Alt Journey-Atonement

Part 9

Free stock image
Ouroboros and the All-Seeing Eye

Sha’s trite confession hung in the air and multi-hued stars holding space for her form recessed into inky shame she’d secreted away in a secured heart chamber. An imaginative 11 year old constructed an almost impenetrable locked space for memories incomprehensible to her young spirit-beginning with a plastic picnic table stained with blood not her own, her father’s voice bitching about Bertie’s fee while she yelled he would pay or she’d call the cops on his perverted ass. He said she could at least knock 10 bucks off for disposal; the girl would bury it herself. A single snake stirred from her soul’s essence and slithered out from between her legs. A hiss boasted of soul ownership, “She belongs to meeee. Master Nidhug promised me the next light being turned murderesss.”

Saint Joan materialized between Sha’s essence and Nidhug’s Collector serpent, who grew fatter by the second with smugness as his potential mate refused to lay her soul bare. His forked tongue tried to move around her to kiss its’ prize. Joan’s copper form swirled, flames of orange and blue green ignited in her center as she whispered, “You have no claim”, and deflected it’s aim with holy fire. Mary the Maiden, still connected to Sha with thorny vines, pulsed sacred light energy toward her form. “She will bear me thousands. You cannot shield a murderesss without sacrificesss.” Archangel Auriel’s wings beat furiously and emitted ten phosphorescent orbs which floated into place around the Divine Sister circle then raised it above the temple, through Archangel Haniel’s opened wing, it’s feathers of silver fluff a blessed tickle on the serpent’s underbelly as it followed. Sha heard her parent’s dealer, “Tell ‘im it’s uncut, Baby, a lil’ thanks for taking care of your situation”, and felt familiar disgust swell in her locked heart chamber as she envisioned his gold-toothed grin and felt his filthy hand pat her aching belly under her mother’s Coca-Cola t-shirt. Blood had run down one of her legs in a rapid trickle and stained her new Converse high tops as she returned to her parents at the condemned flop house that was her nightmare. The circle hummed with combined harmonies from Mary the Maid, Saint Teresa, Saint Brigid, and Archangel Auriel. As the serpent coiled and snapped its’ jaws in irritation they sang, “I am loved, I am forgiven, I am whole, I am healed” in lilting and low voices layered onto Sha like silky warm blankets around her shoulders and over her head. Meanwhile, her form’s legs, one white and one black, fused together in a single grey slimy appendage as Sha’s stubborn unwillingness divided her soul between Nidhug’s guilt and Divine acceptance-her birthright. “She called me a baby killer and he made me bury it in the alley”, Sha sobbed as her form steadfastly gripped a memory of her human self as a girl knelt over a hump in gravel, blood and dirt under her fingernails. She further devolved into a grey serpent and the Collector hissed in happy anticipation of its’ progeny of snakelets in Nidhug’s pit below the Tree of Life on earth. They will eat her roots faster than she grows them, he fantasized. Archangel Haniel enveloped the circle of Saints and angelic belonging, Sha’s soul in it’s center. Haniel’s impenetrable massive wings of protection closed the Collector outside and infused the space inside with El’s loving Sun energy. Darkness often celebrated prematurely. Sha’s essence stated plainly, “I wanted them to die. I hated them.” Her skull painfully changed into a Dragon’s head and circled around to swallow her own scaly tail.

In childhood, the injuries to her soul could’ve been healed enough for an allowance of her and Phoebe’s soul contract, but none of Shana’s helper humans knew. She’d almost told her first counselor, Holly, a no-nonsense Grandmother who hugged her at the end of sessions and said it was a shame her parents didn’t teach her Spanish. But, Holly moved to Sedona after only three months of therapy, and Shana vowed to never reveal what was an even bigger shame. Instead, she excelled in school and resolutely did her best to appear “normal” and happy living with Phoebe and her Mom. And she was happy quite often, as long as she didn’t allow herself to think about, let alone emotionally process her rape, abortion by Bertie, and her parents’ betrayals and overdoses. How would a twelve, or sixteen, or twenty-year-old even begin to heal from that? In reality, almost everyone preferred to believe that whatever horrors she survived at other human’s hands were in the past, hurdles she’d jumped with ease thanks to the solicitous care she received. Until she met Doyle, who sensed she was not nearly as contained and content as she looked at first meeting and set out to pry her open for a closer look inside.

Classic, vintage engraving of Joan of Arc in battle. She is a symbol of beauty, strength, feminism. This authentic engraving shows its age in style and slight grunge. Published in 1840 it is now in the public domain. Digital restoration by Steven Wynn Photography.
1840 Engraving of Joan of Arc

Saint Joan let out a warrior cry born of her earthly mission at Orleans, France, when she helped restore the earth’s balance of power with Archangel Michael’s, Archangel Margaret’s, and Archangel Catherine’s help. Sha felt Joan’s tremendous faith surround her serpent/dragon form with wisdom as she devoured her own shadow essence. Round and round the Saintly circle, their song grew deeper and loud clashes and groans echoed through the universe as Sha released lies about her own culpability and accepted unconditional love on offer. Fully dragon, Sha’s soul embraced herself as a survivor and fire from her nostrils blazed across the ethereal realms. In the same instant, Nidhug’s Collector returned to his place in the pit below the tree to wait for his murderess bride.

