Archive for October, 2013

“Sick Pay! Feel Better”

October 23, 2013

October 21, 2013

I keep seeing all these posts about random acts of kindness and paying it forward. Well, I have a little story of my own. Today was my first day back teaching since the wind was taken out of my sails sixteen days ago. I still had a lingering cough, but my energy felt normal, and I had a strong feeling when I woke up that it would do me a world of good to get out of my sick cocoon and back into the stream of life.

It felt intensely healing to be back at the beautiful Sacred Space Studio with my students. I felt their love and appreciation–the class flowed like a wonderful dream. The interesting thing was that, the whole time I was teaching, even when I was laughing, I never coughed. My energy picked up as the class moved along–totally the opposite of that last class, when it felt like someone had pulled the plug and I barely made the short walk back to my car. Today I felt that my patience to wait for the right moment–when I felt really well again–had paid off.

After not working for so long, I had one dollar left in my wallet. Two students paid for another series of classes. Their payment went toward the studio rent. There was one drop-in student; I used his $20 bill to buy gas. Since I had canceled so many classes, the rest of the students aren’t due for another week or so. So I went home with the same dollar bill.

A little later, while rummaging in my purse for my cell phone, I noticed a small envelope that somehow I’d missed seeing earlier. I often have old envelopes, scrap paper, and odd notes in my purse, but I noticed that this envelope had a message scribbled on the front:

Sick Pay!
Feel Better

The envelope was semi-sealed with a heart sticker. So I opened it, thinking maybe it was a get-well card. Instead, and much to my delight, I discovered five crisp twenty-dollar bills.

When you’re down to one dollar, that’s quite a windfall!

No card. It was just an anonymous act of kindness.

Thank you, dear student. I have a hunch that I know who you are, but I’m not sure!


Deep Rest is the Cure

October 19, 2013
October 17, 2013  
The full moon rises–no matter what, she stays on track. She’s my lifeline as my own boat drifts at a low ebb, lost at sea here in the Valley of the Moon . . .
Full Moon, October 18, 2013
I’m not out of the woods yet, but already the memories of those first days of chills, fever, coughing, hacking, shivering delirium, and endless nose blowing are fading away. I think it will help me heal if I share the rest of my sick saga. (If you missed yesterday’s prelude, see Into the Underworld of Chills and Fever)

I’m such a compulsive Gemini communicator that I’ll probably sit upright at my own funeral and argue with the minister about the hereafter!
Just to illustrate the seriousness of my descent into the underworld, during those first five days, before completely losing my voice, I found myself singing this little ditty (sung to the tune of that ’60s jingle, “Soup and Sandwich”) like a madwoman, over and over again, just to keep my spirits up:
Chills and fever, chills and fever, 
Everybody’s got chills and fever. 
Any time of weather, chills and fever go together.

Repeat five times every hour until symptoms subside. I figured so long as I was singing, I wasn’t dead. And the singing and laughing felt like a sort of exorcism.
Already people were advising me to go to the doctor, but I argued, “I don’t need a doctor–I need a nurse! I need someone to come over and take care of me so I can stay in bed and get well! I need to get off this cold, hard drafty floor. I’m too old to be sleeping on the ground. I have to face it! I need someone to walk the dogs, wash the dishes, feed the animals, clean the kitty litter . . .
“And,” I added, “I need someone to go to Farmer and the Cook and get me some birdseed cookies and carrot cake!”I wanted a treat. Like a child in her sick bed, I began obsessing about carrot cake. I almost cried when my helper friend only delivered soup, grapes, lemons, and oranges. He explained something about the carrot cake arriving on Thursday. At that moment I wished I were rich and could command someone to chase down an organic carrot cake. Moving on from the carrot cake, I began dreaming about Earth Cafe Vegan Cheesecake. Finally, last night, someone brought me a Rockin’ Raspberry!
When you’re sick in bed, staring out the window at the purple-orange fall leaves fluttering in the wind, you have ample opportunity to observe the workings of your own mind. And when all is said and done, the only thing that matters is survival–getting your health back.
Every ounce of energy I had went into making potions. I brewed super-strong fresh ginger tea–drank it hot, drank it cold, reheated the leftover batches and squeezed fresh lemons into it, sweetened all my ginger and various herbal brews with raw organic honey. It felt like the sweetener allowed me to stand upright to wash a few essential dishes before collapsing back into bed.My daughter made me a huge pot of zucchini-based vegetable soup that she put into the blender. She delivered it with a baggie of peeled garlic cloves and a garlic press, with instructions to press the raw garlic straight into the hot soup every time I ate a bowl. I kept up the garlic and soup formula for a few days, until I got the strong feeling “No more garlic–enough already!” And, of course, I included the usual cures–peeled organic oranges, eaten straight, and juiced oranges, as well as water, lots of water. And pineapple juice. I haven’t found anything that beats pineapple juice for soothing a sore throat.

