Myopia

I woke up in the middle of the night with the word “myopic” swirling circles in my head. I know what myopic means in terms of vision- nearsighted. I looked it up in my big old dictionary and it read: lack of knowledge, tolerance or foresight. There’s a lot of that going on right now here in the North East. People are newly homeless, angry, hungry and exhausted. They are cold and need help- a lot of it and many people are giving it.

Myopia is a far cry from my idea of Utopia, which is damn near to perfection. I’d been struggling with my decision to run the NYC Marathon post Hurricane Sandy. In my utopic view of the world- the runners would bring much needed funds to the NY city area. My thinking was that the larger scope of millions brought in over several hours would offset the discomfort of NY. There was no outcry that Wall Street was fully functioning after two days on their generator power. Obviously, I was myopic. I knew that my choice was unpopular-just as many of my choices in my lifetime have been. When I make a decision it’s after lots of thought and spiritual exploration.  Sometimes I’m wrong.

I’m surprised I didn’t receive scathing comments from my friends. One brave soul did comment about the other side of my decision. I truly didn’t want to change my mind because of fear of being harmed by the self-righteous. But my thinking began to change. It took me time to “get it.” The Marathon was canceled and I didn’t have to make the personal choice after all, but I have been able to make choice in what to do to help in my way. There are so many ways to help. Quite a number of marathoners pooled their resources and brought much needed help to Staten Island, Coney Island and other hard hit areas.

I, like many other North Easterners saw media coverage of the Jersey Shore, Staten Island and Breezy Point during the early hurricane post hours. I know that there are many other places in NY that have been devastated that have had no media coverage. I’d seen Facebook comments about how some people are “just praying.” If that’s all you’ve got, give it. Prayer works. Being still in a time of utter chaos helps to balance the Universal Energies. If you’ve got other resources such as money, time, physical strength, tools and supplies- use those to help. Blood is another much needed donation- we are short in supply.

Ultimately, we don’t need to advertise what we have done or plan to do. It’s a case of knowing and accepting one’s reality at the time and doing the best that one can. We can always move forward.

They say it’s your birthday…

So what is it to me? It’s not the annual birthday event most of us have in mind when we celebrate with balloons, cake and candles. There will be no ‘Hokey Pokey’ or ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey.’ This weekend marks my initiation into the Orisha tradition six years ago. Just writing the number six down reminds me that I’m very young and still newly finding my way on this spiritual path. I breathe easier.
Six years ago, I was crowned a priestess of Yemaya. The knowledge I had of ‘Yemaya’ prior to the event was that she is the Great Goddess Mother celebrated in different forms in many different spiritual and religious traditions. She presides over all in this great big Universe! I first identified her during “The Journey of the Waters” many years ago. With the guidance of my Native teacher, Oh Shinnah Fastwolf I experienced water ceremonies in the Southwest that included pipe, sweat lodge and initiations in the various natural water springs, lakes and rivers. I took on the aspect of Changing Woman and have never looked back! It was there I heard the word “Yemaya” whispered into my ear at Pagosa Springs, Colorado.Years later, as I did my theoretical thing, I was steeped in literature regarding Yemaya, Orishas, Spiritism and Santeria while I researched the literature for my doctoral dissertation.
The visions that swirled in my head about Yemaya were that she is a nurturing, loving, and forgiving mother that treats her children with the utmost devotion and love. I wanted some of that and raised my hand asking for ‘more’. So when I consulted the oriate and he threw some cowry shells on the mat and declared, “Yemaya wants you!” and “She said don’t touch that dial!” I was smitten by this vision of loveliness wearing swirling blues and whites ready to cast her net over me and draw me under the ocean waves where she could feed me all the lobster and shrimp that I could eat.

