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Miracles on my Journey to the World Domination Summit

Miracle #1

It's four weeks before the World Domination Summit.  I've been dreaming for a year, waiting for months, saving for the ticket to Portland, Oregon I am about to buy.  There is absolutely no practical reason I should be spending on a ticket or a trip but I try to forget practicality and groceries  and kids' shoes because I want my life to be so much bigger, I need to go further than this day to day.  I have dreams.  I have plans.

Our still-hyper two-year old puppy so wants to run into the big wide world beyond the leash, beyond the fenced-in yard.  She grew up on a farm after all.  Oh, how I understand her yearning to be free.  She gets out one day as the kids come in from school and I hear the car wheels screech on our busy street, see her tossed like some ragdoll across the road, move forward to pick her up, sick knot in my stomach.

The kids and I wait at the emergency vet hospital, nervous.  I know the plane ticket money is the only extra I have.  I am grateful I have it, even more grateful when the vet comes to tell us our beloved dog is just fine.

We call her superdog, the cat-dog with nine lives,  shed tears and swear it's a miracle.  But I know Imma need another one soon if I want to get to Portland.

Miracle #2

I give it up to the Universe, throw up both my hands, and hope I can pull off making up the savings to get the ticket.  I get another job working 2 nights a week teaching music lessons, half goes to the babysitter.  I answer an ad on Craigslist and sell buttons at political rallies, I even tell the customers that of course I support their candidate, not the other guy, throw up in my mouth a little.  I tell myself I can hustle.  I look for a third job.

I go to the food shelf because I don't have enough $ after bills for groceries this week or last week or next week.  I remember I am so grateful for a list of things that goes on forever and this too shall pass and when my son says Mommy are we poor? I say we are rich in all the ways it matters because we have so much love.  And that's the fucking truth.

WDS is now only a couple of weeks away.  My best friend calls, the only person in my life who knows how important this trip is to me because it represents freedom, adventure, service, and he says you are still going, right?  I say I don't think so.

I swallow my fear and ask for a loan from a close family member.  I cross my fingers.  He says yes, but that I won't need to pay him back.  I jump up and down and cry.  I'm gonna make it.

Miracle #3

I step on the plane in CMH en route to PDX.  Even as I am boarding I cross my fingers that nothing stops me from taking off.  I know all too well that at any time I may have to surrender to the overarching call of motherhood.

Miracle #4

Portland is a revelation.  The weather is perfect.

I'm staying at a hostel, which I haven't done since I was backpacking in Europe during college, and I am loving every second of it even though I manage to contract a nasty lung infection on my trip (and surely keep all 5 other people awake all night in my room with my snoring).  Nothing can bring me down at this point.  Every moment, every speaker inspires, motivates, and activates me.  I am surrounded by people who are saying YES to life.

It is a magnificent whirlwind and every minute worthwhile, but I can't be more surprised when we are presented with the $100 Investment.

Because I have been dreaming about how I can make a bigger contribution to the world, and how can I as a single mom with meager resources and daunting responsibilities?

But now here I am charged with this $100 bill and I know it is slated for just this purpose.  I won't touch it, not even if the dog gets hit by a car again (which, by the way would be the 3rd time).

Not until I know it will multiply 1,000-fold to bring greater freedom, adventure, and service to my family's life and the lives of many others.  And you better believe I am thinking about how I can help empower other single moms not only to get food on the table but also to believe in themselves, to remember that miracles exist everyday, and sometimes, yes, our dreams come true too.

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The Year of the Water Dragon

  • The Year of the Water Dragon

    Photo by Oimax

    I have a very special relationship to a certain water dragon, I wrote about it all here, and I am inspired to dive into the water and journey with this awesome creature again this year.  Sometimes all we need is a powerful symbol or nighttime dream to catalyse our movement again.  There will a be a lot of motion, water flows uninhibited this year, and I for one am stoked for the wild ride.

