Grandma Visits (Dec 1996)

As my hair grows longer and I brush it fifty strokes every night, I am reminded of my Grandma Tessier-Myers. Her hair grew past her waistline and she loved to brush and caress it as she braided it every morning before wrapping it around her head several times. My Mom also had long brown hair when I was a child and perhaps that memory is stimulating me to grow my hair long once again. So in honour of my Grandma I choose a photograph of her for the front cover. It was taken at a time when she came for a visit to Rosswood and stayed through the long winter. Pictured with her tea kettle in hand, l guess she was going out to collect some snow so she could boil up some tea water. I remember how she and Grandad Kost loved to play crib and talk philosophy and how she always wore a skirt no matter how cold it got outside.

Much has happened in just one month that has affected me deeply. Understanding the connections inside myself is certainly an awesome job. Finding the balance is still a struggle, with some days better than others. Letting go of the tension in my right hip and left shoulder has allowed more stored memories to surface … old memories that I would have preferred to have stayed buried but can’t if I wish to have good posture. I am grateful to my body for continuing to remind me of my imbalances though I may not appreciate it in the moment, for my body is the best teacher I have. Taking time to sort through and think through my thoughts and feelings is allowing me to see the past programming that is buried so deeply in my unconscious that I forgot I created it.

Last week as I was browsing through my bookshelf, I picked up Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Yourself. It flipped open to the page that listed the different illnesses and their causes, and the word belching caught my eye, for it is something I do. Most days it is not too obvious, but once in awhile it gets chronic and I wonder why. I re-read her advice that our emotions and belief systems cause pain and dis-ease. Louise says that the underlying cause of burping is “Fear and Gulping Life too Fast.” Two years ago I would have said “Not me, I don’t have any fears.” But this time it was different: I decided to mull over the word ‘fear’ and see if just maybe I might find a connection, for I have been told by several practitioners that one of my kidneys is weak, and occasionally I can feel it pulsating. Also there is a tender spot on my back lower rib which I know to be an acupuncture point for my kidneys. Chinese medicine says that the kidneys reflect the emotion of fear. After two different spiritual healing sessions, one with Troy Lenard and one with Mary Ferguson, I noticed I drank two or three glasses of water immediately after getting off the table. I also made note that I wasn’t sipping water all day, instead my body wanted me to drink larger quantities at a time. In Chinese medicine the kidney and bladder are linked together and operate as a team. I wasn’t too sure how they were all connected together or what the change meant till my ex-husband came for a visit.

It was one of my slower days so I invited him to go for walk while we updated each other on how we were doing. Then he said, “Just for the record, your last Musing column was incorrect.” I thought to myself… Wow, he is actually reading it… I was impressed. I asked “Which part needs correcting?” He said,

“When you told me you were pregnant, we were not sitting down. We were walking home from school in front of the Sacred Heart Church.” I said, “I thought and thought, trying to remember exactly where I was, but all I could remember was needing to sit down so that I could talk to you about my fear of having to tell my Mom… for I knew she would be angry.” Rae said, “I just remember being so happy that you were pregnant.” I stared at him and said, “I know you were… but I wasn’t. I was scared and I needed someone to talk to and you couldn’t hear me.” At that point, my mouth kept speaking almost independent of me as I said, “You know what I just realized … that I married you out of fear. Fear of being alone. Getting married was not something I wanted to do and that was why I said no every time you asked me beforehand. I liked having a boyfriend for many reasons and I enjoyed the attention and affection, and I guess I didn’t want to lose that by refusing to play around. Besides, you said I wouldn’t get pregnant.” Then I added, “You know something … I am starting to understand the difference between love and sex.”

Over the next week old memories surfaced and I had a few good cries. I said out loud to myself all the things I had wanted to say at the time and didn’t because I didn’t know how, and then I blessed him, for I now know that Rae was more scared than I, he just couldn’t talk about it. I remember looking up at him on our wedding day, his hands were so swollen he couldn’t get the ring on his finger, and I was amazed to see the sweat pouring off his forehead; for it reminded me of Niagara Falls. I have come to realize that his fear of being alone is buried even more deeply than mine, for he had a new woman chosen before I even moved out of the house.

I enjoy living on my own for it has given me the time I need to reflect and to sort through my emotions and get back into my body. I am learning new ways of expressing myself more honestly and am now willing to go through the fear when I need to say something that needs to be said, even though I know the person may react. I have learned that I did Rae no favours by being so permissive. But I didn’t want to be like my Mom, fighting for everything she got. When I was a child, having feelings and emotions always seemed so senseless and such a waste of time to me for it got my Mom nowhere, so I taught myself to do the opposite. I wanted peace at all costs. Nothing was worth fighting about. I learned not to cry when Rae broke my heart, for I had three kids to raise and I didn’t want to do it alone. I learned to give him what he wanted most and bartered for the rest. I didn’t even realize how much I hated the situation I had created till one day Rae came home and told me that he had rolled his logging truck and a log had come through the little glass window and just missed killing him. My only thought at the time was “Too bad, that certainly would have made my life easier.”

At that point I decided to change my attitude for I knew it wasn’t very nice of me to wish another person dead, let alone my husband. Rae was a nice guy, he was a great Dad and he was fun to be around. He treated me with lots of respect and tenderness as long as he got his way. But by giving in to his needs and ignoring mine I left my body. I became the eternal optimist, with no feelings, no anger, no desires and no passion. After ten years of being married, the only thing we had in common was raising a family. I found hockey games boring and he wasn’t interested in the holistic health stuff. I was always busy ‘doing’ so that I didn’t have time to be intimate. My mind loved having the control and I lost touch with my body. Indigestion become chronic and I couldn’t understand why, so I changed my diet and took enzymes. It all helped for a while, but eventually I ran out of natural remedies to try. My body had shut down and I didn’t even know it till one day when I went for a walk and realized that I had very little circulation in my fingers or toes. So I started getting massages and having bodywork done and that helped for a while, loosening me up so that I could keep working, determined more than ever to heal myself naturally. Reading books helped me to understand the body-mind connection but putting it into practice meant I had to change my attitude and my belief systems from a bodily point of view.

I now know when I am intellectualizing and when I am being present and feeling my feelings in the moment, as most children do naturally. I think it is important that when a child says NO, we honour it. We need to teach them they have the power to make decisions based on love, common sense and reason. My father’s way to get me to be good and do what he wanted was to get angry and punish me, creating a deep-seated fear in me that I wouldn’t be loved if I said “no.” No wonder it was so hard for me to say “no” to Rae and his need to feel loved. We always attract into our lives what we need to heal most and when we don’t sort things out, we tend to label our ‘teachers’ as the wrong doers … rather than realizing that we have been presented with an opportunity to become whole.

During the twenty some years Rae and I were married we did manage to sort through some of the baggage that we both carried into our relationship. We were both very supportive of our differences and that allowed each of us to grow and develop as human beings. If it is true that our children reflect our values and unspoken beliefs, then I figure we did a good job of raising our boys, considering how young we were when we had them and how little we knew about ourselves. We both had a good measure of common sense and an appreciation for each other’s hard work and we took our commitment to having children seriously. We stayed together and worked things out till they left home, by then there was little left for us to talk about, so we separated.

I now feel like I have completed another phase of my life, for I have changed much in the past six years and I am excited to see what the New Year will bring.

Puppy Love (Nov 1996)

November, a time of frost and a time for unpacking the winter woollens. A time to set the clocks and go to bed a little earlier. When growing up, my family generally had the fire wood stacked and the last of the moose meat canned. Moose jerky was always a favourite of my brothers but I didn’t like it. Mom usually made meat pies that I did like and I also enjoyed helping her make the fruitcakes, which were carefully wrapped in brandy-soaked cheesecloth and kept in a crock till Christmas.

The cover photo this month is of Tess, my Mother, when she was twenty-two years old and living in Fairbanks, Alaska. She is about to take home her first puppy, a white husky that she named Chinook. Being raised in a Catholic school where animals were not allowed, after growing up on a farm where everyone had them, Mom wasted no time finding the right puppy to love just as soon as she got her first job, cooking for the Alaskan Railway work crews. There she met Clarence, someone to hike and hunt with. Shortly afterwards they built a cage that fit in the trunk of their car and Chinook travelled with them to Michigan for their wedding.

