Posts Tagged ‘Cindy Morris’

Shedding Energetic Debris

May 14, 2012

The beginning of the end had happened at the beginning of Thanksgiving week in 2010, so it would have been a fair assumption that the holidays were going to be difficult for me in 2011. But by October, I thought I was going to be fine during the holidays and planned to spend them alone.

That was October.

November 1st came and I was not so fine. The idea of being alone Thanksgiving seemed like the plan of a crazed woman. Howard had almost died the night before Thanksgiving in 2010 and I’d spent Thanksgiving cooking a huge turkey with all the fixings while he slept through the day. The cooking had kept me occupied. At the time it seemed a better idea than, say, drinking Jameson and pacing the floor. A year later, I suspected I might be drinking Jameson and pacing the floor if I was alone Thanksgiving of 2011.

When Cindy Morris invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her and her roommates, it was like a postcard from God informing me that my plight had been noted and taken care of. Cindy had been such a solid friend during Howard’s last days, not to mention the months that followed, and here she was, turkey baster in hand, looking after me one more time. Being looked after by someone else had been such a rare occurrence throughout my life that she seemed like some combination of Mother Earth, Mrs. Santa Claus, and all of the Greek goddesses, all rolled up into one person.

It was one of the best Thanksgivings I’d ever had.

But right around Thanksgiving, I began having problems with my gut. Since my gut was reliably healthy, it got my attention. What in the heck was going on? I might have had little experience with being taken care of by anyone else, but I was very good at taking care of myself. I got plenty of sleep, ate healthily, exercised, meditated . . . leaped over tall buildings, bent steel with my bare hands . . . . Okay, maybe I didn’t do those last two things, but I took good care of myself. And my gut was suddenly the gut of a sedentary, junk food eating, hyper-stressed burnout.

As I meditated one Sunday morning, right before going to my massage therapist (David Kochevar), I was told that the problems with my gut were coming from debris in my energy field. And it wasn’t even my own energetic debris. It seemed I’d somehow accumulated some of Howard’s energetic debris during his last six weeks of life. It had been time-stamped to come into my awareness for release a year later . . . and it was now time to dispatch it. I was told by guidance to have David work on my midsection. That would do part of the job.

Fortunately, David is a kindred spirit. Our appreciation for the workings of Spirit—if not the specifics of our personal theologies—tended to dovetail. He had not only been my massage therapist for most of his career, but he had become one of my favorite people in the world. I knew he would take what I’d been told in stride. He did. And I walked out of his office a new woman.

But I knew his work on me was only part of what needed to be done. I wasn’t quite sure of what constituted the rest. I decided to do a shamanic journey, and while I was quite capable of journeying myself, I wanted Antonio to drum for me. Journeying with Antonio was always a richer experience than journeying on my own, just as those who came to me for shamanic journey work had a richer experience journeying with me than they would have attempting to journey on their own. I always likened it to massage: You can massage yourself, but the involvement of another person’s energy makes being massaged by someone else a very different experience than massaging yourself.

I scheduled the journey with Antonio, only to cancel it within a week. I told myself I was crazy to think I could fit a journey into an already over-booked December. But it was more than that. The timing wasn’t quite right.

During another morning meditation, I asked my “council” (a council of spirit guides I often meet with in meditation) what I needed to do to clear the remaining energetic debris, and I asked for their help. They not only agreed to help, they wanted to accomplish the deed right then and there. I was a bit taken aback. Excuses raced through my mind, but really, I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I had no idea why I was balking. What, exactly, would make me ready? When did I think I would be ready? I took a deep breath and told them to lead the way.

And they did. When we were done, I knew that the debris was gone. I felt clearer, more myself, than I had felt all year. And I realized that I had postponed the journey because it was not to take place until the anniversary of Howard’s death had passed. I scheduled it for December 30th, the day after the anniversary.

I spent Christmas alone, at peace. I wasn’t quite so serene on December 28, the day before the anniversary of Howard’s death. The death ceremony, his final hours, the coma he lapsed into . . . it all occupied my mind and surrounded my heart like an old memory, both painful and beautiful. The 29th felt less constrictive, and it seemed fitting. Howard had been released from the constriction of his failing body a year earlier on that day.

