Happiness Circle

Thank you for being there in so many ways: in person, through the web, in prayer, and emotionally. Thank you for living your life, every day, in a way that makes the world a better place, even if it might sometimes feel like you are having only the smallest of impact.

A few years ago, my brother-in-law unintentionally introduced me to the idea of a happiness circle. At the time, someone was grumpy in his presence, and he stated in all seriousness, “I don’t want you inside my happiness circle.” To emphasize, he stretched out his arms and indicated a circle slightly wider than his reach. “It extends out to here. If you want to be in this space, you cannot step on my happiness.”

It may have been only one of a million brilliant thoughts for him, but it stuck with me. I love the idea of a happiness circle that surrounds us, even if I typically invite everyone in without regard to their impact on my happiness.

During this past Spring, I paid a visit to a “sound healer.” I went primarily because my friend suggested it and would not let it rest until it got pushed to the top of my list of healing modes to try.

I drove by myself to see this healer at her home in another part of town.

Even though I am firmly ensconced in the world of “alternative healthcare,” I still imagine any new healer to look like the character Tia Dalma from the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean – beautiful, exotic, and a little crazy.

Tia Dalma from Pirates of the Caribbean

But no – I meet another middle-aged woman who dresses very mainstream with a kind, expansive heart and a sensible demeanor. All good.

We sit and chat for about 20 minutes. I get the feeling that she is evaluating how far out into the intangible I might be comfortable discussing. We connect, I trust her, and I decide that this will be an interesting, probably one-time, experience. Like a nice massage.

I lay on the table (like a massage table) – yes, fully clothed – and she begins to play an assortment of Tibetan bowls and a gong. I suddenly remembered my phone. I had planned to turn it off so that I wouldn’t get distracted, but I left it on vibrate. So my session started like this:

  • The bowls feel amazing. The vibrations surprisingly flow through every cell in my body, and I am slightly transported.
  • I pull my psyche away from the vibrations and back into the tangible world as I worry about my phone. Will it ring? Should I turn it off?
  • The strong vibration of the bowls draws me back to them. I feel like I am in the center of the vibrations as they become deeper and more resonant.
  • With a bit more effort, I again pull my psyche away from the vibrations and worry about my phone. Will it ring? Should I turn it off?
  • Again, the bowls draw me back. The vibration is now longer and deeper and totally sucking me in.
  • I think again about the phone, but this time, I feel like I am in the center of vibrations that are emanating from me. It is as though they are creating huge circular waves around me, waves so strong that the vibrations from my cellphone feel teeny in comparison. I know that, even if my phone rang, the iPhone vibrations would never reach me through these waves. The vibration was not strong enough to go against this flow.

I let go and ride the waves.

About an hour later, the healer tells me that I can return to my body. It feels like no time has passed, and I don’t feel like I have been asleep either. I can barely speak and need to think about and plan each word.

She tells me to take my time getting up. Every time I receive any kind of body treatment, the therapist says to take my time getting up, and every time, I feel no need and just jump up. This time, though, I literally cannot move. For example, it takes some minutes before I can give the order from my brain to raise my arm.

I finally, slowly sit on the table and eventually get up. She encourages me to stay for a bit and ground myself. “No, I’m okay,” I tell her. I drink some water and head to my car.

I sit behind the steering wheel for awhile, then decide that is silly and I should head home. I start to drive before I realize that I didn’t feel like going home just yet.

It occurs to me that the Mission Church might be a good stop. I checked my GPS – only ½ mile away! I head there. Though I hear a voice say that I will find parking in front of the church, I ignore that voice and park in a garage.

After parking, I walk in the direction I believe the church will be. But the walk feels long and I decide that I want confirmation. I look at several different people before deciding to stop one particular couple who are walking together but not talking.

They look like what I picture as a typical Boston couple. He stands about my height with a round belly, wearing a red Red Sox t-shirt, blue jeans and a baseball cap. She is only a bit shorter, with straight dyed-blonde hair, a weathered face and a similar round build.

I make eye contact with her and say, “Excuse me, I’m looking for the Mission Church. Is this the right direction?”

She returns my gaze and states, “I’m looking for Fenway Park.”

On a normal day, I try my best to be helpful. Today, under the influence of the bowls, generosity pours out of me. “Oh, I wish I could drive you there. But I just parked my car. It’s a long walk. You might think about taking a cab.”

