Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Holiday Healing

The precious six year old Deb Suder with her fishing prize, an eel as big as her.

     I am in awe of how the dead can show me details of their former life and also, details they see about us. It is an amazing slide show-movie in sensor-round for me. I  share this evidentiary experience with their living loved ones, confirming that we don’t really die.

      But a pop in visit by a deceased loved one can be just like any living dysfunctional family during the holiday. There are some personalities and family members that stir the pot triggering emotions, bumbling humor, buckets of laughter and sometimes, deep, old pain.  Sometimes the dead admit their harmful behavior and apologize. That can be rewarding, gut wrenching and challenging for the living, as they try to make sense that  a loved one is reaching out beyond the grave. It is my experience that is a wonderful opportunity for the living and the dead, to forgive and move on.

      Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ the savior who came to change the world, teach us a new way, and forgive our sins.  This 2013 Holiday season brought an opportunity to birth a new life, forgive and transform with a holiday healing.

     Deb Suder, a resident of my hometown of Bedford Pennsylvania, found me on Facebook. She was curious about what I do and quick to comment on my posts. I liked her wit and perky sensibilities. Within a few months Deb requested a phone session with me. I’d never met her, nor do I know her family, but it is always a treat when someone from my hometown contacts me for a reading.

     When I can connect to a dead person who knows Bedford, I get to see the town in an incredible cinematic way.  The dead fly my mind to various places. There is a ‘wonderful life’ charm to Bedford, but the vignettes are not all Frank Capra-esk. I see things in a James Cameron way, with sweeping wide helicopter shots of the church steeples and historical markers, football fields, dairy farms and family homes down to the minute contents of dirt in a flowerbed, where the dead show me the kinds of flowers they grew in their garden. It is all so sumptuous  for me because the essence of Bedford is in my soul. I still don’t know the names of all the streets but with the dead it does not matter they will make their point.

     For about thirty minutes before I was to call Deb, I felt the presence of a loved one who was going to address a serious issue that Deb had wondered about her whole life. I got out my yellow note pad and wrote down these notes: the father wants to apologize for leaving so soon, he knows his behavior in life and death has had a dramatic impact on his daughter. There will be a question of abuse, caused by a family member and family friend. This wound has been buried in  Deb’s body, the secrets must come out.

     I called Deb and we shared our excitement of getting a chance to talk.  I prepared her that I had already been given heads up about our session. I read  her my notes. She was shocked, “Marla, the abuse issue is exactly what  I had been so concerned about?”

     BAM! Right off the bat, Spirit in their divine wisdom was there to help Deb.

    “Marla, today is the 13 year anniversary of my being diagnosed with MS.”

      Deb shared that her thyroid had shut down at the age of twelve and that as a teenager she went on synthetic thyroid medication after gaining 300 lbs. The fifth chakra energy system is located at the throat area. Difficulty in expressing how one thinks or feels  (related to the throat or 5th chakra area) is classic in  abused children. Deb, out of fear and trauma at the hands of adults who were supposed to care for her, shut down her voice. Gaining all the weight was also a way to protect Deb from the inappropriate contact she experienced.  When the mind shuts down, so does the body and all sorts of maladies can arise. 

     Secrets make you sick; it is only in the disclosure of painful and shameful situations that the body, mind, and spirit can heal. 

    “ Deb, now is the time to look at some of these issues and hopefully unlock the wounds that are in your body so you can heal this pain.”

     I began to share what I was feeing and hearing from her father. He had been dead for many years. He was very sad about the impact his life and death had on others. He'd carried the deep remorse about the familial abuse inflicted on Deb, the shame of his death, how it hurt Deb and how very sorry he was. Then my head started to hurt, which is typical when there has been a head injury of some kind to the deceased. I will feel pain or problems associated with how they died, as evidence for their loved ones.

     “ Marla, my father killed himself with a shot to the head, when I was seven. I saw him right after he did it. His bloody hand reached out for me, I ran and hid in the kitchen.”