I was ready to journey on the 30th. It was a beautiful, profound journey (and, perhaps, a story for another time). When January 1st, 2012 came, I felt ready to reclaim my own life . . . a life richer and deeper because of my travels with Howard as he made his way from life to the great life beyond, a life I embraced fully because I was happy to be among the living, happy to continue my Earth walk, thrilled to see time spread out before me like a carpet of flowers. I was back.

Copyright 2012 by Melanie Mulhall

The Organic Nature of Grief

February 5, 2012

When my husband died, I had many a conversation with friends and family members about the grieving process. The term “grieving process” was one most people seemed to understand, and I thought I had at least a sense of it, myself. I’d had a fair amount of time to get used to the idea that Howard was dying as he made his pilgrimage through cancer treatment. I expected to be heartbroken but also a bit relieved when he died and I expected to be my old self, whatever that was, fairly quickly after his death.

I was right about being both heartbroken and relieved when he died. I was wrong about being some version of my old self quickly after his death. I wasn’t even sure what my old self was when he died.

My “self” had been on its own pilgrimage for a dozen years or more. I’d transformed and transformed again. I was familiar with transformation and more comfortable with it than most of the people around me seemed to be. My friend Cindy Morris, a gifted astrologer, explained this by saying, “Well of course! You were born with Pluto in your eighth house.” My own take on it was that I’d experienced enough transformation to know there was little use in fighting it. Ride it as if riding a surfboard on a mammoth wave, that was my attitude.

But in February of 2010, I’d gone to Lake Titicaca in Peru to join with other shamans and many pilgrims in the reactivation of the Solar Disc. That experience had changed me profoundly. Many years earlier, during my shamanic apprenticeship, I experienced a change right down to the level of the DNA. That was profound. When I came back from Peru, though, I felt like someone who had reincarnated into the same body. I looked like the same person I’d been, but I wasn’t.

During the remainder of 2010, something in me opened further as I accompanied Howard on his slow march to death. After his death, when I could sort myself out from that part of his energy field still hovering about me, I realized that one of the blessings of having been with my husband as he was dying was that it further softened me, further opened me to what it meant to be human. One side effect of the transformation triggered in Peru was that I was better suited to accompany my husband on that march as it quickened its pace, and one side effect of having done so was that many of the barnacles and unidentifiable encrustations of life had been worn away. What was left of me was someone I actually wanted to know.

But that person I had become was grieving and it became very clear to me very quickly that grieving was not a process—at least not a process as most of us have come to think of the term. It was neither rational nor linear. It had an almost unidentifiable beginning, but a beginning sometime before Howard’s actual death. It could not be flow charted, Gantt charted, or PERT diagramed. There was no chain of events as predictable as Kubler-Ross suggested in her theory on dying and death.

No, grieving was far more organic than that. It seemed to flow according to the laws of nature, as opposed to following models structured by man. In everyday terms, that meant, among other things, that I could not predict what would take the wind right out of me, nor could I predict when that would happen.

I also couldn’t predict which days would be inexplicably sorrowful any more than I could predict which days would be filled with pure joy, just because I was alive. I couldn’t predict whether I would want to see others or be alone, nor could I predict who I might want to see. Much of the time, though, I did want to be alone. What I felt most of the time when I wanted to be alone was not unhappiness, but something more like curiosity about the very air around me and interest in my own internal landscape.

Grieving, it seemed, was filled with surprises—some of them pure astonishment and others numbly shocking. And it was as organic as fertile earth.

Copyright 2012 by Melanie Mulhall

Drama Everywhere

December 25, 2011

“I wonder why I’m sleeping so much,” he said, as if he truly didn’t understand it.

I reply, “Your body is shutting down. So you sleep. Your metabolism has changed.”

Of course, the fact that he was on a low dose of morphine administered more than once a day had something to do with it, too, but I didn’t point that out. I had said, “Your body is shutting down,” and not, “You’re dying.” We both knew he was dying. I’d been more willing to say it than him, but I didn’t need to say it again.

His hospice nurse thought that this comment was meant to prepare me for his death. I almost snorted at that. I’d been prepared for his death for some time; he hadn’t been. He understood he was dying at this point, but he didn’t seem to understand that he might not just go from being lucid and vital to dying in an instant, that, instead, his body might shut down slowly.

