WATCH THE DONUT NOT THE HOLE

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WATCH THE DONUT NOT THE HOLE

            Have you ever had a song pop into your head and wonder why it is there?

This morning it happened to me.  The ditty was from a Burl Ives record of children’s songs I played for my kids because I couldn’t sing and wanted my children to have songs in their background as they played.

Now one of the songs has come back to haunt me and I know why.

           The song is titled ‘Watch the Donut Not the Whole’.  I’m pasting a snippet to jog your memory.

 

            The hole is the round empty part of an old fashion donut and represents negativity – what is lacking.  This leaves the donut to contain all the yummy circle of delicious fried dough – what is present.

            My soul was reminding me to focus on the positive.

            When the song appeared, I was remembering an unpleasant event from my childhood – a parental demand to perform childcare task for younger siblings.  I felt abused for lacking my own independent time with myself.

With the ditty playing in my head, I could easily switch to remembering the fun I had with my siblings inventing games like rock school, races, and storytelling.  I also appreciated the early training for motherhood childcare provided.

Now that I am in the ‘elderly’ category, I welcome my memories and recognize the opportunities to focus on the donut.

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FATHER’ DAY

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MY FATHER’S DEATH GIFT

My father was a mean and stingy daddy. Through the years, I maintained a relationship with him from a distance both physically and emotionally.   I knew I did not feel love or respect toward my father like other people had.  I did know the socially acceptable way to behave toward parents. I also made it a point never to ask for anything.  I knew there would always be a price in the receiving I was unwilling to pay.

After my mother died, I spent a week with my father getting him settled in.  I did not leave my husband and career to live with him as he asked.  I did visit when he had a medical emergency and helped him get settled in an assisted living facility which he hated.  He then decided that he would spend one year living with each of his six children.   I declined the rotation.

The year my husband and I moved to FL my father was living with my youngest sister.  She asked me if I could take him for a few weeks over the holidays to give her a reprieve.  Since my house did not have room for my father, the plan was to find a temporary rental where my father could stay.  As I began preparing for the visit, finding space, a home health aide, and meal services, I realized that this was a bigger expenditure of energy than I was ready to give. In addition, my father was now talking about staying permanently.  I felt like I was in the lights of an approaching train and I was tied to the tracks.

I was already consulting a life transition coach weekly, so I presented the issue of my father’s visit at the next session.  It was not difficult to realize that I was dreading his visit, what was a total surprise was why I didn’t just say NO. The justification for my inability to say no was that I was helping my sister.

This awareness brought the learning “It is never acceptable to abandon oneself in order to save someone else.”

I would like to say that it was very easy to pick up the telephone to tell my father no.  It wasn’t.  I first had to confront all the patterns that held me to be a giver and a non-receiver that allowed me to abandon myself, patterns that were set down years ago to protect and now restrained me.  I knew the nature of my father. I would be foolish to willingly get poisoned like the frog carrying the scorpion across the river.

Once I decided to love and protect myself, it was very easy to say no.  I could say it out of love and not be compelled to rationalize or explain my decision.  It was just NO.  Later that week I read an article about having the right to change our minds.  I had changed my mind about what I wanted.  I had spoken my truth.

My father decided to move to FL anyway.  He moved back to the area that he and my mother had lived – a three-hour drive from my home.  He initially lived with his accountant. Later he bought the house next door.  He created a wonderful community in a neighborhood with friends who visited daily.  He found a compassionate doctor who listened to him and hospice nurses who relished in his “fierce independence”.   He was adored.  He would have missed this wonderful opportunity if I had allowed him to live with me and not spoken my truth.

A little after my father’s return to FL, I received a call from his hospice nurse informing me that my father was being placed on continuous care to evaluate his condition. His health had been slowly failing for years due to congestive of the heart.  Now he was unable to walk unattended and was easily confused.   We, the family, would need to decide about his continual care based on the results of this observation.

I am a homebirth midwife and know that death like birth is a process that cannot be precisely predicted only anticipated.   In both events you can prepare the environment and wait.  I knew my father, like my pregnant women, wanted to stay in his home.  The next day I traveled to his home to prepare it for his death just as I’ve prepared many homes for birth.

