The F*ck

(Warning: Adult content. Writing poetry is cheaper than therapy. Thanks for listening ;))

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We live in a world where we can say whatever

The F*ck

We want to say whenever

The F*ck

We want to.

Gently,

Harshly,

Politely,

R*dely.

These are MY words.

Yo* can take them,

Or leave them.

Sit on them,

Or fl*sh them.

Yo* choose,

To place meaning,

On what I say.

This is yo*r b*siness.

Yo* choose to follow

The winds of liars,

digging us f*rther into the r*t,

of our thin skinned morality.

 

I will live in world where,

My children are free to be whatever,

The F*ck

They choose.

If you wo*ld like to give me your *nreq*ited opinion

(That means I don’t care what yo* think)

Then we can converse in h*shed intimate tones,

Like lovers who hate one another,

awash with masks and inn*endo,

On the s*perlative cost of Freedom.

We can tell the stories

Long into o*r darkest night

Of times past,

Hard gripped baskets

Flowing with rotten *gly things.

 

I live in a world where I can be,

The best version of whatever

The F*ck

I am today.

It is not p*nishable by death

Or h*miliation

By men

for me to *se these

or any

words.

 

I do not wish to live in a world,

Where we kill one another

For words.

This is not my world.

If this were so,

Then Shakespeare’s heart would have only been pierced by thorns,

His eyes wo*ld have never gazed *pon the rose,

And there wo*ld be no love stories to tell,

At all.

 

 

 

 

 

Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? H.A.L.T.!

301549_10150375411088656_541083655_8281137_1256522812_nFor those of us who live with depression, whether we can are on meds, off meds – the bottom line is that living with (sometimes unpredictable) emotional fluctuations can make it really hard to plan the  future..or sometime just an hour from now even.   Something that helps allot of people keep focus on balance in the day is also one of my family’s favourite – H.A.L.T. I’d like to share it in case its new to you and can help for next time the blues comes knockin’…

What it means seems obvious – when your mind starts twisting out and you feel your mood plummet…just STOP.

Stop everything if you can and check your basics. Are you hungry, angry lonely or tired?  This focus can help you to regain balance and avert deep depression when you begin to feel out of whack.  It’s also part of being emotionally responsible for yourself.  Over time it becomes easier to remember.

H.A.L.T:

Hungry ;

can mean you need food. Let’s stick to basics. Admit it, when we are emotionally overwrought we re not often inclined to be putting our physical well-being at the top of the to do list. We are more likely thinking …and drowning in thinking. All of ours, and the world’s problems at once.   Our thoughts have run away with a “mind of their own” (did I really just say that?) and we quickly lose body needs awareness. We forget to eat, or we eat crap. Carb;s usually – just for a moment of a little dopamine.

Seriously – Not having the proper minerals and vitamins when you are a clinically depressed person, can be life threatening.   The food we intake directly affects the way in which our brain produces dopamine and serotonin. I don’t know how you can do that in your diet.  I’m sure there are a million line resources. I believe that  many doctors obviously need to be more multidimensional in their approach to patient knowledge.  They need to be more like health partners and less like people that think they know more about your insides than you do. They have to really be thinking about the whole person and the situation.

So, that’s where you come in,  Someone with depression has to be very responsible for this most basic requirement.  When you feel that you are quickly spinning into the abyss, take a second, ok well maybe take 30 and check out what your body needs.

1- Drink water – in fact start your day with it. You wake dehydrated.  I don’t know much about the brain but I can imagine that`s not a great start for it.

2- Lay off caffeine – stop wrecking the start of your day by giving yourself a hyper dose of anxiety. Drink tea – you`ll live

3- Refined sugar is bad. Period.  It sparks mood swings, physical energy crashes etc… We are trying to avoid ANY crashes here.

4- Meat takes alot of energy for the body to consume. Plus it`s gross. I don’t eat it.

5- Eat whenever I`m hungry.  Small amounts.

6- Indulge your food fantasies sometimes. What the hell. One life.  But don`t do it when you`re sad.  Again, sugar never helps depression.

ANGRY:

Self explanatory. If you`re angry, stop, don`t RE-act (Def: Acting outwardly the angry you are feeling – creating a negative action twice).

Especially if you are in position to react to what someone else is saying to you it is always best to find some space and come back to it if you need to once you have checked your other indicators.

One of my grandmother`s favourite sayings was

“Don’t ever say something to someone you’ll have to apologize for. Especially if you don`t like them.”

LONELY: One of the hardest things to do in depression is reaching out to express yourself, but it is vitally important and healing.

There is an ocean’s difference between peaceful solitude and abject loneliness.  In mid-depression (if there is such a place) often people feel and see only themselves, and not in the best light either. Surrounding yourself with friends who understand you and are empathetic to your experience is really important.  It’s also part of what can be in your control.   Making relationship choices is empowering.

TIRED:

Most basic for all of us  but especially people with depression: you must sleep regularly and well.   One of the symptoms of a prolonged depression is insomnia. At this point a person is really so disconnected form the body that they have messed up their circadian rhythms and can’t return to a normal routine of sleep.  Thoughts race and we all know you cant run from yourself.

There is a reason why sleep deprivation has been used as a  favoured technique for torture throughout our war torn histories.  People make bad decisions when they are exhausted. For people with depression, exhaustion can lead to suicidal ideation difficult emotions like hopelessness and despair.  No one wants to live like that on purpose.

Fake it till you make it doesn’t mean you’re lying or being fake…not really.  But it helps to act as if you already feel good…to feel good this doesn’t mean lying but more like acting out positivity.  When someone asks you how you are, don’t go into a forty minute diabtribe about your woes, try staring by saying something positive, or grateful.  This can have a huge effect on the whole energy of the interaction.

 

You know how sometimes it feels as though just in a MOMENT you can fall into a depression,

Keep in mind that the same thing applies to the opposite …in a MOMENT you can fall out and back into contentedness.   Say yes to things that feel good for example.  Taking care of basics puts everyone in a better position to make the best daily choices on their own behalf and help create this outcome.

Peace~

 

 

 

 

AWAKE

August 19

Awake

The world is reeling,

And I can’t sleep

Cause its shaking us

Right off our feet

We’re one step away

From going in too deep

Crowds roar and fire

As they take to the streets.

You can’t tell us, ,

It’s gonna be alright,

When entire nations,

Are ready to fight.

There’s no going backwards,

From this point on, It might be better,

To forget right and wrong.

Some who protect us,

And others defend,

Kids in the street,

The sword and the pen.

But the world keeps spinning,

As she is bound to do.

The one she needs to heal,

Is me and you.

Forget what you think,

And drop everything,

Cause times are a changing,

And we’re on the brink.