On December 23rd, he asked what day it was and I said, “It’s Mom’s—my Mom’s—birthday, December 23rd. My mother had been gone since 1995, but I always remembered her birthday.

I was taken aback when he replied, “Do you want me to die on your mother’s birthday?”

“Well, that’s up to you,” I said. “And I think of death as more like graduation.”

And it was time for him to graduate. He was fading. He was now attempting to use the commode instead of fighting his way to the bathroom, but whatever in him still held on to some sense of personal dignity inhibited him. He was having trouble managing the pull-ups and I’d had to change the sheets in between hospice visits. He couldn’t bathe himself but wouldn’t let anyone else bathe him, either. The previous day, I had managed to get his bed in order and had given him some clean clothes, but after undressing and struggling with the pull-ups, he’d accidentally put the dirty clothes back on. He had spent his limited supply of energy and had just gone back to sleep in his dirty clothes.

Later, he awoke and said, “I think I’ll take a shower today.”

I’d thought that we were past that. There was no way he could make the short trip from the guest bedroom, down the hall, into the master bedroom, and into the shower. He barely had enough strength to sit up. Yet he believed he could do it with my help. My help? When he went down—and he would surely go down—he would go down like an ancient tree and would take me with him.

I reminded him of the debacle some days earlier. He’d insisted on taking a shower and was going to struggle his way to it. I’d at least convinced him to wait for the hospice nurse to help him. I’d actually thought she would talk him out of it, but he was determined and she was willing to stick with him until he demonstrated to himself that he couldn’t manage it. His oxygen tank in tow, he’d managed to make his way to the master bath. It had probably taken forty-five minutes to an hour to get that far. But he couldn’t actually get into the shower. He sat, defeated, on the toilet and allowed the nurse to at least wash his torso and legs. Then it was a very long struggle back to the bed.

But when I mentioned that event, his reply was, “I did shower.” I reminded him of what had transpired and his faulty cognitive function kicked into high gear and brought back enough of the affair for him to recall that he hadn’t actually gotten into the shower that day. “She kept saying, ‘You don’t have to do this,’” he said, “so I eventually let her do it.”

Let her wash him, he meant—something he could scarce imagine.

He slept most of the day on the 23rd. I had a hair appointment I badly needed to keep, but I thought I would have to cancel it because I could not leave Howard alone at all at this point. But Cindy Morris made keeping my appointment possible. She agreed to come and keep an eye on Howard. I asked her to just sit in the dining room, facing the closed door to the guest room, and stop Howard if he tried to leave the room. He couldn’t make it the bathroom any longer but frequently forgot that fact and would attempt to get up to make the trip. He needed to be protected from himself and she had the grit to agree to be his protector, even if for only an hour and a half or so. It was hugely courageous and an equally huge gift to me.

When I got back home, I heated up some homemade soup for the two of us. She’d brought some vegetables and a small dessert to go with it. We were eating and chatting when I realized, with a start, that I hadn’t given Howard his morphine on schedule. I left the table and went into his room. Unfortunately, he had made his way from the bed to the commode and barked at me when I opened the door. He might be dying, but he still wanted complete privacy when it came to the commode. I backed up and went back to the table.

We had the monitor on the table with us and could hear him straining and in discomfort. Was he trying to get back to bed? Was he struggling with the pull-ups? I couldn’t quite decipher what he was doing from the sound. After a time, I went back to the room. He was still on the commode. This time he didn’t just bark, he swore at me. In fact, we could hear the “God damn you, Melanie,” over the monitor as he continued to swear at me after I left him alone and was back at the table. More time elapsed. I was worried about him. This time I knocked. More swearing.

Cindy was a trooper. She just took it in stride. I was concerned about Howard, and I made every attempt not to take his swearing at me personally. He was dying. He was losing cognitive functioning and what cognitive ability he had left was very annoyed by his failing body and the fact that he couldn’t hide the fact that his body was failing.

