Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hidden Gift of the "Little" Loss

The final game of Tom’s football season, at a time in his life when he needed football more than ever. It was the only game I had the privilege of attending between chemo rounds.

I was grateful beyond words to be there, regardless of being physically weak and having vision that has gotten a little bit blurry as a result of cancer treatments.

For the sport of football, the score ended incredibly high, something like 49 to 54. Both teams played their heart out. The Timpview Quarterback, Britain, ended up running the ball into the end-zone for a touchdown at least five times, before the night was through (three of which were recalled, instilling gasps, moans and yells from the crowd). It was clear that this young man was exhausted. Yet the whole offensive line were not going to give in, regardless of the challenges of the night. This was the final game.

At the end of one of the last plays of the game, Britain was sacked and the ball turned over. You could feel the cringe of every mother in the stands as this young man began again to hobble off the field; having pushed far beyond his edges, wholeheartedly, for quite some time.

About half way off the field I watched, with tears welling in my eyes, as two of the offensive line players spontaneously came up behind him and lifted him the rest of the way off the field. This gesture of comradery and compassion touched me so deeply. I know first-hand how feeling like you are spent, having reached the limit of what you think you can take feels. I was living it that night, and the image of these two players, recognizing his plight and assisting him was so inspiring to me in that moment.

Going into this diagnosis last summer, I was already at a low ebb, grieving the passing of my dear friend, and co-worker Rex. I assumed my decreased energy was part of the natural grieving process, and wasn’t paying attention to other signs that something may be off. So at a time when most gear up to muster a “fight”, I had none. It was all already spent. 

Yet throughout this experience I have felt myself sustained by the faith, prayers and healing energy of others on my behalf, not unlike the struggles on the football field that evening this past fall.

So many spontaneous acts of kindness, support and strength: Loved ones watching over me, Hats sown and knitted for my head, food left at my door, kind words of encouragement on these posts and FB page, and love expressed in more ways than I would have ever expected.

At times my mind has dropped into worry at how much loss I will be asked to bear. What side-effects may end up permanent, how long I will have to be with my son; how much sacrifice will be required of me?

All these normal questions were stirring in my mind recently as I fell into a bit of a brooding sleep; and there in my dream I found myself visiting with my old friend Rex. Holding me tight in his usual way, he reminded me of something I already knew that woke me straight out of my sleep. He said: “Syl, whatever is lost in form is always gained in essence”. His demeanor was encouraging, like he could read all the layers of my worry, and answered strait into my heart. I know this concept of balance between “form and essence” to be true from what I teach others through yoga, but I had never thought of it, as he was telling me.

When I think of something lost in “form”, I think of the completeness of death. But in this context he was telling me not to worry about what feel like losses strewn along the way. That each “little loss” is expanding my spirit. He was sharing with me his vantage point. Each disappointment, disability, or limitation that comes as part of the mortal experience evolves the soul (Essence-Self) beyond where it would otherwise be. The essential perspectives that result from each incremental "loss" are one of the main purposes of what we are doing here.

What we call death is only the culmination of all that our lives have caused us to become. A shedding of all the resistance of mortality, and in laying down our frame the spirit experiences an expansion that surpasses comprehension. Yet all the little losses along the way expand that potential as well--whether it’s normal aging, injury, loss of loved ones, or circumstance.

It’s our nature to grieve these “little” losses (compared to the big final letting go each of us will do); to focus on them from only one side. Based on my experience in my dream, I think we would rejoice if we could see what each one was doing for the essence of who we are; and how sensitive, responsive and magnified our essence (or spirit) becomes as a result.

After the final football game, driving home with Tom, I shared with him how inspiring that moment was, as Britain was helped off the field...Tom replied: “Mom, that was ME on his right”.

I can’t express the gratitude that filled my heart that this would be my son’s “knee-jerk" reaction. That he would see it, and act, just because that’s the kind of person he is. That it would be his nature to help someone make up for a little loss...If I learn nothing else from my life, the fact that I get to spend my time as this young man’s mom is better than any other experience or success I could ever be blessed with.

Though I don’t feel it every moment and still find ways to focus on the “little” loss compared to the blessing of each day, I echo the sentiments Tom posted on his FaceBook page on Thanksgiving Morning, (also echoed in the quiet dream-time visit with my dear Rex):

“Be thankful for all your trials, obstacles, and yes even your discouragements. It's easy to be thankful for the happy moments and experiences. It's those hard times, hard moments that make you the person you are. So be thankful for those even though at times it may be difficult. Happy Thanksgiving everybody. --Tom”

So as this year wains to it’s close, I want to thank you all for the ways you have been sustaining Tom and I. Treatments are working, and we feel your support. Our faith for our future is strengthened in your prayers & kindness on our behalf. They are playing such important role amidst this lovely, greater balance that truly supports us all!

Noel & Namaste

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Living the Lessons We Learn Next

I got a text message in the early days of my journey with what our culture calls: “aggressive breast cancer”. It was from someone in a very small group that I had shared the diagnosis with. He was texting to see how I was handling it. All I could say in response was:

“I’m just living the lesson I will learn next”.

