The Contract

The words you are about to read are an excerpt from my book, The Acorn Journal: Messages of Connection from The Other Side.

I’m sharing this because Mike has been on my mind in such wonderful ways recently. You see, his birthday is right around the corner, Sunday, June 2nd. This year, he would have turned 32 years old. I’ve been thinking about all the laughter we shared over those 23 years. The squabbling, debating, playing… all of it. And I have to say, I’m so grateful for all of those years.

Mike loved knock-knock jokes, especially of the pirate variety. So, expect to see more of them on my Facebook page in the upcoming days.

As you read The Contract, I encourage you to think about the people you love, imagine the agreements that you made with them. And I hope that your heart feels both more full and lighter, all at the same time.

The Contract

My son Mike was 23 years old when he died. One day I was thinking about Mike and his short life, how much he was loved and how much he loved all of his family and friends. After much soul searching and contemplation, I made up a scenario in my head. What if…

What if before Mike was born I had the opportunity to read a contract. This contract would explain that on June 2, 1987, at precisely 6 am I would give birth to a 9lb bundle of love. As the contract went on it would explain that this hazel-eyed little boy would announce that he was awake by laughing and giggling in his crib. He would grow into a sweet, bull-headed, smart boy who would drive his elder brothers crazy by always humming or singing. He would not care about playing sports or being cool, he would be passionate about books and music. As he grew he would favor cowboy boots and flannel shirts, of the red and black variety.

As he became a teenager he would deal with Addison’s disease, but in his normal manner, he would seem to take it in stride. An intensely private person he would be very open and opinionated about how others should live their life. He would make strong friendships and he would develop interesting hobbies, brewing beer and wine and cooking, as well as hunting.

The contract would go on to clearly state that while we would be able to love and interact with this amazing person, on December 17, 2010, at some point he would end his short life by shotgun. There would be no negotiating this ending, it would be so. It would be written in the contract.

What if I had the option of signing that contract? Would I opt to learn to love this person with all of my heart if I knew that same heart would break in a million pieces on December 18, 2010, when my doorbell rang and a sheriff told me of my son’s death? Would I sign that contract knowing how profoundly my sweet husband would be affected, that I would watch him age years before my eyes? Would I sign the contract knowing that my two surviving sons would never be the same, that they would have to experience the most severe heartbreak imaginable while still in their 20’s? Would I sign that contract if it meant that we would all have to experience everything that we have in the past year?

Yes! I would, again and again, I would sign that contract! And I believe that my husband, two surviving sons, and my daughter-in-law would put their signatures right alongside mine and Mike’s. Without hesitation.

Knowing and loving my son was worth each and every moment of heartbreak. The blessings, the smiles the laughs, the aggravation, yelling, and squabbling were all blessings. And I would indeed sign that contract.

For the record, it is my belief that my soul did sign an energetic contract saying just what I’ve laid out above. That’s my belief and it may or not be yours. But I find comfort in knowing that even if I had known all those years ago how it would end, I would do it again. It’s so been worth it, at least for me.

And that gives me the strength to go forward for another day.

Namaste,
Sandy

Grief – Changed but Still Beautiful

Somehow I doubt that any of us would choose to be walking the path through grief and into healing. Still, life happens. More correctly, I should say that death happens. And there we are, smack dab in the middle of that path. Knowing that no matter how much we might want to, it’s simply impossible to take steps back to the time that the one we love was with us. And so we must move forward.

Today I was looking at one of my very favorite pieces of jewelry. A gift from my son Mike, quite a long time after he moved to The Other Side. It’s a fun story and I’ll be sure to share it with you another time. For now, I ask you to notice the necklace that I’m wearing in the picture. That’s the one! It’s not an expensive piece of jewelry, but because it is something tangible from one of my sons, it’s very precious to me. Each and every time I wear it, I feel as though Mike is smiling.

As I said, today I was looking at the necklace. I noticed that the color was changing and despite my efforts to clean it, there was no discernable improvement. So, off I went to the jewelry in downtown Burlington. The kind man behind the counter took a look at it and then smiled at me. He certainly knew that it wasn’t a piece of ‘fine jewelry’ by most standards but after a few words he realized it was something I prized very highly.

After a few moments of friendly chit-chat, he told the original color and shine simply could not be restored. This was a piece made of copper with a thin coat of plating. That plating was wearing off and could not be replaced. At first, I was disappointed, feeling a sense of loss. But then he said something that was just what I needed to hear. He said that in time, most likely a very short time because I wear this necklace quite a lot, all of the silver colored plating will be gone and it will be beautiful with the copper showing. He called it evolution. I loved that!

As I left the store I thought about how well this symbolizes our journey. The necklace has been something I prized as a tangible connection to my boy. It doesn’t look the same as it did several years ago – but the looks are all that is changed. The necklace is still a connection of love. It always was. It always will be.

And so we continue to take our steps, walking this path. No, it doesn’t look quite the same as it did when I took those first steps. It’s not what I expected so many years ago before I even imagined what grieving or healing might be like. It’s changing, but then again, so am I. It’s okay to notice, acknowledge and even to celebrate those changes because they are healthy and they are mine.

As I write this post, I find that I am really quite pleased with the look of that special necklace now. Like me, it’s lost some of its original shine. It’s now a much more interesting piece, as some color is wearing off and new ones are showing up, I feel as though it is really deep resilience that is showing through. A new sort of beautiful and I am so grateful.

Namaste,
Sandy

The Acorn Journal: Messages from The Other Side, One Acorn at a Time…

Hello, my friends,

Today’s message is incredibly personal. I’m sharing because this is something that I imagine all of us have dealt with or will deal with at some point in our lives. At the very least, it’s probably a point of curiosity and discussion. I’m talking about communication of some sort with someone who has died.

No, I’m not asking you to set aside your belief’s whatever they may be. I am simply asking you to consider having an open mind. To consider that perhaps, just perhaps someone who has left the planet earth is as close to us as our own heartbeats. Because I believe this is true.

My youngest son died seven years ago. Such a hard thing for me to wrap my head around, even now. I remember so very clearly having conversations with people almost immediately, about feeling confident that Mike was still around, in a very different way of course.

So, I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me when we began finding acorns at our lake home. It soon became very clear that these acorns were in fact, messages from Mike. I began keeping a journal of these occurrences and my thoughts and feelings when they were discovered. I needed to be sure that I wasn’t imagining things.

Time went on and these experiences have continued. This was both an intensely personal experience and something that I wanted to share with the world. When the time was right. Well, it feels as though the time is right and so The Acorn Journal: Messages of Connection from The Other Side, One Acorn at a Time… has now been published and is available on Amazon.

https://smile.amazon.com/Acorn-Journal-Messages-Connection-Other/dp/1544750749/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514493082&sr=8-1&keywords=the+acorn+journal+sandy+walden

This is my story and yes, it continues. Because life does not end when we take our last breath, it simply transforms. I hope that reading my story reminds you that those you love are with you. Always. I hope that you share your own story of connection with me. I would love to hear it.

Namaste,

Sandy

 

 

 

What if…I Embrace and Even Nurture My Ego?

Again and again, when I read or listen to people that I greatly respect. Folks who are quite magnificent teachers. Leaders in the New Age world, it seems that the ego is a problem.

Now I don’t mean that ego is referred to as an itty bitty problem, something like having an irritating pebble in your shoe. Nope! Ego is often referred to as a great big problem. As though it’s a huge steel door that is standing between me and my goal of becoming an evolved spiritual being. In other words, the ego has simply got to go.

Oh my, this is beyond distressing to me. In fact, the very thought of tamping down, stomping out, eliminating my ego makes me want to push back with both hands. Both feet and then I feel a strong urge to lean forward and push back with the top of my noggin’ as well.

Stomp out my ego? Unh-uh! I don’t wanna, I’m not gonna. And nobody can make me. Whoops. Maybe that is the three-year-old that seems to have a very vibrant life within me expressing herself. Just the same, the grown-up me thinks that she is absolutely right. And here’s why.