Once dinner was over and we’d chatted for a time—our talk punctuated by Howard’s swearing, as heard over the monitor—she’d had enough and was ready to leave. But just as she was getting ready to go, an ambulance came down the street in front of my house, lights flashing. It swung off E. 3rd and onto Bellaire, the cul-de-sac my house sat next to. More emergency vehicles followed. They all pulled up to a house in the middle of the street. While we didn’t know the couple living in the house, we’d seen the man who lived there many times, attending to his yard and sitting in a chair, just inside his garage, watching the neighborhood.

Cindy stayed. We looked out the back door and talked about what we’d done as children when emergency trucks pulled into the neighborhood. She’d grown up in the Bronx; I’d grown up in small towns in the Midwest. But it seems that the response was universal, at least when we were growing up. We would stop whatever we were doing and either peek out our windows or go outdoors for a good view of the activity. Life drama, right in front of us, had been more compelling that eating, sleeping, television, work, or anything else. Everyone we knew when we were growing up came to a stop when emergency vehicles were anywhere nearby. The girl from the Bronx and the girl from the Midwest still did.

Someone was brought out on a stretcher, but it was difficult to tell for sure if it was a man or a woman. Someone was ill or injured bad enough for an ambulance to have been called. Could someone be dying across the street? What were the chances of two people on the same block dying—or close to it—at the same time? Everything in my life had become a bit surrealistic, but this sent my mind sliding off the edge.

And then I had a moment of complete clarity. I had been so focused on my little patch of earth at 1093 E. 3rd Ave. and the drama in my own home for so long, I’d lost perspective, lost the understanding that drama was happening elsewhere—often nearby—all the time. It hit me in the gut, moved up to my brain, then settled in my heart: At any given time, there are people within a block of me enduring one drama or another. Someone might be dying. Another might be grieving a death. A third might be suffering a serious illness or suffering through a divorce. Someone else might be in the deep well of chronic depression. One of these people might share their suffering with me but most wouldn’t. I didn’t even know most of the people who lived nearby. But I understood, in one flash that moved through my system like an electrical charge and settled in my heart, that there was now and always would be suffering around me.

I was changed by it. There was something utterly tragic about it and, at the same time, there was something comforting about the fact that others were sharing this aspect of the human condition. I was appalled by the fact that any part of the knowing gave me comfort and was stricken with sadness by the thought that there would always be others nearby suffering. My heart constricted in pain. And then it opened a little wider than it had been before—to take it all in and make a home for it.

Copyright 2011 by Melanie Mulhall

Sacred Space

December 7, 2011

I wasn’t exactly sure when it happened, but sometime in December of 2010, I realized that my home had become a church.

I had always taken care of myself and my appearance, but now I found myself taking special care to dress well and attend to my grooming. I traded in shoes that clicked on my wood floors for those that were as quiet as . . . well . . . a church mouse. I became more attentive than usual to the cleanliness and neatness of the house and I wanted only soft music playing. I felt calmer, more congruent, and more at peace with myself than usual and I found myself speaking in hushed tones. I carried myself with a kind of dignity I had never before noticed. And then one day I realized that I had made sacred space of my entire surroundings. It was clear to me that Howard was nearing death and the very air seemed charged with all that was holy.

It wasn’t that my husband was a particularly “holy” man. He was a man, with all the idiosyncrasies, charms, failings, peculiarities, gifts, talents, and personality eccentricities of a man. But that was actually the point. He was human and he was dying and I seemed intuitively bound to treat this moment in time as the significant and ephemeral instant of magic and mystery that it was. He was my husband and, therefore, important to me. But he also seemed to stand for humankind itself and the essential goodness of humankind.

So my house had become a church without my consciously making it so. And the space seemed poised, waiting for something important to happen.

This is not to say that there was little activity. In fact, there was so much activity, it was sometimes dizzying. Hospice is a blessing and an army of help, but that help rings your doorbell on a fairly regular basis and has to be let in, communicated with, attended to, and put in interactive mode with the dying party. That dying party was Howard and he remained intent on being entertaining—that is, when he was not being a curmudgeon. He carried both with no apparent paradox.

