Death visited my world last week.

CornsilkFrontI had the blessed experience of being witness to the passing of a dear mentor and friend , a poet I have been caregiving for the past 1.5 years in Portland. She was 91 years old. It was a beautiful experience to watch her take her last 3 breaths and leave this world. It took away all my fear of dying. Thank you Jane Glazer, for being a teacher to me even in your last moments here on earth.

A Personal Reflection on a Beautiful Dying Process 

There are waves of nausea moving through my body as I sit on the white couch on SW Madison for what is to be the last time. It was just last night that I was administering morphine every 4 hours to her, catching an hour or two of sleep in-between. I had heard her daughter Nancy at 4:30am tiptoe quietly past the hospital bed that was sitting in the area that had once been her dining room. And then the water coming to a boil, almost to the point of the whistle and I knew that Nancy was up for the day. That was this morning. In this moment I am preparing for another night of little sleep, another round of morphine intervals but this evening it will just be me here, alone. That was then. This is now. The Holy moment of her passing will soon change all that. A new narrative of death will be scribed into the neural pathways of my brain.

I have been grappling with all this, watching the woman I had known as a vibrant, fun 92 year old mentor to me become so lifeless, looking like a skeleton, lying there unconscious with these strong rasping breaths. But I do know now that I am feeling sick as I sit waiting for her to die, imagining it will be nights now before I get my life back. Nights of no sleep, morphine doses. I google “how long can a person live without water.” The computer responds, “a few days at most.”

CornsilkBackDeath is scary. Aging is difficult. To be with some one deteriorating is not easy and it is too easy for us in our youth and middle-age to want to push it all under the rug, not look, not be present to the inevitable. This is what I am sitting with now, on this white couch where I had spent many evenings caring for her needs. As I am grappling with the nausea in my heart area and I am trying to refocus my attention on what is most important to me to tend to now while I am still healthy, agile and have my relative youth.

I hear a different sound, something between a moan and a shriek, something I can’t pinpoint but something that says to me, “pay attention.” I get up and walk over to the dining area where she is lying, motionless except for the intense rhythm of a breath trying to find itself.

As I look on, curious, her eyes open wide, startled she shifts her gaze first to the upper right side of the room and then the left. She is seeing something, that is clear. My heart begins to pound. I am standing there frozen now. “Something is happening” I think to myself. Could this be it? What is she looking at? Some people say the angel of death comes. Is she seeing the angel of death come to get her? I wait. There is a gasp, her mouth opening wide. This must be it. I am more confident now that this is the end. Her body quiets and it looks like she is still breathing. I strain to get closer to watch but I don’t want to get too close. I wonder if I should  take her hand, but “no” I think, I do not want to interfere with this event. Suppose my touch stops the process and pulls her back into her body. So I stand there, entranced, waiting to see what happens.

Another loud rasping gasp. Is she in pain? It doesn’t seem that she is. She is just in life, just doing the natural thing the body does. I am thinking of my children’s birth. I am thinking of how it is all so natural, like this. And then I am aware of my mind doing its super-drive thing. ‘What time is it? I’ve got to know the time so I can tell people what time she died. I can’t leave, butI’ve got to get to my phone.” I stand glued, and then turn, sprinting—now reaching for the phone.

It’s 8:49pm. I look back at Jane—just in time. One more gasp and I watch her come to the point of stillness. The color of her skin is taking on a blue tint. The silence is palpable except for the quiet sounds of All-Classical Portland on OPB and the loud voices in my head.

It is 8:50pm. I have just witnessed a passing. I have just witnessed a mystery beyond mysteries and I am standing in this holy moment feeling blessed.

It was a blessing to spend the last year and a half with Jane as a friend and mentor, and me as caregiver. But mostly I felt privileged to have been with her in her last moments of passing from this world. And although she had many moments of anxiety these past few months as she drew closer to this moment, she left courageously, peacefully and gracefully. And in her last moment alive on earth, she left still as teacher. She taught me that death is nothing to fear, it is easy, natural and holy.

Intuitive Painting Teaches Inner Knowing

IMG_0165Intuitive painting teaches to discern the intuitive voice from the other voices in our head. It’s not about making pretty pictures, it’s about the process of learning to live by intuition.  Learning to hear the voice of my intuitive heart and follow her is utterly gratifying and watching myself stumble through the process, making big and little mistakes because I didn’t listen, is also humbling.

Thrilled to be starting my books!

Pushing through this project is not easy.  My inner critic is working 24 hours to shut me down.  This time I’m not letting her run the show.  Yesterday set up a painting area and a book-work project area.  Here they are, all ready to go.  Nothing to stop me now except my own mind. IMG_0110IMG_0100

Creative Mystery

Creativity puts us right smack into the unknown. The ego thinks it knows everything. But all it knows is the past.  When we are alive in the present moment without the past as our reference, we living the magic and mystery of creation.  There has never been and will be another moment like this one.