After I arrived my father was doing better and the hospice nurses thought his death was no longer imminent.   I made arrangement for in-home health care to begin  My older brother planned to arrive later in the week.   I was able to tell my father that I would not stay longer than the extended weekend.

During the weekend, I administered flower essences, burned aromatic oils, listened to 1930-40’s music and watched him nap. I talked about my work and birth and the strong conviction that we are spiritual beings.   My husband visited and provided acupuncture.  My niece brought crab cakes, one of my father’s favorite foods.  Sunday, the day I was preparing to leave, my father could not get out of bed.  I agreed to stay another day to give my older brother a chance to arrive.  The hospice nurses decided to continue the continual coverage.

Death was now imminent.

Although it was never vocalized, I knew my father wanted me to attend his death because I did not fear it.  He was afraid. He had said so often.  Once he told me of an out-of-body’ experience that had terrified him.  He is the only person I know who found this a frightening experience.  As I stood by his death bed, I recognized the familiar feel and flow of life energy moving.  I could hear it in his breathing as the rhythm changed, reversing a newborns gasp for air and independence.   In the same method, I coach a woman to release her baby’s body, I coached my father to release his body.

My older brother arrived later that night, adding a strong presence to the process.  My youngest sister, who shares a birthdate with my father, called and said her goodbyes again.

I asked her if she had any thoughts on why he was ‘lingering’ and she reminded me that he was a geologist as well as a Virgo.  She suggested that I get some rocks from his Bonsai garden and place them at his bedside.  I found three rocks and placed one in each hand and one over his heart.  His accountant friend sat by his bed and told him that he didn’t owe any more taxes and that the stock market had made him a rich man.

My father died peacefully and gracefully in his own bed.  I was very proud of him and touched by the stories his new friends and neighbors had to tell me.  Even his doctor liked him.  The stories told of a different man than the father I was raised by.  The stories were of generosity and kindness.  I was so grateful that he was able to transform his life.

I was very proud of him and touched by the stories his new friends and neighbors had to tell me.  Even his doctor liked him.  The stories told of a different man than the father I was raised by.  The stories were of generosity and kindness.  I was so grateful that he was able to transform his life.

A week later, one of my clients stopped by my office and gave me a Bonsai tree.  She had heard that my father had passed and wanted to offer me something to remember him with.  She said the tree liked lots of sun.  She wasn’t aware that my father also grew Bonsais but she suggested I call the plant Jack after my father.  It wasn’t until after she left that I wondered how she knew my father’s name was Jack.

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Thank you for the opportunity to express my father’s day memories.   Now that I am elderly and distanced from my children, I wonder if they have unresolved “parent” issues.

 

 

A Murder of Crows

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      Yesterday evening a murder of crows descended on the roof of my apartment cawing obscenities in shrill tones I couldn’t ignore.

         I dashed onto my patio peering up to discover the object of their fury when a single crow looked down at me cocking its neck in curiosity.

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         The cawing fell silent followed by the flapping of a thousand wings ascending into the night sky leaving me alone to contemplate their visit.

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http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/a-murder-of-crows-introduction/5838/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LF77qpbvkxo

HUMPTY DUMPTY – USA Health Care

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A frequent refrain sung in today’s USA health care services reminds me of Humpty Dumpty – “It’s broken and can’t be put together again.”

The Medicare system mandated for our elderly is a cogent example.  Enrollment is required, deducted from Social Security benefits and administered by the Federal Government.

When I first encountered Medicare, I was delighted. The cost was less than private pay insurance and Federal Law guaranteed services. My hospitalization for a heart attack was covered. I also learned the Original form was more economical and I saved the difference in cost of add-on premiums.

And then the fissures started to appear. They were not restricted to Medicare but permeated the whole structure of health care.

My first glimmer of flaws occurred in reviewing a claim where Medicare was charged and paid for services I did not receive.

I dutifully filled out and filled the fraud section of the Medicare claim. When I tried to follow up on the results, a Medicare agent told me I could not have access to the information despite the claimant’s billing me for co-payments. Perhaps it was not cost effective to retrieve the money. I wondered how many $200 payments were not retrieved a year and what % accounted for the cost of Medicare.

