Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Poem for a Grey Day

Oh the sky is so grey and wet today.

The grass is soggy and the tree bark, drenched as black as coal.

The pale yellow horse stands in the meadow, draped in a purple cape and that too is soaked.

There is no escaping the gloomy outdoors.



Moreover, there is no escaping the fact that 

I can't seem to find anything I want to do. 

I babbled on-line using my Italian instruction program for a while.

And I considered cleaning out my closet. Not yet.

When I think about painting, I hesitate.

I hate that hesitation. 



But there is this:

this poem, this laying one word down after another all the while reaching inside excavating around your heart that feels so heavy today to dig away, the same way you did yesterday when you were planting tulip bulbs. It was reassuring, that feeling of the wooden handle solid in both my hands and my foot on the metal shovel, digging down, lifting soil rocks roots and then 

dropping the sleek little tulip bulbs -- some with papery skins -- pointy side up into the holes. Then covering them up and crossing my fingers, hoping for flowers next April and May.

When the weather clears, I will plant more bulbs.

Meanwhile,  there is this: 

writing these lines has brought me to a calm place, where I can just sit here and face outdoors,

watch the horses graze and the birds diving back and forth in the sky.


I thank God for words. For their power to communicate from one mind to another.

For their power to soothe the aching soul, showing you that just sitting, just breathing 

is enough.

For their ability to transform a sad day, adding moments of peace 

that would otherwise have been missed.





Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Abandoned One Finds Herself in the Midst of a Healing Crisis

 It is the second week of October and the morning air is cool and soft and sunny as Claudia walks barefoot on the thick grass of the front yard. When the breeze comes up, she lifts her arms out to either side and she feels like she could lift off and fly up toward the heavens.

Claudia smiles. She fills the bright blue watering can and waters the new purple and orange and yellow coneflowers. She notes with sadness that the orange cosmos are gone, as is the beebalm, but there are still piles of bright pink and purple and red petunias everywhere. And lots of yellow chrysanthemums and beautiful orange and red lantana near her study.

Claudia -- who used to be the fictional character Leah -- is in her blue bathrobe this morning. She recalls all those mornings that winter of 2020 when she wore the robe out in the yard, when snow and ice were still piled in the yard. She recalls lying in the snow with and without her emerald green jacket.

She has been many places since those chapters. She has made progress, if there is such a thing, in healing herself. She has faced many truths about her own life, and the lives of her parents and her ancestors. She is happy about what she wrote.

There are still more stories of course. More lessons.  More healing. Especially now that she is facing the new health challenge. The one that scares her silly.

Part of this challenge, she realizes this morning, involves the story 

of

"La Abandonatha" --

The Abandoned One. Her great grandmother Domenica Rotondo. 

Mother to her grandfather Claude.

Domenica stayed behind in Italy while all six of her sons, including Claude, came to America in order to find a better life. Claude was only 16 when he left the village of San Giovanni di Paganica, in the Abruzzi region of Italy. It is a village surrounded by the white peaks of the Gran Sasso.

He never saw his mother again.

Only one of Domenica's children stayed behind. The only girl in the family, was named Giselda. Every Sunday afternoon, Giselda and her daughter Lauretta had to visit Domenica, who was always so sad.

They had to listen to her moan about the fact that all of her sons had abandoned her. That's how she earned the name La Abandonatha.

Mary points out that Domenica was playing into the stereotypes about women who spend their lives abandoning and sacrificing themselves because of men.

Every Sunday, Domenica’s daughter and granddaughter visited her, but instead of enjoying them, she chose to focus on her sons’ absence.

“She abandoned the life she had. She had people who loved her, but it was only ‘the boys, the boys, the boys” that mattered to her.

This is the way it’s always been for women, Mary says. And it’s part of what the feminist movement and the Me Too movement are trying to address. 

“Our culture teaches women to abandon themselves.  Women are taught to sacrifice themselves for their husbands and sons. They give themselves and their lives away. And then, when a woman in your great grandmother’s day lost her husband or didn’t marry, she had no man to rely on. Often a widow was forced to rely on relatives, and that was shameful.”

Sometimes, Claudias husband tells Claudia that she sounds just like La Abandonatha. Claudia moans and groans about the fact that two of her children live far away.

Claudia particularly felt like the Abandoned One last week when she visited Noah's new house.

It's a wonderful house but it's so far away, That was on her mind as he gave her the tour.