Apart from hospice, friends began to appear at the door. The word had gotten out—through the phone lines, Internet, and thin air—that Howard didn’t have long. He had refused to allow people to see him in bed, but one day, Joe Schalmoser stopped by without notice and Howard allowed him into his sanctuary, where Joe found him propped up in bed. A month earlier, Howard had been downright rude to Cindy Morris—a friend of mine who had become his friend, too—when she followed me upstairs as I announced her arrival. He’d refused to be seen at all. He simply had not been willing to allow anyone to see him in any kind of compromised condition (as with an open bag of Depends nearby). And now he was welcoming Joe into his bedroom, treating his bed like a throne.

Then Pat and Mary Ahlstrom—old friends from the early Lakewood PD days—came by. He had softened to the idea of people seeing him in bed and with their visit, he softened further. He now wanted to see people more than he wanted to appear to be something other than he was—a dying man. Diana Wilson came on a regular basis. She had been a dispatcher at the Broomfield Police Department when Howard was chief. Years later, they connected again because of art. They were buddies and my sense was that she understood, very clearly, that the chances to see Howard were running thin.

Tom Deland, Broomfield’s chief of police since Howard left the post, came and brought his two deputy chiefs with him. It was an act of respect.

A woman who had been his paramour years before I was in the picture came to see him. She had been important to him and there was still an easy intimacy there. She’d also had cancer and knew what she was seeing in him.

She was one of the few who did. It was excruciating and frustrating to me that many of his friends and some of his family still did not seem to understand that he was dying—and going quickly. Those out of town just couldn’t see what I was seeing and Howard did his best imitation of a robust man when he talked with them on the phone.

When I wasn’t tending to the revolving door and Howard’s needs, I found myself doing things I did not want to do at all, but knew needed to be done. Like calling All-States Cremation to see what they needed from me before Howard’s death. I talked with them and faxed them information surreptitiously, which was not difficult since Howard slept when he had no visitors. And he hadn’t been downstairs to my office since the day I brought him back from his last transfusion.

I also called the assistant to my Raymond James broker to get some money because I knew my attention would not be on work for some time and any monies coming to Howard via direct deposit would stop, abruptly, with his death. Early in December, I finished an editing project and energetically shut off the flow of work so I would not be distracted by potential clients I knew I would be unable to serve until sometime after his death.

I had no time for clients anyway. Everything—and I mean everything—took more time than I would have thought. The incoming telephone calls, the visits, tending to Howard, the updates on his condition for family and friends, keeping the house and yard tended to—everything took more time. When I was in my office, I would sprint up the stairs to his room, two floors above, every twenty minutes, just to check on him. Even after my friend Helena Mariposa sent me a baby monitor so I could keep tabs on Howard more easily (one of the best gifts anyone can give to the caretaker of a dying person), I continued to wear a path up and down those stairs, just not quite as often.

Just making sure that I was there if Howard fell or otherwise found himself in a fix took time. If he had to go to the bathroom, he slowly and painfully pulled himself up in bed, swung his feet over the edge, sat for a long time to rally his strength, hefted himself up, and slowly, over many minutes, inched his way to the hallway bathroom, which was just steps outside the guest room door. Then it was half an hour before he made the slow and treacherous trip back to his bed.

Everything took on an enhanced level of difficulty and we were both behaving like Olympic gymnists, taking on the difficult moves and intent on mastering them.

But I was also on the receiving end of some remarkable acts of kindness. Out raking leaves in early December—thanks to cottonwoods that held on to their leaves like Scrooge clutched his money purse—I felt overwhelmed. I’d already raked and bagged at least twenty-five bags of leaves earlier that fall. The prospect of more sucked the life right out of me, but head down and shoulder to the project, I started in.

Then neighbors from across the street called over to me. “You look like a lady in distress,” Glenn teased. It must have been that obvious. He and his wife Kathy came over, rakes in hand, and the task was accomplished quickly. They hadn’t known that Howard was dying until I told them that day, barely able to hold back the tears.

Heather McBroome, who had been doing shamanic work with me for several years, stopped by one day, wanting to help. When you are in the thick of crisis, you can’t even readily see what someone else might be able to do for you. I told her the only things that really needed attending to were things no one else would want to take on, things like taking Howard’s truck in for an oil change.

I have no idea why it seemed urgent that this task be done. He certainly wasn’t going to be driving that truck again. Perhaps I knew I would and that it would be a long time before I’d have the presence of mind to get the oil changed. Heather didn’t blink. She took the truck in for an oil change.

