Sometimes when I am talking to my best friend / soul twin, or with my daughter, I feel like the Mormon at the door wanting to talk about my Lord and Savior - but in my case I am not talking about Jesus Christ, I am talking about Ram Dass.
It isn't about religion though - it's about hearing someone speak who in a time of darkness had words that resonated with me and changed my world view. So I love to talk about him. A LOT.
So This post is going to be about my experiences during Ram Dass's summer solstice mindfulness and meditation renewal that I took part in this past June/July. (It was free btw)
Ram Dass offered a lot of ways to meditate. My depression and ADD cause conflict with my concentration. He offered great advice beyond the typical 'concentrate on your breathing'.
He used the example of watching a river... we see leaves floating down stream but we can't hold on to them. You have to let them float by. Our thoughts during meditation are those leaves.
It was a very cool way to think about it. And unlike a lot of other teachers of meditation, he doesn't make you feel bad for not getting it right.
Honestly he doesn't make you feel bad for anything. He just makes you feel... loved and like you want to pass along that vibe to the entire world.
I appear to be transitioning to a buddhist lifestyle and this is causing conflict in other areas of life because I can't be bothered to fight with people about "stuff" ...
I love it and it is a strange feeling at the same time ... as if I am watching things unfold from above myself, and also within myself aware of the feelings...
I keep having the same thought...
"why can't you put this down? That seems painful, why do you want to choose that?"
And then I have to remember that they are not on my journey (and resist the urge to drag them along).
When I first started reading his words and listening to his podcasts, I felt a bit guilty for my thoughts. My anger, my pain... my potty mouth. I felt guilty for being who I was as a person.
Through this journey of self love and just love for life... dare I say it 'BE HERE NOW'. Living now. Not in the past, or the future. Right now.
People don't seem to grasp that six months ago I was dying. I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to talk to Tavo or the kids. I didn't want to see my friends. I wanted nothing and no one.
Taking power and control of my own life and actions. I decided to turn my father's passing into a time of deepening compassion and love for all beings that are grieving and suffering. And I knew I could not do it surround by people and things who brought me so much pain.
I packed up what we could fit in 9 boxes and left 12 years of my life behind in Pennsylvania. I refuse to fall into the dark tunnel of morbid reflection again.
Meditation is truly my medication.
I do...I fall off track.... I get stuck in my old thought process. I don't want to do anything when I get lost in my deep depression.
I text and cry to my soul twin. I go on long walks with my family.
And if I am going to be really honest - I had a deep fall recently, and I think this moon is messing a bit with my head. As such I hadn't really practiced this week and felt very off center and falling into old habits.
But as Ram Dass says:
“This really isn’t “falling off the path,” it’s just another part of the path. My guidance in regards to practice is to go slow. Try not to get too, ‘gung-ho,’ don’t figure you’re gonna get enlightened today. Relax into it and just start to tune in.”
So I did a little 5 - 10 minute meditation practice today and already feeling a little bit more grounded. I’m going to start from week one tomorrow. This is just a little reminder to anyone in the same position that sometimes life does get in the way, but it’s all part of the path set out for us in this lifetime. Our heart cave is always there, we need just breathe to find it.
Thank you, Ram Dass, for your advice - 'So it turns out there’s no rule book to take with you in life that says, “When I get into this condition, do this.” My rule is actually really simple, I continually work to quiet my mind, to stay mindful'.
I am still in therapy. 🤗 I do not believe that any of this is a magic cure to my depression, or that I don't need therapy. It's an important part of my healing.
I am also still very active in my grief groups and do peer to peer talk therapy.
It's a personal journey. What works for me may not work for you. But if you are dealing with depression... please please please seek help. Talk to someone.
Inbox me. I have some ways to help you find a therapist in the privacy of your own home.
Or if you want more information on meditation or Ram Dass, I'd love to talk about it.
"All that you seek is already in you" - Ram Dass #beherenow
I wanted to share the story of my journey from atheist to believer. My mind changed based because of several experiences I had with my father the last week of his life...
My father found out her had terminal Lung Cancer (extensive stage small cell with mets in both lungs, neck lymph nodes, and later found out several in his brain) in late April. In mid May we tried Chemotherapy. Our intentions were not to cure, but to shrink the cancer a bit to allow easier breathing and possibly give him some more time with us. We also could have went with hospice then and there. (The choice to not do hospice then still bothers me. But I had to let him do what he felt was best for him.)
