Thursday, July 12, 2012

Birth, Life, Death

  “When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” ~Buddha

​How do you decide on which story to tell about your life? I see the stories in my life as this huge tapestry woven together with golden threads. To extract only one story you will see golden tendrils hanging down from the side that leads you to the next story. ​I stand in awe at the love and care the UNIVERSE has for me. Down to the smallest detail!

Everything has worked out for my highest good. I have been placed at the exact spot with the exact people and experiences I need. I believe we get to choose what life lesson we want to work on when we come to earth. For me this time here I believe I have chosen to learn about the Birth, Life, Death cycle.

​I was born to grieving parents. My brother two years older then I lived 11 short days on earth. He was born on December 18th, 1961 and transitioned on to a different plane December 29th, 1961. Looking back I have to wonder at every Christmas and New Years exactly what must have my parents have been going through. Christmas was always made very special for us 6 kids by my mom. I know it was her favorite holiday. She would plan all year for this holiday. At my dads funeral my mom’s best friend when she was growing up shared with me a memory she had of my mom and Christmas. My mom was an only child and after she would open her presents she would rush to this friend’s house to share in the excitement of their Christmas in her large family.

We still celebrate in the tradition my mom created with a huge celebration at a motel swimming, laughing and eating for a whole weekend! My brother was buried on New Years Eve. My mom always went to bed early that night. I could not understand at the time why she would not want to stay up and celebrate with us. My mom talked very little about her grief with my brother. Once she did share that she thought it was easier on her losing him as a baby then it would have been if he was older.

When she was laying in the hospital in Richmond IN dying of leukemia at the age of 62 she wrote all of us letters to be opened after her funeral. In mine she wrote “I remember taking the best care of me and my baby because I had lost Baby Chris.” 36 years after he died and on her death bed he was still heavy on her mind.

​My maternal grandmother died at the age of 65 and my mom at the age of 62. I was 33 when my mom died. It made me reflect on my life and all that I did not like about it. I decided that if my life was already half over then I did not want to continue living it the way it was. So I began the CHANGE.

​I had two dreams where my then husband and I were in a vehicle with my two youngest children, Bethany and Alex. We went off the edge into water. I was able to rescue my kids from drowning both times but could not save my husband. I knew it meant my two oldest kids would not be going with me either. So the tough decision to get a divorce was made.

​I had been a teacher of children at the different churches we had attended for the past 19 years. I loved teaching kids. My pastor at the time came to where I worked and told me that since I was getting a divorce and divorce was a sin I was no longer allowed to teach at church. My view of religion was dropped on the floor and shattered.

​Having been married at the age of 18 and then married for 18 years. I was very scared to make this step but I knew I had to. I needed to “save” my children. It was not an easy decision and I tell everyone “divorce is hell” no matter what the circumstances that it takes place with. My oldest son Mark had recently found out he was going to be a father so he decided to stay with his dad when I went onto hiding until I felt it was safe for me to return. My son Andrew also decided to stay. He never liked change of any kind. My two youngest children ventured with their mom to various places until the judge ordered my soon to be ex-husband out of our house.

​Our house was sold and I moved to another one in the same town for a year. I felt like I had just been let out of prison and I was enjoying all the freedoms I had never had before. It was a fun, crazy time that I would not trade for anything. But that time is one of those golden tendrils that lead to a multitude of stories that I do not have time to share here. Maybe one day in a saucy novel, names changed to protect the innocent!!!!

​I had decided to return to college to finish my bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I wanted to use my art and psychology in art therapy. One of the guys that I was dating at that time was a tremendous help. Listening and reflecting wisdom back to me. I had been debating moving to Muncie where my college was at or driving back and forth. I didn’t know if I should up root my kids, and change jobs. He told me to follow my heart and showed me that my kids make friends very easily. ​I headed to Muncie! Not sure when I decided this if I would have a job, or a place to stay. It all worked out perfectly, we received a 3 bedroom family apartment in campus housing and I transferred to the Wal-Mart there, the same amount of pay with fewer responsibilities. So began the journey of a single mom, attending college full time and working full time. ​In retrospect I can see that the UNIVERSE wrapped its loving arms around me.

