Red Paint

4:30 p.m. I shouldn’t have gone for the ride. Sixty miles round trip. Now my back really feels weak and sore. I have to feed the boys. We have no money for pizza or anything like that. I guess I’ll just rest a while. Tré is working on his project. I can’t go downstairs and help find paint and stuff to eat right now. It’s okay though. I have a little time. And Richard is on duty helping Tré with his project. Feels good to rest. Though from what exertion I am not sure.

Maybe just the additional pounds. I gained back about 20 lbs. in about 20 minutes. 170-190 like overnight. In sure it took weeks, but to my distracted mind, it seemed virtually instantaneous.

I pray for us all whenever I am able. I am able several times a day. Sometimes I pray all day. I wish I believed in myself more. Then I would reach further and accomplish more. Change the world just a little bit. I’d like to let some hot air out of the angry balloon. Yes that’s right, THAT angry balloon. The one people love to run up to and blow into with all their might.

The Daily Dalai

Today’s “Daily Dalai” is: “Sleep is the best meditation.”

Wow. To a Western ear, this doesn’t sound right. But when I take a moment to meditate on this which sounds so wrong to my ear, I begin to find layers of nuance.

Why does it sound wrong to me? I have it that sleep is “downtime” and as such unproductive, and being unconscious it is devoid of the opportunity for conscious spiritual growth. Dreaming can often be disturbing, but generally yields little that communicates progress emotionally, intellectually or spiritually. Most often I forget my dreams immediately upon awakening.

Hmmm. Keep looking then. There is more to this if I am ever going to understand how it can be that sleep is the best meditation.

As a Western thinker, I view meditation as an endeavor. It seems to me sleep is the opposite of endeavor. Is there a bias in my view? Am I missing the point of meditation? Perhaps. I do experience meditation as a respite from the chaos of our world with its unrelenting visual and auditory bombardment of our senses. What a welcome and needed, almost therapeutic relief meditation can be.

In that sense I can see how sleep also provides relief for the weary senses. But taking consciousness out of meditation and calling the resulting unconsciousness the best form of meditation really baffles me. I felt it was a deliberate act, a disciplined practice … not the ultimate laxity.

Well there you have it. I continue to struggle with this. I welcome discussion.

When Giving Check Your Motive

Today’s Zen lesson is:

It is better to give and receive.”</em. (Bernard Gunther)

Today, allow yourself to receive your giving

Ah, to receive the joy of giving. I like it. Not suggesting we get full of ourselves and proud of our giving. “Look what a good person I am, see how much I gave.” Like trying to buy your way into heaven! I think there’s a song about that. Well, it’s futile of course. We’re all familiar with what Jesus said about the rich man getting into heaven.

Giving “in order to” buy look good or stack up karmic credits! This is ego and it’s not going to buy you a ticket to paradise. It’s altogether worldly and really counter to spiritual growth. So, how to give properly, as a conscious part of spiritual practice?

well, first of all to renounce being ego-centric doesn’t mean to give up being rewarded for giving. It is loving to enjoy the good we do. If love is what motivates your giving, then love will come from it. If trying to display your goodness is what motivates you to give, then it’s ego and no good can come from it. The joy you feel ought to be for the benefit you have given to others. This joy is not ego, and your own spirituality is enhanced by it. In this kind of giving both the giver and the receiver are blessed.

The Heart Of Altruistic Service

This is today’s lesson from the Zen Living Year of Transformation program, which by the way is available for free download at Cheri Huber’s website. Or on the App Store as “Transform Your Life.” Every day you are offered a quote and an accompanying assignment, including a suggestion that you journal at day’s end about your experience doing the day’s assignment. Today’s quote and assignment for me is as follows:

“The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give.”
Walt Whitman

Today, look to see if you would like to enhance the desire to give and what you would like to give to accomplish that.

This is my every day, my ongoing inquiry. It is what I think about, what burns in my belly: how to be of service.

This coming Saturday is the Spring Psychic Fair at the Unity Church on 29th & Bernard St. On the South Hill. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I bring my Reiki table and spend the day giving Reiki treatments to all who come.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to do it this time. My recent knee surgery and my aching back are conspiring to saddle me with a good deal of discomfort right now. But it’s what I live for. It’s what I love. So I’ll probably talk Richard into driving me and hauling my table in and out, and I may bring a stool to lean on to save my screaming joints. But I can’t sit with the thought of not going.