Catastrophe doesn’t have to be,

All so bad,

If we put down our weapons,

And walk hand in hand.

I know that sounds hippie,

But what is our choice?

Take back our nations,

With our hearts and our voice.

 

there is nothing stronger,

That a like minded group,

We are the creators

Of this messed up soup.

So another child is dead

And we are responsible

For allowing the fear,

That brought on this trouble.

Wake up from your dreams,

It isn’t all bad,

Remember, you are bigger,

Then what you think you had.

We have one more day

Let’s start it right

Black red or white

We’ve all got to give up this fight

Dedicated to Ferguson, Missouri and every other messed up place

Online Living: Are We More Concerned With Selfies or Self?

mona-lisa-selfie-2

Do you blog?

For some people blogging is a central theme to their day. Blogging as a sub-culture has emerged from the depths of online living.  I read a few blogs here and there but not many. In fact,  I wouldn’t actually consider myself a “blogger” like some I have seen; you know the ones who take selfies with their French toast actually have the ability to write 750 words on why it relates the second coming of the messiah or something deeply philosophical. That’s a talent I just don’t have.  Not that I couldn’t see myself becoming an obsessive overly-committed blogger if I don’t stay conscious; I have my addictive tendencies just like everyone else.

OK…I will admit to you that when something fun happens I no longer just think simply to myself;

“Oh…that was fun”.

No no… now fun involves a follow-up –

Take a picture…write a blog – a poem, a song…?? hunh?

“Oh..I have to post this!” God. I wonder what my grandmother would have thought about all this?

Sometimes we get so busy writing about our lives that we arent actually living them.  When I grew up, life was lived in real-time.  Oh brother…now I sound like my parents.

Back in my day….imagesCAMLIZPK

…when you had “issues”, big or small, they stayed at home! You didn’t post them or share them or even discusss them with someone who lived two blocks away, never mind the djembe player you met online three months ago who lives in Mali.   Back in “the day” neighbours on either side of you were only privy to what they could hear from the yelling through slightly cracked open windows. But now, with the online culture we exist in, people clear across three continents know when you had a fight with your husband even before it has ended! Not so long ago, there was a sense of “minding our own business” and there were rules!  The rules were expressly told to us and if we folowed them – everythign would be ok. I suppose this kind of living was comforting in one way but more likely it was incredibly isolating, lonely and inherently dishonest.

Online living is causing us to get all mixed up like a gigantic cultural soup.  We are living and learning and exchanging some pretty intimate details about our lives and how we deal events of living like death, divorce, children, parents ,relationships, emotions, understanding. These issues cross al cultural boundaries and even history and bind us all together in commonality.

 

But are we so focused on giving the world that perfect image of us – that idyllic selfie – that we forget to tell the truth about who we are or how we are feeling?

funny-selfie-dogs-smilingAnyways…who tells the truth anymore? Are we busy trying to give the world our best face? And why should we even bother to blog? Isn’t constantly writing about yourself some weird form of narcissistic self-obsession?

Sherwin Nuland would disagree. He was a brilliant professor from Harvard that said “The more personally you write, the more universal your writing becomes”. That coupled with what I read by the Dalai lama yesterday that said something like there should be no difference between your personal life and your private life. That would be dishonest. Not that I believe that we should all be sharing our deepest inner craziness all day – but there is something very helpful in the honest relating of how we deal with life.  Sometimes its just nice to hear that you’re not the only one going through the crazy shit we all go through.

Personally, I find it exceptionally difficult to come to the page when I am in the deepest depths of human misery.   I have been pretty silent since my mother died especially once I realized that the people reading my blog weren’t just anonymous readers from lands far away, but  more likely to be my family and friends. Grief is just not pretty. And all of that is so much easier to see in hindsight.

 

two-faced

My conclusion – its better to keep talking out loud and sharing our stories- even if its only to yourself…a one woman blog? Whatever – share what you are experiencing.  Life is hard enough – making what is hard useful which  kind of takes the edge off it all.

Namaste

 

SPRING SHOWER

There is nothing more magical b46b5b382ed0fc2b0999b04319a1e8a6

than being in the barn

right before a torrential spring rain.

Horses munching on green hay,

The sweet smell of grass starting to rise up ,

Birds in a frenzy announcing the impending shower.

It feels like healing.

The announcement of new life

all over and everywhere around

It releases all of the sludge

from the season of icy indifference.

Welcome spring!

Maybe my heart is waking up?

Let’s dance!

horses_in_the_rain_12_by_cotten_candy101-d36lstw

 

 

 

How to Explain Quebec Politics to an American…

TOQLF+Inspecteurhe other day I had to explain Quebec politics to an American friend of mine who happens to be a very well read, politically savvy individual.   The conversation took place on Face Book so it involved a lot of punctuation and very deliberate usage of words. It was not easy to do.

It started with a Table Topics question I like to post on my page every morning:

“Who do you believe is the most dangerous person alive today?”.

I was surprised when my American friend responded “Stephen Harper” – our ineffective and blundering  Canadian Prime Minister.

“Harper?” I asked him. “I was sure you would say Dick Chaney”…BRITAIN-G8-SUMMIT-CANADA-PRESSER

“Harper’s gas line project is ridiculous. He should be thrown out of office”.

“Yeah well he is doing nothing for Quebec that’s for sure” I said.

“What’s wrong with Quebec?”

quebec_charter_protest_1_jpg_size_xxlarge_letterbox

This is where it became challenging…

“They announced they want an election to separate from Canada”

“Why”?  Ah – the question to open a can of worms…

“Let me try and explain…”

“They are trying to pass a Bill which would put a Charter into our Provincial constitution that says that people working in the public sector are not allowed to wear any religious symbols, like Hijabs or Yarmulkes.”

“What do you mean “not allowed”?”

“It’s the same as our language laws.  We aren’t allowed to speak any language but French at the work place.”

“hunh?what do you mean NOT ALLOWED?”

image

Um…

OK.

How to explain Quebec Politics to an American…

Many years ago there was an 11 minute fight in a place called The Plains of Abraham in Quebec where the British whooped the French and they have stayed mad about it ever since.  The story could actually end here…

Benjamin_West_005In the mid 1700’s France imported into Quebec a bunch of prostitutes chosen by the King called “les Filles du Roie”. I am proud to say these are my ancestors.  They were sent here to attract moer male settlers, and populate the country with as many good looking French people as possible.  The French are known to have had an average of 14 children per family by the mid 1800’s.  The culture is based in the catholic religion who believes God made everything else except condoms.

