Desert Wisdom

As we approach Thanksgiving here in the USA, we reflect on those for whom and that for which we are thankful. Every year, my mind immediately goes to the basics: faith, family, friends.  Words of gratitude shared, hearts warmed.

This year, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs comes to mind… for the basics - physiologic and safety needs - stand in danger of imbalance in ways I've NEVER experienced in my life. Truth be told (and at a time like this, I am best served by facing the truth), looming scarcity is scaring me... thankfully into an action plan. 

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That said, coming to terms with my financial reality shocks me. How did this happen?  How did I let this happen? Why did I let this happen???

Recognizing these as not enough/fear based questions, I remember to bring compassion alongside curiosity. I am still good. I am still important. I still matter. Though I cannot fathom the bigger picture, I choose to trust. I choose to find my way out of this barren desert with its lessons hard learned. I believe I am right where I'm meant to be, that all will work out. I can actually feel a sense of deep gratitude for my dire financial straits. 

Marie Forleo coined the phrase "everything is figureoutable" and I lean gratefully on that promise today. Next to that, my morning scripture reading comes from the Old Testament, from the chosen people, those who spent long years in the desert. Wisdom 2:23-3:9* speaks to me, calling out to be paraphrased, and I allow myself to be drawn into its somehow nourishing, desertesque mystery... 

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Desert Wisdom

God intends Abundance Art to thrive;

In the image of his own nature he manifested it through me.

 

Despite best intentions and efforts, the creative livelihood fizzles, desperate.

I feel the doubt and despair of bitter disappointment.

I am overwhelmed by it.

 

Then I remember… Abundance Art remains in the hand of God, 

and no torment shall touch it. I claim this truth.

My dream, my vision, my mission may seem, in the view of skeptics, dead;

this seeming failure thought finished business

and my passion in going forth in it utter foolishness.

 

But wait, I too am at peace.

For if up to now, if spendingselffundingretirementmoneygoneoverwhelmingdebt, indeed, be seen as ridiculous loss,

yet my hope remains full of promise;

 

Pruned muchly, I shall be greatly blessed,

because God tried me

and has found Abundance Art worthy of himself.

 

As gold in the furnace, he proved me,

and as sacrificial offerings he took every clouded dream to himself.

So that at the right time, Abundance Art shall shine brightly,

and shall dart about as sparks in the darkness.

 

Creativity, nourishment, love and healing shall reach nations and touch the hearts of peoples around the world,

and the Lord shall be my King forever.

I shall understand truth,

and Abundance Art shall abide with him in love.

 

Because grace, mercy and prosperity are with his holy ones,

and his abundant care is with me, always.

 *Paraphrased from Wisdom 2:23-3:9. Actual text follows (Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine):

God formed man to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made them.
But by the envy of the Devil, death entered the world,
and they who are in his possession experience it.

But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, 
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

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To Everything There Is A Season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.                          - Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

Most people of a certain middle-ish age are familiar with the song Turn, Turn, Turn (The Byrds, 1965) and how, taken from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, it contrasts various aspects of life. In a nutshell, the chorus lyrics go something like this : a time to be born/die, to plant/reap, to kill/heal, to laugh/weep, to build up/break down, etc.

As winter turns into spring here in the Midwest USA, my attention turns from redesigning websites to writing a book. And just like that, my Turn Turn Turn earworm - you know, when a song keeps playing over and over in your head - manifests itself.

How timely, how relevant to entrepreneurship and owning a small business, because as I look back over the last few years - as artist, writer, and owner of Abundance Art LLC - I see seasons, all the seasons.

The Spring of ideas, a new website to be designed and created, paintings to be painted, mandalas to be drawn, photographs to be organized. The sighting of success shoots popping up in the form of a first exhibit and sales.

The Summer of watering and watching the website grow with the opening of an online store, of joining an artist's cooperative gallery, hanging my visual art. And waiting, watching for signs of growth. The Summer of drought and worry when sales dry up and aspirations fade.

The Autumn of discouragement and letting go, understanding that somehow rejection is really just redirection. Being willing to receive feedback, and make changes accordingly. Redesigning the design.