    Today I plan on cleaning up some old business to make way for the new.  I will be freshening up the sacred spaces in my heart and my home to make room for my dreams to move in with their stunning surprises.  I don't know just what they will look like but I want to welcome them all the same.  Below  are some ways you can follow along with the celebration yourself.

    Special thanks to my dreaming friend Anna who reminded me of this important celebration of Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist new year on February 22 which ushers in the Year of the Water Dragon. Traditional (Tibetan) celebrations begin on February 19 and end two weeks after February 22.

    The Year of the Water Dragon  is a time when powerful forces will culminate to transform our reality. We can use this time to make great changes, dismanteling destructive habit patterns in order to estabish greater virtue and wellbeing. Or, if we are not prepared, the forces may overwhelm us and create chaos and upheaval. Tibetan astrology offers great insight into the forces at work as well as the elemental forces at play.

    February 19 is dedicated to cleaning the house, in particular one's personal shrine or altar. This is the time to clean out the clutter in one's home, get rid of things one does not need, and especially giving one's shrine a thorough cleaning. Removing any last vestiges of the old year's residue, making way for renewed energy and potential.

    February 20 - performing rituals to cleanse negativity

    February 21 - decorating and beautifying one's house, preparing goodies to eat and drink.

    February 22 - celebrating with friends.

    The first two weeks of the new year - known as the moon's rising time - are considered especially auspicious for undertaking any new activity, particularly practice and retreat. New business ventures, marriages, travel, etc., etc., are favored at this time.

    Will you be celebrating Losar?  How will you clean house to make way for the Year of the Water Dragon?  Let me know in the comments!

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Big Ideas and Tempting Fantasies

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): "Not to dream boldly may turn out to beirresponsible," said educator George Leonard. I certainly think that will be true for you in the coming months, Taurus. In my astrological opinion, you have a sacred duty not only to yourself, but also to the people you care about, to use your imagination more aggressively and expressively as you contemplate what might lie ahead for you. You simply cannot afford to remain safely ensconced within your comfort zone, shielded from the big ideas and tempting fantasies that have started calling and calling and calling to you.-- Rob Breszny

So this  year was a real bitch, but I am ready to take 2012 and make it my love slave.  How 'bout you?

Over the past few years I have always done a little retrospective in December and along with my bff made my Mondo Beyondo list.  Some of these big dreams have come true and some have fallen behind, but as we usher in this new era I feel more and more compelled to follow my dreams in a radical new way, despite all of the IFs I feel I have.  We all have those things holding us back, but I intend to make 2012 the year I conquer the excuses and move into the life I want to create for myself and my children.

If you haven't noticed,  there is a massive movement of brilliant people creating the lives of their dreams and at the same time spreading the word online about how they are doing it.    People who believe we can change the world by doing work we love.  Like Leo  and Scott, and Chris and Kelly and Danielle and Kate and so many more of my online heroes who are rocking my world with their insights.  Every day I receive inspiration in my mailbox, and my favorite topics revolve around the things I am working on as well such as getting out of debt, weight loss and healthy living, finding bliss and happiness, dreams, and whatever else comes to mind any given day.

The Ananda Project is all about expansion.  What we focus on expands.  I have not officially launched the project yet, I am still in preparation here on the blog, but this coming year it will be one of my main focuses up there with feeding the fam, getting out of debt, and some other things I am narrowing down to.

If you could have your ideal life, what would it look like?  Not what you think you should have but what you really want.  I am envisioning mine and working towards it,  and in a couple of posts I will be setting my intentions.  Wanna join me?  Post yours and let us know about them in the comments.