Great-grandma owned the only hotel and trading post in Aklavik, NWT where Mom spent many a summer holiday and fell in love with the Arctic people and places. Clarence promised my Mom an Alaskan hunting and fishing lodge at the base of Mt. McKinley, for they both loved the great outdoors. Once Clarence returned to Michigan and got married he found it difficult to leave his family and go back to Alaska. Tess longed for the quietness of the wilderness, but soon became pregnant and had to get busy canning food, so she made best of the situation she found herself in.

She never let her dream die of returning to the wilderness. She borrowed and then invested some money in land, and with the profits she bought her first school bus so that she could move her family of seven children to the end of the road… Rosswood, BC. Chinook died just before we left Michigan, in 1959, so we acquired several beagles for hunting and a terrier for us kids plus several Siamese cats to catch mice.

My mother has just finished painting her latest bus … now called a motor home … and had it painted in purple, fuschsia and turquoise. Her second book, entitled Moksgm’ol … White Spirit Bear, is at the printer’s, and once it is ready, she’ll be back on the road educating children about the need to protect the bears’ sanctuary, by travelling around BC and speaking at various schools.

Our family celebrates two birthdays in November, my brother Phillip’s and Mom’s. My birthday gift to my Mom will be something she has always asked of me and something I have never been able to give her … a daughter who stands up straight. Whenever we posed for family photographs she always made me aware of my posture, so I would pull my shoulders back and stand straight, but it always seemed like work. I still have to remind myself to check in with my body to see if it is standing or sitting tall, and now sometimes it is. Once in a while my heart opens spontaneously and I can feel the lightness in my chest for a few seconds as the heart expands. These rare moments inspire me to spend time healing myself and receive sessions from Joel, Gary and the variety of practitioners who work at our Centre.

I recently spent three days in an Iyengar Yoga workshop with Father Joe Pereira from Poona, India. The workshop helped me to understand the basics of good posture for we spent a lot of time each lesson doing Tadasana or mountain pose, a seemingly easy one where we simply stand upright. Maintaining the pose is easier said than done, for in the Iyengar tradition, yoga poses start with proper alignment and that starts with the feet and arches. If one does not have strong, flexible arches the feet can’t act like shock absorbers for the spine and eventually the back will start to ache in its weakest place. With time deterioration sets in, as the energy stops flowing.

Good health depends on strengthening and stretching the arch of the foot by pushing the metatarsals into the floor, stretching the skin of the arch and spreading the toes for balance. Then we push our heels hard into the floor as we tighten our knee caps and roll our thighs inward as if we had a block between them. It is important to be sure the pelvic rim stays tucked forward as we stretch our ribs to elongate our chest and move it skyward, all the while breathing deep, allowing the collar bones to move forward and the shoulders to drop away from the ears. The crown of the head floats and is supported by a thin string being pulled from the heavens. When I do this exercise, it allows my wing bones to flatten and my chin to drop and I grow taller. Standing tall is work for me and I still need to remind myself to breathe into my upper chest and ribs, but it sure is helping to improve my energy level.

During the first two evenings of the Iyengar workshop, we also spent a lot of time doing shoulder work, spreading our fingers and pushing hard into the floor to give ourselves the strength to hold up our own weight. After the second evening my shoulders ached and my wrist hurt, so I took time off at work the next day to go for a walk. Once outside, I could feel the emotions rise in my chest. I cried as I got in touch with some sadness and anger. My body felt like it wanted to punch and claw so I checked in with the closest tree to see if it was okay to have a sparring match. The evergreen smelled wonderful as I cursed, swore and ripped at its needles, pretending it was a long time ago when I was a youngster fighting with my brothers. I kicked and screamed and said everything I ever wanted to say to them, for they used to win most of the battles. I then gave myself a good shake, looked around to see if anyone was watching, and returned to the office. Immediately my shoulders felt lighter and that evening, I did my best shoulder stand ever.

Being (Becoming) aware means constantly checking into my body to see how it is doing. If it is collapsing I may choose to put some energy back into it by breathing into the tiredness and expanding it outward. At other times I choose not to and leave it till tomorrow when I have more energy, for healing seems to be an ongoing process.

I have now had thirty rolf sessions and the last one was the most painful yet. It was time to have my ankles worked on, for they had been speaking to me lately. I have always had cold feet and have had lots of reflexology done to increase circulation. Lately I have noticed little crystals and hard little balls in the front of my shins. Whenever I rub them, they get very tender and I have bruise marks the next day. I know that bruising is an indication of poor circulation, so I smeared on some castor oil and wrapped my shins in cotton before going to bed. I even had a clay bath to get things moving … and they are … slowly. The deposits of toxins from my years of ignorance working in a chemical environment are slowly starting to surface. Now that my lymph glands, kidneys and liver have flushed themselves clean from my spring and summer fastings I guess they are ready to start the next phase of flushing my ankles clean. That will help me grow stronger and have more heat and energy for that is what the kidneys govern.

Learning to stand up straight is more complex than I ever imagined. I spend hours each day rubbing out the sore spots and exercising to increase the chi. I also juice, sprout and cook with whole grains and organic greens to get the nutrients back into my body so that I can rebuild my bones and blood. As my hips and legs release the tension that I have held for so many years, it is becoming easier for my shoulders to roll back, and my neck muscles realign themselves, allowing my head to move into alignment. I am grateful to my Mom for being so persistent about me standing up straight for I never really thought of it as a problem to be fixed. I am just starting to realize how much my posture has affected or reflected my body’s health. I am grateful to Joel Whitehead for helping me to understand the interconnectedness of my organs and how they drain or gain energy from each other. Understanding that mental activity can also put a strain on the physical body is giving me reason to slow down and plan one activity at a time. As I heal and share my story, I hope it will encourage you to do the same. Jan, Marcel and I love reading or hearing about changes that people are experiencing as they start to take responsibility for themselves and their families, so if you have a story to share please let us know.

Happy Birthday David (Oct 1996)

October … a time to get ready for winter and a time to start celebrating family birthdays. Twice a month till Christmas we ate cake and opened presents as children. I came from a large family and a small neighbourhood so special occasions meant that everyone got invited. Sorting through slides this summer allowed me to observe myself and my brothers through the many stages of youth and helped remind me of the fun times we shared. Having these pictures stimulates my forgotten memories and makes designing the front cover easy. As the photographer, my Mom is delighted to see each month’s front cover and follows my Musings with great interest. I love hearing the interesting stories that people tell me as they resonate with a certain picture. They keep asking me if I am going to run out of photographs … someday, but by then my interest will be elsewhere as my business partners take over more of the publishing.

On the front cover this month is David, the firstborn of our family, holding ‘The Rack’ from the first moose that we ate as children after we moved to Rosswood, B.C. in 1959. I choose this photo to honour his 47th birthday, October 21st, and to publicly thank him for all the support and love he has given me over the years. It is great that he lives in Grand Forks and we can visit regularly, for he does remind me of my early days when hunting, farming and building buildings were the main- stay of life. He also mirrors my family upbringing for me and reflects the belief systems that were instilled in us as children.

Connecting my past with my present helps me to release stuck energy from my body as I continue to change and heal. During last month’s Rolfing session, Gary continued to work at loosening up my pelvis. As he pushed deep into the ligaments that control the rotation of my feet, they felt freer and moved without too much friction. Then he found points inside my mouth and in my neck that felt like knots of frustration stored from long ago. When he pushed on my tongue, I could it feel it pull deep from inside my pelvis. Then he moved to the front of the chest where he found one very sensitive rib just below my clavicle. As he pushed, I felt like it was on fire and it continued to burn for more than a week. I gave it attention as often as possible by rubbing it till the intensity lessened. I also made note that the corresponding point in the back moved as I pushed on the front rib: it seemed to be loosening up something in my spine where the nerves exit into the digestive organs.

During the summer I work week-ends at the Summerland Arena, as a Zamboni driver. Before each flooding, I fill up the machine with water. As I leaned against the tank waiting for it to fill, my fingers absent-mindedly started to rub on the tender spot on my chest. As I did, an old memory flashed into my mind as if it happened yesterday…I am eleven or twelve years old and we are in California on holidays … me, my Mom, my aunts and several friends are going shopping. I am skipping ahead, leading the way, for I know we have to cross the street. The women are busy chatting about ten or fifteen feet behind me and I stop at the crosswalk wishing they would hurry and catch up, as the light turns amber and then green. I put my foot forward to step into the street. And then I hear my mother’s voice… calling my name in a tone that meant danger. As I listened to the voice in my head from long ago, it sent cold shivers up and down my spine for several minutes. I remembered how abruptly I stopped and pulled my foot back onto the curb as a red convertible whizzed past my stomach. The fear that rose in my belly was instantaneous and I thought to myself… “Some holiday Mom would have had if I had been hit,” for somehow I knew that I would have been killed instantly. The adults caught up to me and as we crossed the street together, my aunt explained … “This is California. The people here drive fast and run yellow lights, so pedestrians have to be very careful before they cross.” Mom didn’t say anything as we continued towards the store and more shopping but I felt her fear and wanted to apologize for scaring her, but the moment didn’t allow it.

As I leaned back, listening to the water fill the tank, a daze came over me, tears came to my eyes as the stress released and the memory surfaced. I decided to continue on and reenact the drama, for I have learned that unspoken emotions get stored in the body and the best way to release them is to say them out loud. So I imagined my Mom and me talking after the incident, telling each other how we felt. I told her how scared I was and how bad I would have felt if I had ruined her holiday by getting killed. These are things that were never said because I knew they would have freaked her out. The thought of me dying still bothers her, so we seldom discuss it. As I kept rubbing the tender spot the pain faded and so did the tears but I wanted to share the experience with you for it helped me to understand yet another connection.

During that visit, my California cousins also showed me how to walk with class, toes pointed outwards, so I didn’t look a dumb country kid. I also attended an adult party where the rage of the day was dancing to Great Balls of Fire and chatting about one’s latest Rolfing session. I couldn’t help but overhear the many different opinions, for some people thought Rolfing was painful and others didn’t feel a thing. I also remember being amazed at the neon lights of the fast food drive-ins that stayed open way past dinner time and the creek bed of the Los Angeles River, which was paved twenty feet deep although it had less than twelve inches of water in it. Also, everyone drank from blue glass water bottles that were turned upside down in the hallways of all the office buildings.

Thirty years later I am living beside a creek that is paved, I drink bottled water, and I am enjoying getting Rolfed… Yes, it can be painful, but I feel it is worth it, for I know without a doubt that if I didn’t get help straightening up my body, I would be a hunched-over Grandma someday for whenever I see a hunched over lady on the street I stare at her, sending my love and hoping never to look like that.

I have learned that the shape of the body and the way we hold ourselves reflect stored memories, years and layers ☛
of unspoken feelings… It doesn’t seem to matter if they are happy or sad, painful or joyful. If emotions are not spoken, recognized and released, we store them till we are ready to deal with them.

As my rib released, a band of tension in my opposite shoulder relaxed, and over the next few weeks my hip slowly shifted, causing me intense moments of discomfort as the muscles stretched or contracted. My shoulders are straightening and levelling as I become more aware of how each muscle is interconnected with every other muscle. I have learned to walk again with my toes pointing forward. Margaret, my yoga teacher, points out that “Our feet are like wheels: they need to point in the direction we are going.”

We truly have amazing bodies, and it is great that I am given the opportunity to connect with mine, for pain is such a good teacher. Getting used to really being in my body and feeling the shifts as they happen is delightful. I am grateful to be in a position to have so much assistance and thankful it happens, so that I can have something to write about. Totally trusting that the universe is abundant and will always give me exactly what I need is fairly easy for me. On those off days when I forget, Jan or Urmi will say something that reminds me that life is but an illusion and a journey, and we are here to enjoy it.

Summertime (Sep 1996)

Summer, a wonderful time of the year with many warm memories. My family photograph on the front cover reminds me what it is like to be a child enjoying nature. In the inner tube are my brothers David and Phillip, three and four years old, and myself, one and a half years old. This summer, I took time off and visited family. I also travelled to Alberta to see what is happening there, did a nutritional workshop with Paul Pitchford in Kaslo and enjoyed a wild water raft trip down the Thompson River near Lytton with my three sons. The weather cooperated, and laughter was shared by all. The best part was screaming as the rafts lurched over the rapids or whenever a water fight happened. Screaming is an excellent way to release frustration and fear so that it doesn’t get stuck in the muscles and connective tissue.

With all the work I am doing on myself it feels like I am re-learning to breath, walk, play and eat all over again.That seems fitting since my resolution for the year was to practice being five years old. I am also having fun screaming, for that is what kids do so well. When I feel fear rising in my belly, I notice that my breathing becomes shallow as the panic sets in. So now when someone cuts me off in traffic or almost hits me, I breathe deep and let out a yell. If I get into a situation that I would rather not deal with and feel the fear shutting down my energy circuits, I have a little talk with myself, so that it understands the fear, and then I breathe deeply and deal with the situation. The fear usually fades and is replaced with a deep sense of satisfaction as a truer sense of power emerges. Each time it gets a little easier, as I get a little more confident at expressing my true feelings and intentions.

A good way to deal with frozen fear from long ago is doing active meditation with Urmi Sheldon, the shaking and chaotic breathing followed by screaming for fifteen minutes helps to get little bits of the old stuck energy moving on a regular basis. After years of practicing silent meditations I am enjoying this new way to clear the mind of its endless chatter. The dance portion of the meditation is physically challenging and the aerobic exercise is a good way to start the day.

When Gary Schneider, the Rolfer from Kamloops, worked deep in my sacrum this month, the muscles and joints moved much easier; it felt like he was kneading taffy instead of peanut brittle. My screams seemed to come from an emotional level of frustration and not so much from physical pain. As he finished, my body jerked involuntarily for a minute or so and then a deep sense of peace came over me that stayed for several days.

With all this shifting of body parts, I hear a lot of popping in all of my joints, mostly up and down my spine, in my shoulders, ribs, ankles and wrists. As the sacrum moves into place, I remind myself to flatten my back and breathe. I notice my shoulders widen as they roll backwards expanding my chest and allowing me to breathe deeper than I have ever been able to.

I believe the yogis when they say, “The amount of breath you have is in direct proportion to the amount of life essence the soul has.” Years ago I thought I was breathing in fully, for I swam, danced and hiked regularly. I didn’t realize that I was only breathing into part of my lungs. The rest of the space was taken up by unexpressed emotions of sadness, grief or anger.

The changes that are happening to my body structure are my incentive to keep making time to have bodywork done. Most days I have the energy of a five-year-old and the flexibility to go with it. Stretching deep into the yoga poses is a guide to how much I have already let go of, for I can almost put my nose to my knees. My strength has increased as I can now do a handstand for at least a minute, and I love sitting in the lotus or any other pose that is on the floor.

My having the intention to heal myself gives the universe permission to manifest events and people so that it can happen. Watching children and practising thinking like one encourages me to be spontaneous and to trust that what needs to happen will, including forgetting my swim suit this summer, which gave me the excuse to buy a glow-in-the-water two-piece with a little ruffled skirt. As my hair grows longer it allows me to wear it in a pony tail, and going barefoot all summer keeps me acting young. But still I am an adult, so intellectually I do my homework and then I check in with my Inner Child to see what her needs are. I have always felt connected to my Inner Voice and pay close attention to the guidance it offers. With time, I have learned to tell the subtle difference between my mind, my inner child and my higher self when they speak. Lately I have been getting used to the even quieter voices of the garden devas as they guide me in stewarding the property that Jan and I purchased to create the Holistic Healing Centre.

Reparenting myself as a five-year-old is a full time job. Some days it feels like I take three steps forward and move backwards two, but slowly I am understanding why I am the way I am, so I am pleased. It also helps me appreciate the values, time and love it took for my parents to raise my brothers and me.

I have learnt that my body never lies and that it is a true reflection of my inner state of awareness. If I have pain, stiffness or weakness, it means there is a blockage of energy in that area of the body. My posture is very intertwined with the digestion and absorption of food and nurturing myself. When my shoulders round and my chest caves in, the flow of energy short-circuits and the organs start the slow process towards shut-down. Reading books about digestion and how the body gets and uses energy is helping me to understand how complicated it is to rebuild a weakened system. It is taking time, patience and determination to change my lifestyle, diet and posture. Each day I give thanks that my energy is increasing as I let go of my old ways of doing things and figure out new ways of being.

A recent tape I listened to reminded me that “If you love something, you spend time with it.” Since I know that I love myself, I am going to do just that. I repeat that quote to myself when I feel an old emotional pattern is repeating itself which is not in my best interests… like eating too fast. Slowing down when I eat is a reflection of nurturing myself in the present moment. Taking time off is getting easier as I go beyond my belief systems and watch as things still get done.