MysteriousUniverse

Are you Living Inspired?

If not, you may not be expressing yourself and your creativity!

How do I know?

For many years I lived uninspired trying to be the best person I thought I should be.  Then I had a revelation!  I realized I was unhappy because I was shutting down my creative impulses.  It took a lot of guts but I gave in. . .

LivingInspired

The Danger Monster

DangerMonster

This is the beginning of the process.

I get an idea.  First I shrink away and let it hang out in the realm of ideas.

I have had so many ideas that end up nowhere. . . no more!  no more! nada, nada, nada. NO.

So I have this idea and I have no idea how to make it happen, or how to “allow” it to happen (the correct spiritual verbiage).  Determined I fish around on the internet looking for a coach.  I find a book coach and on a whim sign up for a half hour consult.  This is nothing to sneeze at.  It is costing me $150.

Danger Monster says:  What have you done?! Are you kidding yourself? Are you an idiot or something!

Now I’m looking around for relief.  Anything! And since I don’t indulge anymore in the once familiar sugar addiction thing, I turn to one of my favorite spiritual texts.   

And I start praying, God, what would you have me do?

GOD doesn’t respond.  I’m not quiet enough to hear God’s quiet voice within. The Danger Monster and his cousins are making too much noise.

My head is full of stinking thinking!

“Maybe I should cancel!”  It’s too late to cancel.

I pick up the phone and dial.

I tell her it’s a stupid idea.

I tell her that this is the stupidest idea anyone has ever had.

But I tell her anyway.

She LOVES it!

She tells me what to do to get the idea into a real book.

She tells me how to market it.

She tells me that she is just like me!

She tells me what she did to get her stuff out there!

I think God answered me.

Jane Latimer, MA is a Soul Guide, Psychotherapist and Creativity Coach. She offers personal sessions by phone or Skype, online programs and personal retreats for women who wish to live in alignment with their deepest longings.

When does Achievement become Self-Sabotage?


TooMuch2Handle2bAchievement is the cornerstone of our culture.  We live and die by it. What must we achieve before we die? How much can we accomplish?  How successful can we be?  How much money will we have in the bank?

For 30 years I worked with women who had problems with their food.  Most always, at the bottom of this issue was an unceasing perfectionism that kept them doing, giving and achieving.  The cornerstone of my program at the time, BodyWay, was self-care.  Everyone had a problem with this.

The other day I spent an hour with a coach who tried to get me to see how important it was that I “stop processing” and “start achieving.”  What she didn’t know about me at the time was how much of an achiever I used to be.  And at what a huge expense. 

When I was doing my best achieving I was also aching for something else.  I had a gaping hole that no amount of achievement could fill.  This hole, I later came to call the hunger wound.  It is a hunger for our Soul, a hunger for ourself, for the ability to just be, to play, to have friends and enjoy life to it’s fullest.  It’s the ability to feel good about oneself whether one is achieving of not. 

Achievement is great, when it rests on a solid foundation of inspiration, core depth, centeredness and balance.  Achievement that compensates for any underlying lack only distracts from what is most important.  We must have the courage to visit that hole, the “dark place” within in order to bring forth our greatest light.  When we override our fears and feelings of inadequacy with more achievement, it only increases the gap between our self-image and our aching Soul.

Jane Latimer, MA is a Soul Guide, Psychotherapist and Creativity Coach. She offers personal sessions by phone or Skype, online programs and personal retreats for women who wish to live in alignment with their deepest longings.

Self-Actualization, Money & Trauma

As a trauma therapist, Soul Guide and Coach, I‘ve had experience dealing with the problems generated by money especially with people who have had trauma in their background.  We can use the most basic trauma model for understanding why people who have had developmental trauma suffer when it comes to self-actualization and money.

We all want to feel fulfilled, that we have led a life that feels true to our destiny and Soul-directed path.  The lucky few find their way easily.  Most of us get lost and derailed by coping strategies that have been put in place to protect us from imagined harm.  This happens often in the cases of individuals who have come from childhood backgrounds that weren’t supportive of their true nature.  Abuse and neglect, substance abuse and chaotic family systems, or families where parents aren’t able to love or be present create an environment of trauma for the child.

When we experience trauma (an experience that overwhelms the nervous system), the instinctive brain takes over, sending us into fight-flight-freeze mode.  If we are able to fight, flee or freeze and the nervous system is given ample time to recover, the organism will not suffer any long lasting symptoms.  In most cases, as children, this does not happen.  Alternatively, we develop coping mechanisms to deal with the fear, rage and helplessness that has been triggered.

