Sunday, June 26, 2022

Lessons from a cardinal family

For the second time this year I have been blessed to have a cardinal mama choose to nest once again in the nest she built last summer … in a tree right outside my kitchen window. For whatever reason I have watched this miracle from a distance … appreciating and admiring but somehow not getting so pulled in. This second go around this year, it was very different. A week ago today on Father’s Day I saw the baby mouths wide open as mama cardinal fed them. She had been sitting on the eggs for almost 2 weeks … diligently watching over her eggs and keeping them warm. A week ago today, I also had a lot of emotions emerge in me as I opened up Papa’s briefcase that had been sitting in the corner of one of my closets for I don’t even know how many years. I am not sure what made me decide to go through his brief case this year. Needless to say, a lot emerged especially around my mother, Mama. I got a deeper glimpse into what mattered to her; how much I mattered to her and also despite all the challenges we had and the conflict (both of us struggling silently in our own pain and grief) that she loved me so deeply.

And so I have been watching Mama cardinal caring for her babies so fiercely and through her actions I found I felt the energy and presence of both Mama and Papa and my younger self in the journey of this cardinal family … gifted with the opportunity to witness close up the unfolding of the first 7 days of the 2 baby cardinals. And then last Tuesday we experienced extreme heat in Minnesota and there was a period where I was not sure if the baby cardinals were going to make it, and I experienced a tender and conflicted cross road in my mind and my heart … to intervene or to not intervene. Mama and Papa were still periodically returning so I chose to trust they knew best and did what I could to support Mama and Papa with supplying fresh water nearby, and strategically placing hand towels in the tree to block the sun that was pounding down on the baby cardinals. For the past week I have been so emotionally invested in this beautiful family and watching closeup their actions … and the feathers of these babies beginning to fill up …. 

Yesterday was day 7. When I woke up yesterday morning one of the fledglings had already left the nest. Only one was left. I witnessed up close as he was nudged and encouraged by Papa and Mama to begin flying … flapping his tiny wings and moving up branches in the tree. When he got tired and stopped Papa flew up to him as to encourage him, and then he flew off as if to show, this is how you do it ….. 

The nest is now empty and yesterday afternoon and evening I felt an emptiness … sadness and grief as I have had their presence for a week and have been so emotionally invested in them. I also felt joy that they survived and they are now venturing off into the world, being taught by their Papa and Mama to fly, and soon will be able to forage and feed themselves. 

The witnessing of this cardinal family has reached me in a deep way for some reason …. There are ties to emotions around my Papa and Mama … grief … survival …. And what cardinals have symbolized for me as a male cardinal appeared to me after Ahnung’s passing on August 25, 2013. Cardinals have continued to visit after Ahnung’s passing … I see them when I am journaling in my writing room that looks out to the backyard. Most of the times I have either a male cardinal visiting or a female cardinal .. sometimes they appear as a pair. There has been a male cardinal that visits very often and often perches on the wooden fence outside the window of my writing room. He just sits there and we look at each other. I feel Ahnung and my Papa’s energy so strongly in those moments. 

This morning I saw Papa and Mama flying in and out of a mulberry tree at the far end of my yard. I am grateful to know they have found refuge in the tree not too far from my home … I can’t see them up close anymore but simply knowing they are there .. that the fledglings are learning to fly in a tree that is also nourishing them from the fruit their parents bring to them … that they will soon to be taking longer flights and foraging for themselves. Today, I am grateful to feel their energy, their curiosity, their playfulness ….

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Papa has been teaching me every since he left this world

 As a 4 year old witnessing the death of her Papa ... December 20, 1968 at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis as the rush of doctors and machines came flying into Papa's room ... Mama's hysterical screams ... Little Drummer Boy playing over the hospital intercom ... a kind nurse grabbing my hand and guiding me out of the room.

The 4 year old didn't understand what was going on. That day when he left he created a hole so deep in my mother that also reached deep into my being. Decades later and not long before Mama was reunited with the love of her life, she said to me, "I am ready to go be with your Papa". Pain has ways of manifesting in us in many ways. And in an effort to survive we find ways to cope by numbing the pain. One way for me was with competitive sports (and that was deemed socially acceptable) ... and then when my life was uprooted and I no longer had the crutch of competitive sports to distract and numb the pain that was below the surface I reached for alcohol ... meanwhile, all this while now, I know Papa was with me, trying to reach me. The little girl looked for love anywhere she could find it. And she found it in a trusted family friend. It has been a lifelong journey for me of healing and learning to forgive that little girl, and even my abuser ... of learning secrets will destroy me; not everyone will hurt me; that yes, it is okay to trust, and to love again.

