Saturday, May 31, 2014

How to Bring Magic To Life through the Prayer Stick Ceremony

A bit of peace in Nature
I find my peace in Nature. It is the place where my soul communes with what feels most clean and whole. As we've gone through this tunnel of darkness into light with my daughter's sickness, Nature has been a big part of our healing, for which I am very grateful.

Serenity amidst Nature's gifts
I am blessed to have a bit of Nature to care for on this property where I live, and I have punctuated it with symbols that remind me of the blending I can create between society and Nature to bring about serenity and peace. This is one of my beautiful Buddhas that kneels happily amongst the peonies and pansies. Sometimes I put a bit of birdseed on the plate that Buddha's holding, and sometimes the rain comes to make the plate a water dish or bathing place for the birds and other tiny creatures.

Laughter and trust equals a great relationship
So my daughter and I have a great relationship. She's my best friend, someone who completely understands me. She's encouraging and supportive and we totally get each other's silly jokes, plus we often have wonderful, deep conversations late at night about all sorts of things. She knows how to come up to me and reach out and turn down my Mommy Meter button even though we're not exactly sure of its location. We think it moves, along with the eyes in the back of my head. The photo above is the Mother's Day card she gave me - it gives you an idea of the understanding between us - I about fell off my chair laughing when she gave it to me, and so did she. It's now on my refrigerator under one of the multitude of magnets I've collected. We thoroughly enjoy it every time we look at it.

Sharing the peace
During this healing journey, our family has experienced much of the dark side, which includes fears of all kinds. When the body and soul are thrown off balance, many things go out of whack, and Jessie experienced this to a very severe degree, including the loss of what we recognize as a sign of our womanhood, her monthly flow. It stopped without explanation in August as the sickness ravaged her body, and as she began to heal, the women in our family kept our fingers crossed and waited through the weeks and months of winter, as well as through the spring. We did not know how much of herself could come back into balance, if, when, if when.... With a weight loss of about 60 lbs over the course of the illness it was important to nourish all the cells of her body, as well as her mind and heart and spirit. So we cooked and cooked, with butter and cheese and meats and bread and vegetables and salads, as much organic as possible. When she first came home I fixed her food in dishes the size that our cat eats from - three bites, just eat three bites. She was in so much pain and her body so very tormented that eating was next to impossible for her. 

The champagne sat sleeping for months. We often have the family over for holidays and at those times we celebrate with a little champagne at Christmas, birthdays, or things like Valentine's Day. I'd had a bottle left over from one of those holidays and when I brought my daughter home I knew that bottle had a very special purpose. It was to be saved for the return of balance in her body, the balance that would restore the flow of womanhood, the balance that would mean her body had enough reserves to return to its normal rhythms. Sacred bottle, sacred bubbles, sacred golden liquid of celebration waiting to happen.

Nature's Blessing (by Andrew G. Cooper)
I had several things I wanted to happen as milestones along the way of her healing journey. I wanted the Blessing of Nature and I recognized it through the gift of a beautiful four leafed clover that I found and gave to her, which happened not when I was actively looking for one, but as I was happily walking about in the backyard. I looked down and there it was. I picked it and left a single strand of hair in return, as I always do - never take anything without giving.... There was a time when I was about 15 that I found 21 four leafed clovers, and over the years I have found many many - they are always a gift of Nature and I love them.

Among these things that I would recognize as the restoration of health to her body was the return of her monthly flow. So when she told me today, with her eyes all fluttery and her cheeks a bit blushery, that she was at last experiencing this wonderful flow I teared up and hugged and kissed her, then ran for the phone to call the women of our family, who had also been keeping the faith.

And I had planned, as part of the acknowledgment of what we'd all been through, Jess most of all, a ceremony to take her, to take all of us, more concretely out of the darkness and into the light. It is a ceremony I've done twice before that I learned a long time ago. It is the Prayer Stick Ceremony.

After we've been through an experience in our lives that changes us, a fork in the road, a tunnel through which we traverse, it is good to acknowledge the things we are releasing and the things we are embracing as we step into our new world. It is a way of releasing our fears and bringing our hopes and desires, our focus and commitment into reality. It is a way of communication between worlds.

Prayers Going Up
In order to acknowledge the "before" and "after" stages of this journey through sickness to healing, we each went to the wilder part of the backyard where the pine trees grow, and we each chose 12 sticks. Some were short and fat, some long and thin, some curly, some even sort of furry with a fine coating of fluff. 

At twilight, the time between light and dark, night and day, the most magical time of day, we lit a lovely fire in our chiminea and sat, enveloped in its warmth, drinking our celebratory champagne, and contemplating the messages of our sticks. For each of us, six sticks represented what we were releasing during this ceremony, and six sticks represented what we were embracing as we move forward into our new world, the "after" world, taking healing along with us.

So we took turns, and each of us stated one thing we were releasing and tossed that stick onto the fire, then we stated one thing we were embracing to fill that void, and tossed that stick onto the fire. We thought sensitively and carefully about each of these Prayer Sticks, and felt the feelings flow through us as we announced what each stick represented and tossed it into the fire. It was an atmosphere of complete trust. It was a time of renewal. We stepped out of the tunnel of darkness and into the light with these Prayer Sticks.

Jessica and Rob and Lil Bear after the Prayer Stick Ceremony
We felt cleansed and peaceful and relaxed as the ceremony came to a close. I had a poker stick, which I always do with outdoor fires - something to stir things up and keep the flames going, and it was the last to burn, closing our ceremony with gratitude for all our blessings.

Try this ceremony sometime when you find yourself at a fork in the road - when you find yourself smack in the middle of challenge and you want to create a concrete message that announces what you're willing to give up and what you're willing to embrace as you step forward into the changes that have come about. It is something private that you can carry with you to give you strength and remind you of your new commitments and your new freedoms. Spread your wings and with gratitude, step into your new world with confidence.

It is a Very Good Day.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Getting Through The Dark Times

The Sister Trees
I have always had a great love of trees. Whenever something momentous has happened in my life, which is rather more often than I would perhaps choose, I have turned to certain trees for grounding. In fact there have been close to 40 trees that have made very strong, memorable impressions in my life and I'm writing a book about each of those trees and times. The photo above is a picture of what I call The Sister Trees, who live on the property where I currently live.

When we moved into the house where we live, there were twenty pines across the back yard. I loved them fiercely for their beauty, their wonderful fragrance, and the sound of the wind whistling and racing through their branches throughout all the seasons. (The city came by and chopped them away from the wires, which is another post altogether, so we're down to 11 pines now.) They're also home to a number of little creatures that I love to watch. Squirrels, crows, hawks, blackbirds, and songbirds love to play in their branches. I love to sit below them on the soft red layer of pine needles, soaking up the dappled sunshine.

They called to me
One very cold winter day at the beginning of February, when we were still in the throes of my daughter's serious illness, I had pulled a card from my Sacred Path Cards, which I often do when life tosses challenges my way, and the card I got was Power Place. I had been pulling cards every so often and they kept telling me peace, serenity, etc., while inside my emotions were frantic as I longed to be with my daughter and bring her home to heal, but was trying to respect her own preferences and decisions as an adult, waiting for the time when she would agree to let us help her. I was comforted by the cards but didn't really understand how they could be telling me to be peaceful at a time that wrenched the very heart right out of my chest as a mother and a caring human being - I declare it's much harder to watch a loved one go through pain than it is to suffer it myself.

My Wellies
Power Place is a beautiful Native American teaching that reminds us of how to gather our energy, especially when it feels scattered. I knew I had to do this (go to a Power Place) in order to be of any real help to my daughter, so on that below freezing winter day I put on my favorite Wellington boots, the ones with flowers on them, the ones that don't match, and that's why I love them, the ones that are flat as a pancake on the bottom for good footing and the ones that are completely and utterly waterproof, because the snow was deep and wet and cold.

The deepest cold of winter coat
Then, over my wool sweater and warm blue jeans I put on my deepest of cold winter coat. It's a cashmere/wool mix, soft and really warm, and it has a hood, which shields out the winds that steal your breath away. Around the hood is fox fur. I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to fabrics, having studied how synthetic fabrics affect our environment, so as long as I know that the animal had a decent life and died naturally, I don't mind buying or conservatively supporting the fur trade. It is gentler on the planet than synthetics and I am sure the fox spirit is in the garden where I will go when it's my time to go "home," can't wait to meet him and say thank you for sharing the warmth that he no longer needed. I love this coat. It feels like a big hug.

The world where we belong
So after I had dressed warmly I trudged through the deep snow with my two pups, over to where the biggest of The Sister Trees resides and plunked a little chair down underneath her, right in the middle of the sunshine that was coming in from a slant through her branches, and sat. This is what I call a "zero moment" in my life - and zero is the space between breathing in and breathing out, like the time when the ocean gathers itself before rolling in strongly to the shore. I am almost never still - my mind goes a million revolutions per minute, always inspired and thinking, and my body, when I use it actively, goes about the same speed. I love that quote in one of the old movies where the high level employee (who has a child the boss doesn't approve of in her very demanding work life) says, "I'm a working maniac!" That's me.

The calming effect of Nature
But I had to go to a Power Place and this was it. I sat in complete stillness for maybe a half hour - I did not think. I did not bring my phone. I did not write. I did not smoke. I only sat, b e i n g. I looked at the sky and the beautiful green branches softly fluttering against it. I embraced the energies of the cold winter sun - the light, drawing them into myself. I watched a beautiful crow (cosmic law) fly through the sky and land near me, fluffing its feathers in the sunshine. I watched my pups snuffle through the snow, wandering around peacefully and coming near me every so often. I filled myself up. This interlude was like a soft prayer, though I didn't pray. Purple shadows across the snow and silver sparkles were my companions. I rubbed my cheek against the soft fox fur, inhaling its natural, earthy scent. I felt reconnected to Nature, and my physical system pulled itself back into balance.

I had brought some tobacco, because I do respect and carry out some Native American ceremonies, so I turned to the North, the place of Wisdom and Gratitude and sprinkled some on the ground to say thank you, and to the East, the place of Illumination and Clarity, and sprinkled some in gratitude, and I turned to the South, the place of Balance, Beauty, and Trust (absence of fear), and sprinkled some in gratitude, and I turned to the West, the place of Introspection and Goals, and sprinkled some more in gratitude. I thanked the spirits that light my way from above, and from within, and from below. And my energy was restored. I would need it.

Jessica being Jessica
So this is my daughter, before the sickness came, doing what she does.

Jess being Jess
She clambers, she crouches, she's hiked miles and miles all over this Earth. She's travelled and captured some of the most beautiful photos I've ever seen (she's a photographer). She's active and full of love for everything. She belongs in the world, she is of the world. She has things to say, things to do, things to discover, things to share.

We like high places
The photo above was from a hike through the woods around the Gorge in Portland - a beeeeeautiful place indeed. Lots of good discussion happening in that lovely high up place as we rested.

We are cracking up
We have a lot of laughter in our lives, and during this very special hike we had stopped at an overlook on the road and Jess and Rob got into a camera war where I found myself in the middle, which for some reason just hit our funny bones, and we all cracked up laughing. He was on one end and she the other and it was just hilarious for some inexplicable reason.

Looking up
We looked at the trees.

Sharing a salamander
We looked at the tiny creatures (and then put them back). Salamanders are soft and magical. Here she is handing me one that allowed her to pick him up for a while.

Jess with Sleeping Grandfather Earth Spirit
We sat with the sleeping Spirits of Earth.

Choosing rocks for our cairn
We built a cairn to sit beside others who'd walked this trail.

So when I went to my daughter's home to pack up and bring her home to heal from the serious sickness that had come to her I had my strength, built from the moments in my Power Place, and I needed every bit of it. I found that the Universe sent us moments of beauty through the anguish and the shock, like the time in my Power Place, that sustained us.

The first was quite unexpected and most welcome. Ah, blessings a thousandfold to the gorgeous black beauty who had a real heart and shared it with me.

