65. From Feast to Nightmare

BLOG 65: June, 2000—The sounds of crickets and bullfrogs filled in the silence of the encroaching night as we sat at the long dining room table of the old New England farmhouse, singing musical show tunes. It was no ordinary evening. My elder poet housemate, Jean, and her son John, her granddaughter Emily, and Emily’s mom, Cassie, (and maybe Jean’s other son, Larry, and some girlfriend, as far I can remember!) and I were all enjoying a great feast with a bottle of homemade and homegrown strawberry rhubarb wine gifted to me by the family who had hosted the shamanic workshop I had translated for.

One average-sized bottle of this extraordinary potion shared among us was enough to convert us into musical magicians (or at least we thought we were) and unstoppable storytelling and laughter. We took our turns marveling at this wine bottle and its light rose substance inside. Was it possible that so little amount could be so magical? Maybe the nature spirits, the duendes, of our New England mountainside were responsible for having infused every cell of those fermented strawberries and rhubarb patches with immense joy and lightness that lifted our spirits into the night.

Any concerns or stress we may have brought with us to the farmhouse—whether Jean’s loss of her husband, or my aching body and all the uncertainties of my new summer on the farm, or work stresses for those who had arrived here from Boston or New York—flew out the window on nature’s wings. Even Emily and her 13-year-old teenage angst and attitude disappeared inside the laughter and song of my new-found summer family.

Although great feasts and wine became an integral part of my summer on the farm, I continued, like clockwork, visiting Denise, who performed Reiki energy work and shamanic healing on me every week. We focused on healing the pain in my hip, sacrum, and groin that had become debilitating.

After every session, I went back to the farmhouse, altered and exhausted. I tried to go to bed early and fall into a deep, deep sleep that often lingered into early afternoon or later. Then, in a slumber of weakness and altered consciousness, I meditated and sat for hours on the earth, in the garden, sifting earth through my fingers while tending to the sprouting vegetable and herb seedlings.

I will never forget one of those post-Reiki nights of healing that took me on a journey unlike any I had ever experienced. That night, in late June, I couldn’t sleep. My stomach became agitated, my entire sacrum and pelvis throbbed in fear, cd71d209e7ea69f884080638e259c8b8and every little noise seemed to trigger a deep physical response. At one point, as my mind began to drift slightly, I screamed. I screamed out a heightened fright that suddenly gripped my body. I felt as if someone were about to attack me as an unfamiliar reality surfaced from deep within me, taking over any other reality that existed around me.

Feeling intensely frightened, I sat up and focused on grounding myself like a tree into the earth. But when I closed my eyes to imagine this, I merely felt unsafe, cut off from the earth and any sense of security. I lay back down, and called upon an animal ally (something I had been taught to do in my shamanic training). I asked this animal ally to lie between my legs, protecting my groin and pelvis, which, had become very agitated. 

For anyone reading this, it may seem an odd explanation of an experience that was akin to a bad drug trip or post traumatic stress. But, I had already spent almost four years, to no avail, attempting to heal from my groin pull. I had worked with almost every type of healing modality, including conventional Western medicine, but had never experienced Reiki, which is a kind of energy healing. The impact of this healing surprised me, and went deeper that anything I had tried before. It seemed to begin to move the energy, the life force, which had existed in areas where hardened, endless pain had lived for too long. When this occurred, a deeper reality that resided inside the pain, revealed itself at night, when my inhibitions where low, when that part residing in the unconscious folds of our being comes to the surface to be seen and heard.      

That night of many moons ago, I allowed for my animal guide, a spirit protector, if you will, to protect me from the fright that resided inside me. I gradually fell asleep, but only after moments of drifting off and then suddenly waking to the sound of cars driving by or any other noise that felt like an immense shock through me. Imagine yourself there, your nervous system so sensitive, so heightened to everything, that every noise, every movement around you, jolts you awake. b436871e6116bf8f6cf1672fa1414b92That’s where I remained all night, until the birds began to chirp outside my window, and all of me drifted into a sleep that would be so much more than sleep…that would be a nightmare, to be exact.

