64. My Unpredictable Summer of 2000

BLOG 64: June, 2000—My summer, 17 years ago: weathered New England roads; a two-hundred-year-old-plus farmhouse that was once an old milk farm; an elder poet, Jean, who held poetry workshops every Monday for the past 25 summers; her granddaughter, Emily, and Emily’s mother, Cassie, who spent weekends with us; Jean’s cat, Tristan, handsome, black, and both elegant and wild; a swimming pool; open fields of mowed and wild grasses; dozens of creative, eccentric visitors, including Jean’s two son’s John and Larry; arable land for growing vegetables and herbs; and a nearby creek.

My summer of 2000—akin to Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69″—would be unlike any summer I had ever had or ever would again. What began as an agreement between Jean and I—I would help her in the house and drive her places (she used to say I was “driving Miss Daisy”) in exchange for soul time in her home and on her land so I could heal my hip—turned out to be time living with Jean’s family and many eccentric visitors, celebrating life in all of its greatness and challenges.

I had already begun my daily ritual of walking meditation in the woods and meditation in the mornings and evenings when Emily and her mother, Cassie, arrived at the old farmhouse in Brentwood, New Hampshire. I was slowly becoming familiar with my poet f1308e701ca3ff87135070d529836a11companion, Jean, who had invited me to join her Monday group of poets outside under the shade tree. I began sharing segments of my Child of Duende manuscript, and listening to other poet’s poems. But meeting Emily posed quite the challenge at first.

This thirteen-year-old girl seemed the epitome of a true teenager: a better-than-though attitude; a tendency to put me down even though she didn’t know me from a hole in the wall; a moody disposition; and a great capacity to manipulate her mother and get all the attention she needed. To add to that, she moved into the room next to mine, with a door between us that provided easy access for us to connect, for better or worse (I later discovered the real person she was).

Unfortunately, my first impression of her reminded me of my father, who had also been good at putting me down and making life miserable as I had tried to heal. And here I was, determined to heal from immense pain, yet having to deal with a moody teenager next door! Fortunately, my intention for the summer was clear, and Emily or anyone else wasn’t going to stop me from healing.

While I negotiated the family situation I had moved into, I visited my shamanic teacher and Reiki Master, Denise, for healing sessions. I had already begun studying the Medicine Wheel with her (she was a student of Alberto Villoldo, who had learned indigenous, shamanic teachings from the Q’ero people of Peru), and was now seeing her for private Reiki sessions (hands-on energy healing) with one goal in mind: I would heal my hip by the end of summer.

Without getting ahead of my storytelling of the Summer of 2000, I can say that that summer I learned how important it is to hold intention and trust in the gifts of the universe that don’t come in clean, predictable packages. I learned that, in actuality, these gifts arrive inside unpredictable and chaotic moments rich with healing and life.

A recent gift for me—a relationship that a9e0c8f4a29fc802cfb351a7243d6757has also proved to be anything but clean and predictable—offered itself to me earlier this summer. It arrived as the bold red flowers of the Mexican sage plant outside my house offers its nectar to my fluttering hummingbird friends. Sweet love, tender, passionate, alive, is what it has been. But it’s not what I could have predicted. This relationship has had its own reality filled with human limits and frailty, and has required I receive this gift while honoring my own intentions and truth.

But this summer and that of seventeen years ago have clearly shown me the importance of staying true to our heart and intentions, even if those gifts that show up do so in ways we don’t expect. . . that just because something doesn’t fit our perceptions or vision of what is good and right in that moment, doesn’t mean it’s not a gift for us to receive with great love.

My Summer of 2000 didn’t turn out to be what I had envisioned. Truth be told, it was much more than I could have ever imagined—with all the eccentric, unpredictable, and chaotic energies dancing together to unravel great love and healing. Maybe, just maybe, that will be also hold true for this new relationship and many more of life’s gifts . . .

My Novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is about discovering life’s gifts. 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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54. I Want to Challenge You

 

Blog 54: June, 1999: I want to challenge you—yes, you, reader of this blog—to ask yourself: “What is my hunger?” Last week, I wrote about hunger, about my hunger of almost 20 years ago, and my current hunger. As I perused my journal last week, as I do every time I write this, I came across a piece of writing on hunger that struck a cord. So, I decided to create Part 2 of last week’s blog. Here it is, beginning with my journal entry from years ago:

“As I write this, I can hear the voices that have challenged my hunger all along,” I wrote in June, 1999. “The voice is that I am alone, that this hunger belongs only to me, and that everyone is quite normal in their view and understanding of the world. This is a strange and pathetic lie that I grew up with, that you many have grown up with: that we have no hunger; that we have no “self” that is incapable of rationalizing the answers to our existence; that we need no answers because we are the pathetic answer that walks this earth pretending to know—pretending to know that we live and die without much more to our existence; pretending that we are not vulnerable, that we do not break, that this world cannot break us and hurt us and teach us to love.”