Sunrise on an island

Phoebe screamed as a snake swallowed her feet and ominously advanced up her legs, each movement accompanied by a loud crunch she felt as well as heard. “Wake up, Phoebe. It’s ok, I’m here.” Awakened for the third night in a row, Doyle wondered if her release from the hospital was a mistake as he called out to her from a futon in the open-concept loft she shared with Shana, or rather Shana’s ghost. The first night she’d gifted him a black eye when he shook her awake, and intrigue for his advanced psych seminar students who all knew about Shana’s suicide. “Ahhhhh!” Phoebe howled as if being eaten alive as the snake swallowed the rest of her and said, “Since she’sss not here, you will have to do.”

I Can Feel My Paradigm Shift

ad·ap·ta·tion

noun

a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment

Crimson Tulips
My garden

Most of us on earth right now share common experiences of changing landscapes both external and internal. Over the past two decades the entire skyline changed in the smallish city where I grew up. While development spreads cement like an invasive species, bureaucracy often moves more like a sloth, bogged down in habitual “this is the way it’s always been done” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It is broke, though.

Over the past few years, millions rejected the limiting mantra of “no religion, politics, or money”, and more people across our planet than ever before embraced a right to free speech. We became uncomfortable with humans expressing differently from us in massive numbers, while some became unable to control their stored anger. Others became enmeshed in a struggle, while others chose to ignore the changing world and hold fast to the past.

Now we are here, in this place of knowing the center isn’t holding, in this place of void. What do I create for my timeline given what I now know and also what I don’t know?

  1. I am adapting to supply chain challenges with fresh food by growing green beans and herbs (anyone can, SO EASY), and not buying food from across the country in drought spaces. I am adapting to sketchy quality of mass-produced food by upping my game with organic fresh foods and local organic meat. Honestly, I am willing to spend more on groceries right now since most prices are higher than normal, anyway.
  2. I’ve adapted to 24/7 media by using discernment a.k.a. “being picky” about not only who and what is healthy for my mind and soul, but also worth my time, a precious resource. I no longer justify what I do to take care of myself, as it’s kept me alive and on this side of sane. My outlook on health continues to evolve as I develop a holistic approach and utilize what I need from differing systems. Past work experience in medical education made me over-value data, which isn’t a match for my intuition. My intuition tells me I can lower my cholesterol without a pharmaceutical med, but I cannot control Rheumatoid Disease naturally… yet. A healing gut and diverse microbiome is adaptive for my body’s hyper army of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Food as medicine is my reality.
  3. Nothing is more adaptive than my meditation and spiritual practice, which gifts me with heightened intuition and a will to change what needs to be changed so I can be comfortable for a minute.
  4. I am staying open and accepting of changes in resources which may not be convenient, but may also provide a practical way of doing something or a new opportunity to socialize.
  5. Adapting to a constant state of stress the collective is experiencing as war wages, tired and worn-out practices die away and new ventures and ideas require Herculean efforts to launch, books are an escape where we learn compassion, empathy, and what courage and integrity looks like when it feels like the real world is in short supply. Stories are always waiting to be retold, even refashioned.

We seem to be in flux, so I’ll stay as open-minded and flexible as I can be. If there’s one thing I’ve learned-there’s almost always another option. What adaptations have you made that make you happier?

Eclipse

Solar Eclipse. The moon moving in front of the sun. Illustration

________________________________________

Fated conception in darkness

granted night sight

An insulting unlit ingress

sculpts the form

Misleading promises of light

creates a barren landscape

Obstructed desire for Sun

builds your ark

It is written in wind

and turbulent waters within

in roots revealed

and shores dismantled

I ride darkness

into the day

Alt Journey-Control

Part 7

Shana’s soul, busy with re-orientation to life in the cosmos, still yearned for its’ connection with Phoebe’s soul. While the pair were given privileges due to El’s love and respect for Anam Chara and the Tri-Eloh, a complex universe required division of dimensions. Limited to dreamtime, Shana’s soul showed Phoebe compelling details of what it experienced, a compulsion to share with her ingrained. Everyone thought they knew what true darkness looked like, whether closed in a windowless room without light, or free in a forest on a cloudy night with unrecognizable wildlife noise, but this blackness was more than visual. Shana shared a weightless darkness where nothingness smelled faintly like a baking cake, tasted like honey water. In sweetened darkness Phoebe felt a vibration inside as she floated and heard Shana’s voice, “Gurlll…”