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Learning to Heal Toxic Thoughts

About a month ago now I moved almost 1000 miles with my 2 kids and our dog, bringing with us to Ohio only what we could fit in our Toyota Matrix wagon.  Almost all of our furniture and goods we donated to another single mom who had just moved out of the local women's shelter and into an apartment of her own.  As I helped her load her van with most of our collected household items, I knew that each little piece of possessions would be cherished and utilized, and each dollar she saved by receiving these things was going to go to feed and clothe her family.  I saw the survival in her eyes, and I was glad to be a part of hers, though I may not have been able to convey that I truly understood. I quit a well-paying job, left a community of beloved friends, even passed up a music opportunity I'd been waiting on for almost a dozen years, all because I knew that at this difficult time in life it would be better to be near family.  Better for me and my kids.

All of this change has left me reeling.  Stripped of possessions and things and a place to call my own, I am left to contemplate the directions my life is taking, the choices I am making.  Fear rears its head and inside my mind a litany of toxic thoughts takes up residence.  They tell me I am no good, ugly, fat, poor, a failure, a bad mom,washed up, the black sheep . . . on and on.

Add to that the insult of a terrible back injury and my monkey mind went to town creating a toxic web of traps.

After about a week of that I decided it was time to take action and turn them around.  Luckily I stumbled upon an author who addresses this common issue with compassion and good solid advice.  I have been reading "How to Heal Toxic Thoughts" by Sandra Ingerman by way of my dream teacher, Robert Moss.  Thankfully with a little vigilance and repetition, the negative thoughts are getting easier to tame.

Another powerful method I used, thanks to Robert's teachings, was simply asking my dreams to assist me.  Basically it means that before sleeping I ask for the answer to a particular problem to come by way of my dreams.  Sometimes, more often than not, it requires multiple nights of requesting before any light is shed, but this issue came clear in a couple of nights, and sometimes the problem is solved by the dreaming, leaving me free of the issue altogether in the morning and after.

How do your dreams help you?  Has there been a significant healing dream in your life?

P.S. I will tell you about that dream in my next post . . . in the meantime I am enjoying the beautiful retreat pictured above, a literal paradise in Ohio, Blue Heron Farm.

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What I Learned So Far

What I Learned So Far (by Mary Oliver) Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside, looking into the shining world? Because, properly attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion. Can one be passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a story, all kindness begins with the sown seed. Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of light is the crossroads of— indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

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How to Crush the Self-Doubt and Follow Your Bliss

 

 

Even as we go through the ups and downs of life we need to lift our noses above the water level and smell the beautiful salty air.  Life can't all be about survival or entertainment, we have to find our bliss within the quiet space of our interior voices.  I have been working to follow mine, and I was recently interviewed by the amazing Ria Sharon of the fabulous My Mommy Manual community.  When you get a chance, check it out and let me know your thoughts on that interview or share how you are following your bliss. 

In other news, The Musicians' Assistant just listed a gig at Sonicbids, a website that helps bands connect with people who book or license music. The Sonicbids online community is made up of over 210,000 emerging artists and 19,000 promoters from over 100+ countries worldwide!   I've been working on this for a while now, and I am excited for this new adventure. 

I am a big fan of the blog Postpartum Progress , "the most widely-read blog in the U.S. on depression & anxiety during pregnancy & postpartum."  Yesterday a post on the blog addressing the self-doubt that accompanies PPD really hit home for me.  Of course we all have our obstacles in this arena, but as the article points out, it can be devastatingly amplified for a mother living with PPD.  I have found this to be true for myself, and thank the stars for articles and websites like this that help those suffering in silence to find words for their pain.  Depression is widely misunderstood, and for those of us living with it, the misunderstandings and misperceptions of society as a whole (not to mention friends and family) can lead to even more isolation and inner turmoil.  Read the whole article here , it was a welcome revelation for me!  Please refer anyone you think may need it to Postpartum Progress today.