     My God, what an image for a precious child to have witnessed.  This event haunted Deb her entire life. Deb and I sat on the phone in a kind of three-way call with her deceased father, as he took this opportunity to apologize for his actions. Then her father stepped aside and details and images of other things began to roll in.
    “ Deb they are telling me that you lived off Rt. 220 near Osterberg. They are showing me Beegle’s Christmas tree farm."
     “ I did live off 220 on the way to Osterberg, on another property, not Beegle’s but it was a Christmas tree farm.”
      I then I felt a shift in the energy.

     “ Deb, I’m hearing a woman’s voice. She is telling me that she is so proud that you became a nurse; she says you have her face and hands. This must be your mother.”

     “ But my mom was dead when I became a nurse!”

      This was perfect, we now had the opportunity to talk about what I call, ‘dead people 101’.

     “Deb, when loved ones die they still see us and feel us. Just like your dad knowing his death had such a profound impact on your life, your mom also knows about you. Just because she was dead, doesn’t mean she doesn’t know. She sees you, she also feels your joy and sadness. It is the body that dies, consciousness doesn’t.”

       Suddenly I was given a flood of information from Debs mother, and my mind flew to the inside of Debs refrigerator of all places.
     “ Oh my God Deb, I am in your refrigerator, and your mom shows me you have finally gotten rid of those Tupper Wear containers filled with tangled spaghetti looking things!” Deb laughed, but I pressed on.
     “Wait, there are two other men with her, I think they are uncles. One of these men is teasing you about fishing, pulling you or something.  Wait, now someone shows me Roger Arnold, why Roger Arnold?”

      Roger Arnold is  a hometown friend of mine since grade school. A very tall, kind, funny, smart and ornery nursing supervisor, Roger had just come to the attention of all of us on Facebook, who care about him, after he fell out of a tree stand (a post used for hunting) and broke his back. Miraculously he has survived, is walking, and on the mend.

     “Oh my gosh Marla, that must be uncle Bill! He fell out of a tree stand in the middle of the woods, in fact, that’s how he died! The other uncle is Jack. We used to go fishing and one time at the pond, he had to pull me back by my belt as I tried to reel in an eel that was as big as me! And that tangled spaghetti-looking mess in those containers, were earthworms, night crawlers, fishing bait! I threw them out right before Thanksgiving to make room for the twenty pound turkey I was gona cook. One of those containers I’d had since the 2012 trout season!”
      “ Well your mom is really happy you got rid of them!”

      We were in Hysterics.

      It was just wonderful that Uncle Bill thought to use Roger Arnold as an example so that I could understand what had happened to Bill in death, but that also means to me that the dead, know about other people in the same area who have needed help. I definitely believe that the other side heard the prayers of Roger and his loved ones, and came to his aid.
     Finding out that the squiggly noodles I saw were worms, was amazing.

     “ Your Dad is still here and he mentions that there is something wrong with the front door of your home, and there is a drainage problem on the left side of the house, you need to clean out the gutter.”

      “ Yep Marla, the door sticks and the gutter is frozen.”

       “Look Deb your mother wants you to know she watches you often, and is talking about seeing your brother Rick driving in downtown Bedford. She says that Rick is driving down Pitt Street by the movie theatre right now, as we are talking.”

     Later that evening, Deb was able to confirm that her brother Rick, was in fact driving down past Pitt Street and the movie theatre the same time we were talking to mom.”

       It was quite the session, filled with wonderful confirmation and great details of love and laughter. But spirit opened up their own can of worms addressing the abuse issue right away. It is by the grace of God that this session happened and that there was restitution made, but it is very important for Deb to get the proper help to untangle the wounds that have shut parts of her body down. Talking to a health professional will help Deb stabilize the memories.  Deb’s memories are coming back and along with those, is the upset and confusion of why adults would hurt such a precious child.