That never happened. Instead, I found out after my initiation that yes, I am a child of Yemaya, but not the one I envisioned. I am the child of Yemaya Okute- one bad-assed mother who hauls butt making things happen. Yes, I tend to my flock but it’s not babies. I usually tend to a bunch of also bad-assed men who happen to need a little care and compassion in their daily existences. Listen to ‘em, talk to ‘em, give them a “you ok?’ and send them back onto the beach or actually, the streets of the lower east side of Manhattan- Loisaida to you natives of this rocky island.  Any traces of tears can be attributed to them being waterlogged while under my watchful Yemaya vision. The truth is that I do see beauty in everything based on my relationship with Her. We all need somebody, don’t we?

What I’m getting at is that I believe I’m only just beginning to figure out who I am in this spiritual life, what my gifts are and certainly my blessings. I gather that this is a basic feature of opening to a spiritual tradition during adulthood. I haven’t turned my back on the religious tradition that my Earth mother loving created for me beginning during babydom. The two traditions actually complement each other quite well, as shown by my ancestors who hid their African traditions while they went to Mass in order to avoid severe and corporal punishment from their plantation masters.

So, I’m still learning. I’m grateful. I’m in awe that Yemaya didn’t want me to channel surf Orishas. I’m open to whatever She brings me on this coming day of celebration and the years to come. My choice to be initiated into a most complicated, unlikely tradition is something I’m proud of! I find that as more is revealed that I am thrilled that I decided to give over to my Higher Power. I could never have thought some of my life up. I’m hanging onto my seat during this delicious ride. All I need to order is the cake. Aché

 

My Five Year Spiritual Plan

About four years ago I made a five year plan. I’d just left my post as a director of mental health for a program that hadn’t seriously considered the mental health of a population in dire need. After several years of growing that program, writing grants, engaging in administrative and clinical duties, I decided the time had come to hang up that particular nurse’s cape.

My plan was to read and write as much as I could. I began writing my first ‘real’ novel and some  short stories. I took some creative writing courses and began to develop the fiction side of my talents. I‘ve submitted manuscripts and short stories and have done all that writers do as they prepare to have their works published. My writing prior to this took the form of research papers and psychiatric evaluations. I also planned to read. Novels, fiction, blogs, yes, but I also wanted to do spiritual readings. I was deep into the spiritual oracle Palabras that I am still in the process of creating.

Proclaiming that I’m a spiritual medium does not roll easily off my tongue. I have done spiritual readings for many years by various means, including tarot and oracle reading. I’ve sat with teachers from different spiritual paths and was initiated into the Orisha tradition. My favorite readings are the ones where my guides whisper into my ears and show me visualizations of what the person I am reading for needs to hear. One of my spirit guides loves doing energy healings. She uses crystals, feathers, smudge, oils, whatever she believes is needed at the time. I do what she tells me to do. Her healing energy is quite gentle but effective.

At around the same time, I began a couple of consulting psychiatric positions and had to get used to the hectic management of mental health clinics with time limits. I continued to do both readings and writing but mostly my readings had been placed on the back burner. Somehow I’ve made it a point to continue writing.

My partner is in the process of building a private practice as a psychotherapist in NYC. When I shared this with one of my collaborating psychiatrists, she asked me whether I was interested in a private practice too. I said, yes, but it would be doing spiritual readings and energy healings. A few days later I was having coffee with two women who are busily and happily engaged in their own private businesses, one is a running coach and the other has a thriving yoga practice. They encouraged me to pursue my dream.

Today, I ordered business cards and researched the mechanics of on-line business transactions. I’ve decided that I can consult in person, by phone or Skype. I am only limited by my own vision, so I open it up to the Universes to help me see what I need to see. So far they’ve shown me that my gifts of speaking with persons who have crossed over will help the droves of people who are ready to hear their individual messages and who will benefit by healings for which I agree to be the vehicle. I am excited about coming back to my five year plan.

More to come…

Interview with Author Sandy Corcoran

It’s truly inspiring to have the opportunity to have Sandy speak about what the essence of writing is for her. Sharing about what has been given to her and how she’s chosen to give back to others is a motivating factor in not only writing, but in how we choose to walk in this world. Thank you, Sandy, it’s an honor!