Mardi Gras
We were in the airport in Washington, having survived the flight from Portland, Oregon - Jess was in tremendous pain and scrunched and folded herself along the two seats available to her next to me on the plane for hours. When we arrived in Washington we arranged for a wheelchair to transport her - and we learned a lot about how that works. They don't let you push the wheelchair, for some odd reason an airport employee has to do it. This time we got a man, and men push differently from women. Jess had her flip flops on because her feet hurt very badly, so I was very conscious about the crowds and the elevators and I was constantly saying "Watch her feet, watch her feet!" Men push fast, over bumps and through crowds, so I was a bit beside myself by the time we got to a resting place. Our connecting flight had been cancelled and we found ourselves in a little area by the sliding doors, awaiting a shuttle to take us to a hotel in Washington for the snowy night.

I went outside to have a much welcomed cigarette break after the hours of flight, and chanced upon a couple of revelers who had just returned from Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I was carrying a million things, since one of the things I learned about escorting my loved one in a wheelchair was that I became the "extra thing carrier," so my hands and purse and arms were full of extras.

As I tried to light my cigarette in the fierce freezing but welcome and bracing winter winds outside (20 steps away from where my daughter and husband waited), I noticed this woman who had a necklace of boobs resting on her chest. I thought, oh here's someone with a sense of humor ; ) I was also struggling to swallow, to breathe, to stand upright (was very very tired) and to compose myself. "Do you have a light?" this lovely woman asked me, and I blurted out "no." I was feeling kind of just NO. Then I dug around in my purse, pushing aside all the extra things I was carrying to find her a light, but in the meantime a gentleman standing next to her lit her cigarette.

I felt so bad and was still trying not to cry, because there's a time for crying, and there's a time for acting, and we were definitely smack in the middle of the time for acting. I said to her "I'm sorry, I do have a light but had some trouble digging it up." And she said, which was the most welcome, friendly blessing I needed at that time, "It's all right." Then we started talking and I explained that I was a little sideways about my daughter and asked her about her boob necklace - she told me stories of her Mardi Gras experience and it was like a little interlude from the pain and the fear and the darkness and I listened with all of myself for the time she talked.

She has no idea of how that interlude brought light into the darkness. We didn't know what we were facing. And she was a blessing because she forgave me for saying NO. She extended kindness. Thank you. Thank you.

Warmth to cold bones
There was another interlude. A welcome gift from the Universe. After we arrived in Portland we visited my daughter. It was late at night and we got hugs and visited a little while and made arrangements to come to her home the next day to help where help was needed. I had a lot of work ahead of me, as the sickness had stolen her ability to walk and move around, so her lovely home needed some attention. My husband and I went for a quick breakfast before going to get some cleaning supplies (ugh, shopping, I really didn't want to go do that just then). When we went into the restaurant across from our hotel for breakfast it was absolutely packed. Wall to wall people and I was already feeling a bit overwhelmed and beside myself, but the waitress brought us to a table right next to the fireplace. Yes, there was a fireplace in the restaurant and unbelievably, the table next to it was free. So my cold bones got to soak up its warmth and peace amidst the liveliness of the morning with a hundred people talking and eating and us facing our wall of darkness in contrast to their normalcy. The warmth of the fire was most welcome. The photo above is not of the restaurant fireplace because I wasn't taking photos at that time, didn't have the presence of mind, but I remember the peace of that time. Preparing ourselves for the busy day ahead, cleaning her home, which she couldn't do during the time that the sickness stole her ability to move. This interlude gave me strength for the day ahead. I am grateful for the synchronicities of the Universe that give us what we need when we need it.

We are only human
And there was another interlude that I remember with gratitude. We had safely negotiated our way from the airport to the hotel in Washington - the whole trip crazy with my daughter doing the wheelchair and my heart in my throat as she got out of it to climb into the shuttlebus and out of it again, down those very steep steps which the muscles of her legs protested against. Once we got into our room at the hotel (two double beds and handicap bathroom), we ordered room service dinner and turned on the comfort of the television for a while. She still didn't have pain meds so we put ice cubes into zip lock bags to put on her feet and she toughed out a number of hours, but it was very hard for her to sleep.