It’s because I have, as I have always had “the heart of altruistic service.” The need, not just the desire to be of service to others.

The Dalai Lama preaches constantly on the need for people to learn compassion. Perhaps it is because I have suffered so much in life, and still continue to suffer a good deal of physical pain, that I am in my comfort zone with compassion. But I see that there is further to go, and we all need to go there together. I hope His Holiness is right that learning compassion will awaken in people the heart of altruistic service.

I do pray for this.

The Daily Dalai

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. (Dalai Lama)

Richard doesn’t get this. I have understood this since a very early age, back when I was able to get around in a wheelchair at St. Charles Hospital. I was five with paralytic polio and after months in bed, I at last graduated to a chair. I remember how exhilarating it was to be mobile. In the evenings when the lights went out, I’d get in my chair and make my rounds. I was the only girl able to get out of bed. I adjusted pillows, combed hair for the girl in the iron lung. I carried water in little paper cups. I even washed an older girl’s hair.

I knew then. I know now. Richard doesn’t have the heart of altruistic service. In this regard he is rather like most people who have yet to learn compassion as the central duty to all other sentient beings. I am always inviting him. Perhaps someday he will come.

Unofficially Speaking

I have to say after a typically too-long Spokane winter, with Sun on my skin for the first time since November, the question of whether I am correct about the identity of the little yellow flowers that alone have the nerve to grace these beleaguered slopes with the bright glorious vibrant color of the Sun itself, seems beneath worthiness. Which is a mouthful.

In short, who cares?

Sure, I know they’re not “really” Buttercups. Their proper unofficial name is “cinque-fois” if we must divert our attention from glory to precision, or imprecision if the matter is to be set right. But must it? Must it really?

Again I cry my plea for grace and mercy: Who cares? I say. What does it matter in the center of Spring’s first full day if I get the name right or no. It matters not at all I say and I daresay you, my reader know it too. And so do I.

It’s the first respectable day of Spring and I declare here and now while I’m still full of unmanageable joie de vivre that I am done with “right” in all its manifestations.

Now I must go and take pictures.

Lateral Release or “Take Your Analgesics, Dummy!”

Had surgery on my right knee this morning. There was no possibility of confusion. Certainty was assured by my surgeon’s preliminary act of omnipotence when he signed my right knee in purple magic marker. I was later given the marker in a plastic ziploc bag, a single-use item in what is becoming a mostly single-use medical system, in an attempt to stem the spread of MRSA, the drug-resistant form of Staph that is terrorizing American hospitals all over the country.

Everybody has a MRSA story and so do I. It’s really my sister’s story, but me and my Reiki mob got into the act so I get to claim it as my own. My sister had breast cancer three times. The third time, the docs woke up, at long last, and decided to remove the offending tissue, her breasts.

The mastectomy was unremarkable and apparently successful, but for reasons beyond my feeble mental powers my sister elected to have a full reconstruction. That’s when things got off on a weird medical side trip. At that time, in the early 2000’s, “full reconstruction” entailed relocating a quantity of muscle tissue from the abdominal area, and using it to build credible breasts on the chest.

This is fine as far as the breasts go, but the impact on the abdomen is another story altogether. Very slimming but leaves the abdomen without sufficient tone to hold the internal organs properly. To replace the pirated muscle tissue, doctors came up with a mesh product that was supposed to provide stability and essentially function like lath in an old-fashioned plaster wall. But it hasn’t panned out as expected.

The mesh has been such a monumental failure in fact, there are law firms dedicated solely to prosecuting damages against the mesh manufacturers and any doctors or hospitals foolish enough to have installed it. In many instances its results have been fatal. Fortunately my sister knows a Reiki Master.

For a few years after her reconstruction, it seemed Barbara was in the hospital no less than quarterly to have fluids drained from her abdomen. This went on and on until finally the doctor said enough was enough. So after draining the accumulated fluids, he admitted her instead of sending her home and did exploratory surgery the following morning to see what in hell was going on. What he found was truly disgusting. The mesh was loaded with infection. So he excised it and to hell with abdominal muscle tone.

So far so good, but the next day a post-procedure X-ray revealed they had overlooked a hunk of the rotten stuff, so they went in again, Now this was the third surgical procedure in as many days and apparently you can’t tempt Fate three times and get away with it. They finally had all the offending mesh out, but now Barbara had a full-blown case of MRSA and off to the Intensive Care Unit she went.