At first things seemed well. He handled the chemo like a boss. Didn't feel too tired.. things seemed great. He was happy and confident he made the right choice. Around day 5, something drastically changed. He got huge blisters all over his legs and feet. It was a rare reaction to the chemo...
As the days passed his blisters were just getting worse and worse which made walking very difficult for him. He got transferred to a rehab center to help him learn to use his walker. Before the Chemo he was able to walk around... but after that first week, he would never be able to walk on his own again.
He was in the rehab center only about a week before we got the terrible news that he had contracted pneumonia. At this point my father had been in the hospital and rehab a combined total of 27 days. He was tired. He refused antibiotics and had me call the hospice.
We called hospice on a Tuesday am. They had everything set up in my home by Wednesday and he came home that evening.
It was really weird because at first, he was almost himself. Granted he needed help walking around, using the bathroom etc..but he had this HUGE burst of life and energy. And all he wanted to do was talk to me. About life, his childhood... my childhood. The circumstances were not the greatest... but I never felt so close to him.
I asked my father several times over this whole thing if he thought we would see each other again and each time he would say no. He told me that if it made me feel better to pray, I should do it... but it meant nothing. Sigh... I still asked. It was like in my mind, even as a non believer, if he could believe, then I knew I could... but it didn't happen.
That Saturday my dad's best friend came in from NYC. They got to spend time together and say some goodbyes. It was almost like my father was waiting for him because that is where things got bad. After my dad's friend left, my dad was in a lot of pain. He just could not get comfortable... and he hardly slept.
The following morning, Sunday he started to not know where he was. He was able to recognize the kids and I, but he thought we were on a boat and heading to an island. He kept telling us we had to be careful because the crew couldn't be trusted. Both my dad and I were on less than 1 hour sleep. It was pretty brutal.
Throughout all this he was still letting me help him walk, eat his meals, and use the bathroom. The hospice suggested a sleeping pill. He took it no problem. My bedroom was next to his... and when he finally went to sleep, so did I...
I remember it was around 12am when I felt really warm. I can not explain it... almost like someone put blankets from the dryer on me. So I sat up, and standing in the hall without his walker or help was my dad. I sprang up, yelled for my husband and literally caught my father before he could fall. My husband helped my dad to the chair and I laid on the floor bawling my eyes out. I felt so guilty for failing because I didn't hear him get up.
At this point my father no longer remembered that he had lung cancer. He didn't understand why he was so weak he could not walk. I asked the hospice nurse and the doctor on call if they thought he would come back to us and that he would remember where he was. They told me with the size of the mets on his brain and the infection, I am lucky he still knows who I am.
The hospice brought me a baby monitor. And my husband, oldest son, and I all took turns sleeping in shifts. At around 7 pm my dad was very upset. (This was Monday night). He told me he would be to the island soon, but he had to figure out the numbers first so we could be safe. I had no idea what any of this meant, but he asked for pen and paper. I gave it to him and he did what looked like some math and wrote out some numbers.
We gave him another sleeping pill, and my son fell asleep in the chair next to him. My husband and I were awake in the room next to him. We had the baby moniter, and were going to try and do sleeping in shifts.. but he (my husband) had what we believed to be a minor case of food poisoning. So I was between helping my dad and helping him as well.
I don't remember the exact time, I want to say it was roughly 2am but I head a strange sound on the moniter. Like someone going through a drawer. I called out to my son, he didnt answer. So I walked to the bedroom and as soon as I got to the doorway, I see my dad take a lighter to his oxygen tube. HUGE rush of flames as I instinctually pulled the plug to his oxygen machine. My husband ran to our son as I went to aide my dad.
Somehow he remembered a stash of cigs and where he hid his lighter. It was his bedroom and I honestly never thought to hide things. He had quit smoking 2 months ago and had been doing great at it. To this day I still blame myself.
He had some burns and the hospice told us that we should call an ambulance despite my father's wishes. When we were in the hospital, he started to forget who I was... or anything that was going on. The ER doctor told me that I could keep him there. That dealing with a dying person with dementia is hard for professional care takers emotionally and that he could not imagine what it was doing to me and my family.. I thanked him, but said I would please like to take my dad home... and a few hours later, I did.
All afternoon I sat with him. He randomly yelled... cursed. Talked more about getting to the island...telling us we were lying, he was never sick. He did not even remember the fire.