If we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and I believe that in fact, that is true, then having a healthy ego is quite necessary. It’s a vital part of us as human beings. Our healthy ego is what keeps us standing upright when doubt surrounds us. It’s what propels us forward when obstacles keep showing up in our path. A healthy ego is what allows us to be kind in the face of cruelty, compassionate in times of pain and courageous in times of great fear.

Now I’m not for one moment suggesting that we should overfeed our ego, to do so may be to create a monster. Nope, nope, nope.  An oversized ego makes for an arrogant and often uncaring human. This leads to incredible selfishness, almost an inability to consider or think about others or to care about them as they simply are not as important as our great big hairy monster ego.

On the other hand, an ego that is starved leads to true poverty of confidence and self-esteem. If the ego is not nurtured and cared for then we come to believe that we don’t matter at all. We may tell ourselves and even others, that everyone else’s needs are more important. That we really don’t matter very much. This can mean that we not only tolerate being ignored and even shoved aside, but it can also lead us to believe that we deserve to be abused in some way. This starving of the ego seems like a very bad idea.

Balance. There’s that word that I love so much. To my way of thinking our ego needs to be treated with firm kindness. Maintained with gentle, loving thoughts and words. This is balanced by compassionate honesty so that the ego does not become the aforementioned monster.

Having this balance; which can admittedly become a tricky thing to maintain, is really a very important part of the human experience. Perhaps this learning to find and maintain balance is one more lesson that our spirit is learning by having this human experience.

Ahhhhhh, balance. It’s a desire, a goal, an intention. As humans we often fall short of our goals, that’s okay. That too is part of our experience. Each time we fall short in some way we have the opportunity to look back, reflect, learn, fine-tune ourselves. And then we do better.

My ego is part of me. I fully expect to embrace and nurture my ego because this is part of my very human experience. I invite those that I trust to let me know if I’m over-feeding or starving my ego. I happen to have some pretty honest friends who are quite happy to help out with this task. I’m a lucky gal because the simple truth is that I don’t always see this for myself. This too is part of my human experience.

Namaste,                                                                                                                                                                                          Sandy

 

 

 

Just What Do You Deserve?

Probably the most common theme that I hear in my office, is the idea that the person is not deserving of the best life has to offer. This feeling seems to recognize no boundaries. I hear it from women as well as men. Young, middle-aged and elders. These people seem to think that they must put themselves last – always.

What some of these people think they do deserve is something less than others. A woman I know was very concerned. After all, she believed very strongly that when one is faced with an argument or conflict of some sort,  that there are two choices. Be kind or attack. As she is a very nice woman, her typical response has been to be kind to others, at her own expense.  I got the call from her when she wanted to discuss her most recent behavior. She had stood up for herself! She was direct and straightforward, realizing that she deserved to be treated with respect and appreciation. This is where we all stand and shout ‘wahoo!’.

An incredible person recently offered this thought. Is our body a vessel or host to our spirit? If you answered yes, keep going with me. If my body is host to my spirit, then my spirit is my ever-present guest. How do you treat guests in your home?  If you’re like me, you always offer guests the very best. The pretty little soaps in the bathroom. The best chair at the backyard fire. The finest cut of the entree served at dinner.

If I’m always offering the best to others, but refusing to accept quality for myself, I am treating my own guest very badly. This fascinating concept rang true for me, so I began sharing it with my clients. What I am discovering; to my absolute delight is that it rings true for others as well.

So, does this mean that I advocate being out for myself regardless of effects or ramifications to others?  Nope, not at all. It does mean that I believe in treating myself with the same sort of appreciation and respect that I offer to others. And I encourage my clients to do the same. It feels good, in fact, it feels terrific!

A very nice side-effect of treating myself with the same appreciation, respect, and kindness that I offer to others is that I don’t feel short-changed when I do something nice for someone else. Nice bonus, huh? Think about it for a couple of seconds and I’m sure it will make complete sense to you as well.