Some of my friends—most notably Antonio Arguello, his wife Helena Mariposa, Cindy Morris, and Gretchen Minney—understood what was happening perfectly and were rock solid support. There was support, too, from Boulder Media Women colleagues, clients, old friends, and new friends.

But Howard’s sister Ann was right there at the center. She and Howard were very close. I knew that what was happening to him was felt by her five hundred miles away in Ogden, Utah. Through the ether. Through the blood. Through a lifetime of energetic connection. I called her regularly to keep her abreast of what was going on. She’d been a nurse for many years, so we could talk in a kind of shorthand. Then regular calls became daily calls. I didn’t want her to be blindsided when he slipped away. But in truth, I also needed her. I needed to talk to someone else who loved him, I needed a witness to what was happening who had a deep heart connection with him. That would be Ann.

I’d always loved Ann and, over the years, I’d come to feel that she was my sister, too. But that sisterhood took on a new depth. I didn’t want to burden her with the details, but there was something important in sharing them with her. The details allowed her to be there with us. And she could not be there physically. She’d had polio as a child and that had developed into post-polio syndrome, decades later. She could get around, but she couldn’t get around easily, and there was no way she could handle the stairs in our house. I knew that it pained her to know that her big brother was dying and she couldn’t be there with him.

And I needed her, even if only by phone. I didn’t have to explain my exhaustion to her, didn’t have to explain my tears. She understood the term “incompliant patient,” which was the precise term that described him, and she understood it not simply because she had been a nurse, but because she knew her brother. I felt that Ann and I were bonding in the most intimate and painful of ways—through the dying process of someone we both loved.

That was sacred space of a kind, too. The space between me and Ann, me and Howard, me and my friends and family—it was all becoming sacred space. I knew it was a little like holding one’s breath—it couldn’t last forever. But much of my daily experience, it seemed, was becoming one ongoing experience of holy communion. I was hyper-focused on Howard and his process, under the kind of stress that one is mostly unaware of while experiencing it. I was sometimes exhausted, sometimes manic with energy, and sometimes cranky. And yet, everything took on a quality of sacredness and every interaction had become one of holy communion.

Copyright 2011 by Melanie Mulhall

Becoming a Crazy Old Lady

October 21, 2009

It was my friend and colleague Cindy Morris who provided the news.

Cindy graduated from Cornell University’s agriculture program enough years ago that the professors have all probably changed a time or two since and she once owned the European Flower Shop in Boulder, Colorado. Like me, she has fairy in her blood and holds court with the plant people on a regular basis. We were chatting over the telephone and I reported having brought in about thirty-five geraniums to overwinter in my house. Summer had given way to fall and the nights were getting cold enough to make the geraniums shiver. It was time for them to come in.

“I’m not exactly one of those crazy old ladies . . . yet . . . but I know that some people would find bringing in thrity-five geraniums to join all of my other indoor plants to be, well, a little excessive,” I said.

Cindy’s reply was immediate.

“Don’t kid yourself. You and I are those crazy old ladies.”

Then she laughed that deep, throaty laugh of hers that I love. It always suggests a knowing that might be hers alone or might be shared. In this case, she intended for it to be shared, whether or not I was ready for it.  It was the same kind of matter of fact comment coupled with a knowing laugh that I imagine Carl Jung making in a private conversation with Freud. “You know, you’re crazy as a loon. But, then, so am I. In fact, since we’re all just drifting through the dream, we might as well make the best of it.” Like that.

When I first commented that I hadn’t yet become a crazy old lady, I was thinking of the woman who lived across the street when I was growing up. She often took her meals on her tiny front porch, scooping food into her mouth and, without seeming to think anything strange to it, putting the plate down for her cats to join in, then taking it back for another bite. Her house consisted of narrow aisles winding among stacks of newspapers and assorted objects de debris

Surely I hadn’t yet become her. Had I? And how old was she, anyway, when I was ten or twelve? Surely she was truly a crone and not sixty, like me. Or was she younger than I now make her? It’s hard to tell. Everyone seems old when you’re ten or twelve.

