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.


Thursday, July 08, 2021

God In My Body Writing

 She’s not exactly sure what’s causing the anxiety that hit a few weeks ago, but she finally has come up with one way she can deal with it.

Write. But not just any kind of writing.  She’s got to write very, very slowly reaching deep into her body for feelings and sensations, letting them bubble up in whatever form -- sketches and scribbles -- that they happen to appear on her journal pages. Like yesterday, when she found herself cupping her open palms on either side of her neck. Then she caressed her breasts by resting them in the inside crease of her elbows.



What emerged from this writing surprised her. She wrote as though she was being nursed by her mother.

In other journal entries, she writes about feelings in her belly, her arms and thighs and hands.

Mary says this body-centered writing is teaching Claudia to comfort herself. Which is a good thing, except sometimes the writing takes her to very strange places she isn’t expecting to go. Yesterday she wrote:


“Count breaths. Count veins and capillaries. Be happy. Feather your fingertips up and down your thighs. Let warmish blood swell and rise and wash into arms and fingertips. Smell the sweat in your armpits. Linger in lower blood pressure, let your legs go limp. Let your lips sag and feel yourself drooling.” 

One journal page was devoted to the words written in giant letters: “BE IN GOD.” The next page read: “BE NOW.” And “FEEL PRESENCE NOW.” The word GOD appears between the letters, as do the words ART and TOUCH!

Sometimes the writing gets too intense. That happened yesterday when she wrote: “Now gently rub your thighs and realize that GOD is inside you always touching your body.” And then: “Dear God, time is erasing and maybe I am disappearing too. How can I learn to stay in God forever?”

At that point, she needed a break. She closed her journal and got up from the meditation bench. She needed fresh air so she put on her white cotton summer bathrobe. She picked up Poco and carried her outside. Together she and the dog – God spelled backwards -- walked through the sunny yard, smelling the grass and the flowers and listening to the birds. 

When she came back into the house, she wrote one more page in her journal: “Don’t be SCARED, BE SACRED!” She made note of the fact that her initials, CR, sit right in the center of the word sacred. “CR BE SACRED!” she concluded.


All this writing makes her feel like she’s melting. She thinks about Leah so many months ago, walking around the yard in February in her pale blue bathrobe, tramping through the snow. Leah – who was frozen – has given way to Claudia, who is anything but frozen. She is spilling over every which way, melting with words, with sensations, and sometimes with tears. The anxiety can be so incredibly painful.

Claudia wrote to Peg a week ago and asked her, “Do you think God in My Body Writing is connected to the book, Angels Keep Whispering in My Ears?” Peg said she was pretty certain that there’s a connection.

It doesn’t hurt to explore that connection, Peg says. Claudia agrees. Her challenge, though, is to make sure that every time she gets scared she will flip the word into SACRED!


Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Letting My Body Steer My Writing is Helping Me to Heal!!!

Thunder roared through the meadow a few minutes ago. A drenching downpour followed. 
I don’t know if there is a connection but somehow 
SOMETHING WONDROUS JUST HAPPENED. 
I breathed in the cool, rain-drenched air. I stared at the 
blazing red BEEBALM


and the dazzling purple CONEFLOWER.


I breathed in again.  I decided to hold THAT breath
for four or five moments.
Then I breathed out. 
And with no warning, no preparation
Something rather monumental shifted inside me. 

I went to the handsome oak desk that used to be my Mom’s.
I sat down on the beautifully embroidered chair seat and I opened this laptop.


AND THEN I OPENED MY PURPLE DECOMPOSITION NOTEBOOK AND 
BEGAN TRANSCRIBING ALL KINDS OF CRAZY THINGS THAT I’VE WRITTEN INSIDE.

It was the entire month of June that I confined myself to journaling. I actually filled the whole damn purple journal and then spilled into a new one.
(My body can tell that I’ve been away from the computer.  KEY difference. That is, my fingers are actually having some trouble locating which keys are where. )



The computer. So much a part of my writing life. But it’s a cold and mechanical thing when you’re hurting as badly as I was last month. I spent weeks wracked with anxiety. I filled a journal with sentences like this one:

“Dear God, Dear Mary, I am pleading with you for relief from this pain. Please help me figure this stuff out because it’s killing me.”
At one point last month, I was suffering so badly and writing so much that I came up with what feels to me like a new kind of writing. At least it’s new to me. 


I’m calling it “GOD IN MY BODY WRITING.”  I’ll explain and then give you a sample.
OK, so you all know what freewriting is, right?
That’s when you just sit down and write anything at all that comes into your head but the rule is you just keep writing you don’t lift up your pen and you don’t stop.

Well so MY NEW WRITING is like that, except I’ve prescribed another rule:


THE GOAL IS TO WRITE DOWN IN PRECISE AND SOMETIMES GORY DETAIL EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON IN MY BREATHING ACHING SUFFERING EXHAUSTED BODY AS I AM WRITING.

Here is a bit of what I wrote on the Fourth of July. In a way, what I wrote was about finding A KIND OF INDEPENDENCE. I’m searching for a way to soothe and nurture myself.
Here goes:
9:17 a.m. “Flesh in my breasts, I’m a baby again only this time my mother bares her nipples and I have one hand on top of her silky white skin and the other I am patting her bulging shape. I begin. My tender lips latch onto the dark nub of her, she is nursing me that bluish white milk you can see through I am calmly drinking NO THINKING NO THINKING JUST THIS A WHISPER OF “I LOVE YOU you little precious girl!” And when you are two you will grow pipecurls with golden rings.” 

A little crazy wouldn’t you say? But the key thing is 

This
Writing
Is 
Working
To
HELP HEAL 
ME.
Writing is therapeutic. So many experts agree on that.
 For example CHECK OUT MY BLOG POST ON DR. JAMES PENNEBAKER’S WORK; he found that students who wrote in journals about what was bothering  three times a week ended up at the college health center far less often. 

I have a whole shelf load of books about writing and healing. 
Writing drains feelings out of my brain heart mind fingers gut breasts toes knees and makes me feel
Contained.
Supported.
NURTURED.

As I said, I am calling it GOD IN MY BODY WRITING and I think it’s part of the book that I thought was finished. This is the book I call “Angels Keep Whispering in My Ears.”
When I write in this new way – letting my body steer -- the words are full of sweat and mud and pink flesh and bluish white breast milk. 
I am enmeshed in the sensations that I am creating in my own words.


Of course, it isn’t just the writing that has helped me get to this point. I am extremely blessed to have an incredible therapist who has been with me every step of the way as I opened the door onto PTSD that I had never before explored. More on that extraordinary journey another time.

Meanwhile, I feel so much better than I have in weeks and weeks. I am grateful to Mary and the Universe for helping me reach this point in my healing.

Writing can save your soul. I’ve always known that, but not as much as I do now.
I’ll say it again. 


Writing can save your soul.

I like the sound of that sentence, It’s bold. It’s calm. It offers promise! 
The important thing is that I am starting to see how, once again, writing – ART – is helping me feel whole again.