Far from home,
tired and spent,
feeling abandoned,
disconnected –

I am cut off.

Lacking independence,
damaged by betrayal,
I try not to need
and get tangled up-

cut off again.

The past haunts me:
a legacy of dead-ends;
abuse, addictions,
and mental illness-

cut me off.

Seek a higher road!
Spirit calls to me.
No! Stubbornness responds
I can do this myself –

But, I can’t.

Confronting shadow,
the nightmare is revealed.
Following Spirit
is the way –

I re-engage.


Water Damage

The rains finally arrived,
accompanied by tremors,
in the autumn of my thirty-second year.

Torrential floods
of pent up fear and emotion,
unleashed for weeks on end.

In my state of brokenness,
I felt the sorrow of
thousands of women –

oppression, rage, disappointment, hell.

It’s been years now,
yet pools of tears still lie,
stagnant, breeding insects,
mutant bugs with segmented bodies,
struggling to stay alive.

I crush them – try to stamp them out,
but they reappear,
unexpectedly, driven
to what purpose I do not know.

I have conformed, cleansed, repented, prayed.

Yet the sorrow comes
in waves of terror,
reminders of the past.

Worry not for me,
but for the children,
whose innocence is tainted
by horrors unknown,
who pay the price
of my victimhood.

Confused, removed, they suffer unwittingly.

Pray for release, for salvation,
pray for understanding and redemption,
pray that we may all, once again,

War is Hell

The battlefield still smolders,
oppressive gray smog hovering
The landscape is scarred,
ravaged reminders of war.

Origins borne of uncertainty,
fear spurred by righteousness
and a disgust of imperfection,
prolong the futile fight.

Subtly, imperceptibly,
defenses strengthen,
confidence renews
but the opposition
will not be silenced.

War is hell.
Unfair, biased,
blinded, deceitful.
Sacrificing the innocent,
destroying potential.

War is hell –
especially when….
the battleground
is the Self.


Day 177 “Trimming Excess”

Want to meet for a drink after work on Friday?  The text was the third invitation I had received this week.

Sorry, was my response, too swamped with work.

Like my dismissal of the other two invites, I didn’t give it another thought.

That is until I read today’s reflection.  “The principle of simplicity,” Derek Lin writes, “…can be extended to cover excess in general.”  Apart from my weight issue, I thought, where might I trim excess?

It hit me like a bolt of lightning – How about the excess that stands between me and my values?

I profess to value relationship, and long for deeper friendships, yet I find saying no so easy.  Work above all else is my creed.  I learned it from my father, who learned it from his father, and have even passed it down to my children.  Everyone understands the importance of work, so it is a forgivable excuse – but is it an honest one?

If I put the amount of effort into my relationships as I do my career, I would surely have the bonds I long for.  Is work an excuse?  Could it be that I really am just afraid of intimacy? I certainly have experienced more than my share of rejection and abandonment, so maybe this is something I need to consider.

Teaching, with all the prep work involved, is time consuming.  Coaching, while expected, just adds more hours onto the day, yet, I wonder if there isn’t another approach to the way I deal with the pressure?  Is there any excess to be trimmed to make room for other aspects of my life?

I worry about something as soon as it is assigned.  Once I know my classroom assignments, for example, I immediately go into overdrive trying to plot out the semester and thinking of ideas to engage my students.  I push myself to be organized weeks in advance, and fret about the weeks beyond.  The resulting emotion is one of being always behind, frantic.

What if I could change my approach –  break tasks down into more manageable chunks – and leave myself time each day for something other than work?  Is it possible to create balance, and with it calm?

“Trimming Excess”, with its simplicity of message, has caused me to reflect on the way I complicate things.



Day 156 “Good and Evil”

Jane first contacted me because she thought she was under psychic attack.  I agreed to meet her at her apartment.

A slender, attractive blond answered the door.

“Jane?”  I noted her hesitancy, but she stepped aside to let me in.

The apartment was small, and despite the clutter, quite tidy.  I asked her permission to walk around.  Nothing that felt external jumped out at me, however, I did feel a lot of chaotic energy connected to Jane herself.  What I was sensing didn’t fit the woman before me.  She seemed “normal”.

“What makes you think you are under psychic attack?”  I asked her.

Jane told me she felt it, and sometimes she would hear voices.  She said it happened at all hours, day and night, and she was losing sleep.

“It doesn’t make practical sense,”  I told her.  “Who would be attacking you and why?   I am more inclined to believe this is an internal phenomena.”

“You mean I’m doing it to myself?”  She considered this thought, and then slowly nodded.  “I’ve wondered that, but why?”

I suggested she come to see me in my office where we could explore the possibilities.

