Wow, Deb – an adventure, a pause, a blessing- we are so glad with the outcome.
-Kim, a friend’s Facebook message
I’ve been a why kid from the start. Relentless in the quest to understand the world around me (and then later as I matured, the one within) I have an appetite to know stuff. Once when my family visited my grandparents on their farm in rural southwest Virginia, the story goes I traipsed after my grandpa asking why -and rightfully so with all the curiosities- Why did I have to go the the potty shed outside that smells like poop and with spiders watching in the corners?? Why do you eat squirrels for breakfast?? Why don’t you have a faucet, why don’t you have heat, why is that stuffed raccoon with glass eyes that keep staring at me and bald patches on his head in my bedroom??
When he ‘d had enough, he made an excuse to go check on “something” in the upper pasture and slip out the back porch door.
When Life, God, Source, soul, inner being, whatever your view of that which is bigger than our human psyche presents a surprise, we ask why.
I talked to my neurosurgeon, Dr. Safain recently, and I learned more about the tumor make up: not one but two types that perplexingly, I was born into this life with. A slow growing tumor, a ganglioglioma which “is a rare brain tumor with both glial cells (responsible for providing the structural support of the central nervous system) and neuronal cells (the functioning component of the central nervous system)”, as well as a benign pituitary adenoma, whose perfect storm converged on July 23rd. In fact, in all his years as a surgeon he’s only seen this presentation two times prior. And astoundingly, my endocrinologist team (how truly bizarre to have a “team” of doctors now) says my case will be published in an upcoming medical journal because it is such a rarity! Oh my stars. What a specimen! I reckon that must make me Pituitary Tumor Royalty. Ha.
My doctors and I are geeking out on this. They beam when I go in for follow ups and I joke to them, “What, no red carpet?” I am such a freak of nature, it allows for stimulating conversations that get the why kid going all the more. Spoiler alert: If you are not one who also geeks out at the scienc-y stuff jump down past the next 3 photos.
(My brain: the red circle was the tumor with the eyes above and the two black dots, the carotid’s in the body of the tumor. Some of the tumor was left around the arteries due to risk concerns, but we (my prayer posse and I and to which you are most welcome to join in. Nothing official we simply send up prayers with this intention on our own.) are intending for it to collapse and die out on its own and for the growth hormone to normalize so I will not need continuing treatment.)
(My vision test just before the surgery, July 25th. The black denotes no vision. Yikes!)
(My vision when retested on Aug. 20th. The dark dots are naturally occurring blind spots that we all have. Vision is perfectly restored.)
Pause to ponder.
Can we ever know the whole of the Why’s?
+Before we knew the full story of the tumor and when asked, Dr. Safain shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Bad Luck? Genetics? We really don’t know.” Of course, now on a purely physical level, we have lots more information, that truly saved my vision and quite possibly life.
+ The subscribers to the sinner’s path might say I am being punished.
+Metaphysicians might conclude it must be karma since I was born with this tumor….
Good Karma? When I reincarnated did I elect to take this on earning merits and knowing how the ripple effects would bring blessings, open hearts, draw my family closer together, deepen bonds between me and my beloved friends and community? How I might rise up to thrive through this surprise and maybe write about it so another who faces their own hardships might rise up too?
Bad Karma? Am I working off a debt (as some think) from a long ago demerit placed on my soul? A dirty deed that has boomeranged at my head?
+Is it a spiritual imbalance left too long, as shamanism believes, and now long overdue for some clearing out and aligning?
+Or just time to remove some low vibe matter that my body has no need of, allowing for a higher vibe future?
The Why Kid may never know.
(a page from altered Magic Girl journal, (c) 2021).
Thumbing through an unfinished altered book I made years ago, I was reminded of something I wrote about Fate and destiny:
(altered Magic Girl journal, (c) 2021).