By the 1800’s all sorts of people were immigrating to Quebec because of its easy access port, busy economy and promise of some form of stability which was not being experienced in many parts of Europe.  Settlers from all over found their place and established their cultures inside “New France” including Irish, Italian, Spanish, German, British and Jewish people creating individual pockets of cultural comfort in different emerging cities.

An important difference here exists between Canada and the USA which is that when the settlers arrived from Europe they maintained their original cultural identity. Canada became a “mosaic” of cultures, as opposed to the American “mixing pot” where immigrants were encouraged to assimilate into the American way of life.

By the time the 1960’s arrived, Quebec had become well established as one of the most international and welcoming places in the world. English and French were widely spoken making it accessible to anyone who spoke two of the world’s major languages.  Expo ’67 heralded the culmination of hundreds of years of evolution in the Quebec political tapestry. The nations of the work gathered for a Fair that would promote peace and harmony between all nations. But the peace wouldn’t last.  Somewhere in the background, the French of Quebec were still simmering, down from the generations about the events on the Plains of Abraham and the domination of the English in the emerging and booming trade economy.  Prime Minister of France  Charles de Gaulle came to Expo under the guise of attending the fair and declared “Vivre le Quebec Libre”, putting words to a sentiment that had been bubbling under the surface for unilingual francophone Quebecers.  imagesVLLA9G6O

The “Quiet revolution” began – but not so quietly.

People were kidnapped and killed. Bombs were detonated. It was a brief but nasty par of Quebec history and the beginning of real extremism which we are seeing a resurgence of today. My family was very involved in the political movement of what we here call “the NO side”. This is the anti-separation movement. The “other side” is the separation movement – those who want Quebec to be its own country. Everyone here has an opinion on this issue. Slowly and over time, French pro-separatist politician have gained power in the National Assembly – the political house of power in Canadian provinces, and have put into place on law after another which has irrationally eroded the personal freedoms of the Canadians living here.

Our American friends have to remember when talking about Canadian politics that we are not a democracy.  We don’t have the same basis premise in our political structures.  We are instead what you call a “constitutional monarchy” – which means we were poartially governed by the queen of England for a long time. Until the mid 1980’s any laws or changes ot our constitution had to be “approved” by the queen. Our government owns some of the major businesses as well, which makes us socialist.

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I could go into allot of details about the people and the dramas which revolve around our politics here but my intention is not to give you a history lesson. More like a current events update…so I will give you some specific details so you can relate to the level of craziness we have reached

  • You are not allowed to speak English at your work place. If the “Office of the French Language” catches you, your business can be fined. Heftily.
  • Your child is not allowed to go to school in English ESPECIALLY icf you come from a country where all you ever spoke is English. Its all about blending.
  • You are not going to be allowed to wear a cross, a Hijab or a yarmulke at work if you work in public
  • You will not be given medical service if you don’t speak French an dthe attendant doesn’t speak english.
  • You will not be given service by government agents (including tax offices and police) in English
  • Retail businesses are told to address clients only in French. They have signs up no their store fronts saying “In Quebec we do business in French” (written in French obviously)
  • No advertising in English. Ever.
  • All products imported into Quebec have to follow regulations about how BIG and how small French and English have to be. English can only be 20% of the size of French writing.

The insanity goes on and on.

Here’s my point…

In a world where we are in DIRE and urgent need to promote understanding and cohesion between individuals and nations – Quebec is the fastest backwards moving place on the planet as far as I can see.  We have all the education, technology, and social structures in place to be a wildly successful place – an example to the world even on living in integrated cultures. Instead, we spend all of our time promoting our own opinions. Conclusively, places in the world who identify with their nationalistic cultures, linguistic, religious or political  structures have the hardest time.

The other day I asked the question on Face book “ How important is your national identity to you?”

I was somewhat surprised at how many people said they were “Proud Canadians” – that their country is very important to them. But when I asked myself the question, I was more surprised to understand how UNIMPORTANT my nationality has become to me.  I could care less about being Canadian, or Quebecker, English or French.

I have come to believe…

Who we are is not our country. Who we are is not our language or skin colour or religion. We are part of a living system – all of us together. Our belief that we are separate or different from each other has resulted in us causing major destruction to the place that we live.  It is critical that we understand that we are not only part of one geographic location – we belong to the world – and the world has no real borders.

As long as we hold on to language, skin colour, religion, culture or national identity our “personal” identity, in Quebec or any other place – we are doomed to continue making the same mistakes we have made throughout human history. Quebec is a prime example of the opposite of the direction we need to be taking to unify the cultures of the world.

By personally dropping your identity with religion,  language, nation, skin colour, ancestry – each individual can contribute to shifting the perception of each other from opposed to united.

We are not our opinions – We just ARE.

Peace

Goodbye 2013 HELLO Year of the Horse!

chinesisches_neujahrsfest_jahr_des_pferds_2014_karte-r0a61ff39ed074ffcb79fb51bba0a85a9_xvuak_8byvr_512“Happiness doesn’t mean that everything is perfect – it means we choose to see beyond the imperfections”.

After what has been a banner year for bad news and catastrophic events both personally and globally, I am feeling a sudden fresh breeze of potentiality rushing around the corner. Today is the day we say goodbye to 2013 and its time for another letting go – a change of tides.  New Years this year for me feels like a fresh start.

Different cultures celebrate the calendar at different times. The Chinese New Year only begins at the end of January, hailing in what will be the Year of the Green Wood Horse.  I am born a fire horse and they say you do best in the year that represents your own birth animal. Since wood helps fire to burn…I am going to ROCK 2014!  This is MY year!  And it’s about bloody time. But I am old enough to know that happiness is not a given – it takes work, commitment, dedication and a plan.  And this is the work I am very willing to do this year – My only resolution is to rediscover JOY. Big happy awesome bountiful JOY. For someone like me – this is can be a tall order full of the necessity of “unlearning” and de-objectifying.

Let’s look at where we live…

North America is the wealthiest continent, most developed, most industrialized modernized and socialized. It also has the highest rate of mental illness.  There is a direct correlation between the wealth of a nation and unhappy people. How is it that the more wealthy we are, the more unhappy we become and yet we still seem to prioritize chasing the almighty dollar in the hopes of finding the elusive happiness chip? We think the next pill, next drug next relationship, next job next paycheck will be our ticket. We medicate away our emotions and have no cultural system in place to teach each other how to deal with the regular changes, ups and downs and emotions of life. We certainly aren’t teaching these important skills to our kids as we seem to be still busy trying reinventing the ancient scholastic “industrial era” three R’s (reading, writing  and ‘rithmetic), we are developing a generation of detached soulless children with an unerring sense of entitlement – but to what?   We are rich materially beyond belief – and we are miserable.  And we are teaching our kids to be just like us while we medicate them as well.