As my body changes, fears around not having enough food have been surfacing … especially the sugar foods. From reading books I have come to understand that part of it is due to all the bitters I have been ingesting as I cleanse my colon, part of it is due to lack of protein and partly because… as the colon cleanses it releases memories associated with the old patterns of eating. The other day I saw cookies in a cookie jar and immediately I wanted to steal one or two. I did, and they tasted so much better than the ones that my friend gave me when I told her my story. I have started to linger in front of the glass show cases that show off the desserts in bake shops. Resisting the temptation to buy store-bought cookies, I bought a pint of Hagan Daaz ice cream and ate it all in one sitting. It tasted so good, but I paid dearly for going against my common sense. I slept very poorly for the next two nights, which is what happens to me when I weaken my stomach energy with too much cold and/or sweet foods. I also love fresh tree-ripened fruits and berries and eating a whole basketful gives me a sense of satisfaction that summer is really here. But they also give me diarrhea if I over-eat, so I am learning to feel satisfied with eating less. Figuring out my cravings intellectually is pretty basic, but getting into the feeling portion of it and understanding the core issue is taking time, patience and a more creative effort.

Reparenting myself is taking on a whole new dimension when it comes to issues around food. Many people comment to me about my courage to share my experiences of healing myself each month. I explain to them that, it doesn’t take guts, it just takes time… getting clear what the lesson was for me and putting it into words.

Twenty years ago after spending several hundred hours making a quilt, I realized that I had miscalculated and had four huge gaping holes. With no fabric left over to fix my mistake so that it wasn’t noticeable, I decided to get creative and appliqué big red hearts over the holes. When I showed off my quilt to people, they commented on the beautiful hearts and not the rest of the quilt. That incident taught me that it was okay to make a mistake. In fact, most people didn’t even notice the mistake unless I told them.

Sometimes when I make a mistake it brings up feelings in my stomach but I remember to breathe deeply and then I get creative at fixing things up. Lesson number two in Rules for being a Human Being is “There are no mistakes, only lessons.” I intend to learn mine well and have fun at the same time, so thanks for encouraging me to share my experiences.

The Gift of Nature (Jul 1996)

Summer … a late one this year with lots of flooding, which happens every so often. On the front cover is a photograph of a similar time many years ago when the Beaver River washed out several bridges. My brothers and I (the one with the pony tail) thought it was great fun loading ourselves into the trailer that was being pulled by our farm tractor so that we could go to school. Crossing the river from the other direction were our neighbours Vicki and Mel, who were using the Cat to move some of the gravel and let the creek get centred once again. They lived on the riverbank and had their home washed away.

As I sat by Penticton Creek last week, watching it rush by, I connected to my thoughts about water and how it represents emotions symbolically. Tears that were never cried… Emotions rising to the surface… Have I dealt with mine? I have figured out that pain is a good indicator of buried emotions, so I took some time to tune into my body and some more pieces of my puzzle came together. I am grateful that the pain below my ears has lessened, that I can now type without my shoulders burning up and that I can press into my belly without feeling like I am going to burst. With the help of acupuncture, herbs and rest, my body is renewing itself and my energy is increasing. I almost burned out several years ago, so a much needed lesson for me has been to slow down. For as Paul Pitchford says in his book Healing with Whole Foods, “If awareness is neglected, an emotional cripple can find a way to pervert even a sound diet so that it supports his or her current disturbances.” I know it is important to balance emotional work with nutritional education: each gives me energy, so that I may grow stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually. Letting go of fear and breathing through the pain starts with being honest with myself.

During my last four Rolfing sessions, Gary has been loosening my sacrum and pelvic area. When he pushed deep into my hip near my ileocecal valve my hands flew to my neck, for it felt like he was ripping the skin from my throat. He said, “Connective tissue.” I breathed and breathed but the pain was intense, and I was grateful when he backed off just a touch. During the week following the Rolf, I was very aware of my walking pattern and my sway back. As I flattened it I could feel my shoulders roll back, but I had to concentrate to keep breathing. As I did, a song from the seventies came into my mind, called the Wedding Bell Blues. I trust my inner voice and appreciate my insights for I know they are there to help me heal, so I realized that perhaps this song was a clue pointing to the next doorway that could help me go further into process and release some more unfinished emotional dramas.

As I practised walking and being aware of my straighter lower back, I started humming the words … “Won’t you Marry me Bill, I always will…. etc,” went the song, and that got me into my feelings, but I was busy so I told myself that I would spend time with them in the morning. Sure enough, when I awoke and checked into my body those weird feelings were still in my stomach, so I asked it, “What would you like to say to me?” I started humming the Wedding Bell Blues song again. Was my body trying to remind me of something that happened to me? I decided to play along and relived being seventeen years old, asking Mom if I could get married. The emotions surfaced as if it were yesterday.

I remembered how scared I felt when my period hadn’t come and how much I didn’t want to go to a doctor for ‘the Test,’ at the same time knowing deep down that I had to have an answer. I remembered the strangeness of his phone call ‘congratulating’ me on my pregnancy as my stomach quivered. I remembered my weak knees as I walked across the street to meet Rae at the coffee shop to tell him the news. He was delighted and I was relieved that he wanted to be a Dad. Somehow in my teenage wisdom, I knew I had to do the right thing for this child of ours. No abortion and no adoption.

My Mom refused to support my decision to marry Rae. Instead of understanding me she gave me the cold shoulder, which was her way of dealing with pain. As she dictated her rules of conduct to me, I spaced out, for I knew what I needed to do. My mind was already made up and so was hers. She wanted me to finish high school and go to college and she wasn’t about to help me ruin my life. There was no middle ground for either of us to talk. I can still remember how white her face became as she left the room, probably as weak-kneed as I felt. She had taught me to be strong and to trust my decision-making abilities but she couldn’t let go and trust me, when it came this close to home.

What I have been learning lately is to process, to relive emotions so as to feel and express them so that they can be let go. So I asked my seventeen-year-old self, “What is it that I want from Mom?” Tears came and screams of old grief released themselves as I asked for her emotional support. I wanted my Mom to come to my wedding. I wanted her love and her guidance. I wanted her to be happy for me. But instead of feeling all this at the time, I got real busy making plans to leave home so that I didn’t have to experience my heart break. My attitude became, ” It’s your loss, not mine.” Looking back, I can see the gift she gave me. She taught me to be strong and stand on my own two feet, for I learned to make decisions and follow through, without having her support.

My body has always been a good talker, or maybe I am a good listener, for as Jan puts it, “At least you didn’t have to lie on the floor for two years recuperating from back surgery like I did to get the message.” I knew the pain in my shoulders and the gas in my stomach had some deeper meaning for me but the only information I could find at the time had to do with nutrition and proper food combining, etc. I tried the nutrition route for twenty years, getting more and more sensitive as the pain increased. But I was determined to heal my imbalances without drugs or surgery, for deep down inside, I knew they weren’t the answer. Rolfing helped me immediately, and I started reading books about structural integration and discovered how emotions that aren’t expressed get stuffed… usually somewhere in the connective tissue. Pain is a message that an energy meridian is blocked and running low on fuel. I am learning to be in my body and feel my feelings, which is different from being in my head and thinking about them. The Rolfing sessions are intense but certainly no more painful than giving birth and I feel lighter afterwards. I have also learned that repressing emotions, like anger, also supresses others, like joy. Feelings are feelings and they all need to be acknowledged. There is no good or bad, no right or wrong.

I find that getting a massage is a good way for me to get in touch with my body and feel where I store my pain. At the same time it helps me to relax. Afterwards I keep rubbing the sore spots and stretching the ligaments and muscles. Yoga helps me work through the stiffness and meditation reconnects me to the Creator.

Expressing my feelings honestly helps me to stay in my body and is very empowering. To clarify an emotional reaction, I take a few moments to locate where the feeling is: my stomach, my solar plexus or my heart. Then I ask myself, “What is it that I want or don’t want … something that would make this feeling go away?” Usually I have a reaction if I am not asking for what I want. Once I figure that out, I ask myself if I have felt this feeling before. I can usually remember a time when I did ask and got hurt, rejected, ridiculed or ignored. I stay with my feelings, going into the pain by remembering the details. Sometimes I imagine the person in front of me as I speak my truth … from my heart, feeling the energy as it releases. Reliving the past helps me to let go of my attachment to getting what I wanted, which was usually to feel special and loved. As the energy releases from my body, I become a little more aware of my programming and why I am the way I am. Then I take the time to get clear on how I can create change in my life and start reprogramming myself.

