Tag Archives: loss

Defy Gravity with Caroline Myss

I just finished reading Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason  by Caroline Myss but I don’t think I will ever be finished with this book.

Myss is a long-time practitioner of intuitive healing who is, also, well-respected within the traditional medical community.

Myss is also an amazing writer with an extraordinary talent for taking sometimes difficult and obscure teachings on self-healing and translating them into concepts that are clear and concise.

That doesn’t sound like much lot but it is.  In fact, it’s a huge accomplishment because it makes these otherwise arcane approaches and methods readily available to anyone who has 20 minutes a day to read Defy Gravity!

Teresa of Avila, Muhammad, Buddha, and Saint John of the Cross are all woven into this tapestry of intuitive understanding and healing.  Myss doesn’t espouse one spiritual approach over another; she moves through them, finds common ground within them and expands their sometimes parochial meanings into universal truths

Myss may well have found the path that Joseph Campbell spoke of when he said religions in the 20th century would NOT be able to help anyone until all religions found a way to bring their myths into the modern world — the world in which you and I live, work and try to get along.

There was so much to learn and think about and play with while I was reading this book that it’s hard for me to choose what to share but here are some of my favorites:

Forgiveness is NOT releasing the aggressor nor is it telling them that what they did was okay and all is forgiven.  Forgiveness takes place inside where my disappointed, abused, angry ego confronts my soul and releases its hold.  The goal of forgiveness is shattering the myth that maintains that suffering is deserving of recognition, reward and/or righteous vengeance.  Understanding the essence of forgiveness is one of the most deeply healing and liberating gifts you can give yourself.

Working in harmony with the universe influences all life; dominating just one life destroys you.

See clearly. Recognize illusion. You can visit your wounds now and again (like we all do), but you can no longer, mentally or emotionally reside in that place, continually processing wounds that are decades old.

Keep your soul intact at all times.  Look for God or the Universe in the smallest details of your life.

Stay where you belong, in the present moment.

This one is mine – born in the crucible of my own search for joy and peace:

All of the stories of my life – the ones I tell myself, my friends, my loved ones – are ingrained but….when I drop them I can see the beautiful world all around me – right in front of me – in the present moment.  And I can, literally, breathe in joy and peace.

Buy the book; borrow it, read it and just feel yourself opening up to the universe and all the potential for wonder, love and joy that are already inside you!

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Filed under arm wresting, Book Reviews, Gifts, Healthcare, Inspiring People, Life & Death, Medical Writing, Religion, World Changing Ideas

The Death of a Friend-Rosella Clemmons Washington

I lost a friend on Monday.

Her name is Rosella Clemmons Washington.  A jazz singer, mother, wife, sister and friend and one of the most joyful people I have ever known.

The truth is, though, that I let her go 18 months ago.  I let my new job, my life, her life, our schedules, get in the way of seeing each other.  And now, I will not see her again until I die.  And I am so very sad that I was not a good friend.  I was a lapsed friend.

Sure, I called.  I left voice-mails.  I sent email and posted on her Facebook page. So, I can try to convince myself that I reached out, I tried.  But I didn’t persist.  I didn’t insist.  I did the polite thing — I didn’t want to intrude.  But somewhere, deep in my bones, I knew Rosella was dying.  And I should have just driven to her house, knocked on the door and fallen together with her into each others’ arms.

If I had, it wouldn’t have changed her outcome.  Rosella had breast cancer.  She beat it once but lost to it in the second round.  She fought.  Chemo and radiation every week.  Every day was long and longer.  She stopped singing, silencing a voice that was so rich, so full, so beautiful that I really believe she is in the heavenly choir, tuning up for her first performance right now.

We met at work 30 years ago.  For 15 of those years, we talked, laughed, celebrated our birthdays, cried, ate out, dined in at each other’s houses.  She was at my daughter’s wedding;  she sang Ave Maria from the balcony with no mike.  There wasn’t a dry  eye in the house.  I was at her wedding and the birth and death of her first child, her daughter, Debra Rose.  She was pregnant with her son the same year my daughter was pregnant with hers.

