Take me to your Leader, but make sure he’s not Nuts!

spiritual awakening, larkabouts, grief, creativity, wellness, meagburnt,

Here’s the thing: tell someone you believe in UFOs and that’s perfectly acceptable.  It’s out there, it’s controversial, it’s vague, it’s elusive, it’s relative, it has hard evidential proof, it has changed some people’s lives forever, it’s got a slew of groupies…. and it’s perfectly acceptable to most if this is what your floats your boat and what you want to devote your personal time to.

But mention you’re having a “spiritual awakening” and people may give you the side-eye and back away slowly.  Because that’s crazy — or I’m crazy because I am starting to see and feel some results (wow that’s a lousy word to use in the context of spiritual awakening!) of all the personal work I have been doing.  The meditation.  The yoga. The breathing. The walking. The reading. The energy experiments. The changing of my diet. The re-routing of my normal thinking patterns (Lordy this is HAAAAARD).  And the silence.  Ohhh the loads of silence I have come to adore and require now, just as I require air to breath.

Silence

Why is it that an actual spiritual awakening is somewhat mistrusted?  I’ve seen eyebrows go up and felt the proverbial, “ah boy, we lost her.” sentiment because I’ve mentioned, in my joyous exaltation, that my beginner’s mind is starting to see and feel some magical new ways of thinking — and I could NOT be more thrilled about this.  These ways of existing in the world have always been available to me, just as they are to you, but I am discovering for the first time because I am practicing new principles. And I became ready. But it’s not perfect nor pain-free! Ahh but it IS perfect for right now.

This reaction… well it’s ironic if you ask me, because many people strive for a more spiritual way of being; in their personal relationships, in their careers, in their every level of life — because it’s cool, and I completley agree.  Twitter is rampant with quotes and retweets of our spiritual leaders and beyond — because it IS COOL to talk about being spiritual.  It’s not cool to be religious; but spiritual is awesome — because religious is crazy, right?  And don’t even think about getting crazy about being spiritual, because that’s just nuts!!

Although when it arrives — if it arrives, it may perhaps change the way you tweet, change the way you participate in the world, rock the very core of your foundation, make you burst out in tears for no other reason except that the love thumping in your veins can’t be contained; it may force you to spontaneously hug people and trees, walk around on your hands at the beach and then blow your head up right off your shoulders.

Sunrise Yoga

This is what I have been experiencing lately.  And I like it. Except the bit about my head blowing up. That has not happened. Yet.

I spent my late twenties and early thirties searching for a spiritual awakening and never found it, much to my chagrin. I worked with shamans, I became a diligent student of religious science, I participated in drumming circles, had soul retrievals, spent countless hours on a therapist’s couch — because I was convinced that something was wrong with me and that a spiritual awakening would be my way out of it.

But it has occurred to me: I don’t want to read the biography of a person who has not lived a full life; where they’ve not crawled through their own personal never-ending hell and survived, not celebrated to excess and beyond when success was achieved — and survived; and everything in between. Perhaps no one is allowed to have a spiritual awakening until life has been lived in all corners of darkness and light.  I don’t think I’m anywhere near my end, nor sampled all corners, but I have done my fair sharing of crawling and celebrating. Perhaps not in that order.

I sat with my mom when she died and was with my two twin uncles when they died — separately — as well; all within the past recent years.  I saw things happen to them as they were “transitioning”.  I had emotional conversations with each of them that seared my core; my mom knocked me out of the park with her parting words for a couple of weeks.  I saw “someone” come get them, “be” with each of them and even shine a light on my mom’s face when there was no light. I absolutely HAD to change the way I participated in my world because of these experiences.  It was very different for each of them — I can only sum it up by saying their spirit was delivered by whom it should have been delivered. errrr something like that!

My Three Holy Ghosts:

My Three Holy Ghosts

I have also been fired from three jobs in the past year as well — I even quit one job, so these past few years have completely made my head spin round and round and round. And cry and cry. Although I shed no tears for this last job — I was on my way, so the feeling was mutual.

