Archive for April, 2009

Apr 29 2009

Kitty Whiskers and Sweet Soul Whispers 4/29/09 Issue #10

I’m lying on my back and my cat Zeena is circling me; she wants to lay on my soft warm belly, as she usually does. “No.” I say. I am guarding my belly; it is still sore from the hysterectomy, and vulnerable. I protect it like a mama bear protecting her cub from a mountain lion.

This girding of my belly is a familiar thing. I am often aware of a clenching tension in my belly. It makes sense to me that this stress would impede the flow of blood, oxygen, and chi, leaving me susceptible to health problems in that area.

I tell this to Tom and he says, “You use the word stress a lot. What do you mean by it?” “Hmm, good question.” I tune into the feeling of stress. “It is really fear.” “What do you mean by fear?” he asked. I close my eyes and feel into it more deeply. What I experience is that I am breathing shallowly and my belly is tight, contracted, armored, as if resisting. I see that it’s all about protection. It is the opposite of trust.

I love to watch my cat Zeena and her brother Bo lying on their backs like rag dolls, legs outstretched, stomachs exposed, completely open and trusting. They have come a long way from being the fearful feral kittens that we discovered on our porch four years ago. Back then I would watch them through the screen door, but as soon as I opened the door they would bolt. I longed for them to trust me. I talked to them through the screen in a soft, reassuring voice, “You are safe little kitties. You can trust me.” I like to imagine that it’s much like my angels and guides, watching me from the other side of a screen, telling me, “You are safe, dear one. You are loved. Trust. Trust.”

My cats are my gurus, showing me how to bare my belly, surrendering, trusting, fully open to life. Stephen Levine talks about softening the belly as a way of healing ourselves. “We store fear and disappointment, anger and guilt in our gut. Our belly has become fossilized with a long resistance to life and to loss. Each withdrawal, each attempt to numb our grief, turns the belly to stone. Have mercy on this pain you have carried for so long, the pain that sometimes makes you want to jump out of your body.”

He advocates softening our belly by bringing loving attention to it. He says, “As we soften around the sensations and gradually move into them, they melt at the edge. It’s not opposing the hardness but rather meeting it with soft mercy, knowing that we cannot let go of anything we do not accept.”

I have begun talking to my belly the same way I talked to the fearful feral kitties on the other side of the screen, the same way I imagine my higher self is talking to me: “I love you. You can trust me. You can let go. You are safe. I will take good care of you.” As a result, my belly softens, my heart softens, my throat relaxes, and my mind quiets. The belly is control central; once it is soft, the whole system softens and relaxes, and breath comes easily.

I’ve been listening for the voice of my higher self talking to me through the screen. I recently had the thought that if I knew I was going to die soon, I would walk in nature every day. Instantly a voice came to me, saying, “Do it now.” I am now walking in nature every day, breathing through my soft, trusting belly, listening to the sweet whispers of my higher self, “You are loved. You are safe.”

Do you hear the voice of your higher self talking to you through the screen door? What is it saying to you?

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Apr 21 2009

Owning Your Jaw-Dropping Magnificence! 4/21/09 Issue #9

A frumpy, middle-aged woman with bushy caterpillar eyebrows walked in nervous determination onto the stage. In front of millions of viewers of the TV show, Britain’s Got Talent, she declared that her dream is to be a professional singer. People snickered and rolled their eyes. Then she began to sing in a clear, lilting, beautiful voice. In the audience, people’s jaws dropped, and a spontaneous standing ovation with thunderous applause erupted. Now over 66 million people have been moved, amazed and inspired by Susan Boyle on Youtube. (Click link below to see video.)

I believe that one of the reasons this has touched so many people so profoundly is because deep down inside we know that we have within us our own version of jaw-dropping magnificence. Just like in the story of the Ugly Duckling, our beautiful swan essence exists, waiting to be owned and revealed.

Gay Hendricks says, “We are so busy trying to prove we’re okay, we forget that we’re magnificent.” I believe that, like the Ugly Duckling, we are all on a hero’s journey to discover our inherent magnificence. One of the challenges on our journey is that we misidentify ourselves as the Ugly Duckling and get lost in that image and stuck in that story. When we try to break free and be more than that, a critical inner voice berates us, saying, “Who do you think you are?” Yet there is a higher voice within urging us to remember, “Who do you KNOW you are?”