If you are always putting others before yourself, you are being short-changed. It’s completely natural and reasonable that resentment would build and that anger is likely to follow. Let’s circumvent this entire situation by simply bringing a bit of balance to the situation. That means acknowledging that you deserve to expect and receive the best that the world has to offer. I encourage you to expect that from now on.

Balance isn’t all that difficult when we practice. If need be, you may want to think of yourself as Spirit, after all, that is an integral part of you. What does your guest deserve? Offer the best to your Spirit, your ever-present guest, and everyone will benefit.

Namaste,

Sandy

 

 

 

 

Forgive and Forget – I Don’t Think So!

I’m all for the forgiving part, but as for the forgetting – not so much. Let’s walk through this just a little bit and I think you’ll understand my point.

When I forgive a hurt or a wound of some sort, I do it to release myself from further anguish. I forgive for myself, not for anyone else. For me, it is often a very deliberate choice. I may decide that I’m tired of being angry, irritated, depressed and defensive. In other words, I’m tired of feeling crummy! When I’ve had my fill of feeding those emotions which I do not enjoy one little bit, I am ready to begin thinking about forgiveness. I know that when I do forgive, that I will be able to release those feelings that are dragging me down and that I’ll experience relief. That relief is healing.

So, I decide that I want to forgive so that I can feel better. The person I’m forgiving may or may not know about my decision and my feelings. Remember, this really is all about me. I want to feel better, so I forgive. I believe that when my energy changes to become lighter and more loving that the offender so to speak, benefits as well, whether they realize it or not. But primarily I am taking this step to forgive someone or something so that I feel better. Me, me, me!  This is taking good care of me and I deserve to feel good just because I am me, a child of God. Whew, that feels better.

The process of forgiving is simple for me and no, that doesn’t mean that it is always easy. But sometimes it is easy and that’s okay too. In fact, it totally rocks. Forgiveness is sometimes a very deliberate process, other times it simply happens a little at a time with little thought or deliberation. Either way, it unfolds just about the same – for me. It begins with a decision that I want to feel relief, that I’m ready to stop feeding the pain, irritation and anger, all of that crummy stuff we talked about earlier. That leads me to begin looking for a blessing in the incident. Strange as that may seem, I believe that everything has a lesson and if I can find a lesson I can see it as a blessing. That allows me to begin releasing my pain and embracing the relief. Sort of like a balloon that is not popped, but has a slow leak, as I embrace the blessing I feel the pain ebb. Aaaaaah, that feels really good, and so forgiveness begins.

Now, about this forgetting stuff. That is a whole other kettle of fish my friend. After all, if each experience is a lesson of sorts, how is it helpful for me to completely and entirely forget about it? Makes no sense to me, because once I’ve experienced a specific wound I’m generally pretty much okay with not having another just like it. I’m hopeful that I learn not to put myself in such a situation again and if I forget all about the incident it seems that I’m much more likely to be hurt again and again and again. Now, of course, you do what is right for you. As for me, I prefer to learn and move on.

From personal relationships to global tragedies, this line of thinking works for me. No matter how small or how large. If we forget what brought about atrocities than we are likely to repeat the experience. If a friend has hurt me, I want to forgive that hurt so that I can move on feeling good, not being eaten up with anger or other general ickiness. Whether or not I renew that friendship is another thing entirely. If it’s a friendship that I want to continue, I have the ability to learn and decide if it is to my own benefit to put myself in this situation again. The wound may have been unintentional, what can I learn from this? How can I move forward in a healthier manner? Perhaps the relationship has run its course. Forgiveness allows me to bless the time that was spent together and still release the relationship feeling good. But, and this is a great big but – I don’t want to forget the lessons learned.

