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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55. Honoring Body, Earth, and Air

Blog 55: July, 1999— “I lay out big like New Mexico tonight, the stars speckling the skies in every direction,” I wrote after relaxing outside my parents’ home under New Jersey skies. “It makes me aware of how amazing it is to be walking on this earth. What a gift it is to be inside this wonder—to know that every day we have this, yet we crowd our thoughts and lives with so much that clutters our view.”

Then, it seemed, life felt more alive, more resilient, inside the warmth of summer. I was reminded of what I had once had. I had danced in New York City before becoming injured, and I had lived in New Mexico where the earth and her big skies had invited me to slow down, even though I wasn’t ready.914e43fb9aef1d21aab3d064540aae1e

“When I think of dancing now, I think of an inspiration that followed me, almost stalking me. I still feel how beautiful it was to dance, to take that deep breathe that is dance,” I wrote. “I want to start again, slower this time, with care and love, listening and understanding that this body is my love, my gift. When I do, I will know how a body is, what a body means, how it is mine in more than dance to take care of.”

That day in New Jersey was like today in New Mexico. Storm clouds cleared to reveal snow-covered mountain peaks as the sun melted the cool breeze dancing inside springtime. I stretched, walked with a friend, and enjoyed being in this body that has been through so much—so much of my neglect and taking for granted the gift of what I had been given. I remember how, when I had lived in California (after leaving New Mexico, and before that, New York City), I had felt such immense despair at not being able to get out onto the land…with the idea of not having open skies, trees, fresh air, and water to bathe in when my soul felt weary.

Back then, I had taken for granted my body’s gift—the gift of housing my soul, my life’s force—and, in the pursuit of becoming someone, forgot the importance of my connection to the earth. Now I know how precious both are, and that, in our neglect, it can take a long time to repair the damage we’ve done.

Today, I think about how we, as Americans, have been blessed with living on this breath-taking land once called Turtle Island by Indigenous Americans. Yet, recently, our leader has threatened to roll back protections for land and air. It’s in the name of progress and jobs, President Donald Trump says. Yet there’s no progress when we can’t drink the water, breath the air, and celebrate this body of life we’ve been given.
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There’s no progress when we no longer wake to visible sunrises or share in the diversity of people, plants, and animals that makes this earth so precious.

I reflect on my journey of unraveling the layers of my mind’s clutter so that I can care for my body, my home, and live from a place of greater gratitude for this earth life we have been given. For me, pain cleansed and cleared away layers that maybe, without it, would still be blinding me from the gift of my body and this earth.

Maybe, just maybe, we don’t need so much pain to learn the gift of what we have right here, in front of us, though. Maybe, as we journey together through the troubled maze of our time, we can all let go of the clutter we’ve carried and make room for a more sustainable and healthy earth walk.

*My novel, Child of Duende: A Journey of the Spirit, is a story honoring the earth and the spirit of “duende” within. 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

 

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

24. Grateful for my Mother

BACK TO MY REGULAR BLOG (with novel excerpts in between!) 

WHEN DID YOUR MOTHER SHOW UP WHEN YOU REALLY NEEDED HER?

BLOG 24: August-October, 1997—There are times when you are down and out, and have nowhere to go, and then your mother shows up.  This is one of those times. I’m still in the hills of Oakland, California, writing the beginning pieces of what is later to become my novel, and then my mother visits. I’ve been in pain for months now, but only recently told my mother what was happening to me.

I haven’t been out of the house in a while—that is, until my mother arrives. Soon we are traveling to the ocean, sitting along the dunes of these Pacific waters, and my mother shares her own life challenges with me. I’ve never heard my mother tell me in such a heartfelt way what’s happening with her, and I feel an amazing sense of relief. Suddenly my pain and limitations don’t seem so bad, and, in her sharing, I feel connected to my mother in ways I never have. I have my mother back, I think and smile. In her vulnerability, I am able to be with mine.

There’s a lesson I learn in my vulnerability—and in being given the chance to see that in my mom: sometimes, for those of us who are raised to be so tough, being vulnerable is a gift. It brings us back to our humanity and opens a door for us to be with others with compassion and open heart. It allows us to enter into the grace of life, and become more fully ourselves because we are finally listening. .

WHEN DID YOUR MOTHER SHOW UP WHEN YOU REALLY NEEDED HER?