The Winter of darkness, loss of hope when, in spite of all the work of the preceding months and years, the bank account remains barren. Trusting that, invisible underground, life grows. Listening in the wintry silence for the wisdom within, and saying hello to truth. Redesigning the redesign in a way that FITS.  Under the snow, something is being made whole.

And here we are, surrounded by signs of Spring again: bright yellow daffodils and forsythia, trees budding pink and white against the blue sky.

The seasons are always overlapping in this entrepreneurial world. My book's framework, outline, introduction, and first two chapters written, I learn that it's not the right book.  Devastated, I lay low, the smallest effort seemingly monumental.

And outside it is snowing. Winter isn't done with me yet!

Slowing down, allowing the snow covered daffodils to rest under their burden, I too rest, allowing something new to form in the place vacated by my book's first works.

Spring is just around the corner here in the Midwest USA.

And it's ALREADY here inside me in an abundance of thoughts and possibilities about my new ideal reader, marketing and publication strategies. For I am now blending the bits I like best -  painting fine art, selling beautiful photographic prints, and helping others - into a book that tells the story of how creativity saved my life. And growing a variety of income streams around that.

I am right where I'm meant to be.

And, I'm looking forward to Summer. And Autumn. And Winter. And life.

Are you?

You can find my original paintings and prints (paintings and photographs), mandala exhibit "go slow: woman on a journey" as well as artisanal notecards for sale at Abundance Art.

You can find my stunning collection of Russian Chandelier photographic metal prints for sale at ShopAbstractPhotography.

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A Day in Bizarro Land AKA There's Always a Reason to Dance

Have you ever heard of Bizarro Land? Anyone with children certainly has been there, perhaps by another name.

A week ago, I spent much of my day there.

In the morning, deciding to treat myself to donuts, I threw my long raincoat on over my cute little jammies and headed out. I hadn't even brushed my teeth.

On the way, I accidentally - really! It was a confusing intersection! - ran a red light, noticing the CCTV monitor. Note to self: do not be surprised to receive an automated ticket. Followed by: this is going to be an expensive donut run. Followed by: don't worry about it, what's done is done.

I picked up my donuts and headed home. On my way, sighting a police patrol car, I instinctively put on my brakes, having no idea what the speed limit was or how fast I was going. 

Sure enough, he pulled me over, politely introduced himself and explained that I was going 40 mph in a 30 mph zone. He also noticed I had an expired license tag (aka car registration, as evidenced by last year's sticker on my plate).

I was confused. Expired tags? How did this happen? How did I miss that?

Thankfully he let me off with a warning about the speeding. Then he asked for my insurance card. It too was expired.

More confused, I was blown away. Until I figured the current card was still on my desk at home.

He kindly agreed with my suggestion that I log onto my account and show proof of coverage and he went back to his squad car.

If you hadn't guessed by now, I had entered Bizarro Land.

There were website issues, but luckily, I was able to contact my auto insurance agent who promptly emailed me my current insurance card. Whew. So, no ticket for speeding, no ticket for driving without insurance. 

The officer arrived window-side and I showed him proof of insurance. I then took a deep breath, looking at him with pleading eyes, asking if I promised to go straightaway to the nearby DMV to renew my tag, was it possible to not get a ticket for that bit?

He appeared a bit sad as he apologized, saying he had already written the citation for the expired tags. $110. However, if I proceeded to the DMV as promised, I could pay a reduced citation penalty at city hall. 

Then he said "there's something else. You have a screw stuck in your front tire." I got out of the car in my coat covered jammies to have a look, realizing my day's plans were to be reprioritized, again. Sigh. 

He was so apologetic, sharing that he really hated having to ticket me, as well as be the bearer of bad tire news.

I thanked him for his kindness, seeing that he sincerely cared about me and my plight. We parted ways, him waving, me offering my hands in Namaste.

Shaken and nervous and calm at the same time, I proceeded, in jammies and raincoat, to the DMV to renew my registration. Handing over my credit card, I reflected that I would earn frequent flyer miles (= more travel!). The agent helping me was pleasant and thoughtful, which made me feel a bit better.

I placed that coveted little 2017 sticker on my license plate as soon as I got back to the car.