There are tools that I use to support myself in this process. I find that Reiki not only balances my energy but Reiki also enhances my general sense of well being; of course. The flow of Reiki makes it much easier for me to move through these steps. Okay, let’s be very honest here, the Reiki just feels so darned good that I welcome it at any time. Coaching helps too, no doubt about it. Whether I work with another life coach, coach myself through the situation or remind myself of the steps that I use when I work with my life coaching clients. One step at a time, using the appropriate tool for that situation. Hypnosis is also really helpful to me as I work through my own issues. Dovetailing and very nicely complementing the Reiki and life coaching. You see the life coaching allows me to become aware of what I prefer. The Reiki assists me in releasing negativity that is not serving me well. The hypnosis speaks to my sub-conscious, that incredibly cute but amazingly stubborn 4-year old that lives in my brain. Hypnosis speaks to her and reminds me that I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to do. Because hypnosis speaks to my thriving subconscious it supports my choice, offering the reinforcement that it is not only okay but my choice to move in this direction. Now all of these tools have not always been available to me, and of course, I was able to forgive them as well. But I’ve got to say, I find that having hypnosis,  Reiki and life coaching all in my little toolbox assists me in the process. What works for you?

Forgive and forget if it feels right to you. As for me, I’m a project that is still in the works, still in the process of development. I’m still working on forgiving some people and events, but it’s coming along nicely and that offers me lovely relief. As for forgetting, I’m okay with the remembering. After all, once the pain is released the person, incident or event simply becomes a bit of history. Something I have learned from, something that has blessed me. And that makes it all worthwhile.

For this week, I wonder if you are ready to begin forgiving someone or something from your own life. How would it feel to release some of that pain or anger and welcome a bit of relief? It’s up to you of course, but I encourage you to give it a try. C’mon, you can do it. I know you can! When you’re ready.

Namaste,

Sandy

Reiki – Learning Reiki for Your Own Self-Care

Someone asked me the other day why she should consider learning Reiki. After all, she has no intention of offering the powerful energy modality professionally.

Holy cats! Clearly I had some explaining to do!

Learning Reiki level one is the very first step for someone who wants to be able to offer Reiki to others professionally. However, Reiki is first and foremost an excellent form of self-care. Because of this, when I teach Reiki level one, Reiki level two or Reiki at the master level, I always encourage others to give themselves Reiki as often as possible. It’s all part of taking good care of themselves.

Reiki, which is pronounced ray-kee, is defined as Universal Life Force Energy. This healing energy allows us to release negativity and to bring our own energy back into balance. This balance that Reiki offers is what allows us to heal, relax and re-energize.

Many believe that it is being out of balance that allows us to experience dis-harmony or dis-ease. Reiki allows that subtle shift which restores balance to our chakras and to our very lives.

All of this is very gentle. While most consider Reiki a hands on modality, it is in fact just as effective from a distance. After all, energy is not limited to space or time. For this reason, while it’s easy and comfortable for me to offer Reiki to my dog or to my husband when I’m at home, and of course it’s my privilege to offer to clients in my office. It’s just as easy and beneficial for me to send to my son living in Texas, another who lives across town and even to my son who has died. Reiki is energy, it follows intention.

Reiki is part of my own self-care. It makes sense to offer myself balance and release. I can only hope to assist others if I’m taking good care of myself. While I may make this a quiet time that I spend by myself, it’s just as effective to give myself Reiki while I read a book, watch television or even take a bath.

What results can you expect from frequent Reiki session? I wish I could tell you precisely what to expect, but it’s simply not for me to know what is for your highest and best good. I do know that since I’ve been giving myself Reiki on a regular basis I have been able to stop taking blood pressure medication completely. Nothing else in my life explains the change. I have not changed eating or exercise habits. In fact, many might expect that my blood pressure would have become more of an issue, especially in recent months with personal stress. The reverse is true. Of course I have continued to monitor my blood pressure; I have it taken frequently and continue to keep in touch with my doctor. He is pleased and offers no other explanation for this change.

Reiki is a wonderful addition to your daily regimen. It is complementary to any medical treatment that you are receiving. Reiki will never interfere with any medications or have any sort of side effects. It’s important to remind anyone who is receiving Reiki to continue with any medical treatment they are receiving. Reiki is not a replacement or an alternative to excellent medical care. Instead, Reiki is a complement, that’s a very important distinction.