But after she flew home a day or two later, Claudia was OK. She was glad to be in her home on the meadow. She was glad to be with her dog, Poco.

Claudia has found peace with the idea that her children have their own lives. She's discovered that she can enjoy the life she shares with her beloved husband and her many friends and her two sisters who live about an hour away. 

And as Mary points out, unlike her great grandmother Domenica, she has email and texts and FaceTime and Zoom and Google Duro, all of which connect her directly to her children and grandchildren.

And so, the frozen feeling is gone. She is warm through and through.

When she feels despair, she stops wherever she is. She sinks into the NOW. She breathes slowly and deeply and she becomes aware of awareness. Sometimes she chants the vocalizations of each of the chakras, something her healer Denise taught her 20 odd years ago when she had the cancer. Sometimes she looks around at trees and birds and flowers and she says to herself, "here are miracles and I am so grateful for all of them." 

And when she needs an extra something to stay calm, she makes herself the tumeric and tension tamer tea and adds a spoonful of honey and takes it into the bedroom and does a Yoga nidra routine.

Or she goes into her studio and plays with paint, lathering it on canvases.

After a half hour or so, she is calm.

At those moments,

she wonders: is this what healing looks like? Is healing ever complete?

Claudia got an email from her dear friend Kathy Joy this morning. In it Kathy wrote: "I also hope you know, my friend, that you are enough. You. Are. Enough."

And for once, she feels

ENOUGH.

*********

Standing naked at the computer just before my shower,
I make a decision 
that I won't run away from the facts and the fear or the anxiety: 
I won’t resist the fact that I may have cancer in the lining of my uterus, and that I may need
a HYSTERECTOMY.
I don't want to be hysterical
I don't want to tell negative stories
but on that note my son just phoned and said to me,
"Mom, you've got to feel all your feelings, whatever they are. The important thing is to FEEL YOUR FEELINGS AND THEN LET THEM GO!"
So I will record my feelings here. And then let them go.
But first I will take a shower and let the warm warm sudsy water bathe my limbs my face my back my neck my knees and legs and toes.
********
So now, now the FEAR IS HERE. In my gut, it's as if someone is pulling on me with ropes. The feeling started when I was out walking Poco. I try easing the anxiety in my stomach with deep breathing: inhale slowly for five, hold for three, breathe out for eight. Do that over and over again. Don't hate the fear, don't run away, just let it be, walk with it, carry it slowly down the hall to the studio and sit in your meditation space. Let the fear stay in your face, but breathe it in and out as gently as you can. 
*********
Today dawned grey and pink. I woke up relaxed and determined to be positive. I kept smiling as I got out of bed. I was scheduled to speak with the nurse practitioner at 8:30 p.m. so I showered and washed my hair and put on a nice casual outfit (soft grey sweat pants and a matching jersey covered with gold stars.)
And when the zoom started, I smiled at her (Molly) and she asked me if I was feeling better than I had been when she first delivered the news to me last Thursday. "Yes," I said, "I realize that I weathered that other cancer situation I faced twenty years ago with a positive attitude and I aim to be positive no matter what happens."
She smiled and immediately reminded me that it wasn't clear that the cells observed in the pelvic ultrasound were cancerous. "We have to go in and take a look!"
I asked my questions and she did a thorough job answering them. Rich sat next to me on the sofa and he got his questions answered too. The nurse said we would get a call when the surgical procedure -- called a hysteroscopy-- was scheduled, maybe even today,
After I hung up, I went to my meditation space and sat quietly. And then it occurred to me to chant (or vocalize) the chakras, and so I did. I sang them out: /EEEEEEEE/ the crown and third eye; AAAAAAAA/the throat/; OOOOOOOOO the heart which rules all the other chakras; UUUUUUUUU (as in you), the solar plexus; AHHHHHHHHH/the lungs/; MMMMMMMM, the reproductive organs, and /SSSSSSSSSS/ the root chakra. 
I spent a long time chanting the MMMMMMMMM sound and pictured bright white light washing the cells of my uterus squeaky clean.
And so I will continue to chant and meditate and think about light circling my uterus.
And if the cells do turn out to be cancerous, I will have the hysterectomy!

And what has she realized this morning?
That there is energy in her uterus that needs to be cleared out.
That she has to let go of herself as a young mother
when she bore her three children.

They are now 37, 35 and 32. Adults flourishing in their lives.
Two own houses in Denver!
And when she visited there last week, she felt wistful
that she couldn't be closer to them.