The nightmare that followed would offer me one important key to the door of my summer’s healing. But, I will spare the reader this story until my next blog. For now, I can say that there are nightmare’s that are worth having, every bit of them, especially if, in having them, there’s peace and healing on the other side.

The summer on the farm offered me these extremes—feasts of immense celebration and laughter, and nightmares, that, like an initiation through our greatest fear and fright, ultimately offer another life, another way, filled with immense, hope, love, and joy. I would not have changed any of it, for all of it was necessary to have arrived at this place today, this place of gratitude and grace.

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about traveling through our nightmares to a place of renewed hope and joy. It’s available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. It can be ordered at a local bookstore as well. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

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Open Letter to My Father: (pause from regular blog)

It’s been more than two months since you left, your last breath a cry of life and then you were gone. When I’m still enough to feel and listen, I sense you here with me. In several weeks, though, I imagine I’ll feel your presence even more. That’s when my mother, sisters, and I will be traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina, staying inside your apartment tucked away inside the old quarters of your city. It once lay above the empanada shop that smelled of oven-baked dough wafting up toward your place, and then the hairdresser’s where I replaced, with decent hair color, that horrific henna hair color that made the top of my head look like a carrot—and which you kept touching to make fun of.

If I remember correctly, the last time I was with you in your beloved Argentina was two spring times ago, before you got too sick to travel. We planned another trip after that, but it wasn’t in the cards. Instead, chemotherapy was. But I still remember how you asked me, quite last minute, to join you in Argentina for that last spring time together. At first I declined, since I had made alternative plans, but then, with your persistence, and lots of maneuvering, we shared our last month in your beloved country together.

That was the time my upper back was in immense pain and you couldn’t walk much more than a block. We were quite the team, eternally riding taxis through Buenos Aires, with you incessantly IMG_1174talking to the drivers and everyone else we met. “Isn’t this city the best city in the world,” you’d tell the taxi driver. You’d sit there in the back with your little black bag you carried everywhere, beaming with joy for your childhood homeland you had returned to.

One of our last taxi rides together was to the fish vendor. Do you remember? Even though walking was a struggle, you insisted we stroll through an open market where you greeted everyone as if you had been there a hundred times. Then we went to your fish vendor to pick up a large, frozen octopus, which you insisted on cooking because your friends considered it one of their favorite delicacies.

We celebrated our last supper in the apartment with your friends, Loli and Herbert, and with your sisters, Ingrid and Dietlinde. What a glorious night. You had worked so hard cooking that octopus, and by the time we sat down to eat, and I dedicated a poem and song to you—and to the brief time we all had to celebrate life together—it seemed all worth it.

While you faced your challenges with age—Parkinson’s, Leukemia, and then Melanoma—there was something special about those final years together. You were no longer the tough, distant father I had known you to be, and your challengIMG_1165es became the gift that opened you to love. I adored how you talked to everyone you met; how you let things go that weren’t important; how you didn’t care about things being perfect anymore. What had become perfect was your giving heart, memorable dinners with precious friends of your childhood, and your unbridled passion for small things (like that ice cream you loved at Adan Restaurant—the one topped with champagne and lemon!).

Maybe when mom, my sisters, and I go back to Buenos Aires later this month, we’ll honor you with a scoop of that fine ice cream; or by taking a trip by taxi; or by greeting the man at the deli across the street, and all the others you used to speak to. What I do know is that family and friends will come together with you, celebrating your life with an abundance of toasts. I’ll make a special Last Supper in your apartment to honor you as well (I’ll even take a picture of it, and make sure you’re in it!), and I’ll do a book reading from my novel Child of Duende with a local Flamenco guitarist in your neighborhood.

It will be the first time that I perform anything outside of this country, let alone in Argentina—and it may be the last there. As much as I’m doing it for myself, when I share the story of Duende to Flamenco guitar, it will be for you as well. You’ll be able to see me there, in your favorite city in the world, en tu Buenos Aires Querido, sharing, as you did, Argentinian Eventmy passion for living this moment, this breath, this spirit of life that is only given to us for this brief moment. I hope you can come, that you can see me, that you can see and feel all of us honoring you where your heart had learned to open so big in your last years of your life, at home, in your Beloved Querido Buenos Aires.