A recent poll by CNN suggests that more than 1/10 people are taking antidepressants in the United States. This means that the rate of depression has increase by nearly 400% since the 1980’s.  And what are we doing about this? Not a thing. We are making money. The multibillion dollar a year pharmaceutical industry knows all about this. There is an unquestionable correlation between the focus we have on material acquisition, gaining security in an insecure ever-changing landscape and how mentally unhappy we are.

prayer11-300x252I was diagnosed with clinical depression many years ago suffering from “post partum” depression with my first child. A doctor began giving me these miraculous little pills that would “even me out” he said. Yup they even’d me out alright. I was SO even, that I didn’t play guitar, sing, paint draw or write for 13 years.  This is a soulful death sentence for someone like me. It is a wonder I never turned to alcohol or drugs addictively. Instead, I became addicted to emotions.  Using drugs or alcohol to manage emotions was actually beyond my reach when I would fall into depression, I could only stand still and be in pain. In time we become habituated to feeling miserable.  It seems like a normal state of being – but this isn’t true.     Over the years when another “symptom” of unhappiness would arise, my doctor would increase or change the medications. Eventually, nothing worked – in fact they began to create the symptoms they were trying to cure.  This went on for nearly 20 years until I was left with only the device of trying to find a way out myself. I am so very lucky to have a supportive and informed tribe and family around me who understands the difference between “a bad day” and depression.  Few people actually take the necessary steps to make changes to the way they make decisions and choices in their lives, so the continuing cycle of hopelessness continues – even on the meds.

One day I wondered if people in Africa got depression how did they handled it without access to these drugs.  A little research showed me that depression is linked directly to the satisfaction and involvement you have in your own life.  Apparently depression is not a concept much discussed in Africa.  A sense of community, family involvement, and an active healthy spiritual life seem to be the balancing factors.  Having lived in Africa when I was young, all I can recall are hardworking smiling people, who did everything with their families and villages.  They worked ate and slept together. Children were part of everything that went on never pushed aside or made to be “seen and not heard”.  Play in Africa is just as important as work, and generally, in all the parts fo the world I have travelled to, people don’t work to gain unnecessary material wealth for “security”. In most countries, people work for only enough to be able to come back to their families and communities and have a life together.  The focus is much different from we have here. We have too much time to thin about our sad sorry selves here, where ni other countries people are geared towards thinking about the welfare of each other first.

In Costa Rica, I was lucky enough to spend time with native Costa Ricans (affectionately called Tico’s) who invited us into their homes.  Aluminum shanty-shack like houses leaning all up against one another like a house of cards.  Inside, there were several mattresses on the floor, neatly organized and all the beds made.  The man of the house offered us a coke from a small fridge that ran off a generator by the side of the house. He explained that he lived there with his wife, children his mother and sisters ad his nephew. They were 11 in the one bedroom shack.

From my journal…

“Children are playing around an old rusty beached boat beside the house with a one of the local friendly street dogs and outside on the fish-cutters table, a woman is preparing a Grouper while expectant tourists wait for a sandwich fresh from the sea. The children play with a coconut, smiling and rolling it to one another laughing while the dog chases the “ball” and they evade him each time giggling and setting up the next move.

I see many things around me but I see no unhappiness here.  Maybe what I see is different from how we live in Canada, perhaps what we would call “poor” –  but these people seem so happy, even with all the uncertainty.

I am envious of the children’s freedom to laugh and play and run unfettered.  A small boy comes to me and reaches for my hand and asks for some change so he can go get a Popsicle from the man selling them on the beach. I watch as he tears off down the lane calling after his friends to join him.  He never considered keeping it all for himself. Amazing.  Apparently 5 dollars American will buy the whole place Popsicles – I so enjoy watching the kids smiling faces.  I feel very rich.”

I have travelled around the world and have seen poverty such as you could not imagine.  But in truth, no one is poorer than us. We are poor of spirit, poor in community, poor in morals, poor in our connection to each other and most importantly we are bereft of this childlike JOY which seems to exist everywhere where money isn’t.

I have learned allot from books, and people, and school – but none of those things have taught me happiness.

Happiness – Joy – is our natural state of being must occur under all circumstances.  The ONLY way to exist in joy is to be present in this moment and when all you can do is survive one day to the next – the present moment is much more alive.  North American focus on materialism means we live in a constant state of fear about the future.  This is not a life. We take ourselves waaaay too seriously.

2014 is the Year of the Horse – the year of Bountiful Joy!

I wish for each of you that one ay at a time, you find that place inside you where life feels magical and everything seems possible. PLAY MORE!! be silly and have fun – “we’re here for a good time…not a long time”!

I wish for you a year of unexpected treasures, hope, happiness and most of all – I wish for you that you experience all of the blessings your life already has for you in this moment.

~Namaste~

Through My Mother’s Eyes…

When my mother was in the hospital, I had a chance to spend allot of time downtown which is something I really haven’t done very much of over the past 20 years.  I found myself invigorated by the energy of the city. I loved watching the beautiful people dressed in clean clothes, women walking stealthily on high heeled shoes, people distractedly crossing streets while multitasking on their cell phones.  The hospital was near many amazing attractions in Montreal, like the fine arts museum, china town and St Joseph’s Oratory, and after my visits I would go somewhere to fill my energy levels back up before going home to face my family and busy life.

One night, like he often did, my husband met me at the hospital after work to say hi to my mom for a while and take me somewhere nice for dinner to distract my mind from being sad.  “A dinner adventure”, we called it when we would allow our intuition to guide us to some cool new restaurant where the food was inevitably delicious.  Our gut never lead us wrong.  That night, we headed into China Town. I was having a particularly hard time with my sadness feeling as though the hospital environment and the disappointing narrow mindedness of the doctors were making my mother even more sick.  It was a hopeless feeling, and I left with a heavy heart, only to find myself following my husband in our dirty old dented Ram pickup truck, fresh off the farm with one tire half flat and going down. Traffic was horrendous. The road was a sea of cars and impossible construction hurdles.  People sat mostly patiently in their cars waiting for the next inch to open up ahead. Meanwhile,  I felt like a complete country bumpkin, in my cheerful little yellow beetle feeling like the weight of the world was crushing me. The radio not working and there was no escape from my thoughts or feelings. Compounded with sitting in the heat and the stench of a downtown traffic jam not exactly knowing where to put my car – I felt my mind edging on a good therapeutic primal scream. It seemed like no one was very aware of the space around themselves and I was at constant odds with one car or another vying for space. Soon I found myself tossed like a salad by aggressive drivers into some place on the right side of the road which I hadn’t realized was a bus lane.  After shifting to the left as much as I could, an angry frazzled completely freaked out bus driver pulled up beside me. The size of the double bus making my little bug look like a Tonka Toy.   She gestured for me to open my passenger side window, and yelled frustratedly  irate~

“Hey! Stay out of my lane. You’ve been blocking me the whole way”!

