When My Two Worlds Collide

Summer is the time I connect with family.  Some come to stay with me, while I head off to stay with others.  It’s been a crazy few weeks of checking dates and train times, bustling about, packing and unpacking, making up beds and sorting menus.

Space, Universe, Outer Space, PlanetThat’s not the hard bit, though.  The hard bit is trying to live between my two worlds.  It’s been harder than ever this year.

My accustomed world is here – full of long, rambling, enlightening conversations with like-minded souls, either in person or on my computer.  We ponder the metaphysical and wonderful, the numinous and semi-visible, the psychic and arcane.  There are conversations over coffee about sacred geometry.  There are conversations over Whatsapp about probability.  There are articles about consciousness to read and references to check and ideas to share.  Even as the mundane carries on around me, my mind rarely strays far from this world.

In the other world there are grandchildren and aunts, cousins, sons and daughters.  We go out for meals, wander the grounds of stately homes, discuss jobs and houses, share memories and plans, sightsee and chatter.

I can manage both.  I enjoy both.  I need both.  But they are mutually exclusive.  I’ve learned – the hard way – to keep them well apart; yet this year they moved too close for comfort.

I was trying to work on both levels at once with an elderly relative.

Figure, Man, Stand, Back Pain, SciaticaThis amazing lady has enjoyed excellent health and vitality for almost 90 years.  She still lives independently and works – a complex, computer-based job that requires a flexible mind and sharp intellect.  Just recently, though, she’s been in tremendous pain.  Her physiotherapist seemed unable to help.  Pills, Medicine, Medication, MedicalThe GP arranged blood tests and X-rays, shrugged and put her on 30 tablets a day (a terrifying mix of painkillers, along with all the pills to cancel out the side-effects of the others) and told her not to sit for more than 20 minutes at a time.  She’s 89!  She still had the pain.  She had to give up driving because of all the tablets and she was – understandably – at the end of her tether.

From my accustomed world, my response was to send her distant healing and to ask my friend Will (a splendid medical intuitive) what was causing the pain.  Armed with only her name and a rough geographical location, he correctly identified the affected area and told me the pain was caused by bones in her back ‘breaking down or weakening’ and that there was something wrong in the stomach or lower torso area which might or might not be linked to this.

In the other world, I arranged to go and spend some time staying with this relative, told her a friend’s mum had symptoms similar to hers and used that to share the diagnosis Will had given, and discussed not-too-wacky alternative treatments, such as acupuncture.

Acupuncture, Herbs, AlternativeIt all went well to start with.  Like me, she has a deep distrust of Western medicine’s way of papering over the cracks, so decided to cut down on the painkillers except for the ones that seemed to be helping slightly.  She made an appointment with an acupuncturist and demanded an appointment at a pain clinic.  Her results came back from the doctor.  Osteoarthritis.  All other results normal.  “Oh good,” she said, “I had been worried that it could be cancer, because I do have some digestive problems.”

Full marks to Will!

Then she looked very hard at me, with those piercing, alert eyes and said, “But what is it YOU are doing?  Ever since you arrived, I’ve felt so much better.  The pain is far less.  It’s getting better by the day.  I think you must have some sort of – magic.”

She wasn’t joking.  It wasn’t a trite remark.  She was puzzled and confused and she wanted to understand.

What was I supposed to say?  My family don’t do weird.  They don’t believe in energies, psychic phenomena, anything that can’t be seen, poked and physically examined.  I tried a bit of logical common sense:  ‘You probably feel more relaxed having someone else around the place.  Chatting with me takes your mind off the symptoms and so you’re not dwelling on them like you do when you’re alone.’
All true.  All acceptable.  But she didn’t accept it.

“Yes, maybe so,” she said impatiently, “But that’s not what I mean.  When you’re around me, I can feel something happening in my body and it’s really making a difference.  Explain that!”

 

Meditation, Spiritual, Yoga, MeditatingSo, feeling deeply uncomfortable, I explained aspects of my world to her.  I told her that, to my way of thinking, we are far more than our bodies and brains.  I told her I believed that when we get out of balance in some way – too tense or anxious or angry or lonely, for example – it can spill over into the body and cause physical symptoms.  I told her I believed that we can send healing energy to one another by using loving thoughts and clear intention, and that that was what I’d been doing in the days before I’d arrived and – in a more focused way – now that I was there.

She was very quiet for a very long time.

“And there’s more that you’re not telling me,” she finally said.  “There are other things you can do, aren’t there?”

I told her I’d probably said far more than I should.