I began thinking about what a ten or twelve-year-old girl might think of me. Would I appear to be a crazy old lady? Okay, okay, some people assume I qualify without giving it another thought because I’m a practicing shaman. But that’s just small-mindedness. Okay, I also have a penchant for herbs, some of them odd little varieties like mugwort. A few centuries ago they burned women like me at the stake. Some people I’ve met appear to still prefer that as a valid way to dispose of shamans and herb lovers. What else? As far as I’m concerned, fairies are real, trees have a lot to say to us if we will but listen, and the energy of things can be seen and felt. Maybe a ten or twelve-year-old would think me crazy. And maybe a four-year-old would agree with my model of the world because she wouldn’t yet have been socialized out of the knowledge that the world in which we live is truly magic.

What else might make me a crazy old lady? Well, some adults would say I’m crazy because I left a perfectly rational life in corporate America to be an entrepreneur and, with that, came to value happiness over cash. I might be seen as crazy, too, because I sometimes choose to dress age-inappropriately, say exactly what is on my mind, and believe that love trumps just about everything. Can’t help it. It’s who I am.

I’m embracing cray old ladyhood and thank you, my dear friend, Cindy Morris, for bringing it to my attention. Somehow it’s a relief to be a crazy old lady.

But now I’m wondering what other women think qualifies them as crazy old ladies.  If you think you’re one (or even a crazy young lady), I’d love to hear from you.

 

copyright 2009 by Melanie Mulhall (aka crazy old lady)

Harmony? Where do I Start?

May 7, 2008

Life is definitely a four-part harmony built on mind, body, spirit, and emotions, but if your life feels anything but harmonious at the moment, where do you start? Many of us are over-stressed, over-burdened, over-committed, overweight . . . and too overwhelmed to know how to get over all those things.

I’m going to suggest something so radical it’s simplicity might get lost in the tsunami of emotions it is likely to evoke in the reader: start by getting more sleep. Why start with sleep? Because it impacts almost everything else.

Before I say one more word, I want to insert a caveat. If you are the parent of a newborn child, I know you’re already groaning and throwing things at the computer. On the other hand, if you’re the parent of a newborn child, you’re probably not reading this anyway! If you actually are reading this blog, you get a buy on this one. Someday you may get a good night’s sleep again, but it might not be anytime soon and the smell of your baby’s skin probably brings you back into harmony faster than most people can pull off with a week of meditation. I’m not talking about you.

The rest of us, though, may need a reminder to get a decent night’s sleep.

Science is finally catching up with what many of us have known experientially for years: we eat more and we eat less healthfully if we don’t get enough sleep. Ever had a craving for junk food after pulling an all-nighter in college or at the office? If so, you know what I mean. If you are out of harmony with your body and one part of that is food related, you are not easily going to find that harmony if you are routinely sleep deprived.

Want a clear head and emotions that don’t careen all over the highway of your inner being? Get enough sleep. Executives and entrepreneurs just might be the worst perpetrators of self-inflicted sleep deficit (excepting those new parents) and it is scary to think about the effects. Even Harvard Business Review is hip to this problem. The October, 2006 issue featured an insightful article titled “Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer.” That article was the result of a conversation with Harvard Medical School professor, Charles A. Czeisler, who is one of the world’s leading experts on the biology of sleep. Czeisler had a great many things to say on the subject of sleep deprivation, but one of the most rivetting was his belief that the level of sleep deprivation endorsed by and even expected of companies for their people (particularly managers) impairs those people, over time, every bit as much as intoxication would. Yikes! What are we doing to ourselves?

Want spiritual harmony? Well, one thing I advocate (and practice) to help get there is meditation. But if you are falling asleep every time you sit down to meditate–because you are too sleep deprived to do anything else–you are not going to reap the benefits for which you sat down to meditate in the first place. 

The folks are legion who will argue that they just plain have too much going on in their lives to get more sleep. But both efficiency and effectiveness suffer if you are sleep deprived. Getting enough sleep is foundational to amassing the energy you need to live life at full throttle. 

Think you get enough sleep? Many people who are sleep deprived do. You might not be one of them but, then again, you just might be. Here is a question to help you determine where you fall on this. It may not be the acid test, but it will provide some clues. Do you need an alarm clock to awaken?

If so, consider the possibility that you might need more sleep. Start there and you will be striking the right chord to play a four-part harmony life.

Melanie