Ekphrastic Poetry · Poetry · Prose · Tai Chi

The Death of a Farm

I submitted this poem to the July 2019 Ekphrastic Challenge, but it wasn’t chosen. I don’t have permission to use the image here, but you can check out Ekphrastic Challenge on Rattle.com for the exact scene. For this post, I chose some free images on pixabay to illustrate the poem.

The image in the July 2019 Rattle challenge shows a small farm with a house and trailer on the right, positioned behind a pen. In the muddy field, there are two cows. In the background to the left, you see an old silo and in the center in the background, a barn. Above the silo is a jet making a descent. The image is named: Restricted/U.S. Air Force by B.A. Van Sise from the artist’s “Elsewhere” series.

For me, the image on Rattle elicited memories of my time on a farm in Missouri. Our large family rented an old farm house for a couple of years in the early 60s.

My impression was of the passing of an era for the house, the farm, me, and even the nation.

THE DEATH OF A FARM

The house was a woman of years

refusing to sell to developers.

She still had her wringer washer

and coal-burning stoves waiting to be fed.

How she quaked with the roar of the coal filling her bins.

She ate that coal like candy.

And the ubiquitous black dust fought me each winter

as I scrubbed and scrubbed the cracked vinyl flooring

and the sills and woodwork that trimmed her bodice.

Each summer, the dust blown in from the fields

would blanket the old woman.

Her ivory dress, tattered and stained,

spoke of bygone trials and triumphs on her American soil,

where she stood her ground.

I was her caretaker in our sojourn there

as she indulged this family of nine,

who needed a roof with substantial lodging.

She complied with the courtesy of a elderly southern belle

eager for companionship as she had been lonely too long.

Her barn became a nursery for newborn kittens

and a playground for boisterous boys.

They climbed the rickety ladders to view her farm

from the highest loft overlooking the pasture

and her crop of tobacco and such.

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The crops were farmed by hired teens

who tried to scare this young girl

with gross beetle larvae from across the fence.

Wanna smoke?  They would ask me.

I was too young for them  – and busy.

I worked for the sake of the house.

I would wring out the sheets and hang them in the sun.

The laundry on the lines would whip in the wind

to the songs on American Bandstand and the current top ten.

When free from the chores,

I took to the pasture to sing and dance to my own tunes

in the fescue that nourished the livestock.

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My heart wandered in the farmland hills and the trickling creek

as I imagined my possibilities.

But one autumn day, the pasture became my refuge of tears

when I heard that President Kennedy had been shot and killed.

I ran from the kitchen to the pasture and

slumped down. My cries resounded as a death toll

in the shadow of an abandoned silo.

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My old friend stared with wide, hollow eyes,

As her light dimmed to still night.

The cows scattered to the sound of a jet

descending to torn earth.

 

 

©Barbara Harris Leonhard, extraordinarysunshineweaver.blog

Images: Pixabay

 

 

 

Essays · Healing · Prose · Quotes · Writing

Abandonment

img033In a couple of previous posts (February 2018), I described the time I had measles encephalitis when I was six going on seven. One of those posts includes a poem about the experience, “Hope was not a Loss”. In the other post “Measles Encephalitis”, I described the event and showed how this illness and the recovery process led me to the healing arts. I also examined how critical a role our subconscious plays in our healing. Perhaps we have a more powerful role to play in our on recovery from illness than we have been taught to believe.

In this post, I would like to go into another aspect of the illness I endured and my recovery, that of the abandonment I felt throughout the illness and my recovery. Maybe this account will guide people who are helping other people suffering from a debilitating illness.

My experience began in the summer of 1958 before my 7th birthday. Measles had hit the household, so Mom had her hands full. She sent me up to her room to get something, and my legs gave out from under me. I had to drag myself to the stairs and manage to get down the stairs to Mom, who didn’t believe me when I said I couldn’t walk. However, soon I also lost the ability to speak, stretch out my arms, eat solid food, and take care of my needs.

At that time, because I was unable function, play, and interact, the circumstances put me in a dark place of abandonment. I felt cut off. Life revolved around me. I felt so lonely and discouraged.

Because it was difficult to carry me up and down the stairs, I was left alone a great deal in the living room. Although Mom was close by, I only had myself and my thoughts. What was wrong? Was I going to die? Would I ever walk again? Why don’t people understand me?

I felt helpless, so fears built up like shadows to greet my vulnerabilities. It left me inconsolable.

I felt abandoned. However, at that time, I didn’t know the word, only the feelings of being cut off, separated, and isolated. My siblings were too young to understand. My parents were caught up in caring for the others and helping my dying grandfather. I had always been an easy child, never asking for anything. I would rock myself to sleep as a baby. People were used to my silence. In this case, silence was my only recourse at that time because it was hard to ask for anything when all I could do was grunt and mutter nonsense. These limitations caused me to feel impatient and angry. In my mind, I understood every word I intended, but no one could make out what I was saying. The inability to communicate caused me to shut down and fall into depression.

