Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Here’s a portion of a recent entry from The Book of Awakening (my daily meditation book of choice) that spoke directly to me.  Although I’m not sure I can fully embrace the author’s message today, I have hopes that I can find my way there eventually:

Be content with what you have, / rejoice in the way things are / When you realize there is nothing lacking, / the whole world belongs to you.      – Lao-Tzu

Beyond what we need to survive, to better ourselves has come to mean having as much as one can store…Such a want to have things comes from a sense of scarcity, an anxiety that something is missing, which owning will somehow soothe.

But to better ourselves inwardly is another matter. The closer to heart we take this, the more we find ourselves trying to inhabit what we have carried since the beginning…a yearning to unlock the mystery of what is already there.

This difference became stark for me while struggling with cancer. For while I prayed for things to be better, my prayers were answered when I awoke one morning content to be who I am, no matter what was happening. Though things were not as I wanted, there was truly nothing lacking, and I vowed, as the nurses started their morning rounds, that I would trade places with no one, spirits with all.      – Mark Nepo

At the moment, I can only aspire to this, as I must admit I pray fervently for things to be better and find it hard to really, truly accept that nothing is lacking (nourishment, strength, and health all come to mind). I believe I am content to be exactly who I am – I’d just like to be vibrantly healthy, too. But I also trust that as I work toward not wanting to “trade places” with anyone, I will find that I am “bettering” myself, both outwardly and inwardly.

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My dear friend John, who is currently in Costa Rica at his home-away-from-home (Casa Limon Dulce), recently did a ceremony for me on the mountaintop property he and Richard and Philip own there.  I met John back when Kindred Spirit was first opened, and he became quite a wonderful “fixture” at our shop.  He was, among other things, a kind of unofficial, resident dream analyst, and we regularly reviewed our dreams in detail while sharing tea. I particularly loved that John always seemed to have a fresh perspective to offer when I got bogged down by something.

Several years ago, on our shared birthday, John whisked me off to Disney World for the day.  We hopped on a puddle-jumper in Key West, landed in Orlando, raced by taxi to the park, and proceeded to enjoy as many of the amusements and rides as we could squeeze into a few hours, then dashed back to the airport to fly home by nightfall.  It was a memorable birthday, to say the least.

Enjoying "Fantasia" in 3D at Disney World

Enjoying "Fantasia" in 3D at Disney World

Although we haven’t seen each other in a number of years, happily we still keep in touch by email & occasionally phone (John, I’m thinking of the time you dropped the phone in the pool while we were chatting about a year ago…).  And, sometimes, our connection is in dreams, as it was earlier this summer when John dreamed of my illness before I was even diagnosed. He sent me a tearful email describing the dream on the very day I happened to learn I had cancer.

So, today I opened his email about the ceremony he, his mother and Richard did for me on their tropical mountaintop. John is so close to my heart, I wanted to share his words here (forgive me, John, if I’ve overstepped…my love and gratitude for you is enormous).

Here is what John says:

Hello Karen, Hello everyone. I had been wanting to do a ceremony for Karen, my birthday mate, here in Costa Rica–the country that has declared peace on the world, and peace with nature. Today was the day. I went to the mountaintop property we have, a wonderful place to feel the energies of the earth and sky (lots of vultures). I was accompanied by my Mother and Richard. My mother’s Parkinson’s makes walking a bit of a challenge, but she’s a trooper, and linking hands we climbed the freshly macheted road. “Lions and tigers and bears” became “Boas, Ormigas(ants), and horse poop, Oh my!” Yes, our machete-er spotted a boa on the road, which is kind of cool, but sobering.

Safely on top, I opened up the sacred space with the South American medicine wheel I learned through Alberto Villoldo. Snake-South, Jaguar-West, Hummingbird-North, Eagle-East. Above-Father Sky, Below-Mother Earth, and Center. Things are done for the benefit of all my relations, which is just about everything. OK, it is everything.

Thoughts were of Karen, and we read the “Thank You” prayer that I wrote down from Jane Worth in Key West. The items were:

  • My new favorite knapsack–had to have it, may speak to fears and change.
  • A cosmopolitan–I have been making them recently (blame a crush on a bartender). I imagine Karen sipping away.
  • Incense.
  • Costa Rican wood bowl with red wine cork and a lime from our property.
  • A personal notepad and regular pen with a Tibetan thread design from Paris: I can’t tell you Karen how much it has meant to me to read your blog and to continue to feel connected to you. Thank you for sharing of yourself.
  • Organic Genmaicha from ArtfulTea…me gusta (sipping as I write)
  • And a note from Phil.


John and a Mountaintop Ceremony

John on the Mountaintop in Ceremony

Thinking I’d cut to the chase, I actually looked for some horse poop to put on the altar, but it was gone. The rains had washed it away. Thought that was a good sign.


Spirit seemed to honor the writing pen when this beautiful little butterfly landed on it…After a bit, Mom took a sip of the Cosmo in communion, and I poured the Cosmo on the mountain. I poked the incense into the lime and put it on a rock, and left some Genmaicha to steep in the rains. I closed up the sacred space and walked back down the mountain and saw four beautiful toucans (Collared Aracari) in the trees above our car, the first I’d ever seen here.