A few blocks away, the friendly court clerk charged me only $55 and I earned some more frequent flyer miles. I don't think she had a clue I was wearing little jammies under that tasteful raincoat.

Back in my car, legal matters sorted, I called my car dealer to arrange an afternoon appointment to sort out the tire. 

Having managed all that, I lovingly allowed myself some time to cry and feel overwhelmed and utterly sorry for myself. Once home, I crawled back to bed, ate my donuts while watching TV, then took a nap. I was in no mood or mode to work.

I dressed before leaving for the dealer - real clothes this time - where I was again treated with kindness and respect. They took out the screw, determined there was no tire damage, washed the car and sent me on my way without charging me a penny.

In my car is a little plaque that reads "There is always a reason to dance."

As is my habit, I reflected back on the day's events, asking myself "what's good about this?" I recalled the kindnesses shown me, the blessing of a wonderful car and ready service, being the owner of my own business and the scheduling flexibility that affords, not having to worry about money, the indulgence of being able to run out for a bit in pajamas without anyone knowing - something I never in my life though I would do! Not to mention learning out about a screw in my tire and avoiding – worse – a flat tire.

There is always a reason to dance. Indeed.

As importantly, I felt gratitude for friends who support me. One in particular has an open-door offer. "Call any time you're in the neighborhood and come by. We'll have a glass of wine and visit." Sure enough, I was in the neighborhood, and sure enough when I called she said "come on over!"

We made a quick trip to the grocery store together, and, preparing to pay for my few groceries, I discovered my wallet was missing. Of course. It was sitting on my dresser at home, where I'd left it when double checking my insurance card. Not normal for me to be so absent minded. Well, this was not a normal day.

My friend paid for my purchases (blessing!), and we proceeded to her house where we ended the day in friendship, love and support, sharing stories and sipping wine.

I drove home that night with deep gratitude in my heart for my blessings.

There is always a reason to dance.

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From Fear to Love

Do you have any New Year's resolutions? What do you think of the idea that it doesn't have to be something you start on day one and stick to every day? What if it could be a sure and steady and sustained resolution that results in you (and perhaps your part of the world?) being in a better place at the end of the year than at the beginning.

That's my kind of resolution. Besides, being the go slow girl (and proud of it), it's what works for me.

And that takes patience.

The kind of patience I have with myself as I radically redesign my website. I recently blogged about this pruning, which you can read about here.

And now I get to share the other part. Which just happens to tie into one of my New Year's resolutions.  

First, as a quick reminder, this year I finished six and a half years of trauma recovery therapy with Candy, my at-the-time therapist, who has been certified in Somatic Experiencing for well over twenty years. The basic premise with this modality is that the body holds energy trapped during trauma (emotional overwhelm). The body (Somatic) and the central nervous system are able to very slowly (repeat very slowly) release that trapped energy (Experiencing) during therapy. That's it in a nano-nutshell. This short video that Candy and I created in summer of 2016 does a great job of introducing Trauma and Somatic Experiencing. FYI, gswoj stands for go slow woman on a journey.

The stuff I took off the website - poetry, memoir, mandalas, journal excerpts and illustrations - was created during my trauma recovery, and it's still very much around as an expression of my healing. Much of it will find its way into a book that Candy, now my life coach and collaborator, are co-authoring.

A book! One of my New Year's Resolutions!

Candy and I actually started on the book back in late 2014, when we agreed the overall structure, milestones, and story telling approach. We both felt a passion (I had a fire in my belly!) to get the word out about Somatic Experiencing as a very effective treatment modality for trauma recovery.

Do you ever feel like you're ready for something and you find out that life has different plans? This reminds me of the old joke: Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.

Sidetracked for almost two years with mysterious, repeated and prolonged medical and surgical circumstances, I kept trusting that what was going on with my body was part of a much larger healing path. Somatic, after all, basically means related to the body, and removal of 7 organs over that period of time was certainly a sort of releasing.

Thankfully, the fire in my belly was not removed.

Candy and I were able to resume our efforts recently. Today the framework, Introduction, and Chapter One are in the hands of my editor for review. Our working title is From Fear to Love: One Woman's Courageous Journey Through Trauma Recovery.