But now she is realizing this:
That she is close to them forever in her heart.
And she is
NOT ABANDONATHA!!!!!!!'

She is a wife and mother and grandmother and sister and aunt and great aunt and friend and painter and writer and

that is
ENOUGH.




 

Saturday, October 02, 2021

The God of Each Moment

Milky autumn sunshine

makes the goldenrod

in the meadow glow.


Silvery green leaves

on the branches

above my head

flickering and waving

steadily.

Grey little birds going

branch to branch to branch.


All this dawns on me

when I finally calm down

enough to notice.

These days it isn't easy

to relax. I spend a lot of

time trying to slow my

breath down to a crawl.

Today, it took my husband

laying a gentle hand on

my back to begin my

melting.


Then the chanting helps

because it gets me closer

to the God of each moment.

All I can do is write here

a thank you poem grateful

that I finally settled into the

slow.

Words once again are melting

and elevating me all at once.

Today I will be as calm as I can be.

Just keep coming back to the now.



Tuesday, September 28, 2021

STUDY IN EGG YELLOW II

It was Wednesday, January 6th of this year and the U.S. Capitol was under siege. Thousands of right wing protesters were bashing their way into the Senate Office Building, leaving a wave of death and destruction in their wake. Terrified legislators went into hiding. The nation watched in horror while the pro-Trump hooligans had their way with the precious historic building that is our Capitol.

I found myself so traumatized by what I saw on TV, the videos were non-stop. Try as I might, I couldn't get the ugly images out of my mind.

The next morning I got up with a mission. I headed to my studio determined to soothe my eyes and my soul. I would paint, and that hopefully would ease my angst over the disgraceful - and deadly-- behavior of the rioters the day before.

I opened the cabinet in my studio and reached out for paints without even looking at what colors I was choosing. It turned out to be yellows and white. I smiled. Eggs. That felt soft and reassuring. Using my old credit cards (instead of a pallet knife), I started layering the paint on the canvas. I told someone later that it felt like I was layering thick frosting on the canvas. The paint had a buttery feel and it eased my soul to slide it around, making waves and lines and peaks and curlicues. Soon I was done. It had been fun, but I had no sense of whether it was a strong painting.

I got reactions soon enough. My dear poet friend Nancy Dunlop wrote to tell me how much she loved it; she saw galloping horses and other images in it. So inspired was she that she composed a mythic tale about the painting. Another friend, Renee Pettit, composed a clever journal entry.

Once again, art came to the rescue, comforting us as we struggled to make sense of the vicious mobs and their rampage through the Capitol. I called the painting "STUDY IN EGG  YELLOW I."

So now, I find myself in need of comfort once again. Recently I have been struggling with persistent anxiety. No matter that I do deep breathing, yoga, tapping, chanting and yoga nidra, I am often walking around with a nervous stomach.

The good news is that I have a new doctor and she is taking a fresh approach to the situation, revising my medication and encouraging me to start doing the things I love. Like paint.

So yesterday, I painted "STUDY IN EGG YELLOW II." I chose to do another painting in egg hues because I find the colors so soothing. So sunny and life-affirming. I also found out a couple of weeks ago that my earlier egg painting is one of my son Noah's very favorites. He just bought a house in Denver and while visiting here, he wanted to take it home with him.

I hesitated. No, I told him, you can't have it yet, I'm not ready to let go of that painting.

So now here is number II. 


When I go to Denver for a visit next week, I will bring Noah one of the egg paintings. I am so grateful for the comfort and inspiration that painting offer. And I'm grateful to my doctor for nudging me back into the studio!

Friday, September 03, 2021

Hurrah hurrah, celebrating the SYCK NO MORE tree

 


It's taken four days to begin to write the conclusion to my cancer scare story. 

It's Friday morning September 3rd and I am taking a morning walk. At some point I pass the majestic old sycamore tree up on Shun Toll Road. I say the name of the tree to myself: sycamore.

And that's when it hits me.

I say the name of the tree again in a new way:

SYCK NO MORE!

Now it starts. The flood of gratitude that my cancer test on Monday was CLEAN! After weeks of worrying,

I couldn't be more grateful. 

But the anxiety of the lead up to the test was absolutely tortuous for the whole family. My daughter Jocelyn, a nurse practitioner, told me at one point that rationally, she could decide that the test wasn't going to reveal any tumors. After all, the CAT scan of my chest that had been done in the hospital in July was clean (and my cancer 20 years ago was in my chest.) But the doctor insisted on a CAT scan of the full torso. 