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

At the death of my daughter in 1983, my feet were put to an entirely different path. Through the Native American women that stepped into my world, and eventually other indigenous mentors, my world-view  was altered and a new and richer life began with the spiritual understanding that we are all connected and united, in ways great and small, and the only thing that prevents that is making a choice to awaken to our soul’s calling.

 What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

Those interested in renewal, shamanism, mind-body-spirit and those who wish to delve into the incredibly rich landscape that lies within their dreamstate, the world of living energy, the luminal realms and the ability of all human beings to bring it into our physical knowing.

What are you currently writing?

I have recently completed Between the Dark and the Daylight: Awakening to Shamanism

Published in February 2012 through Balboa Press/ a division of Hay House

How do you make time to write?

Some days it comes easily, flowing freely and unannounced epiphanies, whereas other days I had to discipline myself to set aside time. I find, for me, I can write for long periods at a time when the words just tumble forth. I also discovered that when I forced the material, I always changed or discarded it.

What inspires you to write?

Finding the heart centered words to connect with others in the hopes of alleviating some of their pain by witnessing my own; and sharing the joy and rebirth of spirit which always follows those deep and very human struggles that we all have in common.

What would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all?

Nothing. What I learned though was not to push my story until both my heart and mind were ready to join together to give it form.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

Unfortunately I lack both the experience and where-with-all of where to even begin. But my hopes are that someone will come forward and assist me to organize the best methods of spreading the word, while also not wearing myself too thin in the process. There are many other things I wish to continue to do, like my shamanic practice with clients as that is where I feel I am offering the best of what I have been taught and what I have to share.

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

Absolutely, without Spirit nothing exists for me, and nothing would have unfolded in my life the way it has without Spirit’s guidance and direction. For that, I am most grateful, as I know there are others who feel a lack of connection or a lack of direction in finding and trusting that “voice” within themselves.

What’s your literary community burning desire?

My burning desire, in all seriousness…if we are 6 degrees of someone, I want this book to touch those who have lost their way or experienced deep loss, so they can find renewed faith in themselves or their dreams….and maybe, have this book make its way into Oprah Winfrey’s hands. For two reasons, I respect her honesty and drive, and I know she has a spiritual understanding and wide audience of people who trust her suggestions.

http://www.amazon.com/Between-The-Dark-Daylight-Awakening/dp/1452544018/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334926233&sr=1-2

Time Takes Time

Writers lament about blocks, character names and whether or not to self publish. My worn out yearning is that of not having enough time to write as often as I’d like.

I tend to glance at my watch all day long. The clock hands turn whether I’m watching a ‘woman’s movie’ or my fingers are flying across my keyboard. Breakfast must be made, as well as lunch and dinner. My nine hour work day is shared with my run and dog walk. The hour or so I spend with friends a few nights a week compete with the time I reserve for food shopping and my commutes. Dare I add in shower time or that five minutes I use for plucking my eye brows?

I could create a mad lib exercise specifically for the outlandish and outrageous uses of time. I’d be remiss not to add the hours I use for praying and meditation- or for thinking about prayer and meditation.

Sitting at this airport awaiting to board, I realize now would be the one perfect opportunity to write. It will make up for a week of evenings on the porch with my octogenarian Dad, afternoons walking on the tiny sunny sidewalks of Aguada, PR and morning runs with my spouse and dogs on Playa Punta del Pico. Nothing, writing included, would fill my heart as listening to my father’s evening tales of the family not being able to buy rice during WW II because they didn’t have an ‘in’ at the grocers and other abject tales of poverty one generation ago.

I shiver when I think about my luxury problem of not having enough time to write because I count on a paycheck for a living. The blessing I forget is that I collect it after providing service for people living with various measures of mental illness. I’m aware that in itself is a luxury- treating depression instead of debilitating diseases of malnutrition.

I’m on the plane now with all sorts of plans. I will complete the next set of revisions for my current manuscript, add to the second novel I began a few months ago and call my Dad to let him know how much he is loved. I will return to that post vacation place of ‘not having enough time’ and forgetting that I’m just where I’m supposed to be and that time takes time.