I am now patting myself on the back for meeting an important end of 2016 goal. Well done us!

When you undertake a project about which you are really pumped, how do you describe that to someone else?

Let me try: I'm thrilled and energized about how we're manifesting this book and who it will serve.

First, the framework includes three major sections I intuitively understood and named way back in 2008:

  • Discovery - learning what needs healing
  • Uncovery - getting to the bottom of my wounding
  • Recovery- integrating healing and new truths into my life

Within each section, each chapter has its own framework:

  • I tell my portion of the story in first person, present tense.
  • Candy tells her portion related to my story in first person past tense.
  • We include photos of my journal entries and illustrations and paintings as relevant.
  • We wrap up with a summary and resources (as well as at the end of the book).

Next, the answer to a very important question. Because we can talk and write all we want and if it isn't relevant and doesn't serve, what’s the point?

I believe with all my heart that this book will inspire, heal, empower and help these people and more:

  • Therapists who want to learn more about trauma and Somatic Experiencing in particular
  • Therapists who are already certified in Somatic Experiencing
  • MDs, PhDs and researchers who focus on neurobiophysiology and psychosomatic neurology
  • Behavioral science students, social workers, psych nurses, doctors, practitioners and other clinicians
  • Motivational and metaphysical speakers and writers
  • People who know they are trauma survivors and want some point of reference and/or direction
  • People who struggle with life and don't understand why
  • People who live with PTSD, anxiety and/or depression, who are or are not in therapy
  • People who are in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and/or EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) who aren't getting better.
  • The families and loved ones of the people above

Anyone wondering why we are doing this?

The answer is simple. My heart and the fire in my belly keeps telling me to get the word out about Somatic Experiencing.

And it's ok if we work on it all year long.

Go slow and prosper!

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My Love Affair With Chandeliers

It was just curiosity at first, a glimpse in my peripheral vision. I could easily have turned away, resisted. But I allowed myself a full view of what had caught my eye. There was no going back, I was hooked.

Have you ever felt like that?

That's how my love affair with chandeliers began. Now I look for them, as I do mandalas, wherever I go. And my all time favorite, most beautiful, most meaningful, chandelier has a history that unknowingly wove itself into my life decades ago.

What? When? Why? How?

My entire first chandelier collection, which you can see here, is especially meaningful for me, as I have wanted to travel to Russia since I was a teenager. Getting there was the very first item on my life wish list. Forty years ago to be exact, I read the non-fiction book, "Nicholas and Alexandra" - which I am now reading again - and through it I learned about the Tsar Nicholas II, his wife the Empress Alexandra (and their family), what they were like as people and as rulers.

Even knowing the outcome, learning about these real people of history fascinated me from page one. The Romanov Dynasty and Imperial Russia would come to an end during World War I, replaced by communism.

Sadly, in 1918, the royal family and a few members of their household were brutally murdered, their bodies dismembered, burned and buried deep in a mine shaft with acid thrown on top. That was the end of the story as far as I knew.

Years passed and I was thrilled when Perestroika ("restructuring") and Glasnost ("openness") resulted in the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Some day I would go to Russia!

My life dream came true in September 2015, when I spent two weeks in this huge and mysterious country. In only a sliver of travel, I encountered restored palaces, cathedrals, country churches and I savored past and present culture through connections with locals.

And I took LOTS of photos of chandeliers, the first collection of which you can find  here as a limited edition of special metal prints. You will fall in love with them, alone or as a selection.

My most memorable chandelier experience took place at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Simply stepping onto the cobblestone and seeing the cathedral with its 404 foot tall spire literally took my breath away. (I can count on one hand the times that's happened to me.)

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Within the Cathedral, above ground tombs of the Romanov Tsars filled the side spaces. I stood among Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, most recently Nicholas I, Alexander II, Alexander III, etc. Hard to grasp, I just soaked it up.

But it was when I looked forward and above that I was truly inspired and filled with awe. For here was and is my favorite chandelier of all time, partly because of what came next.

The most powerful moments of my time in the Cathedral were spent in front of the Catherine the Great Chapel. It was here that I learned that the remains of Nicholas and Alexandra, with their children and household staff, were discovered in 1998 and following DNA testing, had been interred in the chapel. Nicholas, Alexandra, Maria, Tatiana, Olga Anastasia, Alexis. All there.