Sometimes a life challenge (such as a divorce, an illness, or a great loss) comes along to wake us up and help us remember who we really are. When first confronted with adversity, it can seem that life has turned on us; but we eventually find instead that it has turned us On! It has turned on the big, bright, luminous light of our soul, igniting our courage, strength, and special abilities, reminding us that, like Susan Boyle, there is so much more to us than meets the eye.

I had planted a seed years ago that in my 60’s I would be optimally healthy. I would be slender. I would be writing. I would be deeply connected with my spirit. Yet as the big 6-0 was just months away I found myself thirty pounds overweight and cozily nestled into the comfort of the familiar. I needed something to jolt me into a strong resolve for this life transformation, and I got it! (Life is so accommodating!)

As a result of my appendicitis and uterine cancer, something remarkable has happened…I saw something today that I haven’t seen in years… my jaw line! When my appendicitis struck 9 months ago I completely lost my appetite! I ate very lightly for three months and lost 23 pounds! When the possibility of uterine cancer entered the scene a few months ago I changed my diet even more, eating mostly raw foods, drinking wheat grass everyday, and cutting out all dairy and sugar. I lost 7 more pounds.

The seed I had planted prior to turning 60 is now in full bloom: I feel more vibrantly healthy and alive than I have ever felt. I am loving my body (including my new scars, which I see as badges of courage). I am deeply connected with my spirit. And I am writing and sharing about it all in these newsletters (with two books in the works)!

My jaw drops as I see that this frumpy, complacent, middle-aged woman that I was just nine months ago has transformed into my Magnificent Kick-Ass Big Soul Self, doing the soul work that I came here to do!

Who do you KNOW you are? Have you owned and revealed your jaw-dropping magnificence?

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

Watch video of singing sensation Susan Boyle (47-years-old)

 

 

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Apr 15 2009

Words Cast Spells – The Power of Reframing and Renaming 4/15/09 Issue #8

Filed under Uncategorized

My path-ology report came back and showed that my nodes were clear. However, the cancer was more aggressive than they first thought and it had penetrated into two thirds of the uterine wall (making it Stage 1C, Grade 3). The doctor said there is a 25% risk of recurrence. I asked him,”Since I don’t have a uterus anymore, where would the cancer go?” He said, “Anywhere.”

That scared me; an image came to mind of marauding terrorist cells that had eluded the doctor’s scalpel and were cunningly roaming my body, looking for a place to set up camp and wreak more havoc.

Then I quickly reframed that. I can see how the increased risk is perfect – it keeps me awake, on my toes, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and motivated to continue with the healing life changes I have made: the vibrant diet, daily meditation, deep breathing, and enjoying my moment-to-moment game of TAG – Trust, Acceptance, and Gratitude. (TAG, I’m it – I choose what I want to focus on and generate.)

I am aware that words and images shape and color our world, they mold it like play doh. “Words cast spells, that’s why they call it spelling.” How we think of things and picture them creates a cellular response in our bodies. It is self-hypnosis. When hypnotized, our body can raise a blister if we’re touched with an ice cube and told that it’s a blazing hot coal.

Our thoughts can create heaven or hell, depending on where we’re choosing to dwell. These thoughts create feelings of well-being, or of being stuck in a well. They also create chemicals in our body, such as feel-good endorphins, or the stress hormone cortisol. We literally are walking laboratories, and our thoughts are the chemists.

Words and images also impact our immune system and ability to heal. A friend of Tom’s told him that she had cancer a few years ago and was in two cancer support groups. There were people in the groups who had an attitude of being at war and battling their cancer. Other people had an attitude of wanting to learn and grow and explore what their cancer brought up for them. In her experience, those were the people who tended to survive, while the ones who were at war did not.

Someone told me that they don’t use the word cancer, instead they call it aberrant cells. I’ve been playing with other names like waker uppers, I openers, shadows, fungi (some people believe that cancer is a fungus). How about fun guy? There’s a woman who calls hers crazy, sexy cancer (and wrote a book with that title).