Why learn and become attuned to Reiki level one? So that you can begin offering yourself balance and healing. Reiki offers you excellent self-care. When you are taking excellent care of yourself, you are in a much stronger position to care for those you love.

I offer Reiki level one and Reiki level two each month. Master classes are scheduled upon request. When you are ready to take that first step to begin living your best life, give me a call. You will be most welcome in my Reiki class.

Namaste,

Sandy

 

 

 

Losing Mike – Celebrating Mike

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that it’s often very personal. Today is the most intensely personal blog I’ve ever shared. Still, I feel that I have to share before I can move forward in any meaningful way.

Tuesday, June 2, 1987, was one of the most amazing days of my life. At 6 am we welcomed Mike, our third and youngest son to our family. To say we were complete may be an understatement.

Fast forward, 23 years. At some point on Friday, December 17, 2010, the world stopped spinning, perhaps even wobbled, as Mike took his own life.

A very real part of me was stunned in the days after losing Mike. After all, when someone of great importance to the world dies, we usually see it on the television day in and day out. We hear it on the radio and read it in our newspapers. Headlines like ‘A Nation Mourns’ or ‘The World Says Goodbye’. It was incredibly strange not to see or hear that the lives of every person on the planet had been changed; because I feel sure that it had.

Moving forward is the only option left to any of us who knew and loved Mike. Be assured, to know Mike was to know laughter, enormous hugs, endless debates and great fun. To have Mike in your life was to know a special sort of love.

We will never know for sure why Mike felt it necessary to end his life. He didn’t leave a note or an explanation of any sort. Family, friends, and acquaintances were all shocked. Mike suffered from Addison’s disease and we have come to believe that it affected him much more than any of us were ever aware. We may be right or it’s entirely possible that we are simply grasping at an answer that allows us to move forward. The simple fact is that we will never know for sure.

I have found that there is no gentle way of telling others that my son has died. Clearly, everyone who knew Mike was affected. The loss is no more or less profound for any of us; it simply is different for each of us. We all knew and loved Mike in different ways. While we grieve and find our own way through the mourning, I find that it’s necessary for me to celebrate every moment of the 23 years that Mike breathed life on this planet.

It’s very meaningful to me that while family and friends stormed the house offering hugs, condolences and of course never-ending food; they also came armed with stories. Mikey-isms for lack of a better term. We have gone through more tissue than I ever imagined possible as we have cried oceans of tears. But in the past 8 weeks, there has also been more laughter shared that I could have imagined possible.  Mike not only was much loved, it’s clear that all who knew him felt loved as well.

Memories of being pregnant with Mike have been resurfacing lately. I’m short and he was one big baby! At the end of my pregnancy, many of my maternity clothes didn’t fit, so it was no surprise to welcome this 9-pound wonder into our lives when he finally joined us.  Mike was a content, happy baby and that is pretty much the way he lived his entire life.

Our other sons were 3 1/2 and not quite 2 years old when Mike was born. Mike changed all of our worlds. While most babies wake up crying, by the time he was a few months old we knew Mike was awake because we would hear babbling or even laughing. Are you getting the picture?

As he grew, Mike spent much of his time laughing, chattering or simply expressing joy and contentment in various ways. When the boys were small they spent most of their time together. It seems that our elder sons would frequently ask me to find a way to quiet Mike. He would simply wander around humming or singing under his breath. Happy and content. Needless to say, I never did quiet Mike, it was so much fun to see and hear someone so happy.

As the boys grew, they remained close in many ways although they were and are strongly individual and independent. Mike loved to tease his brothers about being taller than either of them and often stood on his toes, even in cowboy boots to accentuate the height difference. Still, his brothers were always protective of Mike. Standing up for him always. Mike simply took it as his due. When either of them would tease him about being the baby and being a bit spoiled, he would grin and say ‘Yep!’. Quite the interesting crowd, my boys.

Mike loved playing music. Learning to play the violin when he was a little boy, he bought himself another violin just a few years ago. He played and collected guitars for a while, beginning with the base guitar. And let me tell you, he was pretty good. We thought he had sold or given away all of his guitars, but learned after he died that he still played with a small group of his friends almost every week. Surprise.

