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This week has been rife with lessons. We experienced another school shooting, irrevocably changing lives while politics goes on as usual. The day before this shooting I was with people I consider to be of “like-mind” but even within this group, people are anything but like-minded about how we best bring forth peace.

Dr. Leo Galland learned the answers to life’s questions from his son, Christopher, who lived to be 22 years old. Christopher was “a brain-damaged special needs child who challenged everyone he knew with his unpredictable behavior and uncanny insights.” The book of Christopher’s life is titled Already Here: A Doctor Discovers the Truth about Heaven. The following excerpt is what John Cubeta, an educational psychologist who had worked closely with Christopher, wrote about having lunch with Chris:

One day, I was attempting to have a conversation with Chris after we had just bought a pair of cheeseburgers. I kept trying to get a dialogue going, but it would abruptly end whenever it was Chris’s turn to respond. I finally asked Chris why he didn’t answer me when I spoke to him. He continued to eat in silence. Nothing I said seemed to register. Eventually, he swallowed the last bite. Then he said, very plainly, “I didn’t want to speak while I was eating,” obviously annoyed that something so simple and obvious should require an explanation.

It seems my life lessons also most often come in the mundane. Friday morning I started getting an error message when I tried to send email from my iPhone using my propitiatory address. The message would get stuck in the Outbox where it sat whirring for hours. Until the message was marked with a red exclamation mark that it did not get sent, the message could not be deleted. During this time I could also not use my gmail account on the phone. One message took 8 hours to clear.

Verizon said it was an issue with the email host, Bluehost. Bluehost said Apple made some changes that had severely affected their servers but Bluehost was working on it. When things were not resolved the next day, I called Bluehost again but was this time I was told they could not help, I needed to call Apple Support. This evening I spent about an hour on hold, then about another hour with Apple Support, who finally told me I needed to call Bluehost. Apple Support stayed on the line with me while I called Bluehost one more time. I am exceedingly glad to report the email is working now.

After the tragic news of this week’s school shooting, I wrote the following poem:

Guns, Guts, and Grace or A Day for Lovers

Seventeen gone home on Valentine’s Day
Right and left make their points today
All I do is kneel and pray

It takes guts to be still
To say it is ideas not guns that kill
As hatred grows inside human will

The blood is real it is bright red
Alive is not the same as dead
Lovers can lie together in bed

We watch the news on TV
Guns and guts is what we see
Yet, grace is there inside of me

Helen writes “I’m done with war!”
Ain’t gonna study it no more
Sick to death of it at my core

But what if what we fear
Is what is brought so very near
Threatening all we hold so dear

A day for lovers that’s for sure
Calling forth hearts with love so pure
Rather than minds all cocksure

Debra Basham 2-15-2018 (WC 140)

I’ve worn a Fitbit Charge 2 for over a year now. Although it is not REAL TIME, it gives my heart rate, and my resting rate. I have appreciated the feedback, and I have learned a lot about being present or not. My resting heart rate went down during the two days after John was taken to ER. (See In A Single Thought.) I have even noticed that chewing gum while walking helps keep my heart rate down. I am being more present as I chew.

One thing I see clearly is how every moment along the frustrating process of getting support to fix the email problem, I knew I was dealing with the mundane. Years back I would have been pulling my hair out. The situation was frustrating, and having to make the calls and wait was inconvenient. But while how I dealt with it changed my life, it was not life changing….

Tip of a Wish

The idea of a perfect parent, perfect partner, or perfect day makes some people nervous. They think of all the ways things don’t measure up. A headache, a heartache, or an unfulfilled longing seems to stand in the way of perfection.

Imagine for a moment an eternity without sunshine, or rain for that matter. Perfection is organic, not static. This moment is perfect.

Listening to a talk about what karma is and isn’t has me thinking about all of this. Karma is not punishment; it is cause and effect. Whatever we are experiencing at any given moment had its roots in the “past” and it is planting the “future.” This moment is perfect.

Robina Courtin, quoting a Buddhist teacher says it this way, “Everything exists on the tip of a wish.”

To fit with Valentine’s Day, I wrote a wellness tip about hugs:

Hug for Health!
by Debra Basham

Debra’s Wellness Tips

Well, it seems that love and companionship is good for your health. People in love and those with good relationships have lower blood pressure, less depression, and report feeling better over all.