Today, on Father's Day I took my morning walk with Legacy. My morning reflections centered around Papa. I realize Papa has been with me since the day he left this world. Do I wish I could have had him with me in this life time, guiding me, teaching me, protecting me, holding me, carrying me ... absolutely ... yet I now know and appreciate he has taught me the art of listening in such a deep way, first to myself, and to realize the veil between this world and other worlds is very thin and that we do not exist in just one form ... his energy and his spirit is with me and he has sent me guides and angels .... almost 34 years ago, I attempted to take my own life - it was a planned attempt that doctors told me I am "lucky" to have survived. I can't explain and I can't remember in my conscious mind, how I got out of the water. Who lifted me out of the water? Some say it was my sub-conscious will to live. I know in my heart, it was Papa. I have this vivid memory and image of one of the darkest moments in my life where I didn't see any other way to escape the pain other than to take my own life, so do I understand what a pain so deep feels like when I hear of teenagers attempting and committing suicide? Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I do.

I listened to the On Being episode where Krista Tippett replays a conversation with writer and poet, Ocean Vuong and at the end of the episode she shares an essay Ocean wrote, "the weight of our living: our hope, fire escapes and visible desperation" - a piece he wrote shortly after his uncle, just 3 years older than himself, committed suicide ... a piece that came about as he walking New York City and noticing the fire escapes .... "all that richness and drama sealed away in a fortress whose walls echoed with communication of elemental and exquisite language ... and yet only the fire escape, a clinging extremity, inanimate and often rusting, spoke - in its hardened exiled silence with the most visible human honesty: we are capable of disaster. And we are scared" And Ocean goes on talk about how many aren't able to communicate we are hurt. I think about the time I was hurting so deeply. I tried to communicate ... but not in direct and explicit words as I didn't have the words ... and so I ask, what if we all learned to listen more deeply to the many ways others communicate a desperate pain, and what if we were then able to extend our hand, knowing that the apartment is in flames on the inside and invite the person to simply step outside into the fire escape and to offer them refuge until the raging fires passes?

This morning, I find myself reflecting on the gift Papa gave me ... a deep connection to spirit and learning to listen to beings in all forms and from all dimensions ... he has picked me up and carried me to safety; he has brought my first dog Splat to me which is what I needed to get myself sober; he led me to Red Lake nation and to Ahnung to continue the work of healing around the sexual abuse and to release myself from a secret I had kept for decades ... and to all the work I have been doing with animals and people in indigenous communities ...

And these past few days he sends clear messages to me of his presence through a magical encounter Ishka and I had with a doe who followed us along our morning hike ... gazing very intently into our eyes and as much as I would say to the doe, go back into the woods, she followed us and came all the way up to us and even brushed up against Ishka in playful, 'come on. chase me'! And this morning the 2nd cardinals nest I have been watching outside my kitchen window .... the baby cardinals hatched this morning and papa cardinal has been around a lot feeding the hatchlings. Shortly after Ahnung transitioned a male cardinal appeared outside my writing room and stayed for quite some time. I could feel Ahnung. Cardinals have since been my connection to Ahnung .... and Ahnung is my connection to Papa. So today, full circle .... clear messages Papa is with me and so are all the beings he has sent my way to watch over me. I am writing in my room that looks out to the back yard I hadn't changed the months for my Ricardo Levin Morales calendar since March ... not sure why ... this morning decided to change the month to June and the art on the calendar for June is a piece title 'Our Calling -A joyous, fabulous figure resembling a tree with deep roots throws their arms into the sky.  Leaves fly all around in the form of doves and glittery stars.' Seeing the art, I once again felt Ahnung and Papa's energy.

Papa ... thank you for teaching me to speak your language; for giving me the gift of learning to listen to the wisdom of beings in all forms, and from all dimensions and times; for sending me the most amazing and beautiful guides and teachers and beings ... for showing me the beauty of shadows and light and how to embrace both fully 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sacred Mornings and ramblings

I have been morning hikes are as essential to me as air ... they ground me, they invite me to explore, get curious, listen, notice, Be ... i soak in the sunrise into my body and I breathe in the universal energy and life force. The past few mornings I have been noticing the shadows and I have been reflecting on shadows and light.

