Monthly Archives: July 2011

Forgiveness

Posted in: Forgiveness, General on 07/27/11 by

The process of ceasing to feel resentment, hurt, indignation or anger for a perceived offense, difference or mistake, is sometimes difficult.  For many of us, we cannot see beyond our own point of view to recognize that we share in these transgressions.  To forgive another prevents harmful thoughts from festering and causing havoc on one’s well being.  When we are ready to forgive, we release stored up toxins in our own bodies and cast a sheath of love and understanding on to the person to whom we are holding this pain. My most valuable lesson in forgiveness is with my mother.

My mother was immersed in the family disease of alcoholism.  She was a functioning alcoholic but I actually never saw her drunk.  What I did experience was a cold, self absorbed woman who was selfish and non-communicative for most of my youth.  In my book, “It Had To Happen This Way,” I have shared bizarre and chaotic experiences growing up in our dysfunctional family.  For many years I blamed her lack of support for my loneliness and insecurity.  These feelings continued well into my 30’s. 

When I began working on my own mental health I was able to step back and analyze my mother’s actions.  Although I do think my mother had a propensity for alcoholism because it was in her DNA, her challenges were monumental. I realized how she needed alcohol just to get through each day.   

She was widowed at the age of 35 when my father died of heart failure leaving her with a debt of $10,000 in medical costs.  The five years proceeding his death he had six heart attacks and wasn’t able to work during that period.  This was the 1950’s when they weren’t doing the miracle heart surgeries they do today. It was also very difficult for women to find jobs.  My mother was barely surviving working as a hair stylist and trying to support two children.  She became both the mother and the father before he actually passed.  What made matters even worse was that my mother suffered from thrombophlebitis (blood clots) and standing on her legs all day was very painful. She would come home each night and go straight to bed with her cocktails.  My brother and I began to fend for ourselves at an early age.  Life was hard.

My recovery from Codependency took several years.  My mother has long since died in 1979.  Although I felt silly at first, I started talking to her in my head telling her how much I loved her and that I totally forgave her for everything that I perceived to be harmful or painful to me and my brother.  I did this often.

Two months ago she began coming to me in my dreams.  She seems so happy and peaceful on the other side.  This is what she said to me, “Kay, I was not a good mother.  I am sorry for that.  I love you very much. I know you have forgiven me but I want to know if I can mother you from here.”  You bet she can.  I welcome her love in the form of angel guidance.  Now I am able to forgive myself as well for holding disappointment and anger toward her for so long.

“I forgive myself and others for any and all offenses and differences we share.” 

 

Bittersweet Emotions

Posted in: Bittersweet Emotions, General on 07/20/11 by

As a family Bryan, Mariah and I love watching professional soccer games; both men’s and women’s. I am sure this pastime has become more exciting for us because our daughter has played competitive soccer since the 3rd grade. I find soccer to be the most exciting spectator sport because of the constant skill and athleticism needed to play this game; 90 minutes of action. We couldn’t wait for the Fifa Women’s World Cup in Germany this past week. Mariah, being a planner, looked at our calendars and plotted which games she couldn’t miss and of course was right on top of the times and days the U.S. Women’s team was scheduled to play. When I was able, I joined her for the early playoffs as well as Bryan when he wasn’t working.

Last week the U.S. team stunned Brazil in the quarter-finals. Just a few days later they played France in the semi-finals. Bryan actually went into work late that day as the three of us anxiously awaited the exciting match. In our house Yoshi our adorable Russian Blue feline (he is recovering beautifully from his surgeries and his three week ordeal at the Emergency Veterinary Hospital) loves to sit on laps, especially Mariah’s, when we are watching the big TV in the family room. The game Wednesday drew so much screaming and excitement from us that Yoshi jumped dramatically and took off running on more than one occasion. Our women on the U.S. team were positively breathtaking to watch in this semi-final match that went to 30 minutes of over time. It is known that they train very hard and are extremely fit. They were out played by the French team but they never let up. It was obvious they were there to win, which they did.

Last Sunday we prepared for the final match between Japan and the U.S. It is a tradition in our home that we eat nachos, with guacamole and salsa whenever we watch a sporting event together. I was stressing over that simple feat. I didn’t want to miss a minute of the game and knowing that the half time is short, perhaps 10 minutes, I was worried I didn’t have enough time to make the guacamole. It may seem silly that we were so excited for this event, but we were. The last time the U.S. Women’s team had won the World Cup was in 1999 when Mariah was four years old. I remember it well and was visualizing that this would be the 3rd World Cup for America.

