In Rememberance of 9/11 – The Unsung Heros

Tumbling Woman”, by Eric Fischl. Officials at New York’s Rockefeller Center kept the sculpture from public display after complaints from onlookers who found the image disturbing.  Google image.

Having just dropped the kids off at school, something the guy on the radio said caught my attention.

It took a good 60 seconds before the words sunk in, and it was tone of his voice – the shock – that hit home first.  An airplane – no, TWO airplanes, had hit the World Trade Center Towers in NYC, and the top floors of the buildings were ablaze. My mind struggled to grasp words so surreal, I actually shook my head trying to get clear.

But even before the words sunk in, I could feel it.  Something bad was going down.  Something real bad.

Taking the driveway way too fast, I slammed the car in PARK, ran into the house, and yelled at my husband.  “Oh my God, come here!  Something horrible has happened!”  Together, standing barefoot in our jammies, we watched as the most horrific day in U.S. history unfolded on our TV screen in real time.  When a newscaster shouted, and the scene flashed to the Pentagon, I started to shake all over and I don’t think I stopped shaking for weeks.  The unthinkable had happened:

America was under attack.

Over the next month, I sat glued to the TV during every free moment and usually found myself weeping uncontrollably…deep gulping sobs of grief, fear and anger.  I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t want to leave the house, and I didn’t feel safe.  The sounds of a plane overhead was enough for my heart to leap through my chest, and I tried to tunnel what was going on inside of me by painting a huge “God Bless America” sign for the front yard, and participating in neighborhood vigils, and praying like I had never prayed before.

9/11 changed my life – just as it did 100s of 1000s of others lives – and changes it still.  Something deep within both my personal and our collective consciousness shifted.  My world…our world…tilted on its’ axis and has never been the same since.

It’s not my intent to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 with my strong opinions about what’s happened to the US as a result of the “War On Terror”.  Anyone within arms reach of me – either virtually or in real time – knows I’m Pro-Peace, and believe all of the wars we’ve engaged in are illegal, immoral, and a means of profit for those who run the Military Industrial Complex.  I support the troops by being vocal about ending these wars, and advocating for more services for our Wounded Warriors.

And don’t get me started on things like Homeland Security, TSA, NSA, the Patriot Act, and Executive Orders.  The only thing I’ll say is this: we are no “safer” now, nor is the world safer, as a result of them.

Back to 9/11. Of all of the images I watched from the morning of September 11, 2001, it was the ones of people falling – or jumping – in an attempt to escape the blazing infernos that remain on the forefront.  At first, as the TV cameras caught the images in real time, my mind shied away from acknowledging what I was seeing.  But eventually, the horrible truth pierced through.  Those falling – objects –  weren’t pieces of the buildings.  They were PEOPLE.  About 200 in all, as it turns out.  These people, seared into my psyche by the branding iron called horror and disbelief, will forever be a part of me.

In remember of those unsung heroes, please watch this video.  It is a documentary based on an article by Tom Junod (Esquire 2003) about a photograph (by Richard Drew) of a man falling from the World Trade Center.

We Will Not Forget

Where The Light Is

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“The Warrior of the Light is a believer.  Because she believes in miracles, miracles begin to happen.  Because she is sure that her thoughts can change her life, her life begins to change.  Because she is certain that she will find love, love appears.” ~ Paulo Coelho

I took this photo the other morning while out looking at my garden beds.   Even though I’ve been growing them for years, Milkweed – and their seeds – have really captured my attention in the last couple of weeks.  All of the plants are currently filled with pods bursting with beautiful potential. On any given day I’ll find their seeds clinging to the tomatoes vines, climbing the lemon tree, or sitting on the earth like a little angel, just waiting for Someone to bury it.

To me, these seeds are particularly beautiful with their tiny filaments that help catepillar1.jpgthem “fly”.  How apropos, since they’re the sole nourishment for Monarchs.  Without these common, easy to grow plants, Monarch caterpillars wouldn’t have food.  Without Monarch caterpillars, there’d be no butterflies….and how sad would that be!?!?  Monarches are already disappearing by the millions. So even though I only have a few of them, growing Milkweed is one way I can help them survivr.

Seeds are miraculous.  Take pomegranates, for example.  A single pomegranate seed, planted at the right time, in the right soil, with the right care, will produce a tree.  That tree will eventually bear fruit – lots and lots of fruit – and each of those fruit will be packed with more seeds! Like, an average of 680 seeds!  That’s amazing!

We’re talking about 10s of 1000s of seeds produced in a single growing season from a single tree and it ALL comes about because one little dot was sown.