New Years Eve 2000/2001.
I was waiting on this same guy friend to come so we could go to a party with my sister. He was late and he wasn’t answering his phone. I was getting pissed! Finally the phone rang. But on it was my dad telling me my 15 year old daughter had been in an accident and they were flying her by helicopter to Ft. Wayne. Wow if my friend had come and we would have gone to the party I would not have been home to get this phone call. When I arrived at the hospital they would not let me see my daughter until the chaplain came to take me. What? I was sitting there in the emergency room waiting area, watching the ball drop on the television in Times Square.  I looked at my friend Barb and said “I can’t do this. I can’t bury my daughter.” When I was allowed back to see her she was strapped to a board and covered in blood, she had multiple fractures and almost every internal organ was damaged. She was conscious, I leaned over her face and she said to me “Mom, if anything happens just remember I love you.” Then she looked at the emergency workers taking care of her and said “Damn it, I told you to get me something to drink!” We all laughed and I knew she was going to be okay. She spent the next 10 days in extensive care and months at home recuperating. The details of this event are also another golden tendril hanging from the side of this story.

​November, 2003
“I am going to the store to get you some groceries but I don’t know what to buy.” My friend Wendy said to me. “Just follow your spirit, you will know.” This sentence slipped past my lips with such ease I knew the words were not my own.  She returned a little while later and placed the bags on the table. She reached into one and walked toward me “I had to get these for you.” She gently placed some pears in hands. Tears began to flow freely down my cheek. My mind flashed back to my sister saying the same thing to my son Andrew at our family Christmas gatherings. Pears were his favorite. He had died in an auto accident a few days before this at the age of 18. This was the reason my friend was buying groceries for me. When my sobbing slowed down Wendy told me the story of why she had bought the pears. She once heard a story about a person who had died and gone to heaven. Walking the streets of gold which ran by a flowing river on the way to the throne of G-d, there are beautiful trees with succulent fruit on them that you must eat to nourish yourself. Being in the presence of G-d was so powerful that you needed extra strength. “I always imagined that fruit was pears, I know you will need extra strength to get you through this.” ​Just HOW was I going to get through this? Could I ever breathe normal again? Could I attend class? Could I go to work? Could I care for my other kids, Alex, Bethany and Mark? Alex the one who received the phone call about his brother in the middle of the night and at the age of 15 had to break the news to his mother. Bethany had recently turned 16, who spiraled down into a seriously deep grief that required extensive care. Mark, almost 21, who was still in a brace from the fractures he received in his neck and back a couple of months previous in a truck accident. ​If I withdrew from college we would have to move and that would be another major uprooting for everyone. I was able to take a leave from work for an extended period of time. I never did return to that job. My professors were understanding and allowed for me to complete the semester without attending class. Only one class did I take an incomplete in and finish later.

​January classes began. The UNIVERSE had orchestrated that I had classes 5 days a week beginning each day at 8 am. I had to get up and get dressed every morning. I had a light load with only 4 classes this semester. Since I was a student at Ball State University I was able to go to individual counseling for free and to a support group for non-traditional female students.

​In my Foundations of Art II class we were assigned a project by our professor Mary Jo Anderson. It was a 3 piece clay project that was progressive. I chose a pear for the first step of mine. I beat the hell out of that clay. Pounding and pounding it on the table. Working my hands in the coolness of this clay brought into my classroom from the earth. When clay is fired in the kiln the air bubbles work out with the possibility to burst the piece if you are not careful to get them out. Usually you hollow something out so this does not happen. I had not really thought about this until after this huge solid pear I had created came out of the oven. I still chuckle thinking it could have exploded in the kiln if I had not worked my frustration out on that poor clay! ​My second piece was just as big and solid with a loop in the neck of the pear. The third piece became what I see as the seed of the pear all rotten with new shoots of green growth coming from it. I named these three pieces Birth, Life, Death. The perfect pear is Birth. The second one that is all loopy and deteriorating is Life. The third one where the pear has transitioned to a seed, where new growth has begun, is Death.