I’m currently living in Woodstock, Illinois (although I watch the sunset in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin when I can) and I have honestly made peace with this town that I once despised, and even thanked Mayor Brian Sager for a job well done last week.  I met him at Woodstock’s festival nod to Broadway; he and his administration have really opened up theater options in Woodstock, as well as welcoming more new businesses in town. The day was much like a day right out of the pages of “Waiting for Guffman.” and I was tickled! I no longer have angst for this little town and have honestly enjoyed my time here.  The aforementioned silence can be found in this town, as well as in the surrounding area towns I once hated while growing up, but ahhhh no longer 🙂

Mayor Woodstock

I was hoping to leave Woodstock now that I have made peace with it, but with the recent lose of yet another job, I find I must stay put a while longer.  Apparently I have not yet learned what I have come here to learn in my little hometown neck of the nape, and OY please don’t make it last forever!  Because I hear the call of the West.

I recently stumbled upon this video and it stopped me cold in my tracks because….. well because I have experienced ALL of these things in the past few weeks — and I’ll be honest, it’s a bit scary at times.  Somedays I have no idea who I am and where I’m headed, but I have faith. I have faith!

… so ask me if I have any idea who I am right now.

And I will say I AM MEAGAN BURNS!! My eyes are open and I love it! These experiences with death have showed me a beautiful side of life, even if I can’t stop getting fired! I have never felt more sane in my life…

meagburnt sept 13

I feel tremendous gratitude for all the people that have helped me through these past few months and I keep meeting more and more of these kindred souls; I am excited to learn more through them and with them.  Below is a list of a few of the books that have also helped me through some of these issues, but don’t forget about being silly and laughing!  Because really, why else keep plugging along if you can’t laugh about it? xoxo

Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet
Marianne Williamson: A Return to Love
Marianne Williamson: The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles
Cheryle Strayed: WILD
Doreen Virtue’s Angel Therapy
Denise Linn: Soul Coaching
Gerry Gavin: Messages from Margaret
Sabrina Reber: How to Raise Your Vibration
Caroline Shearer: Raise Your Vibration: Tips and Tools for a High-Frequency Life
Dr. Christiane Northup: Lightening the Mother Load: Healing Strategies for Daughters
Dr. Steven D. Farmer: Animal Spirit Guides (I AM A TIGER RAWWWWWRRRRR)
Pam Grout: E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments 

In a blink of an eye

Hard to believe it’s been six months since my mom died; some days it feels like just minutes ago I was with her in her hospital room, trying to pry her hands off of her bed rail because they were turning purple.  Yet other days it feels like she’s been gone for ages.  I have learned so much in the past few months; the lessons have come in all sizes and shapes and I honestly hope this journey continues to reveal itself. I feel like I am finally growing up but not in a snore-bore sorta-way. In a way that has eluded me for years but somehow is tapping open my heart now.  I’ve paid off some old bills as well, so I suppose that’s rather snore-bore but it felt tremendous to take care of some old financial haunts. I’m almost there!

I am 47 and both my parents are dead.  Many of the things I used to care about; I don’t anymore.  Some things have fallen to the wayside; others have become more omni-important.  I am less afraid in the world.  To be less afraid has been a very powerful gift and I’m so very grateful for this gift of confidence.

I was terrified of the water. I was afraid to be out in the country all by myself.  I used to call the police when I was out in the country and they would say to me, “do you realize that’s the wind?”  I used to be afraid of silence because of all the voices I could hear.

One of my most favorite things now is to be out in the country, sitting in a lake all by myself, listening to the silence and wise voices that I hear.  It’s true!

In a lake

I took a new job two months ago because I believed so much in the product; the problem is, is that I did not believe in the company. And it turns out they did not believe in me, so we have recently parted ways.  As shocking as this may seem to some, it really felt like the absolute right thing to have happened. What now?

This will be very hard for me to do but I have been instructed not to do anything for a week.  This goes against everything in me — because I want to poke around and completely over-analyze the situation.  Instead I am going to focus on raising my vibration.

Raising my vibration.  It’s happening. I am clearing my chakras. Raising the roof.  Awakening the heart.  Mindful meditation — I am finally getting it where I don’t think of sex the entire time!  Breathing from my toes. Reaching for the stars. Feeling the gratitude.  Sharing kindness.  Sending love.  The Grinch when he discovered the true meaning of Christmas? Yeah, me.  I wasn’t a hater like him, but I swear somedays I think my heart is going to burst of my ribcage.

lark

I feel alive on a level I have never experienced before and I want to devour the world.  I have taken a break or pause from social media but I am ready to be visible again.  I am also taking a reiki class and studying angels since they have decided to visit me.  Yes, angels. I no longer care if that makes me sound crazy because it makes me happy.