What mesmerizes me most about this photo (taken with my cell phone and unfiltered) is the little ball of light at the juncture of the filaments to the seed. It’s almost as if the seed is alive with energy.  I’m sure there’s some logical explanation for it, but I don’t care.  To me, this is miraculous.  I literally cannot stop looking at it.

Every seed is programed to become a specific plant, each after it’s own kind.  It’s impossible to plant a watermelon seed and get a zucchini.  And given enough time, a single seed can reproduce itself a million times over, feeding other life forms who – in their own way, and according to their own kind – will produce their seed and multiply.

What starts out so tiny and singular…something that could easily be overlooked, stepped on, mistreated or eaten (smiling)….has the potential to change the world.

Just like a single thought can change a life.

Thanks, Paulo.

In Honor

  

Later today, the doctor will be cutting out a piece of my breast.  3 cm, more or less.  The size of a kiwi or a Roma tomato.

 Maybe smaller if all the prayers have worked….

I just finished my “antibacterial” shower, the second in less than 12 hours (doctors orders) and applied the Lidocaine patch.  The patch needs to be in place 6 hours before the lymphatic mapping procedure at 11:00, where they will inject me with a blue contrast material and after which I might have a little after glow going on that might make me look gray around the gills.

The nurse told my husband not to worry…I might look like I’m not breathing, but it’s just the dye.  Awesome.  It will go great with the gray hoodie I’m wearing.

*sigh* It will be a long day at the medical center.  I have to be there at 8:30 for the needle localization…a procedure where they insert “needles” into my breast as markers for the surgeon.  This will give her the tumor coordinates, so to speak.  Surgery is scheduled for 1:30 and I’m thrilled that they keep telling me I will be ready to go home at about 4:00.

As I washed myself a few minutes ago, touching my breast with healing and compassion for what is to come, I couldn’t help but wonder.  Wonder at this companion I’ve carried with me for 58 years, from tiny bud to full ripe fruit….through the nursing of two babies and sensual delights of an unmentionable number iof lovers.  I’ve loved my breasts and hated them, only to come around full circle to love once again once I realized that they were in jeopardy.  That I  was in jeopardy.

And I couldn’t help but wonder how the surgery will effect the way my breast will look and feel….what angle the scar will take and whether or not the change will be obvious to others.  It will definitely be smaller but my doc has assured me that she will make the shape as “nice” as possible.  Having a female surgeon, and an excellent one, gives me great confidence.  She gets it, in a way no man ever could.

Naturally, prayers have been going forth that the cancer be obliterated…the tumor shrunken like a dark brown raisin under a white hot sun….leaving a fresh healthy margin in its place.  I’ve been praying that my nodes are clear, and that the surgery itself will be quick and brilliantly successful.

But now…in the early dawn hours as I lie here, cleansed and waiting, I want to thank my breast.  To honor her journey thus far, and to pay homage.  It….I….will not be the same after today.  But I vow to love myself, scars and all, into health and wholeness, with a holy gratitude for the gifts my breast – my entire body – has given to me.

The precious and fragile and resilient and mysterious earthen vessel that houses my soul and makes this journey through physical life possible, I Thank you.  I Bless you.  I Love you.

Amen.

Growing In The Garden of God

Years ago, a decade or more, I had a friend describe herself to me as a hot house orchid type of woman.  She was convinced that we gals are all like flowers…each of us identifiable with one type of flower out of the plethora of beautiful choices available. A floral representation of our spirits.

When I told her I didn’t feel like a flower at all, but like an Oak Tree, she offered to pray for my self esteem and any feelings of unattractiveness or lack of feminity I had.  And so, with tears in my eyes and head hanging down, I thanked her, because oh!  How I wanted to feel…to BE….beautiful and feminine, exotic and lovely, fragrant and desireable.  And Oak Trees, apparently, weren’t any of those things……

Fast forward to another lifetime.  To Now.

I’m am just finishing the last few tracks of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes CD series on the wise woman archetype called, “The Dangerous Old Woman”.  My God!  If it were possible to fall in love with someone by their voice alone, I am totally in love with Dr. Estes.  She has this amazingly warm, honey-toned voice filled with passionate expression and wisdom.  Sometimes I get so engaged in the sheer sound of her voice, that I have to shake myself out of this ‘zone” I get in, so I can really hear what she is saying.