PRE-ORDER MOTHERSONGS TODAY!:

Here are some awesome ways you can pre-order the new CD, MotherSongs, get some beautiful music, and also help me fulfill this dream (crush my self-doubt and follow my bliss)! There are some other incentives as well:

You can order any of these options:

Everybody who pledges receives a download of the project when it is complete. Additional exclusives include: 1. CD -delivered to your mailbox as soon as it is manufactured $12 2. Signed CD -delivered to your mailbox as soon as I have a chance to sign them $15 3. Signed CD and new Book of Poetry to be released later this year $30 4. Your name in the credits -with a special thank you $50

5. A song about you-I will write a song just for you or someone you love $300 6. Executive producer credit -your name on the album as Executive Producer $500 7. House concert (anywhere in the world) -Your own personal concert, anywhere $1,000

Order NOW through PAYPAL: send me a "gift" through paypal to heidihowes@hotmail.com and specify what you would like to order from the list above

or

Send a Check or Money Order directly to me at 1427 Burnley Square N, Columbus, OH, 43229 and be sure to let me know what you would like.

or

Call me on the PHONE baby, and I can take your card over the phone, or we can just catch up. 715-209-0122

I have shifted the release date to May, so you can still order, and I need about $1000 more to hit my mark and finish the final touches.

Love, Love, LOVE to all of you,

Heidi

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The Dreaming Guard

There's a bad-ass full moon, it's the middle of the night, and I am ready to let go the dreaming guard.

All week I have been putting off opening my Mondo Beyondo list because I wanted to do it by myself, when I could sip tea at my altar and meditate and when it felt like the "right time".

Truth is, I am scared as hell to open it.

See all this year I have been striving to trust in the power of dreams to show me the way in life, because I am f-ing lost. Nighttime dreams, recurring dreams, nightmares, dream stories, meditative dreams, daydreams -- and now the big life dreams that we are exploring in Mondo Beyond class, the dreams about who I am and how I can best serve in the world with my own uniqueness, and most importantly to me right now, how I can feed my family.

I used to take dreaming for granted. I used to assume my dreams would come true and know that I could make it so, or that they would fall into my lap without much apparent effort on my part.

Yet, as life has turned into *LIFE* and I miraculously learned/earned the experience and gift of deep suffering, some parts of my dreaming spirit have been caged. Caged by poverty, depression, and the ensuing isolation those two things have brought into my experience. Caged by the thoughts that there is not enough of what I need to make my dreams come true.

When you lack resources, when your mind is ill and can't see beyond darkness, it is that much harder to believe in dreams.

But this story has been told many times before. And I don't (am trying not to) buy it.

Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . . I may be poor right now, but I am not poor in spirit. Spirit is my mojo and I've got that waking me up in the middle of the night to read this list (my wildest and most mundane dreams all in one): insert abra cadabra

Mondo Beyondo 2010:

Live in Italy for a year and sing Learn Italian Have peace, Happiness, and Joy in my Heart Help people heal Write Books Make the Movie Be more psychic Write a poem every day Build an ashram or retreat center Build a music/writing studio Own a gorgeous and spacious home Beat depression for good Lose 50 pounds Run a marathon Get my yoga instructor certification Visit Swamiji in Nepal Find true joy Be a great mom Make enough money to GIVE LOTS Visit my friends in Germany Have my music featured in Roliing Stone Get a book publishing deal write songs every day Be my own hero Have a 3rd child (this one was written very small at the very end, as if uttered in a very small voice)

The dreaming guard has been let go and I have to remind myself: Be vulnerable, be brave, be flexible, be open, be trusting.

What are your wildest dreams? Do you have a mondo beyondo?

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I believe in magic

What you are about to read is from November, 2008 -- a journal entry I stumbled upon today that made me smile and reminded me that what I need comes in mysterious ways. Here is a letter I wrote to the editor of the local newspaper today, I have never done that before! I hope it gets printed but if not, here it is.

Dear Editor and Community, November 23, 2008

I have lived here in the Bay area for most of my adult life, since I began attending Northland College in 1995. As a musician and music teacher I have met many people here and have a true love for the region’s community spirit and slow, simple pace.