It’s really my mom’s criticism I hear when I decide I want to pursue things that make me happy. My mom never understood my pursuits but in the end she apologized for being mean to me and wished she had been nicer.  Her gift to me was realizing she had been wrong about me.  This has changed something deep inside of me. I have walked around my entire life thinking my mom thought I was crazy – or didn’t like me.  This is not the case, she loved me and only wished she had the expression that I have always had.  This realization has changed everything about my life.  In turn, I am going to be nicer to me and not criticize my pursuits.

It is an amazing gift when a parent apologizes before they die. I understand that many people do not get this gift and I am completely grateful my mom had the heart to say something to me.

I am committed to making the autumn and winter of my life magical. An angel appeared on my arm by way of a rogue doodle and told me to believe. I believe…

angel arm

Meditation is Hard — But Getting Softer

happy happy

I have dabbled in meditation here and there over the years but it wasn’t until this past February that I found myself sitting in the local buddhist temple, which is a strikingly peaceful oasis to sit and soak in the silence.  And to begin my foray back into mediation.  These Buddhist Monks hail from Sri Lanka and I can’t pronounce any of their names except I have recently learned that the equivalent of “Father Sujatha” is “Bhante Sujatha” so I find it’s safest to call each of them “Bhante.”

Bhantes

A few months ago it was all I needed to sit in the beautiful temple to attempt to quiet my mind, which ping-ponged all over the place like a mad chicken on crack.  I was all over the place so the silence did my mind and body good, and I probably tweaked and twitched as I sat there in the silence.  It doesn’t matter, any and all are welcome at this temple and I totally appreciate the warm welcome they gave me.

As the weeks unraveled and I began to recover from everything that had happened over the past year, I was having more and more questions for the Monks and requiring more direction.  Three nights per week they host silent mediations, followed up by a talk from Bhante Sujatha, if he is in town or one of the others.  When Bhante speaks, he refers to the benefits of his mediation and how he is able to allow things to bounce off him and not bother him and is accepting of most situations in life; he is always harmonious with life.  These are my words and not his; he would never say something so arrogant as this.  I’m sure of it.

My questions during class hover around, “so in order to get to this place of acceptance, can you suggest maybe five or six ways to achieve this through mediation?”  No, just continue to practice and you will see.  “But my thoughts stampede out to the wildest situations, usually sexual in nature or something along those lines, but it is never still, always racing.”  Just keep coming here and you will see.

This worked for a few weeks but I knew that I was in need of some direction, because I really want to reign in my thoughts and quiet the mind. I’ve had glimpses of this in the recent past and know it’s possible, so my desire led me to search for more.  It led me to google things!

Another benefit of the exploration years in San Francisco is that I used to take T’ai Chi lessons in the park in the early mornings and I remembered how calming it was for me.  I googled t’ai chi and soon stumbled upon Qi Gong, another Asian healing art I studied briefly a long time ago and was drawn to it because it’s referred to as the Mother of T’ai Chi.

LeeHolden

It didn’t take long for me to have an A HA moment and realize this is where I wanted to spend my time.  I googled deeper into Qi Gong and discovered Lee Holden.  He has a few free youtubes and I was hooked with 7 Minutes of Magic that was filmed in Sand Harbor Beach in Lake Tahoe, as well as taking a class at the Temple.  I knew I was starting to wake up because for the first time in a very long time, I was ready to go some where.  I went to South Lake Tahoe.  I climbed a mountain. I did Qi Gong. T’ai Chi. Yoga. Mountain Biking. Hot springs. Ate organic salads. Had a blast!

 

Of course I made a Vine too (I am @meagburnt on Vine)
meagburnt Vine Lake Tahoe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OvA9Hg9u8w&feature=em-upload_owner

Since returning home I signed up for Lee’s online classes because his world head quarters are in Santa Cruz, California. Or perhaps it’s his studio!  I am going to give myself 30-days to stick with it — and if I do, I will pursue taking more IRL classes.  So far, the lessons have been wonderful and my QI is starting to wake up!