I blocked out a lot of the trauma. It was too much to process at that time. And my feelings of fear and abandonment partly stemmed from the fact that no one could help me process that time in my life. I don’t recall anyone saying, “How do you feel? Don’t be scared. We are here for you. We are in this together. You have this! This is temporary. We will get to the bottom of this. This isn’t your fault.”

I watched my siblings and friends outside as they played in the front yard. Even if they had come inside to include me, they didn’t know how to do that. They possibly didn’t know how to say, “We are sorry you are sick. We miss you!” No one taught them how to console me. Life has a way to take people’s attention from the sick.

However, because my brain was swollen, maybe they all did say comforting things, but I just didn’t process the words. My young mind couldn’t comprehend the physical suffering I had to endure. I had no way to analyze or process it. It seems I just surrendered to my malaise.

Mom fed me and tended to my physical needs, but I don’t recall being hugged or held. Perhaps the measles kept people from getting close. However, Mom built me a fort with blankets to make a steamy place to help me breathe in the hot sticky air and release phlegm from my chest. Maybe that ultimately saved my life. I have never read of such a treatment for measles encephalitis, so perhaps I also had a bad cold on top of everything else. Nonetheless, I feel deep down that her actions may have made my case of encephalitis milder, less insidious.

My dad was a busy minister who was also caring for his dad, who was dying. Dad had to travel from Montana to Michigan to help grandpa, move him back to Montana, and later return to Michigan to close up the family home there. He was not around much, and the circumstances left me feeling abandoned by my protector. The picture of all their lives and problems was too big for me to understand at that age and at that time. Life for my parents at that time was at a critical point.

When Mom accompanied him on these trips, we were left with a sitter named Mrs. Buck, an elderly woman who had a gun. The fact anyone would need a gun scared me rather than comforting me. I had no idea how I would escape an intruder in my vulnerable condition, and the front door was right there, a place of entry but no escape.

I wish I had the exact timeline for how I remained on the couch in the living room, but one night Mom and Dad raced into the house and swept me up. I recall the scared faces of my siblings and Mrs. Buck. So that I wouldn’t be scared, my parents presented me with a cute little red plastic purse, which I played with in the car. It felt good to be seated between them, and the attention was welcomed. I was a princess, and there was no sibling rivalry for their attention! I don’t recall much more in that one the hour drive to the hospital in Miles City, where my ailing grandfather was.  I thought I was going there just to see him, but actually I was going into and out off a coma and was very ill.

Even though I had fallen asleep or passed into the coma on the way to the hospital, I will never forget standing next to my grandfather’s bed in the hospital once we arrived to Miles City. Maybe I was carried in, but I remember standing at one point. People were gathered around. I recall moving from the foot of the bed to be next to him. I wanted to stay with him, but the others said I had to leave. Since he was my most beloved grandfather, I wanted to be with him! Although I begged, again, I was rejected.

Looking back, I see this was a near- death experience. My grandfather was dying, and the year before, his wife had died at our home around the same time of year. If I had gone into a coma on the way to the hospital, there was no way I would have been taken to his room. I would have been quickly admitted and treated. Also, because I was paralyzed, I was unable to stand on my own much less walk around to the side of the bed. Therefore, I believe another healer was right in telling me there was probably a bargain cast to spare my life because Dad had lost his mother and now his father was passing. I was actually meeting with my grandfather and his spiritual counsel while in a coma (and my grandfather was also likely in a coma), and I was told I had to return to my hospital room despite my pleas to remain with my grandfather. Along with many of those who experience near deaths but are sent back to their bodies, I felt abandoned by God, kicked out of Heaven, cast out of my ‘home’.

My next memory was waking from the coma. I felt each needle that had been placed in my legs. I didn’t know why they were placed there, and they hurt! People were standing around me, and the doctor told me to say, “The bear went over the mountain.” When I successfully repeated the sentence, he said I was fine despite the fact I still could not walk. I was told I had been in the coma for a month, but perhaps I was just sick for a month.

It felt like an eternity in the hospital. Mom was there with me daily, but at night, I felt very much alone and scared. People were not allowed to stay the night with their loved ones in those days. My room was in a noisy wing, and strangers often came into my room just to look at the cute little girl, like I was on display. One day an impatient nurse left me on the toilet for a long time. I didn’t feel safe there. (Other staff were very loving.)

I believed the medical community abandoned me because I was told I would never walk again, nor was I provided any physical therapy. I felt left without support.