Merkaba adobe stock image

Rays of light fell on the nurse’s hand as she poured water from a pink plastic pitcher she brought in full every day with identical instructions. Phoebe raised her red and swollen eyes to look out the window at a blue sky for the first time since she arrived, blossoms on an apple tree branch tinged pink and half unfurled. She decided grey and dismal was more to her liking, this change a painful reminder of time’s passage. A dove alighted outside on the sill, soon joined by its’ mate. “You know the drill. There’s a clean hat in the toilet. If you don’t swallow your meds, we’ll know. You really do need to eat more today if you want the doctor to discharge you.” She nodded toward the tray of cold scrambled eggs folded in a sheet, dry white toast with a rock-hard marble of butter on top and a tiny paper cup with two pills. “Yeah, I know. If you’d give me some coffee with sugar I could choke the toast down.”, Phoebe said with a sniffle and more tears as she laid down and turned her body to the wall. Fucking doves and fake eggs, Shana. She told herself to get it together or she’d never get out of Resting Pines, but it just made her cry harder when she thought of walking into their empty apartment.

Dr. Pressman with her pristine white coat and gentle-but-firm demeanor entered a short while later, her hair unbraided and worn in a wavy afro that gave her kind of a halo-effect in the sunshine, “How are you today, Phoebe?” She settled herself in a chair she pulled up next to the bed and clicked her pen, the demon Kaz assigned to her already transformed into a light being by Dinah Pressman’s full heart. Phoebe flipped over to look at the most powerful person in her world at the moment. When she’d insisted she did not now or ever intend to kill herself, outraged by the repeated accusation, the doctor stoically told her it was not unusual for a young person in her situation to attempt suicide after such a hard loss, especially with no other family for support. In the days that followed, she remained immoveable, steady in what she told her was her commitment to Phoebe’s safety. She did not argue with Phoebe, but neither did she affirm faith in her mental stability. Phoebe imagined her a formidable poker opponent. Dinah Pressman’s kind bedside manner did not include weak fences around her own emotions, but this young woman engendered a protectiveness usually reserved for her pediatric patients. “Honestly? I’m pretty wrecked today, Dr. P. I guess it is really sinking in that she isn’t coming back.” She grabbed another handful of tissues and wiped her wet face, blew her nose. “I think I need to move”, Phoebe blurted and shook her head back and forth slowly, “I’ll always be looking for Shana there.” After she made an encouraging note about the patient’s active engagement with reality, the doctor leaned forward, “Phoebe your friend Doyle Regan came to see me this morning. He informed me that you have exams in two weeks and that your courses will be dropped if you don’t return to class next week. You’ve put in far more work than average, in his opinion as a graduate T.A. He’s concerned your academic career may be irreparably damaged in less than a month’s time due to Shana’s suicide. I’d like to help you, if you want to sit for finals, that is. Normally, I require another adult reside with a suicidal patient when I discharge them, or in cases like yours, in-patient therapy here is extended.” Phoebe’s mind felt like it housed a pinball machine, each of Dr. Pressman’s statements setting off bells, whistles, dangerous urges and screams. Was this another episode like with Dr. Cooper and Farwin? Her confusion registered on her face, eyebrows drawn down when the doctor said Phoebe was lucky to have a friend like Doyle. Lucky wasn’t how Phoebe felt whatsoever as she wondered why Doyle bothered. “He’s in the hall. Why don’t I let you two discuss his suggestion, and you can let me know what you decide tomorrow morning. If you’re agreeable to outpatient follow-up in addition to his help, I think a return to class would be good for you”, she declared, as if it was normal to buddy up to your best friend’s killer.