I don’t have the time to do a complete review on this incredible, life changing work right now.  Maybe I’ll write more posts on it later.  However, let me say this:  For someone like me, who had almost no familial history passed down to her (all of my grandparents were dead before I was born, for example), this series has been gold! For the longest time I felt like I had no “past” to draw upon.  My parents were a somewhat typical 50’s generation couple: dad was a young and upcoming executive for a major manufacturing company and mom was all about creating the right appearances – both in our home and on our persons – to support that.  Even though I had something like 14 aunts and uncles, and more cousins than I could count, half of them were in the Midwest and completely unknown to me. The other half – the California contingent from Mom’s side – were busy doing what they always did at family gatherings:  The adults ate, drank and partied together while us cousins were stashed safely away in another part of the house to play.

It’s been while listening to the stories that Dr. Estes tells in her series that I realized just how much I missed out on.  For eons, peoples of  all cultures, all over the world, have passed down their collective experience and wisdom through the art of Story Telling…the elders to the youngers.  They did this while they worked in the fields, or around the pots hung over the campfires.  They did this while they did handcrafts and woodworking and tool smithing.  There were stories that covered every aspect of the human experience – from life to death to beyond.  I honestly can’t remember any wisdom stories shared with me as a young person.  Well, there was that drunken uncle pinching my newly forming breasts at Thanksgiving one year, offering his bit of wisdom:  “THIS is what the boys will be after!”

Sure, my mom – who was orphaned at 17 when her folks died a day apart – would frequently wax sentimental after a few vodkas.  I occasionally heard about Grandmas’ sewing, or Grandpas humor.  But no “Stories”, if you know what I mean.   Not like the ones Dr. Estes shares, from her own culturally rich heritage, nor the stories she’s acquired through her studies of indigenous peoples.  For example, the world is replete with fairytales that are shared – as if by magic – by many cultures, with only little revisions here and there.  They ultimately relay the same Truths.  The same Cautions.  The same Hard Earned Wisdom.  My youth was filled with the stories I got from books.  The adventures of Nancy Drew.  The occasional Bible story from children’s church.  And tales of life on the high seas, mostly lived by men like Captain Horacio Hornblower, and Captain Bly.

I’ve found myself soaking up the stories and myths on this CD series like a desert soaks up the rain! They’ve nourished my soul – touching me deeply in places that I didn’t even know I buried, and causing new life to bloom.

Back to being an Oak Tree….which I still feel like is a pretty good representation of Who I Am, only now – years and hard won experience later – I now celebrate and embrace!  Even more so after hearing Dr. Estes tell the story of the old tree from her village…a magnificent 100+ year old tree that – after finally succumbing to an incredible lightning strike that split her from top to bottom – ended up being filled with treasure.  Literally!  Countless numbers of items…from cards to tools to clothing to toys…that had found their way (either by winds or human hands) into the deep crevices of her limbs and trunk and roots over the years.  Some of these precious treasures – spanning entire generations of the village – had wood literally growing around them, as if in the safe keeping of a mother’s palm.

Women, Dr. Estes says, like Trees, are the Keepers of  Treasures.  Women, like trees, mature and harden and grow stronger through wild storms as well as gentle showers.  No longer frail, thin sapplings, the older Tree  – sturdy, scarred, shading, more fruitful – stands like a powerful Guardian of the woods.

Women, like trees, are the holders of Ancient Wisdom….

Last week, I had a dream.  In the dream, I found myself travelling through a village towards a steep hillside.  On the hillside, was a grove of giant trees – like Red Woods (my favorite) nestled close together.  As I got closer, I could see that the red bark on their massive trunks had been roughly hewn away and there were faces on them!  Gentle, heavily lidded eyes and strong, powerful noses.  Lips curled in almost smiles and eyebrows shaped like bridges.  As I climbed, I used these beautiful, magnificant faces as handholds and footholds to help me.  Up and up the hillside I went, my steps sure and quick.

When I reached the very top, I found myself on a path that wandered into the distance.  Within the first few steps, I came along side another tree – a smaller tree with thick greenery – that was absolutely buzzing with hummingbirds!  One particular hummer – as big as a sparrow – left her perch and flew right in front of my face.  I could see that she was an older bird…thicker than the rest…a little scruffy around the feathers, but her eyes were bright and her beak strong.  Her eyes!  They looked INTO me, not at me, and as if making up her mind that I was satisfactory, she allowed me to touch her…practically purring like a cat as she enjoyed my fingertips stroking her.  She tilted her head and pressed it against my palm and then quickly jumped to my shoulder where she nestled in my hair, and became my travelling companion.  I swear she was smiling.

It was here that I woke up, with a lightness of heart and a vibration of such pure happiness, I didn’t stop smiling for hours.  My dream told me a story that night.  An encouragement, of sorts, to use the ancient “wise woman” wisdom that was available to and in me, to  guide and support me as I continue  on my life’s journey.  I felt a knowing that everything and everyone I needed would be there for me – available to me so that I could take Joy with me as my companion.  Never alone.  Never without Help.  That even the Impossible was possible!