We like to hold hands, get hugs, and make whoopie. In most cases, love and wellness go hand-in-hand.

This week, snuggle up. And it is not just people we love to touch. Petting our pets has health benefits, too.

A dear friend commented, “I am single and have no pets. Does that mean I am destined for depression?” I wrote back telling her to take an I NEED A HUG sign to a busy place and give a blessing (what is called drishti in Hindi) to everyone who stops. I reminded her of Amma, the hugging saint.

The wind is blowing today. I have an opinion it might be a more perfect day if it weren’t quite so windy.

My abdomen is not quite as flat as I might think perfect.

What I do with these thoughts, feelings, and beliefs really does make a difference now and long into the future.

Rollo May said it this way, “If you do not express your own ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.”

What is on the tip of your wish today?

I wish you a perfect day!

In a Single Thought

It was mid morning on Thursday. I was on a FaceTime call with a client. The goal of the session revolved around not getting thrown out of balance during crisis times. The desire was to stay grounded even in trying circumstances.

I like to do divination for guidance when I am working with someone to help me stay unattached. Thursday I used Angelic Messenger Cards: A Divination System for Spiritual Discovery, by Meredith L. Young Sowers. Two cards fell out. I made some notes from those two cards and from the Daily Word:

Need for greater calmness and inner peace.
Ask yourself, “Whom will this choice benefit?”
Relinquish struggle and accept the truth of your angelically-inspired perspective.
Move into the perspective of your divine nature.
Claim your highest self and release the needy aspects of your life that mentally hold you prisoner.
Believe more in yourself and your divine guidance
In a single thought I can redirect my attention toward the peace of knowing I am protected.

My phone rang. It was my brother-in-law. I could not figure out how to put the FaceTime call on hold to answer, so the call went to voice mail. “Call me immediately.”

Moments later I was on my way to the hospital where my husband was being taken by ambulance. He had reported having a horrible stomach ache and then he lost consciousness.

The day spent in the hallway of the emergency room (there was no room in the inn) was stressful. About dinner time he was admitted for observation. A few hours later I was driving home without him.

The following day he was to be discharged as soon as he had an echo cardiogram, but ER was so busy again they could not get to him. Mid afternoon we were still waiting. When asked how we were holding up, I gave an honest report. “We are listening to elevator music on the TV, we both have our nose in a book, and we have decided to consider it a voluntary library day.”

About 5:00 they decided to send him home and schedule the echo as a out-patient followup.

Simply put, we could not control the circumstances. We could choose the thoughts and feelings and experience we were having.

We had not wasted our day. We took the late discharge as an opportunity to stop for Thai food on the way home.

I was taught to pay attention in client sessions and consider the message is for me first. That was obviously true last Thursday….

Super Blue Blood Moon

I am blessed to be part of two writers’ groups, and one of the precious gifts of winter for me is that I take more time to write. Do you notice how seemingly unconnected things are not? For example, this morning people all over the U.S. got up early enough to see if they could get a glimpse of the Super Blue Blood Moon. One online comment said the skies have not been like this since Andrew Johnson was President, the second dome on the U.S. Capitol was completed, and Jesse James completed his first robbery.

Time seems linear, but is not. My writing seems melancholy, but I am not.

Poem Widow Wake-up by Debra Basham 01/23/2018

Morning had still not yet come when she rolled over in the bed and instinctively reached her hand to the other side. This day, like so many she had tried to hold back with her sheer will, her hand found nothing to grasp on to. Nevertheless, she left it there as though memories of his warm body could will her body to greet this day.

But it was not death that had stolen her joy. No, she herself had day-after-day driven the very sense of peace and well-being she longed for from her own heart. Living never in the now, her fears had wound themselves so tightly into her reality no distinction remained.

“Please God,” her daily prayer as rote as the morning rosary at St. Michael’s Elementary Catholic School, “don’t let today be the day I become a widow.”

But, not even God could keep that from happening today because in her mind it already had….