She snaps at me, “What do I look like? Do I have ‘Information’ written on the front of my shirt?”

Normally, this would throw me off-center and trample all over any good mood. But the bowls remained in full effect, their powerful vibrations still pushing away anything not as strong, not as pure as they are. It was as though I was on some wild psychedelic trip and just observing her. All I could think was, “Wow, she is really angry.”

I told them I was sorry to bother them and continued on my way. If she was still talking, I didn’t notice, though I did notice the grin on his face.

I made it to the church, where I noted the ample on-street parking. I stayed for awhile, then returned to my car and drove home.

By then, I felt normal again. Really nice, but normal. The kids, dog and I headed to Yappier Hour at the Liberty Hotel to meet friends and their dogs. Once there, we ran into another friend who is going through a rough divorce. As she talked with me about her circumstances, I thought I was fully listening. I could hear what she was saying, I could see her point of view, AND I didn’t feel bad about it. I only felt bad that she was so unhappy, but not about the specific details.

She suddenly interrupted herself. “What is with you?”

I wasn’t sure what she meant.

“You are so….” She struggled for the word. “calm. You are so calm.”

I thought for a minute. Do I explain the bowls? I love being in this emotional space.

A couple of days later, someone said something that knocked me flat, letting me know that that I was down from that high. I missed that calm space and the protection of the bowls. I can totally see how someone would get addicted to drugs.

In the meantime, I am all about these circles that emanate from us. If they are strong, they have the power to block bad vibes from your happiness circle. I am convinced that we can do this ourselves. And like a pebble in the water, your actions, large or small, create these beautiful ripples that grow and surround us all, creating a powerful flow of waves that reach further than we can see and vibrate longer than we know. Thank you for every one.

Much love,

Waiting for Ig

Thank you for your prayers, both for the chemo working and for the session to be manageable in my life. As chemo weeks go, the recent one was decent. Regardless, I often reach a point in the middle of it all when I feel like it would be much easier to just give in and not go through all this. It is not that I want to kill myself. I just want the suffering to be over.

I’ve never been good at waiting for something to happen. I would often read the last page of a book ahead of time, and now I find that I want to peek at the last page of the story of my life.

In the meantime, my friend Ig came to visit. Basically, he had a 12-hour, overnight layover in Boston, but I was still thrilled that we would get even a bit of time together, and I didn’t want to miss a second of it.

When his flight landed, he texted his arrival and said that he would text again after he passed through customs. I estimated the amount of time he would need and drove to the airport.

After parking my car, I danced my way across the parking lot and into the terminal for international arrivals.

When I usually meet someone at the airport, I scan the sea of people walking toward me, looking for the familiar face. In the international terminal, however, arriving passengers get off their flight then go through customs in some unseen area, then pass through one door to officially emerge into the rest of the U.S.

I stood behind the metal crowd-control barriers and waited for my friend.

Typically, I like to keep busy while I wait. When I anticipate distantly future events, like vacations or special visits, I keep busy with daily life. When I wait for a shorter-term event – a red light, a doctor appointment, a phone call –  I distract myself by checking my cellphone, getting lost in thought or making a mental list.

Right now, though, I kept my eyes and mind focused on that door.

Passengers emerged one-by-one, usually pausing briefly before they continue forward and past the metal barriers to wherever they were headed. As each person passed through the door, my heart leapt with the possibility that it was him. When it wasn’t, my heart sunk, then immediately rose again with fresh anticipation as the next person passed through. In fact, each time my heart sunk, my anticipation rose higher, because with each person who was NOT my friend, I was getting closer to seeing him. It periodically crossed my mind that maybe I missed him somewhere along the line, but mostly, I stayed at-the-ready, focused on connecting with him the instant that he arrived.

Finally, Ig walked through the door carrying his backpack and luggage while I jumped up and down, waving and smiling like a lunatic.

I was thrilled to see him from the second that he arrived. In retrospect, I even enjoyed the uninterrupted, focused anticipation.

It reminded me of being in Brazil and going outside in the dark to watch sunrise. I loved waiting quietly as the sun slowly rose in the sky, watching the colors that meant the actual sun was getting closer, then greeting the day with my heart as the sun rose above the horizon.

As I think about the good feelings from simply waiting, maybe I can use that as I wait for the chemo to clear or for whatever is up next for me. To be honest, I am not quite sure how to use this. Maybe trusting that something great is in my future and I just need to watch each day the same way that I watched each person pass through the door. Maybe simply recognizing that waiting itself is a gift. Maybe some other way that I can’t see just now.