My mouth opened, my mind snapped, and I told her to go do something very unspiritual with herself.  She yelled something about a report and took off amazingly fast. I felt immediately remorseful for my actions.  I quickly realized that I certainly could not even come close to fathoming what it must be like to drive that bus up an down the insanity of that road every day, five or six days a week, through traffic.  I would be insane too.

Compassion came too late and karma bit me in the ass as I watched the bus plow into  into the passenger side mirror of my big dirty truck being driven by my husband.

When we arrived an hour later (usually a five minute drive) into the Asian part of town, he jumped out of his truck and said “Hey! Did you see that bus driver hit me!?”

How was I ever going to explain that this was entirely my fault? I had to laugh and must admit it took me a while to explain how it all happened between fits of laughter.

We had a nice dinner though I didn’t eat much.  I was busy looking around and kept seeing things I wanted to show my mother. I wanted to take a pictutre of the pretty food on my plate to show her my dinner and where e could go when she would be bnetter. I wanted to take a picture of the handsome Spanish guitar player doing flamenco on his guitar in the square and ask her if it reminded her of our trip to the Canary Islands? I knew deep niside me that her condition had worsened too much and she would likely never see these things, from her body anyways, again. But I still wanted to share all of the amazing things I was seeing.

When I would go and visit and talk to her, she was so tired and on so many medications, that she could not focus. I could see it made her feel bad. She didn’t want to waste any time with me with sleeping, but she just couldn’t stay awake. So I thought suddenly, that I should take pictures so she could see what I was talking about without it taking so much time and energy. Maybe it would make her feel still like part of life.

I began to take random pictures. Statues and Fountains in places I hadn’t ever noticed although according to the plaques they had been there since the mid 1800’s.  Stores with beautiful displays I would have liked to visit with her.  A Puppet store in the oldest part of town in an arboretum type place that reminded me of Italy and I knew how much she would love that little corne. We saw the Old Port. The Horse drawn carriages and the nice people we met. I even took pictures of them.

Each day we would visit and I would see and go to different places.  Someties with John, with kids, or alone.

The first time I found myself alone at St Joseph’s Oratory surprised me. I am not aligned to any religion – I feel no pull by them, but I have learned how to listen to the universe when ti wants my attention. Even when I think the request is strange, it usually makes sense later.

One day after leaving the hospital, I got lost, in my distress – completely turned around.  I had found myself baffled by the same horrific construction loop 3 times and each time I went around I found myself passing the immense  and mysterious St Joseph’s Oratory. A place reputed to have been built by a sainted priest who healed crippled people. His heart was inside in a jar. Cool.

My path was pretty clear. No matter which “short cut” I tried to take,  all other exits were blocked.   I had never been to the Oratory except once as a child when I was doing my first communion. It meant nothing to me back then. It was boring. A place that no one in Quebec can help but see, perched high atop Mount Royal, visible even to remote communities like where I live nearly like from Rigaud mountain, nearly an hour away. Local mythology says that Mount Royal is an inactive volcano.

I drove into the gates, finally surrendering to the loop of lostness I had found myself in.  I felt out of miserably place in my cheerful little yellow bug, peering sadly up at the man at the gate who asked for a 5, 00 parking donation to help support the church. I remembered then I was completely broke. I shuffled nervously through my change and found I only had about 3.50 and no other money.  I felt utterly dismayed.  I was pretty sure if I couldn’t find some peace my heart would break right then and there and if I couldn’t get into Gods own house, as they say,  because of a lousy $1.50, I decided I would break up with my faith. I would write it a Dear John letter to God and be done with it.

Which is of course when the man looked down into my dark eyes and smiled kindly –

“This is fine Madam, please enjoy your visit”, he said in a gentle French accent.

Relief. All of a sudden everything felt warm.  My hands which had been numb with cold despite the warm summer day \began to tingle coming back to life.  I smiled up pretty weakly, but he got the point.  I later came to see that this man’s kindness, from his heart, transferred to my heart and helped it to beat abit more normally.  I needed that connection and it shows me proof that there are no small acts.

I parked the bug on the side of the sloping lot where the stairs begin. You couldn’t miss it, big and round and yellow sticking out amongst the sea of greys and blacks and browns.  I got out beside the The stairs of Pilgrim’s where people come from all over the world the climb over 100 stairs on their knees, saying a prayer for each stair. The supplant themselves in the hopes that God will look upon them more favorably for ther obvious act of humility.

It struck me that in our culture, seeing people in open public prayer was a strange thing to see.  I  I felt like I was seeing something private that is between you and God.  I never knew I felt like that before and I’m not sure I still agree.  “Maybe sharing prayer like that will help everyone around them?” I wondered as I try not to stare at the reverent face of the Hispanic woman saying prayers to the Virgin Mary in Spanish. Her daughter only a few stairs behind bowed her head kneeling on the stair in quiet mumbled prayer.   The woman reaches the top stair and places her hands on the landing like she is making a statement, leaning forward, her face upturned and unabashedly says her payer to the door in front of her.  The door beside the next set of fifty stairs. Fifty more prayers before what? “Is God listening yet or is It too busy comforting her poor knees”, I can’t help but wonder.

There are hundreds of stairs to climb to get to the main entrance of the oratory. Once inside, a sweet faced girl greets me openly shoving a pamphlet into my hand and asking me if it was my first time. I told her that I was especially interested in the legends of Brother Andre; the sainted priest who was reputed to have healing powers and had cured many people of terrible illness.  I had heard about the crutches and canes lining the walls outside of his crypt.  Then of course there was his heart, which was apparently in a jar somewhere. I didn’t ask her about this. I’m so sensationalist – my mind smiles.  I would fnid it if I was meant to. But secretly  nd between you and I, I looked for it the whole time, and never found it.

I tell the greeting girl I’d like to see the place of the miracles.

Ah yes!”, she says as if everyone comes in looking for miracles.  She refers me to the map pointing to several places.  The place is an absolute labyrinth.

“You will find the best way is through here “, and she makes a zig zag squiggly line with her finger ending up pointing to a chapel with an exit on both sides. The place is an incredible maze, and I am pretty sure I’m going to get lost. I always get lost but I usually like it.  I think I do it on purpose secretly looking for the places no one else sees.  Or maybe being continually lost is a sign that I am incredibly distracted and really don’t care where I am. Either way, I am used to finding my way through places I am not familiar with, both figuratively and practically.