Nothing on the surface seemed out of place.  The first couple of visits, Jane arrived looked refreshed and well dressed.  She shared that she had troubles holding down a job, mostly because she still didn’t know what she wanted to do.  She had also been seeing a psychiatrist to help deal with personal issues.  She didn’t really remember much of her childhood.

I noted that Jane, apart from being highly intelligent, was also incredibly creative.

“Sometimes, I can be,”  she concurred.

I maintained that the phenomena she was experiencing was internal, as if there was more than one person inside her.

This notion set of an unexpected chain of events.  This well polished woman of nearly thirty suddenly transformed into a little girl before me.  Her legs started swinging back and forth and her responses took on a childish, sing-songy tone.

“How old are you?”  I asked on a whim.

“Nine,”  she replied, and then without hesitation, “Where’d you get that picture?  Is it your hand?”

She was referring to a plaster mold of a hand that hung above my desk.

“No.  See mine’s too big.  I don’t know whose hand is it.  I don’t believe we’ve met.”

“I know you,”  her eyes continued to scan the things in my room.   “You are going to help us.”

“I hope so.”  I suddenly knew I was in over my head.

* * *

“What do you like to do for fun?”  I asked Jane during our next visit.  She was her usual self when she arrived, but the question caused her to stir in her seat.

I waited for her to get comfortable again, but suddenly she didn’t seem to be able to.  She stood, and started to pace.

“Did I ask something that was upsetting?”

The woman that turned to me was not Jane.  She looked much older, and worn by the years.

“Oh, I know how to have fun, alright!”  came the response.  “Are you one of those self-righteously moral types?”

“Can’t say that I am?”

“I like a good drink, and a hard man, if I can find one.”  She laughed at this.  “What is it you hope to do here anyway?”

“Jane thinks she’s being attacked psychically.”

“Jane thinks she’s too good for the rest of us.”

My head was reeling.  What was happening here was beyond me.  After ‘Jane’ left, I had to confirm with my secretary that what I had just experienced was true.

“Did you see Jane before our appointment?  What colour was her hair?”

“Blonde, as usual.”

“And what colour was it when she just left?”

“Come to think of it, it was red.  How did that happen?”

“You tell me!”

* * *

I shared with Jane what had been happening during her visits.

“How is this possible?” she asked me.

“From what I can tell, something traumatic must have happened to you to cause your psyche to split into different identities.”

“That’s what my psychiatrist says.”

“And you don’t believe her?  Doesn’t it make more sense then psychic attack?”

“I just wish I could know for sure.”

A thought occurred to me.

“Tell me about grocery shopping.”

“What do you mean?”

“How do you know what to buy?  Do you ever find yourself getting home with things you either don’t remember buying, or don’t even like?”

“All the time!”

“Well, that must mean everybody participates.  Next time you grocery shop, stop and listen.  See if you can get a sense of the others.”

The suggestion worked.  Jane called me with excitement.  “I know what you mean, now!  My psychiatrist says this is a great breakthrough.”

But the progress would be short-lived and my lack of expertise would be to blame.

Little Janie arrived next accompanied by a horrible smell that made my stomach turn.  I could only describe the energy that followed her as evil, and I reacted accordingly.

We did a ritual to cleanse her from this demon, and banish it.

It worked too well.

It turned out that the demon-like figure that had appeared in my office that day was the one that held the key to Jane’s ability to heal.  The evil that it reeked of was the torture and humiliation that had been perpetrated against young Jane.  In order to be whole again, she needed to access that knowledge, and I had banished it.

I had not seen that like the ying yang symbol, there is good in bad, and bad in good.  I had reacted out of fear.

“Evil is the construct of man,”  a religious studies prof once said.  “The idea of demons was borrowed from the Greek, daemon, which actually means mischievous.  The idea being that demonic beings were intended to shake us from our complacency and help us grow.”

The entity that appeared in my office that day accompanied the young Jane.  It came because she trusted me to help it, and I did not.

Judgment is such as harsh thing, and when we put it in the context of good and evil we eliminate other possibilities.

Jane would have to work long and hard to regain the trust of this part of her – so essential to her wholeness.

Day 139 “The Sovereign”

While Thor recovered from his fifth surgery, I returned home for a short respite.  Thinking I could catch up with sleep and household chores, I welcomed the break.
I looked forward to some ‘me’ time.

What I encountered instead was a tsunami of emotions – anger, grief, disbelief, desperation, and depression, among others.  Caught off guard, I fought to keep them under control, distracting myself with mundane activities, trying to run from feeling.

I called up any available friends, and when that failed, I collapsed into myself.

What I couldn’t shake was the idea that my depressed state was completely selfish.  The voice in my head said:  “You have nothing to be upset about”, and I agreed.  It was Thor who was in hospital and who would have to endure more procedures.  It was Thor who was living through pain and myriad doses of medication.  My job was to support him, and in my current state of emotions, I felt ill-equipped to do that.

