Monthly Archives: February 2010

Healing Crisis

“If a culture treats a particular illness with compassion and enlightened understanding, then sickness can be seen as a challenge, as a healing crisis and opportunity. Being sick is then not a condemnation or a moral judgment, but a movement in a larger process of healing and restoration. When sickness is viewed positively and in supportive terms, then illness has a much better chance to heal, with the concomitant result that the entire person may grown and be enriched in the process.” ~ Ken Wilber

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to have more faith and trust that, even in the face of things seemingly going wrong, ultimately my greatest good is being looked after.

This, like all good resolutions that push us to grow beyond our limitations, is easier said than done.

As anyone who practices intention setting will tell you, when we ask for opportunities to work on something – whether it be our concerns with money, relationships, tolerance, body image, etc. – what the Universe gives us are challenges which bring up all the false beliefs and fears we have around the issue.

It’s a little bit like being a snow globe… there’s all your “stuff” – which you knew was there, lying on the bottom of your consciousness, mucking up the works – and now it’s flying through the air like so many flakes in a snow storm.  You can’t pretend it’s not there anymore – and remember, you don’t want to – you just have to deal with it.


In healing work, we often talk about a “healing crisis”.  It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.  If you’ve been sitting on your foot for the last hour, and it’s gone numb because the blood flow has been restricted, the process of getting your circulation back before your foot falls off is going to include all the “pins and needles” tingling, pain, and cramping that go along with feeling and flow returning.  Your foot wasn’t troubling you before you stood up; it feels measurably worse now as it returns to health, but, as painful as it can be, we know that it’s necessary.

We’ve been through the process before; we know how it turns out.  So we breathe, and groan, and hop up and done until the icky sensations subside, and then we go on with our lives without fear of gangrene and amputation.

It’s the same process in psychological healing.  Unfortunately, there’s no set time line or regulated mile markers that we can take note of as we pass that tell us how much longer we’re going to be in the pins and needles portion of this journey. It can be terribly difficult when we’re awash in the sea of emotions, fears, and bad beliefs, to hold the bigger picture – that you wouldn’t be feeling so deeply if the work wasn’t working.

Breathing, journaling, connecting with trusted loved ones, sharing with outside observers who can offer their objective observations on the process… these things aren’t luxuries but necessities.

They are lighthouses and rescue crews, helping to navigate the rocky waters of our becoming.

Me… I’m going to practice faith in the absence of knowledge, trusting that by walking this road, by constructively confronting the roadblocks that come up, I will reach a point where my surrender will be rewarded, which will, in turn, make the journey easier next time.


“Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.” ~Victor Hugo

Love Pharmacist: Dispensing Hugs!

“Happiness is an unexpected hug.” ~Author Unknown

“Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

I was back in rehearsal this morning – a one time only (most likely) appearance as Calpurnia in one of my best friend’s productions of Julius Caesar.

It was early – very, VERY early by theatre standards – and there were more than a few people who looked like they’d rolled out of bed not too long before. I’ve already talked about how much I love people first thing in the morning when they are fuzzy with sleep with a foot still in the dream world and inhibitions dialed down, so imagine my pleasure when I was greeted with hugs by many of my fellow actors.

Ahhhh… BLISS… giant, full body, all embracing, agenda-less hugs.

Theatre people tend to be more touchy-feely than most… I’ve always joked that if anyone ever sued anyone else for sexual harassment, the whole industry would grind to a halt. If you do it right, acting is a little like doing psychology from the inside-out. You have to be brave and comfortable enough to be vulnerable, which, in turn, breeds intimacy and familiarity with your cast mates.

Especially if you spend lots of time with them at the crack of dawn.

I’d forgotten, being out of the business, how good this casual intimacy feels… how good it feels to be greeted in body.

(I wonder if the banking business might be less cut-throat if the CEOs started their meetings off with a great big group hug… 😉 )

I remember being told by my college roommate, a stage manager, how her high school director had banned “A-Frame” hugs on stage. An A-Frame is what you get when you stand 2 feet away from someone and lean in to hug them around the shoulders without actually touching bodies at all. The director was insistent that no one really hugs like that…

One can understand why high school students, with all those rushing, surging hormones complicating everything, might feel compelled to A-Frame… but it seems to me that we have become an entire society terrified of physically connecting. We’re so riddled with sexual harassment suits these days that everyone is afraid of touching. I know teachers in the public school system who long to hug hurting students, but fear the repercussions too much to risk it.

We are starving for connection, and there is nothing more visceral than touch…

According to the experts, the leading cause of Failure-to-Thrive in infants is lack of touch; how is the lack of physical contact affecting all the rest of us?

All I know is that I am MUCH better for having gone to rehearsal this morning… thanks, guys!

“Hugging has no unpleasant side effects and is all natural. There are no batteries to replace, it’s inflation-proof and non-fattening with no monthly payments. It’s non-taxable, non-polluting, and is, of course, fully refundable.” ~Author Unknown


“When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about.” ~ Albert Einstein

Tonight, a mogul skier broke Canada’s long winter gold drought… he did it by skiing the fastest and by sticking the most complicated jump.  When they interviewed him, he said that he’s done it for Canada, but more importantly, he’d done it for his brother.