I invite anyone reading this to enter into the space as you will and send Karen some Costa Rican love. Pura Vida. Pure Life. Love you Karen. Thinking of you surrounded by beauty there. Dream yourself here if you like for a spell…

John and family…

Muchas Gracias, John. Love you!

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One day not long ago, while I was off somewhere dealing with having cancer, my sweetie Tim left a message on my voice mail.  It was simply him reading Rumi’s poem The Guest House into the phone.  I was moved to tears when I heard his voice and the words of this beautiful poem.  Now, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t listen to that voice mail.

                        The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

                               — Rumi, 13th century mystic
                                    translation by Coleman Barks

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In early summer, when I first had symptoms severe enough to send me to a doctor (who then recommended a colonoscopy), I let a few of my dearest friends know I was beginning to have concerns about my health. Right away each of them, in their own way, said they would keep me in their thoughts and prayers. What began then as a handful of the people dearest to me focusing their intentions on my behalf has somehow grown into a wide river of countless people, many of whom I’ve never met, all offering their love and thoughts and prayers for my healing.

Now, every day, I receive messages, comments, greeting cards, phone calls and hugs from many people, all telling me, in some form or another, that they are praying for me. It’s astounding and humbling, and often brings me to tears. I am extremely grateful. I know there truly is healing power in the combined energy of all these expressions of love.

There are many, many individuals who’ve told me they pray for me daily. In addition, I’m aware that several people have asked their family members and their churches to add me to their prayer lists. I’ve also heard that some of my fellow yoga students have dedicated their yoga practice to me.

One dear friend, Celine, who spends part of her time at a Buddhist retreat center (Tara Mandala, near Pagosa Springs, Colorado), wrote to me asking if she could give my name for prayer request to “the long term retreatants who live on this sacred land in solitude for one to three years.” How could I ever have imagined a scenario in which someone who made a vow to live in meditation and solitude for three years might be praying for me?

All of these, and so many more I haven’t listed here, fill me with awe and gratitude.

Another of my lovely friends, Jody, has also recently created a “virtual healing circle” in my honor. She’s asked if I would pass along an invitation for anyone who wishes to participate with them to add their energy to the circle. Jody writes:

A “virtual” healing circle assembles every morning at 5:30am EDT in honor of Karen. Bring your love, positive energy, healing intentions, spirit guides and whatever feels appropriate to you.

If you already have a different dedicated prayer/meditation time, you may still join us by setting the intention with your higher self to be present in lieu of your body during the specified time. Another idea is to visualize your intentions just before you go to bed at night. Assign a window of time, for example 5:30 am to 5:45 am (or whatever coordinates in your time zone) and give your higher self permission to participate on your behalf.

Visualize wholeness, happiness and peace!

I really don’t know how to adequately express how moved and honored and grateful and awestruck I am at all the ways you’ve each shown me love and compassion. Thank you everyone. Thank you.

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Going Public

So, the blog went live this morning. The announcement email went out and within minutes a few folks were actually reading what I’d written so far…(eek!). When I first considered writing a blog about my experience with cancer, I was pretty nervous about “exposing” myself so candidly for the world to read.  But, then, after you’ve had ten or twelve strangers peering into your butt day after day, you tend to get a little jaded about “exposing” yourself.

As you can imagine, a diagnosis of cancer can suddenly bring about introspection in a big way.  As I was looking further within myself for answers to all sorts of questions, I came upon the idea of writing as a healing tool.  At first I imagined I would simply journal my thoughts privately. Then, as the flood of phone calls and emails began, it occurred to me to use a blog to keep people posted. But when some part of me began to consider posting my journal entries on the blog, that horrible little man behind the curtain also began to show up. (“What!? You can’t tell the whole world about the gory details of your rectal cancer! Are you nuts? Or, just totally self-absorbed! Why would anyone want to read about your dreary medical problems?”)

There is a book of daily meditations by Mark Nepo that I first began using when it was published ten years ago. It’s called The Book of Awakening and is truly poetic and inspiring. For several years, I faithfully read an entry each morning as a way of getting centered before heading off into the world for the day. When I moved to Santa Fe, my daily routine changed pretty radically and eventually I tucked the book on the shelf where it sat for many months.

A few days ago, I picked it up again for the first time in ages and turned to the meditation for that day. I saw the title: Revealing Who We Are. Then I read:

 No bird can fly/without opening its wings/and no one can love/without exposing their heart

followed by:

There is no chance of lifting into any space larger than yourself without revealing the parts you hold closest to your chest.

That brief bit of wisdom gave me the courage I needed to begin this somewhat uncomfortable form of public writing. Once friends and family members began to read the first few posts, I received even more affirmations that I’m taking a positive step toward my healing. So THANK YOU Angie, Cynthia, LuAnn, Melissa, Charles, Elaine, Mary, Christine, Celine, Tara-jenelle, Carol, Aunt Carol, Kati, Jenise, Nancy and EVERYONE else who sent encouraging comments (and no one, thank God, has had the nerve to tell me they think this is a terrible idea or that they don’t want to read about my shit). Thank you. I’m hoping not to whine too much.

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