I go up a long escalator herded together with a bunch of other people.  I am suddenly a tourist in my own city and I like it.  I hear some American accents, maybe from New Jersey. The young boy is wearing a black torn wife beater covered ostensibly by a plaid shirt.  He has multiple facial piercings and a momentarily grim look.  I start to make some negative assumptions about him and catch myself when he looks up at me with eyes that smile – and all I see are his eyes.  They are young and fresh and he has gentleness inside of him that maybe his outer appearance doesn’t belay right away. It makes my heart feel good to and I smile back.

At the top of the escalator I enter a chapel and I go inside to the front row. I say a prayer.  I don’t actually believe God hears me better just because I am in a church, but I do believe that She pays attention to my heartfelt intention and my spontaneous expression willingness.   I think God really listens to willingness because that’s when we are able to hear.

I pass through into a another room, a crypt filled with lights from a sea of candles, a waterfall of each flowing down onto several prayer stations. It is breathtakingly beautiful and I find myself standing still while the world walks around and past me.  It is a magical place.   Behind me along the wall are the crutches and canes in the hundreds of the people that brother André healed.  They hang in rows and layers upon layers, all made of dark old wood. Some carved mostly plain canes and crutches each with its own history and story. I stood looking at them for a long time. I was amazed that you could touch them and they weren’t behind glass.  I put my hand on one and hoped for its magic to come inside of me.   I closed my eyes tight like a little kid throwing a nickel into the wishing well and I whispered silently to myself “Help. Thank you”.

A simple prayer. Surely one of my favorites.

A good prayer because it leaves the results and expectations up to something that knows more than I do.

I walk around slowly and notice that there are different stations of prayer.  St Joseph, I learn is the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus. He is the patron saint of allot of things. Families, fathers, virgins and the dying amongst others.  The last two interested me. Who would be the patron saint of virgins?  A man who trusted his wife when she said she was impregnated by God, I suppose.

I realized then that if you believe in the miracle of the virgin birth, then the fact that he a) believed her and b) stuck with her, makes him a really exceptional man.  I don’t know if that’s the real reason as the church says, but it works for me.

Then I came to the final station – Prayer for the dying.

I hope God doesn’t mind, but I didn’t have the 5.00 for the cost of lighting the candle. I found whatever change I had and put it in the little coffer.

Then I lit a candle, for my mother. It was probably the first moment I realize that she was actually dying.  I knelt and prayed. Not because I thought God would like it better if I did it this way, but because I felt like a heavy weight was pressing me down to my knees and I had to rest and just be with this sadness. I found it interesting to be in a place where if you just knelt down in the middle of everyone an everything, no one looked at you funny. It wasn’t regarded as ‘religious fanaticism”. It was just You being with God.

After a long healing cry with a bent head, I got up and left the station slowly.  I feel like I left something behind there – something I had come in with and couldn’t carry anymore I suppose.

I walked to my left,  unsure of where I was and come upon a beautiful golden statue of St. Joseph with a pool of oil at his feet. The plaque said that this was the oil of St Joseph that it had been reputed to have healing properties and had been continued along generations and was used b Brother Andre.  now it maintained its holiness by being blessed by his priests. Interesting…and surprisingly Pagan too, I thought secretly to myself.

I have never been comfortable with the thought that a single person had special powers that could bless anything better than the good intentions of God through any kind of people. I remembered the holy water behind me and decided to take off my Tibetan oil necklace and fill it with the water of that place.  The room, it seemed to me, must hold a powerful energy because it was constantly filled with spiritual seekers – simply people who were looking for answers.  This in and of itself felt incredibly strong. So I filled my necklace so I could bring part of that experience to my mother as well.

I loved the oratory. I walked for a while longer, visited upstairs in a place like a wax museum, vividly real reenactions of Brother Andre’s life with displays of his miracles.  I was amazed at how small people were back then. He was a teeny tiny man, maybe 4’10”-  and he helped build this gigantic Cathedral. Amazing.

I took pictures of everything I could to show my mom the next day.  I found myself wanting to see things through her eyes – what was important and beautiful. It made me pay more attention to the details that made things alive and wondrous, hoping that I could bring her this living experience as vividly as possible.

This is the first holiday we have without her. It’s very strange surreal and painful all at once. It makes me remember what is important, and all the things I am grateful for are multiplied as I understand what she would have given to have lived just a few more weeks to experience this gathering of thanks that was her favourite holiday.

At Thanksgiving, she used to make us all say something we were grateful for at dinner. The challenge would be tossed out almost ceremoniously like a glove onto the dining room table and she would choose the first person to start – always followed by a grumble and silence.  The first answers are usually short. I am grateful for my food The end. I am grateful for family. I am grateful for my friends and my job, grateful for music, for art for love…and it would continue, the last idea always contributing to a new idea of what we could be grateful for and the bubble would get bigger and bigger.

I am grateful for my mother and for the ways she showed me how to express gratitude in my life. Today I will feed my family and friends and feel so blessed to have this love all around me, feeling her right there where she has always been.

Namaste

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE?

I’m learning about Love right now.  All sorts of love, and the ways I experience it, where and how it motivates me and exists within me.   Consciousness urges me to understand a love that is without attachment, requirement or desire; a love that contains only Truth, like pure sweet clean water.  Is it possible that we all already have this kind of love within us and the purpose of this life is simply to uncover it?

 

In a recent conversation with a good friend, he brought up the idea of “unconditional love” recalling a previous conversation a few weeks before where I had declared to him regretfully and honestly that I didn’t think I was capable of such a thing.  Outside of my own children for whom I felt a deeper bond that what can even be described in words, I didn’t think I could love someone completely – I would always judge something about them, this was the human condition I concluded.

My friend said that he had considered my statement over the past few weeks and had concluded that I was mistaken because I was misinterpreting what “unconditional” meant.  I asked him what he meant.

“Can you love me even when I’m being a jerk?” he asked.

History had proven this to be true. We had been friends a long time.

My mind argued that this wasn’t unconditional because it was only one person in seven billion and unconditional meant I could love without condition of who you are, what you do, where you live, what you look like – separate from any judgment my mind may have of you.

So then I tried to imagine other people in my life, and found that in fact, I did love them even when they were acting in a way or saying things that I judged negatively – or even that caused me direct harm, or pain. Yes, I could still Love them, even though I didn’t like what they did all the time.

So then my question had to extend to people I had not yet met, strangers, and people in other lands – could I love those people, even though I don’t know them?

I look on the internet and see faces of people I don’t know and I look deep in their eyes. There is…something there that I recognize.  Something is there that is known to me, even though we have not met. Yes, I can love them too.