No seriously, this is serious.  I am enjoying every minute of this.  After this morning’s meditation I felt the qi rising in my cheeks and shins like I had never felt them before in my life.  Who’s body is this?  It’s mine! xo

Here’s Henry the day I came home from Lake Tahoe, he was soooooooo excited to see me, he went airborne!  His qi is incredible too …

LT_larkabouts_13

Going Green, Take Two

I've been waving to the sunsets for decades now; here's me in Big Sur in 1998
I’ve been waving to the sunset for decades now; here’s me in Big Sur in 1998

When I think back to the last half of 2012, it occurs to me that I was in a rather suspended mode and did not make many waves as I waited for yet another holiday season to roll on by.  I knew something was up with my mom, but I was not allowed to get too close, so I numbed it out of my mind.  I remember walking out of my office and I could feel my feet walking down the sidewalk, but it felt like my head was staying in the same place.  I was trapped in a tunnel.  It’s all rather surreal when I think back, because it was literally right after the holidays ended that my mom went south, after her youngest brother went into the hospital and was told he had about a week to live.  Tom did not make it past three days and the night of his funeral was when I first had to bring my mom to the Emergency Room.  They told me they couldn’t keep Mom, they said excruciating pain was not enough of a reason to admit someone.  WHAT?

It was a snowy Friday January evening; I took the bus home across the Loop and arrived at my West Loop neighborhood in record time.  I didn’t want to go upstairs just yet; I don’t even know why because I never usually hesitated.  I walked through the alley behind Girl & The Goat because I didn’t feel like looking at all the beautiful people on Randolph going to dinner.  I smoked a cigarette in the alley and it tasted God awful, I couldn’t even finish it but I held it and looked at it in the falling snow.  I hated that thing.  I flicked it at the dumpster and made my way home.

Twenty minutes later the call came in that Mom was really sick and I needed to head out there.  Ninety minutes later I was there with mom.

I took a leave of absence from my job.  A job I knew I was not right for, but so many of us know that we are not right for a job and do it anyways because it’s 2013, and dammit we should be grateful that we have a job at all, so fake it ’til you make it.  All bets were off when my mom got sick, I knew the gig was up.  I will make amends for this when the time is right.

Now it’s the middle of May and I have radically changed almost everything about my life.  My current reading and doing list:

Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr
(Eat your veggies, ignite your spark and live like you mean it!)

The Rainforest by Victor W. Hwang and Greg Horowitt
(The secret to building the next Silicon Valley)

Soak Your Nuts
(Karyn’s Conscious Comfort Foods and Recipes for Everyday Life)

Astrology for Beginners (just because!)

The Holy Bible (I pick it up, give it a side-eye, then toss it aside)

Modern Qi Gong by Lee Holden
(a 27-part online series to learn & live the basics of Qi Gong — wonderful to learn how to breathe from my toes and awaken the Qi)

Mother Daughter Wisedom by Dr. Christine Northup
(
also attending the Doctor’s 4-part workshop on Lightening the Motherload, which has been super super helpful and freeing)

I’ve changed my eating, drinking, breathing, address, job and spare time since my mom passed away.  I go to yoga, I meditate with Buddhist Monks, I hike the hills (mounds?) of McHenry and Walworth Counties and every day I learn something new about where our food comes from and how screwed up the American food system is today and I am trying to discover a healthier ways through this.  I teach social media at a creativity incubator and also am doing in-store demonstrations for a smart phone company (I made this connection while at a funeral, so always remember to keep your options open).

I was Meagan the Vegan many years ago when I lived in San Francisco; however things were so very different back, but then again not really.  The cool thing to do was to jump on the “John Robbins, “Diet for a New America” bandwagon; I did it and I loved it, but I think I took everything too far as I was known to do. This was when I first learned how wrong the American diet was (is!), how proper food combining was necessary to thrive, all about food allergies and how poisonous Baskin & Robbins ice cream is to a body.  I soon became convinced I was addicted and allergic to everything under the sun.  I attended 12-step meetings, saw several therapists, tried different religions, worked with shamans in the forest, went to women’s drumming circles, had soul retrievals, studied expressive creative dance, did ecstasy naked on the beaches of Big Sur with hippies, rode my bike all over Northern California (mostly because I didn’t have a car for the first two years) — honestly it was an incredible time in my life and I will never forget the San Francisco years.  I worked in SOMA’s South Park neighborhood (the exact park where Twitter and Instagram were born!) as a 35mm slide designer and then I tripped the holistic light fantastic at night and on weekends.  I lived in Mill Valley with my pastry chef boyfriend and rode my bike to the Sausalito ferry to ride across the bay each day, right on past Alcatraz Island — could there be a more beautiful start the morning?  No! It was cold of course, but absolutely gorgeous.