Thank you for waiting with me, for watching each special day, for recognizing the gifts, for trusting the unseen. Thank you for your faith in all that feels good and special and important, in my life and in your own.

Love and blessings,

Introducing St. Rita

Chemo on Tuesday.

We don't ride alone

My friend Marygrace drew this for me. Isn’t it wild? I love that my angel is right behind me, pedaling along, sporting purple hair that blows in the wind. I also love the flowers in the wicker basket in the front. I have been told (and Marygrace didn’t know this) that I NEED to put a wicker-type basket in the front.

A cool reminder that we are all energetically connected and that we are not alone.

From here, this note gets a little graphic. If you have a weak stomach, you may choose to skip it.

Last week, those horrible intestinal pains started again. (By now, the pattern is familiar. They start out feeling like stomach aches, then over a period of 12 hours, move into stronger and stronger intestinal pain and blockage. Eventually, I throw up several times, then the pain subsides and things settle out.)

My amazing energy healer can usually stop this in its tracks, but because of the work I did in Brazil, I am not supposed to work with her until mid-September. She taught me how to get rid of them myself, but

  1. it is much easier to turn a ship before it goes full-speed in one direction, and my pains were, by now, moving full speed ahead and
  2. the approach to eliminate these pains requires intense mental focus, and I kept getting distracted by the actual pain.

Instead, I used some amazing and effective pain management techniques. After a few hours, I realized that, while they manage each wave of pain as it comes, they don’t eliminate it. I’m a slow study. Or an eternal optimist.

Still, it was the best I could do. Then I remembered St. Rita. I first learned about St. Rita in Brazil and heard of miracles attributed to her intervention. St. Rita of Corsica is, among other things, the patron saint of the impossible.

So, I asked St. Rita something like this: Please stop this pain. Just about anything else would be preferable.

Suddenly, the pain subsided. Wow. Very cool. But, I felt this need to throw up. What on earth? I sat up and….my nose was bleeding like a faucet. And not just out of my nose, but down the back of my throat. Well, that solved the question of why I felt nauseous.

Avastin is part of my chemo cocktail, so any bleeding I get is profuse and takes a long time to stop. Still, I had to laugh. This was a decent trade-off for the pain, and I could not believe how immediately that trade-off was made.

I’m so grateful for all the non-physical beings around me – I have no clue why or how or even all the who’s, but they help. And I am so grateful for your physical help, as the physical and non-physical are so intimately intertwined. Thank you.

I head into chemo tomorrow, joining friends who are also doing chemo this week, recovering from cancer surgery, or are being scanned or biopsied to make sure there is no cancer in their body. Prayers all around!


Why can’t I fly?

First grade started today for our younger son. His first-day-of-school anxiety made his behavior oscillate between quiet and silly, and he didn’t want me to leave. As a last resort, he selected a book for me to read, guaranteeing I would stay a bit longer.

In Why Can’t I Fly? by Rita Golden Gelman, Minnie the Monkey asks one flying friend after another why she can’t fly. One tells her that she needs to take off her boots. Another helps her to apply feathers. Her ladybug friend suggests that she needs dots.

As I read this, I thought of all the well-meaning people who try to help me to fly / heal. I am totally open to what seems to work for them and, like Minnie the Monkey, sincerely try every single thing I can. Also like Minnie the Monkey, I feel like it will work and then I flop.

Like most children’s books, this book moves repetitively and slowly. As I read aloud, my mind raced to predict the ending. I assumed that Minnie would be content being a climbing monkey or the book would provide some other zen ending about loving your own life, gifts and limitations.

But no. In the end, as her friends all watched Minnie about to flop yet again, they each grabbed the corner of what looked like a big sheet, caught her mid-fall, then flew through the air carrying Minnie with them.

Suddenly, I didn’t relate to all of Minnie’s failed attempts but instead realized how I, too, am being carried by friends who seem to be able to magically do what I cannot.

I almost had tears. But it was the first day of school and we really didn’t need that.

Thank you for flying so beautifully. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. And thank you for carrying me. It enables me to feel like I can fly.

And thank you to the amazing first grade teachers and friends: At pick-up time, our little boy enthusiastically declared, “First grade is AWESOME!”