Light rays travel in a straight line at nearly 300,000 kilometers per second, and sunlight travels toward the earth in just over 8 minutes. It boggles my mind when I think about how massive our universe is ... beyond my comprehension ... the closest the earth gets to the sun is 91 million miles. It amazes me that light only takes a little over 8 minutes to travel around 91 million miles to reach earth. 

The magnificence of our universe. I am in awe simply thinking about our earth ... so many places in this world I have not been .. then there are mountains, canyons, oceans ... and all the places we have not even seen. A large part of me hopes that humankind doesn't find ways to reach places in our world and in our universe so they are left untouched. 

And in the mornings as I see my shadow, or my pups Migizi's shadow as the sun is rising I have been reflecting on shadows. We see shadows when light can't get through opaque objects. Shadows only happen when there is a light source. 

Shadows are the both the absence and presence of light. For every shadow or darkness in my life I remind myself that there is a light source. In order for me to embrace the light source I must also embrace the shadows. 


Sunday, July 4, 2021

Feeling the presence and spirit of Mama

 I have been feeling the spirit and the presence of my mother (Mama) a lot lately. About a month ago I began experiencing severe symptoms of neuropathy in my left arm/hand. An event (a interaction with a dear friend of mine) triggered an intense emotional response and my body began experiencing a pain so intense I was unable to sleep. My forearm and hands felt like they were on fire. My hand and fingers were tingly and pretty numb; there was a shooting pain like a lighting volt that would shoot through my arm. Nothing I did; no adjustment of position; no movement or walking; no stillness  ... nothing eased the pain and all I could do was take deep breaths and pray. As a recovering alcoholic I have no pain meds of any kind in my home. I have believed when my body is in pain she is trying to tell me something; to communicate with me, and by taking drugs or pain killers I am shutting down what my body is trying to tell me. But that night, and the next few nights, I was in so much pain I found myself saying what I remember Mama saying when the drugs (gabapentin) she was on did not ease the

numbness, tingling and pain. She would say, why don't they just chop my arms and legs off! I used to think she was being a little dramatic and I realized I never truly understood the pain she was experiencing. That first night I found myself saying and wishing to just have my left arm chopped off to stop the pain. I took some over the counter pain meds and instead of it easing any pain it made my stomach also feel like it was on fire. I began researching and exploring options .. yup, Dr. Google. I had experienced the years ...decades ... of Mama experiencing the pain of neuropathy and seeing so many doctors, being prescribed meds and being told there was really nothing they could do ... i witnessed quite frankly how western medicine and doctors did not see my mother as whole person and wanted to just treat the symptoms. I also understand how when there is such intense pain you want the pain to just stop, or even ease. I have also come to learn and to believe in the amazing healing power and wisdom of our own bodies. 

So the first few days of intense pain was an LOUD sign to me that something was way off balance. I had slipped in my nutrition and eating chocolate, lots of carbs, gluten .. even processed foods. I knew this already, however. reading again the importance of nutrition in the healing of our bodies and lowering inflammation so I made a decision to remove the following from my diet: processed sugar, gluten, chocolate, dairy .... i used to treat myself to a matcha green tea coconut milk latte every morning and as delicious as it was I knew I had to give it up; i also gave up chocolate. I only drink water now (green or jasmine tea in the morning, plain), eat only fresh foods (lots of spinach, broccoli, shitake mushrooms, ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, salmon, chicken). I started taking a supplement i learned about called Nerve Renew about 3 weeks ago and 2 weeks ago began adding to my daily practices qigong with a renewed commitment and determination and belief in the ability of my body to heal itself and that healing of my being is made up of my body, my heart, my spirit/soul, and my mind. And all are connected. This Friday i see an acupuncturist to add to my surrounding support of holistic care and my commitment to well-being of mind, body, spirit, heart and community with intentionality.

The pain has reduced significantly. I still feel tingly and numbness but at a much lower level. I rarely feel the burning and the lightning bolts. I believe Mama is with me in my healing, guiding me, letting me know I am ready to heal some hurt parts of my childhood; letting me know and connect with her in a way we weren't able to when Mama was still around in physical form. I feel Mama's love; i feel her heart; i feel the joy now in her heart as she is with Papa; the little girl feels Mama (and Papa). I felt Mama's energy in my morning qigong practice .. and it was as her energy and the light entered my heart and filled up my being .. and then in my morning practice I am guided to direct the energy to places in my body that need extra care so I guided Mama's energy to my left arm and hand and then together visualized any blockages and excess energy turning to smoke, and then I felt Mama take the smoke and push the blockages and excess energy to the edges of the universe. Mama wants me to know she is with me. That I don't have to hold onto any emotional pain as she did; that I am ready to face into them and release all that no longer serves me from my body; that I am not alone ... that I have Mama, Papa, Ahnung, and so many more spirits ... she says I have quite the community of spirit guides and helpers in all forms. 