Doyle stood at the end of the bed and took in how Phoebe’s pallor matched the stark white walls and bedding, her copper greasy hair the only contrast in the cramped room except for himself. When she raised her head he sucked in his breath at her gold eyes. “What’s wrong? You look like shit, Doyle.” Phoebe felt some satisfaction by his apparent shock. She noticed his eyes were as puffy as hers when he came closer to drop her voluminous 19th Century Lit text down next to her untouched breakfast. “Yeah, well… I guess I look how I feel then.” Anger boiled within and made her flush. “Don’t even”, her voice thick with disdain, “I’ve got no reason to pretend anymore that I don’t see you for who you are, you, you… UGHHH!” “Go ahead. Yell at me. Hate me. I deserve it, but I swear I didn’t mean to hurt Shana”, he said as he walked to the window to put a bit of distance between them. Phoebe’s eyes are blue, he reminded himself and shook his head. “What do you want from ME, Doyle? ‘Cause if it’s sympathy you should be the one in here.” She stood up and walked over to him. “I want to help you, Phoebe. I… I think Shana would want me to do what I can for you.” Her pale arms gestured in the air as a flood of emotions rushed up in Phoebe and she shouted, “Look at me, Doyle! Everything, everything that meant something to me is gone! She’s gone! What did you do?” Carrie poked her head in, a look of concern on her face, but quickly backed out when Phoebe glared at her. “I don’t blame you for being angry, Phoebe. Let me just help you get through the next month. I promise to stay out of your way”, he held out an envelope, “I had my trust guy draw up something for your trust guy so I could pay for Shana’s cremation. Figured you’d want to pick out the container”. Phoebe had never hit anyone in her entire life, so it rattled her when she felt the urge to sink her fists in his guts; she would not let this bastard change her like he did Shana. Instead, she snatched the envelope out of his long fingers, and turned away from Doyle and blue sky. “Are you serious? You have control of my money?” If she hit him she might not be able to stop. Air suddenly seemed in short supply as Phoebe struggled to take a deep breath and steady her nerves, to climb out of an emotional tidal pool. While Phoebe depended on Shana to fight whenever they needed a champion, Shana depended on Phoebe’s logic and discernment, both in short supply in that moment. It had been a week since she died, so maybe Doyle had only done what was needed. But Phoebe couldn’t help remembering the little and big ways he’d controlled her friend. Shana she spent more nights at Doyle’s than at home because he said he slept better with her there, and then there were the drugs. At least it appeared the conservatorship was constrained to only her monthly allowance for two months, at which time the petitioner and attorneys would review Phoebe Monteer’s mental status per reports from Dr. Dinah Pressman and other staff involved in her therapy, as well as the opinion of her live-in conservator, Doyle Regan. “What the hell do you mean you’ll stay out of my way?” “Live-in conservator” connected with what Dr. Pressman said about conditions for discharge like a key in a lock. “It’s just for a little while, just to make sure you’re safe. You don’t know how much I wish I never left Shana alone. I won’t make that mistake with you, I promise.” Kazmir planted anxiety in Phoebe regarding exactly what Doyle meant, but that damned text book owned too much of her attention for it to take hold. She would need a different tact than her soul friend to break her, he thought as he made Doyle smile at her and pat her shoulder. Phoebe cringed inside just as Kaz knew she would. “There’s something I need to know before I decide whether I want to be discharged tomorrow. What happened that night? Why did she do it, Doyle?”

If you or someone you care about is having thoughts of suicide, please dial 988 in the U.S., 45645 in Canada, 116 123 in the U.K., 13 11 14 in Australia for someone to talk to or reach out in another fashion. 5 ways to help a person not proceed with suicidal thoughts.

Another Birthday, Another Revised Bucket List

In this esoteric era it’s said time is a construct, an illusion created to help mankind organize our existence, yet it doesn’t feel ephemeral turning 54. These lessons are solid. Looking back, and wandering repeatedly over familiar landscapes, isn’t where my heart lies. I am ready for new adventures outside of the same ol’, new ways of being me, new ways of relating and loving.

I can compartmentalize my life in decades,20’s being the learning years, 30’s being the building years, 40’s being the destructive years, and 50’s being the… the… maybe I will know once I am 60. I’d like to call them my “creative years” for now. I will not limit myself. Since I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 40, I’ve been working hard to overcome limitations. Not all, in fact not most, of those efforts helped me feel better physically. RA was like an undertow and the more I fought for control, the more disabled I became. I’ve never been so angry; inside I shook my fist at the world for a few years. There is a space in unrelenting pain which whittles down a person’s focus to only the cause, and a willingness to do almost anything for it to stop. A Rheumatologist is hard to come by, a good Rheumatologist who keeps up on medical advances in the journals is harder. I knew from the beginning I’d have to read and advocate for myself. What I didn’t know is how many factors would work against me. In January of 2018 a virus teamed with my RA for a lung attack. I was 49 and spent 10 days in the hospital.

These first 4 years of my 50’s have been different, almost as if there was a reset. The Universe seems confident I reclaimed my desire to live after it tried to kill me. My new rheumatologist prescribed a different biologic after the lung incident and it’s worked up to now. I had to laugh when I learned I’d have to push the plunger on the syringe, a new challenge for a human who fought off nurses as a child, and just happens to have a tremor. I stopped caring so much about so many different things, and started meditating with a goal of not being afraid of death. 50 made HUGE goals, but this, along with other mind/body energy practices, set me on a peaceful path for the first time in my life. Many things aren’t as hard as I once made them. Embarking on the 5th year of this decade, I am writing fiction about death and the afterlife, about friendship and grief, two themes of my journey thus far. I am ready for new stories now, having released all of the old ones except for the good. I still want to wrangle this beast RA, tie it up like a trussed hog with natural healing and self-love, good nutrition and friendship, writing, reading, and laughter. Can’t hurt to aim for it, to steep myself in the Divinity and richness of my life for the rest of this one. In this moment, it is well and I’m grateful I get to be this old.

Alt Journey-Stars

Part 5

“A great portent appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of 12 stars.”