“You know you’d have been burnt as a witch if you’d lived a couple of hundred years ago?”

I nodded and suddenly the tension was broken we both laughed.

“Well I don’t pretend to understand,” she sighed, “But please keep doing it.  It helps.”

So I do.

 

 

 

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The Gift of Dementia

Hand, Old, Age, Skuril, Elderly Woman, GrandmaIf someone had asked me, back in 2008, what gift I was being given by my mother’s encroaching dementia, I’d have been hard-pressed to give them an answer.

As anyone who has been in intimate contact with this condition will know, the hardest time is the early stage – the time when a normally functioning, intelligent human being is experiencing very specific and often debilitating gaps in memory and in the ability to cope on a day-to-day basis because of them.

It was me who grassed Mum up to the doctor.  That was certainly the way she saw it.  By telling her GP of my concerns, I unleashed a battery of humiliating tests and visiting busybodies.  She never forgave me for that.  When her condition became so bad that I had to give up work and move away from my family to become her live-in carer, she threw it in my face at least once a day.

Those were easily the hardest months of my life.  So the gift?  I was given the most incredible insight into the way minds work.  Usually, minds are sophisticated, faster than light and keep their backs, so to speak, well covered.  As Mum’s slowed, though, I was able to watch and observe – to see how a trigger experience could change and shape subsequent behaviour.

Everyday Life, Washing Dishes, Cup, GlassLet us take, for example, the story of the washing up liquid bottle.

While she was still living alone, an occupational therapist came to assess Mum in her house.  Mum found that threatening, insulting, patronising and intrusive.  She realised she was being ‘tested’ but didn’t know why.  At one point, the OT held up Mum’s bottle of washing up liquid, covered the label and asked her what it was used for.  We never knew whether or not Mum had been able to answer her correctly.

Mum retold that story many times afterwards, but in her version, the OT asked this question of the grandchildren.   That was the only way Mum could justify someone asking such a stupid question.  In her version, the grandchildren giggled, rolled their eyes and then answered correctly.  In the event, Mum had had no one to giggle with.  She had been face to face with a person who, in her own home, was checking whether she knew what washing up liquid was and she’d felt violated.

Several months later, when I was living there, she suddenly stopped using washing up liquid when she washed the dishes.  I asked her why she didn’t put some in the water.
“Well,” she said hesitantly, “I don’t know.  I just get a funny feeling about it.  I mean, they keep coming in and turning the bottle around so you can’t see the label.”

I looked and saw that the bottle was on the worktop, but the label was facing the wall.  Seeing the bottle with its label concealed had clearly triggered memories of the therapist’s visit that were sufficiently uncomfortable to make her want to stop using the product.

She could no longer remember the trigger, but the resulting emotion remained and affected her behaviour.

A visiting professional would have viewed Mum’s behaviour as illogical and a symptom of her disease.  Because I could follow the trace of events, though, I was able to recognise that she was attempting to avoid an unpleasant feeling by ignoring the existence of the obscured bottle.

How many of our behaviour patterns, I wonder, stem from a suppressed unpleasant memory?

 

More About Tuesday’s Tale

http://www.gofundme.com/c6erv4

IMG_3085As promised a few weeks back, here is an update on the story of T – the little ballet star I work with whose father has untreatable cancer.

You can find my original post here.

Firstly, I want to send a huge, massive, heartfelt THANK YOU to all the kind and caring people who donated to my original appeal for help for Tuesday and her family.  As you will see, if you go to the ‘Go Fund Me’ site, your donations have already made a massive impact and T’s Mum and Dad would like me to pass on their gratitude and wonder that people who have never met them can be so kind.

If – understandably! – you felt uncomfortable sending a donation via my PayPal account, you’ll be pleased to know that there is now a proper funding site set up.  You’ll find details, and T’s own version of her story here.

I’m very much aware that being asked for money dredges up all kinds of resistance in all of us.

I can’t speak for others, but the kind of thoughts that go through my mind are:
“Hey, I’m on a really limited income.  Is it reasonable to expect me to give some of my money to someone I don’t even know?”
or “The world is full of deserving cases.  Why should I give to this one?  How on earth do I choose?”
or “I can only afford to give £x (or even x pence) and people will think I’m really mean if I only give that much.”
When we’re made to feel uncomfortable by thoughts like that, the easiest way out is to put the whole thing aside and move on.
I’m not great at this fundraising lark, but these are people I know and care about, so I’d love to see them fulfil their dream, whatever adventures and wonders this new phase of their life will bring them.
If it helps, you can donate via Go Fund Me keeping your identity anonymous if you wish, so if you only feel comfortable giving 50 pence or 50 cents, that’s just fine.  All the money and the energy of kind, caring people will build up and help this family to move forwards.

Thanks again to everyone who has already donated, shared the link and sent healing energy to T’s family.

Tuesday’s Tale

English: Ballerina oil painting “Oh why do I have to learn this stuff?” T asks, her small face screwed up with frustration and incomprehension.

It’s Tuesday morning.  We’re working on the properties of three-dimensional shapes. “I mean, I’m going to be a ballerina!”

One of her dramatic sighs follows and I grin sympathetically.

With some kids, I’d branch off into sacred geometry at this point, but not this time.  With others I’d talk about the uses of shape and space in construction, engineering, architecture and the like, but T isn’t going to be an engineer or an architect.  She’s going to be a ballerina.

Another dramatic sigh, accompanied by such wild flexing of limbs that I have to duck to avoid the flailing arms.

Whenever I’m teaching T, I have the uneasy sensation that I’m caging a butterfly.  She does her best to learn and we get along just fine, but sitting still for two hours at a stretch is far from easy for her.  She just isn’t wired that way.

“Go on,” I say.  “Have a few twirls around the room, then let’s get back to work.”

T has just turned eleven.  She’s not just a small girl with a romantic dream.  She’s a magical, exceptional, brilliant dancer.  She’s been accepted for a place a one of the UK’s most prestigious dance academies  in September.  They have only 8 places a year and the admission standard is ridiculously high. Her mum and dad were stunned and overflowing with pride when she got her place. Nederlands: ballet dancer - detail

The effort she has put into her dancing is incredible.  The effort her parents have put into supporting her is similarly so.  Her mother travels all over Somerset and beyond with her on buses and car shares to get her to dance classes, auditions and performances.  Her self-employed dad has worked all hours to earn the money to fund the lessons, costumes, travel costs and so forth.  They’ve been determined that nothing will get between T and her dream. Now she has her place at the academy, of course, the costs will rocket.  It will involve moving from Somerset to London and paying huge tuition fees.

All that was fine.  Everything was set.  Dad was confident that he could earn enough, if he put everything else aside. The trouble is, one of those things he put aside was the dodgy mole.  He kept meaning to get it checked at the doctors…

When he did, the diagnosis wasn’t good.   The cancer has spread to his limbs and his lungs.  The doctors are calling it incurable.

They don’t look for problems, T’s family, they look for solutions.

Her mum, with characteristic zeal, has researched alternative treatments and come up with one that claims a 40% success rate – the Gerson diet.  It involves juicing huge amounts of fruit and vegetables for him – about 8kg a day – and more-or-less ties her to the kitchen.

Her dad – well, we can only guess at his feelings.  Having always been the provider, he has been trying to carry on working, to make sure the fees for her first term can be paid by September.  When he does that, he is stressing his body and not allowing it to heal.

That was the point at which T’s mum had called me.  Did I know any fundraisers – someone who could take the pressure off the family and raise enough to get T through her first year at the academy?

“Why me?  And why NOW?” the small reptilian part of my brain asked – the part that’s hell-bent on self-preservation.  “This will take massive amounts of time and effort and energy… I’ve done this life experience before – several times.  I’ve supported children I teach through the illness, sometimes even the death of a parent.  I’ve helped them with fundraising.  Couldn’t the Universe share things out a bit?  I have so much else to deal with right now…”

And here was T, sitting in my study on this Tuesday morning, telling me she’s going to be a ballerina.

What was I supposed to say?  ‘Actually no, sweetheart, you’re not.  You’ll be going to the local comprehensive, there won’t be any money left for dance classes and on top of that, your dad’s cancer is terminal.’

No.  I would not be saying that.

Miracle Machine

Miracle Machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Walk your talk,” the other end of my consciousness from the reptile was telling me.  “Think about it.  You believe in creating miracles.  You’ve been blogging on about it for months.

” Why have you been given this life experience again?  Why do you think??  Because this time, you have something new to bring to it.  You have the knowledge that – if they are expected, lightly yet with conviction – miracles happen.  And a few miracles are needed here and now, are they not?”

“Yes,” I said, humbly.

So this is where LIME (Life Is Miracles Expected) magic becomes interactive.

Click away NOW if you don’t want to get involved.  

Or is it too late?  Are you already caught up in T’s story?

Ideally, I’d like… every person who reads this blog to put some energy into helping T’s miracles arrive.