I'd had no idea their remains had been located and treated with the dignity and honor they deserved. I found myself overwhelmed with emotion. Crying quietly with grief and relief, with the comforting awareness that somehow, this complex and loving family had found their way home.

The depth of this experience remains with me today.


I reflect now how reading can open the world for anyone.  I reflect too on the blessing of being able to travel to places of such rich history, to walk the path of the past, and somehow feel connected to those who came before.I Invite YOU to travel vicariously through my Russian Chandelier Collection. To transport yourself back in time, click the image below. 

Is there somewhere calling you? I also offer chandelier collections from Europe, The Castle (USA) and Chicago, with New York and Kansas City on the way.

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Those Brown Stains on My Sheets Are Chocolate and Other Observations from This 30-Day Blog Writing Challenge

Do you ever experience a phrase, song, or idea that keeps going around in your head?

I know the song replaying is called an earworm. Wikipedia adds that, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, or stuck song syndrome, it is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing.

Not sure about the phrase or idea replaying. I'd call it a broken record, but in this day of CDs, many people wouldn't get the reference. Then again, I've heard that vinyl is making a comeback.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was eating chocolate in bed and a few bits ended up on the sheets, unnoticed by me until laundry day. Into my mind pops the words "Those brown stains on my sheets are chocolate." I laugh out loud, which my brain must love, because it keeps repeating those words. Again and again. Finally, I give in, thus the title. Maybe I will be left in peace now.

And while I'm on the subject, a number of other observations have popped up and demanded out.

So.

Here they are, in full glory, some quirky and not so quirky observations of these last 30 blog-writing days.

  • Those brown stains on my sheets really were chocolate. Really.
  • When I woke up this morning and saw snow, I thought to myself, "Finally. Summer is REALLY over!"
  • I can't figure out why the font size arbitrarily changes in spite of its setting. And I'm ok with that.
  • It is not necessary to have sheets on my bed to sleep well if I'm tired enough. The mattress and duvet are quite nice on their own.
  • I easily entertain myself: for example I made a meme of Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry saying "Go ahead punk. Make my meme." Every time I think of it I giggle. I'm giggling now.

 


  • Mailchimp, my email subscriber software, has a cheeky user interface that I always fall for when I send out an email.
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I DO revel in my moment of glory, and I ALWAYS return the chimp's high five. Helloooo... it's computer software!

I don't care! It never fails, and I always smile. 


  • I upgraded my iPad to the iPad Pro JUST so I could have the Apple Pen. Merry Christmas to me!
  • Microsoft OneNote rocks. The anal retentive creative's dream app for online organizing.
  • Writing the blog is the easy part. Adding photos and publishing and posting and sharing etc are the bits that take time. I actually have a checklist (reference previous observation) to ensure I've completed all the steps.
  • I love mandalas and swirls so much, they're showing up outside my house.

  • HuffPost Contributor Platform pooped out before I did. Note to self: figure out what's up with that.
  • This challenge has actually been a great experience... and it wore me out! Lots of staying up past my bedtime. I was so exhausted one night I found myself typing my email address and ending it with .coma. I'm serious, this is true.

How do you entertain yourself? Better still, what is the quirkiest phrase/idea that keeps going around in your head? I really want you to share in the comments below, because I know I'm not the only one with experiences like this.

Here's to successfully accomplishing my goal of 30 blogs in 30 days. Woo hoo!

I'd open some champagne to celebrate... except that I just want to crawl into bed. 

With my mattress and duvet.

Night night!

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A Bit About Writing

When you approach a new project, whether at home or work, how do you go about doing it?

  • Jump right in, learn as you go?
  • Read the manual first?
  • Somewhere in between?

I've tended to be the jump right in sort. In fact, I used to joke that when you tell me to jump, I'm in the air before I ask "how high?" I've learned, after numerous wasted efforts, that sometimes it's wiser to slow down, see how things unfold. Going slow also allows for an internal processing to take place.

Still, one thing I know is that, regardless of the nature of the project, I always start with one thing: doing what I know.

