Misty

She was the first person I saw as I rushed through my office building doors. She captivated my attention instantly. My first thought of her was, “gypsy” and I heard, “whimsical.” My second thought was that she was incredibly vulnerable. I wanted to go to her instantly and hug her but instead I stayed connected to her by staring into her eyes.

She was dressed in all black. Her beautiful, dark, lustrous hair was piled loosely in a disheveled bun on the top of her head.  I found that this style added to her mystique. She smiled a broad, welcoming smile that was inviting.

Misty was there because it was right; it was finally time. She had looked into taking my Reiki I class last fall and it just hadn’t worked out. She tried to talk herself out of this class the week prior but she worked through it and now was one of my six students.

Misty has a kindness about her; an intrigue. She hides her vulnerability behind a smile that draws you in but when you look at her eyes you see the sadness reflected there if you know where to look. She is gentle, engaging, hospitable and kind. She is a mother to three young boys. She is a wife.

But look closely and you’ll see she has become much older mentally than her physical age belies. Misty is exhausted. She is terrified. She is angry. She is grieving. She is in insurmountable pain. She is in a constant state of high anxiety.

Misty hides this part of herself like you would hide a deep, sacred secret. She’s not one to let others know her pain as she doesn’t want to burden them nor does she want to be a burden.  Unfortunately for her (or maybe fortunately?) she is now in a room full of Empaths and Intuitives. And if you’ll pardon the expression, I’d like to give a nod to the recently completed Shark Week, she was like a drop of blood in a room full of highly astute (nurse) sharks.

I began class and as is my practice, I asked what brings everyone to me. When it is her turn to talk, she instantly tears up and then apologizes for it. I pooh pooh the tears and tell her they are welcome here. Always. Others are on the brink of tears, too. One sweet lady, who hasn’t yet discovered she is Intuitive or Empathic, makes fun of her own tears in an effort to cope.

Misty weaves a short story of what finally brought her to me and at the end she allows us a glimpse of her inner pain. She tells us about her husband who is her everything. This is the man she has chosen to have children with, the one she doesn’t want to live without and the one who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

When we reach the part of class where we scan through the energy (auric field) of the person laying on the Reiki table, I brace myself. It was Misty’s turn to be scanned and to receive Reiki.

I mentally took a deep breath and held it. I physically slammed my eyes shut thinking I could keep out what I was about to intuitively see. Pshaw. As if. I outwardly winced and I remember thinking, “You’re teaching a class here. You can’t fall to pieces. Just get through it. Go.” I knew scanning her energetic/auric body was going to be filled with emotional land mines, tortured thoughts and abysmal pain but I wasn’t even close to being prepared.

I felt it all. I felt the anger, the panic, the anxiety, the constant worry, the injustice, the sleep deprivation, the bargaining and the overwhelming anguish. I felt it all. From her head to her toes in just four seconds. I felt all of that.

I tried not to let on what I had just sensed, felt and knew out of respect for her and my students. I prayed nobody heard me raggedly inhale and exhale an audible breath. But we were in a room full of intuitive ladies who just wanted to help others heal so I’m not sure how successful I was. I do know I couldn’t make eye contact with any of my students as I was afraid they’d see what I had just learned.

Jodi was next to scan Misty’s auric field. I silently begged her not to do it but she is ballsy and not one to back down from anything energetic. She began scanning and made it to Misty’s heart/chest area when her direct, light blue gaze filled with tears. She stopped, blinked her eyes and shook out her hands and arms. Like someone stunned, she took a deep breath and tried again; same response.

I watched, unblinkingly, as she tried a third time. Her hands/arms hovered and shook over Misty’s heart area and my own heart went out to her. Jodi’s surprised eyes once again filled with tears and this time, she stepped away from Misty. She shook her hands and arms as if she had just received an electric shock. She looked directly at me and apologetically and softly said she couldn’t do it; she couldn’t get through (Misty’s auric body).  I nodded with understanding.

My five newly attuned Reiki I students and I took up our places around the prone Misty. I, as always, encouraged my student to go to a spot where their intuition led them. I noticed all but one of them were at her upper body. Sounds about right.

I had placed my hands on her left leg and I found myself gently and softly rocking her lower leg. Across from me was another student. She is a woman whose energy was so maternal and calming that I found myself petting her arm earlier in class. She was lightly stroking Misty’s right leg.

And then it happened.

Sweet Misty, the woman who was trying to hold it all together so her children weren’t frightened, so that her husband wouldn’t be scared and so that she could function, let out a keening, mewling, guttural noise that came from deep within her. It was filled with a pain so deep that I can’t even begin to dignify or quantify it. It was filled with her fear; fear of being on her own, fear of losing her beloved husband, fear for her children and fear of being financially bereft.