Please join me this May 26 at 5:30p.m. in Buenos Aires (and if you can’t make it, please let friends who can come know) to celebrate storytelling, Flamenco guitar, Garcia Lorca, and my father, Alberto Adam. It’s at Kel Ediciones, Conde 1990, 1428 , Buenos Aires, Belgrano, 54  11 4555 4005,  kelediciones.com, a top 

carrier of books in English in Buenos Aires. 

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is also available on Amazon at Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

46. A Stillness was Born Yesterday… and with that, Happy Holidays!

BLOG 46: December, 1998—“A stillness was born yesterday, wanting everyday more,” I wrote as Christmas approached in my parent’s small home in New Jersey. I continued to write my novel, and search for that place within that struggled to show her face while trying to walk again.

“Where are you going with all this time on your hands?” I asked that part of myself that knew how to be still. “Inside,” it said. “Inside.”

 “And what do you do inside?” I asked.

“I listen. I listen.”

“To what?”

“To myself. To myself,” it said.

“And what do you have to say to yourself?”

“Nothing,” it said. “Nothing.”

“Then why listen to nothing?”

Because I got tired of listening to everything else that did not matter.”

“And why did nothing else matter?” I asked.

“Because it did not know how to feel.”

“So your nothing you listen to are your feelings?” I asked.

“Yes, but only the ones that do not need to speak.”

“Why those?”

“Because they are true. They are happy,” it responded. “Because they know the way home.”

80bf4541fb8d77d2cfd294a0952726aeAlmost 20 years later, I am here again—visiting family in Virginia for this year’s Christmas. But this time I feel an innate happiness with family that comes from being home inside myself…and home with my parents, my Tia Ingrid visiting from Argentina, and my sisters and their families. We are all different (that’s for sure!), but I feel comfortable in my own skin and full in my heart.

It is particularly a special time to come together, given that my father has had many health issues, and my aunt Ingrid is here from Argentina, and all my sisters and their children will be here. There’s no time to waste, since we only have now to count on.

It’s been a delicious time, yet I feel for one of my younger family members who was not able to make it this year. They too are walking that fragile place of becoming comfortable in their own skin, and feeling safe in this world to share that place with others here. I too held back for many years, learning to be comfortable with myself, with who I really was, and not that person others expected me to be. It took time, and strength, and maybe because I was immobile for years…slowing down enough to find that voice, the one that wrote to me almost 20 years ago, wanting me to feel and to love myself in all my difference.

*Make Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit a gift for the holidays! Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

So Let’s Celebrate with an Ole!

December 10, 2016—This past Saturday, to an audience of 35 enthusiastic listeners, I introduced “duende”, the spirit of the earth, and the essence of my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit. I did so after a month of post-election shock and blues that called me to speak fuller and more passionately than in the past. I wished to share hope, and bring a full spirit of who we are capable of being as Flamenco Guitarist and Singer Ronaldo Baca and I wove together storytelling, Flamenco, and Cante Hondo (deep song).

 “Like a soft, subtle breeze that inches her way into our lives, bit by bit, increasing her intensity and presence, the darkness of winter arrives,” I began with these words. “The moon rises to light up the cooler nights and we begin to celebrate an inner world, an unseen world that, ironically, in the darkness, may be easier to glimpse, to experience than in the bright light of summer.”

My words continued, dancing in an out of Ronaldo’s Flamenco Guitar playing. “Inside this darkness lies a seed, a potent seed of yet to be dreamed of possibilities, of spirit imbued with a force that we have ignored for far too long in the name of progress, growth, and reaching for the stars.

“But here we are, wondering what’s happening around us. The friction, the breakdown, and break up of that which we’ve held to be true. Our illusions broken as seeds of power and fear, planted long ago, are now emerging. But there’s also another seed, buried deeper inside the earth, and far inside all of us, that seeks to be seen and experienced in the dark of winter… at this time of year and this time of history.