At two in the morning she wanted to have a cigarette to relax from her pain, but the room was totally decked out with all kinds of buzzing smoke alarming wall thingies, so there was no chance she could light up in the room (what IS this penchant for hotels to make room boxes that have no fresh air and no balconies, no windows that open, no access to outside from our sleeping places?! Crapola, I'll take a Best Western over a five-star hotel any day for the freedoms it supports.). My husband is a light sleeper, and was very much "on guard" during this time, and he heard us talking when I said I'd take her outside. He is ever, ever the gentleman, and wouldn't let us go outside at that hour by ourselves - I was all for letting my daughter have what pleasures she could since most of her freedoms were taken away at this time. He awoke and declared that he'd take us out, so we all bundled up, she in layers and layers except for the flip flops on her feet.

We rolled her wheelchair through the quiet corridors and the lobby and outside the revolving door at 2 a.m. and settled just outside, in a sheltered area just beyond the hotel interior. The snow sparkled under the soft lights surrounding the circular drive, and the lights of the city twinkled through the last of the snowfall that kept us from home. We stood, breathing in the welcome fresh air, and another hotel visitor came out to smoke as well. We had a lovely conversation with her and I noticed and appreciated the way she included Jess, not ignoring her, not asking questions, not pitying, just being wonderful. As we stood, relaxing in the wee hours of the night, a pizza delivery person pulled up, bringing dinner to others whose flights were also cancelled. We wished him well and told him we hoped they were tipping generously - laughter in the night. This interlude was a gift, from my husband, who had compassion for the pain my daughter was in and the comforts that allowed her to settle down to sleep. We are human, so imperfect, so strong, so vulnerable, so special. Blessings to the wonderful woman attending a conference at which she was presenting, who treated us all as equals. Gratitude for the peace that allowed my daughter to sleep.

Tobacco, in its pure form is very relaxing, a gift of Nature. It is a shame what the big tobacco companies have done to it adding their chemicals to make it "firesafe" which actually just makes the heads fall off a bunch of times and make you suck it down just to keep it lit - oh back in the old days a cigarette was a very wonderful social, relaxing, enjoyable thing, like a good brandy - a shame the legislation around tobacco, and the taxes too (why not tax synthetic clothing in light of the environmental weight it carries?). I am wary of anyone or anything that restricts my freedoms as I think it's pretty useless to come to life as a saint every time. Where's the color and learning in that?

And, while we're confessing about our humanness, I'll include the interlude at the airport between Washington and home. We were so tired, having stayed up all hours cleaning and packing and visiting work and arranging everything for the trip home. After the first flight we had a long layover and it's my husband's preference to find the gate where we need to be and just get there. But my daughter's situation presented some challenges with the pain she was in, so when we got to one of our stops we had a layover of about 2 and a half hours and he took us to our gate, this time with a woman pushing the wheelchair. Oh women are marvelous. Marvelous! She went gently and slowly over bumps, waited for an elevator that wasn't full of foot crunching people, was so very thoughtful of her passenger. We ended up having to wait quite a while, so said goodbye to the lovely woman wheelchair pusher and settled ourselves at a little airport restaurant, the chair pushed up to an outside table right next to the smoking lounge. There we sat for a while, drinking refreshments, eating some food, popping next door for a ciggie, talking to army officers on their way home, and building up our energies for the rest of the trip home.

We are what we are.

My Jess
We are what we are.

We are the drop at the tip, sometimes....
We reach for our best.

And we appreciate the perfection of the Universe, and the blessings bestowed upon us along our journeys and the kindnesses of those we meet along the way.

May we all grow to reach our potential, both here and in the other places where we belong. We are not perfect. And that's okay. Let our hearts sing through the color of it all. And let our hearts be grateful for the grace of other human beings who love us despite our imperfections, and for the interludes that the Universe and our Creative Source bring to us in our times of darkness.

Just love, no matter what.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

When Life Throws You an Unwelcome Detour

Words to Live By
Dawn is coming and I'm feeling reflective about the past several months. We got hit sideways again, doesn't that just happen to us all?

We learned a lot about things we didn't even want to know.