My Cancer experience has opened my eyes big time in so many ways – therefore, I have decided to call it The Big See! I See the world with new eyes, big bright baby eyes. I See that I have more courage than I thought.  I See the love of friends and family. I See that my life is purposeful and things happen for a reason. I See that life is finite and spirit is infinite. I See that it’s all about love.

I invite all of you as you go through your day today to eavesdrop on yourselves. What thoughts are you dwelling on? What chemicals are you cooking up in your body lab? What is ready to be reframed and renamed in your life?

In love,

Jan Jacobsen

 

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Apr 08 2009

There Are Babies in the House! 4/8/09 Newsletter #7

Tom’s daughter Oakley came for a visit last week with husband Len and their year and a half old son Arthur. Arthur was such a joy to observe; he sees life anew, with fresh eyes. As a train went by, he watched with wide-eyed wonder and exclaimed, “More choochoo!” He wanted us to make it come again. (A day after they left, for good measure, the Universe brings us another wonder-filled baby visitor, 6 month-old Julian, with parents Jay and Emily.)

I’m in pain from my hysterectomy and wince as Tom helps me out of bed. Then I look at Tom and smile, grateful that he is in my life, helping me out of bed. I look at him the way Arthur looked at the train. My wide-open baby eyes drink him in. “More Tom!”

I lived alone for most of my life until I was 50 and met Tom. Ten years later he is still a surprise to me and I see him with fresh, grateful eyes…most of the time. Sometimes he and I will be busily buzzing through our day, and one of us will wake up to that, tap the other on the shoulder, look into their eyes and say, “Hello.” Stopping in the middle of our busyness we become aware, “Oh, You’re here.” And then, “Oh, I’m here.”

There’s a cartoon which shows a man sitting at his desk, with a glazed look in his eyes. In the next frame his eyes are wide open, his whole body alert. In the 3rd frame he has resumed his glazed look. The caption reads: “Herb has a brief but intense near life experience.”

Since my diagnosis of uterine cancer and subsequent surgery, I have been having more frequent “near life experiences”. I am experiencing life through baby eyes. It’s much like lucid dreaming when you wake up within your dream and know that you are dreaming. This is lucid living; waking up in your life knowing that you’re alive.

People who have had near death experiences report that upon return they see their life in vivid technicolor and have a renewed zest for life. Any life calamity can do the same. It rocks our world and we are jolted awake. “Wake up, you’re alive!” In that way, our life calamities can be a great gift.

Brian Andreas, the creator of Story People, created a Story People drawing with the caption: “Most people don’t know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life.” These wake-up angels are among us, cleverly disguised as calamities (and babies)!

The brain is designed to categorize, habitualize and go on automatic pilot. That’s why it takes something new and out of the ordinary to wake us up to the Present Moment: something like a baby, a long-awaited love, or a calamity.

As the Titanic was sinking, the band was playing “Nearer My God to Thee”, and the people on board were singing along. No doubt they were feeling vibrantly alive. I imagine the people in the lifeboats were feeling that same vivid aliveness. Voltaire said, “Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”  We must not forget to sing and dance and be fully awake and alive in our Life.

But not to worry…if we do forget, life will obligingly send us one of those angels to wake us up so that we don’t miss our lives!

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

 

………………………………………

 

Baby Eyes (1991)

 

She looks at me with soft, wide eyes,

my 5-month-old niece.

In silent stillness

we gaze at each other…

“I see you.”

I drink in

the simple sweetness of

Seeing

and Being Seen.

A smile slowly lights

her almost perfectly round face.

I smile back.

A sweet giggle escapes

her cupid bow lips

and pierces my heart

wide open.

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Apr 01 2009

The View from My Hospital Bed

Filed under Uncategorized

It is midnight.

I am inwardly moaning and complaining about

the moaning, complaining woman next to me

who is keeping me awake.

I want to feel compassion.

And…I want to throttle her.

I ask the nurse, “Is there a quieter room?”

“No.”

There is no escape.

How perfect – I am reading the book, “The Wisdom of No Escape”

about compassion and surrendering to what is.

I surrender.

I cry.

My roomie and I cry together.

I ask about her and she tells me her story.