Brewing beer, making wine, pickling eggs and hunting. So many things that Mike liked to do and that he shared with family or friends.

We absolutely know that Mike realized completely how deeply he was loved and valued by all. I also believe that each and every person in Mike’s life knew that Mike loved them as well. He shared those feelings with hugs, grins, and jokes. Laughing easily and frequently. That’s who Mike was, a joyful, loving young man.

Why? Well, it’s my personal belief that we are born to learn and to teach lessons. For our souls to have human experiences. When those lessons or experiences are complete, I believe that is when we leave this life. It may be by way of natural causes, illness, accident or as in Mike’s case, by suicide. It’s entirely possible that my view may change as time passes, but this has always been my belief.

Mike was not a push-over. He stood strong and loud for things he believed in, enjoying the debate and arguing until he was sure you had to have accepted his point of view. Stubborn at times, especially when it came to talking about politics or spirituality. He was also open to hearing your point of view and would then share with great eloquence all of his reasons why you were wrong. 🙂

Classic country music was his favorite, pretty unusual for a young man his age. But we shared favorites and some of my favorite memories are recent shows we had seen together. We saw Charlie Daniels and had so much fun going to see one of Mike’s all-time favorites, George Jones. He invited me to go with him because he said no one else he knew would get why he wanted so much to see him perform. It was just flat out fun.

The last week with Mike gave no hints that he planned to go. Leaving for work early each morning and arriving home in the late afternoon. We learned later that he hadn’t gone into work at all that week, but we simply didn’t know. The evenings were spent cooking, eating, laughing and watching television. In short, no indication that anything was amiss. Again, leaving us with questions, but truly with no regrets.

I have realized how incredibly blessed I continue to be. Our daughter in law and sons each continues to be amazing. I know that each is suffering and moving through this grief in their own way as they each knew Mike in their very own special way. Each has memories that are private and some that they share. My husband is remarkable. He frequently talks about the fun he had with Mike, cooking and planning meals. How he used to sit at his computer in the living room around the time Mike was expected home so that he could serve the meal soon after Mike arrived. Hubby loved that and so did Mike.

When I share the news of the loss with others there are so many reactions, none of which are wrong of course. Some people move in for a hug, some recoil as though physically assaulted. It’s not personal at all, it’s simply the way they react and momentarily cope with the shock of losing someone so young and in such an unexpected way.

I refuse to acknowledge or accept that there is any stigma attached to suicide. In the past, I thought that it was an incredibly selfish act. I ask forgiveness of anyone with whom I ever shared that belief. I no longer hold that belief at all. You see, Mike was one of the least selfish people I’ve ever known. He hated to inconvenience anyone, always thanking others for doing anything for him and apologizing if he felt they had to go out of their way for him. In fact, he used to thank me for giving him shots when he was sick.  Not the behavior of a selfish person.

I have come to believe that suicide was simply the illness that ended Mike’s earthly existence. I don’t believe that he wanted to die. It was clear and remains clear to me that Mike truly enjoyed life. Still, there was something that was simply too much for him to bear and so death must have felt like the only alternative. Or, perhaps it was simply his time. I just don’t know.

There’s no blame, no anger, no recriminations. Simply lots of love, feelings of being blessed to have had him for the time that we did and profound sadness that he’s no longer here to share our days.

I’m not at all sure how to wrap up this one. I could go on and on – yes, even more than I have already! I guess I’ll simply offer my gratitude for having this remarkable person in my life for 23 years. I’m grateful to have the love and support of an amazing husband, incredible sons, fabulous daughter-in-law and more terrific family and friends than I can begin to acknowledge here.

