.

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Thank you for your service.

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