One amazing young-but-old student leaned over Misty and did what I couldn’t do; she softly whispered, “Let it out” and Misty did. The keening turned into deep, gut-wrenching sobs and I believe each one of us felt her silent, private and deeply personal pain.

I had been holding back tears all day (I know, I know!! I was just afraid of looking – gasp – unprofessional! Oh the horror!) and I couldn’t do it anymore. Her cries were so feral, sooooooo visceral that I had a hard time not falling to my knees.  I closed my eyes to give her some privacy and tears rolled down my cheeks. We were all experiencing something profoundly miserable and yet beautiful; one of us was releasing deep pain and starting the healing process.

Misty’s release didn’t last long. I could feel when her healing began. I could feel when she released what she needed to and embraced what she wanted to. I could feel her allowing us to give back to her and I could feel her accepting our help.

Misty gave up five hours to be with us in order to learn Reiki. Those precious five hours could have been spent with her husband. She split up her three children with different caretakers in order to be sure they were taken care of. She raced home during our lunch break just to be sure her husband had eaten. She did all of this because she felt so strongly about attending this class.

There are no coincidences. You get that, right? And the Guys constantly tell us, via their channeled messages, that we are ALL one. These amazing women had all come together not only to learn the ancient healing art of Usui Reiki, but to help one of their own; their sister. It humbles me to be so very aware of this.

I was deeply touched by Misty’s grace, her love for her husband/family, her plight and the raw emotion I felt on so many levels. I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t personally touched me. In fact, I went home and hugged my own beloved, healthy, warm and strong husband a little bit longer. And then I hugged him again, a little bit tighter. And then I decided it wasn’t such a big deal if he occasionally leaves a light on or wears his shoes inside.

I bet Misty would give anything to have her husband do just that for the next 50 years.

.

(If it feels right, please join me in sending prayers/energy to Misty and her family. I’d ask that you intend for the energy/prayers to help with all that is for their highest good instead of directing them to heal.)

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Tanning

“Oh, you got some sun!  You look SO good!”  Or, said with an enviable voice, “You’re soooooo tan.” I have overheard these and similar comments being said and I’m finding I’m having a very strong reaction to them…so….a blog is born.

A tan is NOT healthy, it is NOT good for you and it is NOT to be envied. Do you know what a tan is? It’s your body’s innate reaction of trying to protect you…your skin… from further damage. So let’s tweak the above statements.  “Oh, you got some sun DAMAGE! Your poor skin!” or “You’re soooo tan. I’m so sorry!”

Yeah, I’m having a little fun with this but I do speak from experience.  You see, when I was a teenager and a young adult, I remember racing home from work so I could lay in the sun, even for a half hour.  I would bake in my early to mid-twenties by applying baby oil or Hawaiian Tropic Tan Accelerator.  Then something changed and I started applying sunSCREEN.  That was also about the same I started washing the make up off of my face at night, but that’s another story.

As a child, I was lucky enough to be at several lakes throughout ND, MN and SD. I used sunscreen, but I don’t remember reapplying.  I loved being in the water, and my pale Norwegian/Austrian/Mutt skin had many, many severe sunburns. I remember one, in particular, that caused me to throw up several times.

In my mid to late twenties, I visited my parents while they wintered in Arizona.  It was a cloudy day but I was in Arizona and I wanted to get a suntan, dang it!  Oh my LORD! I’d been warned that the Arizona sun was much different than the North Dakota sun but I didn’t listen. Sans sunscreen, my face became so badly burned that my eyelids swelled shut.

When I was in my late thirties, I worked at a skin and laser clinic.  I learned much about our skin and how to take better care of mine. I also learned that the cosmetic industry was capitalizing on the fact that women were willing to pay big bucks in order to reverse the damaging effects of their days of fun in the sun.

My oldest niece (she was 38 at the time) was diagnosed with Melanoma. For those of you who don’t know, Melanoma is the mack daddy of skin cancers. It is scary stuff and it takes lives. Based on my childhood/early adult sun life, I’m a prime candidate for melanoma, as well.

So how did we get our love for tanning?  Here’s a little tanning history; back in the olden days, you were considered ‘lower class’ if you had a tan because that meant you had to work outdoors.  Conversely, those without a tan were considered ‘upper class’ because they didn’t have to work in the sun.

Then, in the 1920’s the designer, Coco Channel, became sunburned while on vacation and well, that was the start of our sun tanning love affair1.