From Ida Rolf ‘s book entitled Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structure, I have learned that the key to well-being is aligning the pelvis to the gravitational field of the earth. As my sacrum shifts into alignment, I feel more connected to the earth, and I no longer need to collapse into myself to protect my heart. As my body straightens, the meridians open and my throat muscles loosen, allowing me to be more honest and speak my truth, which allows my body to straighten and lets my shoulders release. At some point the circle will be complete. Till then I feel like I am in a spiral. Each month takes me deeper into my core as I expand further outward.

Learning to speak my truth in the moment and trusting that I can do it without attachment helps me to love myself and feel connected to my angels and nature. Speaking my truth is taking on a whole new dimension as I become aware of words that people use to communicate with. It is getting easier for me to see the repeated patterns of childhood experiences. Events and people are mirrors for me, so that I may see the reflection. I help them heal themselves and in so doing I heal myself and the planet. I appreciate my intelligence and wish to balance the mind with expressing my emotions. As my heart opens and expands, I am given energy and insight to do what it is I came here to do… to help create community for holistic minded individuals.

Happy Father’s Day (Jun 1996)

On the cover is a photo of my Dad preparing to leave on a fishing trip as brothers Michael and Billy look at him longingly. Family fishing trips happened on sunny days when the lake was calm and it didn’t really matter if we caught anything. With seven kids in a canoe, fish knew we were trying to catch them. My father was a good provider and we always had lots to eat. When Dad or Grandad left without us, we knew they were serious about bringing home some food. Dad enjoyed the wildness of the country and once in a while he took time off to hike in the hills and show their grandeur to our relatives or guests.

I remember one special weekend when the whole family was going to hike Mount Goaty… a two or three day adventure, that excited all of us. Our guests arrived and the jeep was packed, for it was quicker to drive to the timberline and hike up from there. At the last minute there was a change in plans: someone said I was too slow and that I should stay home and help Grandad look after the animals. Reluctantly I agreed. They were right, I would slow them down. To hide my disappointment I decided that being physical was boy’s stuff, so why try?

It has taken me many years of doing yoga to build up my strength and stamina and recently I felt ready to give aerobic exercises another try. Jogging gives me a side ache, so I thought I would try the dynamic meditation with Urmi. It was very physical and the heavy breathing bothered the back of my throat, but I kept visualizing the mountain I never climbed and kept moving my arms and legs. It was great fun and helped me move some more emotions up to the surface.

That was good because I had just finished doing the Naka Ima weekend with Deborah Riverbend and that brought up a few more emotions around my father. She helped me to see a little more clearly why I am the way I am. My need for his love and approval still drives me but I did say ‘No’ to authority-like figures several times over the weekend and that felt good. I got a chance to feel my attachment to needing to be a good girl. Being honest about what I am feeling and thinking is getting easier, for I, like many, was not raised knowing it was okay to express anger or frustration.

I remember when I was nine or ten correcting some detail of a story my Dad was telling a friend. Suddenly the backside of his hand whomped me across the face as he said, “Don’t ever contradict me again.” I remember thinking to myself, “The next time he tries that, I’m going to bite him.” He never did it again and the incident was forgotten, or so I thought. During the Naka Ima weekend, I was asked why I do what I do. My reply was, “I am seeking approval and needing love,” for I have read enough books to know that is the core issue for all human beings, including me. As Deborah questioned me further, the tears came and this incident with my Dad came to mind. Releasing emotion around an old memory frees up the energy that has been holding the emotion in place. Musing about it helps me to grow lighter and lighter.

Jan keeps her humour about me being an angel, including putting up the sign above my office that says Angels at Play. I had a dream recently that Jan and I had leapt out of the belly of a plane. As we fall towards the ground, we take turns reading out loud the instruction manual that appears to be a children’s picture book. We are trying to figure out how to fly before we hit the ground. This seems like a perfect metaphor for what we are going through here at the Centre. So much has happened since I wrote the last column that it seems like several months.

Easter Monday my body decided it was time to flush out the winter toxins so I threw out my lunch thinking I would eat later. The cleanse ended up lasting two weeks. My body was serious and it wanted a rest from the continuous onslaught of food, so I obliged by drinking water and tea for six days. Talking with nutripath, Cecile Begin I decided to continue with a de-worming program and colonics. During my third colonic I was rewarded when gobs of mucus, a ten-inch round worm and three smaller ones got washed out of me. The cleansing program worked well but left me a little tired as we got the May ISSUES ready for print and finalized the last minute details of the Spring Festival of Awareness. The event itself was magical and everything flowed smoothly. I feel very grateful to be living and working in such a supportive environment.

Afterwards, I got rolfed. Gary Schneider is determined to unlock my sacrum and free my hip joints. Emotions keep surfacing and I feel very unstable as my pelvis keeps shifting. I am rewarded with back bends that are deeper and easier but I do feel strange. I will continue for I know it is important to have flexibility with strength and endurance.

Life is full of paradoxs and I am delighted that I am aware of them. I would like to say thanks to my three sons, Dale, Keith and Gordon, who all phoned me today to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day as I write about my father. Many years ago, when I asked them if it was okay with them if I went public with my holistic/metaphysical viewpoint, their reply was, “Everybody already knows you are nuts, so go ahead.” Sometimes I wonder how all this effects them… never knowing what I’ll be up to next, or if the changes in me will affect my relationship with them. I send hugs and kisses to my boys.

Great news… Jan and I recently purchased the office building beside the Holistic Healing Centre. I feel guided in my vision to create a holistic community that can sustain people wishing to make a living doing healing work and I feel the need for a holistic school each time I am asked, “Where do I have to go to get training?” The first thing that needs to happen is to pay off the $100,000 mortgage on the Holistic Healing Centre, so over the next two years, I intend to get good at fund raising. Then I hope to arrange for a low-interest loan and tear down and re-build the Holistic Centre. The new centre will include a Yoga / Tai Chi / Meditation Studio, a Vegetarian Restaurant with evening talks, cooking classes and video nights, a Book & Gift Store, plus the reception area on the main floor. The second floor would have practitioners’ offices, office space including ISSUES, and an apartment for me that overlooks the creek. The third floor will be used for a school. ☛

My intention is to create a facility that is owned collectively and run as a not-for-profit business. Or, if enough money is given to me, I will set the centre up as trust once it is operational. I am asking for support and cash to make this happen. I am so greatful to be allowed to manifest my vision, by being in the moment, that I know I will be guided as to what is best for all concerned.

If you would like to co-create with Jan, Marcel, Mike, Urmi and me, please write, phone or drop by. If you have cash and would like to see it put to good use, please let me know. To start off the fund-raising, Joyce Egolf has donated a magical wand made of rose quartz and crystals. For a donation of $10, we will enter your name in a draw to take place in September at our Healing Fair. This will give each of you the opportunity to show your support. If you have other ideas please share them with us.

Happy Mother’s Day (May 1996)

Mother’s Day is a timeless tradition so I chose a photograph of my mother for the front cover, taken some sixty years ago in Hudson Bay Junction, Saskatchewan. My mom and her brother, Jerry are posing for my great aunt, a professional photographer. I am grateful to have a supportive and unique Mom, who was way ahead of her time. Her love, guidance and impatience have taught me a lot about getting along in life. Her many photographs of our family help me to focus and remember why I am the way I am.

Processing deeply each month helps me to see more clearly the patterns of my own childhood. Unexpressed or unfinished emotional dramas repeat themselves in my dealings with work, play, food, friends, business partners and even strangers. People and events are mirrors for me, reflecting back so that I may see the many different parts of myself and heal them. Sometimes I would rather not be faced with the reality, especially if it is negative, but once I get past my comfort zone, I discover amazing connections that I hadn’t thought about before. I know I am guided unconsciously into situations or events that help me to see more clearly the bigger overall picture. For example….

My mother always had interesting friends because as she put it “I don’t like boring people.” That must have made an impression on me, though I didn’t realize it at the time. As I look at my friends today, I see the reflection, for we seldom talk of mundane topics.

My mom was always busy, she never worked a normal job, and she seldom worked just for the money. Her mother was the same, putting all her energy into horses and politics. Grandma Kost was the only white woman living in the Arctic in the 1930’s, and her will power, vision and determination brought many changes to her surroundings. The women in my family have all spent time educating people in non-traditional ways and supporting grass roots dedicated towards greater awareness of self and health. My brothers, like their dad and granddad, all became roofers and carpenters.

My mother can create and spend money faster than anybody I know. She has a slightly different style than me, based on her programming. Watching her as a teenager taught me that anything is possible. She still amazes me with her creative thinking and colourful ideas that make an impression on people. She taught me to believe in the abundance of the universe and that it would support me as long as I am doing what I love.

My mother is totally her own person; I give her bouquets of orchids and blessings for not getting trapped into the system and showing me by example that this is possible. My mother is not without flaws and when I point them out in my Musings, it is with love, for a whole generation of people were raised with beliefs that we now need to let go of. I learn more easily when information is taught to me by example. I love listening to or reading stories of people who have changed themselves and made the world a better place for all of us to live in.

I believe we choose our parents for many reasons. My journey is to balance the practical, hard-working aspects of my father’s personality with the fun-loving, creative and emotional aspects of my mother’s personality. I believe Barbara De Angelis when she says, “Your unconscious mind seeks to complete its unfinished emotional business from childhood by getting you to ‘choose’ people who will help you to recreate your childhood dramas, as if you were reincarnating mom or dad in someone else.” Our emotions get triggered by our relationships, and our definition of love, so that we may look at the past and heal it. It just may not feel like it at the time. I know my Mom and Dad loved each other when they got married, so why did they argue so much? Barbara says, that happens once a level of trust is great enough that we let down our defenses and trust once again. Children trust everybody till they are hurt, and if the hurt is deep enough or repeated often, they develop defensive patterns to protect themselves from being hurt again. Relationships bring up the old emotional hurts and as adults we get confused, thinking it is our partner’s fault, when all that person did was trigger an emotional flashback so that we could work through it and heal. We would not have reacted if those feelings weren’t buried deep inside of us.

Joel and Gary have done great work with me in the past month helping me to reconnect my emotional and physical bodies. I know both my parents loved me, especially if I did what they wanted. But I wasn’t always loved in the way I wanted to be. Usually I got my father’s love and attention when I was hurt. At age five, I remember being thrown off our mule. My Dad saw it happen and came running over to see if I was okay. It was one of the few times I felt his love and concern for me. While I was having one of my Nesshi sessions with Joel Whitehead, DCTM, his two-year-old daughter was crying so Vicki, his wife, brought her to the window to assure her that daddy was still around and hadn’t left without saying good-bye. Her tears were acknowledged and with a big hug she scampered off to play. As a child I needed to be picked up, held, and praised for being good, but it seemed like I only got attention when I was hurt or had bitten my brothers. After that session, I parked beside the lake and screamed out my anger and frustration; then the tears came, followed by sadness and grief, and finally an understanding and a deeper love for my Dad as I let go of some very old baggage.

After my last rolf session, done at the Holistic Centre, I went outside to cry as I could feel tears welling up from old grief. I wanted to be alone to process my thoughts as they came up. Just feeling my feelings brought up delightful tears of joy. After a long while, Jan and Mike got concerned for me and offered me Reiki. I didn’t know what I wanted, and I knew they were concerned, so I said yes. Half an hour later as I lay on the table, I started fidgeting and getting frustrated. The session was not relaxing and it puzzled me, so I tried getting some work done but I was too tired to do much of anything. That night as I lay awake with a scratchy throat, I asked myself, “What is it that I can’t say, what do I really want?” I knew it was stuck emotional energy for it felt heavy. I thought about the day and realized that I had wanted to be left alone to process and cry, I just couldn’t say “no” to my friends.

That night a few more pieces of the puzzle came together as I remembered a time when I said “no” to my Dad and got whipped with a willow. That incident and a few others taught me that love means doing or giving and seldom taking or asking for what I really want. So I married a man who helped me repeat my emotional programming. It was very difficult for me to say “no” to his needs and I didn’t understand why. When I got frustrated and angry, we would have power struggles. I remembered how I hated it when my parents argued and with a great deal of will power, I changed. I buried my feeling even deeper and lost touch with my stomach. My liver stored my anger and I became very good at rationalizing my frustration. Soon I lost my joy for being in the relationship, so I busied myself in my work: for I had three boys to raise and I wanted them to have a Dad. Rae was wonderful with the boys and that gave me great pleasure. Rae taught me much, once I let go of my need to control. With time I learned to appreciate his strengths and developed some of these characteristics in myself. One of my affirmations that helped me to change was, “He is my teacher and I intend to learn my lessons well.”

Unless both people are committed to making changes, relationships can’t grow. In the past our parents suffered in silence, wondering where the joy and intimacy went. Today the times are a-changing, and so are our relationships. We no longer have to stay together just to survive.

At the age of forty-four I am starting to realize that I have repeated many times the same patterns of love that my parents taught me so many years ago. It is getting easier to say “no,” but doing so still brings up feelings of anxiety in my stomach. I have learned to ask for support and I am getting better at asking for what I want. I now realize I can choose to be busy but that I don’t have to be busy to be loved! Taking time for myself is still difficult because I love what I do, and I love to cram as much into one day as possible.

Stifling my emotions as a child was a survival technique that is no longer serving me. Opening up my heart and learning to feel my feelings is wonderful. I am enjoying the experience of understanding the past and the complex connections of my mind, body and spirit. Bringing that knowledge into my working relationships with my business partners is going to help me grow younger and younger, as I come to understand and let go of my unconscious programming … and that my friends… is going to allow me to be all that I came here to be!

PS. There are many great books, audio tapes and videos available if you are ready to embrace being more of who you are. Right now I am reading The Joy of Feeling, Bodymind Acupressure by Iona Marsaa Teeguarden and listening to audio tapes of Barbara De Angelis called Making Love Work.

Supertime Cookout (Apr 1996)

Dad is taking this front cover picture as Mom is busy feeding baby Donny. In the background are Granddad and Chuck with the rest of us kids circling the table. I am the one with my hand in front of my face, too busy eating to look at the camera.

Food is such a vital part of life! For me it has been a life-long puzzle and I have explored many options, trying to help my stomach to stop producing gas. I have read and experienced many diets, tried various cleanses and ways of eating and followed the guidelines of many experts. I have treated myself to the best quality food money could buy, but found that if it was eaten in a hurry, I didn’t digest it. Sometimes food tasted so good I couldn’t stop eating. Sometimes I couldn’t tell when I was full. For a while I ate according to the clock because I didn’t know when I was hungry. Gas has a way of taking up room so it felt like I was full, but in fact I was starving. I was so sure that my digestive upsets were a physical problem that it took me a long time to realize that maybe my emotions were affecting my digestion. When feelings arose in my body, I didn’t know what they meant so I ignored them. They were so subtle that I didn’t think they were talking to me. Delving into my feelings around food is helping me to get in touch with my inner self. I need to learn to trust my instincts or intuition around food, for I trust them with just about everything else.

When I was a child, food and love seemed to be intertwined. Desserts especially had a way of saying, “I Love You.” I had to eat everything on my plate because like everyone else, I heard from my parents about the children starving somewhere else. If I didn’t like the meal, I had to gag it down or starve in my room till the next meal. If I was too full to clean my plate, I certainly didn’t have room for dessert, so sometimes I overate. Exploring now, the possibility of food as a love substitute is helping me to change and grow in new ways, even though it has taken me twenty years of checking out all the physical possibilities before realizing that there might be an emotional connection.

According to the Oriental method of healing, the stomach, spleen and pancreas govern bodymind nourishment. Our lives depend on a continual supply of nourishment from outside ourselves. Digestion begins the process of transformation, turning nourishment into energy. It also influences the ‘digestion’ of information, sensation, feelings and emotions, as well as food. The stomach is easily affected by stress and not surprisingly correlates to tension in the shoulders and neck, a major stress point for me.

I have read much on the stomach and have now come to believe that my problem may be due to a combination of many things, including the emotional stuffing and a poor diet. Much of my diet as a child consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk products and lots of meat and potatoes. We ate very few sweets because there was no store close by, and for that I am thankful. When I consulted with Joel Whitehead, DTCM (Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine) he was able to show me that my stomach is prolapsed, and hanging two to three inches lower than it should be. This puts pressure on my intestines and other organs. The stretching and extra distance might be causing the delayed reaction as to whether I am feeling full or hungry. I wonder if this delayed reaction is a mirror for me, for I have noticed the same delayed response to people and events in my life when they upset me?

Between getting rolfed by Gary and Simon and having Neeshi sessions with Joel, which are intense to say the least, I booked a session of Jin Shin Do with Josey Slater because I knew I would need something a little more nurturing. Moments after she began holding points around my belly button, called the wind gates, I felt tears welling up from within. As I let them flow, I remembered a time when I confronted my Dad. Somehow, when I was a child, I knew he was about to kill some of our newborn kittens, so I pleaded with him to let them live. It did no good, and the next day they were gone. My Dad told me he had drowned them and they didn’t feel a thing, but later I discovered their remains in the woods, and I was very upset. My crying didn’t bother Dad, and Mom was not going to get involved, so I had to deal with my feelings in the only way I knew how and that was to stuff them. Sure, my Dad explained that the kittens weren’t pure bred Siamese, so they couldn’t be sold for money and would cause problems, but that lesson and a few others taught me that my feelings had no place in the everyday functioning of family life. Because my expressed sadness or grief over the killing of an animal was not taken seriously as a child, I developed a belief system that said, “Emotions are a waste of energy.” As I sobbed out this memory to Josey, she said “The spirit of those kittens still lives within you.” At that point, my stomach made a noise that sounded like a meow and we both roared with laughter.

When my Dad died in 1976 I never shed a tear, for I knew that was the way he would have wanted it. I was too busy raising a family and working to fly back home for his funeral. My brothers took good care of him during the last year of his life as he slowly died of liver cancer. My Dad was a very practical man and he didn’t spend money on useless things. I vaguely remember the argument Mom and Dad had when she took off to Oregon to attend her Mother’s funeral. It made no sense to him why anyone would spend money saying goodbye to a dead person, and I guess I listened.

As Josey finished balancing me, this question appeared in my mind. “What is the opposite of a practical, functional family, using a positive word?” She said, “A nurturing, emotional family.” I yawned and breathed deeply, releasing some very stale air from deep within my lungs, for I knew I had solved another small part of my puzzle. After I got off the table I could feel my intestines move sharply and I said to my partner Jan, and Josey, “It feels like a kink in my colon just undid itself.” That evening when I fell asleep, I felt so peaceful and loved.

I am starting to understand why I opened the Healing Centre. I need the nurturing it provides and I give thanks daily for Jan, Marcel and Michael, plus the many other honest and expressive souls that bare themselves with me as we learn together the new ways of being honest about our needs.

Writing this column helps me to put into words what I am feeling and to sort out how my feelings have affected me. Being a little less practical and a little more emotional will be good for the five-year-old in me and I intend to practice trusting my body’s sensations and figuring out what they mean. Information from books and the experts is wonderful, but it needs to be balanced with intuition.

I know that I have learned much from having a sensitive stomach and I am very grateful for this knowledge, for I know I chose it as my life-lesson, but it is time to heal myself.

PS. The Holistic Healing Centre in Penticton is sponsoring a Jin Shin Do workshop in May. The instructor, Bonnie Borgerson, will be at the Spring Festival if you would like to get introduced to this subtle but powerful technique to release repressed feelings. Please see ad on page 25.

Childhood Memories (Mar 1996)

The front cover is a picture of me, a four-and-a-half year old riding my trusty steed. I enjoyed visiting Grandma’s, and riding her goat was fun. I was about the right weight so Grandma allowed me to ride her, but my brothers were heavier so they had to ride the pigs, which was much harder, for they squealed as they ran and we usually ended up in the dirt. Living close to animals teaches children the basics of unconditional love.

I remember what a busy year it was for me … I kept getting throat infections so I had my tonsils taken out, I had one eye set on fire while playing with a smouldering stick and therefore had to get glasses, I lost a few teeth and started school. I can remember sitting in our station wagon, staring at the building with all the kids running around and wondering, “Is this what I want to do … leave my Mom and go inside?” Mom talked to me and I got a chance to wander around checking this place out before making my final decision. Soon I was in grade one, the teacher passed out workbooks and showed us how to fill in the pages. At the end of the assignment we were told to turn the workbooks back in without our names on them and I fretted because I realized that I had done ten or twelve pages and I should have done only two or three and wondered if they would know it was me and if I would get in trouble.

I still believed in Santa Claus and didn’t understand gift giving. Just before Christmas, Dad took us kids to the department store to buy gifts. I had traded names with a girl in my class. I remember Daddy lifting me high up so I could see the array of toys. I chose a ball and jacks game because that is what I would have wanted. I pleaded with Dad to buy me a set, but he said “No, Christmas is for giving.” But I really wanted a ball and jack set, so as soon as Dad turned his head, I shoved a set in my pocket. When we got home I was happy to go to my room and play … with my new jacks. Sometime later, Dad walked into my room, and since I was so engrossed in my new game I didn’t hear him, but I could see the fire in his eyes, and the chase was on. I ran into the bathroom and tried to hide behind the door. I ducked fast as the clothes rack that was hung low for us kids came swinging towards me, almost taking out one of my eyes. I was spanked, and sent to my room to pray that I wouldn’t go to hell for stealing. I didn’t understand what praying for forgiveness meant but I tried my best. That stimulated my interest in making deals with God but he never seemed to be really listening, so I eventually figured out that he was busy with bigger problems than bothering me.

That spring one of my uncles came to baby-sit us. I didn’t like him and pleaded with my Mom to let me go to Bonnie’s, my girlfriend across the road. “He has all of my brothers to take care of: surely he wouldn’t notice me gone,” I thought. After Mom left, I phoned Bonnie, who came over to my house and pushed the baby buggy under my bedroom window. I climbed out and into the buggy as she continued to push it to the end of the driveway. I then jumped out and waved good-bye to my uncle, so he wouldn’t worry and start a search. We then ran to her house. I learned to figure out what was best for me and if I had a good reason, I usually didn’t get punished by Mom.

That summer we had a grand time as we journeyed across the States. We visited the forty-foot statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe in Minnesota, toured the Grand Canyon, and explored some of the caves. As we continued West we got to sleep in the California redwoods. We visited Aunt Aileen for she had money and could afford to take us Disneyland, Marineland and much more. We then swung North and checked out Canada before heading back to Michigan.

The following year Mom and Dad decided to move to BC, so they bought a school bus and converted it into a home with all of our belongings. They decided they had had enough of city life and wanted to experience roughing it. We drove for most of the summer till we got to the end of the road which was near the Nass Valley and the town of Terrace. Mom bought Betsy, the cow, Granddad wanted pigs to help him root out the weeds so we could plant a garden, and of course, no place would be home without chickens. I enjoyed being responsible for feeding the chickens, especially in the spring when some of the hens sat too long on their eggs and they hatched into baby chicks. Knowing each chicken and its personality was a delight. We brought with us several Siamese cats and Beagle dogs, and I got to help Mom sell the kittens as it was usually a full-time job keeping them in the box.

On Sundays, either Granddad or Dad would make us designer pancakes. We described how we wanted the circles joined together as they poured the batter onto the hot stove top. One cold winter afternoon, Dad took some time off to play with us kids. We got down on all fours and crawled as fast as we could through Dad’s open legs as he sat on a chair. The goal was to make it through his legs without getting caught. After my third or fourth time through and having gotten squeezed everytime, I got upset and put my hands on my hips and shouted at Dad: “Don’t you know how to play with kids?… You have to let kids win once in a while or we won’t play with you.” He was speechless as his mouth dropped open and my brother made it through unsqueezed.

Kids live in the here and now … that is where joy is. When we are young, we haven’t yet learned to censor our feelings. We feel and accept whatever comes up. Parents can help us define what we are feeling and can validate our truths. Children like to be challenged and excited about life, and they won’t settle for less than one hundred percent. They get lost in whatever they are doing because time doesn’t matter. Being in the flow sparks passion, creativity and pleasure and completely captures their imagination and attention. Most five-year olds I know are honest and can easily express their feelings without fear of retribution. They are in tune with their bodies: they take naps when they are tired, they eat when they are hungry, they trust everyone and they have confidence in their own intuition. There is an innocence about what they want to know, a sense of awe when they are looking at the stars, smelling the flowers, or feeling alive in a big world. They are ☛ still in touch with the driving force of being themselves.