Returning home in a wheelchair, I was warmly welcomed with many toys and other gifts I had always wanted, like a tea set. People really made a fuss! Despite my celebrity status, I still felt abandoned because the attention was not meant for my old self; it was meant for this poor child with a disability. No one understood my grief for the loss of my old life, my old self. Again, I felt abandoned and dismissed. I noticed that people consoled my parents for their struggle throughout my illness along with other challenges, but not me. Although I held celebrity status for recovering from the coma, I became invisible. People towered over me, and life seemed to go on over my head. In those days, children were to be seen and not heard. I definitely realized that no one would be able to help me process the death of my old self.

Then everyone left again, all the celebrants and my parents. My parents had to return to Michigan. I think grandfather was still in the hospital, but he died in mid or late September. I was alone again by the window. School had started, so I watched my friends walk to our school, which was down the street.

I remember sitting in the wheelchair at the window weighing my options. If I stayed in the chair, I would be a princess and given many toys. I wouldn’t have to do the dishes or sweep the floor. On the other hand, I would continue to feel isolated and lonely, abandoned by many who were unable to understand my situation. I would require help meeting my needs. I also feared the bullies at school. I noticed how mean and dismissive some kids were to classmates with special needs.

So far, it seems I am expressing a lot of self-pity, having felt abandoned by so many, but as it turns out, I didn’t abandon myself. I resolved to start walking again. Possibly encephalitis resolves itself. Maybe I had a mild case. I have no idea. All I know is that I was told I would never walk again, but I was about to prove everyone wrong rather than accept living in the wheelchair.

It took several attempts to pull myself off the chair so that I could grab the furniture and use it as my crutches. I recall dragging my body from one piece of furniture to another and pulling myself up as best I could. Really I was just dragging one leg after another and one foot after another over and over around the room while I had one hand on a chair and then the couch and so on. I have no idea how long it took, but when my parents returned, I was able to run up to them, a happy little girl proclaiming her victory!

It came down to a choice for me. In my case, I was determined to walk and not to choose to follow the doctors’ prognosis, which in essence I almost accepted as a directive: “Do not ever walk again.”  Sometimes a prognosis can seem like a curse.

As I look back, I realize that forgiveness is crucial. People did their best given their limited understanding and fears, and I only knew so much as a young child. I had no idea how to allay my fears until I hit the wall, realizing I had a choice to make. No one could fix this for me; I had to do it myself. I had to try at least. It was okay for me to feel angry and scared, it was okay not to follow doctor’s ‘orders’, and it was okay to be proud of my triumph. My fears had moved through me to bring me to a state of wholeness and good health.

Another insight I had is my abandonment of others throughout this experience. As odd as it sounds, I was changed and not the little girl my parents, siblings, and friends knew or could relate to. In a sense, my old self had disappeared, and my new self was a stranger. Illness can change many feelings. We all had grief and fear; we were all abandoned in one way or another. Moreover, the trauma and near-death encounter opened my third eye, and I continued to heal, evolve, and change in ways that concerned my loved ones.

And that account is another post when I am ready.

**My prayers go out to those whose illnesses are grave and difficult to resolve. My case is just one case, and I don’t intend to overgeneralize or appear to judge the healing journeys of others battling disabilities. My hope is that this post will provide some hope and help hearts open.**

©Barbara Harris Leonhard @extraordinarysunshineweaver.blog

https://extraordinarysunshineweaver.blog/2018/02/06/measles-encephalitis-a-story-of-self-healing/

https://extraordinarysunshineweaver.blog/2018/02/10/hope-was-not-a-loss/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing · Micropoetry · Prose · Quotes · Reiki

Healing

The Light is coming in to heal the curse of Ego. As we stand aside, we feel the mighty force of Cosmic Light. It feels like we are losing our minds or that our faces are being shorn off.

This is a painful, visceral upheaval. We feel turned inside out and upside down. We are so dizzy we can’t stand up alone. The battling vibrations of Ego and Light are rocking our souls. We scream and cry out. We hurl our food and creep under the covers, hiding from the shadows.

Out of fear, we just want to die to stop this agony as all is being revealed, the pus of our gross illnesses is emerging. We suffer dysfunctions socially, politically, and environmentally. We have screamed out our prayers for comfort and healing.

The Earth, as well, rages with floods, volcanic eruptions, fires, Category 5 storms. But Mother knows the Light is here. We see it in the firefighters, the rescuers, the soldiers.

The healing is evident. Out of fire comes new growth. Out of eruptions come new lands. Out of storms comes renewal. Floods carry away the past.

The Light is here. It’s in our voices and our intentions. It’s in our manifestations. We wanted this healing, and we are getting it. We prayed for salvation and victory, and so it is. We think this pain is against us, but it is for us. It is answering our prayers.

