Life Changing

This photo of a peaceful pair of butterflies was taken by my husband, Bob Haine. The  background of a white flower gives a tranquil setting for the two, a respite from flight and a chance to refuel. Caterpillar days are over as they take their place in the sun.

CATERPILLAR DREAMS: BUTTERFLY REALITY

It has been awhile since I have posted anything. Not because I had nothing to say or no time to say it. I have been very busy, cleaning and downsizing our home of over thirty years for a big move.

Moving to our dream home near the beach in central California was not an easy move. But we have arrived, here and now.

I have not posted anything lately because, as the caterpillar might say, “When you’re in a chrysalis state you keep still, until you’re ready to emerge as the butterfly.”

I’ve spent the months after the new year preparing to grow wings. It has been my caterpillar stage.

Nobody delves much into what the caterpillar is thinking and feeling as it hangs in that fragile cocoon. We like pondering more on what the beautiful butterfly is feeling as it floats across the sky, manifesting those gorgeous wings.

However, the ugly caterpillar stage is the most critical part of the butterfly’s development. Without this nitty-gritty formation stage, the butterfly would not exist.

It takes time, a darkened time, to formulate the butterfly. Somehow, the caterpillar knows and accepts this.

It must be frightening, at some level, to leave the only world you know, to reconstruct the body you have had, to live on the precarious edge of a branch, yet have the quiet knowing that this is the proper sequence of things.

I admit that I did not have the natural intelligence of a caterpillar when I chose to pack up my former life, leave our longtime home and move to a totally different locale.

I did not realize that not only would the structure of my home change, but that I would not be the same creature after re-establishing myself somewhere else.

The metamorphosis from a caterpillar life to a butterfly life is not easy. During the preparatory times, there are lots of questions if one is a human caterpillar. Questions like:

When is my escrow going to close? I’ve sold my home; when am I going to find a new one? What do you mean when you say that I can’t get a loan on this property?

The list goes on and on…..

Finally, there is an ah-ha moment, a time of surrender. Like the caterpillar, it is not resignation as much as the sheer acceptance that there are bigger, more mysterious forces at work.

Go into the cocoon. Dream the beautiful dream. Let the feelings of discomfort, fear, even despair, pass through like a mist. The dew is settling on the bush, and one fine day the realtor will call and say, ” The perfect house for you just went on the market today.”

You know the minute you walk through the door that this is the home you’ve been  waiting for all your life. Much like the butterfly coming out into the light for the first time, you realize this house is not just a house. It is the repository of your feelings, the carrier of your dreams. In short, it is not just a house; it is your forever home.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to find such a home, our house of love and light. I have enjoyed the rebirth, making this place a structure with our unique imprint: the blue, white, and sand colors of the beach, the blend of my art and my husband’s photography, our shared music and instruments, my touches in the surrounding garden.

I have planted butterfly bushes and “save the bees” flowers. The hummingbirds, hawks,  and finches come for visits. On the ground, a line of quail stroll by in the morning.

The coyotes, spiders, and snails are welcome here, too. If you exclude the so-called negatives in the natural ecosystem, the system collapses. We all need a home in this interdependent world.

Has the transition from city life, to part-time mountain life, and now the rural bay life been smooth?

In a word: NO.

We human butterflies are beautiful and freed from many things. But the world outside our inner world is still throwing us curves. The wind currents and earthquakes are still slamming us:

Why do we need a cardiologist, a pulmonary expert, a nephrologist, an x-ray, a CAT scan? What do you mean we may not be covered by our insurance since we moved? What if, how can, must I…?

And the wise monarch butterfly that floats past me in the yard is whispering, “Let go. Just breathe.”

When I wake up and realize I am the spirit in my body more than the body is in my spirit, I will know my winged friend is right.

It may be hard to be a butterfly in a caterpillar world, but as more and more wings open to the light, this becomes a beautiful place to be.

I am so grateful to have my part in this world and to share  life in my new homeland with my wonderful friends and neighbors.

Light and water are two components of life that no one can do without. Sunlight on the ocean makes for a perfect moment and a happy heart. This photo of Bob’s at Carlsbad Beach, California, is an inspiring example of that feeling of fulfillment.

THE MEANING OF LIFE: ONLY THE HEART KNOWS

I am sitting in a crowded restaurant waiting for almost two hours for my husband and our friend to show up. I have plenty of time to get to know my thoughts. In between bites of tasty appetizers, I look out the window to see what’s there.