Thank you Mama (and Papa .. and Ahnung) for continuing to watch over me ... for guiding me ... for teaching me .. and for sending so many amazing spirits and guides for the time I am here on earth ... 

And to my dear friend who opened up the portal to another level of healing for me ... it was hard, it was painful and wow, am i ever so grateful now for the experience that led me to realize there is pathway for me to heal some old wounds on a much deeper level if I am able to muster up enough boldness and support ... and you my dear friend, I believe, have been sent to me by my Mama and Papa, and I am truly, truly grateful for you 💗

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Early morning hikes and why they matter

 It's been a while now - i actually don't remember how many years ago I made a commitment to walk every morning, no matter what the weather. And living here in Minnesota there are many months where temps are quite chilly, to put it mildly ... but my morning hikes aren't just walks; they aren't just about exercise. They return me to center; they ground me; they connect me with the spirit world, the natural world, and my inner world; they essentially reboot me ... and no matter what has transpired the day before or the night prior, I know that the sun sets every 24 hours, and the sun rises .. and when the sun rises I will be there to welcome her as she emerges above the horizon. I offer asema (tobacco) at the water every morning and i offer prayers of gratitude ... ever since my diagnosis of left ventricular non compaction in 2011 I have not taken my life for granted. I am grateful now for a diagnosis that made me face my immortality in an abrupt and jolting manner - and as a result, taught me how to live. Every day is a gift. I offer thanks for the gift of another day before i fall asleep at night ... and i offer thanks for the gift of another day each morning on my hikes. Amazingly, the last visit i had with my cardiologist earlier this year, he said to me, keep doing what you are doing ... I don't want to see you back for another 2 years, at which point, I asked, can we make it 3 years? He smiled and said, 'yes'. I truly believe our bodies (mind, body, heart) and the energy within and around us have the wisdom to heal ourselves. We simply need to activate the wisdom with us, individually and collectively ... and we need to listen .... truly listen ... not in ways we are accustomed to .... there are messages all around us ... we need to expand the view of where messages may arrive to us. When our gut and intuition is trying to speak to us ... we need to listen.

My morning hikes allow me to drop into my body - to notice the sensations in my body; to feel my body and where there is tension, softening, restriction. In addition to dropping into my body, I sense and feel the energy around me. I am in awe every morning with the beautiful patterns of the clouds and I often turn my body in a full 360 to soak in the unique and shifting patterns of the clouds and how the skies can look so different and yet connected. The sky and the clouds are a 3D panoramic and ever evolving canvas. And then I notice the wildflowers and the weeds ... the color, how they sway with the wind, and how they reach towards the sun. In nature I feel the aliveness in me and I acknowledge we are all connected - we are all related. Some mornings I am gifted with the presence of coyote, other mornings ... eagle, owls, turtles, hawks ... and each morning deer and so many birds .. and their songs, and their joy. Every morning my body and my being, that sometimes gets depleted from the worries, stress and busyness of life from the previous day, .... my being is filled up again with joy, awe, aliveness, energy, gratitude.

My morning hikes ... they matter for my heart, my body, my soul, my spirit, my mind. They are as essential to me now as the air I breathe. They remind me of my humanness; they remind me of my connection to all; they remind me of the minuscule role I play in this universe ... 

So yes, I am deeply committed to my early morning hikes and they are a part of my daily practices to care for my whole being so I can, in turn, be of service to the beings, communities and causes that matter to me in this life time.

A question for your reflection and consideration .... are your practices and habits in alignment with what matters to you? 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Dipping my toes into the stream of writing again ...