This is Cosmic truth. Laws prevail. The universe is orderly, and equilibrium must be sustained. God maintains the balance of all life in all dimensions. The pendulum never swings in one direction.

A healing always feels worse before health is restored to wholeness. The wounds cry out until scabbed over. We’ve spilled our blood and sacrificed our limbs. How can we ever become whole again? It would be so easy to curse our condition! Damn this life! Why us!

In our victim stare, we hide in addictions. We bully. We put ourselves ahead of others. We lie. We seek revenge. In so doing, we become what we hate. Anything to mask the agony. We are so powerless in this state.

Little do we know, this is cosmic healing. It is God Force healing involving a huge upheaval of forces involving universal truth. Love will prevail. It always does, especially if we all participate as we are the shamanic link between Heaven and Earth. We are the healers bringing in the light.

Have faith. We are a strong force battling Ego so as to heal. Whenever  we stand together and speak up, rest assured that Ego never wins, Ego never wins, Ego never wins.

Love prevails. Nothing can block out the Light. Have faith. Stand aside. Let in the Light to answer your prayers. Become one with the Light. Be the prayer! Make it so!

 

©Barbara Harris Leonhard @extraordinarysunshineweaver.blog

 

 

Audio · Digital Art · Ekphrastic Poetry · Original Digital Art · Poem · Poetry · Prose

Autumn Song

Autumn Song

When leaves fall, do they cry

As they release their grasp

From Mother’s skirt?

Their lives, soaked in sun and fed by rain.

Their Mother, protective,

Her branches, their home.

How does she feel when her bounty loses grip?

Her children, the glory of her color burst,

Their song to us, their poetry.

Now they bed our paths

In crisp wind play and

Reveal sky, gray with snow.

Autumn is Mother’s heart opening,

Before resting and donning her spring garments

For Easter prayer.

 

Copyright© Barbara Harris Leonhard @extraordinarysunshineweaver.wordpress.com

….an older poem with new art….

Image: Original Digital Art “Autumn Song” ©Martha Harris See Martha’s Artistic Flarings @artisticflarings.blog

 

 

 

Audio · Essays · Healing · Original Digital Art · Prose · Quotes

Audio and Thoughts: Do Unto

Last night I published a poem on this blog called Do Unto. I have completed the audio. It was challenging to express the hate and fear depicted in the poem out loud. More and more we see posts on social media of people going off on others, especially those perceived to be immigrants, and other people of color. Trying to capture this reviling tone while speaking the poem was difficult.

It seems like civility these days is dissolving into a swamp of fear and hatred. We are here on Earth with the privilege to love and through our love to cocreate wellness and peace. We aren’t meant to bully and to demean each other.

As Caroline Myss states, “Our biography becomes our biology.” That is, negativity of any kind contributes to illness in the individuals who are spewing hate and to social contagion as groups rise up to scapegoat and to repress others. The way to heal fear is through nurturing compassion and empathy.

Masuru Emoto showed in his experiments with water molecules that if hateful words are directed toward the molecules, they become distorted and malformed. However, molecules that receive positive vibrations through words of love, form into beautiful crystals.

This short video demonstrates how sensitive water is to our thoughts and words. We are made up mostly of water, so if we exhibit or experience racism, imagine how that interaction affects our spiritual and physical bodies. Notice in this short video how ugly, distorted, and ill the water molecule becomes with the words “Adolph Hitler”. Yes, our biography becomes our biology if you consider the effects of hate on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual being. The result is often illness.

 

 

Moreover, fearful thinking can become habitual, making it difficult to let go and allow others’ needs to come first. People cling to dogma, which is habitual thinking, to justify their fear-based actions. I think every holy book has the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  But it seems that value has been lost to many lately, and sadly, the holy books are sometimes used as weapons to perpetuate fear and dependency. I think many writers on WordPress are addressing the social, economic, and political issues that seem to be making our society sick. I can see it in the poetry, essays, and art. It’s important for us to continue to speak up about love, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, and other positive values, as these concepts are powerful medicine.

Most importantly, we each need to nurture and love ourselves, for if our cup of love has run dry, how can we possibly be there for others? Self-regard is a positive attribute if it doesn’t become narcissistic or self-serving and manipulative, using fear to control others. Therefore, the ego must stay in check as we grow into our powers.

All change begins in oneself.  Love in one resonates to all just as hate in one resonates to all. We each have a choice as to how we want our heart to sing and our souls and bodies to heal.

Love and Light!

 

©Barbara Harris Leonhard @extraordinarysunshineweaver.blog

Digital Art “Dancing Daze” ©Martha Harris

 

 

Healing · Prose · Reiki

World Peace Covenant

The Universal Peace Covenant

Peace is the breath of our spirit.

It wells up from within the depths of our being to refresh, to heal, to inspire.

Peace is our birthright.