I would rather look into the window of my heart and see what’s inside there…love, promise, expectation, honor, events of the past, future dreams, the glory of now, the dance of my bloodstream, my connection with parents, grandparents, children, friends, and people I haven’t met yet on the wheel of life. Even now, the year is turning toward them.

How often do I have time just to sit in a crowded, noisy restaurant and write, uninterrupted, listening to my heart. What a blessing that is! There is cacophony and chaos all around me. Children yell for “Mommy,” and multiple conversations of the packed room go in waves around the room.Yet, I am calm, as though listening to the ocean waves at sunset, having a private conversation with my heart.

That would make a good song title: Conversation With My Heart. The conversion of my life could begin by listening and then reorganizing my priorities to a finer way of living. My to do lists and New Year’s resolutions have caught the attention of my mind. Now it is time to let my heart have its say.

Love has always been the heart’s answer that leads to joy. Why haven’t I listened? Perhaps I had not yet asked the right question or phrased it properly.

What is the meaning of life, my life?

anything I want it to be if I write the words with love. The end result will be joy. The foundation will remain solid even when the world around me is crumbling in sand.

It’s just a few days into 2015  and that’s the most beautiful thought I have had so far. I can hardly wait for more to come.

Before the rain yesterday, this is the vision Bob and I saw in the clouds. I see a woman blowing a horn if I look at the photo from far away. Others see a man looking right at the viewer. I wish we could show this as a vertical shot because the cloud  looked so spectacular hovering over the rooftops and trees.

LOVING MYSELF: I SING THE BODY PERFECTIC

I have recently been reflecting on the perfection of the body and how little love we tend to give it. It is our first and oldest friend. It is the final companion we will bid farewell. More than a garment that houses our spirit, it has a life of its own that depends on us to help shape it and protect it.

I am grateful that my body did not give up on me when there are so many times I have not been that kind to it. I am inordinately kind to others around me and sensitive to their needs. However, looking back, I have seldom given the love and respect to my own body that it so richly deserves.

Every body deserves love and respect. Every body is a gift from God, on loan to us for this lifetime. Having free will, we can choose to treat it however we want. Many religions tend to downplay the importance of the body for a variety of reasons. They talk about temptations of the flesh, but it is really the mind that makes the choices.

I choose to honor my body as much as I can, for as long as I can. That does not just mean giving it good food and taking it for a walk. A dog owner knows that this protocol will keep a dog in shape. If the dog is to thrive, then another ingredient must be added to the mix: LOVE. And in return, the dog is happy and glad to serve its master.

How many kind people would yell bad names at the dog for being “ugly”? Would they stop loving him if he got too fat? Would they quit loving him if he were in pain? Yet these same people (myself included) repeatedly think bad thoughts about their less-than-fabulous-Madison-Avenue bodies, and the aches and pains of aging.

It’s time to STOP… CHANGE THE COURSE OF OUR THOUGHTS.

Regardless of what has manifested in my body, I choose to love my faithful companion. The longest marriage of flesh and spirit in my life deserves my affectionate attention. The body communicates with me, sometimes in ways I don’t particularly like, and I have the option of a loving response.

When I was put on the kidney transplant list, I did not blame my body. I tried not to blame anything. I realized that prayer work, positive thinking, and some unusual measures could help what appeared to be a desperate situation. My mother suggested a solution. She said to sing to my kidneys and visualize them up to 25% function and loving to work with me.

It seemed like a weird idea, but both my mother and I are oddballs, so I started to make a simple, happy song for them. When I reached 25% function and up to 30% function, I was not surprised. My kidneys knew I loved them enough to sing for them and they returned the favor.

Yes, the body does have an intelligence. And more importantly, I believe the body (right down to the cells) responds to the healing power of love.

Now, I just need to get over prejudices that keep me from helping the rest of the body to heal. Since I am a singer/songwriter, my idea is to write songs, love songs, for other areas that would benefit from improvement. Actually, what would be even more effective and less time-consuming would be to write one epic song: “I Sing The Body Perfectic,” and sing that on a daily basis. I love Walt Whitman’s poem on the same idea, but adding music would make the feeling more energetic.

As for what constitutes perfection…I cannot say what that means for everyone. I only know what it means for me. I can choose to have love for my body-buddy regardless of what the doctors say or what others think. I am the only one who has to live in it and I will program my thoughts and feelings accordingly. I take direction from God, my insights and angels, and those that love me regardless of my body’s condition.

