Monthly Archives: May 2017

Weaving for Those Grieving

orb weaver“How can you be a symbol of strength?” said the chief. “You are small and weak, and I didn’t even see you as I followed the great Deer.”

“Grandson,” said the spider, “look upon me. I am patient. I watch and I wait. Then all things come to me.”

“The Spider and the People,” an Osage Legend

 

Like the chief, I almost didn’t see the spider in my garden a year ago—even though it was about three inches long. This black-and-gold arachnid had spun a large circular web. I stopped in time and held my breath.

I had heard arachnids symbolize the scribing arts because they weave webs as writers weave stories. This Yellow Garden Spider is called an orb weaver. Maybe like the large round web, it was letting me know there is a big story I am being asked to craft.

Yet I knew it wasn’t time. I had lost my son less than a year earlier and still needed months, if not years, to process my grief. The creature’s message was, yes, write; yet be patient. The time will come.

Another year has gone by. I have survived all the major holidays and anniversaries. I have blogged about the tears, the connections, the dreams. I have read through all my journal entries from the time I was pregnant with Tristan, reliving every one of the thousands of moments I had recorded about his life.

Late this spring I knew it was time to begin the way orb weavers start their mandala-like webs. They cast strands into the wind so the white wisps catch on something. Several weeks ago, I cast my story strand out to my publisher. Would he like a book from me about grieving?

Patiently I waited.

A few missed calls.

Finally, his voice on the line.

Jim didn’t ask me anything. Not about readership, not about marketing, not about platform. “This book is really needed,” he said. “Get crackin’.”

Like the orb weaver’s web, the first strands of this story are haphazard. Loose connections form the beginning structure of the book—a section about Tristan’s life to provide context and emotional connection, and a section designed to assist others with the grieving process, similar in style and voice to Thriver Soup.

Yet it was incomplete, like the initial lines of a web. My friend Mim Grace suggested another section for those standing on the sidelines. How do we interact with a person who is grieving? What do we say and not say? What about the sorrow of other family members, especially children?

To complete the sacred structure, I needed a professional editor. A man who knew Tristan years ago, who had lost his own son, and who had a lifetime of writing and editing experience, stepped forward.

The pieces are falling into place, as the initial spider’s home structures form a lattice. These beginnings have to be integrated for the rest of the orb to grow around and through them.

I am ready to weave around these structures, writing and editing, improving and revising. The filaments will form, with a characteristic orb-weaver ladder in place for me to move around easily within the wholeness of this gift. I plan to be patient, watching and waiting, and remain open to ideas, as some orb spiders frequently take down their webs and recast them.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Help me make this book the best it can be. Please forward this post to those who are grieving and ask for ideas on what would make this book a valuable guide for those navigating grief. Thank you.

Sources:

http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/The-Spider-And-The-People-Osage.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argiope_aurantia

http://southernwilddesign.com/argiope-the-common-garden-spider/

http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/orb-weaver

Unsung Hero

Tara L. Robinson, author of The Ultimate Risk (Hay House, April 2017) and publisher of Whole Living Journal, recently nominated me for one of Cancer Family Care’s 2017 Unsung Hero Patient Awards. The banquet was Tuesday, May 16, in Cincinnati, OH. Here is her nomination. Thank you, Tara!

 

Heidi is truly an inspiration beyond words. Not only is she an Unsung Hero because of her own personal growth work, but also because she has been determined to help others with what she learned from her experience.

And, let me tell you, what she learned was A LOT!

When Heidi was diagnosed with a rare Stage 4 cancer, she immediately put into action all of her advanced awareness of the mind-body-spirit connection. She turned over every single stone and healing became a full time job for her. She researched, overhauled her diet, maximized the effects of sound meditation, art therapy, dream interpretation, etc. She courageously chronicled the details her journey as it unfolded on her Caring Bridge webpage where friends and family remained on the edges of their seats waiting to see what Heidi discovered next.

She never faltered in her optimistic attitude and eventually made a most difficult, life-changing decision necessary to propel her into remission.

All of us who watched Heidi’s healing trek in awe could see the strong possibility that her online accounts would one day be perfect material for a book. She did, in fact, get right to work compiling all she had learned and experienced into an extensive resource for others on the healing journey. Her book, Thriver Soup, was traditionally published and has been helping patients and families around the world ever since.

Heidi and Tara at the awards banquet

I personally have been so inspired by Heidi’s story that I wrote about her in my own book, The Ultimate Risk (Hay House, April 2017) as I recounted why she was the recipient of the first Voices of Women award. Not only was she the first recipient, but she was actually the inspiration for the creation of this award that celebrates and acknowledges “outstanding achievement in personal growth and transformation.” This is the greatest act of service, because as we change ourselves, we change the world. I saw Heidi change the world as she bravely changed herself. The VOW award was created to honor remarkable women who have “risen from the ashes,” or have simply displayed great courage in excavating their inner lives, thereby changing themselves and changing the world…Heidi is the epitome of this award.