Before the game Mariah said to me, “I am as nervous for this game as I am as if I were playing myself. Mom, as much as I want our women to win, if Japan wins then it was meant to be.” Mariah had personal experience with the Japanese culture when she traveled last year to Japan with People To People as a student ambassador. When she stayed with her host family, whom she adored, she played soccer with the boys. The girls in the family didn’t play soccer. She got the feeling that soccer wasn’t respected as much for women as it was for men. Mariah then added, “With all the tragedy that has stricken Japan, if these girls win, it must be fate.”

By now you probably know the results and if you didn’t see the game you certainly have seen a few highlights. Our team was magnificent and the Japanese women full of passion and full of fight. It was a tough, tight game, the most thrilling event I have ever watched. It was heartbreaking to watch the faces of the U.S. team. I truly feel their disappointment. The winning Japanese team has accomplished something that has never been done; this is the first Asian team to win the World Cup. Having lost 25 times to the U.S. team they were slated in fourth place to the U.S. who was in first place coming into the tournament. Their country has been ravaged with an earthquake, tsunami and the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Imagine the fervor it takes for this team to work extremely hard in the face of this horrendous tragedy. These women did it! The Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan hailed the victory as the “greatest gift” to the nation. This was a magical game restoring a balance to what has seemed to be lopsided to the citizens of Japan. They have some Hope in their remarkable team that goes by the name “Nadeshiko” which means a pink mountain flower that symbolizes beauty and strength. I hope the joy and pride that Japan feels for their special women will continue to grow and spread throughout the world. We can all relish in this miraculous story.

Sudden Death

Posted in: General, Life and Death, Sudden Death on 07/13/11 by

I am extremely sad today and it is hard to write.  We found out last week that one of our dearest friends, aged 50, collapsed and died on the street in San Francisco. What is so shocking is that he has always been very active, happily married, an amazing father and a guy I pictured living a long and healthy life.  Dennis is one of those guys whom everyone loved.  He was kind, thoughtful, sincere, and always a gentleman.  What helps me with my grief is that I don’t believe there is death of the soul.  I feel the beautiful loving energy which is our spirit lives forever.  A few years ago I wrote an story about my unique experiences with life and death.  I hope you will take the time to read it.

                                                            LIFE AND DEATH

When does the spirit inhabit the body?  Millions of people strongly believe that it is at the time of conception.  Metaphysicians have written that a soul chooses the exact time of birth to enter the body, its vehicle of expression, hence, the importance of the astrological configuration which is a map of the current incarnation.  Until recently the consensus was, “We are our bodies, not our spirit.”  It has been a common belief that when our physical being dies, we are gone forever.  This has placed great stress on families struggling with the moral issues of keeping their loved ones alive with mechanical devices and/or feeding tubes when the person has been declared brain dead, yet the heart beats on.  When does the soul depart?  I have had a few remarkable experiences which have answered these questions for me.

In the autumn of 1991 my dear friend Debra was due to deliver her second child the end of September.  Because she and I were extremely close, she included me in much of the excitement surrounding the birth of her baby, as she had with the arrival of her daughter three years earlier.  Debra and her husband invited me to wait with her parents while she was in the delivery room.  They said they would call me when they were ready to leave for the hospital at the first signs of labor.

When the due date approached I realized I didn’t have directions to the hospital which was over an hour away and I hadn’t heard from Debra in a few days.  I called her house and was told by her mother, who was there baby-sitting, that she was at the hospital and had been in labor for several hours.  Just as I hung up the receiver, the telephone rang.  “If you are coming, you had better leave quickly to avoid the rush hour traffic on the Bay Bridge,” said her husband.  I looked down at the pile of mail I had just brought in moments earlier and was relieved to see, right on top, an envelop from Debra with directions to the hospital.  I grabbed the map, called my husband Bryan and said, “Debra is about to give birth.  I won’t be home for dinner.”