Prosperity: A Golden Meditation

New Year cards often end with a wish for prosperity. Ka-ching!  This past year I’ve decided to look at what Prosperity actually means for me. I pay the bills, save a teeny bit for a rainy day and try to enjoy the work I do to the best of my ability. I don’t, in fact, work five days a week anymore. This is by choice. I decided that I needed to take more time for my writing. I understand that my experience of prosperity isn’t limited to my financial state. This endeavor keeps me feeling full, whole, satiated and prosperous. The deeper spiritual translation of this is that I will always be provided for. It will be created by some parts me and always my higher power.

I’ve played with placing a blank in sentences where I might seek to place the word prosperity. Invariably, the word that seems to suffice these days is the word “happy.” While, for today, that defines prosperity for me- I realize that it’s a far cry from what I thought it should mean. Prosperity always bought images of droves of money to me. A co-worker once told me that I had gold in my aura. She said that when people saw me that’s what they were attracted to. At the time that was probably the furthest I ever felt from the abundance of such realized prosperity.

Combing through Julia Cameron’s The Prosperous Heart I’ve tried to take some of her suggestions. She speaks of certain strategies that we can take that will aide us in becoming aligned with prosperity. The suggestions she makes include writing daily pages upon awakening, recording what is spent during the course of the day, taking walks by one’s self and, lastly, taking a couple of short breaks throughout the day. Because I already take short breaks I decided to do something that would differentiate these breaks. I designed what I call My Golden Meditation.

I put my phone timer on for five minutes. Center, ground myself and take my deep cleansing and then relaxation breaths. With eyes closed, I imagine myself sitting embraced by the infinite Universe. I am small-sitting there like Buddha.  I imagine the golden energy of the Universe coming to and through my being. I sit and welcome the beauty that comes to me.

Instead of seeing coins the first time I tried this, I experienced the figures and faces of my loved ones- relatives and friends coming to me and embracing me. Each entity came individually. Each hugged me with their personality fully intact. A bear hug from one. I quick embrace with a kiss to the head from another. It was a thoroughly satisfying, safe and prosperous meditation. I had no idea how blessed I was until each showed up and shared a tiny moment of love. At the end there was no feeling or sadness about who might not have participated in this enterprise. It was utterly perfect as only the Universes can be. This was yet another time that I allowed my intuitive self to tell me what to do, I did it and am glad that I listened.

Take time and allow yourself the blessing of partaking in The Golden Meditation. Five minutes. How simple and divine.

I’d love to hear about your experience with this meditation.

The Grief Train

The monstrous carriage rolls into the station. Its metal wheels screech to a halt. The doors open and the conductor yells out, “All aboard!” I stand at the edge of the platform, take a deep breath and just as I’m about to enter, I stall. Not again.

One thing about grief is that it just doesn’t do its thing alone. It dredges up every last death I’ve mourned. It surprises me in its depth. It shakes every bit of intellect I have and throws me into the dark waters of emotion.

Our dear friend crossed over to the spiritual world a few days ago. Because she wasn’t my sister or my mother, this time, I don’t have to tend to the particulars. Because she wasn’t my coworker, who died suddenly at the age of forty four, I don’t have to hold a support group for fifty clients whose mouths were gaping at the wrenching news that had come ten minutes before I was informed I’d be supporting them in their grief.  This time I’m not ten and I don’t have certain responsibilities, like sitting quietly as I make sure that all of my family members are all right- pretending that I don’t mind that no one is asking me how I feel.

This time around, the train is here at the station, but it’s different. I have a spiritual family who is hugging me and I am hugging them. I am at the disposal of her children, who are all warriors in their own rights. I get to remember how she nicknamed our dog and how she was persistent and got the landlord to change that stupid countertop she hated. I get to remember how she calmed me down and told me not to worry because I hadn’t done something perfectly. I get to remember how she tended to me as I was initiated into my bountiful spiritual practice. I will remember how she wasn’t afraid to tell the truth, that she complained when she wasn’t happy about something and that she started exercising in her sixties-telling me we can always change and be open to new things.

