Tuesday, February 5, 2019

RIP sweet Missy Bear RIP

We set Missy's spirit free yesterday morning. Grief has come again. She is here to stay. My heart hurts so deeply. I miss you Missy Bear. I miss you. Travel safe ... I find comfort in knowing you are once again with your siblings Ahnung and Mister. Till we meet again, on the other side sweet girl.

Monday, January 28, 2019

My Missy Bear ,,,,

Missy - 2008
Missy Mister Ahnung 2011
Missy and Mister 2017

My beloved Missy (14.5 years old) is approaching the end. Her final walk. She is being watched over and guided by her siblings Ahnung and Mister who are ready to greet her. I am cherishing every moment I have with her. Thank you Missy (Ahnung and Mister) for letting me know it is time to prepare ... my heart hurts ... I find comfort in knowing Ahnung and Mister will be there to greet you when the time comes.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Happy Birthday Papa!

Today is my Papa's birthday. September 14th is a special day of the year for me. My Papa crossed over to the spirit world when I was 4 years old (Dec. 20, 1968). For so long it was a pain so deep, a void so deep I found every possible way to numb the pain ... to fill the hole and emptiness ... addictive behavior and avoidance became my survival strategies. Now, 50 years later, a life time of experiences that have been both incredibly painful and also incredibly beautiful and transformative, I am now at a very different place. I believe God/Creator called my Papa because it was his time. I believe he was needed elsewhere in the universe. It's not my place to question. There are many things in this life time I will not be able to make sense of ...

50 years ago my Papa's spirit left his body. What I imagine now is his spirit leaving in this most amazing and beautiful light .... this expansive veil of light that reaches out beyond the north star and galaxies that defy what my brain can even comprehend ... and his spirit sprinkles star dust all around me, and in me. I don't feel his presence at first. All I feel is emptiness. Yet he stays with me, watches over me, protects me ... I flail and I fumble. And at the age of 20 when I attempt to take my own life, he plucks me out of the water ...when by all logical and practical explanation, I should have died ... miraculously, someone, some being, some higher power pulled me out of the water after I had lost consciousness. I know it was my Papa. I imagine him saying to me, "it's not your time yet baby".

For many years, I called that moment 'my bottom'. It was an uphill climb through terrain that challenged me on so many levels. It was a journey that required facing my darkest shadows and wounds and scars I desperately wanted to forget and bury at the bottom of the ocean floor. This year, in just a couple weeks, I celebrate 30 years of sobriety ... 30 years since my last drink; 30 years since I made the choice to numb my pain with alcohol. Now I look back at that moment, as the moment of awakening as a caterpillar .... of shedding skin, of becoming a chrysalis, of resting and allowing the time needed for the various parts of myself to heal and to transform, and then when I was finally ready, to emerge and break through the protective case of the cocoon ... a butterfly. And this healing journey has been one of exploring different landscapes, both inner and outer; of stumbling, making mistakes, honoring the wounds and scars that have made me who I am today, celebrating reaching various summits of mountains I never imagined I could reach ... of listening to my Papa; of learning to still my mind and be with myself through meditation and a deeper connection to the spirit world. He was gracious and sent me a 4-legged beautiful being, my first dog, Splat, who is the reason I am now able to say, on October 1, 2018 I will be celebrating 30 years of sobriety. She saved my life. And then my Papa continued to send me more beautiful 4 legged beings ... Shadow, Shen, Mister, Missy, Legacy, Ahnung, Ishkode .... all have been, and continue to be, essential in my healing.

Miigwech Papa. Miigwech for watching over me. I celebrate You today. I celebrate your birthday. I celebrate and feel and embrace the veil of star dust you sprinkled over me when I was 4 years old.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Mister appears in my dream ...

The pups (Missy, Ishka, Legacy) woke me up at 4 this morning. I let them out and decided to go back to sleep. It's Sunday after all.

