The Challenge of Injury Depression

Nothing will shift a person into depression in Colorado like an injury, and since Coloradoans tend to be extreme outdoor enthusiasts, (and rightly so), it stands to reason that the level of depression that descends when an injury takes someone out is unique to this place. Athletes here are nothing if not over-achievers and I would say that they are equally adept at epic injuries. I say this from experience as well as from observation. For the record, I don’t actually consider myself an athlete by Colorado standards, but I am typically a very outdoor active person sans injuries. Truthfully, the hardest part about living in Colorado is not being able to go outside and enjoy it. With an endless supply of outdoor activities from hiking, running, cycling, rock climbing, skiing & snowboarding to name a few, and an average of 300 sunny days a year, being sidelined from an injury is like a prison sentence.

Since moving here, I have slipped and torn my acl, mcl and medial meniscus with the latter requiring surgery, custom orthotics and endless hours of physical therapy. I’ve also gotten a mild concussion, severely sprained my ankle and had a two-year battle with debilitating Achilles tendonitis pain. When I first sat down to write about this, I was prompted by my own surprise that what I had been experiencing the past few years may have been a form of undiagnosed depression.

At the time though, I wasn’t consciously aware that I was depressed. I just thought that the “bitterness in my heart” at seeing other people achieve amazing feats of physical endurance hiking 14er after 14er, running mile after mile up mountains and doing every physical feat that I could not was the direct result of being in pain every time I attempted to do something that I loved. I felt like a complete failure because no matter what I did, I could not figure out the cause of the tendon pain, and neither could the army of physical therapists that I saw. During the course of my injuries, I gained a lot of weight and couldn’t fit into anything but yoga pants which only added to my feelings of hopelessness. I came home from work each night and turned on the tv, watching 3-4 hours every night. I slept all the time, and I had no real ambition because I was just desolate in my agony.

It wasn’t until I visited a new gynocologist to see about getting on hormone replacement therapy that a glimmer of hope appeared, but first I had to have a certain come-to-Jesus moment, when we are literally trying shake ourselves awake. My moment came during the obligatory weigh in that happens at all doctor appointments. I was shocked into silence and shame by the number on the scale. I weighed more than I had when I was pregnant, and I simply did not recognize myself anymore. Being depressed is a lot like screaming into the void, or screaming at yourself with the mute button on. As soon as I stepped on that scale, the mute button released and I could hear everything loud and clear. Once I let go of the judgement, I was able to shift into action. My doctor suggested I try an elimination diet that she had used herself called Whole30 and since I was out of options, I reached for it like a lifesaving buoy.

The next day, after downloading all the information I could find, I had my first cup of black, no sugar, no creamer, no nothing coffee. I almost gave up before I started, but it was imperative for me to begin with the most difficult task first. The only reason I drank coffee was for all the delicious coffee creamers, so black coffee or coffee mixed with plain, zero sugar almond milk became my new normal. I realized quickly that I had to establish a new relationship to food and it started by going cold turkey and cutting out all the dairy, grains, legumes, sugar and alcohol for 30 days.

A few weeks into it, a funny thing happened. I just sort of noticed that the pain was less in my Achilles tendons. This pushed me to continue and to learn as much as I could about my body, my food cravings and sensitivities. Once the pain faded, I started turning off the tv and finding new and fun workouts, I was able to start running again and hiking longer and more challenging trails. So far, I’ve lost half of the weight that I gained and my relationship to food has become less dysfunctional. Now, food is for energy and since my taste buds have been re-trained, I can taste the sweetness in things that I never noticed before. Seeing my body change and heal has been a powerful motivator, but feeling better and being able to enjoy Colorado in all of its glory is the greatest reward.