There is nothing more to say. I already understand many of the deeper reasons that have brought me to this experience; they are all are very specific to me, and the path of learning that I have chose in this life to evolve my soul.

As I face my final round of chemo tomorrow on 11-11-11, I have to muse a bit. The irony of Armistice Day, a day celebrating the battle’s end, a “cease fire”, is not lost on me. For me now, it is a symbol of the end of the first phase in a difficult, three-tiered treatment that will reach full completion in early 2012.

The experience of working at the brink of life, and the conversation between what I want and what God wants for me is really advanced work. The times when there is nothing to do but stay present, without trying to explain it, to justify it, to blame it, but just to “live in the lesson” is a huge challenge.

At first I just wanted to bow out of the whole experience and say to God: “Father, thy will be done.”, but God wasn’t going for that. Turning this experience back to God, like a hot potato, wasn’t going to teach me anything. In truth, over the course of the first nine weeks of treatment, this way of thinking put me MORE out of alignment, until my ego could admit that in this conversation God was nudging me to choose. God’s will for me was to magnify my own agency, and choose for myself, and to ask it out loud of Him.

I am able, through dancing on the brink of life, to gain a clear sense of what I really want and to tell God so. Once I chose, the treatments, though no less intense, became miraculously more manageable, and my body began responding differently. I could feel a sense of contentment within my own physical sorrow (we call cancer). Once I chose, I could feel God’s contentment in me as well.

I had to roll my eyes a bit at the "Zen" of it all, when God also let me know that in reality He still holds all the cards, and will have the final say; yet it has been a vital and important part of my path to exercise the agency of my heart, and my will in this intense experience...To work in tandem with my Source and have a say, in God's say for me is a worthy experience. As I play with this delicate balance, I have realized at a depth not prior, that together we make a lovely team.

As human beings, we often resist having to actually “Live” the lessons in life, because they can get really, really, really tough. It’s our nature to try to either skip over it all or get mired in them as a way of ennobling our ego, because it feels like otherwise, we are unjustifiably out of synch with the status quo of health and balance, be it a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual "cancers" we may be dealing with.

For me, I have found that this experience, at it’s core, seems to be, yet again, a re-alignment. It is placing everything in order. It is revealing the truth of who every person around me really is at their essence, it is holding me in a place of attention and receptivity, it is protecting me from things I cannot understand in this moment, that I may otherwise be experiencing if I was not dealing with this. It is refining me.

During this process, I have considered often, the popular attitude of seeking a life of “grace and ease” with the intention of immunity to the greater edges of what we think we can handle. The popular suggestion that we don’t really need to experience the tougher side of things, in truth, limits our ability to fully understand and realize our potential and what it can teach us. One of my favorite poems, by David Whyte, sums it up beautifully:

The Well of Grief

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief

turning down to its black water
to the place that we can not breathe

will never know
the source from which we drink
the secret water cold and clear

nor find in the darkness glimmering
the small round coins
thrown by those who wished for something else

David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet
Copyright © 1990 by David Whyte. All Rights Reserved
Many Rivers Press (

Though the coins of my grief have been many and there have been moments I have wished it would all just stop, even for just a while, I know this lesson in which I find myself is, at the very least, a great and deep opportunity...and that, I can say for sure.

For now, I am still just living the lesson I learn next.

Thank you for your prayers, kind words and tender gestures on mine and Tom’s behalf, be it spiritually or physically, each one is known to us; and they are teaching all of us on this path so much more than we may have the capacity to know right now.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Something I Want Him to Know for Sure

I met my son, Tom, five years before his actual birth.

I was cleaning my apartment, and as I walked through my bedroom, I was enlightened to the presence of a delightful, happy, young spirit that I could clearly feel to next me. I knew him to be my future son and could feel him letting me know how excited he was to be my boy and that he was ready and waiting to come to me. I had many years and lessons to learn before I would feel ready to be a mom on my end.

The encounter eventually faded completely from my mind, until eight years later when I was watching my three year old boy playing in front of me. He looked up and I smiled at him, and the experience from my small apartment so long ago came back to mind in an instant. I marveled at what an exact match this little brilliant, fun, happy, boy was to the little spirit I had felt many years before.

It has been a pleasure to play the role of mother to such a valiant soul. I love each moment and cherish my relationship with him above all else.

Tom wanted to join me in the doctor’s office this past summer, as we began to map out an invasive breast cancer diagnosis (with no family history or understandable cause). An unexpected turn that had set us both back off our heels, to say the least.

It was on the way home, both of us in deep contemplation at the enormity of our situation, that I held his hand and let him know that there is no way to know how this will all pan out; but something I do want him to know for sure is that I love him and that life (as fleeting as it can be) doesn’t end with death, regardless of any outcome concerning me.

I explained to Tom that if it is not my time, then everything we do will work, and the right treatments will fall into place for a full recovery, on what would be a very intense journey for him to witness as my son and for me to experience as his mom.

I also told him that if it is my time, then nothing we do will work, and in nearly the same breath, I explained to Tom that I have no fear of death.

We held hands tight as I told him that, if my passing were to be the outcome, I would simply move from my body and wrap my spirit around his for the rest of his days. I would be there no matter what, no matter where.