      “Maybe if I forgive and let go, that will help my dad and others who hurt me move on too.” 

       Deb is absolutely correct, and it is the beautiful, compassionate, precious spirit of Deb that had endured her situation and in turn has always helped others. But this holiday season, God thought it was time to help Deb and in that loving spirit give her the strength to now help herself too.

     It was a most special holiday healing for us all.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It All Starts With the Heart

                            The Mystic Cowgirl, Stacey J. Warner and her dog, Doodle

A quote from Stacey’s Facebook web page, “Curious what horses can bring to your life? I've never seen someone walk out of the round pen untouched by the experience.”

…Yes, it is curious what horses bring into your life, but it becomes a whole different experience with the help of Stacey J. Warner.

I didn’t know what to expect, and that is the best way to approach a session with Stacey and the horses.  Yet, I was deeply moved, and so will you be, if you take the chance to work with her.

Stacey is a combination of intuition, expertise, and cowgirl rolled into a gentle laser beam of awareness. She doesn’t just whisper to horses, she sees, hears and feels who they are AND what they are saying about us. That's why stepping into a round pen with one of the horses and Stacey perched to coach, gives us humans a unique perspective of our lives. This is not a riding session, in fact you never get on the horse; nope, this is a “being” session. We come face to face with all 1200 lbs of muscle that is either working with us or against us. This becomes a perfect dance as we have to find cooperation within ourselves and then with the horse. It all starts with the heart.

I’d just come back from the bliss of graduate courses at Monroe Institute of Consciousness, to the grief of my cat’s failing health, and  his miraculous bouncing back through one of his 9 lives. My heart was getting more than a work out. I knew that taking a session with Stacey would helpful. But I had no idea how that would look, or should I say... feel.

I'd had horses as a child, but that was 40 years ago, and when I found myself in the middle of the herd, I had a grab bag of emotions, mixed with excitement, awe, and a strange slice of fear.

Stacey knew the herd's personalities and quirks. She read them like they were colorful family members and had even intuited which one I would be drawn to. She was right, Gretchen, the dark sorrel, part Clydesdale, alpha female was who I chose.

 The first thing that came up for me while standing next to Gretchen, was profound respect and yet I was overwhelmed with an awareness that I missed so much in my youth, I had no concept of who I was back then, and in this moment with Gretchen, I knew all would be ok. 

Stacey watched our encounter. I stepped in closer to Gretchen to finger comb the straw from her mane, and I immediately remembered that a great deal of my time with horses was about wanting to please my father, and in that moment I felt paralyzed. Stacey guided me through that fear and drew my attention to how Gretchen was responding to me; the relationship I was creating with Gretchen was an opportunity to see myself in a different way. Stacey brought my attention to how I approached Gretchen, and how I approach people in life was similar, why some things work and why they don’t. The horse is the reflection, an immediate mirror for the student.

I adjusted my energy, and then Gretchen and I went for a walk.

By the time we’d walked back to the coral, I had found ways to “make things work” outside of the human box I was in. I had to think and feel different, change things up and just let go.

My next encounter was with “Rushmore”, a gorgeous chestnut thoroughbred who had been eyeing me, and me him. I fantasized galloping with him over a finish line to victory, but my work started when I felt the pull to press my heart against him. That meant I had to stand right in front him, placing my heart at his breastbone. I was tentative, but Stacey said, “Yes, do it”, and when I followed my intuition, WHAM! Deep sadness, and profound joy shook my chest and pried it wide open.  I had to remember to breathe as I reconnected to the energy that helped me gain so much strength and confidence as a child. My father had given me the greatest gift for my ninth birthday, a buckskin Arabian/quarter horse, and in that relationship I found freedom, power and strength that helped me moved through the tortured home life of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of my mother. BAM!  Yes, I had healed that, and there was Rushmore to remind me, and Stacey to guide me.