Revelation 12:1, The Bible

As energy within a healing tetrahedron saturated Phoebe and Shana’s souls they became thoughtless, closer to original than either had been since the first few years of their friendship, when they were new to womanhood, tried on relational influences and found safety with one another. Two green stiches closed the fissure between them, forgiveness barely begun, but Anam Chara remembrance enough to satisfy Tri-Eloh for now. The Tri, having realized a quickly escalating danger to Phoebe’s physical being, gently moved the pair from Mary’s constellation and handed them off to escorts from Michael’s Divine Army for transport to their in-between place. Emboldened by El’s interference, the Tri assumed survival of this Anam Chara link warranted favors from even the most high. The higher the angel or spirit, however, the busier the angel or spirit, as Archangel Michael reminded the Tri of their lengthening line of souls who awaited healing during this deviation from routine cosmic life. Mary’s blessing, however brief, accomplished what would have taken longer than Phoebe’s lifetime and justified the choice even if it did not entirely eradicate Shana’s shame. Tri-Eloh rushed toward their purpose with gratitude that flowed behind them in wide swaths of golden starlight and touched every ethereal being they passed. Visible in the final hour of dark before dawn, a thirty-three-minute meteor shower built upon a Spring Triangle created by the stars Regulus, Spica and Arcturus. Intimate mysteries often revealed themselves to solo audiences on earth.

NASA image

First they heard “shooosh (pause) shooosh”, then they felt sand beneath their feet at the same time the water came into view, waves shining and dark with frothy remnants when the tide receded. While it possessed key elements of thousands of their summer days, the air was different, shimmering and energetic as if alive and moving on the edge of vision. Shana reached for Phoebe’s hand as a fishy breeze cooled their faces wet with tears. “I am”, they said, “I am you”. “I’ll see you again”, Shana’s whisper landed as Phoebe opened her eyes in a dim cold room. Dry prickly hands rubbed her calves irritatingly, an unidentifiable acrid smell filled her nostrils as she shook her head back and forth on a thin sheet over a plastic mattress that crackled beneath her. “Where am I?”, Phoebe snatched one foot away and kicked at the air. She wanted to go back, to go back to… damn it! She rubbed her nose and noticed the IV in her left hand. “What is going on?” Her heart began to race even as she closed her eyes tight and took a deep breath. Formaldehyde and ammonia overlaid with something worse stung her nostrils and throat and made her stomach lurch. Dry Hands let his other hand descend to her foot before she heard, “You are safe under my care at Resting Pines Hospital, Miss Monteer. You’ve been catatonic for a couple days now, so I’m helping the circulation in your legs so you don’t get bed sores.” Back to my beach dream, back to Shana, Phoebe thought, but the ambulance ride, flashes of her dead friend’s neck, questions about heroin and drug dealers crowded her mind instead. Her breath came faster as she remembered it all and wondered if she’d lost her mind, if her mother’s weakness had finally showed up to claim her intelligence and grip on reality. “Water peese”. Dr. Cooper desperately needed composure, but his body betrayed him. It was as though he watched himself rub her foot against his khakis in slow motion. Engrossed, he was blindsided when his dentures clapped loudly as Phoebe’s foot jerked away and met his chin with force. Kazmir bid the Doctor, “Make her pay. Hurt her NOW.” “You will be restrained if you can’t control yourself, Miss Monteer!” “Wow! didn’t think this one was going to come around without ECT, Doc”, a new voice echoed and startled Dr. Cooper out of what he assumed were his own deviant thoughts. “Want me to get the restraints?” Why were they turning off more lights? “Water”, Phoebe croaked. “Yes, good idea at least until she calms down. I don’t know how I would’ve managed if you didn’t come in when you did, Farwin. You are truly indispensable!” The orderly blushed with the doctor’s approval. Dry Hands roughly grabbed Phoebe’s ankles. Hard plastic straps snapped over them at the corners of the bed. She struggled in silence as Kazmir planted images of archaic electroshock methods, biteplate in her mouth, her eyes rolled back in her head. “Give me your hand and I’ll help you with a drink in a second.” Phoebe tried hard not to panic as her arms were restrained. “Go ahead and finish your rounds, Farwin. I’ll take her vitals and give her some water.” “I’m only a little behind, but thanks, Doc. Kinda surprised after that kick, but she’s lucky to have your firm expertise. I’ll check back and make some notes on her status this afternoon. Please page me if you need any assistance before then.” Minutes passed with no sound but breathing from the end of the bed, out of range of sight. A tall thin man in a white coat approached her without a word and pressed a button on the wall behind her. While the bed raised slightly, he clamped his fingers over her nose. “Open your mouth and tilt your head back”, he instructed as he held a cup of water before her face and smiled, thin lips stretched into obvious pleasure as Phoebe opened her mouth. “Further!” he snapped. The doctor let go of her nose and held her head by the hair at her nape as he poured the water. Her nose gurgled then spewed like a fountain as she struggled and the doctor pulled her hair painfully. “Let’s get those vitals now”, he said cheerily as he let her go, brushing her hair from his hands onto the floor. “You really do smell, Miss Monteer. Since your attendant is occupied with other patients now, I know just the man for the job.” Phoebe sputtered and swallowed air as her throat spasmed and her lungs emptied. I have to get out of here, she thought as Dry Hands explained how he might have to take her temperature several times to get an accurate read, but not to worry-he would insure her records were detailed. Regret that he couldn’t report catatonia for a while longer frustrated the doctor. Kazmir plotted out the next few hours for his fully-compliant gadget Dr. Cooper, another fool who’s guilt and unworthiness birthed virgin evil. The doctor opened a drawer on the table next to her where Phoebe saw syringes and a horseshoe-shaped apparatus that he removed and shoved in her mouth before she knew what was happening. She tried to free her tongue to push against it, but it was pinned. “You’ll drool, but we don’t want you to injure yourself during therapy, young lady”, his face moved close enough for her to see flakes of white in bushy brows of grey and black like dirty snow banks in early spring. The doctor moved a machine with gauges next the the bed and flipped a small red switch. He widened her eyelids with his long course fingers, thrilled as his other hand flung the sheet back and exposed her trembling body, bikini underwear her only cover. Both Dr. Cooper and Kazmir delighted at the pure terror evident in her expanded pupils before he blinded her with a tactical light he’d purchased just last week with the demon’s persuasion. Wait a sec. A shiny speck grew in three directions in her left pupil. Surprised and worried he’d damaged her visibly, Dr. Cooper’s breathing quickened and his erection fled. He could lose everything, and all because of one plain girl who hadn’t cooperated, who he’d barely treated yet. A neon green triangle pulsed and cast a glow into the dim room as Phoebe’s body stilled and her soul found itself back on the beach with Shana.