Its eternal presence exists within us as a memory of where we have come from and as a vision of where we yearn to go.

Our world is in the midst of change.

For millennia, we have contemplated, reasoned, and practiced the idea of peace. Yet the capacity to sustain peace eludes us. To transcend the limits of our own thinking we must acknowledge that peace is more than the cessation of conflict. For peace to move across the face of the earth we must realize, as the great philosophers and leaders before us, that all people desire peace. We hereby acknowledge this truth that is universal. Now humanity must desire those things that make for peace.

We affirm that peace is an idea whose time has come.

We call upon humanity to stand united, responding to the need for peace. We call upon each individual to create and foster a personal vision for peace. We call upon each family to generate and nurture peace within the home. We call upon each nation to encourage and support peace among its citizens. We call upon each leader, be they in the private home, house of worship or place of labor, to be a living example of peace for only in this way can we expect peace to move across the face of the earth.

World Peace begins within ourselves.

Arising from the spirit peace seeks expression through the mind, heart, and body of each individual. Government and laws cannot heal the heart. We must transcend whatever separates us. Through giving love and respect, dignity and comfort, we come to know peace. We learn to love our neighbors as we love ourselves bringing peace into the world. We hereby commit ourselves to this noble endeavor.

Peace is first a state of mind.

Peace affords the greatest opportunity for growth and learning which leads to personal happiness. Self-direction promotes inner peace and therefore leads to outer peace. We vow to heal ourselves through forgiveness, gratitude, and prayer. We commit to causing each and every day to be a fulfillment of our potential, both human and divine.

Peace is active, the motion of silence, of faith, of accord, of service.

It is not made in documents but in the minds and hearts of men and women. Peace is built through communication. The open exchange of ideas is necessary for discovery, for well-being, for growth, for progress whether within one person or among many. We vow to speak with sagacity, listen with equanimity, both free of prejudice, thus we will come to know that peace is liberty in tranquility.

Peace is achieved by those who fulfill their part of a greater plan.

Peace and security are attained by those societies where the individuals work closely to serve the common good of the whole. Peaceful coexistence between nations is the reflection of man’s inner tranquility magnified. Enlightened service to our fellowman brings peace to the one serving, and to the one receiving. We vow to live in peace by embracing truths that apply to us all.

Living peaceably begins by thinking peacefully.

We stand on the threshold of peace-filled understanding. We come together, all of humanity, young and old of all cultures from all nations. We vow to stand together as citizens of the Earth knowing that every question has an answer, every issue a resolution. As we stand, united in common purpose, we hereby commit ourselves in thought and action so we might know the power of peace in our lifetimes.

Peace be with us all ways.

May Peace Prevail On Earth.

Source: http://www.peacedome.org/UniversalPeaceCovenant/FiveThirtyAM.html

The featured image is the World Peace Pendant from Reiki.org. It’s one in a set of World Peace Cards.

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Essays · Healing · Prose · Reiki

Measles Encephalitis: A True Story of Self-Healing

Measles Encephalitis: A Story of Self-Healing

 

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Although I feel that my life has been affected by many events, even small ones, one specific event had a major effect on the direction my life took at the time.  This event occurred when I came down with measles encephalitis at the age of six.  I’ll never forget that time in my life and the things I learned about myself and my ability to heal my own tiny body despite what the doctors believed. Self-healing became my choice and my mission.

The onset of the illness happened suddenly. I turned from an active six-year-old to a helpless baby overnight. It was the summer of 1957. We were living in Lewistown, Montana, where my dad was a Presbyterian minister. Mom was at home with three children, aged seven to four. That summer, measles was going around. These were the days before the vaccine, so several kids fell ill, including us.

One day that summer, Mom asked me to run upstairs and fetch something off her dresser. I pranced up the stairs, and once I arrived in the master bedroom, my legs gave out from under me. I couldn’t stand or walk no matter how hard I tried. I managed to drag myself to the stairs and descend on my bottom. Mom thought I was teasing, but then it became clear. I wasn’t able to walk.

The next thing I recall is being carried around up and down the stairs for bed, baths, or the bathroom. I can’t remember the complete time line, but I soon lost my ability to reach my arms out the full extent. I couldn’t feed myself or swallow well, so I was fed baby food. I lost my ability to speak.

It must have been hard to keep carrying me, so I was left on the living room couch. The living room became my bedroom, my dining room, and my playroom, except I couldn’t play with anyone. All I could do was sleep or daydream while the family went on with their lives around me. There was no television, either. It felt like an eternity laying there and trying to ask for things, but my words were just slurred utterances, like baby babble. Because no one could understand me, I felt abandoned on the couch and at everyone’s mercy. My siblings were young (I was the middle child), so I’m not sure if they understood what was happening. They were probably sick with measles too but lucky enough to be able to walk, talk, and eat. I’m sure they felt helpless, scared, and confused.