During my injury-induced depression, I started to wonder about the gifts that being sidelined can be. I have many friends and acquaintances who inspire me with their endless physical prowess, who have also recently been injured and forced to sit on the sidelines and heal. I do know that slowing down is not something that we usually do willingly. Life demands a certain amount of our undivided attention and taking time for ourselves feels almost selfish. Perhaps that is the gift. Perhaps having the unwelcome opportunity to sit still and observe is exactly what we need sometimes. One thing is certain, once the pain has vanished and we are able to resume the joys of doing what we love, we never take one single second for granted.

20 years to forgiveness

If you had told me twenty years ago that I would be happily letting my former husband crash on my living room couch for a week so he could hang out with our son, I would have thought it completely inconceivable. I’ve been working on coming to grips with my divorce for a long, long time and I actually thought I had already purged all the sadness and potential regrets. It turns out though that saying you forgive someone, including yourself, is a very slow process. I feel like I have had every type of emotion possible during the course of our time apart, so I was wholly unprepared for the tears that sprung to my eyes after we hugged and he walked out the front door. Our son drove him to the airport so I had some time alone to process my emotions.

The interesting thing is that this is not the first time I’ve let him crash on my couch to spend time with our son, so the real curiosity is what is it about this time that feels so different? I didn’t suddenly fall back in love with him and I don’t have a secret desire to get back together. No, this is unlike anything I have experienced before. I am different, or rather, I am more different this time.

Way back when we were clashing and choosing to go our separate ways, I have this memory of the moment of no return. It is a now familiar reaction that I tend to express when I am full of rage and defiance and I know that no matter what, I am not going to back down. I knew in my heart that there was no way I could stay married to him and I also knew I would never be the same again. This memory popped back into my head during the past week and I let myself consider for a moment if I did the right thing. What if I had forgiven him and stayed married? Would it have been better for all of us? Would we have been able to survive the actions that were deal breakers for me then and now? People do it all the time, I know they do.

As I let myself consider this, I heard that small voice in my head reminding me of the truth that I knew before I even asked the question. The girl that I was back then would not have become the woman that I am today if I had not made the very hard decision that I made twenty years ago. I am literally not the same person and I mean that both figuratively and literally.

I was 30 years old when I became a mom and a few months after that, I had the opportunity to have laser surgery on my eyes. It was surreal to go from 20/600 to 20/15 within a few days, and the symbolic impact of seeing the world shift from unfocused to crystal clear was not lost on me. It was the ultimate perspective change that we seek in an inversion practice in yoga, but without any of the work. Big changes were moving through my life and I had no interest in stopping them.

Less than a year later, I started the process of becoming the version of me that I am today. When I was married, my name was Nikki. That sounds so strange to me now, and it is even more strange to share my old “secret” name with the world in this way. I changed my name with the help of a group in Canada that specializes in helping people reach their fullest potential through the energy of their name. I chose the name I wanted, but I had to decide on the last name. I could have picked something totally different, but I somehow knew that getting rid of my husband’s last name entirely would be the death blow to our marriage, so I opted for a more balanced spelling of his name instead. Clearly, it didn’t save my marriage, but it did save me, eventually.

For a long time, I kept that part of my history hidden. I worried that it would be difficult for people to accept me as Logynn if they knew I used to be Nikki. Of course my family and oldest friends had the most difficulty in accepting my new name, but a few years later, we moved to a new city and I stopped having to explain any of it. For all of my new friends, I was only Logynn and when they did learn of my former name, they couldn’t even imagine me using it.

When I stood in front of the judge and told her that I wanted my name to reflect balance and wholeness so that I could reach my full potential as a person, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but on that day, I became Logynn B. Northrhip and said goodbye to Nikki Northrup. I also had no idea that within a little over a year, I would be standing in front of that same judge asking for a divorce. It took a while to shift gears and embrace the changes that were plowing the ground in all directions around me, changes that I instigated warily and then doggedly.