And I can choose what constitutes my perfection on a daily basis as long as my eyes and heart are focused on love.

As a postscript, I might add that I met the love of my life 38 years ago today. We are working on recording more songs for our fourth bobandkathi CD today, and then we plan to CELEBRATE.

The photo shown here is a lovely spot on the Oregon coast called Arch Rock. My husband got the light shining with the perfect angle. We were slated to check into a motel miles away, but we lingered at the sunset  to enjoy the moment.

DROPPING DEADLINES : PICKING UP LIFELINES INSTEAD

I had planned to do this blog as soon as my three week road trip was over. After listening and feeling “mizzle” (misty drizzle) on my face in the rain forest of Washington, I dropped the need to meet deadlines. Especially since I was the one making the deadlines. In my experience, people do not die from deadlines, especially self-imposed ones.

Most timelines can be extended, negotiated, and if missed, it’s my guess that something ever better might be around the corner. I’ve never been much of a linear thinker. I tend to be circular. I find that opportunities come around, just like some cosmic merry-go-round. I can still catch the brass ring if I lean at the right time, the moment I choose.

I am more into lifelines these days. That’s not to say I’m on a sinking ship or fallen overboard. I am not looking for a life preserver in an emergency. I am finding more and more alternatives to what I thought were rules set in stone. Stones sink.  I’d rather aim for walking on water, or at the very least, learn a better way to meet the tide.

I made a promise to myself to practice those things that are life enhancing. Daily meditation and prayer, moderate exercise, healthy food, good music, and gardening: those are my lifelines. I like to share them with my husband because that increases the pleasure.

If I ignore these necessary pleasures, the red warning light goes off. It keeps blinking until I do something about what’s causing it.

Case in point…. Before I left on vacation, I had three whiplashes, two concussions, and was struck by electricity from a rogue appliance after an earthquake. One might argue that these were just coincidences . People do have car accidents, hit heads on cupboard doors and a blue streak of electricity can strike if something is faulty.

I got the message: I was the one who was faulty. It took me awhile to learn the lesson. SLOW DOWN OR YOU MIGHT BE DEAD. That’s a deadline I did not want to meet, so I changed my ways. I bowed out of some commitments, extended some time frames, found some recreational activities that I enjoyed. I even got my first degree certification in reiki to help heal myself and others.

At this juncture of my life, I have decided it’s time to fulfill a life-long dream: to have a home on the beach. I have visualized a one story house in a quiet fishing village on the central coast of California. My husband and I both love the area. Our city home is lovely, but it’s time to find something more natural, like our mountain home. We can have the best of both worlds.

I do not let finances or the process of moving deter me. Letting go of “stuff” we have accumulated here has been refreshing for me. The house is just a reflection of our inner life as well. My husband and I have been clearing out mental things that no longer serve us and replacing them with what we truly desire.

“Today is the tomorrow I dreamed of yesterday.” That is what I will say when I cross the threshold of our new dwelling. And we will know that we have come home.

Bob took this photo in the Grand Tetons area. It’s a rugged place, but like many places that are challenging to get to, and difficult to get through, it has a special beauty worth the effort.

AFTER THE RAIN: THE BEAUTIFUL WEATHER, PART TWO

The evolution of my marriage with Bob has been a blink in the universe of time. Thirty seven years and we’re still evolving, finding out what makes the other tick.

Emotionally, we stand taller together now, but physically are more bent. Perhaps arthritis is just the outward manifestation of burdens borne and cares that ran too deep. But I believe that love lightens the load and faith rebuilds  us, or finds what was supposedly lost.

We cannot bring back our lost children, our deceased parents, our absent friends. They dine at another table now. We will be reunited, but Bob and I have business to attend to here, promises to keep to ourselves and others, the fulfillments of our raison d’être.

I have had opportunities to leave the planet on quite a few occasions. Two direct angel interventions kept me here, one when I was five, and one when I was twenty seven. (I will give the account of those experiences at a later date.) I am also certain that Bob and I have been blessed by behind-the-scenes heavenly help many times.

I don’t remember the exact date, but sometime after the new millennium I discovered I had a severe kidney problem. The doctor  informed me I had a GFR of 25%. I learned a GFR (glomular filtration rate) was the measurement of how well kidneys worked. I thought I just had a 25% reduction in function. I was shocked to learn that 75% was gone.

Where had it “gone” and why was the doctor saying it would get worse? I had very little understanding of why I had been  switched from lithium to another drug to treat my bipolar illness, and why I’d been referred to a nephrologist. It was a medical wakeup call for me and my husband.