“The choreographer of the spiral dance is our Fate. Fate is a weave of soul blueprint, our unique potentials, combined with patterns laid out from long ago lives and the consequences of feelings, thoughts, choices, actions.
Skills honed over the passage of the ages blend with presented opportunities to advance or lay fallow.
Stitched in are the predispositions of who we are right now; our personality, our nature and nurture, leanings and aversions.
Nestled in our infinite core, Fate is a seed, activated by our free will. Fate then is not an inevitable fortune, or some logical predetermined end, but instead a cosmically potentized body and soul brew of what can be.
Fate, once set in motion can hint of destiny’s direction.
Buried in fertile soil, sprinkled with just the right amount of rain, and warmed with regular doses of sunshine, an acorn can grow into a mighty oak.
But because the variable of free will is involved, the same is true of our destiny.
The steps of our awakening cannot be foretold absolutely.
That acorn stuffed into the squirrel’s cheek becomes nothing more than a tasty snack. Throw in divine intervention and we add another wild card to the mix.
This is what I suspect is happening to me…”
(altered Magic Girl journal, (c) 2021).
These days I’m increasingly interested in the What’s. What do I do with what is given me? What blessing or curse will I nurture? I may not be in control of what shows up on my doorstep, but I can decide how I will respond.
I’ll finish with a quote, and an anthem of sorts for the days ahead + how I would wish to make the most of the brain tumor blessings (B.T.B):
(altered Magic Girl journal, (c) 2021).
Dance to the rhythm of your soul.
Chase dreams growing in your heart.
Believe in your healing process.
Be gentle with yourself.
Be generous with the time it takes to grow.
Remember that our struggles are our testimonies.
I believe in you.
I believe the light is still there when all you see is darkness.
I believe our stories matter.
I believe in hope.
I believe in tomorrow.
There is hope to be found in the blank pages, in the chapters still to be written.
Your book of life is precious.
No one else can tell your story.
Let’s keep writing our stories.
Let’s keep dreaming and hoping.
Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.
My plan here was to pick up where we left off after Part I of my nature and spirit encounter. (If you missed it you can catch up here.) I was going to tell you about how after I left the woodland, crossed the stream and entered the meadow, I spied not one but two young bucks grazing in the tall grasses not thirty feet from me. And how I stopped in my tracks, awestruck. How while one buck couldn’t be bothered, the other whipped his head up and we locked eyes. Me quivering with excitement, him assessing danger levels. I had the impulse to sing to him. As I began, his ears, like a radar dish titled in my direction and he listened. Tears trickled down my cheeks, how much joy can one day bring? Soon enough, he resumed his breakfast and before long the two of them lifted off the way deer do, white tails skyward, legs and feet tucked up and leaping elegantly disappeared beneath a weeping willow swaying in the breeze.
That was my plan.
But instead another story, one that began two weeks ago today is what life had planned. With worsening flu like symptoms and a negative COVID test, I returned for a second time to the emergency room, now with vision problems (imagine looking at your surroundings as if the brightness value on your computer screen was turned up high and one eye unable to detect anything in the lower half of its vision field). After laying on a hallway stretcher for ten hours under nuclear white fluorescent lights and next to the lab tube delivery system (Thwunk! Twhack! Thwunk! Thwack!) we were unceremoniously given the MRI results:
You have a large brain tumor.
I was tempted to look around and see if there was another patient this doctor had mistaken me for. Surely so. No?? It really is my MRI?
Quicksilver blips: Cancer? Skull drilling? Head shaving? Well, if so, Niko and I will just have to get head tat’s together. That made me feel a little better. Ok. Deep breath. Back to the moment.
Time to get me to Boston. But as 2 am rolled around, no one wanted me. No beds available. We decided to try again in a few hours once new discharge orders were posted. Steve crawled home to get a few hours shut eye and mercifully a room opened up here and I cocooned within four walls, a door and even a curtain.