These words from years ago may seem harsh, yet I grew up in a family where emotions were rarely expressed. My ancestors had fertilized the ground we walked on with potent seeds of stoic strength that they’d grown so they could survive horrid wars, immigration, and challenging life lessons. Yet, this stoicism masked a grief that needed, one day, to be unearthed.

“I intend to speak to those whf77ad40934475fcab37c7a5736a3b646o find my words resonating with them. Otherwise, why read? Art is, after all, this wonderful world in which we can share, express, and crawl out to the edge of a limb and cry out our existence so those who are afraid to climb can see that it is alright, that we were meant to climb, to sing, to explore this world that is only ours right now,” I wrote. “I can’t believe that this hunger is not in every breathing soul that exists—from the Buddha who found peace, to the musician who, with all her might, sings
to us a kind of longing that only a song can sometimes do so well. I have seen hunger in my father’s eyes—in the way he cannot keep still, driving wherever he can to find his hunger sated for brief moments. Or in my mother, in her later years, wanting so much to find warmth in companionship.”

Most recently, my father’s hunger was there until the very end of his life, days before he died, on February 23, 2017. He longed to walk, to try one last time, as his legs gave in below him. He longed to join us for a toast and dinner at the table, to be a part of the life. He longed for peace from pain, for some understanding, it seemed, of what awaited him after life. My family and I all longed to be there with my father, to feel the tenderness of his final weeks that had been absent many years earlier. I longed to be there to help my father transition, to breathe every last breath with him, knowing each one could mark the end.

As I sit now, alone, writing, feeling the reality of all that has passed, and of my father who is no longer here, I wonder about this thing we call life. No rational mind, no preset ideas, no justification for my father’s passing—at 79 years old, and no earlier or later—can change or ease this reality of life and death. Despite all I’ve learned about life, and spirit, and all that passes, I still ask myself, “Why?” “Why does all life leave its form to become something else?” “Why do we, as humans, have to feel loss?” There’s a hunger in that. There’s a grief. There’s a stark reality that life is so immensely precious, and that any denial of our hunger to live this life as fully as we know how, now, and no minute later, would be a lie toward life itself.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of following this hunger home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Page  or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, watch a brief video on “duende”, “the spirit of the earth”: YouTube Video

 

 

51. Riding Off into “Las Pampas”

BLOG 51: June, 1999—“There are so many times you have been with me, and yet I have not seen you. I feel touched, moved, overwhelmed inside this little heart of mine by the guide you have been so long—an angel so present on this earth, so alive within me, so much a part of me,” I wrote from my parent’s home in New Jersey 18 years ago. “I feel like I have been gone so long, wayward in search of myself—a decade of scraping down every wall to discover this beauty beside and inside of me…this stalwart tree, ever-growing slowly, gracefully upward, as I have stretched out, spreading arms that reach out to embrace the sun, eager to get there.”

These words made up a letter addressed to MAGIC itself, and to a dear friend of mine, a past partner. After all, isn’t magic in both—inside ourselves and in relationship?  While today is a different time, and magic may be too general a word to apply to my present moment here with my ailing father—I’ve been reflecting on what it must be like for him to soon embark on what may be a potentially “magical” journey into the afterlife.

My father has always been quite the scientist, carefully reflecting on the reasonable, proven aspects of life. I wonder now, when he’s in tremendous pain, and asks us to help him die, whether he has a sense of where he’s going (if anywhere at all).

Some years back, after he and I had visited my Argentinean cousin, Carmen, who was extremely frail and dying from a brain tumor, he confessed to me, in his apartment living room, that the idea of death really scared him. It was clear then, as now, that he was reflecting on his own death.

Last night, I sat with what it would be like to have no imagined sense (or a very existential one) of what we call the afterlife. I’ve always had a strong feeling of spirit, or what life without a body would be like. If anything, I’ve found it much more natural and real to be with the world of spirit than body. But for my father, who prided himself of being very athletic and intelligent, and having 5d0235715e06de38848b7e112c1f3ec8the independence and strength to control his destiny, death may be a different kind of beast for him to face.