Needless to say, by then she was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, not how you want to be feeling when you find yourself at Death’s door. Which is where me and my Reiki mob got into the act.

When the odds are stacked against you, and you’re headed down for the last time, Reiki comes into play. Call it Divine Intervention, Inspired Prayer, Laying On Of Hands, hell call it A Miracle (many do) or call it Magic. We don’t care what you call it. If you really push us into a corner, we’ll probably just call it Love.

I called her. Her voice was thin and gave the impression of someone in the process of disappearing. Tired, worn out, fading…I was scared. So was she. I told her we would send her energy, but she would have to let it in. How she wanted to know?

“Just decide to let it in.” She was uncertain whether I had lost my marbles or was speaking in tongues, both of which seemed more likely to her than a literal translation of this simple statement. She wanted to know how exactly one “lets it in.” I explained all she had to do was decide or intend to let it in. Too easy for most Western minds. But under the circumstances, she said she’d give it a try.

The next morning she was scheduled to have a blood test. “We need to see a drop from 12 to 8,” the doctor explained. “We’ll know in a few hours.” I called when I guessed the results would be in.

“Well, do you feel any different today?” I asked. At first she didn’t know what I was talking about. Was I becoming more inscrutable, or was the infection eating her brain? Then it hit her, “Oh!” she yelled the way people shout “Eureka!” when they suddenly comprehend a problem in mathematical logic. “Oh!, that’s what happened!”

That morning she’d woke up early and full of pep, leaped out of bed and started cleaning her bathroom…yes the one in ICU. Perfectly normal behavior for Barbara, so she thought nothing of it. But the ICU nurse didn’t see it that way.

When she came in and discovered Barbara standing on the commode washing the shower stall walls, she became instantly apoplectic. “What are you doing out of bed?!” she demanded to know. It wasn’t a question. “Cleaning the bathroom” Barbara replied in perfect Capricorn deadpan. “Well get back in bed this minute!” the nurse ordered. “You’re a very sick woman and you’re not supposed to be out of bed!” I love it when people state the obvious with such emphasis. It’s like announcing “The sky is blue!” as if you’re noticing it for the first time. “Back in bed. Now!” the nurse demanded.

In addition her count was down from 12 to 7. Not bad for just deciding to let it in. She was discharged the next day due to unexplained rapid remission.

That’s my MRSA story. For the record, Barbara was in a hospital on Long Island. New York. I live in Washington State, and the Reiki Masters were from such far-flung places as Ankara, Turkey; London, England; Sydney, Australia; Bangkok, Thailand; India; Germany, and the list goes on. I believe about a baker’s dozen of us participated. Don’t be alarmed, though, we only work for the highest good of all concerned. A great thing about Reiki is that it can’t hurt you. If it hurts you, it wasn’t Reiki.

So this morning, Richard and I got up at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time so the Doc and I could meet at Valley Hospital. It’s always a pleasure to see him, but today was very special. Today, he cleaned up my knee cap joint and did a lateral release of the Patella, which shifted the movement over to the remaining bit of cartilage and away from the area without. I hope I hope this relieves my knee pain and alleviates the need for a knee replacement, which should be avoided at all costs. We shall see.

Before the surgery, while I was conscious and after the surgery, while I was conscious I was very clearly aware of my fellow Reiki Masters around the country and around the world generously flooding my physical, emotional and spiritual space with beautiful clear Chi, Qi, Universal Life Force, Christ Light or whatever you like to call Love, which is Light, which is Source and which is capable of healing anything you or I can come up with to be afflicted by.

Earlier this week, I made an appointment for accupuncture on Sunday, two days from now. When he heard I was having surgery today, the reception person asked if I really thought I would be able to get there so soon after surgery. “Oh no problem” I said. “I have no doubt.” My Reiki friends will see to that.

In 2005, I had my left Achilles tendon lengthened, a post-polio fix. Tendons are slow healers, so they put my lower leg in a plaster cast designed to last six weeks. My friends sent Reiki. I was painfree, so of course I was up and about in the house, unaware that my level of activity was shall we say excessive under the circumstances? The next day I was back in the doctor’s office getting a new cast because I had broken the thing in three places and it was falling off.