In my previous career, as Clinical Strategist for a global healthcare informatics software company, I authored many different types of technical documents as I moved from assignment to assignment.

As long as I had some sort of example, I could take that and off I'd go.

As in to the break room. Really!

Walk around the department, maybe take a walk outside.

Because what I already knew needed to swirl around with what I was learning, and come together in my mind. Once that was done, I would sit down and type away.

I used to think I was avoiding that particular project until I realized what was happening. That a natural thought process evolved which resulted in quality documents.

I've found the same to be true in writing daily blogs for the last four weeks.

I've basically been writing what I know. And its literary cousin (I just made that up), writing what I notice.

Four weeks ago, when I accepted this 30-day challenge, I tended to write earlier in the day. That has shifted to after dinnertime, which allows me to notice the events and thoughts that come and go throughout the day.

By the time I sit down in the evening to write, it's pretty much already done. In my head. I type the words out, play with them, edit, edit, edit.

Marion Roach, a famous memoirist, observes that the first draft is always the vomit draft. While the thought of vomiting does not appeal, I do love how that gives me permission to not worry about how good it is straight off…

Though I do believe that much of what bubbles up is spot on. Cheeky me!

Seriously, the truth lies in telling your truths.

Do what you know.

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Growing Up With My Dad… These Last Three Years

For those of you blessed with fathers, do you have memories of growing up?

Some great, some good… some not so good perhaps?

What kind of Father's Day cards appealed to you?

What was the best of times?


My best of times is now. My Dad is 90 years old. And we have just - in the last three years - really grown up together. I'm so thankful he has lived this long, and I treasure every moment we spend together as blessing.

Like today when he called, confused about one of his medications. Living just a few minutes away, I went over and helped him out.

It wasn’t always like that.

As I child, I knew he loved me, but I didn't actually feel love coming from him. He was often fun and playful. And strict. I was a bit afraid of him.

After my mom died in 1991, Dad and I grew closer. We grieved together and supported each other.

Then he remarried. And the short story here is that he made his new family the priority in his life.

I write this next bit with great compassionate love for myself and my Dad.

I felt abandoned. Cast aside. I WAS abandoned, cast aside, with the exception of a monthly breakfast and occasional family gatherings. It was a very difficult, awkward and prolonged time, and still I was determined to somehow find my way through it with love and respect.

The year 2010 would be one of great change for our family. Dad and his wife had to separate for health reasons, neither one being able to care for the other's needs. From being largely on the outside for the past eighteen years, my in-town siblings - Kathleen, Mark, Laura - and I were suddenly responsible for his care. How does one person single handedly care for an elderly loved one? We, working collaboratively, couldn't fathom. And the short story here is that we managed, including getting him comfortably settled in a senior independent living facility apartment.

Fast forward to 2013. I'm wrapping up my time in Doha, talking with Dad by phone and crying. Interestingly, he always really showed up for me when I lived abroad, connecting and caring. His support of me during my year in the Middle East helped me decide to return to KC rather than London.

A number of things have happened since my return from there over three years ago:

  • I resumed taking Dad to church every Sunday, after which we go out to eat.
  • I continued my trauma recovery therapy and healing, now processing decades-long suppressed anger and abandonment issues.
  • I continued to find and use my voice, my power.
  • I learned and began to practice healthy boundaries. Scary!
  • Dad had a series of surgeries: fractured left hip hardware, to total hip replacement, to revision total hip, each followed by hospital and weeks-long rehab facility recovery.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It sure took a village to "raise" my father through these recent years. Thank you thank you thank you to Kathleen, Mark and Laura for all your love and sharing of the responsibilities. I think we make a GREAT team.

They also say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I beg to differ.

I doggedly (pun definitely intended) spoke my truth, little by little, over time, to my father, standing up for myself when I felt hurt by his words. It was important for me to be authentic with him, not putting on the life-long happy face. Coming from a generation with a completely different experience, he at first didn't understand my attempts to explain trauma and recovery therapy and my anxiety and depression. Yet he would eventually respond to me in a way that told me he was listening. And processing what I was saying.

And guess what? As I changed, he changed. Our conversations changed. He stopped saying hurtful things to me. He said please and thank you and I love you. And come here, give me a hug.