Cyndy and I were there when Mark Isaiah was born 2 months early  – touched his long, long fingers, nicknamed him ET and hugged the wonderful woman who was his Mom.  Rosella used to hand me Mark Isaiah as soon as I came into the house saying, “he will only stay still for you.”  When he was old enough to walk, little Mark would fling himself into my arms, running his still long, thin fingers through my hair, leaning in for hugs and laughing.

But once we moved to another county and Mark Isaiah started playing sports, Rosella and I had to work hard to find days that worked for both of us.  My schedule was more flexible so I wrapped around hers, going to her house, having lunch with Mama Rose, listening to Rosella brag about her now rapidly growing son, and watching her eyes glow when she looked at him.

But time and tide continued to pull us further apart.  I would go to a concert of hers and drop by to see her at her new home.  Sometimes she would drive out to our house and sit on the deck and give me her wisdom and counsel.  I was struggling at work, doing too much, being trivialized, feeling sorry for myself and not doing much more than complaining.

Rosella frequently opened these counseling sessions with her favorite line for her  stubborn Irish friend, “Does God have to hit you with a 2 x 4 to get you to see what’s right?”  Apparently, the answer was yes.  My sister, and we knew somewhere back in time we had been sisters, was always right, always there to offer advice or consolation and always, always laughing.

So, when I called to sing her Happy Birthday in October of 2012, I got voice mail.  I thought, okay, she’s busy.   But she didn’t call back.  When I called around the holidays to see if we could get together, I got voice mail again but I said I understood.  Holidays, family…but somewhere in the back of my head, a mall voice whispered, “What if…?”  I didn’t answer.  I emailed her instead.

When I called in February and said I wanted to come and see her, there was no reply.  When she finally did call back, she sounded so tired.  She told me she was battling cancer again.  I offered to take her to Philly for treatment but she had to go on weekdays and I was working.  I offered to come up on a Saturday, sit with her, hold her…but she said she was not fit for any company after chemo and radiation.  I told her I understood.  I told her I would do what she wanted me to do but wanted to help.

But she said her friends were helping with the transportation and her church was helping her at home.

I told her I loved her.  She said she loved me too.  And I never heard her voice again.

This morning, I sit here knowing that I should have shoved aside all my reservations, been impolite, driven up to her house and intruded.  Because I might, just once more, have seen, held and hugged this woman who I loved and still love with all my heart.

Rosella’s death has taught me not to wait, not to be concerned about societal restrictions, not to lose another friend without having the chance to say, just one more time, how precious they are to me and how very much I love having them in my life.

Good by Rosella.  I know God was glad to get you back home but I miss you, my sister.

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Filed under Death & Dying, Life & Death, Religion

Where’s The Book on Getting Old?

Growing old is a little like childbirth; everybody talks about it but no one prepares you for what it really means.

There is no book.  There is no one who can tell you what it will be like to watch the stars in your universe go out, one by one.  There is no one who can tell you what it’s like to survive mother, father, brother, sister.

You think about your own health and worry that this ache or that pain won’t get so bad you can’t handle it.You muse on death — yours mostly. What will it be like?  Will I be gracious?  Scared?  Bitchy?  But you don’t think about who will die and how you will live through it.

Chronology says it will be your grandparents first then your parents.   Intellectually, that can dull the prospect of their loss but still, it does not prepare you for their actual deaths.  Pain, sorrow and regret travel with you through the days of their illness, death and “final disposition.”  But, as the saying goes, they were old; it was expected.

What happens when chronology fails you?  When the unthinkable happens?  When one brother dies, slowly  and another one, suddenly?

A loss too big to contemplate and then it is a reality — debilitating — knocking me off my slats.  Both had brain tumors.  Mike died in two months; Bob died in 2 weeks.  I died a little with each one and losing them causes me pain every day.

How do you manage it when a loved one’s light flickers then goes out?  Drinking doesn’t help.  Overeating is not something that appeals to me and frankly, shopping has never been a way for me to deflect reality.  Reading helps and so do movies but the reality of losing both of my brothers, facing the loss of my sister and possibly surviving my husband, daughter, grandchildren sits dead center on my chest every minute of every hour of every day.  I want to shake it but don’t know how.

That’s the book that still needs writing.  Death and Dying for Dummies – any takers?

Happier days, before they left for darkling plains

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Filed under Life & Death