As we take in to account that more is always happening in our lives than we are currently aware of, I suggested a client check out the energy of the Super Blue Blood Moon and how his current experience might well be connected to a childhood trauma. He sent this quote from an article he read online, “The last time there was a celestial alignment of these three things was in 1982.” 1982 was the year of that childhood event…

Driving to a meditation group, I called the hostess to let her know I might be about 5 minutes late. “I am under the weather so we are not meeting today. I sent an email message.” I did not receive the message, but making that call saved me about an hour-long round trip.

Maybe we don’t all always pay attention but inner guidance and meaningful coincidences are always there for each of us. Noticing them help us stop torturing ourselves with our minds. We can instead offer kindness. This quote of the day comes from my meditation teacher:

Deep Spring Center
Thought for Today

No matter how many times the world comes to the verge of war or enters into it, each time is new, a new moment that has never happened before, with its own sorrows and also its joys. You ask what joy there can be. Joy in the fact that so many of you do not hate a supposed enemy but in your hearts take the enemy to be fear and hatred itself. The joy that so many of you can offer wishes for well-being, even to those who hate, and at the same time, be willing to say no to those beings who would do harm. A no based on kindness.

May the energy of this Super Blue Blood Moon remind us of all we can do. Today and everyday…

Corpse Prayer

Each year I enjoy some ritual on my birthday. Yesterday afternoon I still did not know what that was to be. Riding to the birthday celebration of our 85 year old friend, I learned of a marvelous exercise called “Corpse Prayer.” It comes from Jarem Sawatsky’s book, Dancing with the Elephants: Mindfulness Training For Those Living With Dementia, Chronic Illness or an Aging Brain (How to Die Smiling Series, #1).

The “Corpse Prayer” exercise resonates deeply with me because it is essentially my own Imagine Healing process where you anchor positive images along your future timeline to allow the worry brain to turn off. In my process, you build in the caveat although things won’t happen exactly as you imagine it, as you make an image that lets know things have gone so well, even better than you imagined it….

As Sawatsky suggests, I imagine the last three minutes of my life.

I am propped up in a big fluffy bed. The bedclothes are pristine white. Stacey is there with me. I have no pain or illness, just old-age. It is time to let go. I see Stacey as old too. That comes as a surprise. White hair. Wrinkled hands. I feel sadness for a moment that her life will not be much longer, then I let that go as I celebrate sacred life and sacred death. I love her so much. I am so blessed she has been with me since I was only a child. I breathe the familiar Corpse Prayer:

Corpse Prayer

Be not afraid.
I give thanks to god who created all things good.
In christ, all things hold together.
I am not entitled to life without death.
I embrace sacred life.
I embrace sacred death.
I embrace the growing and crumbling in between.
Smile at yourself in the silence…
Jarem Sawatsky

Sawatsky says to next imagine the moment you will be buried. Since I plan to be cremated, I saw that happening and breathed the Corpse Prayer again. I am not entitled to life without death.

Two years after death, you are to see your body decayed. I see the place my ashes had been spread. Barely any shards are left. A cat walks on the ground and I think, “I love kitties.” I breathe the Corpse Prayer again. I embrace the growing and crumbling in between.

Now I am to imagine myself 80 years after my death. My granddaughter (Courtney’s) child is old. I breathe the Corpse Prayer to her. Be not afraid…

I smile at myself in the silence. Happy birthday to me!

No Ordinary Face

Listening to the wind blowing, thoughts come to mind of how relative our perspective is. A prime example of that is weather.

Bundled up out for a walk, Floridians see Michiganders riding bikes in shirt sleeves.

Americans look into a brimming pantry complaining about nothing to eat.

“No Ordinary Face” was first shared at an open mic. I have since been encouraged to share the story more widely. It certainly is a powerful demonstration of perspective.

No Ordinary Face

It has been over twenty years since I met her, but hers is a face I will never forget.

I work as a wellness consultant, sometimes called a holistic healer. She had been referred to me by one of my colleagues, for a surgical support session. Physical healing happens more easily when you are emotionally and mentally prepared. Combining hypnosis and energy medicine I help people “imagine healing.” I knew she was facing an extensive reconstruction following serious burns, but nothing I had been told about her prepared me for what I was seeing.

“So, you are scheduled for plastic surgery?” I asked. As she answered I jotted the date and time and hospital onto her chart without looking away from her face.

With a poise not anticipated from her shocking physical appearance, she provided a brief highlight of her MANY previous surgeries.