On the third day, just before completely losing my voice, I woke up with the scary feeling that my throat was closing. I could breathe okay, but my throat was feeling increasingly sore and constricted. I sipped more batches of sweet, tree-ripened orange juice and, at one point, coughing and hacking over the sink, the body in its infinte wisdom expelled the most disgusting glob. I’ll spare you further details, but am mentioning this in case anyone else is in the midst of the same malady.
There were a few days when salads lost all appeal. I felt that if I ate that pile of baby greens I would throw it up. I asked my friend to bring me organic crackers–Mary’s and Suzy’s. I think the crackers added to the phlegm I kept coughing up, but they settled my stomach and I never vomited.Another friend reminded me about Vicks VapoRub. It felt good to rub that camphor eucalyptus ointment on my chest, which brought back childhood memories of missing Halloween when I had a cold.
On Wednesday–five days after this saga began–I completely lost my voice for two days. When I managed to take Honey out back on a mini-walk, I couldn’t call her. But the weird thing was that I could whistle loud and clear. All together, it took about six days to get my voice back to where I could speak normally without coughing or straining. At one point the coughing got so bad that it strained my back and my heart hurt. That was the lowest point. I stayed in bed, realizing that my body needed every ounce of energy to heal.
And about eight days into this, with the cough hanging on, I decided I’d better get with a vitamin C program, hoping it would act like an antibiotic. A friend brought me a bottle of “Buffered Time Release Vitamin C,” 500 Mg. I’ve been taking two tablets with fresh juice or tea every four hours, but am tapering off starting today.While buried under the covers, I reread two old classics in the field of health and healing: Food Is Your Best Medicine by Henry G. Bieler, MD, and Medical Nemesis by Ivan Illich. If you’re still wondering whether to get that flu shot, read these books–or at least read up on the pros and cons. I think the day will come when the medical establishment will have to disclose that these shots do far more harm than good.I believe there are layers of causes, warning signs, before things manifest on the physical plane. I recognize that there are times when Mother Nature needs medical help. If I had been dehydrated, throwing up, having problems with elimination and that sort of thing, I might have considered checking in with a doctor. But in my case I felt if I could just rest–lie on the ground in the warm sun–I would gradually get well.Deep rest was indeed the cure–but this was difficult for me to get. My dog Honey gets all pent up, and I can’t fully rest surrounded by her restless energy.
On the day that I lost my voice, my daughter Monica Ellen Marshall put Honey, Chico, and her own dog, Buddy, in my car and drove to Cozy Dell Trail so Honey could get some real exercise. But, as usual, a few feet away from the car Honey put on the brakes. She absolutely refuses to hike with anyone else–no exceptions! She was willing to walk in the parking lot in the direction of my house or back in the direction of the car, but the trail pointing away from my house was out of the question!So every evening–maybe I missed once or twice—through sheer force of will, I walked in an altered state, like in a dream, to the river bed, where Honey could run back and forth on her own. During those times the thought hit me that this might be what my body will feel like when I’m a hundred years old . . .
Note: This story is dedicated to my friend Sholom Joshua. I will never forget the sight of him wearing a surgical mask–so he wouldn’t get my cooties–when dropping off daily “care packages.” The animals and I are grateful. Thank you!
Photo Credit: Olivia Klein

Into the underworld of chills and fever

October 17, 2013

October 16, 2013 

buddy542212_685309024830274_335351423_nEarly this morning, for the first time in about ten days I felt strong enough to rise from my sick bed and follow the wind just past the gate near my house—a place where I can lean against my favorite boulder, high above the dry river bed, sip my hot potion of lemon and raw honey, and take in the panoramic view of the mountains.

I was just thinking how great it felt to be steady on my feet again when a large wolf-like coyote appeared in the not-too-far distance. At that same moment I noticed that little Chico, who was supposed to be home safe in his basket, had followed me and the larger dogs. Chico—so innocent and oblivious– looked pleased that he had found us on his own. I wanted to linger and study the coyote, but I quickly shouted to the dogs and headed back toward the gate. This flurry of activity caused the coyote and his invisible pack to start yipping. My own pack and I bolted through the gate, and I locked my dogs safe inside the house.

I couldn’t resist having one more look, from the safety of a point just a few feet past the gate. Sure enough, there were now three of them, looking almost blond in the early morning light and trotting down the same path that my dogs and I walk almost every day. One stopped to pee—just like a dog. What did I expect? They were moving in my direction at a good pace so I slipped quickly back behind the gate and waited for them to walk by, but they took a different direction home.