Last Spring, I had a tendon reconnection in my right shoulder. When I went in for my 8 week checkup, the doc looked me over and began his standard discussion for 12 week rechecks. “So,” he began, “you’re at 12 weeks now and you’ll be wanting to begin to increase your level of activity…” I interrupted. “Eight weeks. I’m at 8 weeks” I said. “No” he corrected, “you’re at 12 weeks.” “No Doc” I countered. “Look at my file. I’m at 8 weeks.” “What??” He looked at my file. “Wow, you are doing really well.”

I could go on. Another time.

So, back to today. The anesthetic lasted exactly six hours, wore off practically all at once at precisely 3:00, and I am painfully aware of the physical insult as I write this. It didn’t take me long to decide to take my analgesics! Whew! This is some pretty sharp pain, even though I am certain it is much less than it would be without Reiki.

I prepared for a long tenure on the living room couch, creating for myself a comfy nest with many books and possibles, computer, iPad, chargers, Bose remote for iPod, etc. intending to enjoy my time with the ice pack on my elevated knee joint as much as womanly possible.

The whole day has been fun. The nurses and doctors were all in good moods … I know because I checked with each and every one of them. My surgeon stopped by to sign my knee and asked how I was doing today. “Fine” I replied, “but more to the point how are you doing today?” Well it was one jovial exchange after another, and then I went to sleep and missed all the nasty, bloody business of a lateral Patella release.

It’s all so neat and tidy for the patient. I awoke to find my leg wrapped in a clean ace bandage, had some coffee and toast, got dressed and rode the wheelchair express to the front door where Richard picked me up and took me home. Then he went and picked up my three prescriptions, two for pain, the “pain twins” and one for inflammation, the “poison pill.”

By the time he got home with the medications, the anesthetic had worn off and I was disabused of any notion that I could get through this without narcotics. As soon as he got here, I took the meds as directed on the labels. Then I settled down to read the patient information. This is where they scare you out of taking the stuff. Fact is, I’ve had the “pain twins” before so no surprises there, but the third medication was a new one. The doc had called it “super Motrin.”

The label information reads like a list of all the worst ways to die from modern medication. Bleeding ulcers, heart attack, aneurysm, bloody stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, blood in your urine, confusion, dizziness, disorientation, hallucinations (well that doesn’t sound too bad), red/swollen/blistered/peeling skin, seizures, severe headache, vision or speech changes, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face … essentially it’s fatal in three major body systems and annoying in all the others. But if it doesn’t kill you outright or damage you permanently, and if you take it no longer than five days and don’t mix it with anything else, maybe it will reduce your inflammatory reaction to having the membrane that controls accumulation of fluids in your joints frankly severed … aka lateral Patella release.

Oy vey. Pass the pain pills would ya?

What would you ask?

Ever think about what you would ask if you could ask just one question of “God,” your higher power, your spirit guides, an angel or even your own immortal soul? The main thing to remember is there wouldn’t be any question too difficult to ask. You’d be certain to get a definitive answer. You would surely be told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. If you knew that, and you were asking your God, or another higher intelligence what would you ask?

I often think how great it would be to have access to the answers to the so-called unanswerable questions, like why are we here? What is the purpose of our lives? What is most important? And, if I was feeling brave, how am I doing?

But then, when I trick myself into actually believing in the prospect of being in such a position, I find I lose my nerve. I do. As hard as it might be to imagine me silent, it’s true. Faced with the ultimate Answer Man, given access to the giver of the Final Word, I find I stand before them mute. I can’t decide what question I ought to ask! I mean, I only get one.

What should I ask? What would you ask if it was you?

That’s My Story

We are who we say we are. By this I don’t mean to suggest that our civil structures like legal identity are unnecessary, only that they are contrived.

I speak philosophically when I say the distinction “I am” is inherently false, if only due to it’s relative subjectivity. Alas, we will never be, and never have been entirely “right,” nor for that matter have we ever been entirely “wrong” about anything. Certainly not about who and what we are, and why and to what end.

Though we humans have searched mightily and for millennia, no independently-existing “I,” no “identity” that isn’t dependent on external referents has yet been found. Who am “I” independent of my relationships? My roles? The air I breathe? The food I eat? I am all that. Am I more? I believe so, but nobody knows for sure in any sort of scientific way. Meanwhile religions stumble along trying and failing to fill in the blanks. I say it’s futile.