Today, I can spend time with my former husband and our son and relish the fact that we have somehow managed to see the best in each other after all these years. Watching him and our son together has healed this judgement and sadness and despair that I didn’t even know was lingering in my heart. I can honestly say that I love the person I am today and I know without a doubt that I would not be the me that I am today if I hadn’t gone through the fire of all that pain so many years ago. Today is the first day of the new moon in Cancer and according to @moonomens, it “begins a new chapter in our relationship with our past, our family and our emotions.” I feel you new moon, and thank you for being here right when I needed you. My past did indeed prepare me to be blessed.

The Best Worst Hike of My Life

Up until a year ago, I had never even heard of Conundrum Hot Springs, but once it showed up on my radar, I knew we were meant to be. The best thing about these hot springs is that they are still wild. What I mean by that is that they haven’t been boxed up and commercialized like so many others around Colorado. No, in order to experience Conundrum Hot Springs, one must hike close to 10 miles one way, cross several “bridges” with high water rushing under them and ford at least one river. It is not for everyone and that is precisely why I loved the idea of doing it.

One of many piles of avalanche debris that created obstacles on our path.

I knew that once we made it to this beautiful place, the solitude and views would make it worth the effort. The allure of being completely isolated and surrounded by mountains and nature had become my favorite addiction since moving back to my birth state. When I first imagined myself hiking to this glorious place, I did not consider any of the real life challenges that I might experience, I just knew that I had to do it. I knew the distance was something I could manage, and the elevation gain was within my reach, but I forgot that starting a hike at 8,800 feet elevation is much different than ending one at that height. I also didn’t consider the challenge of being loaded down with food, clothes, camping gear and snowshoes.

A river runs through it.

With so many mountains and trails to hike in Colorado, I had put this one on the back burner until a friend of mine got a coveted reservation and asked if I would hike it with her at the end of May. I naively jumped at the opportunity without hesitation. By the time our reservation date was on the horizon, I had already hiked over 40 miles for the month and my achilles tendons were thoroughly pissed off. I had been battling severe achilles tendonitis for over a year, and had finally figured out a way to alleviate the pain through lots of stretching, trigger point work and proper gait. I just hoped that I could maintain this balance after an already full month of hiking.

Our reservation was for Thursday, May 27 so we decided to go up the night before in order to get a good night’s sleep and an early start the next morning. We packed and unpacked our backpacks, attempting to keep the final weight under 30 pounds. The snowshoes seemed like an unnecessary burden, especially when we woke to bluebird skies and no snow in sight. We arrived at the trailhead just as the sun was beginning to light up the sky. There were only three vehicles in the lot and that included my friend’s Jeep. Where were the crowds I wondered silently. If you arrive to a trailhead in the Boulder area at 6:30am, you are lucky to find a parking space. I shrugged it off and we heaved our packs onto our backs and began our adventure. To my dismay, we barely rounded the corner when we hit the first pile of dead pine and aspen trees blocking our path. Undeterred, we gingerly walked through them and marched on.

The aspen were just starting to show the bright green of new leaves and were waving with excitement in the light breeze. A young moose hidden in their trunks stared silently at us as we walked by, a healthy distance from where he stood. We had read that the snow drifts would be bad further up the trail, but aside from giant piles of avalanche debris on our path, the trail and weather helped us forget what lay ahead. It was shocking to see so many rivers of broken trees laid low like dominos on the mountain tops around us. I tried not to think about the unleashed power that caused them.

This was my first backcamping trip since having a partial meniscectomy on my left knee the previous July. My knee had healed beautifully, but having that extra weight strapped to my back made me feel completely unbalanced. When we came to the first of three big river crossings, I was totally unprepared for the fear that washed over me. I felt a ball of anxiety form in the pit of my stomach. The bridge, if you want to call it that, was pretty high, had no rails and consisted of nothing more than two fat logs. It was hard to ignore the water crashing loudly underneath it. While my friend made it halfway across and then laid on her belly superman style for a photo op, I took little bitty granny steps and just tried not to look down. Just thinking about it makes my stomach lurch. We had to cross at least two more like this and they didn’t get any easier with repetition.