I have completed my morning practice of meditation, centering and journaling. I have written in detail as much as I remember of my dream that is still so vivid, so real ... I was touching and holding Mister in my dream who appeared in what I call Act III of my dream. I was in the midst of holding and touching Mister when Ishka woke me up at 5:45 with her 'talking' :).

The past couple weeks have been incredibly full and busy for me. There have been changes for me in my work life .. a new leader of our group and a renewed fire and passion as I realize the possibility of bringing together my work life and all I do in my 'free' time, my volunteer time and my work with non-profits, social justice, indigenous communities, animal welfare and the intersection of humans and animals, somatics and my coaching practice  ... as the demands on my time have increased I have had to very intentionally create space to continue my practices and care of myself ....  working from home, it would be easy to get consumed with work ... but I have the gift of my pups (Missy, Legacy and Ishka) reminding me to take a break from work and go for a walk. It is a precious gift. My commitment to my daily morning practices of meditation, centering and journaling regardless of how busy life gets and the demands placed on me, allow me to notice subtle changes in my being ... and then I have the gift of practicing taiko, learning fue (japanese flute) and playing the piano to get me outside of my head and to immerse myself in awe and beauty and sensations, in the same way my pups invite me to get out of my head ...

So the dream early this morning was an incredible gift to me ... messages sprinkled in the scenes/acts of my dream ... a connection with the spirit world ...i will share pieces of it as there is so much I remember and feel ... too much for a blog post ...

Act I: 

I am in the lower level of the house. In the bedroom. There are others in the room I sense but the strongest presence I feel and also see is a young white male. We jump to another scene intermittently. A room of indigenous and POCs, mostly women. A community gathering. Wanting to organize at a community level to create change for their community. I have been invited to join the community gathering. Shift back to the bedroom. Those in the room are concerned about me taking on too much. I need to say 'no' to this request to join the community gathering. I am representing an organization, a non-profit, and I am taking on too much so i need to say no. In my dream, my gut says no. This is important. I want to be a part of this community gathering, as myself, not as a part of some organization. This young white male is strongly encouraging me to say no .. he says it in a kind, caring way. Then a young woman of color enters the room. She is wearing a headscarf. She is there to understand all I am doing and to help me find balance. She is there to listen and learn. She invites me to join her.

Act II:

I walk from the bedroom and am now standing over a sink of what looks like the home we had in Missouri. I feel the presence of my mother in the house. I had been wearing my mouth guard while I was in the bedroom. I wasn't even aware I had had my mouth guard on. I remove my mouth guard at the sink and rinse it out. Wow ... I notice how different it feels. The young woman with a headscarf invites me to follow her.

Act III:

We are outside standing by this small body of water. The setup is similar to a polar bear exhibit at a zoo. Big rocks along the side with a body of water .. in this case it is not confined or caged. Ishka is with me in the dream. She doesn't like to swim so she is exploring the large rocks on the other side while this young woman of color asks me questions wanting to understand more about all I am doing in my life ... as I share the intersections and themes become very clear ... connecting communities, building bridges .. and she asks me about my practices, my support system ... and as I am sharing about how I my practices, my connections I notice two hound mix dogs swimming underwater towards us. Bliss. Joy. Where did they come from? I realize this small body of water is connected to something much larger. Then I see a large black dog swimming ... a black pyranees type dog .. his big head above the water and he swims towards us. The next to him is another black dog .. a flat-coated retriever type mix who looks just like Mister. I stop talking to this young woman ... my eyes fixated now on this dog that looks just like Mister.  "It can't be!! Is this real? Is this Mister. No, he's dead". This black dog continues to swim towards us and the edge. He jumps out of the water. He comes towards me ... wet black dog filled with so much joy. He is wearing a collar. As he gets closer to me I see a green looney tunes tag .. the names "Legacy" and "Mister" are on it ... then the name Shadow also appears (note: Shadow was a black dog I had who crossed over into the spirit world in 2007 .. Mister joined our family shortly after Shadow died). In my dream I am like this can't be real. Am I really seeing Mister. I am holding him, touching him. I asked the young woman who is with me, "can you see him too?" I ask her to read the name on the tag. I want her to confirm for me that this is real, and that this really is Mister, that I am not imagining it. She nods and confirms, this is real. And in the distance on the rocks where Ishka had been exploring, it is now the energy of Ahnung (who also didn't like to swim). I am holding Mister and just feeling him. I feel his heart beat ... and in the background I see other dogs swimming; the joy . the bliss. 