About ten days ago Mother Nature had her way with me, snatching me out of my busy life and dragging me into the underworld of chills and fever. She slammed me into my bed and told me in no uncertain terms, “I gave you plenty of warnings, but you ignored me. Now I’m gonna show you who’s the boss!”

I can perfectly understand why primitive people believed disease was caused by evil spirits, because it felt like two conflicting devils were in a raging battle inside of me. But truth is, our modern-day superstitions that blame hokus pokus flu bugs are not much better. I can’t in good conscience blame germs for my sorry state; I brought it upon myself. And now I had no choice but to surrender.

I had dutifully pushed myself out of bed to teach an early-morning yoga class. The room felt cold, although normally I have good circulation and an unheated room doesn’t faze me. About halfway into the 90-minute class, it was like someone had suddenly pulled the plug. You don’t realize how much effort and energy everything takes until your energy system collapses!

In the middle of that last class, I suddenly became aware of the daunting effort of merely walking across the room. Still not fully realizing what had hit me, I sat on the floor and instructed the students to go into various restorative poses. The students seemed far away –almost as if they were in another dimension. I had a strong instinct that I needed to get out of the building while I still could. So I ended the class a few minutes early, left it up to the students to put away the props, and headed straight for my car, which seemed a long way off.

I remember thinking I might just drive to a nearby residential street to lie down on the front seat and take a little nap. But, as I drove down the street, I reasoned, “I’ll just drive a little further, to my parents’ house, and lie on their lawn, in the nice warm sun, till I get my strength back.”

Then, as I passed my parents’ house, I reasoned that I was almost home. I coasted down into the river bottom, past the pigs, parked the car, left my stuff in it, and collapsed on my bed.

Even then I was in denial, thinking I’d be fine in a few hours.

But Mother Nature had a different agenda . . .

Continued Part Two:  Deep Rest is the Cure

Walking the river bottom at dusk

October 9, 2013

October 7, 2013

Walking the river bottom at dusk, my first real walk in three days, my reverie was broken when Nubio appeared out of the brush down below, near what once was a running creek, with something large in his mouth. It looked to be the size of a rabbit, but I knew right away it wasn’t a rabbit. “Drop it!” I shouted, on the slim chance it was still alive. And, whatever it was, he needed to get it out of his mouth. Honey ran up to him, ready to scoop it up if he dropped it, so I yelled at her to get away, too.

As I got closer, Chico straining on the leash, eager to get in on the action, I could smell that unmistakable stench of a decomposing body. When Nubio finally reluctantly dropped it, I saw that it was the perfect head of a deer, its big, soft brown eyes open like it had been decapitated, like the heads some hunters mount on their walls.

Darkness was falling fast or I would have examined the head more closely and gone looking for the body. Did it die of thirst, or did a cougar kill it? I wondered.

I had to get the three undaunted dogs away from the head, so I left it where Nubio had dropped it, out in the dusty, bone-dry open space, and hoofed it back to the house. Tomorrow, early, I’ll go back without the dogs and see if it’s still there, or if another wild animal carried the head away in the night. I’ll check to see if the rest of the body is nearby. I know there are bears, coyotes, bobcats, and possibly cougars (mountain lions) back there, but in all the years I’ve walked the river bottom, I’ve never come across a dead deer.


My happy writing yoga playground

October 8, 2013

October 4, 2013
HONEY HUGWhen I’m tired, when I have a headache, my one-room living space looks sad and forlorn, messy and hopeless. But this morning, with yesterday’s headache fading away, buoyed by a good night’s sleep, with the sun shining in, it looks like a happy writing yoga playground. Yoga blocks, papers and books scattered on the ground . . . little naked Chico buried in a stack of yoga blankets for warmth . . . bed unmade so as not to disturb the cats . . . and the dirty kitchen floor that I found so depressing last night, doesn’t bother me at all.

The stars are like a portal . . .

October 3, 2013

October 1, 2013

It’s a dark, starry night. First the dogs and I wander, but I forgot my flashlight so we don’t go far. Tonight the river bottom is stone still, no coyotes yipping. I lock up the dogs and turn off all the lights, so now it’s pitch dark and I can see more stars . . . And, as I sit, the stars are like a portal, and I realize that my daytime life is just a dream, an obligation . . . it’s my contribution—what I do to keep my ship afloat. And now perspective comes . . . totally unexpected, but that’s what happens when you sit still long enough. Suddenly I remember last night’s dreams, or maybe it was the night before . . . the night dream world when the deep soul incarnate shows her true colors. It’s when the male and female energies merge . . . when the shadow side is allowed to live . . . when I roam the universe. For just a moment, the stars help me remember, and then it fades away. But even now I see my life and all the lessons, stripped bare to its very essence.


%d bloggers like this: