REMEMBERING AN OLD CHALLENGE WHILE FACING A NEW ONE

Marie in Garden September 2019

In the past, on November 7th, I always posted about the significance of this day to me. You see, on November 7th, 2000, I had surgery to remove a small benign brain tumor, and it was one of the most challenging yet transformational experiences of my life.

But this year, I didn’t post about that experience because I’m facing a new challenge.

If you read my post from September 4th, you know that I’ve had some serious health issues.

I haven’t felt like posting since then because I’ve been trying to conserve my energy for the healing my body needs to do and for the procedures I’ve been going through.

But I feel it’s important to share my story now because you never know who will see it and be able to provide information that might help me figure out what’s going on, or by chance it might even help someone down the road who faces the same health issues that I’m having now.

So here it goes.

Over the past 3 months, I’ve had six emergency room visits, countless chest x-rays, scans, blood tests, biopsies, an EHCO of my heart and an MRI of my head, and numerous appointments with the critical care pulmonologist who is caring for me.

The cost of my medical care over this time is approaching $100,000, yet I still don’t know what is causing the serious issues I’m having nor do I have a diagnosis that would allow for any kind of treatment.

Let me give you a little history:

On August 8th, I had an appointment with my primary care physician, who ordered an x-ray of my chest because I had cough and pain in my ribs under my right breast.

The x-ray showed fluid in the right side of my chest and nodules on my right lung. Due to the findings, my doctor ordered a CT scan with dye of my chest, which I had done on Monday, August 12th.

I could tell by the look on the technician’s face that what she saw on the scan was not good. But I had no idea how bad it really was.

At 5:05 p.m. that evening, I received a call from a doctor in my primary care physician’s office with the shocking results of the scan: I had a large pleural effusion, which is fluid in the chest cavity, on my right side that had almost completely collapsed my right lung, a mass in my upper right lung, and the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck were swollen so severely that they were blocking blood flow to my jugular vein.

Listening to the doctor’s words, I went in to shock, and handed the phone to Michael because I couldn’t process what he was saying.

The doctor told Michael that he was referring me to a critical care pulmonologist because he believed that I had cancer.

He ended the call with a compassionate “I’m so sorry.”

Michael and I hugged after he hung up the phone, and I cried. It was a surreal moment that seemed absolutely impossible because I take such good care of myself.

But no matter how “unreal” the findings of the CT scan seemed, they were real and had to be dealt with immediately.

My body confirmed that as it struggled to try to compensate and overcome whatever was going on inside of it.

Michael and I didn’t sleep much that night, and when morning came, I knew I needed to get medical attention right away because I could barely stand or walk short distances without losing my breath. So we got ready to go to the emergency room.

On the drive there, I told Michael that I didn’t have the energy to talk, so we quietly made the hour drive while my mind wondered if I would be able to survive until we arrived at the hospital. That’s how bad I felt.

When we arrived at the hospital, I was too weak to walk so Michael had to use a wheelchair to get me from our car to the check-in counter.

Because of the condition I was in, I was immediately taken to a room and placed in a bed between two other patients with only curtains separating us.

Blood was drawn, my vitals were taken, and nurses, admitting personnel, and the ER doctor came in to talk with me, all of them asking me questions about my health, if I were a smoker, and a million other things I don’t remember.

While this was going on, we received a call on my cell phone from the pulmonologist’s office I was referred to wanting to schedule an appointment with me.

Michael told them that I was in the ER, and within an hour the pulmonologist was sitting next to me, explaining my care plan, which required tests and biopsies to rule out cancer.

When he told me this, I cried, and he gently held my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “We are going to find out what’s going on, and you are going to be okay.”

Even though, at that moment, it seemed impossible, I believed him.

The most urgent thing that had to be done was to drain the fluid from my chest that had collapsed my right lung.

Within the hour I was having a painful procedure done to place a chest tube in, through my back, which would allow the fluid to be drained. Once it was in, the nurse started draining the fluid.

While it didn’t take long to drain 1500 ml of fluid, yes,1500 ml, it was a painful process as my lung unfolded and expanded, causing me to cough and gasp as air inflated it.

The fluid was sent off to be biopsied. I weighed 8 pounds less after it was drained.