This time I don’t think I’m going to get on that grief train. I am going to do my best to keep her love for life within me. I will miss her but she will always be with me. Sometimes the tritest sayings are actually the most healing. Today, I will easy does it. This is the day my HP has made- I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Illness as a Second Language

Illness has a language all its own. Health care has a culture all its own. In the past, I spoke the language fluently and felt right at home in the hospital’s fishbowl atmosphere. I’ve shared a great deal about my transitions to writing and realize just how much I’ve changed. I’m not that gal in whites with rubber soled shoes, sporting a white cap anymore- for a really long time. This is where I insert a *big sigh*.

A dear friend of ours became ill about a week ago. Well, that’s not really true. We found out she was ill last week but she’d been feeling her symptoms for about a month. Finally, hauling her feverish body to the clinic, she saw her doc; he took one look at her and sent her by jet (really by bus) to the hospital. It was a few days later, in a bored febrile state, she called us. I ran across First Avenue and spent some time with her. We laughed, between awful coughing fits, about “hospitals” and “powerlessness over others,” conveniently forgetting about powerlessness over ourselves. We did lick our lips over the cannelloni and carrot cake muffins I brought- that she looked forward to munching on for a late night dessert.

A couple of days later, we returned to find her in the intensive care unit, intubated, intentionally paralyzed with medication so she wouldn’t fight the ventilator and really, just plain old, awfully sick. We met her son. He had spoken to the doctor and hadn’t really understood the medical jargon he was offered. I tried speaking with the nurse, who blushed, shook her head, and said she couldn’t explain anything to me. I was not a relative. She refused to talk to me. Forget the fact that her son was standing two inches away from me. He knows I’m a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Understood I hadn’t done bedside nursing for many years but that I had at one point. We both understood laws of confidentiality. My fellow nurse quickly drained some tubes attached to my friend, washed her hands and scooted far from our little group- whose coats filled the one chair at the bedside.

We were allowed to close the curtain and do a bit of energetic healing work for her. We were grateful for that. When the doctor came, he explained some things in Medicalese. I interpreted as well as I could. The sense of alarm, bewilderment and suspicion had already taken root.  Simple answers to regular people would have done a world of good. Too bad that hadn’t happened.  We rang our hands a bit. We whispered loving words in our friend’s ear, they say the hearing is usually turned on when the person is in a comatose state. We hugged and went our ways.

I went back the next day. This time I was without my friend’s son. She looked worse. I put on my required mask, went in and prayed really, really loudly and did some more energy healing. There was a load of medical and nursing staff there but I knew it would be useless to try to obtain any information.  One nurse asked me who I was; I told her I was a close friend. She zoomed by me to get onto her next task. I wished I could tell her that I am really “that patient’s” adopted spiritual daughter, that I have a PhD in Nursing, that we love our friend and that I promise to call her son and daughters and share everything they want because they don’t understand Medicalese…that… that…  Instead, I picked up my bag and coat, went to the bathroom and ran cool water over my face, hands and the back of my neck. I said another prayer and went home. There is no ending to this story. Yet.

Christmas Reflections

 

One of our friends seemed concerned when we told her we are planning to lay low this holiday season. The children and our parents aren’t boarding airplanes, we aren’t either.  It’s actually a good thing. My spouse and I plan a quiet time at home with our dogs- something that we love to do. Maybe we’ll build a fire in our stone fireplace or do something else just as lovely.

The memory of Christmases for my children makes me laugh and shudder. There was so much stuff! Staying up until 4am assembling a bike-only to be awoken at 5 because Santa had arrived, piles of discarded wrapping paper, and climbing over toys to make a pancake and sausage breakfast made for a chaotic but happy time. A Santa doll at the top of the steps clanged a welcome for us at my parents’ house late on Christmas mornings. The charm of these Christmases stays with me and always will.  