So here I am going green again twenty years later and I am basically re-learning everything — which is the cool part because I always love a challenge, and naturally it’s all different.  My mother is dead now.

I don’t say that flippantly.  Losing my mother was such an incredible kick in the guts, I was so not prepared. Even though I thought I was and had been preparing myself for the past two years.   The lessons have been hige; my mom’s death is teaching me so much about myself and about life.  I am extremely grateful for this bittersweet message that has changed my life.

I am not saying that it isn’t difficult for sons, but the mother-daughter connection is such a powerful connection, even if the two were not friends. My mom and I were occasionally friends, but mostly not.   I’ve been amazed at some of the stories I’ve learned in the past few months; both heart -breaking and inspiring.  Never in a million years would I have thought it would be me to have a complete meltdown after my mom died, in fact I would have wagered big money that I would NOT be the one to lose it.  No Siree Bub, not me.

I did lose it.  But I quickly crawled up to gasp for air and asked for help in turning my life around.  I was in bad shape. Not on the outside necessarily, but my insides were all topsy-turvy.  I was empty and then shattered.  My mom apologized for being so mean to me for so many years.  She apologized.  I laughed at her when she said it, but it was a nervous laughter because I did not know how to respond.  Then I saw the look in her eye.  She looked away and stared out to nowhere with an empty sadness in her eye.  I knew she meant it.  I knew right then that she was going to die soon.

I was fired twice in 2012 from two shitty jobs, and these back-to-back firings were very challenging to recover from their blows. I didn’t get fired for lack of trying, that’s for sure.  I took this last job out of desperation — even my co-worker mentioned that I seemed “very hungry” when I first started working with the group.  It’s true, I was literally hungry and scared because I had to sell my truck, my jewelry and anything else of value to stay afloat.  It was very scary and I avoided calling my mom for several months because I did not want her to worry.

My Monk buddies tell me there is no such thing as being “balanced”, there is only “balancing” – I agree!  I will continue to attempt to balance things through thick and thin, but I realize there will be challenges and setbacks, along with the successes, and perhaps those setbacks may require a strawberry sundae.  It’s starting to sound less and less appealing but perhaps some rainy day may call for a cheeseburger to make things feel alright.

I couldn’t be more inspired than I am right now to live a right life.  I don’t expect perfection, in fact I don’t want perfection   — I want the real deal.  I intend to remain soft, spongey and teachable as I enter the autumn of my life.  I want this to be the best time of my life and live well for both myself and my Spirit Sister; my mom Juls.

Spring has grown legs, finally!

larkabouts magnnolia

May has finally warmed things up in the Midwest after a never-ending winter, and now the buds, blossoms and green fields are singing everywhere —  I have even spotted a real live elbow or two (a sure sign of spring) while out and about.  I am on Month Two Point Five of my “time out” from the city and I continue to make good on the promise to myself that I would not get bored. Outside of work and school, I intend to find new people, places and things and interesting things to do.  People live here for a reason, right?

I’ll be honest; Northern Illinois bores me to absolute tears.  I know I am not long for this area because I am here for a reason and I am dedicated to discovering things that I had not known while growing up, nor back for ocassional visits.   I’ve officially made peace with Woodstock, but c’mon you all drive me crazy Illinois.

When I go to grocery stores and ask if they have organic vegetables, they look at me as if I am the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  A produce guy said to me, “I’ve been eating these pesticides my whole life and nothing has happened to me!”  I laughed, said “me too!” and sashayed away. We’ve all been eating them but now it’s time to stop, Bubs!  I don’t expect it to be Organic Town USA here, but I do enjoy the conversations it can encourage.  Northern Illinois has a huge resistance to it.