And so like the rest of us in the family, she was a nervous wreck anticipating the scan. Anyone who is a cancer survivor or the loved one of a cancer survivor knows exactly what it feels like to anticipate a test. There is the dread that builds up to the day of the test. And then there's the torture of waiting for the results. In this case, we had four long days to bite our nails -- and pray.

OK so I'm going to have to PAUSE HERE RIGHT NOW, because writing this piece is raising my anxiety through the stratosphere. At moments like this I put on my headphones and listen to a very relaxing form of yoga known as Yoga Nidra. The words and the music combine to soothe the nerves.

I've been doing Yoga Nidra like crazy.

At this rate it may take me many days -- or weeks! -- to finish this post. But at least you know now, the results of the test were perfect! The doctor delivered the good news late last Monday afternoon and when he left us in the examining room, my husband broke down crying. I was flying sky high with  joy.

I plan to keep celebrating every chance I get!


Sunday, August 29, 2021

THE CHALLENGE: STAY POSITIVE!

Last month I told the story of doctors discovering that I have have blood clots in my lungs and legs. I vowed to tell it as a positive story, as I'm basically fine. So easily it could have ended up a tragically serious situation.

Well this week, I've had to face what feels like a bigger challenge: the hematologist I saw wants me to HAVE ANOTHER CAT SCAN. Even though the scan of my chest was clean, the doctor wants to make sure the entire torso is cancer free as well.


In a small number of cases, cancer can cause blood clots.

On Friday, I had to return to the hospital to get the scan. It took three nurses four tries to insert the IV (having had chemo 20 years ago wrecked my veins.)

I won't find out the results until I see the doctor on Monday.

I'm having a much harder time finding a positive story, because I have gotten scared. I have been feeling a lot of anxiety lately and the challenge is: how to keep myself from telling scary stories. Stories like,  I'm falling into the same kind of depression I suffered back in 2012.

Well today in meditation, I found the determination to stand up and ERASE ALL THE NEGATIVES! I AM DETERMINED TO TELL POSITIVE STORIES. I'm determined to turn SCARED thoughts into ones that are SACRED! Remember you only have to switch the C and the R to transform the word!

Story One: "I recovered from that depression several years ago (2014 or so), and I am not going back there ever again. I am working with mental health good professionals, which wasn't true in 2012."

Story Two: "I know how to keep connected to the SACRED, by staying PRESENT IN THE NOW!"

Story Three: "Staying in touch with the body and the breath keeps you in the now, and swivels you into the SACRED!"

Story Four: "I know how important it is to ACCEPT THINGS AS THEY ARE!!!"

Story Five: "I have learned that to stay in the NOW IT'S CRUCIAL TO STOP THINKING!"

Story Six: "I know how important it is to SURRENDER TO WHAT IS!!!!"

Story Seven: "I have a fabulous family who make me smiled with joy."



Story Eight: "I have a spritual therapist named Mary who has helped me discover enormous joy and power in my life!"

Story Nine: "Through daily meditation, I have learned how to turn around a glum morning feeling into something very special: a connection to the Divine!"

Story Ten: "I am strong and resilient and healthy and I will deal with whatever medical situation I have to face."

Story Eleven: "I have a loving daughter in the medical profession. She has been following my situation closely."

Story Twelve: "I have the love of so many friends who believe in me and my good health!" 

Story Thirteen: "I am so grateful for all of my blessings!"

I picked the SURRENDER AND RELEASE Angel card today:

"When you hold on tightly to a part of your life that's not working, it has no room to heal...However, if you're willing to open your hands and allow the situation to be freed, one of two situations will occer: Either it will be washed away from you and replaced by a better situation, or the situation will heal in a miraculous way. By drawing this card, the angels ask you to try not to control the outcome of your troubling situation. Let go, and let God help you!"




 

 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

ðŸŽĩ"MY GOD, THE SOUL/BREATH YOU HAVE GIVEN ME IS PURE!" even though I have blood clots in my lungs and both legs!

This morning,

SHABBAT SHALOM,

I RECITE THE ELOHAI N'SHEMAH.

And then

all I can say is

Thank YOU God.


All I can do is recommit myself to living each day being grateful.

First of all, for every breath. And then for so many many things.

A few nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with horrific chest pain. My husband drove me to the ER at our local hospital.

The EKG and blood work ruled out a heart attack.