Last month I had an annual exam. Yesterday, I received my electronic claim history. It contained the annual exam and an additional charge for the same day. The additional charge paid by Medicare cost more than the annual exam and was charged as a ‘facility fee.’

I contacted Medicare to find out what this was for. After several hours, I finally reached a representative who read a statement authorizing ‘facility fees’ from an unknown source. Since, I had not been charged a facility fee before, and my exam was in a clinic, not the hospital, I questioned the charge.

Ascending the ladder of Medicare supervisors did not resolve my questions. Why was I & Medicare charged a ‘facility fee’ for a routine clinic visit?   No one could explain this charge.

I called a Practitioner friend to determine if she had any insights. She said she had a non-Medicare patient complain about the same issue when billed for an office exam.   The fee for the exam was usual however the facility fee was additional and more than the exam.

Can you hear the CRACKING sound?

Who authorized these facility fees and the spending of my tax money? Why does the facility fee equal more than the professional service exam?

Please advise if you have information on the shattering of our health care system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WELCOME TO WESTMINSTER ABBEY – PART ONE

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            The bells from Westminster Abbey summoned me with their promise of Christmas Magic. I was exploring sound vibrations as a healing tool and revisited earlier studies of tones to balance the body.   An Internet search produced links to songs, instruments and ancient methods of inspiring wellbeing through toning. The sound of a bell was frequently cited as the purest healing form.

Inspired I hunted for this sound to experience for myself its ability to stimulate.   Tinkling, ringing, dinging, jingling vibrations emitted from my speakers. The emotions they produced were not unpleasant but did not feel therapeutic.

Then I clicked on – chiming.   My being was filled with the sound of Westminster Abbey’s bells and I was enthralled.   The vibrations reach out and connected me to humanity.   It embraced my being with a deep knowledge of belonging and bliss.

            As I read about the bells, I learned they have been ringing from the Abbey for almost a thousand years announcing events and binding the community.   One event was consistent in its yearly celebration – Christmas Day.   I wondered how it would feel to stand in the Abbey surrounded by the sound of the bells. Would I be transported through time to experience the vibrations of the past?

My life was filled with a purpose – to hear the Bells of Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day. I have been told that the preparation for a quest is as transformative as the actual journey.   Certainly mine exposed me to multiple decisions and required choices of the heart as well as awareness of my own fears.   Where would I stay, how would I get to the Abbey, what would I wear?

Finally my journey was set. My reservations made. I choose to fly first class through the night to arrive in London on the day before Christmas. A hotel for two nights within walking distance of Westminster Abbey and a reserved place at the hotel’s traditional English Christmas meal completed my preparations.

Some believe the journey is more important than the goal. I disagree. It is not an either/or situation but an and/both event much like a musical counterpoint.   I followed the melodies presented to me with each step and was filled with magic.

I savored the attention and ease of first class flight.   Beginning with my wait in the comfort of the First Class lounge with luxurious seating; continual supply of food and drink; lavish restrooms with real cloth towels and a consigner to remind me of my departure time.

I felt the thrill of boarding first and the personalized attention to my seating. Legroom for my 5’8” frame and being offered three course choices for dinner completed the introduction steps of my journey. I knew the increased fare had purchased this treatment and chose to appreciate and savor every moment of this gift to myself.

The sensation of flying always inspired a quickening of my heart. My favorite part is the take off with that little thump of exhilaration as the wheels leave the tarmac and the plane ascends on pure air.

I am seated next to the Pilot’s wife. We chat as if this is a common voyage and perhaps it is for her. I notice the other first class passengers also vibrate a relaxed ease and appreciate the inclusion into the group. We arrive at Heathrow Airport.

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My memories of a youthful sojourn to England burst unbidden as I recalled my attendance at Porlock Vale Riding Academy to attain a Horse Master’s certificate.   My three months of training were filled with indescribable adventures and an introduction to a different way of being. My instruction was intense and packed with praise that didn’t prepare me for the failure notice from the British Examiner at the end. Now I was back having been inoculated with the pain of failure and had created a fearless life of successes.

A modern train ride followed by an English style black cab brought me to the entrance of my hotel.   It had a cozy old fashion ambiance with all the amenities of a larger establishment.