I have never understood McHenry County and probably never will.  I went to the local community college because I heard they had a map of all the county trails but when I pulled into the main parking lot, I almost fell out of my car.  Literally.  They had created a mock-cemetery in the front yard of all the babies aborted.  There were vicious signs everywhere.  I was aghast.  At the community college.  eeee-gads.  I’ve often commented that it feels more like Texas here than Texas.

There is something about this county that just does not want to be budged.
So be it, I am only a visitor.

My temporary explorations must carry on!  The curious mind has pushed me across the border to Wisconsin, once again.  My ex-sister-in-law Wendy and her family live in Linn Township and we have long considered each other as family, even though technically we are no longer.  Wendy’s oldest son, Jackson, now five, has autism and recently they added Inka, the German autism service dog, to their rowsy family.  Inka was trained in Germany and continues her training locally yet has a fairly substantial bill to support her services.  Wendy and her neighbors are really good about creating events to support each other and a few weeks ago they hosted a partial-walk around Lake Geneva to raise funds to defer some of Inka’s training costs.  The walk ended at Foley’s Bar & Grill where they offered a special Reuben sandwich for the day and sponsored a meat raffle.  yes a meat raffle, say what?!  Tables & tables of meat were raffled off, I’ve never seen anything like it.  I won a huge a Wisconsin salami.

Walk for Autism Inka

So this was not only a great event to be involved in, it totally sparked my memory that there is a 20-something-mile path that goes all the way around the lake and it’s open to the public.  Over the past two weeks, I have hit this trail and it is SPECTACULAR.

As you make your way around the lake, homes that are not visible from anywhere but the lakefront are visible, as are their gorgeous landscapes and lake-faring accouterments.  No two homes are the same and the path is varied and semi-rugged, by going through golf courses, flat beaches, endless green lawns and beautiful lakefront patios and so on.  I recommend remaining very respectful because you are very close to people’s homes, but there certainly are areas you can sit back and take in the views.  I sat at William Wrigley’s boat slip to take in the sunset — very serene indeed.

More information in case you want to plan this thing out a bit more than me:
http://www.makeitbetter.net/entertainment/outings-a-travel/1506-hiking-through-historythe-geneva-lake-walking-path

Naturally I made a Vine:

Vine Lake Geneva
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAF66cbAU_c&feature=youtu.be

I look forward to learning more about Lake Geneva this summer, especially because this is FREE!  Things just taste better when they are free, yahvoh!

I am completely grateful my health has returned (WHEW!) and my legs are strong once again and ready to hike, hike hike.  Ever since I read Cheryl Strayed’s “WILD” when I was in Lake Tahoe a few weeks ago, I am feeling compelled to plan a super-big hike, but not entirely the same as Cheryl Strayed’s hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.

I back-packed through Northern Arizona several years ago and hiking with a monster-backpack is very hard work — I felt very tall and my legs were never stronger. It’s hot and dirty, dusty and smelly but I absolutely loved the experience — even though a mountain lion growled at me and I thought I was going to die right there.  I didn’t.

That was an experience a woman should experience in her twenties, and that’s about when I had mine.  Except I think I was 32.  I am looking to do something different now and will continue to research and plan.

My legs are ready to climb things again, this much I know.  A treadmill will not cut it.

larkabouts biking

Next up, mom’s ashes are going for a swim.
Thank you for reading my words, I do appreciate it. xo

The Bounce Back!

Lake Tahoe

I have never ever been afraid to be out in the world, that was until my mother passed away.  I felt trapped and scared and believe me, that was death to me.  I had a dream that powerful blue waters spoke to me and so I went to them.  I went to the blue green waters and purple green mountains of Lake Tahoe and became alive again!

I challenged my heart to give out on me. I begged it to stop dead in it’s tracks because it appeared to have been taunting me.  I climbed that mountain and my heart did not stop!

Thank you World.

 

Mindfulness, Good Deeds, Cheeseburgers, Milkshakes

Buddha_Blue_Lotus

The days and weeks since my mom’s death have been quick to pass and full of lessons, if I am in the mood to listen and thankfully I usually am.  I have made some huge changes in my life since her passing and I have been on this continual hunt for information and guidance on what to do next in life.  I have discovered so many things in the past few weeks and one message that came through loud and clear is that life is truly short and should not be wasted or fretted away on meaningless drivel.  Which is all relative to each and every one of us.