In holographic embodiments of their most recent vessels, the Anam Chara sat cross-legged and sunk into warm sand within a clear crystalline cube open to a sky bleached innocent by scorchingly bright sun rays. “There’s something I have for you”, Shana said as she took her hand and pressed their palms together. Like most of their peers, in high school Shana and Phoebe experimented with alcohol, boys, and marijuana at house parties of classmates with vacationing parents. Phoebe’s mom’s heart-to-heart talks with the girls about dangerous situations and people made little impact. Then, she hit pay dirt when she restricted them to their respective rooms for a month with a threat of additional time if they spoke to one another. Although the friends lived together, went to school and church together, and even sneaked letters to one another, loneliness for their connection far outweighed any popularity they’d gained. If anything, they yearned for their previous invisibility, rather than being known as stupid freshman who could not hold their alcohol. Cautiously optimistic about the girl’s future afterwards, Phoebe’s mother even gave them a later curfew after improved grades proved their seriousness and they talked openly about everything at dinner-time, often seeming to forget she was even there. They were able to launch their plans in earnest with Phoebe’s talent for planning and foresight and Shana’s boundless imagination. Their futures outlined, hard copies reviewed and agreed on, Shana produced a jack knife from her backpack, opened it and swiftly cut her palm to Phoebe’s astonishment. Phoebe put her hand out with her eyes closed and head turned away. Their blood mingled as they joined hands and vowed to never betray one another, just as she dreamed during their separation. In her dream they wore long cotton nightgowns, and she could not make out the details of their features, but she recognized herself and her best friend in a floral wall-papered room with a high ceiling and tall leaded windows, tree branches and a night sky wavy through thick glass, a bed with four posts she knew they shared. A dagger rather than a kitchen knife sliced their flesh and in the dream they also vowed to protect one another.

Shana’s soul recovered a soul memory of this promise shortly after they departed the in-between. Death howled with outrage at her scrap of redemption.

In this moment, sitting on the sand with Shana, a lake lapping the shore on the other side of the cube, Phoebe felt a calm strength fill her mind as her Anam Chara’s soul energy met with reciprocity, light making their joined hands glow. “See you on the flipside”, Shana smiled.

Phoebe opened her eyes to find herself on the plastic mattress again with a low pillow beneath her head and daylight filling a sterile white room. “Great! You’re awake!”, sang a sunny voice. A youngish woman with smooth skin and golden eyes approached her bedside, poured water from a plastic pitcher into a paper cup and announced, “My name is Carrie I’m going to raise the bed slowly, then help you take a tiny sip of water so you don’t spill, ok Miss Monteer?” Phoebe nodded her head. Cool water trickled down her throat and she smiled a little in appreciation. “There you go. Now you just relax while I go get Dr. Pressman. She will assess if you need any more inpatient help. You’ll like her.” The nurse stopped at the door to turn and smile with the last part before leaving. Phoebe picked up the paper cup from the tray table over her bed and sipped while she took in her surroundings. Outside the window an apple tree budded, white scrolls yet to unwind and blossom. She opened the tray table to find a comb, a toothbrush in cellophane, the smallest tube of toothpaste she’d ever seen, and an attached mirror that slid out and angled back to reflect her tangle of red hair and Shana’s golden eyes, a green speck in the left. “What the… ok, ok, Shana.” Phoebe closed her eyes and made herself take a deep breath. Had it all been a nightmare when she awoke before? As she opened her eyes and stared once again into the golden eyes she’d loved, she realized she needed a new outline for a new future. Tears welled as a sob caught in her throat.