As she answered my unspoken question, without permission my chest with it’s now rapid-beating heart leaned forward ever so slightly, “I set myself on fire. I did not want to live,” she was not apologizing but merely helping me understand. “More than my not wanting to live, I thought no one would care if I died. I was wrong, nearly dead wrong.”

“As the flames caught,” she continued, “I heard a voice yell ‘OPEN THE DOOR AND GET OUT OF THE CAR…. NOW!’”

She went on to tell me that her life had been totally changed by that event. I thought to myself that was an understatement. There was no person who yelled. She recognized the voice as god, an angel, or some divine guide.

As though proof of these changes and her true value, she reached in her purse and produced a photograph of a red-haired, blue-eyed toddler sitting on the most realistic rocking horse I have ever seen. “I have a daughter now… My daughter knows she is loved,” her voice trailed off wistfully as she placed the photo back in her purse.

“There are other people who feel like no one cares but it is not true. I would not be here today had it not been for that voice… Someone cares. Call it what you want. I am living proof someone cares about each of us.”

“I don’t really remember what I looked like before,” she added with twisted grin, “but I love this face.”

When she had doused the car with gasoline, climbed in behind the steering wheel, and struck the match, her previous face had melted away like a candle burning in the August wind.

This face. A face made from other body parts: abdomen ears, underarm eyes, back-of knee nose, and labia lips: this definitely was no ordinary face.

Winter Wonderland

As a writer, generating material is as easy as paying attention to the burr beneath your saddle. On January 5 of this year wishing our granddaughter happy birthday pulled me back 19 years to the day she was born. The words “winter wonderland” — one of the nicknames for Michigan, my home state, were not the first on my lips.

Drifts were piled outside that rivaled the summit of Mt. Everest. Visibility was reduced to the nose in front of my face. Temperatures had plummeted so low the gas line in our car was frozen solid even while it was parked in the garage.

We were not getting to Tennessee for our granddaughter’s birth.

January 5 that year I cried all day.

There are times in our lives when our human efforts are just not enough to bring about what we want. I could not clear the roads, and I could not stop my granddaughter’s timed entry into this world.

For several years our family has drawn names and made hand-crafted gifts. This past Christmas, I got my granddaughter’s name. I designed a deck of cards, and a companion book of inspired writings to correspond with each card, based loosely on the symbolism in a Tarot deck.

Yesterday I received a gifted copy of The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop, by Diane Lockward. Our poetry group has begun working through this wonderful book. As I opened to the first chapter, our assignment, I read:

Those who have caused us early pain and loneliness, the sources of our art: should we detest them or kiss their feet? ~ Wesley McNair

A tear formed in the corner of my eye as I read my granddaughter’s words in response to my happy birthday message. “I’m so thankful that you’re my Gammie…”

To which I replied, “And I’m so thankful that you’re my granddaughter. Sometime today or tomorrow draw a card from ‘Courtney’s Cards’ and see what the message is for your birthday. You can share that with me!”

“I’d love to.”

She picked the King of Spades.
“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good; but that God will make us good because he loves us.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Amen.

I am symbolically kissing the feet of the snow that has piled around my home this week this year freezing the water line into the house. Even the most bitter of our days will thaw out and the difficult will be made easy. Spring always follows winter…

Fireworks!

As my fingers find their way on the keyboard, fireworks are booming around me. That is how some people celebrate New Years. My thoughts go to the Veterans with PTSD and dogs who feel panic when experiencing loud noises.

New Years is such a significant opportunity for ritual. It is one of my favorite days of the year. This year, it is also a full moon.

The full moon is a time to release thoughts, beliefs, habits, memories, attitudes. Let go of everything that no longer serves you, bless and release what you no longer need in your life. Honor and transform any aspect of yourself that you have outgrown. The energy of the full moon joins powerfully with the beginning of 2018.

Barbara Brodsky has been my meditation teacher for many years now. Each day she shares a “Thought for Today.” I love the words from December 31, 2017:

Deep Spring Center Thought for Today
To manifest in the world begins with intention and conscious thought. What do you wish for yourself? ‘May I abide in well-being and freedom from affliction, freedom from anxiety, freedom from hostility and ill-will, and may I maintain well-being in myself. May my heart open and flower. May I love and be loved. May I find the healing that I seek. May I find the ways to live in harmony with others and them with me. May I be free from suffering. May I be happy and find peace.’ Now offer those same intentions for the world.