I remember talking to myself as I drove the 40 miles to my destination in Vallejo.  “Calm down, think clearly, drive carefully.”  I was “beside myself” with anticipation.  “Will I get there in time to see the baby’s father carry his son to his family in the waiting room?”  I was picturing what would happen from several movies I had seen.  I had no trouble with the directions and arrived safely.  I ran across the parking lot, charged the elevator and pressed the button leading to the maturity floor.

 As I stepped out of the elevator, directly ahead of me, I saw the nurse’s station.  A woman dressed in a colorful uniform said, “May I help you?” 

“I am here to wait while my girlfriend gives birth.”

“What is her name?’

I happened to see her name on the white board and pointed to it with a shaky finger.

“Go into that room to the left.”

To my surprise she had guided me into the labor room.  The atmosphere was surreal. One small lamp illuminated the tight space where Debra lay panting.  My friend had decided to give birth naturally without drugs.  She and her husband had practiced Lamaze.  Everything seemed to be in slow motion.  There were no words spoken, just an electric energy which pulsated with sound and color.  I wasn’t hallucinating.  I actually heard a gentle crackling and observed a pale pink hue which permeated the room.  I looked up and saw a large round clock which read 5:00.  I blurted, “The baby will come at 7:00.”  That comment came out of nowhere.

I seemed to know exactly what to do; how to assist Debra.  She made it clear she didn’t want any small talk or fussing with her body.  Both her husband and I began to coach Debra with words of encouragement and she seemed to be appreciative of the cool wet cloths I dabbed on her brow.  I was in awe of her strength and determination as she diligently exerted the power from within to liberate her unborn child.  There was an astounding sense of peace and calm as each contraction accelerated.

Soon it was time to move next door to the delivery room.  The stocky female physician greeted the three of us politely.  She didn’t ask who I was, nor did she seem to care.  It felt natural, as though we all were going to be a part of something extraordinary.  The doctor motioned for me to stand near Debra’s feet.  The anticipation intensified as the baby’s head began to crown.  It felt as though I was in a magnificent dream, the whole experience had an ethereal quality.  The gentle crackling sound, that was still present, grew to a more energetic buzz and the color of the atmosphere was now a deep rose.  After several minutes of rhythmical pushing, the doctor pulled the baby from Debra’s birth canal.  As she placed the magnificent newborn on Debra’s stomach the highly charged energy in the room coalesced.  It seemed as though the universal life force was hovering like a halo over the infant.  At the moment the umbilical cord was severed, with a swish, the atmospheric cloud clearly funneled into the body of Debra’s son.  I was witness to a sensory phenomenon and profound spiritual experience; the miracle of birth.  The time was 7:00 pm.

The same month Debra’s son entered the world to begin his cycle of life, my dear Aunt Letha, who was like a mother to me, began to decline in health.  She was 86 years old and of sound mind, but I noticed she appeared frail and sluggish. She said to me, “It is odd Kay, I feel as alive in spirit as I ever have, but the body parts are wearing out.”  It was becoming increasingly difficult for her to manipulate the “walker” she had used for many years.

My aunt and I had a strong bond.  For the next few weeks and during the holiday season we attempted to converse as deeply as we could about death and dying.  She spoke honestly about her wishes for cremation.  We had no unfinished business; our moments together were poignant and meaningful. 

Early in February, 1992 I got a call from her retirement home that they had taken her to the hospital.  I rushed to see her and her words were, “I tried to walk and my legs just wouldn’t carry me.”  There was no talk about trying to “fix” anything.  We both knew it was time for her transition.  Aunt Letha wanted only my company and told her friends not to visit.  She began to lose control of all her bodily functions, but that didn’t stop us from having heartfelt communication, revisiting many of our shared experiences.  We enjoyed going back in time often laughing at ourselves.  I found it amazing we weren’t crying.  Although I did plenty of that with my husband, she and I were content just to be together.  She said to me, “I am not afraid of dying but I don’t want to leave you alone.”

“I’m not alone Aunt Letha.  For the first time I am in a balanced relationship and have a loving husband.  I am happy and healthy.  I’ll be okay.”  This must have satisfied her because it wasn’t long before she began sleeping more and talking less.  The doctor informed me she had just a few days to go.

As her breathing became more labored I asked for a cot to sleep in her room.  Late in the afternoon as the nurses were attending her, they pulled back the covers, and I was shocked to see how wasted her body had become.  Her entire torso was misshapen and filled with fluid.  The change was dramatic. It seemed to be in a state of decay and she had only been in the hospital six days.  I knew her death was imminent.