I would ask you not to worry about any of us. If you knew Mike, a lovely acknowledgment or tribute to him would be to smile and laugh. Watch a crummy old science-fiction movie and enjoy it. Laugh out loud when you hear a joke and hug someone just because you feel like it. Mike would like that, it would make him smile, and Mike smiling was a very good thing

Namaste,

Sandy

Meditation Musings – Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been defined by the psychologist and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn as paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmental.  Mindfulness is also a meditation technique in which one allows thoughts, images, feelings, and body sensations to pass through the mind without reacting to or becoming involved with, those things.

If, while meditating, one notices an itch on the end of the nose or in the middle of the back the meditator recognizes the sensation and allows it to pass. Simply, ‚I have an itch‚  No attachment, no internal discussion, just ‚ I have an itch. Most of the time, after acknowledgment, the itch fades away and your mind has already moved on. We use the gentle, persistent returning to the Now to dismiss these sensations from our mind.

If you are a regular meditator and particular thoughts or sensations keep arising during your sitting you will take note of them, return to the moment and ponder them at a later time. Quite often simply becoming aware of the recurring thoughts or images can provide a very clear picture of what’s causing us to lose our center and/or grounding.

Please note the particulars of the definition cited above: on purpose, in the present moment, and without judgment.

We practice mindfulness on purpose. We decide it is a useful aspect of meditation, we become sensitive to it and it becomes part of our life. When we practice mindfulness in the zendo and with our sangha it’s very hard not to take it out into our daily lives.

We practice mindfulness in the present moment, in the Now. The Now is the place most meditation starts but when moved into our daily world mindfulness in the Now provides us with the real context of the events and emotions we experience, not the context we impose upon them.

We practice mindfulness without judgment. We accept what is, simply because it is. As the author R.A. Heinlein once wrote, ‚the observed phenomena requires no explanation, it simply exists‚. Observing without judgment keeps us from jumping to conclusions. How many times have we made hasty assumptions about a situation or person and later discovered that if we had just kept ourselves open and nonjudgmental we would been saved a great deal of embarrassment? This same concept dispels the ‚why me?‚ and it’s not fair‚ kind of thinking. Whatever it is, it just is.

Mindfulness can be used to help us relieve stress and anxiety simply by allowing it to pull us back into the Now. Stopping the whirling thoughts helps us move to a more stable mental place. When our technological world starts to overwhelm us a return to the Now of nature can reset our physical and mental clocks from the frantic pace of today’s techno-environment to the unique tempo nature imposes upon herself. We must never forget that it’s also our natural tempo and anything else is artificial.

Personally, I think I’ll go outside and mindfully feel the breeze on my face, smell the flowers in the garden and enjoy the Now.

Namaste
Jim – Serenity Community Member

Reiki for Self-Care

What do you do to take care of yourself? You may exercise, eat right, meditate or a variety of other activities which offers relaxation and the opportunity to ‘unwind’.  May I suggest that you consider adding Reiki to your daily practice?

Reiki, defined as Universal Life Energy, is an excellent addition to your daily routine. When I teach Reiki I always encourage my students to give themselves Reiki every day. Reiki is a gentle, hands-on technique which offers balancing of your life energy. You don’t need any special equipment or tools to do Reiki. Simply your time and intention. It doesn’t get much better than that!

When you give yourself Reiki you learn to become more aware of your own energy, when you are out of balance and the subtle shifts as you come back into balance. Reiki helps you on all levels, the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. And here’s another wonderful detail, you don’t need to know where the imbalance is or on which level you need to heal. Because Reiki is channeled through you from our Higher Power, it goes where it’s most needed for your highest good.

You may want to spend an hour or more giving yourself Reiki everyday, or you may only spend a few moments with Reiki. What sort of time do you want to give to yourself? It’s all up to you and it’s always going to work for your benefit. Personally, I often give myself Reiki while I relax in the evening, even while I’m watching television or reading a book.

Once you’ve been attuned to Reiki, by taking a Reiki class, you will discover that it’s available to you at any time, simply hold the intention that Reiki flow and the energy flow begins. Ahhh, love that!

As always, I encourage you to take excellent care of yourself. I’d also like to suggest that you consider adding Reiki to your daily routine. It’s a lovely addition and an excellent method of self-care.

Namaste,

Sandy