And over time I began to feel loved. I always KNEW I was loved. But now the little girl that is me FELT and BELIEVED her daddy's love. How affirming!

Know what else changed? I started remembering happy times from childhood, and I lovingly saw how the years had reversed our roles.

  • He taught me how to tie my shoes.
  • I help him put his shoes on.
  • He taught me to ride my bike.
  • I help him with his walker and getting in/out of the car.
  • Sometimes he surprised us with donuts on Saturday morning.
  • Sometimes I surprise him with donuts on Saturday morning.
  • He took us to church on Sunday.
  • I take him to church on Sunday. And he tells me he loves to hear me sing. (!)
  • On the occasion when Dad would take our large young family out for breakfast, he would buy us each a mint patty when he paid the bill.
  • Weather permitting (yet another reason to love the cold), I keep a bag of York mint patties in my car, each of us enjoying one after our Sunday meal out.
  • Sometimes, when he traveled for work, he would bring home a tiny little something for us.
  • When I travel to different places, I bring home a magnet for his fridge.
  • He was cool enough to play our favorite rock station on the car radio for us.
  • I'm cool enough to play the baseball or football game station on my car radio for him.
  • When I had surgery in 1992 for recurrent herniated neck disc, I woke up in my hospital room to see Dad sitting next to me and holding my hand.
  • After his repeated surgeries, I sat next to him and held his hand… when he let me.

My father is a strong willed, determined, methodical, deeply faithful and loving man, with a passion for life. Through the time I spend with him, he is teaching me about growing old gracefully, not giving up. Savoring every bit life has to offer, looking at the bright side.

I am so my father's daughter. And so proud to be so.

Dad and his sibs.png

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From Fear to Love: One Woman's Inspiring Journey Through Trauma Recovery

We all have stories to share. Have you ever felt like telling yours?

I'm in the process of doing just that, in collaboration with my life coach and co-author. She also happens to be my therapist. My trauma recovery therapist. Since 2010.

When I moved to the Middle East in 2012, we continued our work together via Skype. I was blown away at how, as she put it, "energy is energy."

Wait, back up. Are you wondering what, why, how, about now?

I'm glad you asked. And I'm going to answer very simply.

What?

Trauma. Mine. Definition of trauma: not so much the "what" as the fact that it results in overwhelming emotional stimulus. And that the nervous system, our very body, holds unreleased energy from the experience. Bessel van der Kolk explains this in his book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

Why?

Because on my return to KC from London in 2009, I didn't understand I was living with trauma. All I knew was that I was severely anxious, barely making it through each day. In a demanding job. That although I was working with a very qualified therapist, I wasn't getting better. In fact was getting worse. And because in early 2010, after having coffee with a friend (who also happened to be a therapist), I took her advice to make an appointment with a new therapist in town who specialized in anxiety disorders.

How?

Through the care of my incredibly talented and compassionate Somatic Experiencing certified therapist. Using the trauma recovery therapy modality of the same name, founded by Peter Levine, author of Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, over twenty years ago. My therapy lasted for six and a half years (yes, even the year I lived in the Middle East), and I now go for monthly maintenance sessions.

I'll add that this experience has been bar none the most difficult thing I have ever done. The darkest most frightening years of my life. I wanted to die. I really wanted to die. Instead, I chose life. I clung on during the stormiest experiences ever, and I survived. I journaled and illustrated my way through. I started painting and writing.

And in doing so, I developed a passion for getting the word out about how my life was saved by Somatic Experiencing. Turns out, so did my therapist.

So we, together, are writing a book. We have a basic framework created, with key milestones, and are working on the introductions/prologues and first chapter. Sharing our combined story, alternating back and forth. Mine in first person present tense, hers in first person past tense.

Our goal is by the end of the year to have it ready to promote to agents/publishers.

The title is not set in stone, nor the cover. What is solid however is the truth that through these years, I moved (and continue to move) from a fear based life to a love based life.

This book will help people.

Clinicians.

Clients.

Maybe you. Or someone you love.

Stay tuned. In the meantime, watch this short video to learn more about trauma and Somatic Experiencing. (By the way, gswoj is short for go slow: woman on a journey.)

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