So much has transpired over the years. I stepped away from posting on my blog. Not long after the passing of my beloved spirit dog Ahnung in August, 2013 I found the need to step back from publicly posting, and also simply writing. Now, I continue to receive messages from spirits and from friends, inspiring and inviting me to return to writing. Writing has been such a healing tool for me in my life's journey. I found escape as a child from emotions I was unable to express, and pain of not knowing or being taught how to navigate a world of armored walls around hearts, and a longing of a child to be loved that could not be met ... not because there wasn't love ... because of what i have come to learn is our own trauma and our pain we carry through our lives, unresolved, buried, locked in the hidden crevices of our brain that seep out and find ways to express pain in unfortunately harmful and hurtful ways. I continue in my life's journey of healing and returning home to myself and re-discovering who I am, what matters to me, what and who I care about, and who I want to be in this world. And I commit to practices that align to who I want to be in this world, the role I want to play in social justice and making this world a just and equitable world for all beings, and how I want to be in relationship with others. I had many significant health issues in the past and an elder once told me, Creator gifted you with Ahnung and she came to guide you and to also take the physical disease that had manifested in your body because my work on this earth was not done. The five short years I had with Ahnung (2008 - 2013) opened up portals of healing I could not have walked through without her. Her story didn't end in 2013. I am realizing now her story continues through me, and her story ... our story ... must be shared.

So today, I dip my toes into the stream of writing and sharing again. I write again with the spirit of Ahnung guiding me through the messengers and messages she continues to send my way every day. The story of Ahnung speaking to me through owls and their feathers is one that I will share another time. For now, I hold and carry the energy of Ahnung and the owl as I move forward into the world of writing and sharing again.

Aapiji go miigwech Ahnung for continuing to live in me and through me.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Larissa Minicucci ... a bright new star in the night skies

Posted on November 14, 2019 on my facebook page ...  it is with great sadness and a heavy heart I share that our beloved Larissa has since crossed over into the spirit world on Saturday, November 16, 2019 around 3 pm. For more on this amazing human being please check out her caring bridge site:
As many of us prepare for the crossing over into the spirit world of our beloved friend, partner, mentor, teacher I want to share with you a photo taken at the Leech Lake SIRVS clinic in Oct. 2018 with Jonathan Elbaz, current president of SIRVS which shows the spirit of Larissa, the spirit of SIRVS, and the amazing fire and spirit of SIRVS (Student Initiative for Reservation Veterinary Services). I have had the honor of working with many SIRVS presidents over the years, and they have all been amazing (Molly Kubeczko-Schmidt, Rachel Marie, Kristen Capen and this year's president elect, Hilary Hooberman).
I picked Larissa up from home so we could ride together to Leech Lake ... we have many road trips and last year after her diagnosis with cancer we had two road trips (Red Lake and Leech Lake). We had long heartfelt conversations. She told me she wasn't afraid of death - she just wasn't ready. She talked for hours about two of her deepest loves - her work with SIRVS, the students, tribal communities .. and then she talked for hours about her husband Lou.
Yesterday at the hospital I promised her that her work with SIRVS and tribal communities will continue. That I know she will be with us in spirit and that I am counting on her letting us know if we flounder or go astray by sending us a strong message ... she smiled and there was a twinkle in her eyes.
Many of us are grieving deeply already. It's like someone stuck a knife in our hearts. And my heart hurts so deeply for an amazing husband who shared with me, in his own words, how he met Larissa 16 years ago. And there was a twinkle in both their eyes.
She has touched the lives of so many, and she wants us to continue this work. I encourage us all to find a way to talk to this overwhelming, all consuming grief ... I share with you one of my favorite poems. Grief has arrived at our door step. I am going to invite Grief in ... Grief brought me a puppy from the Mille Lacs SIRVS clinic (her name is Migizi, and when I held her i could feel Larissa's presence so strongly and was guided to name her Migizi). I will be adopting Migizi. With Ahnung (means 'star' in ojibwe - spirit dog from Red Lake), Ishkode ('fire' in ojibwe - from Leech Lake) and now Migizi ('eagle in ojibwe - from Mille Lacs) I promised Larissa our collaborative work with tribal communities will continue.
Together, we will keep Larissa's spirit alive. To my friends at Leech Lake and Mille Lacs and White Earth, I ask for your support and know I can count on you ... Shirley Nordrum Sharon Nordrum Veronica Bratvold Winnie Walleye Melissa Yuenger Angela Nordman Gary Wayne Branchaud Li Boyd Mary H. Skelly Tawny Warren
Please continue to hold Larissa in your heart as she prepares her transition into the spirit world ....
Talking to Grief (by Denise Levertov)
Ah, grief, I should not treat you
like a homeless dog
who comes to the back door
for a crust, for a meatless bone.
I should trust you.
I should coax you
into the house and give you
your own corner,
a worn mat to lie on,
your own water dish.
You think I don't know you've been living
under my porch.
You long for your real place to be readied
before winter comes. You need
your name,
your collar and tag. You need
the right to warn off intruders,
to consider
my house your own
and me your person
and yourself
my own dog.