His brother has cerebral palsy and spends most of his time in a wheel chair.  Yet, still he skis and never complains, nor does he let his disability stop him from achieving.  Not only does he help his brother to keep things in perspective, but he inspired him to gold.

I once watched a man, his body terribly twisted, a pronounced limp slowing his gait, make his way to the end of an EL platform.  His pace was so slow I could easily have traveled the same distance multiple times over…

By the time he reached the end, I was weeping.  I was completely overcome by the amazing beauty and tenacity of the human spirit he revealed to me.  I carry him with me to this day as a reminder of what is possible if we are determined.

I’m sure if he had known what he inspired, he would have thought I was nuts.  He had obviously made peace with the pain he lived with every day.  He was doing nothing more than I was- going about his day.

It’s really all about perspective, isn’t it?  To me- he was noble… to him- he was just doing his errands.

How much do we take for granted every single day of our lives?  We take for granted that our bodies work as they are meant to, that our minds are able to see, comprehend, decipher, connect… we take for granted the amazing fact that any of it works at all – that it truly is miraculous that the sun will rise tomorrow on Life on this small blue planet, in a galaxy far, far away (from somewhere anyway).

If we could just hold the big picture, how small would our problems become?  If we could keep a universal perspective, what could we achieve?

How many golds could we win?

“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.” ~ Paulo Coelho

It Starts at Home

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.” ~ M. F. K. Fisher

“By starving emotions we become humorless, rigid and stereotyped; by repressing them we become literal, reformatory and holier-than-thou; encouraged, they perfume life; discouraged, they poison it” ~ Joseph Collins

It’s the night before Valentine’s Day… a Hallmark created holiday meant to be a celebration of Love, of the people in our lives we hold nearest and dearest…

Unfortunately, for a large part of the population, it ends up being a time of sadness, of great grief and hungering for the elusive companionship they don’t have.

Longing has its place in the human experience. “It seems to me,” said novelist George Eliot (nom de plume for Mary Anne Evans), “we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.” By hungering for more, we continue to move forward.

But today, so many of us are not merely hungering, but starving… our modern world has created a famine. We yearn for… we don’t know what….

Spiritual connection, human contact, emotional security, tenderness…

And like Rapunzel in the tower, we are waiting for something outside of ourselves to supply the nourishment our souls are crying out for…

But neediness so rarely draws others to us in order to feed our longings – at least not in any healthy way.

So we must begin to feed ourselves.

The first step is identifying what it is that we are hungering for – is it sensuality, companionship, intimacy, excitement, growth, knowledge, challenge, or something else?

The second step is starting to think about how to get the need met.

We’ve spent so long believing that someone else is the solution to our problems it can be difficult to think outside the box, to believe that we can be our own knight in shining armor. But if we want to achieve happiness and contentment, we have to be brave enough to put our own feet on the path…

Longing for sensuality may begin with a massage, companionship with joining a running or book club. Longing for growth, knowledge, or challenge might start with taking a class…

No, it probably doesn’t seem as satisfying as having prince or princess charming sweep into your life and answer all your yearnings with their presence or one wave of their hand (or their AMEX), but satisfaction begets more satisfaction, and we draw to ourselves what we are.

So if we want The ONE to show up, maybe we have to find contentment, to find our own balancing point. Maybe in order to find The ONE we have to BE The ONE.

We have to be the Love we want to see in the world.

“Those that go searching for love, only manifest their own loveless ness. And the loveless never find love, only the loving find love. And they never have to seek for it.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

T-T-T-T-Touch Me!

“To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread.” ~ James Arthur Baldwin

I love summer in Chicago… the sun beating on my body, the wind in my hair, cool water on my hot skin.  I love the smell of the lake, the crack of a bat, the pinks, oranges, and deep purples of the tulips lining Michigan Ave…. sipping a cold drink on a tree covered patio while a gentle breeze tickles the back of my neck and hot tunes trickle out from the jukebox…

I could be perfectly happy to spend the rest of my life in sandals, cut-offs, and a tank top…

The sensual pleasures of summer in Chicago are ecstatic… and I am fed by them.

So what’s a hedonist to do in February?  Especially if you’re single (fussy, my grandmother will tell you) and not interested in ending up as big as a house before the crocuses make themselves known again?  The opportunities for sensuality are definitely limited…

Oh sure… there’s the joy of sliding into a warm bed on a cold night, the taste of hot chocolate drunk outdoors, the smell of new snow, not to mention the feeling returning to all your limbs after standing on an EL platform or at a bus stop for longer than usual thanks to new budget cuts… (sigh)

But there’s just not as much pleasurable sensual experience to be had – at least in my opinion…

So today, I pulled out the big guns.

Workout, hot tub, steam room, herbal wrap, massage… ahhhh…

Feeding our senses is critical to our humanity… From a spiritual perspective, I keep coming back to the idea that we have bodies for a reason.  They are our vehicles on this plane of existence – the method by which we make contact and connection. Teilhard de Chardin  said, “You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.

Sensuality is the human experience.

So get out and get some!

(I got a recommendation if you need one… 😉 )

“Your body needs to be held and to hold, to be touched and to touch. None of these needs is to be despised, denied, or repressed.” ~ Henri Nouwen