About 3 weeks ago I received a surprising letter in the mail with no return address, no signature to identify the sender, and a Port Wing postmark. Folded inside the short letter were two $50 bills. The letter read:

“Dear Heidi, November 3, 2008

As a way of expressing our gratitude for a life filled with love, health, a beautiful environment, creativity, and every simple necessity, we’ve decided to begin indirectly supporting our community using the network of knowledge and compassion represented by people, like you, who have inspired us with their work, friendship, philanthropy, or spirit.

Thanks Heidi.”

When I got this letter in the mail, I was dumbfounded. Breathless. Delighted. Speechless. Giddy. Downright befuddled. And once again in awe of humanity! Such a sweet secret way of being told I have done something to inspire another and that they see me, my worth, my special something. Not to mention the glaring fact that just that day an urgent financial need had presented itself for which there seemed no apparent solution -- until your timely letter came!

Thank you with all my heart to my anonymous supporters, whoever you are. You give me hope for miracles and lift my voice to share the beauty of your act. You remind me that amazing, wonderful things happen each day and go largely unnoticed. May all who read this receive the blessing of such a loving gift as well and pass it on!

Sincerely,

Heidi Howes

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My Secret Energy Sources (for those times when I forget).

Do you have something small, even silly perhaps, that is guaranteed to jump start your day or pull you out of a funk? I cited my list of natural energizers in the essay above. Set the timer for five minutes. Make a short list of small, micro-energizing activities that you’re always glad about after the fact. Hand write your list and post it somewhere you can see it every day. From Mondo Beyondo Make coffee. Shower/Bathe. Call a dear friend. Read poetry. Journal. Pick up the guitar and sing. Write a song. Play piano. Listen to powerful music. Clean. Write a letter. Look at photos. Go outside. Breathe. Yoga. Make a gratitude list. Meditate. Metta. Bake something. Cook soup. Give. Love. Smile. Laugh with my children. Dance. Talk with my husband. Write.

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Ready or Not, Here I Come

I love the New Year, just like I love Mondays and mornings and how there is always a new beginning whenever we want it. I love starting over and reaffirming the strive, yearning for something closer to authentic, uncluttering my head and heart of the unneccessary that is holding me back. Therefore, my friends, Happy New Year! I have been peaking into the blogging world for years now, and one of my resolutions for 2010 is to post regularly (once per week is the commitment!) and build the readership here at MotherSongs, along with the release of the MotherSongs CD, and later this year a new book of poetry. I have been longing to add writing to my schedule again, so with brute force and will I am making it so. RIGHT NOW.

So you don't have anything to say, Howes? It will come. I am trusting in that and moving forward anyway.

What are you longing for? What are you willing to change to get at it this year? What dreams are you chasing and how do you plan to tackle them? Leave a comment and let me know so we can support each other!

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Dreaming Mondo Beyondo

colour_birdDo you ever see something that someone is doing and have a desperate wish to do that same thing? But it doesn't fit into your life, you tell yourself, you are too busy or not good enough or the kids aren't old enough or there isn't enough money . . . all of these thoughts and some legitimate concerns keep you from taking the next step.   Keep you from listening to that voice.  So the place inside you that longs to live, to follow your dreams, to take a creative leap out of the every day existence you have built to be comfortable and predictable and workable--it goes back to sleep.

I experience this feeling fairly often.  Mostly when I hear a really great recording and I wish I had my songs out there in the world for other people to listen to everyday.  Or when I read a really great blog post by a Mom I admire who is pushing to live her dreams and seems to be doing it well like Andrea or Heather.   In fact, I have been reading blogs like this for years, since I was pregnant with Luka,  and these ladies seem so together and so successfull and so alive! 

Someone once told me that we feel envious or jealous or sad or angry around other artists because we may wish we were honoring those parts within ourselves.  This is something that I commonly experience on the artist end of things when people have a very visceral experience of anger or annoyance with what I do.  I realize that they have issues and try not to take it personally, or think that I suck too bad.

But this morning I let myself say it. 