As we got further along, it became necessary to strap on the snowshoes for a bit, but then we would hit another avalanche pile and have to take them off again. It became clear that the snowshoes, though necessary, were going to really slow us down. They were also using muscles I hadn’t used in over a year and my hips kept cramping up. Between this and the increasing slushy and slippery snow, our pace dropped steadily. We started to leave the open trail behind and walked deeper into the forest where the snow was piled up in drifts over five feet high. The sunny day had created drifts that were crunchy on top and slushy underneath, the perfect recipe for post-holing.

It is hard to explain just how mentally draining it is to take one trusting step on the snow with success and then to take another step and fall up to your knees in it. Snowshoes are supposed to prevent this, but they didn’t. I started to worry about how this would impact my freshly healed knee. It was very jarring. Every step was different and held uncertainty. Sometimes I would fall onto my hands and knees into a soft spot on the snow; other times, I would fall completely backward like a stranded turtle. About every third fall, I would feel it in my knee. The thought of having to have another surgery or suffer another knee injury had my stomach in knots. I felt like I was going to throw up any minute.

The best room with a view.

As we slowly made our way through the snow and trees the dread increased. It was as if time had stopped. We kept struggling our way forward, but we weren’t making any real progress. We got to a low river crossing with a single, thin tree in place that didn’t quite reach the other side. This was to be the last big crossing, but by this point, we were physically and emotionally exhausted. Our hiking speed was down to half a mile per hour and we still had several miles to go. There was no way we could cross the river without walking in the ice cold water and getting our feet soaked. We sat on the river bank and considered our options. My friend offered the possibility of turning around and going back. I quickly rejected this option and started crying like a cranky infant. I didn’t know how we were going to have the energy to keep going, but I knew we hadn’t come that far to tuck tail and turn around, at least not on my watch!

Soaking in the healing waters of the hot springs.

For the trip across the cold river, I kept my snowshoes on and dug my trekking poles into the slippery rocks. Once we made it across the river, I kept thinking to myself, “it’s gonna get better; it has to get easier soon”. My friend was of another mindset altogether and her realism about our situation seemed dire. It felt like I was fighting both the elements and her perceived negativity. The forest eclipsed the sun so it seemed later than it actually was. Every so often, my friend would comment on the dangers that we were facing if we didn’t arrive soon. She really started to scare me as she spun a picture of doom that included us freezing to death before we made it to our campsite. I was annoyed but too tired to argue with her. I had to pause after every few steps to rest and it felt like a luxury we could not afford. We were cold, weak and uncomfortably numb.

Eventually, we came across a sign that said the the first campsites were up ahead of us, yet when we reached them, site after site was completely buried under snow. My friend was hiking a little ways ahead of me and would call back every so often that we were getting closer. I couldn’t really hear what she was saying. I was lost in the sound and sloshing rhythm of my snowshoes scraping the snow. The next time I heard her calling to me, there was something new in the sound of her voice. She sounded hopeful, and that gave me a fresh burst of energy. A few more steps and as I turned a corner, the snow was gone. It was like stepping into some sort of garden of Eden. Everywhere I looked was dark brown dirt with bright yellow flowers popping out of it. I was awe-struck. I took off my snowshoes, walked past an abandoned wooden shack and then the springs came into view. Actually, I saw two tents first, and then two men lounging in the springs.

The first clear spot I saw, I dropped anchor. As the reality sunk in that we had just hiked for 10 straight hours through the most rugged and challenging conditions of my life, I started sobbing loudly in relief. I didn’t even care that it wasn’t at our official campsite. I was not about to budge. My friend walked over to the hot springs and spoke to the two men there. I’m not actually sure what they talked about, but the bottom line was that they were friendly and they did not care where we camped.