My beautiful daughter Jessica
In the summer of last year, my beautiful daughter Jess started to get sick with an illness that it took 8 months to get a diagnosis on. Gillain Barre (Miller Fisher syndrome). It took eight doctors and a million appointments to figure out what had brought her from a healthy, strong 26-year old woman to a 108 lb woman who couldn't see properly, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't walk, couldn't take a shower by herself, couldn't drive, couldn't work, and was consumed with excruciating pain 24/7.

She dealt with an awesome number of medical appointments and tests for several months at her home in Portland as the sickness progressed, slowly stealing her independence and mobility. MRIs, ultrasounds, nerve conductivity tests ("Like being tazered, Mom," she said), blood tests, panels sent to the Mayo Clinic, 3 Lyme tests, two neurologists, two gastroenterologists, an OBGYN, two primary practitioners and a nutritionist working to rule out the "biggies" while they tried to pinpoint the cause.

We texted late into the nights when she couldn't sleep, and finally around November I started asking when I should come. Should I come and stay there with her or should I bring her here to State College where we could have her see our doctors and be able to take care of her? She was stubborn as an ox and downplayed the extent of her illness when we talked on the phone. But there were a few calls where I felt such urgency to go get her whether she liked it or not that I could hardly sleep. She would always say, "Just let me get through this next appointment, then you can come." Or "just let me get through this stuff at work, then you can come." Until one night (not the first time) she cried. And I put my foot down and said "We're coming." I'm so glad I did.

My Princess last summer
When we arrived my Jess was sitting outside on her porch waiting for us. We had the best hug in the world. We stayed just a little while because it was late, and arranged to come the next day to pack and take care of any details she needed to wind up. We didn't know how long she'd be away from her home. She took a medical leave from work.

While we were in Portland winding up details, my family was rallying to prepare for her arrival. My brother put a special hose thing in the shower and a special stool in the tub so she could take a sit-down shower. My mother bought gallons of Ensure - a protein drink since my daughter wasn't eating. My sister went shopping with me before we left to buy some soft clothing for her since all of her own clothes were too big and falling off.

I don't have photos of the airports - we had to arrange for a wheelchair for her at each one, and what we learned about the other travelers was both good and bad. Some elbowed us out of the way, while others gave us sunshine smiles that let us know they were familiar with the challenges of special needs. We stayed in hotels with handicap bathrooms and used the handicap stalls in restaurants. We learned about access and non-access. My heart was in my throat when she had to go through security, stand up and step into the x-ray booth - tears choked me up and I had to turn so she wouldn't see. She wore flip flops on her feet in below freezing weather because the pain was so bad she couldn't put on socks and shoes.

Love sent from her brother Torey
Once we got her home with us we started the long climb back to health and strength. Her brother sent lots of encouragement - a package from his home in South America - customized M&Ms which said "healing energy," "get well," "love," and other wonderful encouragements along with coffee/tea/hot chocolate mugs to cheer her.

Bill Paying
My wonderful husband helped her pay all her bills online and declared he'd never seen anyone so organized. Yay Jess for your great bookkeeping skills!

Sleeping and sleeping
Her biological Dad brought her a huge Snoopy which served as a soft pillow as she slept and slept and slept some more.

Creativity supports healing!
I bought her some mandala coloring books and colorful markers to help pass the time once she started feeling a bit better.

Getting ready to fix that owl
She never lost her sense of humor and grace. One night at dinner she got the plate with the owl design on it and declared the owl looked angry with his eyebrows painted the way they were, so she was going to fix them. We happened to be eating some gorgeous juicy pineapple slices, and she arranged them just so, over his eyebrows, which made him a very fuzzy looking sort of Hawaiian unangry owl.

Unangry owl
Happy Birthday my darling, and many more!
A few weeks after her arrival we celebrated her 26th birthday, and she made a heartfelt wish. May all her wishes come true xo.

Shake it off!
We're still working on shaking this thing off. It can take from 3 months to a year. She has to avoid vaccinations and eat as much organic food as possible. Exercise to build back the muscle that the sickness ravaged. Thank goodness for Penn State Sports Medicine's physical therapy. This week they had her on the treadmill, backwards and inclined uphill (slowly). They are miracle workers there, especially Jennifer Frasier. The BEST. Thank you Penn State and Rob for our insurance!! We've paid and paid the premiums for years, never knowing how important it would be. 