But a CT scan of my chest showed that I have pulmonary embolisms, small blood clots in the periphery of my lungs. The lungs are kind of like a tree, branching out in smaller and smaller branches.

To say I was shocked is an understatement.

How could this happen to me? Clots happen to people who are too sedentary, or to folks who fly or travel by car for excessive periods of time.

I'm someone who does yoga every day and walks as long and as often as possible.

And then yesterday, another bombshell:

The CT scan the hospital did on my legs showed blood clots there too.

THANK YOU GOD FOR THIS OUTCOME, BECAUSE IT IS VERY VERY MILD CONSIDERING WHAT MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED.

....a blood clot in the brain, for example....

I was only in the hospital for about 14 hours.

But life overnight has changed.

I am determined to keep looking at this situation as a 

BLESSING. I AM SO SO GRATEFUL TO BE ALIVE!

I took one photo in the hospital:

A nurses aide was taking my blood pressure with a piece of blue equipment, and this is what was written on the side of the machine:

My mother DENA ROTONDO RICCI has provided guidance for this book

"ANGELS KEEP WHISPERING IN MY EARS"

since day one, March 21, 2020, another Shabbat, when she delivered me the first chapter,

"MOM AND THE MIRACLE OF THE ORCHIDS."

Now, here SHE IS in the hospital 


SHE IS HEAR ME MOM YOU ARE HERE WITH ME IN THE HOSPITAL AND TODAY EVERY MOMENT I BREATHE!

AND I AM SO SO GRATEFUL.

When I told Mary THIS AMAZING STORY yesterday morning, she laughed in delight (she named the book.)

"I love these coincidences...
(which I call miracles and Rich calls coinkydinkies). The UNIVERSE IS SO SPECTACULAR, CAPABLE OF CONNECTING WITH US THE HEART/SOUL LEVEL TO THOSE WHO LOVE US!"

And then she said:

"Take this as emotional support because it's amazing, it's amazing."

THANKYOU 


MOM

and 

THANKYOU 

GOD ðŸŽĩ🙏❤️ðŸĨ°

Haw(k) A screeching hawk just flew overhead as I sit in meditation. Is it a coincidence that I am sending my sister Holly — I call her HAW — the Jewish prayer that one recites every morning upon rising? No, it’s one of the daily miracles that happen all around us if we just listen closely:

ðŸŽĩ🙏❤️ðŸĨ°”My God, the soul/breath you have given me is pure. For You created it, you formed it and You made it live within me.” The Hebrew word for soul — N’shemah is the same word for breath!” enough Judaism lessons for one day. But it is Shabbat and on Shabbat you’re supposed to be peaceful and grateful and I am meditating on those a lot today.🙏❤️ðŸĨ°ðŸķ💜💓💙💝😍ðŸĪ—🎉ðŸŽĩ💕🌟📐🌚ðŸŠīðŸĨģ⭐️ Sent from my iPhone






Tuesday, July 13, 2021

HOW BEEBALM CALMS AND EXCITES ME

A few minutes ago when I didn’t know what else to do with myself

I stepped outside the back door and just stood in front of the billowing

beebalm,


as red as the plump raspberries that I had just popped into my mouth for breakfast.

Oh but the flowers were surely nutrition too:

with their bouncy spirit and shaggy petals

they look like tiny shafts of scarlet lightning exploding out of a towering stem.


What an excellent reminder to

STAY PRESENT

every moment today.


Flowers, says Eckert Tolle, are ready gateways to our spiritual life.

So fragile and fleeting, only lasting for a few brief days (oh but the beebalm stay for weeks!)

these docile blossoms remind us of the 

cosmic majesty of every living thing

that comes to BE and

disappears in no time at all.

Like all of nature, BEebalm call to us with their audacious PRESENCE!


At times like these, my head spins when I try to take in

the enormity of life forms that cover our mysterious planet.

I get the same kind of breathtaking headwhirl when I glance down at a butterfly landing on a flower.

And then too, my heart flutters when I stare at the hummers dancing and divebombing at the feeders.





Or gazing up  at the night sky at the stars. How do we wrap our

minds around the power and beauty and the wonder of Mother Nature and the Universe?

By closing our eyes and going inside ourselves to witness that very same STILLNESS that fills the world.


Back to the beebalm.


Thank you God for giving us these blossoms that are so jazzy and yet so calming too.

Thanks for kissing these shaggy flowers into existence and for all YOU do!

And especially, for letting Tuesday be another day of magic.