My mother spared nothing to give us the Christmases beyond our wildest imaginings. She grew up in a hospital because of a back ailment and wanted to be sure that our lives were different. Invariably, on her annual visit, her mother would gift her with a dress that was too small for her to wear. Mom said that she would cut the fabric around the arm pits to make it fit. She told me about my father who’d, as a child, spent days searching for hay for the Three King’s visit- celebrated in Puerto Rico. He never found it.  When he looked under his bed on Epiphany, there was nothing there and he was terribly disappointed. Years later, I remembered her telling me that he’d actually found a dime under his bed. I think I made up that dime because it was too painful to imagine his sadness at Christmas- and I gather, many of his days as a child, living in poverty.

Mom made sure that we woke up to a fully lit tree surrounded with mountains of colorfully wrapped gifts. I have one picture where my sister and I could be mistaken for a couple of the dolls we sat amidst. Santa’s cookies were gone and the crumbs, rumpled napkin and the half full milk glass thrilled me with enchantment and magic.

There were some years as a young adult that I so unhappy with some gifts I received because I felt as though the people who’d given them to me had no sense of who I was. They probably didn’t. It’s taken me years to figure out who I am. I was unimpressed by the silver tea set my mom gave me one year. I lived in a small apartment and probably scoffed at it. Now it sits on my server in the dining room of the house I believe she hoped I would one day have.

Times changed. My mom and dad were able to create something different in their lives and so have I. Having the ability to treat the holiday season in a sober manner makes all the difference. Happiness. Check. Love. Check. Peace within. Check. Those are the things that are most necessary to provide me with an inner sense of fullness that no outside object can ever bring. Did I think this way years ago? No, but for today I am different and grateful.

Happy holidays to you all!

Feeling Safe

It was about 6 am, still dark and there I was skulking on a street corner, hunched over by an auto.  A squad car snaked its way down the avenue with its siren off but its red lights flaring. It slowed down when the officer who drove it spotted me at the curb. I could feel his eyes on me for a long moment. I was wearing a dark jacket and pants. He kept going when he spotted my two fluffy dogs- they were engaged in their morning duty. I wondered whether he’d initially thought he’d finally caught the Park Slope groper. He hadn’t. It was me. For a moment, maybe it was the early hour, I thought, well, maybe I am the guilty party. As I said it was just for a moment, but I didn’t like being looked at in that manner at all.

The next morning, I was off from dog duty, and was making my way toward the park for an early run. It was again dark as night. As I walked toward the corner, I saw about eight policemen standing near a man who could easily be taken for the Park Slope groper. I made eye contact with one of the officers and quickly went on my way. It took me a moment to shake off the feeling I had. Was that the groper they surrounded or someone who fit the profile? There are a lot of men in my neighborhood that fit the profile of the groper. That got me to thinking, why was this gentleman actually stopped? Was he on his way to work? My imagination soared. Was he a cook, or was he one of those bicycle delivery guys who risk their lives getting breakfast for the rest of us who barely manage getting ourselves a cup of coffee- the rest of us who don’t look like the artist rendition of the groper.

When I first heard of the assaults in this very quiet neighborhood I was just as frightened as everyone else. I began to feel safer when I saw the added patrol cars driving up and down the blocks- making U turns at the intersections. Then suddenly, I realized that I hadn’t been aware of police presence before because, well, how do I put this diplomatically? There was none. I can argue that since it was a “safe” neighborhood, we didn’t need it. Now it is a given there will be men patrolling on their bicycles or a couple of Guardian Angels will be standing at the corner of the dog park on any given day.

I guess the groper is not going to be wearing a tee shirt that says, “Hello, it’s me!” He will look like the countless other assailants who go around under the guise of normal. He will probably look like me, wearing a dark jacket and pants and he’ll look kind of busy and no one would ever have thought that they were in danger around him. That’s the problem- most criminals don’t look the part. Maybe, like me, they get up in the morning, walk their dogs, drink a cup of coffee and go to work. The difference is that they do a little illegal activity and go about their day, no one the wiser. I do hope if the gentleman that was picked up the other morning is truly innocent that he got to go home and isn’t being held because he “looked the part.” I really can’t wait for this to be over.