As soon as we set up camp and laid all our wet things in the sun to dry, we got into the hot springs. The other campers had graciously allowed us to have them to ourselves and it was such a treat. As I stepped gingerly into the warm water the stress of the day dispersed and my body finally relaxed. The water was so clear! I was enchanted with all the bright green and turquoise rocks. It wasn’t deep so I walked along the sandy bottom with my hands as my legs floated out behind me. There were little bubbles streaming up out of the ground in several spots, and that’s where we found the hottest water. To say the view from the springs was spectacular does not do it justice. Looking out over the horizon the rugged trail looked benign. There was no indication of the challenges we had just traversed. None of that mattered anymore though. All I wanted was to savor the bliss, the silence and beauty and let the heat and healing sink into every cell in my body. That is when the speed of time resumed.

Before the sun went behind the mountain, my friend got out to cook her dinner. I lingered and allowed the buoyant water hold me up. I was also topless, but there was no fear or shame because we were utterly alone. It was both liberating and strange all at once. With some prodding from my friend, I reluctantly got out of the water, and started to prepare my own dinner. Even the healing waters of the springs couldn’t undo all the stress in my belly, so I nibbled at my food and finally gave up. I could not find the energy or desire to eat. Once the sun went behind the mountains, we crawled into the tent and let go of everything but sleep.

As is my usual custom, I woke up at 2 a.m. and had to pee. It was really, really cold, but my bladder was not about to let me sleep through the night. As I got out of the tent, the full moon was shining over head. I grabbed my phone, took a few photos and crawled back into my warm sleeping bag. How I wish I had allowed myself to walk the few feet to the hot springs and get in. How amazing it would have been to soak naked under the full moon in the dark silence of the night.

The full moon shining over the hot springs at 2 a.m.

The next morning, it was literally freezing. My wet shoes and shoelaces had frozen solid. I made a mental note to untie wet laces before going to sleep in freezing temps for any future trips. Looking back, I realize I could have just put them in the springs to melt the ice. Not sure why I didn’t think of that until now. Clearly the previous day’s events had zapped my brain cells more than I thought. I could feel a sense of deep dread at the prospect of going back through the snow in snowshoes. My entire body ached. There was no point in hoping for a luxuriously slow morning and a second swim in the heated springs. The cold weather had frozen the slushy snow from the day before, but the untethered sun was already shining and we had precious little time to hike back over the snow before it melted again. We were packed and on our way back down the mountain by 7:30 with barely a wave goodbye to the mystical springs.

No bridge, no problem.

The hike back became a moving meditation. I started chanting a mantra to the Hindu god Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. It seemed completely appropriate, and it helped clear my mind. Om Gam Ganapati Namaha. Om Gam Ganapati Namaha. On and on I chanted it, sometimes out loud, sometimes silently. It worked. My achilles never started to hurt and we made it through the snowy forest without the snowshoes. Leaving early proved to be the correct choice.

Photo by Maria Pertile.

By this point, we still had seven more miles of solid hiking ahead and the fatigue from the previous day returned. I started thinking of different songs to occupy my mind. It became a sort of game. There was Steady As She Goes, by the Raconteurs, then “Just keep hiking, just keep hiking” a la Dory style from the Disney film Finding Nemo. I knew one verse of “She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes”, but my friend knew all of them. I swear if anyone had heard us as we headed back down the mountain, they would have thought we were completely mental. We did in fact, finally start running into people heading up. We tried to warn them about what lay ahead, but they, like us, were on a mission and our warnings went unheeded.

We got to the river that almost derailed us the day before and discovered that the snow melt had washed away the thin tree that had been our partial bridge. There was really no choice but to get really comfortable with cold, wet feet again. I didn’t really care because my shoes were still wet from the night before. The water current was strong, but I dug in with my trekking poles and finally made it across. When we emerged from the trees, the sun was beating down on us and the piles of avalanche debris was even harder the second time because we knew they coming. Everything looked so different on the way back. It didn’t even seem like the same trail in some places. We were putting mile after mile between us and the springs when we rounded a familiar looking corner. I was expecting to see the original pile of debris, but to my surprise, a path had recently been cut through it with fresh chain saw marks on the tree trunks flanking us.