My heart burst with sorrow as I explained to my boy, that the only sadness I do feel at the idea of passing from my body, is that he may not be able to feel me, or be able to trust that I was still caring for him in more ways than he could ever know.

I experienced a depth of sadness I had never felt at the chance that he may not recognize that when something great happens during his day, that it was because I had a hand in it on his behalf. Or that when life gets tough, it was because I went to God and asked for just the right experience to make my son a better man; that there may be times in Tom’s life that he may not be able to feel me cheering him on and comforting him when in need of it.

In this moment of speaking one of my most cherished truths to my son, I gained an understanding of God, I had never fully known for myself.

So many traditions teach us to praise and acknowledge the universal hand of God in all things, even at the times that push us to our brink. And in this conversation, on one of the most tender days of my life, I told my son, that my love for him is how I know beyond a shadow of doubt, that God feels the same.

It’s not about giving credit to God so I can get to Heaven some day later on, or feel good about myself now, it’s about love. It’s always just about love, one Godly moment at a time, when Heaven spontaneously reveals itself, so pure and simple, to the heart.

In the months since being diagnosed, I have been at the brink many times (as I will continue to be for a while yet). This conversation in trying to teach Tom, (where I was being taught myself), to help him understand one of the most important things he will ever know, continues to be an important reflecting point on my own journey.

Much of the road still lies before us, but what I know so far is that regardless of when I pass from this life, I have to trust that if I could feel my son before he came, then he will certainly be able to feel me after I go, whenever that time may be, at whatever the stage in Tom's life...and in this I feel true peace.

From the day he was born, Tom has been a motivating strength in my life in so many ways. Being his mom continues to teach me many of life’s most important lessons, and as always, I love him for it.

In the course of treatments so far, and to the astonishment of my many doctors, the tumor has dissipated down to near nothing and prognosis is looking good. It gives us strength to continue trusting that we are on the right path. I know this initial outcome is a result of much of the prayer, faith, fasting and support of so many of you, and Tom and I want to thank you. As it stands now, we have reason to expect nothing less than full recovery by early 2012.

It has been important for me to pay attention to the fact that this journey has not been an easy, quick fix. No miraculous snap of my yogi fingers and “poof” it’s gone, no immunity from life experience that pulls me up by the roots, just because I’ve tried to do my best to create optimal health in body, mind and spirit. Only a deep and increased capacity to fully experience it all first-hand, and for that I am grateful on many levels.

As the path of necessary treatment regimens have scrolled their way out before me, the message that has shown up is: that for now I am to labor at the “brink” of things. For now this is where I am, and this is where I will understand love in ways not possible otherwise.

Tom and I know we are not on our own in this experience. We thank you, thank you, for every kindness, and we continue to lean on them with gratitude that surpasses words.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

Lately in the evenings, as I have the strength to do so, I make my way quietly into Bodhi Yoga, after all the yogis have gone for the day, and the CottonTree offices are all closed.

With the doors open, the most lovely cross breeze caresses my brow. In this sacred space, with my left hand, I roll my mallet around my crystal bowl. The Heart chakra tone expands up my arm and into my left breast, where there is a mass in the shape of a tear. It has spread to a small duct just below my sternum next to the left border of my heart and into the lymph nodes of my left armpit.

There are so many things I love about being in my physical body. One of my favorite, is honoring my natural rhythms. Learning yoga has brought me into an intimate appreciation for these rhythms at the cellular level... Such an unexpected and precious gift in my life.

As I begin my first rounds of necessary treatment, my heart, (both grateful and sorrowed), is in a place of surrender to the enormity of ways and methods required to restore my health. I marvel at the chaotic effects that paradoxically serve to help me eventually recover, while for a time, reeking havoc on my beloved body and her cherished rhythms.

Seated with my bowl, in my sacred space, the chant I begin calling is: “Om Shreim”, a mantra for bringing chaos into harmony. The tones of the bowl soon fill the room, spilling over onto the empty streets below.

Between the deep sound of my voice, and the resonant tone of the bowl, I can feel the molecules of my body vibrating into a better place, if only momentarily.

As my meditation continues, I am pleasantly surprised to feel my chanting evolve from traditional Sanskrit, into one of my favorite old English hymns. I hear my voice begin to slowly sing, long, resonant tones of “Come Though Fount of Every Blessing”.

I knew before I heard the words, that my body had hand-picked this song to call in the grace from all your prayers and positive energy, to more fully implant into the tissues of my body.

The lyrics of Robert Robinson (1735-1790), a fellow searcher for spiritual truths, begins with the words:

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;

streams of mercy, never ceasing,

call for songs of loudest praise. 

Teach me some melodious sonnet, 
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,

mount of thy redeeming love.”

I clearly feel the mass over my heart taking in the prayers of so many of you, who have fixed your love and prayers upon this place in my body. With my exhale, I breathe out gratitude, sending back to each of you individually, my deep humility and appreciation.