It doesn’t matter if you choose to get your tan on from a tanning bed or the sun; both give off UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) radiation. In fact, tanning beds emit concentrated doses. I can usually spot a tanning bed user as they tend to give off a weird glow, kind of like a neon bulb.

And don’t think you can’t get burned on a cloudy day. I asked my 14 year old bonus son to apply sunscreen the other day and he looked at me like I was spouting a second head (he IS a teenager, after all!). He said, ‘It’s cloudy outside! You can’t get burned when it’s cloudy!!”  Ohhhhh…chil’….I have the same argument with your dad.  YES, yes you can. The sun’s rays penetrate through the clouds.

When I was younger, I didn’t take aging very seriously. Who does?! Back then my attitude was ‘get a bronzing tan today, feel/look good and don’t worry about tomorrow.’  As a teenager/young adult, you never think about your own mortality because you are invincible. Plus you know more than your parents, right?

Now that I am older, I am trying to reverse the damage. I’m fighting the odds of skin cancer and aging. I am proud to be pale. You’ll not hear me apologizing for being un-tanned either, as that would be like me apologizing for trying to stay healthy. “I hope my white legs don’t blind you. I’m trying to remain cancer-free.”

So here I am, years later and much wiser, a self-proclaimed ‘sun-safety girl.’  I wear sunscreen almost all of the time (I’m not perfect!) and I wear hats. I seek shade whenever possible, I wear UVA/UVB protective sun glasses and I am rarely out during the hottest part of the day. I watch my moles and have my doctor check them once a year.

I hope this blog causes you to rethink, even for a moment, how we aggrandize a tan. It is nothing more than our body trying to protect ourselves from harm. The rays, whether they are from the sun or a UV lamp, are NOT healthy; they CAUSE CANCER.

Jonesing

It occurred to me just the other day, after years and years and YEARS of bingeing on processed sugar (most specifically, anything chocolate), that I am an addict. I actually said those words out loud two weeks ago and I know it’s true.  I was out of control with my sugar consumption and when I say ‘out of control,’ I mean there is no earthly way I shouldn’t be in a sugar-induced coma.

Yes, processed sugar is HIGHLY addictive and highly dangerous. Some websites call it a major player in the spread of cancer. Evidently cancer cells thrive on processed sugar. Soon there will be a test that scans the body for accumulation of sugar and that will be a predictor of cancer. Oh my GOD. What am I DOING to my body?!

Sugar is my crutch. It’s my go to. It’s my energy when I’m exhausted, overly tired or stressed. It’s my salve when I’m in pain (emotional or physical). I tell myself I can stop with just one cookie and end up eating a BOX. Most recently I was on a junior mints and peanut turtles tangent. I found myself skipping meals and eating chocolate instead. I would justify my turtle consumption by telling myself it contained peanuts so I was getting something healthy, but I know better. I AM educated on this but I am also an addict whose hormones, routines and/or daily stressors get the better of me. When they do, I turn to my old comforting friend; processed, refined sugar.

As a child I remember eating sugar in the form of Kool-Aid, chocolate pudding and Pixy Stix candy. Some websites say I may have inherited my love (lust) for processed sugar while in the womb. I don’t doubt it. When I was born, I probably asked the doctor for a spoonful of sugar.

Here are some interesting facts about processed sugar (Huffpost Healthy Living):

  • 1.    It’s a major player in cancer growth.
  • 2.    Sugar can affect the pumping mechanism of your heart and brings about muscle protein changes that could lead to heart failure. Humm…so when I was stuffing my maw full of processed sugar and alcohol after a bad breakup, I was actually adding insult to injury to my broken heart.
  • 3.    Sugar can affect the aging of your brain AND body.
  • 4.    It targets your belly and adds fat directly to it.
  • 5.    Sugar can create chronic inflammation which is responsible for a host of medical issues ranging from arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart attacks.

I was never much of a soda drinker, but I loved my sweets. Back in the day, I could eat all I wanted and remain the weight I desired to be. It was because I did some form of a workout (cardio and/or weights) 6 to 7 days a week and I didn’t eat all that well. It’s no fun cooking for one. Then came husband, baby and breastfeeding and I got used to eating extra (sugar) calories a day. When breastfeeding ended, my extra calorie consumption did not, my exercise was not like it was pre-baby and I gained weight.

The additional weight isn’t what bothers me; it’s what I’m doing to my body by uncontrollably eating this crap. I am a vegetarian for ethical and health reasons.  I take known inflammation reducers like pharmaceutical grade fish oil and extra vitamin C to combat the self-inflicted punishment. I’m trying to trick my mind into believing my sugar consumption will be less damaging because of this, but I know better.  It’s the same mentality I use to justify bingeing on chocolate that contain nuts.