Heidi continued to suffer the worst of life’s challenges when her son suddenly passed away. However, her spirit is not to be defeated. She once again drew on the strength and faith she had cultivated during her cancer journey to not only survive, but thrive through even this tragedy.

Heidi is definitely an Unsung Hero and deserves to be honored as such. Our world is a better place because of Heidi Bright.

It is better to have loved and lost, on Mother’s Day

… O evil day! if I were sullen / While Earth herself is adorning / This sweet May-morning; / And the children are culling / On every side / In a thousand valleys far and wide / Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm, / And the babe leaps up on his mother’s arm:— / I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!

“Ode on Intimations of Immortality,” Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

 

Flowers from TristanMy heart melted whenever my son Tristan brought me flowers he had culled.

When he was nearly three, he joyfully handed me discarded artificial blossoms. He asked me to smell them, so I did.

I asked, “What do they smell like to you?”

He plunged his face into the bouquet and breathed in. He looked at me with all seriousness. “Cheerios.”

For me, nothing has been more wondrous than raising my boys. Even with the exhaustion, the frustration, the terror, the powerlessness. The sorrow.

My motherhood began later in my life than for most mothers. A week after the due date, an ultrasound indicated my firstborn was twelve pounds.

Um, he wasn’t coming out naturally, even though I had a great midwife.

Sighing, I scheduled a C-section.

I had another week to wait. I was reminded of the words of Jesus when he broke bread with his disciples for the final time: This is my body which is broken down for you; This is my blood which is shared with you. Greater love has no one than this, than one lay down her life for her friends.

Or for one.

A baby boy named Tristan.

“Congratulations,” my doctor said after the surgery. “You’ve given birth to a two-month-old.” Tristan looked enormous beside the normal-sized babies.

I loved this precious new being with every breath. I held him at every opportunity. I sang to him, talked to him, read to him before we even left the hospital.

I wrote in my journal: “When I look at this baby, I don’t see a child; I see an extension of myself. I feel a bond that is stronger than death. It really hurts my soul to see him cry. I love being able to nurse him—to feed him with living water from my innermost being. To nourish and sustain him with my body. To give to him from my life’s blood, for it takes blood to make milk.

“Now I know what a mother’s love is. It has nothing to do with how the child turns out or how smart or gifted he is. All that matters is his happiness.”

When Tristan was a week old, I held him in my arms while I rocked. I cried for half an hour—a slow, silent, teary cry. I never wanted him to be hurt, so I prayed for his protection.

How prophetic. He could not find happiness for himself. He did not have the protection he needed.

It is said it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved. At the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation national conference in 2015 I spoke briefly about losing Tristan two months earlier. A woman came up to me, her eyes brimming with tears, her voice tremulous. She had lost her daughter a decade earlier to leiomyosarcoma. The pain of losing a child can come up anytime, anywhere, and produce copious tears. Time does not erase the agony. Would she trade this desolation for never having her beloved daughter? Never. No, never. I know that love and am grateful for the 19 years I shared with Tristan.

And the bond of love continues beyond the grave. It is deathless. (And as I write this, the song “We’re Walking in the Air” randomly plays on Pandora—it’s one of the songs played during Tristan’s memorial service. He is with me, even now… His essence is deathless. His presence is present. His love lingers.)

Even without this precious child still embodied to celebrate Mother’s Day with, I would be remiss to be sullen. I loved being his mother for 19 years; even in the darkest hours, I loved him with all my heart. He knew. And he still does.

So I will celebrate with my living son, my second-born, who soon will have lived longer than his older brother. He delights me with his humor, his insights, his love. He is the treasure of my life.

I have much to celebrate.

Thriver Soup Ingredient:

Please share this post with mothers who have lost their children. Thank you.

The ABCs of Creating Conditions for Healing

Please join me

Sunday, May 7, 1-3 pm
250 East Main Street, Batavia, OH  45103

Your Take-aways

+ Consider how to transform attitudes to support healing
+ Learn how to reconstruct behaviors and make better choices to support your body’s efforts to create health
+ Gain your own insights through a guided visualization that will involve exploring any dis-eased part of the body

Feedback:

Thanks for a most thought-provoking talk. I’ve done little else but think since we were together. Who am I? What matters most to me? What do I hope to be when I grow up? How big is my part in the scheme of things?… The talk was a wonderful thing for me.

The ABCs of healing was eye-opening and can help with my health issues.

Beautiful, heartfelt, easy. I gained an understanding of the power of healing through all modalities.