I went through a barrage of emotion laughed at myself and wanted to have more fun with Rushmore, but I had just jockeyed my life in a completely different way with the horses and I was spent... from a different kind of ride.

The old cowboy boots that I’d had since I was 14 that fit like a perfect key in a lock, reminded my back that I had been holding in such powerful emotion. Being with these great, huge, sentient beings was a risk worth taking I had no choice but to share my heart so they would know me. Brilliantly guided by cowgirl, angel Stacey, I learned life in the round pen is a mirror for the delicate balance of all life, ego has no place in making things work, cooperation is essential, truth comes out because the horses know our shit and it can all be fun, even the scary parts. It all starts with the heart.
I look forward to my next “ride”.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tending the Garden of Our Souls

 Last week I attended a program for survivors of trauma and abuse when I was gently guided in a meditation by a very gifted facilitator. She  invited me to connect to my four-year-old self. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to see what would happen. I saw this precious little girl standing beside the only rose bush that grew against the side of my childhood home.  She was picking off the Japanese beetles that were eating away the single rose. I could feel the prickly sticky legs of the green-headed marauder, and then the therapist said, “Hold her and see how she feels.”

The girl was anxious, wanting to get back to the rose bush and save it from being ravaged by the beetle that was just doing what a beetle does. Already the pattern of codependence was set up.  There I was at such a young age trying to stop the destruction that seemed an inevitable pattern of my family. As though the hunger of my fearful unhappy parents were just doing what they did to survive and the child was the rose. The analogy was daunting.

Tending to the garden of our soul is not something we think about often. But Spirit, in it’s divine wisdom, set up a situation for me to heal the foundation of my roots as well as protect how I bloom.

A few months ago I was getting ready to set course with a production company on a project when Spirit told me, “We want you to heal some of your history.” Hum, well, of course I wondered how that would happen, but our agendas or what we think about how such a thing can transpire is often contrary to what we WANT to have happen. I like to have things be loving and copacetic so that communication can be resolved in a harmonious way. But this time I could not make that happen because Spirit had a different idea.

What transpired was that I ran smack into a situation with people where fear was at the core of every one of our communications. This triggered me the same way it did with my parents and I literally began to do what I did as a child—vomit.

Spirit told me as my head was in the toilet, “You now can see the damage and feel the pattern of abuse; time to heal it. We want you to go to ‘The Meadows.’”

The Meadows on one hand is a place for the rehabilitation of many different addictions, but they also have a workshop that was suggested to me by my therapist friends and colleagues who knew about this place. They all said I must do the “Survivor” program. This weeklong workshop investigates the origins of adult dysfunctional behaviors by exploring early childhood trauma that has led to various addictions, depression, eating disorders and painful relationships. In this revolutionary educational and experiential process, participants learn to identify and address family-related issues that took place from birth to 17 years of age. The primary focus of the workshop is to learn to deal with the emotions that accompany any less-than-nurturing past event, and then to work on resolution of the consequential grief and anguish. 

The Meadows was an oasis of healing. And in the middle of the very powerful program I had a brief experience of connecting to my inner child who knew the beetles would be trouble, but also loved their sticky legs and the beauty of their metallic green heads and shiny copper wings. Their nature is just to survive. My four-year-old now knows the cycle of beetle and flower: in the destruction of each rose, the bush will bloom even more the next year. 

May we all be lucky enough to have the gift of Spirit to help us see the healing and beauty by tending to the garden of our souls.

The Meadows is located in Wickenberg AZ.

The Meadows has published this blog on their site.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Response Ability

“The first act of self-responsibility, and the base of all the others, is the act of taking responsibility for being conscious – that is, of bringing an appropriate awareness to our activities.”
-Nathaniel Branden, author of Taking Responsibility

All of us have blamed other people at some point in our lives for something. Unaware of the amount of pain we were in at the time, we chose to blame. 