“This journey tonight is an invitation to go to that place, to travel along the threads of ancient culture, to the roots of gypsy and deep song that has never, never lost the resonance and power of its voice despite centuries of persecution. It’s the same sounds we hear in the spirituals, in the blues, in indigenous chants, and in ragas from East India, the original homeland of the Gypsies … it’s that sound of longing (or llanto…a call out) that comes from deep within and that rises more fiercely and fully in the darkness, during times in which we’ve given up hope and we’re crying out for another way.

“This is that time, and I invite you this evening, to go on this journey to a profound place of freedom, of possibility that awaits us in our listening. It is an invitation to experience “duende”, the spirit of the earth that is the very seed of which I speak, and which carries the most ancient seed of knowing. It is an invitation to travel with us, through story, song, and Flamenco guitar, to the world of my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit.

15355716_1142183272543542_3995107497377793370_n“So let’s begin. With an Ole, with a deep breath, with a full sigh, releasing all that we have worked so hard to create, all that we have sought so hard to find and be, so that new life can enter, so the full spirit we carry within can speak and sing.”

The evening was a beautiful, soul-filled one that felt like family remembering who we are together. I invite those of you  reading this blog to make this season one of going deep within and bringing out the gift of who you arethrough voice and spirited actionas a present to life.

*Please share your experiences of being the gift you are during these holidays. (My regular blog will resume after this).

*Make Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit a gift for the holidays! Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

 

44. Giving Thanks to Divine Unity

BLOG 44: November 24, 1989—It was Thanksgiving, but 18 years ago, at my parent’s house in New Jersey. My days and nights were filled with dreams, wide-open dreams and experiences that revealed the magical possibility of our humanity inside a deep purging.   

My body—in its pain and opening—had become a vessel through which ancients truths could emerge and awaken. I was in bed, unable to fall asleep on Thanksgiving night because my body was speaking to me. I could feel intensely that my reality was a memory of shapes that move, shift, and change like reality shifts into dreams and dreams into everyday reality. I had never experienced this before…that all was malleable, that everything was fluid, that the physical and emotional were all the same…that we are a kind of liquid of sorts, and that if we could see that, we could experience the potential of magic.

During those days, I had also been reading a book by Lynn Andrews, and it prompted me to dream about and reflect on a character in her booked named Agnus, who carried a “marriage basket.” In my dreams, she represented the Virgin Mary, and the marriage basket was the “Holy Grail”, the child within her that is the “Unity of All Things.” Mary gave birth to Jesus, but more symbolically, as all women do, she gave birth to the feminine and masculine within herself. In doing so she created a child that was in the image of God, and she, in essence, through giving birth, became, the unity of all things.

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Those days 18 years ago offered some deep reflections that, in this simple blog, may be hard to fully express. But what I saw then, and I see now, as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving—a holiday first shared between native Americans and North European settlers who gave thanks to the native people for showing them how to grow and harvest corn and other crops to survive in new lands—is that we are so much more than the extreme masculine energy of competition and winning, and the extreme feminine energies of pity and plight, and that it is time for us to give birth to the magic child within us, the unity of all things.

In the past months, so many of us have felt the fear, pain, and horror, of change as the extreme masculine has reared its ugly face during the elections and at Standing Rock (where thousands of native people and supporters are fighting to protect the waters, as they are brutally attacked and their graves and that which they hold scared are desecrated). We have also seen people speaking up with more courage and heart than ever before to protect each other and the earth.

And now, as we all come together with loved ones during Thanksgiving, and we give thanks for that which has blessed us, it may also be a time to plant a seed for the spring—a seed that gives birth the unity of all things. Maybe this time of upheaval is a chance for us to look at the separation we have been living—the extreme masculine and feminine energies we have been carrying—and to give birth to the divine unity that we all are. Maybe we are being pushed to see who we truly are: fluid, divine beings with malleable colors and shapes that we can creatively rearrange to create a beautiful painting and landscape we can all celebrate.     