If it’s true what a friend of mine once said—that, after death, people see and experience that which they believed to be true in this lifetime…that our beliefs dictate what’s next…or at least for the first part of our journey—then I wondered what current beliefs were dictating my father’s sense of what awaits him. Is the pain I see him going through, both physical and emotional, a part of his battle between his current beliefs and what is to come? Does it have to be this painful leaving this earthly plane as we prepare to shift as the caterpillar does into the butterfly?

As I sat at my father’s bedside one evening, I asked his mother’s spirit, our shared ancestors, and angelic beings to visit him in his sleep to give him a glimpse of what’s possibly next. Then, a beautiful imagine came to mind. My father has always been an adventurous soul, I thought, and he had always said he would have been a “gaucho”, an Argentinean cowboy, if he hadn’t taken a more practical route in life. So, then, why can’t he ride off like a gaucho into the vast grasslands, las Pampas de Argentina, when it’s his time, and begin his adventure beyond his body as one of the greatest freedom he has ever known?

With that, I smiled, and he fell asleep.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story of spirit and coming home. Check it out on Amazon: Amazon Link or at www.michelleadam.net. Also, I’ve created a short new video on duende, the spirit of the earth, and on my novel. Check it out: YouTube Video

 

 

50. Hand Outstretched to God: Time Carves us into Magic

BLOG 50: May 20, 1999—I was angry at my father inside my dream of almost 20 years ago. In that nighttime journey, I had discovered sculptures of Italy’s Renaissance artist Michelangelo below a pile of ice in a freezer. I was angry at my father for directing conversations toward rational conclusions that had nothing to do with the emotions present in the room. Discovering Michelangelo sculptures below frozen items in my dream seemed akin to discovering the magic, beauty, and life that lay below the frozen emotions of that time.

Back then, I carried a truth that lay smothered below a stoic, cold family dynamic where emotions were avoided at all costs. My truth was this: I loved my father so f8a6f93aae60db2e9ec200da2001c08avery much, and I also felt immense hurt and pain (including physical pain) in not being able to share this love with him or feel it from him, or from others in my family. We had learned to be tough and independent, and strong women (I am one of three sisters, and my mother), but we had never learned to express love and that aliveness, which, for me was who I really was and longed to be in this world. I was this sculpture at the bottom of a pile of ice, longing to be carved out into the magical being I was.

Today, the person I was, and the family I once had, has become—with time having carved magic out of stone—a Michelangelo sculpture, so alive, and life-affirming. Just last week, I was with my family—my father, my three sisters, my mother, and my father’s two sisters, Ingrid and Sisi, from Argentina—because my father has been very ill. We all came together to be with him as he lay on a hospital bed in the living room, too weak to stand or take care of himself anymore.

The days together were long, but rich, holding my father’s hands, feeding him, massaging him, and helping with the most mundane of tasks. With his two sisters, he sang songs of their childhood years in Argentina, and when it came to the Argentinean National Anthem, my father’s voice filled the room with a passion I had never heard before. For those moments, all of my father’s weakness and slurred speech left him inside a celebration of the life he had lived and shared. IMG_1639.JPG

Unlike earlier times in his life, he reached out to each of us, shared his love, his gratitude, and pulled us toward him to receive and give love (there were other more challenging moments too!). And at one point, he asked my mother to lie on the narrow, hospital bed with him and they held each other. They made up for words and emotions unspoken during so many years past.

Then, my father asked us all to sit in a circle around him, as we did our best to prop him up at the side of his bed. He told us to ask him anything we needed to ask him. He would answer honestly with a clear “yes” or “no”, he said. There we were, five grown women with my father, trying to ask him questions that he felt were senseless (because we already knew the answers). What he wanted, it seemed, was to clear the air, for us to express any emotions or concerns we carried that needed to be spoken so he could go in peace knowing we were okay.img_1636

It’s as if my father wanted to melt any remaining ice covering these magical Michelangelo sculptures we had all become, and that he too had become. All the pain, all the years, all the wrestling that my father and I, and all of us had done, to become the beautiful God-creations and works of art we now were, had all been worth it. We were finally here to love and live so deeply together, present to life and death, and to each other, during this final leg of my father’s journey on earth.

*My novel Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit is about this journey of coming home to the magical creations we are. Check it out on Amazon. It’s currently at a Promotional Rate, but this ends soon: 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

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

40. Compassion of a Broken Heart

HOW HAVE YOUR STRUGGLES HELPED YOU GROW WINGS OF COMPASSION?