As soon as we got to the trailhead sign, we turned off our trackers. We had hiked a total of 20 miles and 2,848 feet of elevation gain. The unexpected detours we made over the debris piles had added to our total. Even though we started an hour later and didn’t have to use our snowshoes, it took the majority of the day to hike back. This was extreme hiking. In fact, it was gut-wrenching, anxiety-fueled hiking, and it was simultaneously the best and worst hike of my entire life.

I wanted to write about this sooner, but it has really taken me months to process it. When something big like this happens, it is easy to talk yourself out of your experience and downplay the hard stuff. Over the summer, I read other reviews from hikers who came after us. They were oblivious to the challenges that we faced because the trail had changed. It was no longer covered by dead trees and snow. It had completely reinvented itself.

Just as the trail changed, I felt changed. I didn’t notice it right away. The shift was subtle, but undeniable. It’s like John Muir once said, “and into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” Every hike and quest I complete helps me recover a part of myself and my soul that was suppressed somewhere along the way. And once I return home, I have to decide which pieces to keep and which to release because “returning home is the most difficult part of long-distant hiking. You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.” (Cindy Ross, author and triple crown hiker) The puzzle pieces of my old life are being replaced with new ones colored by every post hole, injury, sunrise and scent of warmed pines, and I can’t wait to see each new piece.

One of the many outstanding views along the way to the hot springs.

Forgiveness Looks Good on You

Letting go is in the air.  Trees are doing it.  The seasons are doing it.  Seems like we are in good company if we want to do it.  I’ve been carrying something for a really, really long time, and this week, I made a decision that I am ready to let it go.  This week, was the mother of all weeks,  thanks to a Full Moon on 11/11 in Mercury Retrograde.  Oh yeah.  Good stuff.  If you didn’t feel it, then I guarantee you just weren’t paying attention.

This was the kind of week that is like a naughty puppy, or child, the kind that will do just about anything, good or bad, to get your attention.  It got mine, that’s for damn sure.  I’ve been yo-yoing between waking up at 3 a.m., unable to fall back to sleep and going to sleep at 8 p.m. the next night to make up for it; but my desire to let go started on my only day off of the week and the first Saturday I’ve had off in recent memory that had drop-dead gorgeous weather. All my usual hiking partners were busy doing their own thing, so I grabbed my aging, but ever-willing pup, and we headed to the woods of Nederland and the Hessie Trailhead with the intention of hiking up to Jasper Lake off of Devil’s Thumb trail.

I packed my micro spikes, some borrowed snowshoes and plenty of layers in preparation for the deep snow that I knew would meet me at the top, and got to the trailhead by 6:45 a.m. along with a record minimum of only 5 other cars.  I love getting up really early to hike, and not just because it usually means less people will be there.  The light is so stunning as it rises over the horizon and touches the trees and mountains in front of it.  There is nothing like it, and pictures just don’t do it justice.

It was cold, icy and perfectly quiet; my favorite hiking conditions. About two miles in, we made it to the trail that would take us to the elusive Jasper Lake.  I say elusive because I had a hard time finding any sort of direct trail to it via my AllTrails app, so I used the Devil’s Thumb Pass to King Lake trail as a guide to show me the route that would take me to Jasper Lake without hiking the full 15 mile loop.

The trail became a single file, narrow path with at least a foot of snow on either side.  I was feeling very much like I was in the Robert Frost poem,  The Road Less Traveled since it was clear that the majority of humanity was taking the trail that leads to Lost Lake.  We got to an open area with an amazing view and an Indian Peaks Wilderness sign that seems oddly out of place.  The wind started howling as we hiked across the exposed landscape.  The snow here had given way to the dried up grass beneath it, but this was misleading because just on the other side, the thick snow returned and I had to switch to my snowshoes.