My project was to chosen to be displayed in the student art show on campus by my professor. The name of the show was called BEGINNINGS. On the cards for the show was the word BEGINNINGS. The photos taken of my project were filling out the letter G and S.Restoring my heart through art!

​I also used this project and the lessons I learned though the process of completing it to finish up the one incomplete class I had. It was in Cognitive Psychology that required us to do a power point presentation, where I was able to use the colorful pictures of the pieces. Mine was on the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Model developed by Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes.

It began with this quote
​Imagination is more important then knowledge.” ~ Albert Einstein

I demonstrated how I applied the six steps of Creative Problem Solving to resolving my problem of the death of my son and my grieving.
• Step 1 is Objective find. Search for the issue that needs to be tackled. For me that was learning to cope with the loss of Andrew.
• Step 2 is Fact-finding. Gather information about the issue. For me that was how to deal with loss. HOW?
• Step 3 is Problem-finding. Convert the problem onto a statement that is productive for idea finding. For me this was converting the loss into a positive. Death generates new life.
• Step 4 is Idea-finding. Generate as many ideas as possible. For me this was working the clay to convert this loss into a positive. POSITIVE!
• Step 5 is Solution-finding. Select from the ideas generated the best idea. For me this was finding the best way for ME to cope with my loss. BEST!
• Step 6 is Acceptance-finding. Decide how the best idea that was selected can be put into action. For me this putting the best solution into ACTION.  Birth, Life, Death is a cycle.

The restoring my heart through art project the UNIVERSE had so graciously given me had helped me to creatively problem solve my grief. Through the “death” of the pear comes the seed which generates new life. Through the death of my mother it created the change in me to be at college which was the place I needed to be to work through the grief of my son. While it did not completely prepare me for Andrew’s death, sitting in those hospital chairs, waiting on the chaplain to take me back to see my daughter, I had a glimpse into the thought and feelings that it would generate.

​“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” ~Robert Anderson

​While I have had many pear stories and I am still getting them, I would like to share just one with you. I had been staying with my sister in Lafayette for a multitude of reasons. Wanting my own place I put out into the UNIVERSE through a goal rock I painted with this desire. While waiting for a friend to get home from work I was sitting in his yard looking up at the trees and thought I want a place that has trees in the yard. My dad had a stroke and I was going back and forth between Lafayette and Logansport to visit him in the nursing home that one of my sisters worked at that he was staying in. I passed by this little house that has a sign that said For Rent in the front yard. I stopped and checked it out. Not sure if I this was the place for me, I told them I would think about it. Let me tell you that this house haunted my every thought day and night. I decided it was where the UNIVERSE wanting me to be living for now.

The hot July day I moved into my Magic Cottage the air conditioner began smoking. I called the landlord and he came over to repair it. He noticed all the pear stuff I had that we were unloading from the boxes into the kitchen. He told me if you like pears you are really going to like the ones in your back yard. My sister and I looked at each other stunned. We followed him to where 2 huge majestic pear trees stood in the yard of my Magic Cottage. Another big hug from the UNIVERSE that loves me so much!

​I am learning to trust and lean into the warm embrace of the UNIVERSE! Listening and following my intuitive spirit in the path that is leading me toward my highest good!

My desire is to inspire others to reach for their highest good through creativity and humor.


  1. I just saw this....I am in tears and hope to one day get to this have been through so well as I....I only can give you my love and be here for u....SO many more blessings to come your way!

  2. Thank you for sharing these heartfelt stories. I know that it wasn't easy, but it was very brave. Hoping that others gain strength from your life stories and are able to move forward in their lives and find their MAGIC COTTAGE.