Each expression of gratitude on my part makes room for blessings beyond measure to work within me. The gratitude I feel for all the love you're sending me is also a universal acknowledgement that, whether we like to think so or not, all of us here are intimately connected, taking turns feeding one another. Personally, I have felt angelic help directing your individual prayers through me so specifically...There are no words to describe it.

As I begin to softly roll my voice through the second verse, the message I was meant to glean on this particular evening becomes clear, with the words:

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;

and I hope, by thy good pleasure,

safely to arrive at home.

When you hear the word “Ebenezer”, most of us think of Scrooge. The disgruntled old man, created by Charles Dickens in his beloved classic “A Christmas Carol”. What most don’t realize is that Dickens choose this name, because it would tell the whole story of a man's change of heart in one word, start to finish.

Dickens knew the word Ebenezer comes from the bible story of Samuel; a man who helped a whole culture change their ways. In this story, everyone in the village would let go of all the stories they had been telling themselves, release their destructive habits and forsake their collective ego. Through their shedding, they were able to start fresh, healed and alive again, with a new consciousness on all levels, that freed them from past failings.

In this bible story, Samuel erected a large stone at the place where this collective change of heart occurred and called the stone: "Ebenezer", the Hebrew word for "Stone of Help". He publicly dedicated it as a monument to God's help, faithfulness, and unending commitment to lighten our care, as we learn to become willing to let go.

As the people in the village got on with their lives, the stone stood there, visible to all who passed that way, as a reminder of their surrender of the old way of thinking and acting, the mercy of God's grace in allowing them to change and renewal of their essential truths and higher way of living.

The Ebenezer stone was a physical reminder of a fresh beginning, a reversal of course for God's village, and the Universal love that allows all of us to choose anew in each moment.

Today, the chip we get in AA programs, or journals we keep, or rocks we carry in our pocket are all simply modern day Ebenezers.

So in chanting these lines, I feel this Tears-shaped tumor lift slightly with my breath, and I know instantly that this mass over my heart is my own personal “Ebenezer”; a very profound gratitude rock within my breast.

The invasive condition I am presently experiencing does not come from outside of me, it is not an invasion into me of anything foreign, these are the cells of my beloved body, currently wandering on paths that stray from my normal rhythms. I choose to hold them in my care without judgement, as best as I can, even as they stray from their dharmic, and healthy way being.

This Ebenezer within my breast is teaching me so many things, but most of all it is deepening my capacity for gratitude, surrender and trust in this journey; and the course God chooses through me to take.

As I sang the last verse accompanied by the tones of my miraculous crystal bowl (that has a story all it’s own), I felt tears streaming from my face down to breast. I could feel all my cells, but particularly those who are straying, respond to my words as I sing:

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it for thy courts above.

The measure of these words feels like such an important acknowledgement, a gentle nod to my cells, that for a season in my life have become prone to wander, yet teaching me lessons on a level I could learn in no other way.

Thank You for All Your Prayers... “Lord I Feel it”



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tell it to the Hand

This week I was given a story. A story in the form of what the docs call "diagnosis".

For now, I choose to refer to it as:

"Invasive *&@^#%*!"

As I have begun the journey of meeting with the spectrum of docs and helping my son Tom, as he works through what it feels like for him. I have told a handful of close, enlightened friends (who know how to stream light and love without the ego of doubt, fear & drama interfering), as well as a few members of my family. In doing so, I find I have already gained a plethora of new perspectives.

I could feel right off the bat, my need for sacred sanctuary, where God and I together can heal me in ways we both agree on. I need to be able to be in this sacred space every moment possible. I have all the tools I need already within me to clear and collect the lessons related to what this truly is all about. In order for this to happen I really heard the words when my doc, who is a dear friend said: "You have "Invasive *&@^#%*!", and I want you to know that we are going to get through this together".

I accept that I get to walk a storyline for a while, but I cannot validate the cultural charge to all the language connected to the name of this condition I am currently experiencing.

I heard my body, almost immediately, tell me to soften my surroundings; to create a sacred buffer for my holy place of sanctuary with God, and Tom of course.

Actually, my sister Jeanie heard my body calling first, and followed her intuition that led her to the hospital where I was for tests late last week. A day or so later, while waiting for the final word, she showed up, with laptop in hand, to hang out at my house for a few days, just so I could know that she already knew too, and would be there with me when the docs said it out loud.

Since I was born, Jeanie (who is 10 years older than me), was the sibling that would grab me and snuggle me into her bed with her on a Saturday morning. Her face lit up whenever I saw her, during our growing up years. In a large family, where I was fairly invisible, I knew she esteemed herself my mamma!

I was cool with playing the roll of babydoll to my 12 year old sister. In fact, this past week, I overheard her telling one of the nurses that she just had to come down, she used to change my diapers, and just couldn't miss being there with me.

Even into our adult years, she has taken Tom under her wing, taught him how to ski, cooked him dinners, and cozied up with him on her couch when he was little, just as she did with me. These days, each time I call her, she answers her phone with an ecstatic: "HI SWEETIE!"

So I was clear, as text messages, phone calls and email started to roll in, that Jeanie would be my buffer. Not to keep out love, support or concern; but to allow me to create the quiet space for myself where I could really feel the love coming to me, and use it in my healing, without having to tell my story over and over to my dear family, which would bring in more of the highly charged words describing what I am experiencing and what to expect from it all.