We have many incorrect notions of what love is: Love doesn’t mean I want to move in with you, sleep with you, cook your meals, solve your problems or become your therapist. Love means I realize I know nothing actually, and I am open to learning with you and through you.

I realized after my conversation with my friend that unconditional love exists as our birth-right – it is the center of free will.  Judgment is a natural human activity, designed to help us discern what may or may not be the best option for us at the time. It is freedom in action.  We are free to express love or to withhold its expression. And without sounding too much like a hippie we must conclude that if each person held love as the conscious motivation behind each choice they made, things would be very different.  We can love someone but not necessarily “judge” that it is the healthiest option for our choices to have them in our intimate life.  Since everything changes and passes, what is for today is not necessarily what is for tomorrow, But, we can always recognize that the part inside of us which express love is the same part of another that is receiving the love.

Maybe the greatest challenge we all face is to come to a place where we understand that we have to love our own selves unconditionally before we can transfer that love to someone else.  Running workshops on my farm I have had the chance to speak to many people about this idea of being “centered in self”. Although it seems logical to conclude that we can’t give away to someone what we don’t have for our own selves, our culture has communicated a very different type of conditioning to us.  We have told women that they need to put their children and families first and have created a martyr like attitude3.  This has only resulted in a multitude of generations being raised by secretly resentful women.

Men have the pressure of continued roles as “caretakers”, emotionally detached breadwinners and hunter-gatherers,  their success being measured by material acquisition and property value.  This is such medieval thinking in the modern age! The challenge for men is daunting, requiring that they take the very long journey to understanding their own hearts and emotions and putting aside the requirements of society to ignore the basic inner natures.

Unconditional love exists in all of us I see now.  The challenge is in excavating and finding out the truth about how it lives in you. When I look out of my window and see that I am life living in life, I feel a kind of love which expresses itself as joy in my heart.  This love doesn’t require anything of me, it just is.  Gratitude is the natural result of this focus.

Namaste

In This Moment – With love and gratitude.

“It’s time to go”, my husband John quietly says.

I stand up automatically, put out my cigarette and gather my things to get into his car. I am like a robot on the outside and my mind feels like it has been through a blender; I’m pretty sure I can’t handle what’s about to happen.  I’m afraid I will just dissolve.

I notice John has vacuumed the carpets – a sign of respect for what we are about to do that I find sweet.  He has been my rock and the ground beneath my feet through this.  My daughter Sara and her boyfriend get into the car with us and we are all quiet. There is no request for music.  It is a respectful silence.  Everyone looks around, but not at each other.  I try the radio a couple of times and quickly give up.

My chest is tight and I can’t stop crying. I try not to let anyone see. My practice reminds me that I am not in any pain really – other than my thoughts.  I am so tired of being sad and crying – I want to do something different so I try and become more aware of what my mind is doing.

The pain I am feeling comes from remembering how it felt to bury my father and the distant long ago experience of burying my first mother – my grandmother it turns out. The past creeps up like dark air just waiting to swallow you up if you don’t stay conscious and aware of the games your mind plays.  I remind myself that I am just driving in a car right now. That right now nothing is really bad.

“It’s just that my mother is dead and I feel scared and alone and terribly terribly sad”

– my mind throws in a little reality check.

How do I balance this?

I wrestle with my mind on how to justify what I believe spiritually – which is that we are all connected, that death is illusory and that consciousness exists past physical life. But the feeling of something like an empty cavern in my chest where my heart has cracked open is obvious to me and the whole world.  I am unsure of what to believe anymore. But I can see the worry and love in the people around me. My wound is obvious. I try to keep my head together as the car rolls towards the funeral home.

I remember suddenly that it made me feel better to listen to Paul Simon’s “Graceland” on my way to my father’s funeral, so I load it onto my phone and sink into the music. My mind quiets.  I have so much fear of falling into pieces and being no use to my kids or my sisters who are in terrible pain.  Behind the scenes of my mind, thoughts of the day’s upcoming events unravel.  There will be allot of people and I have a last chance to be my mother’s daughter.  I will be present and make my family proud.  

We arrive on the heels of “Diamond’s on the Soles of Her Shoes”.  I turn off the music as my husband parks in front of the funeral home.  We unload musical gear.  I remind myself how absolutely unprepared I am for organizing the music and all the things that have to happen. I don’t feel nervous though.  I am suddenly aware of a feeling of quiet confidence that everything will be ok. I have faith in my mother, my friends and my family.

Let go and let God”, I hear her say in my mind.

I imagine all that she would say to me then.  “Easy does it”, “Breathe huny”, “Just do your best”…

I am there for her and the people who love her.  The pressure lifts.

I enter the funeral home and see a group of people in front of me, but I don’t know any of them. I didn’t realize there were two funerals.  Those can’t be our people – those people look very sad.

A sign points to upstairs indicating that there is a celebration of my mother’s life.  I go upstairs where only my immediate family is sitting.  The room is quiet as John and I descend upon the quiet scene with our immense family.  Our kid’s energy enters the room and things lighten up.

We set up the movie I have created of her and my family and her friends. It took me six long days and it was a grueling process of excavating not only physical pictures but a complete overview of my entire life and everyone who has ever been a significant part of it. During the process I half laughed with a good friend saying that if I hadn’t resolved my past after ALL this, than I was completely without hope.

The rest of my kids come in and we watch the movie together, as a family.  We criend and laughed together as we remembered all of the events that went with the 65 years of memories on the screen.  The memories that made us the people we are today.

Over the days between my mother dying and making the movie I laughed but mostly I cried.  I cried buckets and buckets of tears.  My eyes became swollen and infected and at the funeral I found myself looking slightly Quasimodo-ish.  One person asked me if I got punched.

The result of the movie was beautiful though. I didn’t know it would be like that. After the private family viewing people came in throngs, waves one after the other, all gathering around the screen and able to spend time with her and all the good memories in her life.

She had a special musical request right before her passing – that we play “It’s your Thing” by the Isley Brothers – so I added it to the video with as many silly pictures as I could find.  People were smiling and laughing because they so deeply understood what she was telling them.

I see my family around me.  My brothers I hadn’t seen in the same room for so long only because of circumstance and not a lack of willingness. We all really love each other.  There is a loyalty and a pride in being family that we share. I sense the friendliness and a feeling of unity with all of us.  It feels good.

Our cleaning lady from many years ago arrives smiling. She looks beautiful.  People arrive more and more – we share stories and tears and hugs.  This is very healing.

Time has flown by and it’s time for the ceremony.

I am a little overwhelmed as we enter the chapel. I’m not quite sure what to do. Unbeknownst to me, the two friends who were supposed to sing and play the main song at the ceremony had still not yet arrived because they set up at the wrong funeral home and were sitting beside an unknown person whose name rhymed with my mom’s family name.