Your energy may be in the form of money – however much you’d feel comfortable transforming into energy to help pay for her academy fees.

It may be in the form of reblogging this post, or linking to it on social media, so that it reaches more people, who can also join our creation.

It may be that you will send healing and positive energy to Christian – T’s dad.

Or you may have other wonderful ideas for ways of creating these miracles.

Any money that reaches my PayPal account  from the ‘make a donation’ button below will, you have my word, go into the fund a family friend is setting up for T.  I promise I’ll keep you informed of progress, because  you now have a part in this story.

Thank you for sharing your energy and helping to make this happen.

Make a Donation Button

And meanwhile, here’s me, getting the cold shoulder

Cold Shoulder

Cold Shoulder (Photo credit: smkybear)

I’m not sleeping.

Well, I say that.  Obviously some sleep goes on.  I’d estimate 2-3 hours a night – 4 on a really good one.  That isn’t deep, refreshing, all-at-once sleep, though.  I doze off for 40 minutes or so and then there’s the painful awakening.  I writhe and twist, gyre and gimble (Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky – I’m a massive fan) and vainly attempt to get some relief from the pains that are shooting down my back, my arm and up into my neck and head.

Eventually I get up and wander off to the bathroom or pace around the house for a while, before collapsing back on to the bed and waiting for the discomfort to return to a sleep-throughable level.  That can take hours; it usually does.

I have, I’m told, a ‘frozen shoulder‘.  It’s the most ridiculous ailment; even the doctor admitted as much.  The information sheet he gave me reads like something Lewis Carroll himself might have penned.  For reasons no one can discern, the shoulder becomes increasingly painful and stiff over a period of months.  This is, apparently, the ‘Freezing Stage’.  Seriously.

Mobility may be affected, it says.  My shoulder has definite and ever-expanding no-go areas.  They include behind and up.  Stray into them by mistake and the pain starts small and takes up to five minutes to develop a vice-like intensity that has me gasping for breath.

The pain is frequently worse at night, it says.  Hell, yeah.  As described above.

So what do I have to look forward to?  Apparently next comes the ‘Frozen Stage’.  I can expect less pain but the same level of stiffness and lack of movement.  That, it tells me, will typically last between 18 months and 3 years.  After that – you’ve guessed it – there is a ‘Thawing Stage’.  A year or two more for it to subside and disappear as quietly as it arrived and I will be back to normal.  Physiotherapy and painkillers are offered, more to placate the GP’s feelings of helplessness than to make any difference to the condition, he agreed.

I’ve already tried deep tissue massage and acupuncture, to no avail.  Since there’s no medical reason, and since I tend towards the Louise Hay view of dis-ease in any case, I opted for some Reiki.

Now this is where it gets seriously weird.

Reiki symbol1

I went to a Reiki practitioner I’d only met a week or two before.  She knew very little about me and I knew very little about Reiki.  I sat for a long time listening to pleasant music while the healing took place.

When she’d finished, she came to sit with me, looking rather shocked and puzzled.

“I saw a face,” she told me.  “He was right here.”  She motioned the front of my shoulder.  “He was looking straight at me.”

Like I say, this lady didn’t know me well, or any of the people in my life.  I asked her if she could describe the person she’d seen.  As she did so, I started to realise who it was.

I went to fetch a photo.  “Is this the person you saw?”

She gasped and nodded.  “The hair was a bit different, but that was exactly the face.”

Well that made sense.  The photo is about five years old.  It’s of someone who has played a huge part in my life; someone I helped, mentored and loved for many years.  And then, little by little, he moved out of my life and stopped responding to letters, calls and emails.  He’s given me, you could say, the cold shoulder…

Hmmm.

Of course, as I’ve said many times before in my blog, I don’t believe others cause us pain.  I believe we allow ourselves to feel pain in response to the way they act.  My Guide explained it to me in this way:

What if I stick a knife in someone.  Surely then I will hurt that person – cause their pain?
NO  YOU CAUSE THE CUT
And what causes the pain?
THE CUT GIVES THE PERSON THE CHANCE TO CAUSE PAIN TO THEMSELVES

Fortunately, my Reiki healer had another strategy for me.  She told me to smile into my body – giving a smile of love and gratitude to each part of my body in turn – and to linger on that shoulder, giving it extra love.

English: Smile

Oh how right she is!   I don’t intend to wait years for my shoulder to thaw.  I’ll see if that smile, and any others I can collect, can defrost it.

All smiles gratefully received 🙂