When my tests were complete, and Jeanie and I could feel where It was heading, I called my Bishop (clergy), and asked him to administer to me a blessing of healing. I loved that the oil he used to anoint my head was consecrated in the Garden of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives; an inspired act of forethought on a recent trip to Jerusalem. He told me that my body had been prepared and strengthened in preparation for this experience (I love a good bishop who has watched me on my yogic path with appreciation, rather than suspicion)...and then he blessed my son, a strong young man now, who was already feeling the weight of it all.

In my community, my church family is called a "Ward". In a ward, (like most church communities) everybody eventually knows everything, and rolls out the bandwagon, like pioneers crossing the plains with hands of helpfulness.

One of the truest friends I have ever had is Kathy, she is in my church family. Kathy has shown up on my door with wheatgrass juice in a champagne flute, first thing in the morning. She has called Tom over to help her tinker on her motorcycle, and always helps me find the biggest bang for our buck for Tom on the Fourth of July. Most times Kathy and I are together, we end up in wild laughter over a mixture of something we have observed that is both oblivious, obvious and ridiculous.

So today in my peeled-open and vulnerable place, she agreed wholeheartedly to be my buffer with my ward family. If anyone at church wants to come squeeze my arm, wink or smile at me, or even high five, feel free, I'd love it! But if anyone wants to come up and tell me about the latest miracle cure, or multi-level marketing company that will surely save my life, or is curious to know the details about what our culture calls: "Invasive *&@^#%*!", or asks me how I am feeling, I will simply say, with love in my heart: "I don't know, you'll have to ask Kathy."

And then there is my life's work and my beloved, enlightened yogis, who come and go from my Thai Office and The Bodhi Yoga Center, (which with all your ongoing support, I lovingly created for us), as well as our valued Online Community of 3500 (or so) long-distance yogis who are like minded, goodhearted souls.

Today, amidst the phone, and text, and facebook posts (I removed until I was ready to put this out there on my own terms). In my gut-check day, I met with Frank, for our weekly Thai Partner Yoga Session. I was grateful for the chance to work on him, and apreciated his willingness to let me be "the giver" for a couple of hours and feel the healing energy, for him, move through me, on such a day. Doing this kind of work for a living blesses me in so many ways as I share with others.

Mid-session, I was doing light acupressure on his hand, and felt Rex's presence enter into the room. Frank's hand that I was holding, felt like Rex's hand, so clearly in its shape, temperature and texture, that I know so well from working on him . In fact I found I had to open my eyes and look. The two hands, I felt at the same time indistinguishable, yet both there together. I felt Rex saying to me: "I am gonna lend you my hand, all the way, my dear." I could also feel Frank's desire to do so too, which he almost immediately verbalized.

So later this evening, when I got home, I called and started to ask him to be my buffer with my beloved yogis, and before I got the sentence out, I heard a resounding "YES! I'll do it. I'll do it." Years ago, Frank was in my Bishopric at church, we have known each other for a longtime, really long in the existential sense. We met up again recently, and I have watched in admiration as this 60 year young man enrolled in the Bodhi Yoga Teacher Certification course and took off on the Yogic path like greased lightening. It was all I could do to get out of his way as he began teaching classes to youth in our local Juvenile Detention Center...delightful.

Frank will be my Yoga family buffer, to update and field concerns and wishes to and from me for members of my local yoga family at

To my long distance yoga family in 18 countries and nearly all 50 states in the US, I would ask that you just follow this blog for information on how I am ,"bodhi", mind and spirit and continue to support Bodhi Yoga in ways that feel right for you! I may even share a few lessons as we go along, through the online yoga center about to launch. Feel free to post comments that support my intention for full circle healing.

The word buffer that I am using in this post is in no way to keep the love and support out. The three lovely buffers here called Jeanie, Kathy and Frank, (as well as the many teachers at Bodhi Yoga), will be the ones that can talk with you all about what our culture calls: "Invasive *&@^#%*!". To me the name doesn't matter to anyone but me and my docs. Dwelling on the name, and all it presumably means, has nothing to do with the healing, and I need your support with very pure, healing energy, faith and prayers sent my way.

In a note to the Bodhi Yoga Teachers I wrote last night these words: "I plan to continue with Trainings, Yoga Classes, Jamie will handle Bodhi Yoga's private Thai Partner Yoga work. I want everyone at yoga to know that they are free to come share love, hugs, light and strong Prana. I just don't want to repeat updates or stories back and fourth, as that expands energy of what our culture calls: "Invasive *&@^#%*!"

The condition has already told me what it is...It is what we call INVASIVE. So I am trying to hear that right off the bat and negate overload. I am just doing my best to honor the request that my body has already cashed in on.

For me at this point it is to create a parameter of just three people, who fully support my intention, that I have to tell the story to in any way shape or form. They'll pass on anything related back and fourth as necessary to you my "families". This will allow me to, first protect my son from having to hear, read, focus and worry on an endless stream of conversations that describe Invasive *&@^#%*! and second, focus my energy on healing full time, and creating a reality where it is already in place for myself, my son and my families.