Finally, Tufts Medical Center agreed to take me. I had wanted Mass General, but now was no time to quibble, it felt right. And from this point a high vibe and very tangible wave of excellent care on both sides of the veil began. From Rory and Cory (for real) my EMT ambulance guys (who gave me the siren VIP treatment through the city to cut through traffic and to which they admitted sometimes they use even when they don’t have a patient :)) to each nurse, doctor, bathroom escort and meal deliverer, I felt protected and oddly devoid of fear or worry.
But who had time for that? It was boots on the ground. Tufts MRI with contrast painted the picture more clearly: a 4cm (@1.5in) beast that wrapped itself around the pituitary and carotid arteries and was pressing the left optic nerve. That explained the sickness and rapidly increasing loss of vision. In a matter of hours it was into surgery to relieve the optic nerve, and take out as much tumor as possible and to get tissue for a biopsy. Too dangerous was any attempt to remove the entirety of the mass. But on the plus side, the overall the surgery considered, “low risk”, meant no skull crushing, or head shaving (opting to perform the procedure through the nose, blech).
I took a mental snapshot of Steve just before I was wheeled in to the surgical suite. What ever life I had before was a closed chapter now. What lay ahead was anybody’s guess. We hoped it would be just another boring day at the office for Dr. Safain and team.
(Tufts gifts patients with mandala, puzzle and word search packets complete with colored pencil sets(c). 2021)
Three hours later the news was good- yep. another boring day at the office. My vision returned to normal, and no unexpected concerns.
Biopsy results were another 10 days out. But we cleared all the first hurdles.
Niko came in from New Mexico for a few days-a break from his summer job as a ranger at Philmont, a Boy Scout camp he actually attended as a camper in 2015. The boys surprised me when he came in on my discharge day. We hugged and I wept. We all needed this time together.
Outrageously blessed. My meditation practice was strong and sustained me throughout:
I was Thich Nhat Hahn walking to the bathroom arm in arm with my bathroom escort- heel-toe, heel-toe.
I invented something I call: No Waiting, Be Curious Instead: Oh, how no control a patient has. We can’t get up to raid the frig, pee when we feel nature call, brush our teeth, take a shower, get a drink of water. T.V. too loud next door? Hit the nurse button. Rather than feel like every request was followed by a waiting period, I got curious. What could I hear? What was happening around me right now? How may beeps did my heart monitor make? Could I tell by the sunlight angle what time it was without looking at the clock?
May you be happy
May you be at ease
May you be free from suffering
May you be at peace- was my version.
The hospital was full of suffering. It only felt natural to offer aspirations often.
Breath brought me back to the moment over and over.
The prayers and love of my friends and family felt like filaments of white that surrounded me and I felt wrapped in love. Meals, flowers, cards, rides, texts of encouragement. I am outrageously blessed.
Steve and Niko have been pillars, poor Steve! No rest for the weary but he never complains. Outrageously blessed.
Healing has begun. When I get restless and often times during the wee hours I find ease stitching, coloring, thinking about what new creations I want to experiment with, about the days when I can resume my practice and be with you.
We heard from pathology: benign. It’s possible the tumor remnants will die off on its own with out a blood source. We’re continuing to pray and intend for that option.
I’ll be back soon to visit.
Until then, take good care,
Ramblings of a Wild Magician
musings + adventures along the path…..
My stars, riding on wings of change, hope, liberation, creative inspiration, spirit murmurings, nature messages…. and so much on and in my mind that wants a home. Feels like it needs a dedicated space to nest- right here.
For you who have read my creative writings, or personal sharings that have been sent to you over the years, they will continue on now under this Ramblings page. They may also include poetry, videos, photography….whatever is coming down from the muse. So many of the experiences lately seem to be not just for me, but for all of us and I’d like to put them out for you.
And so, on we go, soul kin + kith!