Mom was a doctor’s daughter, so maybe he told her to do this. She made a tent of blankets and put me inside with a steamer. The steam helped break up the mucous enough for me to spit it out. Maybe this saved my life. At the time, I just complied because I had no strength to protest being helpless and having to spit up phlegm into a bucket inside a make-shift tent of blankets, a lonely cell.

Throughout this dark period in my young life, I felt frustrated, vulnerable, scared, and lonely. No one knew what was wrong at this point, and I wondered if this was my end of days.

Finally after a few days, my parents came rushing home and swept me up to take me to the hospital in Miles City, where my paternal grandfather was dying. My dad had been busy, I think, picking his dad up in Michigan and driving him to a hospital closer to us. That is why he wasn’t around when I fell ill. And mom had two other young kids to care for. In any case, when I couldn’t walk and was losing more and more motor and speech functions, they had to get me to a hospital. They had learned that the diagnosis was measles encephalitis. The measles virus had infected my brain, causing my problems. As a gift so that I wouldn’t be scared, they presented me with a cute little plastic red purse.

That night, once we arrived to the hospital in Miles City, I got to see my grandpa maybe for the last time. These were precious moments since he was so important to me. (This memory stayed with me for years, but it occurred to me recently that I was standing beside my grandfather’s hospital bed. How could I have been standing when I was paralyzed? Also, if I had been slipping into a coma, there is no way I would have bee taken to see him. I would have needed treatment right away. I realize now, this visit was a near-death experience, and that’s another article!)

After visiting with my grandfather (or so I thought), the next thing I remember is waking up from a coma (I was told it lasted 30 days but maybe that was the complete time frame for the illness) surrounded by doctors and nurses. I felt what I thought were a thousand needles sticking into my legs.

A doctor said, “Say ‘The bear went over the mountain.’ ”

I must have looked confused, so he repeated. “Say ‘The bear went over the mountain.’ ”

I said, “The bear went over the mountain.”

There were loud cheers.

“She’ll be OK!” he said.

But I wasn’t 100% OK. I still couldn’t walk. My legs felt like lead extensions. Again, I felt helpless and frustrated. Mom stayed with me as much as she could while I was in the hospital, but Dad, an only child, was still tending to his father. I was able to ask for things and eat, thankfully. Still, I felt helpless and vulnerable.  Strangers would come in to my room uninvited and discuss how cute I looked. I felt scared being left alone in a room for strangers to find me and stare at me. The hospital was also very noisy at night and felt cold. The nurses were nice, except for one, who was having a bad day and plopped me on the toilet angrily. She left me there a long time. Mom was furious when she found out.

Finally, I was able to return home but in a wheelchair. The doctors said I would never walk again, and there was nothing like physical therapy back then. I felt mixed emotions. Being in the wheelchair gave me a lot of attention in the hospital, and once I arrived home, there were friends of my parents there with many gifts. I even received a darling tea set, something I had wanted.

Though I loved the toys, these huge, tall people loomed over me as they fussed over my sweet helpless self. I felt diminished, ready to be stepped on or tripped over at any time. Their sympathy mixed with my feeling of helplessness made a dark emotional stew for me. I could have easily gotten spoiled. As a minister’s daughter, I would have been lavished with attention at church. Another benefit I realized was that I was off the hook for doing chores. I no longer was expected to help clean and do dishes. On the other hand, once the attention calmed down, the living room again became my prison, where I sat alone since all my siblings and friends had legs and could play outside. Again I watched life go on around me outside the picture window in the living room.

Also, I didn’t feel safe. Mom and Dad had to drive to Michigan to close up Dad’s family home. While they were gone there was news of a child molester trying to kidnap kids. As a result, Mrs. Bunker, our baby sitter, kept a gun. I thought about how I couldn’t run from anything because I was anchored to that wheelchair. The entire experience left me feeling anxious.

No matter how much attention and gifts I received, I came to realize that being paralyzed in a wheelchair was not the life for me. No one came to play. School was in session, and other kids had lives. Life was pretty boring and lonely. I knew that I just had to regain my independence regardless of the doctor’s prognosis.

I’m not sure how long it took, maybe a few days while my parents were away, but I taught myself how to walk again. I used my arms to push myself up so that I could slide off the wheelchair and drag my little body to a chair or the couch, where I would strain to pull myself up. Although it was difficult at first, I became stronger. I learned how to crawl and eventually stand. Once I could stand, I was able to walk like a miniature Frankenstein from one piece of furniture to another until I was walking more smoothly. When Mom and Dad arrived home from a pretty depressing trip, their little girl was able to run up to them!