Only

Only

internal spaces

exist uninterrupted

by crisis

by celebration

Only

through places

sublimely untamed

by logic

by caution

Only

creation embraces

undeniably unhindered

by them

by me

by us

Goals trounce resolutions

The statistics kings, or as I refer to them- “they”, say that we break 65% of new year’s resolutions.  New Year’s resolutions are designed to be broken, which is why I did not make any.  I can experience failure any time I want, sometimes several times within a day, so I’ll be damned if I am going to court it.  I was not always this way.  I spent much of my 20’s and all of my 30’s on one self-help road or another striving to be better.  Better than what?  Better than me.  It took me 43 years to accept my successes, my mistakes, and the whole package that makes up who I am, taking into account how much I have learned and grown.  With my thirst for learning and new experiences why would I not continue to grow ?  I now revel in some of my imperfections, such as a raunchy sense of humor and blunt honesty.  The world does not have a surplus of those two attributes, so I feel I add something worthwhile to the mix, just as you and your imperfections do.

Year-long promises that usually involve abstaining from a desire/addiction or performing acts that we think are good for us but do not really want to do are set-ups for failure.  One slip and I get to feel like I broke a promise to myself.  No thank you.  I prefer denying myself unhealthy habits and working toward my dreams in bite-sized increments so I can savor each daily, weekly, or even hourly victory.  I was the kid that easily made a candy bar last all day because it made for a better day.  I am not going to wait all year to pat myself on the back for going to the gym 3 times this week.  I see the calorie counter on the treadmill and I earned a candy bar or even a dish of ice cream.  This strategy makes it much more likely that I will return to the gym next week.  If I bury myself in a novel in front of the fireplace instead of going to the gym, I do not let myself off the hook for the rest of the year because I failed.  My discipline frequently lags, but not living up to a goal breeds vigilance the next day.

Another reason resolutions fail is because willpower cannot fix every problem.  Trying harder often equates to increasing frustration as I try to fix things out of my control or slap a band-aid on a problem that needs a tourniquet.  If I concentrate on the short-term goals on the branches of my big dream tree, I can appreciate how all things work together.  If I go to the gym I have more energy and sleep better, improving my cognition so that I work smarter.  Also, my jiggly parts are more perky, gaining me extra spousal squeezes and increased confidence, which ultimately leads to a better love life.  When I eat greens and lean protein I feel lighter and not a bit guilty when I indulge my love of chocolate.  I proved this to myself once again over the holidays because there weren’t any Christmas salads, but there were plenty of desserts.  When I write daily I am a happier person (so my husband says), which makes me more successful in my relationships.  When I read literature, non-fiction, or contemporary fiction, it makes me a better writer.  When I perform detailed research on career options I often discover aspects I was previously oblivious to and it motivates me to spend more time writing and constructing a virtual assistant business.  If I volunteer to work with disabled veterans, I feel better about not contributing to my community with a paying job and exposure to veteran perspectives and characters enhance my writing.  If I meditate and journal today the unemployment blues abate somewhat, which makes it easier for me to take action rather than spending the day on the couch unshowered thinking of how unfair this situation is while the TV drones in the background.  It all works together.  I am not the only one thinking this way, as evidenced by an app at iTunes called Resolutions 2012 which deconstructs resolutions into bite-sized, realistic goals that encourage a person to think about what it will take to meet a wide-sweeping resolution like losing 20 pounds or quitting smoking.  I think the best resolution all of us can strive for is doing something nice for someone else every day.  If that took off I would not need to challenge myself with meditation as often, but wishing for something hardly ever makes it so.

The American lives even more for his goals, for the future, than the European. Life for him is always becoming, never being. 
-Albert Einstein

The Village

Relocating from the city to a village surrounded by apple orchards and woodlands has been a positive experience, for the most part.  The culture is simpler here; a local art revue with centerpieces of apple sculptures, a Celtic Festival, the annual Town & Country fair, and the small building whose only function is as Santa’s house during the three weeks of Old Fashioned Christmas, epitomize our small-town community.  We know our neighbors and everyone except one snotty couple waves to us when we turn onto our street.  If we want to know the happenings around the village, or even if we don’t, Johnny from across the street is a better reporter than those on the evening news, often delivering tabloid-type tidbits such as who drinks too much, who was arrested or picked up by an ambulance, and which relationship just broke up.  He inherited his reporting skills from his dad who will eagerly entertain us with both saucy and factual history dating back forty years.  They are the reason I pull our shades down the moment darkness arrives.  There isn’t anything gossip-worthy happening in our house, but privacy makes for more comfortable evenings.  Thanks to those two and the rest of our slightly less watchful neighbors, I do feel safer here than I ever did in the city where it seemed the primary goal was to avoid eye contact.  They tell me that most people do not lock their doors, but spending my formative years falling asleep to sirens instilled security habits that cannot be overturned.