As the function went down to 20%, I learned all I could about “mighty nephrons,” the little parts of the kidneys that do the work. I even had a song I sang to them. We prayed. I visualized good health.

Bob and I went to the dialysis classes together in preparation for the getting the shunt. We discussed my options for types of dialysis. When I went to Loma Linda for the evaluations to be put on the transplant list, Bob was my faithful companion. I got on the list in 2007 and was told it could be years before I got a donor.

I was taken off the list the following year, but did not get the transplant. I had gone over the weight limit and kidney function had gone UP too high, too good, to be on the list. I never even got a shunt or put on dialysis. I told my nephrologist that there was a higher power than Kaiser (my medical HMO) and that I’d get to 30%. I did.

I had the goal of 40% by Christmas of 2012. Bob and I had released our Christmas CD, Carols for the Christ. We had concerts set up, but I started to feel more and more “funky heart rhythm.” We had to cancel our bobandkathi performances after I went through a catheter ablation which didn’t work. The six hour heart procedure, done while I was awake, established my electrical misfires were in the septum, an area that could not be fixed.

After a hospital stay two days later to try a new drug, I was sent home because it was too dangerous for my kidneys. I got a new combination of medicines and my rhythm got better. My kidney function went temporarily down. I am thinking it will be up to 40% by next Christmas.

Bob was usually the one taking me to medical adventures. When he turned sixty in 2009, he had a full physical. An elevated PSA score (a prostate screening test) led to an evaluation by a urologist. Another blood test showed an increased level. Next came the biopsy and we came back to hear the results.

Bob was positive he did not have cancer. POSITIVE. But the results were positive, too. The good news was that the cancer was in the early stages. The doctor went over the different options, complete with colorful pictures. He explained risks and side effects. He said Bob could think about it and get back to him. Bob replied, “I’ve made my choice.”

It was my turn to be surprised. I thought we’d discuss it first. He had chosen the least invasive procedure, radioactive seed implantation. I wondered if a more intense surgery would give a better chance for a longer life.

We did talk about the choice later. Bob got a wonderful radiation oncologist. Unfortunately, the doctor had his arm in a cast. We waited for him to heal, so he could do the surgery.

It was the right choice. In December, the doctor made the “template” for where the seeds of iodine 125 would be implanted. Bob had the procedure done in January of 2010. I drove him home the same day as the surgery with his list of instructions.

There were interesting precautions. He could not be around pregnant women or have a child on his lap for a while. There were sexual and urinary issues to heal. He was given a paper to carry to show doctors and X-ray screeners. He jokingly referred to himself as “radioactive man” to our friends. It was a small price to pay for an extended life together.

Now he volunteers for the American Cancer Society as a “Road to Recovery” driver, giving free rides to patients for their chemo and radiation treatments. Sometimes I have complained about the time it takes from our schedule. That’s when I forget what it means to Bob and to the ones he’s driving. I am very proud of him for his dedication.

As for the beautiful weather of life, BRING IT ON!

Here is Bob Haine at Mono Lake, California, on one of his photo trips.

Bob Haine at Mono Lake ©2013  Nancy Speaker

Bob Haine at Mono Lake
Photo By: Nancy Speaker

This picture of an archway in the Alabama Hills of California was taken by my husband on a recent photo expedition. It suits this particular blog because it is a natural bridge. I see “no” as a bridge leading to “yes,” when the proper intention is applied. Although the arch is stone, it seems softer in the early morning light.      

NO: IT’S THE NEW “YES”

In spite of what Webster’s Dictionary has to say, I don’t view “no” as a negative answer when the question or situation does not have a positive energy. I have been a people-pleaser most of my life. My therapist told me that this behavior is typical for childhood abuse victims. I have volunteered (and been volunteered) for thankless jobs that no one else wanted, agreed to do time-consuming projects for others at the expense of my own time, and have even considered suicide on more than one occasion when one simple word would have saved me: NO.

I am a changed woman now. I still maintain a compassionate heart, with one strong addition; my compassion now also extends to me. It is not healthy to hangout with energy vampires or people who have no intention of helping themselves. Being an enabler does nothing to help either party, if either person is not making independent choices and accepting the consequences of them.

I have also had to learn to say no to myself, the ego part of me that would love having a piece of chocolate cake, skipping yoga or a walk, watching reruns of Murder, She Wrote instead of meditating. Sandy, a dear friend, said it best: “Never give up your power to food, another person, or any idea.”