Then I wake up to Ishka talking.

The messages from this dream are powerful. They leave with me many questions/ponderings I sit with ...

- the importance of listening to my gut, my intuition ... of work in social justice and how privilege can be disguised in the best of intentions
- of how our voice can be stifled, and we aren't even aware of it
- of my role and work in social justice
- of the bridge with the spirit world .. the messages, the signs ...

I cherish the gift of experiencing the place where those of us in the spirit world and those of us still here on earth can come together. I commit to allowing the wisdom and messages from the spirit world to emerge ... and the space and the time, to come to life.

Miigwech Mister ... miigwech Ahnung .... miigwech Shadow ...

and miigwech to all my teachers, 2-legged and 4-legged ...

and Mister, thank you for letting me know you are happy and you are with us.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The beat goes on ... the story of my drum

I got an update from Steve of MN Taiko, maker of my taiko drum:

"The start of your drum story:

The barrel was from the T.W. Boswell Cooperage. They have locations in Napa California and in France. Your barrel came from the French cooperage. I am not sure what winery in the US imported the barrel. I buy them from a local guy who buys used barrels by the truckload. The pictures show the top of the barrel with the cooperage identification. It is from the Cote D' Or Appellation series which means it is certified French oak. I take the hoops off and recut all the staves to make a smaller barrel. One of the pictures shows the newly cut down barrel sitting beside a full size barrel. I have glued all the staves together and am waiting for the glue to cure before I begin sanding the drum. That should happen next week ..."

Steve is right .... this is the start of my drum story ... the changing of an old narrative and story that has previously come with tremendous pain and grief ... the memories of Christmas 1968 in St. Louis, Missouri at Barnes Hospital ... I was 4 years old and spending my days at the hospital with my Papa and remembering the song, Little Drummers Boy playing over and over again ....


I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum


Shall I play for you
Pa rum pum pum pum


I played my drum for him
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for him
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum
Then he smiled at me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum


Papa, I play my drum for you.
I play my drum for the 4 year old you have watched over ..

I play because the beat of the taiko drum is the beat of my heart, your heart, our hearts. Alive. Forever connected ....

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Piano ... memories .....

At the age of 6 my mother signed me (and my siblings) up for piano lessons. I remember our British piano teacher very well ... Mrs. Pines. If I didn't practice she would smack my hand and in her British accent, state firmly, 'rubbish!' ... my childhood was consumed with school, swimming training, practicing piano, and studying .. I don't remember playing much ... I continued to play the piano ... scales, appregios, and playing in recitals ... my mother told me one day she hoped I would be a concert pianist one day ... as a young kid I'm not sure if I played the piano because it made my mother happy or because I wanted to; I got a full scholarship in my first year of college, a presidential scholarship to study with Ruth Slencynzka, a concert pianist in resident at SIU - Edwardsville; she was preparing me for Juillard ... 7 days a week I would practice the piano 7-8 hours day; i was 17 years old, a freshman in college ... i didn't know what I wanted; I hated performing in public and to be honest, I think the stress of adjusting to the U.S., of assimilating into white America, of so much unraveling for a teenager in a world so foreign to her made me up and quit after a year ... I transferred to Washington University where my sister was and majored in Psychology; yup, probably to try to make sense of what was going on with me ... i never really played the piano since 1981 ... my mother bought and upright Steinway which I always loved and would occasionally play it. For the past 10+ years this beautiful piano has been 'living' with my sister in Michigan. My sister asked me not too long ago if I wanted the piano. I immediately said YES!!! Something has been calling me back to music .... yes, even to classical piano .... to the Beethoven sonatas, Bach preludes, scales, appreggios, Chopin waltzes and etudes. 