I am keeping a daily diary this time around to document when I want chocolate and how I’m feeling when I do.  I’ve started my detox during a time when my body does not normally crave processed sugar in order to be past the intense cravings by the time it does crave sugar. I’ll journal for 30 days and I may publish it with the hopes others can read about my journey and recognize themselves in me.

I noticed the first two days I was off processed sugar, I had a hard time with my memory. I carried my water bottle into my gym class, sat it down and walked out to do something. Before returning to the room I thought, “Oh crap! I don’t have my water bottle. Is it in the car?” So I bundled up and went out to my car. Not there. Well, what the hell. Did I leave it at home? Crap. Double CRAP! As I was grousing inside my head, I had reentered the class and there was my water bottle, exactly where I had left it, right by my yoga mat. Hello!!!

My friend Shannon has offered some suggestions as to how to get through my sugar cravings. I guess cinnamon bark oil is a great help as is using healthy fats (coconut oil/avocados, etc.).  I don’t know. When I want chocolate, I want CHOCOLATE, not just something sweet.  I’m willing to give her suggestions a try, though. She’s been down this road a time or two as well.

I’m going to break routines I’ve established and create new ones. I’m going to watch my inclinations to turn to sugary food when I’m stressed, agitated or mentally bored and opt for something else.  I’ve got to take care of my body; it’s the only one I have and I need it to stay healthy. I’m not saying I wont eat processed sugar again as that’s completely unrealistic.  I’m saying I’ll introduce the word ‘moderation’ into my vocabulary and faze out the word ‘bingeing’.

Exit

“Dad?” I asked, “Can you see the angel at the foot of your bed, standing by the wall?” He said he couldn’t but I could and what I saw made me nervous.

My dad was succumbing to the cancer that was eating him alive. He was in a hospital bed and I was sitting with him. The ‘old’ me never would have asked my highly logical and unspiritual dad if he could see an angel. I mean, HELLO! Looney bin?! But I wasn’t the ‘old’ me any longer and my dad was dying, literally, in front of me.

When dad first told me he was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, I adamantly denied this. I ‘saw’ a white spot inside his shoulder and told him it wasn’t cancer, as cancer would be black. I kept saying, “It’s not cancer. You don’t have cancer” and he would quietly respond, “Yes, I do.”

When I asked my Guys (Guardian Angels) about this, they told me it WASN’T cancer. They said the medical community didn’t know how to classify this and with all things unknown, they lumped them into the cancer category. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know.

My sister, brother and I would tag team taking care of dad until it was no longer possible for him to live in the house he wanted to die in. Through all of this, dad was open to me giving him Reiki and would often request it as he said it helped with the overall pain and with the burning sensation from his radiation treatments.

So when I glanced up from my dad’s hospital bed and saw an angel all in black, I became frightened. Nothing about his demeanor was frightening, though. He was casually posed with his back against the wall. One of his legs was bent and his foot was resting on the wall. He had jet black, silky wings, dark hair, light skin and black eyes (no white sclera’s). He was incredibly handsome and had a powerful, yet calming, presence.

I didn’t sense animosity or evil but because Hollywood has depicted black as malevolent, I was afraid he was there to harm my dad. I became even more protective of my father and telepathically said, ‘You’re not welcome here. You need to leave. Now.’ When I looked again, the angel had complied with my wish. He was gone and I was  shaking.

A few days later, when my dad was no longer able to breathe without assistance and his heart was the only organ that was still unfailingly functioning, I saw this angel again. His demeanor had changed though. Previously it felt like he was just observing or seeing how things were going. This time, his head was bent and his hands were clasped in front of him. It looked as if he was paying his respects or mourning with us.

I knew then that this angel wasn’t there to harm my dad. He was there to take my dad Home. Maybe I knew that when he first made an appearance but I didn’t want to believe it. I am an eternal optimist and believed my dad, through a miracle, could/would get better almost up until the point his heart quit beating.

As us three kids sat around our father’s hospital bed, my dad died.  I wouldn’t have known it physically, but I happened to look up and saw a see-through version of my dad standing at the foot of his bed. The angel stood behind and slightly to the side of him.

The image of my dad was that of a man who was much younger; he was in his early forties. He was wearing a black suit with a thin black tie and a white shirt. His head was bowed and his hands were clasped. It felt like my dad, too, was paying his respects. It all felt very somber.