My husband fits in here more than I do, probably because he grew up surrounded by seven acres of farmland and woods where he and his playmates had free rein.  He adapted instantly, often performing acts of kindness such as snow blowing the neighbors’ driveways simply because there is a foot of snow and they brighten our days with their waves and smiles.  They return the favor, too, showing up if they hear a hammer or power tools and snow blowing our driveway after a morning blizzard.  It is a sweet joy to discover a clean driveway when you are imagining and dreading hours of work during your commute home.  Our next-door neighbor Linda feeds our cat when we go on vacation and baked my husband cookies as a thank you for his thoughtfulness.  I can wander over there with any question or request and she and her husband Don are unfailingly helpful.

The tellers at the bank and clerks at the grocery store, gas station, and video rental recognize me and exchange friendly chit-chat when I am out running errands.  It takes a little longer, but a few minutes are a trivial price for the personalized service and feeling of belonging that they gift me with.  Slowly, but effectively, they are wearing down my unnecessary defenses.

The village has changed since we moved in eleven years ago.  Streetlights were replaced by retro-style lamp posts downtown where our village taxes also paid for brick walkways and benches outside tiny mom and pop shops and restaurants.  A couple of years ago they installed a traffic light by the new energy-efficient high school and a long-time resident opened a hugely popular Mexican restaurant that attracts folks from the city.  I can handle the rate of change here.  This village is my respite with the biggest disruption being the children playing at the park across the road.  I can face the world outside of our village because of the comforting balm of home that I begin to feel when I drive past Potato Joe’s farmer’s market sign which always sports common-sense quotes such as the current, “A clear conscience is usually a sign of a bad memory.”  Makes sense to me.

Chasing Z’s

Sleep is an elusive and unpredictable bitch that switches up the timing of her escape between very late at night and much too early in the morning.  She requires that I court her all day long in order to gain a slim possibility of a rare eight-hour stretch that will leave me feeling like I won the lottery.  At least once a week I see or hear the sleep courtship rules that we have all memorized by now.  The advice to not drink caffeine or exercise late in the evening is like receiving instructions on how to tie my shoes at this point.  The only reason I continue to tune in is my hope for a new fix, just as I continue to read money-saving articles in hopes of something other than the advice to skip $5 lattes.  Note Starbucks’ success and the public’s tendency to follow that advice.

The number of adults that report trouble falling and staying asleep is on the rise, with approximately 17% reporting severe insomnia.  Ironically, as we become increasingly stimulated we are getting less rest.  The primary cause, however, is that the hypothalamus gland begins decreasing production of the human growth hormone associated with deep sleep in one’s early 30’s.  Peak production in the teenage years was responsible for those dreamy days of sleeping well into the afternoon (sigh).  I wonder if it is our body’s way of telling us that the older we get the less time we have to waste.I would love to wage an argument, but have learned that my body does not alter its’ course no matter how valid my debate is. A new study states that 80% of women report feeling too stressed or worried to fall asleep and 30% are now taking sleep aids.  According to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical intelligence agency, nearly double the number of women aged 40 to 59 were prescribed sleep medications than men in the same age group.  Perhaps this “intelligence agency” is somehow sabotaging our hypothalamus so that women do not take over the world…probably not, but that term makes me paranoid nonetheless.  The most prescribed sleep aid is Ambien.  I took Ambien for a year and it was very effective; knocked me out within 5 minutes.  The only side effect I experienced was sleep walking and eating snacks.  Potato chips were my sleep eating choice, but because I loved the deep Ambien slumber I ignored the chip evidence until I was busted.  During a visit my daughter and son-in-law witnessed me walk to the cabinet, grab the chips, and munch away on the couch with my eyes closed.  Of course they were laughing and asking me questions, but it seems my sleeping self was very focused on the chips.  Lucky for all of us, I had heard about the possibility of sleep walking, eating, and even driving, and always slept in pajamas.  I became afraid of what else I may be doing while asleep and night sweats began to make pajamas unbearable, so I weaned myself off Ambien with the help of Benadryl.  My doctor preferred that I try Trazadone over the Benadryl and although it is not nearly as effective as Ambien, it does make me drowsy enough to fall asleep by midnight most nights.  D.H. Lawrence expertly and lovingly described a night-long sleep:  And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.  Good night.