My mom knew she was dying. She never came out and said this to me but two weeks before I brought her to the hospital, we spent most of the night sitting up at her house while she told me her directives.  She had it all written down, but wanted to tell me everything.  It was a  meaningful occasion for me because never before have I had to opportunity to sit with my mom and talk with her — especially without beer.  I sat at the dining room table and she sat on the couch. She looked straight ahead and I watched her profile. She was pretty. I had never seen my mom as pretty. I saw where I got my looks! I never ever saw my mom in this light before and that night alone healed a thousands hurts that she and I had between us.

It’s not as if I am sitting around mourning the loss of my mom, no this is not the case at all.  I had essentially been prepared for my mom’s death for about two years; I’m not sure if she had had a stroke or what, but she basically checked out a while back and I was waiting until she called me in for help.  That day finally came and honestly there was no preparing for any of it — it was all very surreal and continues to reveal itself in my dreams and thoughts throughout the days and nights.  I find myself crying over the silliest things and cannot stop myself.  Honestly, I don’t mind getting lost in the tears.  But I am always surprised by it.

The first week in the hospital my mom and I got along very well, laughing together when we could, although at this point the pain was starting to engulf her, so I just wanted to be there for her. Her screams will haunt me forever because she screamed for her mother almost continually.  It was like a horror movie.  Chilling.  As the news of her condition worsened, she began to communicate to me with her eyebrows and then soon she became angry at the fact that she was dying.

She did not want to die. Not here. Not now. She was not ready.  She got mad at me.  I struggle with the guilt.  It was happening.  Her death. I just happened to be the only one there with her.

I’ve seen two people go off to hospice and both times these people were already in some type of coma to kill the pain or whatever they were experiencing.  Not my mom. I had to tell her we were going to hospice and she almost stabbed me with her eyes.

“Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!”

The doctors told me we had one hour to say goodbye to her and I was the only family member with her. I had to ask her if there was anyone she wanted to talk to (I couldn’t yet say the word “goodbye”). “No! I don’t know! Noooooo!”

I sent out a group text that we have one hour to say good bye to Mom.  In hindsight, this is beyond surreal — a damn text message.  “Boys, you’ve got one hour to say goodbye to her, but the doctors say it’s too stressful for her to be on the phone, so send me a text and I will read it to her.  Or call me and I will tell her your words.  Say goodbye in your heart, because you won’t get a chance to see her again.”

I spent the next 45 minutes reading everyone’s text messages to mom. Everyone’s thank you’s and good bye’s.  This completely shook me to my core. I have never sobbed like this in my life.  When I walked out of her room because the guys from the ambulance had shown up to wheel her out, I realized I had not said good bye.  There was still a little time, but I had no idea.

When she was in the ambulance, I ran up to the back of it and jumped up and down to look in the window. “I’m here with you Mom!! I will follow you!! I will not leave you! I’ll be right behind you!! I will see you in a little bit!!”  On one of my jumps up I could see that she was smiling.  At me.  For jumping up and down. Like a clown.

All the people I saw in the hospital who were looking at death’s door were not ready for it and were surprised that it came up so soon.  When my mom was in surgery or resting, I walked around and observed; spoke to some who were open to it.  You know what they wanted to talk about? When they were in love. When their children were small.  The first kiss.  The first and last dance.  You see old and sick people in hospitals but with some of them, their minds are still young and they don’t forget love and kisses and dances and children.

So on this Monday, April 1, 2013, I found myself strangely agitated and almost angry about my lot in life.  Thanks to the books I have been reading and the overall general messages I have been receiving (or misinterpreting), I was quite annoyed about what life was not giving me.  I was thinking about my own death — an unfortunate side affect of watching my mother’s death — and all the things I want to do and experience before I die.  I grew extremely agitated throughout the day because of all the things I have given up in life over the past few weeks, I was getting *nothing* in return.

I want to experience an exquisite love before I die.
I want to hunker down and do satisfying work before I die.
I want to give back to causes I believe in before I die.

But love has done me wrong, the chip on my shoulder from getting fired twice in 2012 is weighing me down and the slow climb of financial reckoning is taking its own sweet time.  I am fucking pissed off!