With the help of the Wise Old Trees.

Moonage Daydreams

 

Did I ever mention that I was a total David Bowie freak?  Oh Yeah…Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars …the Thin White Duke….Glam rock was one of my favorites looks – Silver eyeshadow, 6 inch plat forms, stand up shags, studded EVERYTHING….man, those were the days, huh?

One of the advantages of not having an internet connection at home is that I am now “forced” to fill in the blank spaces between this activity and that with something that captures my attention for more than – say – 5 minutes at a time.

Maybe it’s just me.  Naw.  It’s not just me. 

Have you noticed that the more time you spend on line, the shorter your attention span is?  I’m not talking about a few days here and there – maybe when you’re home sick or closeted in on a rainy day – where you decide to Cyber Surf until 3 a.m. instead of Channel Surf.  Speaking of channel surfing, I’m not much of a TV watcher myself….OK wait!

I’ve been meaning to write this list for some time.  These are my current TV addictions.  In no particular order:

1. American Idol
2. Hell’s Kitchen
3. Top Chef
4.

Oh.  Uh…That’s about it.  See?  I told you I don’t watch much TV, but when I do, well…I REALLY watch.  As in “No, I’m sorry I can’t see you tonight Sir Hunkilicious unless you want to come over here to couch potato with me.  See, Ben just threw Matty under the bus (or so he thinks) and I want to see if the girls are going to throw him back or not.”   Have I told you yet about Sir H?

WHY am I writing about Hell’s Kitchen again?  OH! Right!

ADD

As in my ongoing recovery from Attention (or is it Activity??) Deficit Disorder that was – perhaps – caused by spending too many hours online.  Clicking here, reading this, surfing there, viewing that.  For someone with An Inquiring Mind (and occasionally, too much time on her hands in front of a computer), the Internet is either the Bane or the Boon of existence.

And as we all know, existing isn’t the same as living.

While I am finding it challenging to squeeze in any sort of ‘responsible’ blogging (where did the days of Blogging Without Obligation go, anyway?  Is that even possible?) with emailing my friends and family, and preparing card readings (I got three requests just this week), I AM enjoying the freedom that living Netless on the home front is providing me.  Why, I’m doing things like actually sitting still with one project for more than 15 minutes!  Whoa!  And I’m finishing books that I start (do you know that I feel guilty when I would look at a pile of half-read books?), and going for long rambling walks for no other reason that it’s just a lovely thing to do!  I’m experiencing bouts of spontaneous culinary investigationism, visiting with neighbors more and spending hours with my chin in my hand, looking out through the trees limbs, and creating my future.

Now, I should add that none of this is really “new”.  I’ve been a recovering Over Doer for a few years now.  Ever meet anyone who feels guilty for laying around on a Saturday morning just to read the paper in bed?  After spending 50 hours a week on the work thing, and after 3 trips to the gym, a “fun” class or 2, and a trip to the grocery store, and doing laundry and errands and dinners with Special Someone’s and… Yeah, take a friggin EXHALE, would ya? BREATHEEEEEEEEEE

BEEEEEEEEEEEEE

For a long long time I was so relaxation challenged that it took some body part screaming loudly before I was “forced” to take some R&R that I really needed. Fortunately, I’ve learned – or retrained myself – to enjoy  “Doin’ Nothin” time as an activity (LOL) to be embraced with pleasure and a clean conscious.  Gone are the days of Sneak Napping, Stealth Lounging, and Cloaked Chillin’.  I can actually stay in bed for HOURS on a Saturday morning without feeling much more than a slight twinge of “isn’t there something worthwhile I should be doing?” rippling my skin.

…….

As I read back over this post, I realize something again.  Something very very important.

As technology continues to hurl life into Tomorrow at break neck speed – with our bodies like hosts for freakishly prolific and parasitic iPods and iPhones and Earbuds – it becomes more important than ever before for us to DISCONNECT.  We need to remember to disconnect to STAY CONNECTED.  We need to stop bombarding ourselves with news and music and emails long enough so that we can rest in the arms of Silence and hear our own heartbeats.  Our own breathing.  Our own souls.

Because our souls really are broadcasting to us LIVE every moment of every day.  And as things continue to spin out of control around us, we’re going to need that still, steady CENTERED place within….to guide us safely Home…..

Technology.

THIS is your American Idol

(EDIT!  I had a completely different Bowie song up…but after reading GoldenFeri’s comment, I just HAD to change it!  READY EVERYONE??? You know what to do!