The treatment for Jessie's illness was an IGIV session that can cost from $8 - 15,000 dollars. Each IGIV treatment is made up of over a thousand blood donors, each one screened and tested for purity. It chases the bad antibodies out of the system, giving it time to recover. I am so very grateful to each and every one of those donors. I sent prayers to all of them to say thank you. You never know when you're on the table giving your blood who it might help - but know that there are many people out there who are ever so grateful.

How life should be
We never thought much, as we all went about our daily lives, about those who are facing huge challenges. We do now! We appreciate so very much about the little things, the big things, all the hours the specialist docs put into their educations, all the hours the handicap bathroom engineers put into their educations, all the hours the engineers put into accessibility through airports, hotels, restaurants, restrooms.... We appreciate the sunshine smiles from those who know and the conversations that we experienced with complete strangers who treated Jess with complete respect.

We forgave those who elbowed and shuffled to the front ahead of us. I wanted to smack them, really hard.

Ice pack footie shoes from Martin!
I have a freezer stocked with about six different kinds of ice packs cause for the first several weeks Jess kept them on her feet pretty much 24/7. Gillain Barre attacks the nerves, making them exposed so that the pain is such that you can't even put bedsheets over your skin. Especially in the feet. My sister's sweet husband Martin found some lovely soft sock type things that hold small ice packs over the top of the foot as well as underneath. Jess was loving the freedom of movement - you can't walk in them but you aren't trapped under one that has to lay just so over or under your feet. Thank you Martin!

The Princess becomes empowered again - yay!!
So now, after grappling with this illness for about 10 months, Jess is well on her way to a full recovery. She's got about six more weeks of physical therapy, a couple of doc appointments to check progress, and we're starting to talk about taking her back home to Portland. It will be hard in some ways to have her that far away from me, and she'll continue the attention to her body and diet to make sure she stays strong, but my heart will be with her, and we can TEXT. All. the. time.

There's a very long list of what we've learned as a result of this challenge. We've learned what's important. We've learned compassion, patience, faith, quality, generosity, companionship, creativity, strength, and so many other things it would take another post.

Happy Mommy
Thank you angels for all our blessings. Please stay with us as we continue to recover. Life is full of mystery and magic, which a girl should have a chance to discover for herself.

Namaste and special blessings to all facing challenges of any kind.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Peekaboo with Flower Moon

Once upon a time, I met a Flower Moon Goddess walking by the sea and we became such close friends that she agreed to pose for me while I created a necklace in tribute to her beauty. She loves the moon so much that she kept me working on it all night long 'til the first birds started softly chirping the sun over the horizon, come to chase off the early mists of morning.

I love beautiful hand carved bone moon faces, and embellished Flower Moon's with the colors of the sea - soft greens and blues with a bit of bronze. She's a bit of a girlie-girl and asked me to put a cluster of flowers at the side of her little cap to decorate the waterfall of fringe that is her hair. She loves surprise and unpredictability and wanted her hair to reflect the fun of doing things the way she likes. For a moment, she leaned in to smell the fragrance of these flowers, so tantalizingly sweet that she closed her eyes to enjoy it. The serenity in that moment is what she carries with her.

She also has very good taste, so she asked me to add some rice pearls and Swarovski crystals along with some Czech dagger beads and shiny iridescent glass leaf beads to reflect her love of Nature.

The clasp
She wanted nothing but the best for the clasp of her necklace, so I chose sterling silver cones and hand crafted the silver loops that hold the braided strands. The sterling lobster clasp makes it very easy to fasten.
A moment of serenity captured
After she was finished I popped Flower Moon Goddess on and declared that I might like to wear her forever! The smooth braided necklace feels so good against my neck, and the pendant is very lightweight.

Length of Necklace - 23"

Length of Pendant (with bail) - 3 and 1/2"

Creation Time - 25 hours

For sale? Well, I know she has a sister, and I feel her calling me already to make a necklace in her honor....