Those coping strategies may include some of the following: (Think about how these are impacting your relationship to money)
staying small and invisible
refusing to grow up
becoming a people pleaser
avoidance tactics
abandonment fears
anxiety and depression
inability to follow-through with tasks
procrastination
fear of speaking up
dissociation (lack of awareness of our feelings)

Think about how each of the above impacts our relationship to money.  Because money is primarily a survival tool, (in our modern culture money has replaced the tools of the hunter/gatherer), when we suffer a financial loss or possibility of one, that loss appears to threaten our survival and the instinctive brain takes over spinning us into waves of fear and even, in some cases, terror.

In order to avoid these unpleasant states, trauma survivors cope by becoming risk adverse, playing it too safe, thereby greatly limiting the work and financial options that are available.  We learn to stay small and invisible, to people-please instead of creating strong self-boundaries.  We may learn to avoid adult responsibilities including things like balancing the checkbook, or managing our money.  Abandonment fear causes us to withdraw and isolate, limiting our capacity for engagement in business.  Dissociation may cause us to procrastinate, lack follow-through or spend more money than we have, creating debt.  We may become chronic underearners because of low self-esteem and the list goes on and on.

The sad part of this is that many trauma survivors are highly gifted and have much to give to others.  But their capacity to expand into higher states of self-actualization are limited because of these coping strategies.  These gifts are never given or received because of the fear of potential abandonment, hurt and possible loss.  In most cases, these are irrational fears that could have been handled if the individual had an understanding of this process and what to do instead.

Below, I’ve outlined one client’s money survival cycle so you can see the impact it has had in one individual’s life and how dealing with these patterns can result in greater fulfillment.
ManagingMoneyTriggers

The reptilian brain, the instinctive brain is wired for survival.  That is it’s role — to protect us from danger in the wild.  In a situation where survival may be an issue, the instinctive reactions for protection shoot through our nervous system as fast as lightening.  There is no time to be still and think things through.  This can come later, if we are willing to take a breath and get some distance.  Then the thinking mind will be activated, but only after we are able to calm the instinctive and limbic brains down.  Once this happens we can analyze our true potential, identify safety strategies that allow us to take calculated risk to step into our gifts and allow ourselves to expand.

With a strong business strategy in place, one that includes strategies for dealing with trauma-generated fears as well as optimal success, we can take clear and consistent steps in the direction of our greatest expression and talents.

To schedule a free 30-minute consultation, contact me here.

Happiness? Is it really what we want?

“True fulfillment allows for grief and longing, sometimes fear, and certainly uncertainty.  Happiness might be too small a goal, inhibiting the deep joy and complex spectrum of experience and participation afforded by our psyches and our world.”  Bill Plotkin (from Wild Mind)

I don’t know about you but I get really distressed with all the focus on happiness.  Is that what we’re here for?  To be happy?  I’m not a pessimist by any means and I’ve certainly worked hard and a longtime to get my negative mind straightened out.  I have no problem whatsoever finding the opportunity and positive side of every challenge.  BUT, I have been ruptured more than once by the concept of happiness as a state that is the measuring stick for our self-actualization.  For me personally, and for many of my clients the concept of happiness (as a state to strive for) creates more stress on top of the stress we already feel as human beings.  We end up comparing ourselves to the others who seem to be more successful, more happy than we are.

Quite frankly, happiness is a load of XX!@#!!

Now that I can say in all of my wisdom, as an elder, that I’ve lived a really good life and I’ve learned something from all the good life I’ve lived, I want to share something really profound.  My life wasn’t about happiness and it still isn’t.  It was about self-awareness, healing and the search for fulfillment.  And what I’ve discovered is that the more self-aware I became, the more present I became to whatever it was that I was experiencing and the more deeply connected to the essence of me, my specific journey, my destiny, what I was here to do and accomplish (not just in the outer world, but in the inner world as well), the more fulfilled I became.

And more from Bill Plotkin:

The Soul is a person’s unique purpose or identity, a mythopoetic identity, something much deeper than personality or social-vocational role, an identity revealed and expressed through symbol and metaphor, image and dream, archetype and myth.  Some other ways to say this:  Soul is the particular ecological niche, or place, a person was born to occupy. . .” (From Wild Mind, p. 13)

So I challenge you to give up your idea of happiness.  Let it go and just sink into your experience here and now.  How deeply can you experience where you are in this moment?  What message does this experience have for you?  Where is your juice? What might be unfolding in you?  Can you sense into your life rhythm? Can you allow the movement of life to inform your next action?  Can you do a deep dive into the bottom of your psyche and find the jewels at the bottom of the sea?

What happens if you allow the rich tapestry of whatever it is you are experiencing?

Do you know your Soul?  Have you encountered Her?  Can you give up the pursuit for happiness and replace it with the discovery of your deepest “mythopoetic” identify? Will you allow all your feelings to enrich your life?  And will you open to the intuitive instinctual wildness of you?

Those are the real questions.  For that is what we are here to do.