Of all the highly charged words related to "Invasive *&@^#%*!", the one I chose to honor is the word: "Invasive". My body has put my life on the line, to help me in no uncertain terms put an end to being invaded upon in any way. No more allowing my ideas, work, energy and image to be invasively profited from without conscience by others. No more quietly accepting condescension combined with vindictiveness. No more saying yes, or that's okay, when I mean no. It is time to set the invasive areas, associations, and expectations free, to be themselves somewhere other than manifesting through the tissues of my body.

I have no doubt, that right now, I am pure and simple, just living the lesson I will learn next. I give no energy to the past, as I set it free, and I worry not for the future, as right now, in this moment, all is incredibly well within my soul.

I send my love and blessing to all of my families and thank you so sincerely for every kindness, prayer-filled and faithful thought.

I remind you that what I know so far is, that the play-by-play, dramatic details, we tend to get sucked into dwelling on in situations like this, though gossip and drama, only serve to expand the energy of disharmony, but the bigger picture, and higher purposes are more vast, and love encompassed than any of us can fully comprehend.

Words cannot express my love for each of you. You have an immeasurable meaning and place in my life. I love you dearly, and will continue to lean on and be supported by the loving breezes you are sending my way. I can feel your glow, and Tom and I thank you for it.



Monday, June 27, 2011

Your Faces in the Hillside

This evening, as I walked my dog along the hillside above my home, it occurred to me that I was on the path you used to ride your horse on as a young man. 

Walking past your old neighbors, who's names I've long forgot, I thought of you astride, as you looked over the valley where you would eventually make your life. I thought of the man you had become that wore so many faces, many that I was lucky enough to see.

The dedicated family man, your most important role. I had watched the care you took over your family and neighbors. The ways you served and were fed there.

The diplomat therapist and analytical thinker, who would calmly navigate couples through the emotional minefield of relationships. You were always reading up on the newest techniques for creating harmony, (but once you opened the book, you would usually end up napping in your chair).

The healer, who’s broad shoulders were often moist at the end of the day, from the endless care you showed the heavyhearted. Few knew that there were many times you went to your knees in prayer in your office, when you felt your client needed help beyond your own ability.

The chuckler who would occasionally choke and cough on your own deep laughter; or clear your throat before you began a thought out loud.

The loyal friend, be it fisherman, or listening ear, you would kindly sit down with those rolled-up sleeves of yours, and be there.

So many others, too many faces to count: The rockstar, guitar man, community theater leading-man, goofball, baseball player, mr. fix-it, the fierce defender.

I would have to say that the thing you were the very best at was navigating your faces, because behind them all, you were always in some internal conversation with yourself. You protected the boundaries of your many faces so intensely; and from my perspective, deep down, you remained a quiet warrior of unspoken battles your whole life.

Climbing the hill this evening with my dog, I could feel the soft beat of my feet in deep contemplation of all your complexity. Somehow, I always knew you as the young man on his horse, on this hillside, over-looking the valley. I saw him in you no matter what face you seemed to captain at any given moment.

When I walked into the church at your funeral and saw this picture of you, I couldn’t help but to say out loud through my smile: 

“There You Are!”

I rejoiced in the face I had known our whole friendship, yet never seen with my eyes. I recognized you immediately, from the light in your smile, when you talked about your music, your Wednesday afternoon fishing, your kids weddings, or simply when you walked toward me to say good morning, arms outstretched; and I would ask you: 

"What's that face for?" with a smile of my own.

I knew this look.  I had seen it so many times.

And tonight, on such a lovely evening, I find it impossible to commemorate the pain of your passing a year ago today. Tonight I choose to commemorate the moment all your faces melt into one. That young, vital man astride his horse overlooking this valley, and the moment of your rebirth into a JOY that surpasses all mortal understanding, just one frail year ago.

In the most meaningful aspect of our friendship, I learned to follow your example of letting people grow beyond the sum total of who they are in any moment.

And now, this evening, in accepting all of who you were, I take even greater appreciation in who you've become as you shed the limitations of this life. I don't hold you in the moment of my prayer for you, crouched outside the room of your passing, I hold you in your best moments. A variety of perspectives, that together resemble more eternally, a glimpse of the reality of you now; as I feel your spirit palpably nudge me off my couch into an unplanned evening walk, along paths you strode yourself.

On my return down the hill, by the time I rounded the corner toward home, the words of the poet David Whyte were rolling across my tongue. 

We shared an appreciation for his work, and this poem always made me think of you; you as the carver, and you as one of the most profound men I will ever know.

In reflecting upon your life, I saw in your faces firsthand a man who was willing to give yourself, over and over again, “to the blows of the Carver’s hand”.

Tonight, I dedicate these words to you, Rex, so beloved, by so many, for so many different reasons:


In monastery darkness

by the light of one flashlight

the old shrine room waits in silence

While above the door

we see the terrible figure,

fierce eyes demanding, "Will you step through?"

And the old monk leads us,

bent back nudging blackness
prayer beads in the hand that beckons.