Since I was attempting to record my route, I had downloaded the trail to my phone and was using it to pick my way through the now two feet of snow.  Many wrong turns later, I finally found a single set of footprints that led the way into an area that had not seen any other humans since the most recent snow storm.   It was eerily quiet and the silence and view invited contemplation.

We were about four miles in and still had two to go before we would hit the lake.  My dog was so done.  He had not been on such a long hike in over a year and even though he wasn’t overheating, he was definitely tired.  One look at him using the snow as a pillow, and I knew we weren’t going to make it to the lake.  We pulled over, found a few rocks near the edge of a cliff and sat down to enjoy the view with some cold pizza for me and apple slices for him.

I started thinking about my life and what I wanted for the rest of it.  For close to 20 years, I have been on a crusade of defiance.  That crusade began when the ink dried on my divorce papers and I decided that men were not to be trusted.  I lost something very dear to me that day. I lost a piece of my heart, and I have wasted many years aiming blame and guilt at the person who took it from me.  I stood up, and spoke out loud to the trees and mountains around me and set an intention that I was ready to let all of that pain go.  I asked to be guided to release my anger and hurt and find a way to forgive him, and the Universe heard me.

As is oft the case, I promptly forgot the magnitude of my request, when first thing Monday morning, men from my recent past started popping up like forgotten popcorn kernels.  These were men I had met since arriving in Colorado, not my former husband, but they gave me some much needed closure and tested my resolve for forgiveness.   It was about this time that I realized it was 11/11 which in numerology is a power number sequence that is like a door opening in the fabric of consciousness that surrounds our forgotten awareness that we are creator gods.

“Angel Number 111 signifies that an energetic gateway has opened up for you, and this will rapidly manifest your thoughts into reality.” – Joanne Walmsley – Sacred Scribes

That evening, I found some instructions on how to use the power of the full moon and this numerological anomaly happening during Mercury Retrograde .  I wanted to wait until 11:11 p.m. to give this little ceremony an extra added boost, but started early because I knew this was unlikely to happen.  I made my list, burned it, and then wrote down the top three things that had stood out from it.  I took this list, put it in an envelope and went to bed.

The following day I was invited to participate in a mini Tibetan bowl sound healing session with some graduating students at Atma Buti Sound Healing School.  Sound is a powerful healer and one that I had not previously experienced in this way before.  Surrounded by bowls as I lay facedown on a massage table, another bowl was placed on my lower back and as it was struck, I felt a shot of energy rise up my spine and out of the top of my head.  That was the beginning of an even deeper shift that was soon to follow.

On Friday, I was gifted with a full body sound healing session from a very loving woman and healer I am lucky to call a friend and co-worker.  When she asked if I’d like to set an intention for our session, I knew that my request from the Universe on Saturday had come full circle.  I restated my desire to let go of the pain from my divorce and all the broken relationships that had followed.

During the session, I could feel this knot in my belly, right around the 3rd chakra/solar plexus area.  I knew that is where I was holding all the pain, and I knew I was ready to release it.  It is one thing to decide to let go and it is another thing to actually do it.  Knowing how to do it does not come naturally for me or most people I know, but when we do it, we definitely know it.  I pictured my former husband and I saw him as someone who came into my life to to be the “bad” one so that I could embrace radical forgiveness and know myself in a new way.

The tears poured out of me and I sobbed until I was empty.  I cried for everything that I had lost and for the hope of something that I know I will find again.  I visualized him surrounded in white light and I sent him a heart hug of forgiveness.  I don’t know if he will feel it, and I don’t plan on telling him about it, but I feel it.  I woke up this morning and as I look at my reflection, I see someone I haven’t seen in a long time.  In the act of forgiveness, I have reclaimed a piece of myself that I lost when I embraced the hurt from my divorce and planted it in my center.  My journey is far from over, but I think I am on the right path now, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

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The Moments That Change Us

This past Labor Day weekend, I went to a retreat near the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park that has changed me from the ground up.   I was there to work and be of service, but as is often the case, I was not immune to the energy of great minds and hearts, powerful speakers, healing services, ancient ceremonies and early morning hikes and sunrises.