Not out loud yet.  I want this.  I want it bad.  This is what I want.  How can I get it?

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Works in Progress

There are so many exciting new things in the making!  I am happily overwhelmed with the abundance of good work I have in progress: 

  • The Musician's Assistant is getting off the ground and organized to the tune of starting my website at www.themusiciansassistant.com --bought the domain today, woot!
  •  I am working on finalizing the new book of poems, Mothersongs
  • finishing the Mothersongs album in October in Wisconsin
  • producing new songs with Jeff Ciampa here in Columbus in preparation
  • for the album after Mothersongs which is already partially written. 
  • new Kindermusik classes start in September
  • looking forward to playing more gigs in Ohio and writing new songs!

So much more, so much fun.

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Taniwha and the Blue Lake of Healing

taniwhaOn September 16, 2005 I had a nightmare that flashed like lightning through my life and forever changed me.  I awoke from the dream at 4 a.m.with no recollection except for the terror shaking my body and the sound of a monstrous splash.  Pulling my 18-month old son to my breast for his night feeding, I shut my eyes against the vision.  As I closed again to sleep I imagined the tip of a cold, heavy tail of some great scaled monster brush my cheek and fix itself to the curve of my shoulder, as if to begin to carry me away. That morning was strange as I woke to the same everyday stuff I was accustomed to with a small child and a husband in our small town home.  But I was in the most awful, angry mood.  At 10 am the repairman came to fix the thermostat as nights had begun to get cold in Northern Wisconsin, and I went about playing with my toddler and making small talk with the furnace guy.  My mood had begun lifting slightly when the phone rang and my father's secretary spoke on the other line.

"Heidi, this is Mrs. Wynn, " she said.  "I'm so sorry.  There's been an accident."

The rest of the conversation was a blur as she told me about the car accident that almost took my father's life while he was vacationing in New Zealand.  My father who was a picture of health at 54 with all 4 of his children just grown and out of the house;  my father the Christian Scientist whose advanced directive clearly states DO NOT RESCUSCITATE;  my father whose head just collided at 100 mph with the bumper of a Land Rover.  The repairman stood half frozen in horror and awkwardly but sweetly asked if there was anything he could do, witnessing the phone call tragedy of a stranger's life, and my young son tried to cheer me as I frantically absorbed the news and went about delivering it to my 3 siblings and figuring out what the hell to do.

In this alternate reality of crisis, a whole world opens up and begins to show itself anew.  The body and mind are hyperaware, and we easily see how all things are connected.  In my dream-like state I remember that just 2 weeks before I took my young family 1000 miles to Ohio to visit my father, the last time we would see him whole, how all my siblings gathered in a rare and precious weekend together, and how he peculiarly happened to rise so early on that morning that we left in the car just to say "I love you" one more time.  I will never forget how I felt when I looked at him standing on his porch in his robe waving, nor how, while driving away, I said to my husband  "Why do I feel like this might be the last time I will see him?" 

It's Friday and I am still on the phone, making arrangements to fly to New Zealand.  Saturday morning we are off to Ohio where my son and husband will stay with my mother-in-law for 2 weeks, and my sister and I embark from Columbus, Ohio on Saturday evening, making it to Dunedin on the South Island by Sunday evening.

While on the plane I listen to soothing music as if it is saving my very life, keeping me afloat within the rushing river of fear and grief and pain over the uncertainty of Dad's fate.  I dream again of a serpent-bird-dragon that tattooes the whole of my left arm, circling around and around me forever, guarding me.

The rest of the story is hard to tell.  My father lay in the ICU looking like nothing we had ever seen before, nor could have imagined.  His skull was fractured in multiple places, both his wrists and right hip shattered, and tubes of all forms emerged from his skull and body like some long, living tentacles.  We sang him songs and prayed and read him his favorite passages from the bible.  We asked the doctors questions they could not answer, tried to find some peace in the beauty of the island, and listened to our father's girlfriend tell us the story of how she held his head together to keep him alive for 90 minutes while the EMS tried to free him from the tiny rental car.