On Rhamanta: A Sin Eaters Guide to Signs + Messages
Today begins the adventure with a technique I came across in a book I’m devouring, Walking with the Sin Eater: A Celtic Pilgrimage on the Dragon Path by Ross Heaven. I ran across this chronicle online and got chills when I read the title, and that was enough for me to know to order it. I’d not heard of the author before and didn’t think I needed yet another shaman book, but there you have it. To listen to the deeper voice is an ongoing practice.
He speaks of the practice of Rhamanta, the “ancient Celtic practice of taking guidance from nature”:
“..relies on our surrender to chance and destiny. It in its simplest form, it means holding a question in mind and walking out into the fields and forests with a desire only to be led by the whispers of spirit. The flight of birds across a valley, the play of sunlight on leaves, or even a gust of wind might then become significant and provide the answers we are looking for, since …’nature is the visible face of spirit: a way of connecting with intelligent forces who know far more than we do’.”
He suggests, as his mentor in the book, Adam, did, to do a moving meditation with deep, slow breathing, slow steps and letting the eyes go soft and on the ground, with awareness in the belly, like you are being pulled by the land, so as to not feel as if you are guiding yourself.
He further suggests looking for three signs, or “allowing them to find us”. We can then check the information each against the other and then bring them all together to reveal a final answer.
I’ve done many kinds of divination over the years, but the idea of weaving the signs together this way was new and I wanted to give it a try. So on my walk around the town greene I did a modified version. I was walking alert and asking my question when almost immediately nature began to nudge me. You know how it feels when someone is reaching out to you to get your attention? Like that. A sound makes you stop to listen more carefully, or an object stands out in stark relief, or like it is glowing or willing you to notice it.
I had this happen three times during the course of my walk and then as if to underscore it all, a fourth that catches my attention and breath, causing me to stop in my tracks and listen with joy. In the words of my dear friend and Irish author, Grace Clunie:
“The wild Goose was a symbol of ‘Spirit presence’ for Celtic Christians. The symbol is about the strange cry of the Goose as it flies- usually ‘appearing out of the blue’ and startling the hearer- it’s an eerie unearthly sound. In the same way Spirit comes to us often unexpectedly, startling us, waking us up our to our mediocrity. Helping us to see the miracles in the mundane. “
So while I won’t go into my question itself, I did feel that 2 of the signs were meant to give you today:
The images above of the heart shaped impression on the sidewalk is one that instructs us to “walk a path of heart to be fulfilled and on course.” Whatever that means to you. For me, it is to be true to oneself, yes, and to come from a deeper place in these days, of the heart, rather than merely the intellect or mind. It is about living more deeply and taking our challenges to that place for guidance, which can be difficult when we don’t necessarily want to be in that gracious space….but yet it is the one we are all being invited to center ourselves in and from….I also think it relates to how “the heart of America is getting a chance to grow with the new President.”
Sign # 2
The Canada Hemlock
The two of them photographed felt like a gateway, portal to another awareness for sure. But there is also some lovely magic I learned about them while researching:
“Hemlocks as a means of warmth and heat
Hemlock as an aid to magical transformation
Hemlock magically growing from a needle and offering aid”
“Message: This is a time of change and movement. By approaching change with grace, we allow life to unfold before us without fear or anxiety. This may indicate that moving or travel is necessary to help gain a new perspective on a current situation. This is also a time to focus on long-term planning and visioning as you go with the flow in the present.
Challenge: Rigidity and inability to relax. Trying to control what is happening now and feeling ineffectual. Work with hemlock to loosen up and flow with more grace and ease.”
How spot on is this?
When I gathered all the messages / signs together, I did find they came together in a way I could pull from and not only was it reassuring, but meaningful. I had not encountered Hemlock on this level before, in fact how many times had I looped around the greene not having paid these two any mind?! Today when I saw them I greeted them and went over to visit for a bit.
So there you have it. If you have yet to open to this dimension of relationship with nature I encourage you to give it a try, even if you ask a more general question like, “Do you have a message for me today?” And see what happens.
See you soon for another Rambling….
To our wild magic lives,