I was able to experience a Puja Blessing and Kirtan, an early morning Silent Zen Bell Walking Meditation,  a pre-dawn Harmonizing Nature Hike which included a full sage clearing and sunrise grounding and a Thunder Drum Circle in the lineage of the Plains Indians.  Aside from the stellar cast of speakers, writers and musicians, I was introduced to over 30 men and women involved in Sound Healing using Tibetan Singing Bowls, some of whom were also Reiki masters, therapists, doctors, fellow rock and crystal hounds and of course, loads and loads of yoga teachers.

With that many different healers under one roof; positive and gut-wrenching change is guaranteed.  It was like we all took turns having an emotional meltdown including unstoppable tears that came out of nowhere, stream of conscious journaling, the healing balm of nature and lots of support and hugs.

After a particularly emotional day, I connected with a woman who specializes in past-life regression, and I was all over that one.  We did a mini-session that took me back to a life that showed me the “mask” I’ve been hiding behind out of fear of revealing my True Self. I was surrounded with love and support from my deceased loved oneIMG_2032s during this process and I can still feel them near me.

The following day found me awake before dawn, hiking up a mountain in the dark with a small group of new friends.  I had been given two pieces of beautiful pyrite and told to keep one and give one back to Mother Earth.  As I stumbled up, tripping over roots and rocks, I was on a silent mission to be led to the place where I could plant my gift.

After the sun finished its rise, our small group wondered off to explore and connect in our own way.  I saw a hidden area with lots of little birds hopping around and chirping, so I went to investigate.  I was admiring the intimate relationship between the sun and the mountains when I glanced down and saw a feather on the ground.  I knelt down, picked it up and held it to the sun.  Just then, I knew this was the perfect place to plant my stone.  A silent bond was formed in that moment, with the sun, mountains and my ancestors showing me the way without saying a word.

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A House Beloved – You’ve Come A Long Way!

“You’ve come a long way, baby.”  That was a popular slogan for women’s cigarettes when I was growing up in the 70’s, but today, it has a different meaning for me.  It is the phrase that comes to mind as I stand at your center, and marvel at the changes since we first met.  Now, you look and feel the way that I always knew you could, the way I imagined you in my mind.  All the injustices and mistakes of the past have been repaired, replaced and renovated.

I’ve always believed that our homes are an external reflection of our internal lives, and that is what makes this moment even more special. As I see all the healing that you’ve received, I know that the same healing has occurred in my own inner life as well.  When we first met, you were a hot mess, but I overlooked it all because you were my escape.  I was ready to put down roots and escape the tyranny of apartment rentals.  When I walked into your bright yellow living room, I knew I’d found a piece of myself, and I also knew I’d be painting you again, and again and again.

These past four years, we’ve shifted and changed together. I’ve turned your ugly sidewalks into garden-flanked pathways, and I’ve turned your barren backyard into wonderland of growth.  Fruit and veggies have been harvested, wildflowers have exploded and re-seeded, and Mother Nature has been allowed to do her magic.  In return, you’ve helped me let go of outdated and expired thoughts, habits, beliefs and loves.

I want to thank you for all of your gifts, and for the freedom to start anew.  I am ready for our time together to end.  I will always love you, but I have new adventures to create and new challenges to conquer.   I’ve known all along that a part of me isn’t done yet.  That part is being reawakened by an ancient, gypsy-like curiosity. That part is calling me home, to the mountains of my birth.

I’ve healed you, and you’ve healed me.  After all the shifts and changes, this home is one that invites love, nurturing, stability and safety, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.   Thank you for your gifts of growth, healing and renewal.  Thank you for being exactly what I needed, when I needed it, so that I could heal the little, lost pieces of my soul.  I lovingly release you, and I ask that you do the same for me.  The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you; Namaste my friend.

2100 Laura Ct., Round Rock, TX 78681