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of coming home to this divine unity. Check it out on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

Honoring the Unseen World of Our Ancestors

10/30/2016--Like a soft, subtle breeze that inches her way into our lives, bit by bit, increasing her intensity and presence, the darkness of winter arrives. The moon rises to light up the cooler nights and we begin to celebrate an inner world, an “unseen” world that, ironically, in the darkness, may be easier to glimpse, to experience than in the bright light of summer. (Note, this writing is a break from my regular blog story)

At this time of the year—of ghosts and goblins of Halloween, and spirits taking form inside our imaginations—I shared my novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, with a group of mystery writers and readers. It was fitting to do so since my novel sprouted from an energy akin to this time of the year. My novel came from a place of inner journey, where the sun hides, or so it seems, as it creeps down, into the earth, in the early evening, and lights up a place inside of us (inside the earth that we are) that longs to come home to itself. My novel celebrates this inner world, this “unseen world,” which we often call the spirit world or that place from which all life emerges.

Tomorrow’s celebration of Halloween also honors this unseen world. It originated from the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (“sah-win”), a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and a time in which the ancient Gaels believed that the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops. The Christians, who gave this hoce0b65a48bcd9204ddb1aaa7b7dc4032liday the name of Halloween, were also celebrating “hallowed evening” or “holy evening,” as a time of honoring the holy; and those who celebrate Dia de los Muertos recognize their ancestors, and those who have walked before them, making a place for them to visit from the “other world.”

After sharing Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit with an audience of thirty earlier this week, I began to feel the leaves of my abundant summer falling to the ground, preparing the soil for new life in the Spring. It was a challenging week for me, and for numerous people I spoke with. But rather than get upset or push through this energy–in the name of progress as we are taught to do in this culture–I listened. I invited friends to gather in ceremony to intimately honor our ancestors and all that has come before, and to prepare the soil for the Spring.

My reaction to the change of season, and my internal seasons, is so different from years ago. Then, when my soul, my life, urged me to slow down, I resisted. I didn’t know how. I pushed through it, injuring myself, hurting myself, and eventually got to a place of writing my novel because I could no longer ignore that which was unseen that wished to speak.

So rather than be like the person I was, I invite you to be with the seasons that we all are, and honor this time of the year for its gift of life and death, of seen and unseen, of blessing that which has come before so that Spring’s soil sprouts a blessed harvest.

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit is on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Child-Duende-Journey-Michelle-Adam/dp/099724710X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474233011&sr=8-1&keywords=child+of+duende  or at www.michelleadam.net

25. A Chance Encounter Becomes …

HAVE YOUR EVER HAD A CHANCE ENCOUNTER THAT BECAME MORE?  

BLOG 25: October, 1997—I’m sitting on my bed in the living room of my home in the hills of Oakland, California . I’m not alone. A friend, who is a professional massage therapist, is on my bed as well, giving a massage to Archie, the man I met on the plane ride months ago—the one who inspired me to begin writing what today has become my novel, Child of Duende.

Other friends join me on my bed, or on the couch, or sit nearby. I’m shaking my torso to music blasting “Oops Upside the Head” inside a sequin top I managed to find at a second hand store during my few jaunts outside the house (yes, I’m able to walk, but not far without massive pain). You’d think it were a typical California affair (in December, I end up going to a New Year’s Eve Party where everyone—I mean, everyone—is naked, massaging each other and much more), but it’s actually my birthday. I’ve invited everyone and anyone I know to celebrate my late 20s, and since I’m living out of my bed in the living room, it seems an ideal place to celebrate!

You may wonder how Archie—a man I merely met on a plane—arrived at my birthday party. It’s simple, though. He had given me his card before we parted ways, and I sent an invitation to his Los Angeles address. He thought, what the hell, let’s live it up—as did I—and he arrived with a friend to find himself in my living room receiving massages and having a good time.

The day after my extraordinary birthday celebration, Archie and I meet up to discover if there’s any romance in the cards for us. We talk, on my bed, of course, but nothing goes further than that. He talks baseball and I’m more interested in some deep philosophical, soulful, and romantic encounter. He suggests I drive south with him to Los Angeles and let the wind determine where we go, but I decline. This body of mine can’t handle a trip right now. But we’re both glad that we took a moment out of ordinary time and rational behavior to celebrate life.

HAVE YOUR EVER HAD A CHANCE ENCOUNTER THAT BECAME MORE?