He finally fell asleep and I just broke down. I prayed..... for the first time in roughly 15 years
I just kept asking god.. I said whoever is listening... I know his body is destroyed. I know it. And I know that he can not be healed. I know it's his time... I know you have to take him.. But PLEASE...not like this. Please god... whoever is up there. Let his soul say goodbye to us. Please. Let us have him back. Please give us our goodbyes. Please god. I never ask you anything. Please give me this. Even if just a day...
This was Tuesday night.... I fell asleep in bed next to him. First time sleeping since Saturday really... I heard a voice..
"Maggie is Robbie ok.."
(Robbie is my son)
I thought it was my husband, and I started to reply and then the voice said..
"I don't know why I tried to smoke that last cigarate, I am sorry. Please tell me I didn't hurt Robbie..."
It was my dad!!!!
I jumped up and said Robbie is fine! We are all fine. Do you know where you are? He looked at me confused and said I am at home?
He remembered everything! The cancer, the fire, being on hospice etc. He did not remember telling me he was on a boat, or that he was going to an island. And when I showed him the paper with the numbers, he had no idea what they meant.
The next day we even had a laugh over the whole thing. It was incredible. Like his mind never left us. We had an amazing day.. but that evening I started to notice he was getting weaker. He didn't want to eat, and told the nurse he did not want to wear his oxygen mask.
I told my husband... I knew... I knew it was going to be soon. Early Thursday am the hospice nurse told me she didn't think he had more than a few hours left. I put some music on for him. And he told us he loved us all. He told my husband to watch over his daughters, and protect his grandkids. He told Robbie he had many regrets, and there was still so much he wanted to tell me. We told him we loved him dearly and I know he loved me. And that we would all be ok.
Just before 11am he took his last breath in my arms. And I will never forget when they took his body from my home, soon as he was in the car it poured. Pouring rain and thunder.
Next 3 days were a blur.. I didn't leave my bedroom. The hospice came to get everything quickly. I asked not to watch. When I finally did go back down stairs, the first thing I saw was the paper with the numbers on it....and that is where it hit me...
I felt the warm again. Just like the night I woke up and stopped my dad from falling...
Then I thought about how tired I was the night of the fire. But my husband was ill... so we were both awake...
Then I remembered the prayer. My prayers were answered. NO ONE can tell me otherwise. I was told he wouldn't remember me again, but he remembered everything. All of us. He got to say goodbye... and so did we.
I still have no idea if the numbers actually meant anything, but I took pictures to remember. I also often wonder if the island was were his soul was going and the "crew" who was hostile to him were his fears of death.... I hope some day to understand.
But because of this, I try to look for signs everywhere. I have faith that there is a life after this one and that spirits are all around us. Finally working up the courage to write this whole story up is my Father's day gift to my dad. It has taken me two years to do this, but I feel much better after telling it.
This time of year is always very hard for me. My grief is in constant waves. But June will always be the hardest. As memories pop up here on facebook, or people comment old posts (with the purest of intentions)... I have to remind myself that thinking about what I could or could not have done differently.... living in constant regret is only killing my soul slowly. It's not what my father would have wanted for his daughter. It isn't what I want for myself.
I am working on redefining what June means to *me*. It will always be sad... but maybe it doesn't have to be so difficult.
I sent a love and light package to my dear friend back home in Carlisle. Her and I both lost a loved one on the same day and I wanted to help her get through it even though I couldn't be there in person. Such a terrible thing to have in common with someone, but it created an amazing bond.
I talked my best friend into doing my baba Ram Dass's Summer Solstice Meditation Renewal. He has an open mind... but is probably like lol what am I getting myself into!
Finding hope.... looking forward to little things. It's what gets me by.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. It knows no boundaries. Anthony Bourdain had money, he had fame, he was respected. He touched many lives. He had maybe the coolest job I can conceive of. A life I wanted.
Sigh...What I am saying is.... Depression doesn’t care. It can happen to anyone.
We all need to do a better job at understanding these things are out of our control. There is no simple solution. You can't just tell someone drink some water, get more sleep... think positive etc..
Sure I talk a lot lately about love, light, and my inner spiritual journey. Crystals and affirmations have brought me a lot of happiness and help me deal with my greif and PTSD...