We light the butter lamps

and bow, eyes blinking in the

pungent smoke, look up without a word,

see faces in meditation,

a hundred faces carved above,

eye lines wrinkled in the hand held light.

Such love in solid wood!

Taken from the hillsides and carved in silence

they have the vibrant stillness of those who made them.

Engulfed by the past

they have been neglected, but through
smoke and darkness they are like the flowers

we have seen growing

through the dust of eroded slopes,

then slowly opening faces turned toward the mountain.

Carved in devotion
their eyes have softened through age

and their mouths curve through delight of the carver's hand.

If only our own faces
would allow the invisible carver's hand
to bring the deep grain of love to the surface.

If only we knew

as the carver knew, how the flaws
in the wood led his searching chisel to the very core,

we would smile, too
and not need faces immobilized

by fear and the weight of things undone.

When we fight with our failing
we ignore the entrance to the shrine itself
and wrestle with the guardian, fierce figure on the side of good.

And as we fight

our eyes are hooded with grief

and our mouths are dry with pain.

If only we could give ourselves

to the blows of the carver's hands,

the lines in our faces would be the trace lines of rivers

feeding the sea
where voices meet, praising the features

of the mountain and the cloud and the sky.

Our faces would fall away

until we, growing younger toward death

every day, would gather all our flaws in celebration

to merge with them perfectly,
impossibly, wedded to our essence,
full of silence from the carver's hands.

David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet
Copyright © 1990 by David Whyte. All Rights Reserved
Many Rivers Press (

Friday, June 3, 2011

Inside His Ancient Heart

A year ago today you walked toward me for a mid-day hug in our office for the last time. I remember it well, because it was so unusual. At the time I was quietly startled as it seemed to me that the cells of your body felt so frenetic. If I had to describe it, I would say it felt like you wanted to crawl under the surface of my skin and hide, very uncharacteristic. In thinking back on this squeeze, I wondered if somewhere deep down, your spirit knew of the great journey on which you were about to embark.

They always say that the first year following the loss of a loved one is the hardest. And as we near that monumental marker, the shifts people keep telling me about are occurring here and there.

The doctors downstairs from our office have felt it’s time to bring a new therapist into your space. We have all sat in your office, at one time or another during the past twelve months, flooded with feelings of deep gratitude that it has remained just as you left it, that Thursday evening, a year ago today.

I was in there one evening a few weeks back, dusting the counters and vacuuming your baseboards. I noticed a change in the air, and I wondered to myself how long it would remain your lovely space. I could tell you were so close. In retrospect, it felt as though you were comforting me ahead of time, so when I learned of the change, my heart could bear it better.

So many people have told me that once we pass the year mark, I probably won’t feel you as close. I’ve wondered for myself if this will be the case.

I certainly have been in a very contemplative place, thinking over the last year...All the things you were facing prior to your sudden illness. The incredible experience, over such a short period, of watching you come to terms with it all firsthand. And the experience of witnessing you accomplish your passing through the veil with greater integrity than I knew anyone could.

I love you so deeply for the way you chose to pass. Like your life, it was a template for strength, trust and courage.

As I was cleaning some of your things, I shook out one of your throws and read with a chuckle the “ Fisherman’s Creed”:

“I pray that I may live to fish
Until my dying day
And when it comes to my last cast
I then most humbly pray
When in the Lord’s great landing net
And peacefully asleep
That in his mercy, I be judged
Big enough to keep”

I felt a smile grow across my face as I folded this lovely part of your mortality up.

I went home and decided to ride my bike up the canyon, with the thought of you fanning across my mind. New waves of grieving and gratitude washed over me, as I pedaled along the green shades of the Provo River, thinking of you in your hip-waders, fly fishing. The smells of the canyon are so sweet and lift my spirit like the sweet support I have experienced from you through the veil so often.

On my way biking up to my favorite willow tree, I notice someone had graffitied on a small building off the side of the path: “Life has no limits if you are not afraid to get in it”.

It reminded me of your approach to helping so many as a therapist. There were many days that I would walk into your office (when I had finished with my own client), and see that you had some saying like this written on your whiteboard, for the client you just finished a session with. Seeing this phrase on my ride gave me needed a boost of encouragement to accomplish my 14 mile journey.

Sweet tender mercies, such as this, have peppered my days and weeks since your passing. Yet still I was wading through the questions of: Will I not feel you so close anymore? What does “time” have to do with anything? From my experience, the veil dissolves when we transcend time and let ourselves experience the present, that’s when I feel you the most; those quiet times when you catch me off guard. Yet I felt myself asking fisherman Rex: Do you have somewhere else to go? Someplace to be? --When the veil that supposably separates us, is really is just the thin sheath of my own mortal view?

These questions continued flowing through the past few weeks, until one day recently, when I just couldn’t make it through my day. I bowed out of all my commitments and spent a quiet day to myself. I biked slowly up the canyon, sat under the willow for a bit, and made my way back home along the banks of the river. Once back home again, I prepared a simple dinner and began cleaning my kitchen in preparation for bed.