Tomorrow this beautiful Steinway is getting picked up at my sister' home and will be making its way to Minnesota. In 3-4 weeks it will arrive in its new home in Bloomington, MN. I asked my sister to snap some photos for me tonight, and the pile of books she is stashing in the piano bench. Memories are coming to life ... sweet memories actually ... and with the Steinway upright I will also have my mother's spirit in our home. It's been decades since I have really played. I am no concert pianist but I will play for my Mama and my Papa ... and then when my taiko drum arrives, I will throw some drumming in for them too :) ... i also pulled my classical guitar out of the closet, got it tuned and have been practicing every day ... some day i hope to learn some flamenco guitar and who knows I could have an entire concert for Mama and Papa ....

Friday, June 8, 2018

Our life's journey ... Do we choose our paths?

Over the past few days I have found myself remembering childhood memories that have been tucked away somewhere in my brain .... a childhood friend from Thailand recently shared a photo from my swimming days as a young kid. That photo opened up memories for me that had been laying dormant .... I started swimming when I was 6 years old. My mother signed us up for swimming lessons. I remember feeling fearful of the water, this BIG pool (it was an Olympic size swimming pool, and to a 6 year old that was terrifying). We were given foam kick boards to hang onto and I remember hanging onto the side of the swimming pool with my kick board. We were asked to hold onto the kick board and flutter kick the width of the swimming pool. I remember seeing everyone else take off, splashing and kicking ... flutter kicks. How were they not terrified?

Then somehow I just took off. Maybe I didn't want to be the only one left on the one side of the swimming pool. Uncovering childhood memories for me is like my dream world ... patchy, and often no sense of time or even space. Images pop up. Felt sensations. Non-sequential. No logic.

A walk down memory lane is not a straight path on paved roads ... it's like a hike through the forest ... sometimes it begins with trails, and then we venture off the marked trails .... and though I might feel like I don't know where the unmarked path leads, I often get this sense of familiarity, of having been here before, of having experienced this sensation before, or heard this sounds, or noticed this scent.

This morning I found myself reflecting on my life's journey. As decades pass I realize more and more how much I don't really have control over the paths I take .... okay, maybe a little. I think I realize I can strive for something ... have a north star that guides me, if you will ... my Ahnung ... yet trust and allow myself to rest in the uncertainty and the unknowing and to allow myself to simply experience life and to be curious. Life for me is holding a vision while at the same time, not holding; it's about holding and letting go at the same time; about embracing endings and death so I can live fully; it's about seeing without sight; about hearing without sound; about touching without physical contact; it's about communicating without sound.

My Papa knew I needed a 4-legged furry being to help me heal ... he has sent me many, many beautiful 4-legged beings ... Splat, Shen, Shadow, Mister, Missy, Ahnung, Legacy, Ishkode .... they continue to guide and teach me, some from the spirit world, and some still here with me on this Earth.  The other day, I went for a hike with my Ishkode (means 'fire' in ojibwe) along the same trails I used to walk with my beloved Ahnung in her final months with me on earth .... I have walked pass this bench many, many times and for some reason, never read the inscription on the bench. The other day, somehow, my Ishka tugged on the leash and led me to the bench. I smiled when I read the words, 'Hello Beautiful" ..... yes, Ishka, you are beautiful, and you (and your siblings) are my best medicine, my guide/teacher, my reminder to live fully, to play, to explore and be curious .... thank you for helping me to notice paths I may not otherwise notice ...

May we open up to teachers and guides in many different forms ...