One of those first days in New Zealand my sister and I called home to our brothers and begged them to come be with us.  The doctor had said that he was touch and go but there was a good chance he would live, and so our 2 brothers chose to stay at home and said that they were at peace with whatever happened to Dad.  My sister and I were shocked because we wanted them there, felt sure that Dad needed them too. Of course, there are many reasons why someone wouldn't fly across the world spontaneously, but if there ever was a good one, this was it.  Somehow in their decision to stay behind we felt they missed a crucial piece of the experience and if Dad did die, that they might never forgive themselves.  Or that we might never forgive them.

In those two weeks in New Zealand, I felt the presence of something huge and awesome in its power, something protecting and guiding me that I had never before experienced.  I was never afraid.  I was never alone.  There always seemed to be something pulling me along.  I walked the streets of Dunedin looking at the people, and it seemed on every street corner there appeared large, hulking men with tattooed faces, the Maori Ta moko markings that some say are maps to the spirit world.  They were everywhere, and every time looking directly into my eyes with what seemed a warrior-like compassion.  What might have otherwise been strange or fearful was comforting and delightful.  They seemed to be my sentries and guards in this world down under. . . .

I found my way by curious circumstance to a tattoo parlor named "Visual Intelligence".  Owned by a young Maori man named Aaron Manuel, I knew when I walked in that this was the man meant to tattoo me.  I told him I had had a vision of an animal, something like our North American Natives' thunderbird -- sometimes friend, sometimes foe -- but that the bird was also like a snake.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it, yet he knew exactly what it was, something I had never even heard of:  a Taniwha (Tuhn-ifa).

This dragonlike creature is so revered by the Maori people that as recently as the year 2000, a large road construction project that was being planned through an area believed to be inhabited by a legendary taniwha was moved so as to not disturb the creature's habitat.  This must've been the powerful creature that splashed out of the ocean in my dream and curled its tail around me to carry me and my sister against all odds across the world to reunite with our father.     

Sure enough, Aaron Manuel searched for the legendary taniwha that would be my tattoo and spiritual protector, and the first story he came across was one about a chief's daughter who is lost at sea.  The chief begs the Taniwha to save his daughter and bring her back to him.  The taniwha does.

My relationship with my father was close, but so difficult and strange I couldn't make a move in life without fear of what he might think.  His anger while raising us was so explosive and unpredictable that even as he lay comotose and casted, I still feared getting close to him.  This was a great burden on my heart,  for all I ever wanted was to be able to call him Daddy, to hold him close and love him dearly without fear keeping me at distance.  Each time I had tried to do this through my life I had been deeply hurt by him, most likely unbeknownst to him, and so the cycle continued year after year.  In New Zealand while singing at my father's bedside, my greatest fear was not so much that he would leave us in death, but that my walls might not come down soon enough to show him how much I truly loved him before he went.  I needed something to bring me back to him.

It has now been four years since my Dad's accident and he lives in Ohio in my childhood home.  His then girlfriend is now his wife, and graciously cares for him as he slowly recovers from the severe brain injuries he suffered in the New Zealand accident.  The miscommunications my siblings and I have had with his wife have been excruciating, to say the least, and along with the many hardships that come in facing the loss of a loved one as you knew them, we have all struggled to find a place in our father's new life since he returned from New Zealand 3 months after his accident.

My small family moved back to Ohio this year to be closer, and now my husband and I have a second child , a daughter who is almost 3.  My siblings have all slowly moved back to town as well and yet we often still drag our feet on visiting our father.  He is a stranger with strange delusions, memories,  and moods, but if we are lucky sometimes we can glimpse a slight view of the man we once knew.  Relations with his wife have been so strained that many times I picked up the phone to call only to set it down as quickly for fear that she might answer the phone.  It has been a heavy and hard burden because in our grief, and in the feelings of being ostracized from his life by his new wife, we have in some ways let go of him.