I felt impressed to light the candles in each room for the evening. As I cleaned the kitchen, I turned on the T.V. to find the re-run of a show where a popular singer was performing a rendition of Billy Joel’s “Lullaby”. I have always loved that song, and it was the perfect ambiance for my waining day. 

I remembered that this song was included in the last CD you sang on with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, so I popped my iPod on the dock and let it serenade my hands as they moved my cloth back and fourth across my counter tops.

It was not until the third time through, that my mind was enlightened to your presence, so I stopped my cleaning and (at your nudging) listened to the words.

Your spirit so compassionately again embraced me, in the same familiar and supportive way it has since your passing. I love that it was your voice singing a cappella, as one of the men in the choir that you loved so much. I love that you spoke to me from your fisherman’s heart, on a day my mind had been flooded with images of you as I biked along the water’s edge:

“Good night my angel time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say

I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Where ever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away

Good night my angel now it's time to sleep
And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay

And like a boat out on the ocean
I'm rocking you to sleep
The water's dark and deep
Inside this ancient heart
You'll always be a part of me

Goodnight my angel now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be
Someday your child may cry and if you sing this lullaby
Then in your heart there will always be a part of me

Someday we'll all be gone
But lullabies go on and on
They never die that's how you and I will be

So so sincerely, sweet sweet Rex, I thank you again, my kind, beloved fisherman friend.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Love of Letting "Grow"

There’s a picture on one of my mantles of me and Tom, long ago. I use to hold his hand in mine when he was small, and as I caressed his fingers, I would tell him how one day he would grow to be much taller than me and my hand would eventually fit in his.

I could see his incomprehension at such a thing, as he gave me a glance of amazement followed by a snuggle in the rocker we shared.

Several Summers ago, I bought Tom his first bike with gear shifts. Since he was tiny, I would ride my bike up Provo Canyon pulling my boy in the bike buggy or trailing to his side, as he pedaled on his little bike. I was feeling the sentiment of those early days as we took off together, one sunny afternoon on his new bike.

I recall thinking that there must be something wrong with my gears as I watched him gradually leave me in his dust. I pedaled harder and still had trouble reaching him. For a moment I worried that I may have some un-diagnosed disease, because no matter how hard I pedaled I couldn’t keep up with my boy.

It soon dawned on me that this was not a disease on my end, but young manhood on Tom’s. I surrendered my pride, as it occurred to me my that my boy was really going to eventually grow up; and someday soon, my hand would indeed fit in his. Even though I had told him this many times, I had never truly realized that I would at some point actually have to let him go.

As supreme (and beyond my own dictates), as the act of giving birth to him was, so too equally, would be letting him grow up and eventually move on, into his own way in the world.

We recently walked over to a neighbor’s for breakfast. Tom headed first, with me trailing behind with my favorite ghee and honey to add to our morning Æbleskiver feast. In the footsteps in the springtime snow-covered sidewalk, I was reminded again as I looked at his large footprint, on the left, next to mine. Only 13 years old, and he is showing every sign of being a big guy, with broad shoulders and a big barrel chest; and even better, a generous and happy disposition, especially with his younger cousins.

The whole concept of letting go has been harder this year, since experiencing Rex’s passing. In this age of DVRs and instant replay it seemed so cruel that we couldn’t just back up and say or do one thing more before he moved on.

An hour after he passed I drove from the hospital. While waiting at a stoplight, I noticed an unusual feathery, tingling sensation up and down the outside of my left leg. If felt similar to what I did for him many times with Thai Yoga. I remember thinking that I must be in shock; but wondered if this sensation, that was new to me, might be him communicating to me. I made a mental note of it, and continued to the Yoga Center at CottonTree. Soon, several of the Doctors and staff from downstairs where Rex and I shared an office, gathered to console each other.

Over the days, weeks, and months following, this subtle, feathery, tingling still comes and goes. I am clear (from experience) that it’s a confirmation when he’s close by. Letting me know he is still here for me, and yet I have to let the 56 year old man I knew so well go.

In letting him go, we appreciate all the things he was so great at. At the same time, we set him free from all the things that weren’t working, or he didn’t get the chance to do or say. Letting him go is my thank you to him. In letting him go, rather than holding him at where he was, I let him grow young again. Another kind of Supreme Love.

For myself, I know when we cross the veil, if we are ready, we shed a lot of the limitations of mortality. In the months and weeks since his passing, I have shared many experiences of how Rex’s energy has been magnified in my life. I think if I were overly attached and focusing on all the sadness at my own loss, and fixated on where he was when he passed, I couldn’t be so open to how he reaches me now.

During this time (that most people call “loss”), I know he has not wanted me to hold him in the place he was in mortality before he passed. I have had to let him go, to let him grow young, beyond the veil; and in turn, continue his kindnesses to me and many others in new ways from a new perspective.

In order to let him go, I have to try my best to just be grateful for the fact that we got to share a small corner of mortality with each other. In doing so, I have found that the sting of loss heals only to the extent of my own gratitude. I am profoundly humbled that when it comes to Rex, or any loved-one we have experienced loss with, that: “There is really no such thing as good-bye, when LOVE is present.” -- a message that came to me recently, I believe to be from him.

It’s a message that for now, I can live with.