Derek Lin suggests that we have power over ourselves, as our own sovereign.  He suggests that when depression sets in we have to “(r)ewrite the meaning of the event.”

It will take me some time to work through this possibility.  What I feel now is compounded not only by the reality we face, but also the extensive guilt that overwhelms me.  My anxiety has clouded my ability to think clearly and cope with everyday tasks, sapping great amounts of energy, and as a result, I am off work.  I am not accomplishing the things that I believe I should be able to do.

Thor will be having surgery number six before I am able to bring him home again.  In that time, I need to find a constructive way to deal with my emotions.  He doesn’t deserve, nor should he have to feel responsible for my emotional turmoil.




Today is where your book begins; the rest is still unwritten.  These song lyrics have run through my mind all night, keeping me from sleeping.  A perfect lead in to today’s topic.

I am old enough to know that setbacks are not the end of life; they are usually just a transition point.  If you have been reading along, you know that it is the stuff of my writing.

When I experienced what we used to call a mental breakdown, at the age of thirty-one, I recognized that it was a wake up call to make some changes in my life.  Obviously, the way I had been living was not working for me, so I needed to learn a new way.

Losing my mind was like falling into a black hole.  I felt as if I was at the bottom of a deep abyss, with no visible means of escape.  Four things saved me:  my faith, my children, my writing, and my friends.

I knew that if I was to survive the experience, I would have to build my own stairway out.  I began with my beliefs.

Step one.  I believed that God never gave us anything we couldn’t handle, so therefore, I had it within me to heal.

Step two.  I believed that what happened, happened for a reason, so that there was a purpose for my suffering.

Step three.  I believed that God gives us what we need, so that help would be there for me.

Don’t get me wrong, losing one’s mind is a horrible thing.  In the beginning, I shook uncontrollably for most of the days, lying in a fetal position on my bed. But I knew if I was ever to get better, I had learn to “walk” again.

I set baby step goals for myself.  As my children were still considerably young, I made them a priority.  The first goal was to spend fifteen minutes a day of quality time with my children, without the trembling and tears.  I found I was able to control the anxiety for short periods of time, when I focused on them, instead of me.

The second goal was to get out of the house everyday, even if I was only able to walk to the end of the street (driving was out of the question). This was difficult, but I knew it was important not to give into the fear and become housebound.

In between times, I wrote and wrote, processing every thought, fear, and emotion, until I reached some aha moments.  I used my dreams as a guide.

When I grew a little bit stronger, I called upon trusted friends, who put together a healing circle that met once a week in support of my healing.

I learned many things from that time of darkness.  Mostly, I learned that if something is not life or death, then it is not worth worrying about.  I let go of my need for perfection.  I learned that nothing is as precious as the relationships that sustain us.  And I realized the depth of my own inner strength.

None of us would ever choose setbacks, but in retrospect, would we ever grow without them?

A Serene Marriage

I have been invited to Scott L’s house and even though I haven’t seen him since high school, I am excited.  I first met Scott in grade school, and fell in love immediately.  While we would be best of friends throughout our school years, our love would never blossom. I am hoping the invitation now means that he is ready to reciprocate feelings and we will be together.  I arrive at his home to find my cousin Serene.  I am delighted to see her, and surprised that she and Scott know one another.  Scott is not here yet, and while we wait for him, we are connecting the dots.  How they know each other and why Serene is here. It turns out that they are about to get married and that is why I have been invited.  I try to be happy for them, as I love them both, but I can’t help but feel disappointed.  I have wished for this for so long.

We’ve all had those dreams of unrequited love from which we awaken sure that we are missing something that only the other person can give us.  Wishful thinking is one of the evils that spiritual teachers will caution against.  While the emotional pull is so strong, the temptation is only that:  a threat to the self.

There is no moment but now, and how we respond to what we have is all that counts.  The more I dream about a love that never was, but could be, or wish for that perfect job, or dream home, or other life, the less I am contributing to my current circumstances.  I am unhappy because I am choosing to be.

When we remember an old love, we are remembering a person frozen in time, unchanged.  We have not allowed for the fact that they, like us, have lived life, suffered losses, had successes, and built lives for themselves.  We are not considering that their current life and self may not even resemble the person we once knew.  Wishful thinking is all about the ideal and nothing to do with the reality.  It is wasted energy.

If I look at the dream metaphorically instead, I will consider what I loved about these two people and how fitting this dream is for my life today.  Scott was loyal, straightforward, and trustworthy.  Serene is bubbly, optimistic, and warm.  If the Scott part of me, the loyal, trustworthy side, were to marry the fun-loving, warm side what possibilities could that open in my life?  Well, I finally made the commitment last night and joined Weight Watcher’s.  Could this mean that with the right level of commitment and attitude, I can make it work?

Sounds like a marriage of success!  Now, that I can get excited about.