Taking time to relive my childhood moments helps me to understand my emotional complexity, my strengths and my weaknesses. Enlightenment has taught me to look inside myself for answers and being alive is a process of reinventing myself daily. Growing up on a farm taught me to appreciate the work needed to have food on the table and to improvise when something went wrong. I learned to persist and to take risks, the secret being that anything is possible. I understand that to bring my dreams to reality I need to put in time exploring the many options, checking out which ones work the best. A child’s job is to play, to experiment, to ask lots of questions, to have spontaneous reactions amid people and moments. Children know instinctively how to take time off and relax once they have achieved their goal so that the next inspiration can come through.

By February of each year, I get a sense of a theme that the universe gives me to be aware of. Last year, it was about being supported … one hundred percent … and feeling it deep within me. This year it is about being five years old. I know I will have fun with this one as I learn to let go of preconceived ideas and start remembering how I felt as a five-year-old. I take my orders from the universe very seriously, so I celebrated every day for the month of February. I treated myself to two Rolfing sessions, instead of one, a Polarity and a Jin Shin Do treatment, some acupuncture, a trip to Vancouver to have my blood tested (to see if there are any unwanted poisons leaching from my teeth into my bloodstream – more about that in later ISSUES) and focusing on continuing to improve my eyesight. I shall continue cleansing and rebuilding my internal organs, doing yoga for flexibility and strength, and walking, just for the joy of it. Learning to feel what my body is saying and expressing myself is getting easier all of the time. Barbara de Angelis was right when she said “New love heals old wounds.” My intention is… to have the honesty, vitality and energy of a five year old by the end of the year.

The universe has given me the perfect playground to explore the many options. As I continue to heal and grow, I’ll keep you informed of my progress. Much love to all my readers who share this journey with me.

Business Partners (Feb 1996)

This photo is of me and my two business partners… Jan Stickney and Marcel Campbell. ISSUES is seven years old and still growing. Marcel will be assisting Jan as they take over much of the work I do. I want to create a little more balance in my life and be more out there rather than in here typing and getting ready to go to print.

And I am finally ready to feel supported. The Spring Festival crew helped me get used to asking for help and getting it. Last April, as I walked around the Naramata Centre grounds, I realized that my mother was wrong. She had embedded deeply into me her belief that “If you want something done …you do it yourself. ” I had examined this thought pattern and agreed that it was time to let it go, so after the festival last year, I placed an ad in ISSUES asking for business partners. Strange feelings of fear and tension deep within my body gave way as my chest expanded and my heart opened. Realizing I no longer needed to produce Issues all by myself helped me to breathe a little easier as old tension released from deep within.

I love it when I finally understand another piece of my puzzle. I have read enough to know that if I am bothered by something, it is because it is within me … People are mirrors for me to look inside myself, otherwise I wouldn’t have even noticed such and such a trait in the person. The people who irritate me the most are the emotionally needy types. I certainly wasn’t needy, so why the irritation? This puzzled me for many years as I searched for answers.

I now believe the person that said, “All diseases start at an emotional level and the physical body is a only a reflection for us to look at our emotional bodies.” As a child my feelings of anger and frustration were ignored or I was punished if I became too vocal. I learned early in life to suppress my needs. As long as I was a good girl and helped Mom I was loved. This created tension in my body … more than I realized … as a teenager I stopped menstruating for four months when I had to take care of my brothers when my Mom was hurt.

During the past year, sometimes, after getting rolfed, I would menstruate spontaneously. If I had just finished, I would bleed for another day. If I was a week or two away, I would start the day after he finished. This puzzled me as I added it to my notes, not knowing what to make of it. The morning of my latest rolf I awoke at six am and realized I had started my period, suddenly, several days early. When Gary arrived, I said,”I guess my body knew you were coming and got ready.” The day following that session was one of the few days that I can remember that I felt no tension in my body. Still, I guess I just wasn’t ready to be healed, for the next day I managed to pop my right hip joint out of place. A recurring problem which has required many visits to the chiropractor over the past twenty years before getting rolfed.

The next five days were intense as I relived in slow motion the way my body stores pain. The nights were sleepless and my eating habits were screaming at me to be re-examined. I cried a lot, and processed feelings around the issues of needing to be strong, independent and always busy. The right side of my heart felt like it was on fire and at times felt like it was being ripped out. My stomach ached as memories came up of the time Mother got burnt when she was a camp cook in the Nass Valley and her trailer exploded.

That happened when I was fifteen years old. Grandad and I were called to the hospital where they explained to us that mother was in critical condition. If she survived the first 24 hours she might live. I was told to be good and not say anything that would upset her, for if I did, it would make her feel much worse and she probably couldn’t handle that. I walked into the room and steadied myself as I stared at this balloon with tiny slits where her eyes, nose and mouth should have been. Grandad said, “You look like a cooked goose.” Mother’s voice was faint and weak as she asked me to take good care of my three brothers. I don’t remember crying, for that was a weakness my father didn’t allow. Besides, I was already thinking of the adjustments that would be needed so that our family could survive.

Recently, my mother returned all the letters I had written to her while she was at Vancouver General Hospital. I found it most interesting to note that all my letters slanted except for my capital I’s … they stood straight up. (Slanted letters represent emotional needs.) I wrote about quitting swimming and tennis lessons, starting a part-time job, making the lunches and dinners, selling the puppies, reading the boys bedtime stories and figuring out ways to punish them when they didn’t follow instructions. I also took note that I wasn’t menstruating and didn’t again until mother returned home many months later. I reckon I was so busy being strong and without needs that I didn’t notice the tension building in my stomach. A year later, my stomach was so sensitive that I couldn’t wear panty hose or belts. I felt like I was cut in half and I didn’t know why. Indigestion was a constant problem, so I went to the doctor. He couldn’t find anything wrong with me and said I had to live with it. I did and then developed a cyst on my uterus, that grew to the size of a lemon.

I studied everything I could find on holistic health: Ayurveda, the Chinese Five Element Theory, Herbalism, Acupressure and much more trying to understand my symptoms, which seemed to improve for a short while but never for long. I have gained a wealth of knowledge … and wisdom …. searching for ways to heal myself naturally. At the time I didn’t realize that blocked emotions could cause indigestion or grow a cyst. Learning that emotions affected my body and that as an adult it is safe to display them, I investigated further this avenue of healing. I appreciate knowing about herbs, my constitution, and how each organ is related and I will continue to cleanse and strengthen my liver and gall bladder as I relive moments in my life that caused me stress.

At present I am listening to audio tapes by Barbara de Angelis, the Love Doctor, from Los Angeles. She has written several books and now has a kit with five audio tapes, two videos and a workbook for those searching to understand how love affects us. It is helping me to understand my childhood survival issues of being strong, independent and without need, and how my unfinished emotional relationships with my Mother and Father are still influencing my relationships. Love, fear, anger, sadness…all need room inside of my body. If they aren’t expressed, they create energy blocks. I am also being counselled by Dawn Schaefer, a Chinese herbalist, nutritional expert and acupuncturist who has helped me to realize that my liver energy has been depleted and the organ needs time to rest and detoxify. I spent twenty years as a lifeguard, sniffing, breathing and swimming in chlorine, which had been more than my liver could handle. Interestingly enough, the liver also stores the emotion of anger (or resentment if anger isn’t or can’t be expressed.) Why I chose lifeguarding as a career is starting to make sense in that it created the opportunity for my liver to get overloaded to the point where I knew something was wrong.

Now, as I release the tears and repressed feelings of frustration, I feel much lighter. I am learning to take more time for myself and to ask for help. The cyst on my uterus is gone, releasing much of the internal pressure, letting my hip stabilize. My stomach is starting to speak to me as the chi that was blocked deep within is released. This helps release tightness in my shoulders as the chi circulates and flows more smoothly through the meridians. I chart my progress of letting go internally to how much farther I can stretch each week in my yoga class. Developing strength and balance in the asanas (postures) add to the overall perception of who I am.

I am learning to express my needs and my strengths, so that I may have balance in my life. I am grateful to the persistence of the universe to keep showing me, from many different viewpoints, my energy pattern. As my emotional body lightens its load, my physical body can start the repair work of allowing the energy to flow as it is supposed to … providing me with more vitality and awareness of who I am.