I do believe in surrendering to God, because that is saying no to the part of myself I would like to cast off in favor of something greater. Some of my best friends are angels, which I will blog about at a later date. When I listen to their advice, I find I don’t have to say no as much to others or myself.

It’s hard to make a Heaven on Earth if I don’t feel it myself. I like to grow my own “Garden of Eden” and invite others to join me. (I even wrote a song about it.) I can accept some unpopularity with popularity, because this is a dualistic world. I also allow others to say “no, not interested in joining at this time.”

Recently I found that I was overbooked for my life. I had too many writing contests to enter, too many singing engagements to do, and too many events to attend. Instead of losing control, I took charge and made some choices. I chose which contests I really wanted to win, what gatherings I felt happy to join, and I left the rest for another day. I even postponed my blog for a couple days. There rarely is a “one and only” time to do something, and seldom a “one and only” person to meet. That is a grace I am grateful for in life.

This week, I also learned that when doors say no to me, I have options. Do I have the right key for the door, or do I need to learn something more? If it’s an unfriendly keyhole, can I find another like-minded door that is already open? Even if I have a handful of keys, how do I know what doors they unlock? Are they doors I wish to enter?

Closing some doors may also be necessary to get to the vista I wish to see, the person I wish to become. Sometimes saying no is saying “go” to the person, the situation, the plan that is not working anymore. While this can be a step into the  unknown, it is the only way I know of to get to the new “yes” for me.

 

 

 

The peaceful picture at the top of my blog was taken by the love of my life, Bob Haine. He shot it in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park last March while I was attending a Hay House convention where Doreen Virtue was the keynote speaker. The photo is a beautiful lead-in to my first public writing of my very private life. The green of the old oak and the green of the stream present the balance I look for in life. That is the theme of this blog.


FINDING BALANCE: SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO LET GO TO KNOW IT’S ALREADY GONE

I did something rather amazing this week. I changed my name. No, I did not make up a new one, or create a pen name, or even change my name that much. I decided to go back to using the name that I was born with: Kathleen. Not Kathy or Kathi, the names I had picked up along the way. But my real name, the name I was meant to be.

Why do this, one might ask? Simple. I realized why I had changed the name in the first place. It was an unconscious attempt to get rid of my past. Many people have a past they would like to forget. My mind was very accommodating in that regard. Except for a few, limited memories, I had pretty much forgotten the scenes of my childhood. This week, however, I started to remember. More importantly, I learned how to put it in its place, pick up the pieces, integrate it, dump out the garbage, and claim the parts that I still loved. Nothing was wasted in the experience.

I have two reasons for sharing this in text. I find it cathartic for me. But I think my main motivation is to help others who may have had similar situations in their life, or are going through it now, or who are really earnest about getting empowered to be the person that they were meant (and CHOOSE) to be. I realize that I am mainly writing for women, because my experience is from the female point of view. Yet, I speak to the needs of everyone, because giving and accepting love, being peaceful, having boundaries, and knowing we are powerful beings who are never alone, are things we all need.

If anyone is offended by what I have to write, let it roll off their backs like the rain and water someone else’s garden. The people who would be most upset or embarrassed by my words are dead and buried. I wish them nothing but love. Forgiveness costs nothing but the peace of mind is priceless.

I was given a “rose” of a life. Roses have thorns. One just needs to learn how to cultivate a rose while avoiding getting stuck. And every true gardener knows the oldest, thorniest roses have the very best fragrance.

Back to my title…finding balance. To live life completely NOW I have decided to put the past away, keep the lessons and love I got from it. I plan to restore harmony to my life in my way of seeing things, doing things, and being however I choose to be. I know that accepting who I am now is the first step toward becoming who I want to be. Others will benefit by the ripple effect of this change. Even if everyone else doesn’t notice I am different, I will know it. The inside relationship is what really matters.

Yesterday evening, I did a little ritual to finalize my departure from a previous life and entry into a new one. I burned some old photographs in a pretty abalone shell, I buried the ashes in the dirt, I said a few prayers, took a warm, salt bubble bath, and had peaceful dreams all night.

This is not a journey that ends here. Perhaps you would like to take it with me. I invite you to do so. I will be writing every week in the coming year. My birthday is next week. Writing is the present I give to myself. I will be sixty-two, a senior citizen. As far as I am concerned, I was just reborn and I am very, very young at heart.