 I have gone though the  gauntlet of  accepting, and not accepting my share of responsibility for what my life looks like, how I got here, and what I have done. There are always deeper places to probe. It becomes an on going process that is definitely... challenging.

 However I am feeling that there is a climate in our world of more and more complaining, blaming, bitching, worrying, finger pointing and shaming. 

No doubt we’ve been harmed physically or emotionally by the acts of others.Yes others are often to blame for egregious actions. There are laws to protect us from certain behaviors and hold people accountable. Sometimes our upbringing makes us more sensitive to the injustices of harmful behavior. 
One might still cringe when scolded, a trigger to a painful memory of a childhood disciplinary act by a parent. But if there are overwhelming incidents of historic trauma, then it is our duty to ourselves and others to seek out the help of professionals to heal our pain. Because if we don't we will take it out on others.
External circumstances might have put you at a disadvantage, but we have a choice to do something about this.

 It’s called, taking responsibility. 

People make excuses for their behavior instead of looking at their own thoughts and actions. When you fail to accept  responsibility for your actions there are events that follow over time. An unpleasant pattern in your family is because there are years and years of brushing the uncomfortable under the rug, pretending things don't happen, acting like everything is fine-- obviously not taking  responsibility for actions. 
 Excuses are insidious because they become a self-fulfilling prophecy, an excuse we make true. Proving no one understands us, listens to, respects, or loves us. If you blame others, then you are the victim,  –You stay the wounded child, the eternal victim. Therefore, the prophecy is  fulfilled.
Another consequence to not taking responsibly is an exaggerated sense of self that makes it difficult to get along with others.  Because your perception of your importance is exaggerated, your expectation of others is unrealistic and you become impatient, intolerant, and demanding. You will even go out of your way to pull conflict into your life to fuel the drama of the upset. Then the drama becomes so upsetting and distracting which is  another way to deflect  responsibility. 

People who keep making excuses for their behavior are trying to deflect their inadequacies and avoid reality. They don’t see that they are losing the respect and trust of their friends, family, and colleagues. They use their pain and all their good intentions as a way to mask the truth and then ultimately, they only surround themselves with people who support their ideas and put up with their excuses. 

We are afraid of not being enough and when we don't step up to take responsibility we prove we aren't enough. Then  our pain becomes our lives, then we can keep blaming others. Yes, we have all done this.

 “ But, I love you! I am doing everything for you, I work my ass off to help you, I put up with the fact you hurt me 20 years ago, that you were mean to me, that you betrayed me, that you left me. This is your fault! This has nothing to do with me! My pain is because of what you said what you did, to ME!"  

The need for acknowledgement and at the same time using the blame game is a wounded child screaming for help.

It would be nice to be in dialogue with others to work things out. But people who can’t take responsibility for their own behavior are not going to be looking to talk to you, They will avoid you like the plague.  They will hide behind others, money, pain, work, or history in order to feel superior and right in being victimized.

The only way out of this vicious cycle is to be aware of your thoughts and actions and then take responsibility for what you are doing, what you have done, what you've said and not said, accept how your behavior has contributed to the situation and... admit it, come clean and tell the truth. OYE!

The only way to change this is, you must WANT it to change. We must find the ability and the courage to respond differently.

It is amazing when we fess up to our own bad behavior what can happen. If people are willing to change, they will be willing to forgive.  Then fear  can morph, love starts to flow and harmony can be resorted. But it takes work.

Don’t wait for others to change. You face the mirror, you go for help, you seek reflection from people who will help you unwind the craziness. Question your thoughts your actions. Don’t stay stuck in needing to prove you are right, look a certain way, or stay in control.

Unless you seek the help of people who know how to really help you take responsibility, you are just running in circles, feeling exhausted, upset, in pain, frustrated, disappointed and unhappy. What if we all were to do this? What would our world look like?

We all make mistakes. But there is freedom in the truth, confidence in taking action, well being and love, in doing what's right.