This life experience taught me a great deal. The greatest realization was that I could change my destiny. I had every reason to remain in the wheelchair because of the attention, sympathy, and love that not only I received but my parents, who had that poor little “crippled” girl. The attention could not offset the loneliness, the feelings of being diminutive and helpless, and the boredom. I think these feelings precipitated my decision to try to walk again.

I thought a lot about my choice. Let’s face it, it is easy to think fatalistically and accept an outcome without debating it. After all, the doctor told me I was destined to use that chair for the rest of my life. However, in all the time I had to think, it seemed unfair for me to have to live that way. People tried to convince me with the toys, dolls, and tea sets, that this condition had amenities. I was so delighted to be the princess! And yet, my heart was crying out to be whole. That is why I made a different choice and threw myself off that chair.

I have often contemplated that major life event. According the Encephalitis Society, 1 to 3 of 1,000 children with measles will develop encephalitis, only 85 to 90 percent of those children will survive, and 25 percent will suffer permanent neurological damage. I learned how badly my life could have gone several years later when we were living in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Mom and I helped give physical therapy to a young boy who didn’t survive measles encephalitis like I did. He was left with permanent neurological damage and paralysis and loss of speech. We would move his arms and legs back and forth, a method his mom called “pattern practice”. He would never regain full function due to the extensive neurological damage.

While I was volunteering to help this boy, I suffered some survivor’s guilt, not understanding why I was able to recover and he wasn’t. Maybe I had a milder case. Maybe encephalitis resolves itself in some cases. Maybe I was spared because Dad was facing so much loss. His mother had died exactly one year earlier, and he was losing his father. A healer told me my near-death experience visiting my grandfather may have involved a bargain being struck to spare my life. We were surrounded by people around his bed. Maybe they were a heavenly counsel telling me I had to return even though I begged to stay with my grandpa. I’ll never know the answers. However, I do know that I saw my situation eventually led to a choice. I could have chosen to remain in the wheelchair. No one expected that to change, not the doctor, not my parents, not society. My thinking, my belief, was that I could walk, and so I set out to do that.

Later in life, I had a couple of cancer scares, culminating in two surgeries within two weeks of each other. One was a total hysterectomy and the other a partial thyroidectomy.  During the hysterectomy, the surgeon found my appendix was 8 inches long and ready to burst. Why was I so sick? This crisis led me to seek Reiki treatments. My first session was an amazing calling, so I set off to get training and am now a Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master/Teacher. I also have completed 2 levels of Karuna Reiki training.

Everything I have experienced in the healing profession takes me back to the small girl struggling to walk. I see how attached we can get to illness and pain. Pain can seem a great comforter and even a teacher, but actually it is no real friend. Healing involves letting go of pain and illness, and it can be challenging work.  I’m still healing myself from the past surgeries. The organs may be missing, but their energy is still present and the source of that illness needs to heal.

Also, life events can be stressful, and it is so easy to stuff that pain into the body somewhere, where it can conspire to sabotage the health. It is generally known that stress is related to all illnesses. Lately, I have been fortunate to receive body work of various kinds, which is releasing a great deal of disharmony in my body. I’ve been taken back to many painful times in my life as this pain rises and dissolves into the Light. I don’t expect an instant cure. Those who do may feel discouraged. Basically, I’m nurturing myself, recognizing the pain, and asking that it be transmuted to the Light instead of hiding in my biology. Healing involves getting rid of all that no longer serves you, and only you can decide to purge Pain. Ultimately, no one can fix you but you.

Healing promotes changes, which can make life difficult for some. Illness can become a third-party in a relationship. Some people need someone to be sick, or possibly someone needs to be sick to feel loved. If the ill person heals, what is the role of their partner then? This dynamic may not always be the case, but part of healing involves facing changes, which can be difficult if the illness seems insurmountable. For me as a small child, facing a life without walking seemed impossible. I had to weigh the benefits of being sick with those of being well and then make a choice to face trying to walk or even failing in my attempts. Moreover, people are taught there are no choices. The doctor proclaims an outcome. Therefore, that’s truth. Mom’s dad was a doctor, and his word was law. Why would she expect me to walk again? I was never encouraged to try because of the false belief that it would be impossible.

What heals us? We heal us. Even if we have good doctors, good surgeons, and good medication, it is our responsibility to participate in the healing process. It is so easy to be passive because pain can beat us down or maybe because the illness has benefits, as I indicated earlier. How many times do you hear of cancer disappearing or other miraculous cases of healing? There are cases such as these. Why?

According to Joseph Murphy in his book, the Power of Your Subconscious Mind, healing stems from positive thinking. We can bathe in holy springs, eat peach seeds, take pilgrimages, and pray, but nothing will heal us unless we want to heal. Our conscious mind may tell us we have no chance to heal, so we don’t. Our subconscious follows our thinking and our conditioning.  Murphy states,“You are living in a psychological prison if your own making and you are bound by your beliefs, opinions, training, and environmental influences. Like most people, you are a creature of habit. You are conditioned to react the way you do.”