We enter the chapel; I make my way through more hugs and touches of support on my shoulder.  I look behind me quickly to see where my family is. My brother and his sons are beside my friends – I love that they are meeting.  My children are in the front clinging to their partners and friends.  I am grateful for the support the Universe has sent their way.  I see them quiet and dignified – this is their Nanny.  A very difficult loss for them.  My heart is washed with love and respect for their quiet courage.

I sit beside my sister – my mother’s identical twin sister. Her sadness is palpable and I wish I could take some of it away. But that won’t ever be possible.  She is beside my stepfather. I am overwhelmed with concern for them both and I once again release my fears to my Higher Power and pray that they get what they need and the comfort that only and act of Grace can bring.

The Archbishop is presiding over the services.  I like this man. I had met him as we were preparing the funeral arrangements. At first, I was wary of anyone who be of “high office” in any church or religion – it is arrogant of a person to claim they can talk to God or on God’s “behalf” better than we can for ourselves.  But he isn’t like this.

I asked him how we can all learn to become “Excellent”, because as the Archbishop he is referred to as “Your Excellency”. A challenge he handles with deference and humour –

“I don’t know, but as soon as I figure it out, I’ll letcha know”. He said with a gleam in his eye.

Very good.

We wanted some form of a Set list or organization for the music at the funeral, but I just knew in my heart that it was not something we could “organize”. It would be fine – I reassured him. God would take care of the music.  Imagine me saying that to an Archbishop?  He smiled-maybe at the irony- and nodded, writing a note or two on his pad.  I think I made him a little nervous with my “hippie ways”, but in the end, he had faith.

The ceremony begins…

Father Barry enters the church saying something about Celebrating the end of a life…we stand…we sit. He recites a passage from Ecclesiastes; “To every thing there is a time…”

The Bible’s long version reminder that everything is changing and that change is the nature of our existence. Yes. My mother would have said the same thing.

People are crying all around me. I like this. It means there were so many people that loved her that she is loved and missed.  I have never been to a funeral where I felt so much love.

It is time for the dedication speeches.  Jack gets up. He’s an Irish-New Yorker straight out of a Mario Puzzo movie. He always reminded me of my brothers in his funny sideways man-humour and gentle gruffness.  He has been very good to my mother and step father and has shown his love in so many tangible ways with his wife Louise. Our family is extended and huge.  His speech is brave and beautiful and ends with the Irish Prayer –

May the Road rise up to meet you

May the wind be at your back…

There is not a dry eye in the house when Jack is done.

Diane gets up next.    My mother’s dear friend over the past many years and someone she loved like a daughter.  Love and loyalty pour from her words and I smile at how I see the impression of my mother’s energy on her.  Her influence of wisdom and the guidance she gave her will not be lost because she will do what my mother did for her for another woman.  This is an awesome legacy – more than money or fame or power – for those things disappear instantly with your last breath.

Here is a little more from father Barry. He speaks from the heart about his own loss of the wife he loved last year- a woman who suffered with MS and then died of cancer. I respect his words because he speaks from his heart and I listen carefully because I know he speaks the truth.  He looks at me and gives me a smile to begin music.  I go up and realized that the friends doing the song are still not here, so I pick up my guitar unsure of what song to do.  I look at the Chapel filled beyond capacity and only feel love.  I like the quiet and I decide not to rush.  I play gently until something comes to me. Other musical friends I see are scrambling for their guitars and trying to figure out what I am playing. Suddenly I see Sonja and Roger come in.  I begin to sing Amazing Grace. George comes in wearing a top hat and a smile.  I hear Sonja’s voice. I don’t know the second verse – I realize only halfway through the first. I feel surrounded by angels and light and beautiful things.  I drop off and on cue, Sonjka picks up the second verse and brings the whole chapel back to singing the first together at the end.

I knew it would be ok.  We would will all just fall into step with each other like people who have walked a long road for a long time do.  I hear David pick up the small bongo’s and a steady beat keeps me moving forward. That’s what friends do. They keep the beat going.

I am singing. I hear myself. I can’t believe it. Just a few hours ago I was trying to figure out how I would even just be in the building and be able to speak to people.  But, in this moment, I am feeling JOY…I mean, my heart is filling up past capacity!  I hear all the other voices, Sonja and roger and the other guitars come in with the heartfelt timing of angels. I look around to make sure my brother can hear because this is beautiful music and I really want him to feel it. He is standing up at the top balcony and I can see smiling.

I don’t feel sad.  I feel my mother – so happy with us.  Smiling and I know that THIS is exactly what she would want. We ALL know it.

So we are happy and sad all at once – together. And that’s ok too.

The ceremony goes on, I give my eulogy and I feel the words and thoughts come easily from the written version to words from my heart.  I had been careful only to write my eulogy once. I didn’t edit or draft it. I just wrote it.

I wanted everyone to remember what she would want us to remember.

Her last word of Love…

I let her speak through my heart and I stepped out of the way. It felt good.

My eldest daughter Meagan gets up and surprises me. She speaks of love for her grandmother and on behalf of her brother and sister, with whom she has a tumultuous and loving relationship.   She is smiling when she sits down. It helps to tell everyone how much you loved someone when they pass away.

We had a final song set up but I wasn’t sure when to do it, but it didn’t matter.  I would follow father Barry. But when he gave me the sign to set up a final song, I changed my mind suddenly from my original “plan” and announced “set list change” to my friends. They all laughed – big surprise. I have never been able to follow a set list in my life. Why should now be any different?   They were prepared J and did “In My life” by the Beatles.   A special request I felt from on high.

We laid her to rest in a beautiful illuminated cubby hole in the Chapel wall.  We can go and visit her ashes any time we want. And the funeral director told me I could bring my guitar and take advantage of the awesome sound in that place.  I love that we can go and be with her and focus on her like this.  It’s a beautiful ending to a beautiful life.

I woke this morning feeling “in my body” for the first time in a week.  I know this is not going to be easy. After a funeral and death there is a long process of understanding how to be in the world again without the physical presence of someone you loved.

Yesterday, when people would ask me how I was, I would do a quick check and answer honestly;

“In this moment, I am well”, because, whenever I remind myself of where I am standing in this moment – really, I am well.   I will have to do that allot in the next while I know.

I speak to my mother all day. I hear her answers clearly in my mind and heart. I don’t doubt her voice, because I came from her and she taught me well.

She is continuing to be a good friend and I feel the love right now, in this moment.  But when have those hard moments where I feel only the loss, I will have the celebration of her life and the feeling of extraordinary love and togetherness that came from that day to bring me back to myself.

In love and gratitude.