This is a story deep and dark and glorious that needs to be told.  It is a story filled with despair and yet brimming with hope.  This is how I see it.  They told us we'd be lucky if he could brush his own teeth, yet he cooks meals and plays with his grandchildren, plays piano.  He loves movies that make him want to cry and remembers things that I never knew about him, like that he always wanted to be a world class singer and a film critic.

Last week I had a vision in a workshop with the dream teacherRobert Moss.  He invited us to journey to the Blue Lake of Healing which was told by Cherokee legend to be a real place where animals, spirits, and people alike could seek real healing.  This lake lies just above the clouds and can be accessed in our dreams or visions or when guided there by a real shaman versed in soul healing like Moss himself.  In my dream I see blood on the ground, and I go in search of the animal who is wounded.  I see above me on the trail a young female gorilla who is bleeding from a wound in the left side of her abdomen.  She swings herself up the path swiftly, and I follow her in a rush.  As we arive at the Lake it is there, just above the clouds, just as Robert said it would be, and it is beautiful and clear as can be.  I see the gorilla belly flop herself into the water as if she can't possibly go any further and has collapsed, but when she emerges she is free of blood and full of energy, walks herself out of the water to the white sandy beach and sits, looking at me, as if to say go on in.  

Timidly I approach the water and then finally dive in, feeling the cool renewal enter my body as if all the tension and weight of this life have been completely relieved.  Then I invite my friends who have been hurting and whose pain is close to my heart.  I bring my husband and we  swim together and we are so happy.

Then I see him.  My Dad is here!  He is healthy and standing straight up, he is diving with such vigor into the water, off a diving board.  His smile is radiant and his laugh is contagious.  He flips his short black hair back when he comes out of the water, rubs his eyes and laughs.  This is how I remember him, the best of him, and I feel my heart squeeze in relief for this time with him again.  He gathers us together on the sand, suddenly my brothers are there, sitting beside him, and our spouses and my sister.  My brothers are finally crying the tears that I wish for them to heal their pain, my father is holding them and comforting them as if to say You see, I am here, I am still your father, the one you know in your heart.  All is well.   You can find me here anytime you like.  I am never far away.  Come to me here where we will always be together, playing and laughing. 

The love I feel in this place is more real than any I know in the shadow world of waking where everything is less bright and more fettered with form.  My healing is real, as Robert said it would be, and when I wake from the drumming I feel as if the taniwha has kissed me once again, on the forehead, saying Yes, child, you knew this was here all along.  Now come back again and take this healing into the world.  Wake up to the real world of your imagination where you can always find what you are looking for.

This past week I woke up on a Friday and felt pulled again by some unseen force.  I dragged my feet.  I had been avoiding going to see my Dad because he didn't show up to the Memorial Day BBQ my sister planned for him where all of us waited and waited and he didn't come.  It was incredibly painful and he never returned my calls so I felt rejected plus add to that the fact that his wife's moods are unpredictable and I always find myself upset by something that she says or does whenever I see her.  Nonetheless I get up, forego working, steer the car North, to my Dad's house, the place where all my dreams take place, where mostly lately I am angry with him because I don't understand why this task has been given to us.  He is so unrecognizable!  How do I start over with him?

I go to the door and knock.  I bring my own lunch so as not to impose.  I am so nervous.  They are surprised to see me but if I try to set up a time to get together I don't get called back so I just show up today. 

I stay for a long time. 

We talk.  We cry.  We sing music together.  I begin to understand things in a different way than before.  Something shifts.  When I leave 5 hours later I have been somehow changed by the exchange, and again my father is teaching me, teaching me.  I call my brothers, I call my sister.  I say let's get together.  Sunday evening.  Let's talk about Dad, something we haven't done in 4 years.  They agree. 

Perhaps my dreams may still come true.

taniwha2 . . .

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