Little can be gained from seeking an objective, absolute and precise, in other words “true” story and meaning for our lives. Our circumstances simply don’t permit it. We don’t have the equipment to pull it off. Put simply, it’s beyond us.

Which would be okay, except for our obsession with knowing who and what we are, and to what end? And this obsession can be summed up in one word, “ego.” We insist that we matter. We love this notion. Is there a biological driver? Is ego merely one facet of our reproductive drive? Doubtful. But regardless of its etiology, the reality is we have egos, and egos have needs. And it is often in service of these ego needs that great evil is done, even by those who mean well.

The ego wants to be a hero, or a star, it wants to be exceptional in some way. It wants to matter, to win, to look good. But let’s face it, most of us live unremarkable lives. Which means nothing, until the ego adds meaning to it.

My own ego seems intent on embarrassing me, seducing me with praise and exaggerating small successes, insatiable, never satisfied. Egos are like that. And I think they are firmly entrenched in our zeitgeist. So why not make the most of them?

And since it’s all made up anyway, what we can and ought to do is make up our own story, our own meaning.

I am the author of my own life story. So, for instance when I am afflicted, and must focus on healing myself more than others for a time, it’s not a failure or a setback or an interruption. It’s the nature of the life path I am on. I am my own patient. As I find a path to healing myself, I also learn valuable information and strategies that carry over for helping others to heal. So, I welcome my healing journey.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.




a) A movie genre?

b) An instinctual reaction to a perceived threat?

c) A basis for political power?

d) The reason for religion?

e) all of the above.

“The only thing to fear,” the wise man said to the terrified populace, “is fear itself.” Indeed? Well, lets look and see what we can see.

When I was a small child, I knew fear as the monster (I just knew for sure) was hiding under my bed, and it would come out in the dark…I never stayed awake long enough to see what would happen if and when it did. But that early fear was like a pressure on my chest. It stole my voice, choked my breathing to a merest trickle. I wanted to escape but the fear held me to that spot. I don’t know if I passed out or fell asleep, but I woke up over and over again without any telltale marks of a monster-attack: all my fingers and toes were still attached, and the Sun was up. I had survived another treacherous night.

Over the years, I gradually lost faith in the monster under the bed. And anyway, I had other things to fear: spiders in dark corners, young men, failing grades, mean teachers, mean kids, mean streets, old men, getting caught smoking, dark alleys, not getting into college, bikers, drunks, gangs, getting pregnant, my brother, the Russians, getting caught cutting class, middle aged men, my father, pimples, boys…well you get the idea. With so many tangible immediate sources of fear, I didn’t need to look under the bed. Sometimes I wanted to hide under it. In fact when we were really little and could still sit upright under the bed, sis and I used to hide under there when our father came home from work. With good reason. The monster under the bed had nothing on you, Dad. You were way scarier.

Not to mention fear of getting fired, getting mugged or raped, getting killed in an accident, or by an angry maniac, or in the crossfire. Wait a minute, with so much that is fearful in life, how is fear a problem? Maybe fearful is our natural state, appropriately so, and not a problem at all?

We’ve spent the past half a millennium minimizing the threats in our environment and lengthening our lives, but we seem pretty fearful in spite of good housing, plumbing, hygiene, nutrition, medical care.

When all else fails, there’s always death. The good old fear of death, and it can kill you. My husband doesn’t need it. He manufactures things to fear, then worries about them.

I think people like fear. It’s a wake-up call. It’s better than coffee. When you’re afraid you really know you’re alive. And yes, being human some of us become addicted to it. I had a man on supervision who exposed himself to school kids. He was addicted to their fear. He got off on the fear in their eyes. The day he realized that, the community became instantly safer. He was horrified at what he was becoming. I was too.

Fear: ally or enemy? All depends. Yet, it is clear from the billions we spend on medications and medical practitioners, and a panoply of faith healers and assorted magicians and seers as well as honest to goodness healers…that we don’t like being afraid.

What if…

We accept that every individual life is short, while Life itself seems determined never to end.

We take responsibility for creating the world we complain ceaselessly about.

We step away from the “victim stance” and just like that we are walking on air. Talk about putting down an odorous burden. Whew!

We stop making up stories about who we are and why we’re here. We admit we have no clue.

If we run short of anything, we assign a think tank, not an armored tank.

We stop fighting because we can do better than that. That is why we evolved this far.