I went for a sunset run to blow off some steam and afterwards I set off to find something to eat and drove past the Blue Lotus Temple. I knew there was a meditation class this evening and instead of eating, I knabbed the available open parking spot in front and found a seat in the beautiful cobalt blue temple.

The subject of tonight’s class: preparing for your death.  I heard things that made me double over.  I heard nuggets of wisdom that made my heart flutter.  I had tears streaming down my face when the Head Monk asked if there were any questions.  I raised my hand.

“I have forgotten how to be mindful and I don’t remember what good deeds are; in fact I have spent my day being angry about what life has not given me yet and I don’t think is the way I am supposed to be. I don’t want to die with these thoughts in my head.  I saw my mom being angry about dying and she thought she was prepared.  Please tell me what to do, I feel like I’m failing at everything in life.”

“You are doing absolutely everything right; even the place you are at with your thoughts.  It was a powerful gift to be with your mom through her death and now that you have helped her, it is time to help yourself.  I will help to remind you what being mindful is and suggest good deeds but you will discover them on your own, just as you discovered this.  Don’t be a Buddhist; be a Buddha and you will always stay hungry.  It is not too late and I am glad you are here.”

So I spoke with the Monk after class. I felt so much better after we chatted that I wanted a Culver’s cheeseburger right then and there.  So off to Culver’s I went, where I not only enjoyed a cheeseburger, but a strawberry milkshake too, as I read up on my decision to become Meagan the Vegan. Moooooooooooooo!!

veg_burgers

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Mindfulness-Plain-English-20th-Anniversary/dp/0861719069/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364873388&sr=1-1&keywords=mindfulness+in+plain+english

mindfulness

 

Juls’ Quilts, Part 1

My mom, Juls, was a wonderful quilt maker and won many awards and accolades over the years for her art — but never really told anyone outside of the family.  Even at her wake, neighbors that she lived next door to for decades had no idea that mom was such an accomplished quilter.  Cousins, aunts, even one of her brothers had no idea that this is what my mom did up in her little condo; in a work space roughly about 6 by 6 feet.  To see all her quilts up on display was really rather moving for me, I had never seen them in this light and it blew everyone away.

Juls was able to blow the room away at her wake because as an ode to my mother, I filled the “wake room” with her quilts and it looked very much like her own personal art gallery.  It was really beautiful if I may say so myself.  Quilts on walls, on chairs, on couches, on podiums, she was everywhere.  Relatives asked all day and night, “What are you going to do with your mother’s quilts?”  My brothers were ready to bring in an auctioneer that night!  I don’t know exactly what I am going to do with her quilts, but I certainly am exploring some options.

A quilt appraisialist said that they should go to either the Illinois State Museum in Springfield or to the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.  This appraisalist never met my mother, not many did, but she certainly was familiar with my mom’s work.  Juls was the recluse quilter that quietly won all the awards at the McHenry County Fair each year and came in to pick up her ribbons on the Monday after the fair — and into the fabric cabinet the ribbons would go.

The reasons why mom hid for so many years are starting to become clear to me as I sort through her things and empty out her life and it’s not always easy because I get upset with her. I wish she had let me in on some of her thoughts and not let them fester.  So stubborn.  Stone Head.

I always threatened my mom that I would expose her craft when she was gone and she would say, “What will I care then?”  Well, ummm true but that time is here and now the first thing I had to do was photograph the quilts.  This is not as easy as it sounds, as her quilts are huge, well most of them at least, and huge means heavy.  Thankfully I was able to use one of the studios at the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship (where I am now also teaching and studying, but more on that later).

I sold some of my mom’s quilts at her estate sale but have hung on to a good many.  I learned that my mom had quite a following and when word got out that some of her quilts were up for sale, people came from all over the area and her estate was quickly emptied out.  I am pleased about this.  As well as a little freaked out by her empty house that I can now hear an echo when I talk.  I wonder if I made it all happen too quickly and now have very little of her left.

I am not a pack rat.  Now I am preparing to contact the museums as soon as I have them all properly inventoried.  These are just a few.

My mom was never big on talking. It drove me crazy my entire life.  When I saw her quilts up on the walls of the funeral home, I saw that mom said everything through her quilts.  There are layers and layers of her emotions and thoughts in her quilts and I will do what I can to get people to hear my mom.  

Aw Juls. You finally said something.  xo