HOWEVER... it is important to stress that I am also in therapy. I do not think ANY of this would help without my peer to peer consoling or chats with my thearpist. I get regular help for dealing with depression. I speak openly about it. I bug the heck out of my support system and close friends. You don't have to suffer alone. Get help if you need help.
We need you here. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It isn't your fault....
Suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255
But if you're like me and are weird about being on the phone... there is a text service too. The 'Crisis Text Line'
Text 741741 from anywhere in the USA
to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.
"Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving."
I have personally used this service several times. And even at 4am, they connected me with someone to talk to.
Another good service is https://www.7cups.com they also peer to peer help as well as licensed therapists. If you download their app, they have grounding exercises and other things you can do to offer a distraction. Most of their services are free.
You can also talk to me. Inbox me. I might not have the right things to say. But I will listen, I want to listen.
I put together my first Crystal Grid. I love it so much. I plan on later explaining just what a crystal grid is, what it's used for and why all crystal lovers should add this to their meditation. Also, I pulled these two cards.
Remember Siddhartha, his journey, and the amount of time he spent in the garden of pleasure with a woman who had much to teach? She always had a new thing to teach--she will always have a new thing to teach--always.
Can anyone imagine that a woman as full and seductive as that is not going to teach something?
Is not going to continue to teach something?
We have lost part of ourselves previously and we will again someday. Ultimately, we are spiritual beings in physical bodies on Earth. We are here to learn. It’s okay to lose ourselves more than once. Because when we find ourselves again, life is going to be so amazing. It’s going to be worth it living through it as you have known what it’s like to be lost. They always say, “It’s better to have love and lost than never to have loved at all.” I hope that this message reminds you of why you’re still living and contributing to the positivity of humanity today.
So this is not my prettiest angle, but I am sharing it with you guys today (rolls and all) because I am 25lbs down and on my 5th yoga class! As I said in a previous post, sometimes being open and vulnerable is a good thing. It teaches us we don't have to pretend to be something else. In light of this new thinking, I have been sharing more and more full body images of myself. I can love myself even at the start of this weight loss and soul searching journey.
Early before going into my Tuesday evening Mindful Mini class, threw on some meditation music and just let go!
This space felt like Zen, the vibes were so beautiful. The blessing of just letting it go flowed so beautifully for me in this space.
The first step in Spiritual Surrender is- Prayer, and asking for the highest good for all! So I sat in meditation. Truly doing just that, praying for this feeling of acceptance. It is a powerful thing to become humble and courageous enough to dig deeper, to let go that little bit more. However, I am so ready for this work! This deep pull that has come over me to finally show up for what I have been so deeply ignoring.
ॐ ⏀ ♡ ↟↟↟
I get a little tired of people who assume that just because you have kids, you are automatically completely uncool, and that all your time is spent wiping babies from head to toe, giving spit baths, criticizing their every move, volunteering for PTA, blogging in your spare time, clipping coupons before crock potting a pot roast, ironing the clothes, bleaching the whites, mopping the floors, harvesting your eggs, sewing for your etsy shop, scrapbooking the little things, taking pictures of everything they do, saving for college, reading Dr. Suess, socializing at the bus stop, sweeping the floor, laughing over coffee with your jogging stroller, wearing your birkenstocks and listening to Baby Einstein.
Just because I DO THESE THINGS OCCASIONALLY.
Does not mean for one second that sometimes I don’t just want to be a kick ass girl with streaks in her hair, a ring in her nose, a tattoo on her arm, concert tickets in her purse, vodka in her fridge, a leather mini-skirt in her closet, her best single friends and a standing reservation for Las Vegas once a year with a don’t ask don’t tell policy, and the desire to just once be seen as more than the mother of 5 kids. Sometimes I just want to be seen as a “Maggie”. A “Maggie” with an extremely adorable set of children… (I joke, but sometimes it's hard to over come labels. )
Married + 5 Children
Born in New York
Living in Chicago Land
Italian + Mexican American household
Published Photographer + Artist
Lung Cancer Activist + Advocate
Social Media Enthusiast
Openly in Grief Therapy
Believes in Freedom Of Religion
Studied Animal Science
Sand Cloud Ambassador
Backpacking + Hiking
Crystals + Meditation + Yoga
Writing + Scrapbooking + Blogging
Foodie + Cooking + Banking
Tropical Fish Keeping
Coffee + Coffee Shops
Travel + Road trips
Okkervil River + Good indie bands