Navigating to my room reminded me of passing through a rabbit warren turning left and right up two stairs and down three. There were no straight shot halls or elevators from the ground floor.   On the outside it was clear that several buildings had been joined together to assure equal accesses to the windows. Safety was assured since a stranger could not predict a guest room’s placement by its number.   Room 206 could be across the hall and one step down from 307.           

Blue Berry Tea

 

Hungry. I was enticed to the hotel bar for a small meal with tea. My waitperson noticed I was undecided on the type of tea and suggested Blueberry Tea, which I had never experienced.   Its base is a brandy glass 1/3 full of steaming black tea to which a slice of orange is added and stirred.   Another third of the glass is filled with Grand Marnier Liquor. My waitperson encouraged me to inhale the aroma first then slip slowly to allow the warm liquid to perform its magic.

It was time to introduce myself to Westminster Abbey. I spied her towers a few block away but felt her presence as soon as I stepped from the hotel lobby. The doorman reminded me of the change in traffic flow and to look RIGHT before crossing.   This small change in pattern added to the exotic feeling surrounding me.   As I approached the structure I had an overwhelming desire to bow. A deep reverence for its symbolism and strength of character reminded me of the bond between nature and man.

I walked around the Abbey noting its brickwork and garden gates guarding the interior.  Finally, I completed the circle and was back at the main entrance with its worn brick walkway leading to the arched entry reminding me of hands folded in prayer.

Nothing had prepared me for the actual experience of stepping into the Abbey.   It felt like entering a sacred shrine constructed to provide sanctuary. The smell of candle wax and incense floated in the air among the wooden pews and prayer stalls. The stone walls lit by stain glass windows created a mood of protection. Here was a safe place to connect with one’s soul.

My feet moved slowly along the aisles stopping occasionally to read the placards covering the walls commemorating people for their achievements.   Several elaborately carved casket filled grottos along the way and alerted me to the possibility that the Abbey was also a burial chamber or crypt for generations of notables through the ages.   I recognized several novelists like Jane Austin and poets as well as musicians and politicians held in memory.

When I glanced down at my feet I became aware of another surface dedicated to memorializing people of the past. The first inscription I read on the floor was to a plumber at the Abbey in the 1700’s.   More names, dates, and achievements spread about me. Some had the inscription “Here lies…” reminding me that there may be bones beneath my feet.

I returned to my hotel filled with anticipation of the morning much like a child expecting St Nick.

 

 

WESTMINSTER ABBEY – PART TWO

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The Christmas morning service was scheduled for 10:30 AM followed by the Bell Ringing.   I arrived at the Abbey early to ensure seating. The flow of celebrants reflected multiple nationalities and covered the full spectrum of age groups from toddlers to the elderly. All appeared filled with Christmas cheer and smiling faces. A cherub-faced usher handed me a program and escorted me to my seat.

A middle-aged couple with two preteens filled the seats next to me and introduced themselves. They were from Belgium and attended the services yearly claiming that London was very close.  Shamefaced I realized I didn’t know where Belgium was located or where London was in relationship to other European nations.

I shared my inspiration to hear the Bells and felt their supportive understanding. Once again the emotion of inclusion embraced me and reminded me I was connected to a larger group. The Abbey satisfied its alternate title -“Parish of the World”.

The service was Anglican and very similar to the Catholic mass I was raised in. It felt familiar, yet contained elements I wished for in the Catholic practice. There were female priests and attendants. English was spoken. The sacraments were up close and personal.  The pageantry was celebratory and richly presented.

Again, remembering my earlier trip to England, I had attended an Anglican church with another student for several weeks before I realized it wasn’t Catholic. I even confessed my error believing I had sinned by missing Sunday services.   Fortunately, the priest I confessed to assured me I had not sinned since my intention was present.   Afterward, I found myself excusing my presence from mass offering my intention from my bedroom.   That was my first introduction to meditation.

The choir was uplifting and charismatic.   It filled the space with an unanticipated magical resonance.

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            There was an inclusive non-punitive quality to the sermon I had not experienced in the Catholic rituals.