This conditioning promotes the false belief that there is no hope, that there is a defined outcome, and that there is a template to follow without questioning. What I learned is that I had more power than I was led to believe I had. I had a choice to create a life with more misery or a life of wholeness and good health. As I think and feel, so am I.

Metapsychiatry, as taught by Thomas Hora, likewise teaches among other things that discordant thoughts cause personal problems. Healing comes from seeing the good in life and seeking harmony with it. Healing can result from nonmedical means if we believe in healing. Our minds influence the subconscious, and it’s the subconscious that directs the healing. Energy follows our thoughts. Good thought lead to harmony. Bad thoughts lead to disharmony.

Healing is multi-dimensional, and it involves seeking medical care in addition to holding positive thoughts. I am not encouraging anyone to give up chemo or fail to seek medical care. I also think it could be dangerous to fail to get medical care for yourself or a child just because of the belief positive thinking alone will heal. Let’s face it; some illnesses are fatal unless treated. I think having medical care is very important, but I think we should consider our personal responsibility to co-create our good health.

Experience has taught me to be proactive with my health. I get all my annual check-ups, vaccinations, bone scans, colonoscopies, and mammograms. If I had failed to visit my OBGYN regularly, I would have died more than once since I was a DES baby, another story of healing. When I felt depressed, I sought counseling and even psychiatric help. No one is going to make those phone calls for appointments but me. I couldn’t wish away ovarian cancer or a bad hip. I needed help. So don’t think I am throwing out doctors all together. What I am saying is to be an advocate for your own health. Work with the doctors, but ask questions and keep up with your care.

I am an advocate for my good health because I have learned there is a lot more to healing than taking meds. Healing is not fully resolved with medicine. Medicine is often just a band aid masking the pain. Because we no longer have pain or symptoms, we get on with our lives, having been led to believe this is enough. Also, is so much easier to expect medication than serious care. I know some people who want antibiotics when they only have colds. I can’t help but think about the rising abuse of prescription medication, especially opiates. All we are doing is masking the pain and resolving nothing.

Our natural state is to be whole, not sick. That is what that small seven-year-old girl taught me long ago. What does it mean to be whole?

We go to see so many specialists these days that we forget to treat the whole person. Indeed, we are physical, biological entities, and making mechanical changes to the physical body can ease pain or resolve physical problems with organs and joints. However, we are also emotional, mental, and spiritual beings. In order to heal, we need to heal all those bodies: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Illness and physical dysfunctions are opportunities to heal at all levels.

In 2011, I learned I needed a total hip replacement and maybe back surgery because my back was collapsing due to inactivity from the hip pain. Before undergoing the hip replacement, I underwent rigorous physical therapy for my back. Everything went well with the physical healing. Still, I took the healing deeper and searched for the mental, emotional, and spiritual factors that needed to be addressed for me to return to feeling whole again. This form of contemplation can be a deep study that can take time, maybe years. It requires patience and a commitment to self. It takes love.

Now there is this argument: What if we really want to heal, but we don’t? Have we failed? Are we unworthy? If we don’t heal, we can’t beat ourselves up with guilt and despair. I think many of these cases of poor health may involve insurmountable physical limitations. Again, if the physical body doesn’t heal, that doesn’t mean that the afflicted person did anything wrong or didn’t want to heal. Our society holds fast to the false belief that healing involves merely physical relief or resolution of pain and illness.

There are still ways to heal or even to get around the physical limitations. Some people born without arms learn to use their toes to paint beautiful art. Many people with physical limitations compete in the Special Olympics. Why? They overcome physical obstacles because the spirit, mind, and emotions can still heal. They change their thinking, and so they change their lives. People can co-create good health in more than one way and in more than one dimension, not just the physical one. We heal beliefs.

Now, as a Reiki master, I take to heart the adage, “Physician, Heal thyself!” What does this mean? It means that my clients are the true healers; I am but a tool. The people who come to me for Reiki are doing their own work of healing. They are their own physicians, not I.

Every moment presents a choice for wellness. People can heal themselves. It may take a while, since it involves personal responsibility and patience, but the tenacity will yield results. Most important is the love you have for yourself. If you give yourself the love and attention that your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies require, you can heal to the best of your ability. Heal your thinking; heal your life.  Return to wholeness.

Copyright© 2018/02/06 Barbara Harris Leonhard @extraordinarysunshineweaver.wordpress.com

https://www.encephalitis.info/measles-infection-and-encephalitis

Image© https://www.cdc.gov/measles/parent-infographic.html

https://www.encephalitis.info/

 

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