I glanced back at the physical body my dad’s soul inhabited for 84 years. He was no longer there. I again looked at the astral version of my dad and he WAS still there. A sad, peaceful smile formed on my face. I was overcome with relief that my dad was no longer in agony and he was going somewhere where there was no pain and lots of fabulous golf courses. I also knew his pain had ended and mine had just begun. I took so much comfort and felt infinitely blessed being able to see what I did with my intuitive sight.

Dad didn’t look up, not once. He kept his stance of respect until I could no longer see him. I intuitively said, “Dad? I love you. PLEASE let me know when you’ve made it.”

About five months later, I was sitting in our campsite, alone. Trinity was fishing and I was reading a book. I looked up and saw my dad. He was dressed in some hideous checkered golf shorts from the late 70’s and a white golf shirt. He was sitting on a log about 4 feet in front of me. I excitedly and yet casually said, “Hi daddy!” He, ever a man of few words said, “Well, you asked me to tell you when I made it.  I made it. So, I guess that’s it. I’ll bring your mother with me next time.”  I said, “Ok, daddy. I love you” and he replied, “Yep. Guess I love you, too. Well, I’m off then.”  And once again, he was gone. This time though, with his departure, I felt comfort and peace instead of sorrow and loss.

Breathes

Ok, so yesterday I wrote a blog entitled ‘Breathe’ and promised you some ways for slowing down your breath. Here’s one technique that I just love.  It’s super easy and yes, a caveman DID do it!!

For those of you who have had Reiki sessions with me, you know I often start out by instructing new clients to Belly Breathe. I find myself doing a form of Belly Breathing (Yoga Breath) during most of my sessions. It’s just something that feels natural and I love the energy I get by doing so.

The directions below were adapted – and Melissa-ized – from livingbydesignonline.com.

Belly Breathing.  This is a great place for chronic Rabbit Breathers to start as it has a calming effect on your mind.  Belly Breathing is very good for releasing anger and anxiety. It can also be used for pain relief (I used it during childbirth!) and relaxation in general. Needing to calm your mind? Start here!

Place your right hand upon your chest and your left hand on your tummy. Take in a slow, deep breath (HEY, shallow breathers, fear not!! The ability to inhale deeply is buried in your DNA!) and exhale through your mouth.  When you exhale, pull your tummy in slightly to squeeze out every last drop of that nasty carbon dioxide.

Notice if the hand that’s on your stomach rises higher than the hand on your chest.  Did it? If so, jolly GOOD show! You’ve successfully inhaled life-giving, Fountain-of-Youth oxygen deep into your lungs. If that didn’t happen? Wahh wahhhh wahhhhhhhh. Do not pass Go and do not collect $200.

No, I’m being silly. Just try it again. Now that you know your little tummy should swell on each inhalation, try it.  And try it again. Try it until you hyperventilate (kidding!) or your body starts to remember what it’s like to take a deep, whole, full breath.

Repeat this process as often as you need.  If you’re like me, you’ll forget about this breath when you need it the most (eye roll). Once you’re comfortable expanding your belly, you can stop using the hand position portion of this exercise. You can always visualize a color on your inhalation and/or add some words like, “calm, peace” or “relax” when you exhale. It’s not necessary, but what you tell your mind is what you’ll believe. Let me put it this way; it can only help.

Try this type of breath when you’re driving (don’t do the hand position portion, though! 10 and 2 people! 10 and 2!) or out for a walk. Maybe even when you’re huffing and puffing and your face is turning red in some cardio gym class (yes, that one was pointed directly at me). 😉  Try this when you want some calm or conversely, when you want some energy.

Let me remind you again of a few (there are literally hundreds!) of the benefits Belly Breathing/Deep Breathing can bring about. Ready?

  1. Reduction in cancer as cancer cells can’t thrive in an oxygen-rich environment. 
  2. Reduction in mental/physical fatigue plus more energy.
  3. I wasn’t kidding when I called Belly Breathing the “Fountain of Youth.”  It really does reduce wrinkles and improves skin tone!
  4. Reduction in the workload for your heart, which means lower blood pressure and less heart disease. No studies were done on trying to mend a broken heart, though.  Sorry.
  5. And rounding out the Top Five: Relaxation for the mind and body. Ding, ding! Winner Winner!!  Slow, deep, rhythmic breathing causes muscles to relax and the heart rate to slow, thus allowing the mind to calm.

Let’s ditch the Stress Breath and opt for some good old oxygenated lungs. See what happens. To me, it sounds like there isn’t a downside to Belly Breathing. Well, unless you don’t want to be around to walk your daughter down the aisle, kiss your grandchildren or watch the next season of “The Kardashians” then, maybe…..