The emotional energy of joy mirrored that of the birth rooms I attend as a trained nurse midwife. This awareness produced a smile on my lips. The Christmas service was a celebration of Christ’s birth after all. The ritual drew all the connecting vibrations to heal mankind, as it should.

The sound proof quality of the Abbey’s walls became evident as I exited and was greeted by the urgent pealing of the bells. The sounds wrapped around me and lifted my spirit. I inhaled deeply eager to absorb every vibration into my pores. This was the moment I had been waiting for and I allowed my imagination to flow.

            The ringing had no agenda other than to link humanity in awareness of the moment.   It didn’t discriminate or profile its audience by sex, race, age or monetary worth. All were included in its offering. In my mind’s eye, I could see the expression on its recipients’ faces – a look of hope, of belonging to something greater than the self.

Returning to the present, I observed my fellow listeners outside. They were sprinkled like cookie crumbs beside the Abbey and across the street. I enjoyed watching the walkers moving briskly then suddenly slowing down to listen caught in the bells’ spell.

A young man with floppy hair approached me and asked what I was doing.   I pointed to the bell towers and explained about the Christmas Bells. He told me he’d lived in London for several years and had never listened to the Bells. He thanked me for sharing my story and moved on.

It was time to return to my hotel for Christmas Dinner. I was delighted to have my favorite Yorkshire Pudding with Roast Beef and green beans.

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            When the meal was complete the poppers were pulled sending streamers to nearby tables. Some of my streamers landed at the adjacent table where two young women were seated. They immediately retaliated with giggles and a burst of confetti from their own Poppers.

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The women asked if I was American and introduced themselves as also from the States. Soon we were deep in conversation. They invited me to join them on an evening walk about of the London sights.

The night lighting and presence of memorial structures like Parliament and Big Ben created a timeless setting which the women filled with details.   I was treated to a tour of Harry Potter sights and entrance to all the open lodgings offering Holiday parties.   The Royal Horse Guard’s housing was spectacularly decorated. Its elderly residents welcomed us to chat by the live fires without qualification.

The women were anxious to cross the Thames and ride the Eye.   I was ignorant of much of the changes in London’s scenery. When we walked on the bridge across the Thames, I thought it was London Bridge and was shocked to learn London Bridge had been dismantled and purchased by an American. The Eye looking like a giant Ferris Wheel was closed, as were all the sites along the Thames.

We focused on the sculptures and again the women introduced me to the art of bringing solid monuments alive and personal.

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Jubilee Oracle

   by Alexander 1980.

(inscription)

Mankind is capable of an awareness that is outside the range of everyday life. My monumental sculptures are created to communicate with that awareness in a way similar to classical music. Just as most symphonies are not intended to be descriptive, so these works do not represent figures or objects.

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December 25, 2007 London

Midwife Dianne births new friend through the Jubilee Oracle sculpture.

The great EYE is waiting in the background to continue its circular voyage. Big Ben chimes the hour across the Thames River.

 

 

 

WHAT IF ?

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            My daughter taught me the game of What If?   I don’t know where she learned it and wouldn’t be surprised if it was a product of her genius imagination. She instinctively knew that she created reality from her thoughts. She created a companion named Charlie when she was a toddler. Charlie could do many astounding things and was never consistent in his/her behavior, age and feelings.   Charlie existed for my daughter.

He/she provided alibis for any perceived transgressions. If my daughter was confronted with misbehavior she would proclaim her innocence with , “Charlie did it.”

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            During her preteen years Charlie faded away to be replaced by an imagined horse that soon became a high maintenance reality .   Triffy was a white Half Arabian who adored her as much as Charlie had.   They formed a visible bond that performed with grace and won horse shows.

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           The What If game appeared during her late teens along with an attraction for boys and proceeded into the college years.

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            A typical game would sound like this:

“What If humans didn’t have arms? Would we pick up food with our feet or eat on the floor like the dogs. Maybe we would have caregivers who feed us. . . Ewww – that would be gross. I’m happy to have arms with hands. “

“What if a man on the airplane gave me his first class seat, would I take it? Really mom, it happened. I flew home first class from college. I like first class. No I don’t have his ticket we switched seats on the plane.   Why wont you believe me?” Maybe it was her delighted grin but I eventually did believe her and learned that the magic is in believing What If can become reality.

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