As I wait for the noise outside to stop, I welcome the inner silence which is always there.

Do you receive the Sacred Story each Saturday? If not, go to DebraBasham.com to subscribe to receive posts by email. This one fits so well with our New Years intention:

Things Will Get Better
by Debra Basham

Sacred Stories

These were very dark times as she was recovering from alcoholism. It was not that she wanted to drink—but neither did she want to live.

She had rolled up towels to put around the doors and windows and intended to turn on the gas and end her pain.

She heard a knock at the door.

“Who is it?” she asked.

A woman answered. “It is Pat. I have an appointment with you.”

Not wanting to draw attention from the neighbor, she opened the door a crack. Pat marched in, went right to the kitchen and sat at the table, looking over at the towels. “See, your name is right here on my calendar.”

Pat went on to say her husband was an alcoholic and she knew about depression. “Things will get better,” she said.
Then she left….

(Note – This story was shared in a public AA talk and while I do not have written permission to share it here, I think you will agree that the teller of the story would want others to know things will get better.)

Make this next year your best. Gift the world with your authentic being. You are a peaceful soul….

Preparations

I love order. Maybe I am not totally excessive compulsive about it, but I when I have been called a “neat freak” I have taken that as a compliment.

This week, as many others are busy with holiday preparations, I am preparing our tiny house for a big construction project that will begin right after Christmas. As some areas are being emptied out, other areas are being jam-packed.


One of the things I notice is that even my chaos must have order to it.

I took a break from my preparations yesterday and enjoyed listening to the December 17 talk given by Reverend Linda Beushausen at St. John UCC in New Buffalo. The talk was on Joy, specifically that joy is not an emotion but rather a choice we make. She told about a person who admits to having a challenge letting go of the stuff she has held on to that has kept her a victim and let joy in. Gay Hendricks calls this the challenge of expanding our upper limits. He says those profound shifts in your internal set points do not generally happen overnight, but Linda gave us a hint how we can access more joy.

She said gratitude is how we get to joy. When I put that phrase (gratitude is how we get to joy) into the search bar, it yielded about 6,950,000 results! A few of those include:

    Daily Habits of Gratitude That Will Attract Joy into Your Life with Jack Canfield

    12 Powerful Gratitude Practices That Bring Joy by Joel Almeida

    5 Tips to Supercharge Your Gratitude List and Infuse Your Life With Joy by Tree Franklyn

Today, my business partner lost his wallet. He had been running errands and when he stopped to get gas, his wallet was gone. He back-tracked to the previous stops, but his wallet was not yet found when he sent a message telling me it was missing. A few minutes later, he sent word that his wallet had been returned with everything still in it. His message ended with this: “Certainly guardian angels seem to have come to the rescue, and I’m grateful….”

That reminded me of “Package” published July 18, 2015, in Sacred Stories. If you are not signed up to receive the Sacred Stories each week, you can sign up to do that. Sharing them gives me joy!

As you continue with what ever preparations you are involved in right now, may you find that your gratitude is a bridge so you can find then find joy in the journey.

Love One Another, No Matter What


It is a wintry day again. For the time being, I have abandoned the riding of my Airdyne in the chilly barn for walking on a treadmill in the warmth of the community room.

My least favorite part of the winter weather is how I brace against it. The whole body tenses up, and the seconds to walk in from the car are endured, rather than enjoyed.

I have never understood that, as I am a January baby I should love winter weather, right?

This morning I read this marvelous quotation from Each Day a New Beginning, by Karen Casey: “We can serve one another best, never by commiserating with sadnesses, but by celebrating life’s challenges. They offer the opportunities necessary to our continued growth.”

One friend said goodbye to her pet bunny rabbit (of 14 years). Friends are supporting their daughter through a recent diagnosis of stage 3 colon cancer. Many have lost loved ones this year. Our own family is celebrating the holidays one brother short. Life has its challenges.

Here is a certain truth for meeting all of life’s challenges from Neale Donald Walsch: Nothing changes the environment like one person deciding to love another, no matter what.