BLOG 40: August, 1998—The summer rain came and went; the cars on the nearby New Jersey highway hummed incessantly; and the fast paced East Coast life continued as I lived with my parents in an effort to heal the pain in my hip.

I found work as an assistant editor and writer for an Irish magazine whose offices were down the road from us. I then lay on my parent’s couch as I wrote, because chairs were too painful. My father hated seeing me so weak and vulnerable, and would get angry at me for lying down so much and not having the strength or capacity to bike or walk. But I resisted doing what he assumed any 30-year-old should be able to do because too often, if I biked or walked more than a few blocks, my muscles would go into spasm, my right hip and groin would inflame, and I’d have sleepless nights with an overactive nervous system.

That was almost twenty years ago, when I wondered if I would even walk with ease again, as I tried every which way to heal, and hit wall upon wall, wondering why it had to be so hard. That was when, at times, I wished I could just end my life, since living with such disability and pain didn’t seem worth it. I had been like a wild horse, suddenly lame, longing to be put out of my misery.

Today, as I walk and help others heal, I watch my father in his elder years struggling with cancer, with multiple surgeries, and with pain in his left leg that at times seems too much for him to bear. I see him wondering at what point each surgery, each attempt to eliminate pain, is worth it, when he can’t walk like he used to or do what he loves.

A week ago, I was with my father and mother in Virginia, massaging my father’s legs from edema (water retention in his right leg), helping him prepare for his next surgery, his next battle against aging and debilitation. I was there being with the reality of his condition, grateful for the chance to share this time with him and my mother and be a gift of love.img_0910

That night I flew back home to New Mexico, I cried a deep grief, feeling the hopelessness and pain I had once lived and that now I see my father going through. The man who had earlier been so strong, angry, and lacking in compassion for the pain I had lived through, is now the same one feeling that pain for himself. And rather than be angry for what I didn’t receive then, I am grateful that my own limitations and journey broke my heart open to compassion and deep love. I can now be there for my parents, and we can share our love fully while there is time.

HOW HAVE YOUR STRUGGLES HELPED YOU GROW WINGS OF COMPASSION?

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, tells a story of compassion and love. 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

39. My Wings Circle Around Me in Love

WHEN WAS YOUR LAST SURREAL MOMENT? 

BLOG 39: August, 1998—Four months had passed since living with my parents in a small house in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ, a community far away from Oakland, California, and New Mexico, where I had been for several years.  Two years ago, I had left New Jersey, from my parents’ earlier house, to go out west, to discover my wings, only to injure myself and return to this place of family.

Suburban life had always been a challenge for my free spirit, but it had become even more so since   traveling out west and experiencing the openness of the land and sky there. But now, Stefan, a friend I had fallen in love with and had danced with before traveling out west, was visiting. My parents were out of town, and being with him again was like being drunk.

Stefan and I had choreographed and performed a dance together at Omega Institute, a holistic studies center in Rhinebeck, New York State, and while we had gotten very close physically, we had never become full lovers or been in a relationship. He had come to New York from his hometown of Montreal (his parents were Haitian), and although we had become intimate through dance, he had chosen to maintain an element of tension between us that had pulled at me painfully, even when I was out west.

Now as he visited, we went into Brooklyn to see his Caribbean relatives, who were so warm in their touch and way, that I wished I could stay with them longer. But then we went to the ocean, where the piercing grey, blue sky that covered the sand and ocean merged with the orange ball of sun detumblr_mocdvsd18d1rub0hvo1_500scending in the sky. It seemed everyone just sat watching the blue crystal waters of infinity melting inside the sunset.

Nature wrapped herself around Stefan and me for these brief moments that erased time, with even the most hurried stopping to observe. “It’s not surreal, it’s very real,” said Stefan as I mentioned to him how surreal it felt. I agreed with his words, yet there was something surreal in that this moment didn’t belong to us alone. It was a collective experience that moved through us inside a dimension that made no distinctions, had no direction to go, no beginning, no end. It was a kind of “now” that erased even presence itself.

As I sat with Stefan in this magical place, I realized that my love for him, or my feelings of in-loveness that I had held onto for so long, had no future, no life beyond these moments. Together we shared a spark that lit up the space between us. But, it was time for me to take that fire and openness I had experienced in the west, and cool those aching parts of myself—the hunger and fear—inside the clear blue skies of the East Coast, and come home to magic within.

So grateful I was for these days with Stefan, for I was able to close an old chapter, and feel my wings circling around me in love for a more mature life of reciprocal joy.      

WHEN WAS YOUR LAST SURREAL MOMENT? 

*My recently-published novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, shares a story of coming home. 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