I was looking out the hospital window into the distance as the sun was setting .I had a sense of the vastness of the universe.  I knew my aunt and I were both a part of the continuing spectrum of life.  I would walk out of the hospital with my coat (body) on while she would leave hers behind.  But neither of us would truly “die;” our essence would survive forever.  I felt an overwhelming sensation of peace.

Slowly the energy of the room began to change.  What had been overcast and gloomy was “alive” with the “sound” of heat.  The space tingled with a warm rosy glow.  Again, I was aware of the presence of a universal life force.  This time the power was guiding my Aunt Letha home.  Several times during the night she would call out to me.  Repeatedly I coached her, “All your loved ones are awaiting your arrival.  You’ll be fine.  Enjoy the ride.”

The finale to this “thing” called death was astonishing.  I was watching her chest expand and contract.  With each breath my aunt was fading in time.  All at once the energy in the room began to swirl like a cyclone and was sucked down into her body.  The sensation arose from her heart transformed as a magnificent golden light of love.  She had taken her last breath and her spirit had left her body.

I do not fear death.  I have chosen to “live” my life as if each day could be the last.  When it is time for me to go I will say, “I have no regrets.” 

I truly believe our dear friend Dennis lived his life that way.

.

Marriage Equality

Posted in: General, Marriage Equality on 07/6/11 by

I am very happy in my marriage and consider myself quite fortunate that when my husband and I decided we wanted to be lawfully wed society acknowledged our commitment to each other. We could share in our joy by celebrating with family and friends and our contract was legal.  It breaks my heart that my gay and lesbian friends have not had this privilege.  I believe there are now seven states and the District of Columbia that honor same sex marriage.  Halleluiah!  But it has been much too slow.

I grew up in the 50’s in Missouri, the heart of the Bible Belt, although where I lived in the community of Clayton, folks were quite progressive. Although my mother was alcoholic and our home dysfunctional, I didn’t hear disparaging remarks about homosexuals. Actually I never hear the word homosexual, gay or lesbian.  I remember my first experience with a couple of the same sex very well.

In the apartment building on Bryon Place lived Abby and Gladys.  Abby’s hair was snow white.  They were both what I thought of as grandmother types although I doubt they were actual grandmothers because I never saw any children or family members come to visit them.  They lived directly above us for the 14 years we lived in that complex.  As a very young child I would climb up the joining back stairs and would be welcome into their cozy kitchen filled with gadgets and knickknacks that were missing from my house. Abby seemed to be home when I got out of school and often she had made a batch of cookies just for me. Although they lived just a few feet above our apartment, it felt like a different world. 

When Gladys would arrive she would hug Abby and then give me a gigantic bear hug as well.  They both were a bit chunky and I loved their arms around me.  Together we would have hot chocolate and/or milk and cookies but the best part was the attention they gave me.  I savored those moments we shared.  They truly seemed interested in me; my thoughts, my worries, my creative endeavors and best of all they helped me with my homework when I needed it.  They were such wonderful role models of love, understanding, and caring for each other and life in general.  I didn’t dare tell my mother how much I admired them for fear that she wouldn’t let me go back.  As it turned out she was glad I had a place to go when our situation became intolerable when my father died at the age of 45. 

The puzzling part was this; whenever I would mention Gladys or Abby to my mother or ask a question about them, she would answer in a whisper.  For instance I said, “Mom, are the two women upstairs sisters?”  She would quietly and slowly tell me, “Noooo, they are not.”  Hesitantly she told me that they were homosexuals and then awkwardly she tried to explain that one of the partners acts like a woman and the other takes the role of a man.  How strange!  I wasn’t sure what that meant.  Right before my eyes I saw two charming women who were good to each other, very sweet to me, had a beautiful life together and who laughed often.  Hmmm, I had a mom and a dad and I didn’t have any of what these women had in the apartment above.

It would have been perfect if Abby and Gladys could have married and then I would have been an attendant in their wedding.  They deserved the honor of being a properly married couple as well as all the millions of gay and lesbian couples today who wish that for themselves.  I don’t believe it is fair for only heterosexual partners to have this freedom. I am going to visualize that the path to marriage equality all over this country widens quickly and that very soon this unjust issue will not even be a topic for discussion.  I look forward to that day.