Her daughter died 4 months ago, which shattered her heart.

Ten days ago she crashed her car into a tree, which shattered her body.

“I am in so much pain,” she cries.

I want to hug her.

I want to hold her hand.

How perfect that she is my roommate.

She is reminding me about compassion.

I fall asleep sending her love on my out breaths.

This morning I watched the sun rise

over the mountains.

How wonderful to have this view

from my hospital bed.

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Apr 01 2009

Step by Step, Breath by Breath – Courage 4/1/09 Issue #6

I walked into the hospital on Monday morning for my surgery trembling like a dog walking into the vets. I put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, one breath at a time, and I got through it!

I’ve always been afraid of hospitals and the idea of surgery. In the past I thought if I had to choose between hospitalization and death, I would choose death. I didn’t think I had it in me to be able to handle it. But I am handling it. I am braver than I thought!

Cancer has been one of my worst fears. Over the years I’ve performed all kinds of anti-cancer rituals (taking vitamin D, wearing sunscreen, eating broccoli, etc.), trying to keep it at bay. It’s like I’ve been tiptoeing around a sleeping beast, trying not to wake it. Yet despite my best efforts, the beast awakened.

A friend told me about someone she knew who had taken great care of his body, mind, and spirit; yet still he had a heart attack. He was sure it was a mistake and said, “Somewhere, there’s a guy sitting in front of a TV watching wrestling, clutching a beer, with Cheetos dust floating down onto his big belly…. and I HAD HIS HEART ATTACK!” We humans are so funny! We actually think we can control these things!

In early childhood I had a recurring dream: I was walking into a field with other kids and they wanted to walk into the woods at the edge of the field. I was afraid of the big bad wolf in the woods, so I didn’t go with them. I lay down on a picnic table in the open field by myself and thought that I was safe; but when I opened my eyes, the wolf was there, right next to me, staring at me with sparkling flinty eyes! Even as a young child I was struck by the irony of it.

One way I’ve tried to keep the wolf from my door is by very carefully avoiding x-rays, not even wanting digital dental x-rays. When I had appendicitis a few months ago I was given a CT scan which has 500 times more radiation than a normal x-ray!  That wolf has a way of finding me no matter what I do! I’ve finally come to a place where I give up; I surrender; I throw up my hands; I let go of trying to control everything; I stop running.

I lay on my hospital bed pre-op, and in a field of awareness, I took slow deep breaths and faced the wolf. I got up close and curious about it’s sharp teeth and claws. I looked into its flinty eyes…and I discovered…it is Fear in wolf’s clothing! What I’ve feared is the biting discomfort of my throat clutching, heart pounding, gut wrenching fear. FDR was right, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The Fear of the cancer feels so much worse than the cancer itself.

I am facing my fear, sitting with it, keeping it company, holding its hand, feeling compassion, allowing it to be here. I’ve heard two acronyms for FEAR: one is Feel Everything And Recover. The other is F__k Everything And Run!

These are the different agendas of our ego and our spirit. Ego wants to run for the hills and be safe. Spirit wants to fly like an eagle as high as it can go, fully experiencing life, including fear. When challenges befall me, my ego wails in a Mr. Bill whine, “Oh Noooooo. Not another learning opportunity!” My spirit says, “Oh Yeah! Another opportunity to grow! Bring it onnnnn!”

My ego moans, “We are in deep doodoo!” My spirit exalts, “Rich soil!” Ego scolds, “Now we’ve gone and done it – our fear has drawn the cancer to us!” Spirit exclaims, “Cool, cancer! It will help us come face to face with fear, feel it fully, and make friends with it!” Who knows what our souls are up to; there’s so much more going on than meets the eye – We are so much more.

When faced with the thing I most feared, I’m finding that I have more courage than I ever dreamed possible. My mind has been telling me that I’m “the biggest scaredy cat in the world.” What I’m actually discovering is that I am someone who has the courage to be present with my worst fears, one breath at a time, one trembling foot in front of the other. Hand in hand with my Compassionate Witness, I am doing this! And if I can do this, anyone can!

We have more courage and spirit than we know. When we are tested, we somehow find the strength to soar with the eagles; no longer circling the drain, we circle the sky!

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

 

 

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