A biopsy of the inflamed lymph node in my neck was planned after this procedure, but as I was being prepped for it, I felt as though my body was in shock and couldn’t take anymore trauma. So the biopsy was rescheduled for the next day.

I spent the night in the hospital, not sleeping much because I was still in disbelief at what was happening.

The next day, I had to be squeezed in to the schedule to have the biopsy so it was early afternoon before I was wheeled from my hospital room to where the procedure would be performed.

Michael was in the room with me, and as I was being prepped for the procedure, we heard the doctor who was going to do it, say, “We’re looking for lymphoma.”

I was on my back, staring at the lights above me, but turned my head towards Michael with a terrified look on my face. He quietly said, “It’s going to be okay.”

I wasn’t so sure.

I was released from the hospital shortly after the biopsy procedure, feeling good because I could breathe so much better with two fully inflated lungs.

Now we had to wait for the biopsy results.

Fortunately, it was only a few days before we found out that the biopsies were negative for cancer.

Even so, my pulmonologist said that “lymphoma can hide” so he wanted me to have a PET CT to see if there were any other areas of concern.

I had the PET CT a week later, and it showed many lymph nodes in my chest that raised concern. It also showed that I was continuing to accumulate fluid.

Because of these issues, I had to have an invasive procedure to remove and biopsy tissue from my chest and the chest tube had to stay in so I could have the fluid drained as it accumulated.

Fortunately, again, no cancer was found in the tissue. But the chest tube ended up having to stay in for 5 weeks, which was painful and made it impossible to find a comfortable position to sit or sleep in because of the location of the tube on my back.

Over the next month I went through the many procedures I mentioned at the beginning of this post, but still no diagnosis could be made.

Then, in the middle of all of this, only a few days after getting out of the hospital, something dawned on me: I had had my teeth cleaned on August 5, only three days before I had the chest x-ray at my primary care physician’s office and eight days before I ended up in the ER.

I realized that after I had my teeth cleaned in March, the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck had swelled up a few days later and I felt like I had an infection.

I soon realized that I had been sick ever since I had a tooth refilled on October 12, 2018. After this procedure, I developed a deep, chronic cough and pressure in my chest that prevented me from lying down flat to sleep. In addition, I had constant pressure in my sinuses and small amounts of blood coming out of my nose.

I created a timeline of dental work I’d had since October and how I had gotten sicker with each procedure. It was astonishing!

I sent the timeline along with a letter explaining it to my pulmonologist, and also emailed him medical papers I found online about people who had experienced the exact same issues I had after having dental work.

While the information was compelling, my pulmonologist still continued to do all the tests necessary to rule out lymphoma and lung cancer, and even presented my case to the Tumor Board at the hospital because of how unusual it was.

During an emergency room visit on September 15, I had a CT scan of my chest done, which my pulmonologist had at my appointment with him the next day.

The results were nothing short of a miracle: Fluid was no longer accumulating in my chest and the mass in the upper part of my right lung had shrunk significantly.

He showed me the scan and with a big smile on his face said, “Cancer just doesn’t shrink on its own.”

It was such a joyful moment!

The only appointment that was scheduled at that time was a follow up with his office in 5 weeks and a chest CT to be done prior to the appointment to make sure my condition continued to approve.

Up to that time, I had done a lot of research online about dental work and the serious health issues it can cause, and I came across information that discussed reactions that patients can have to the materials in both silver and tooth-colored dental fillings.

I was convinced that I was having a reaction to the materials in my filling because I’d been sick ever since my tooth was refilled in October of 2018.

So I did research and found a biological dentist, who uses biocompatible materials to fill teeth, and scheduled a consultation and an appointment to have the filling replaced again.

I coordinated this with my pulmonologist, who wanted me on a short course of antibiotics and steroids, starting prior to the dental procedure.

I was feeling fantastic from the middle of September and for a week after I had the filling replaced on October 9th. The picture of me with this post was taken during that time. Then I started to feel the same symptoms I had after I’d had my teeth cleaned on August 5th.

A CT scan done on October 18 confirmed that fluid is accumulating in my chest again and that the mass in the right upper part of my lung is still there.

So I’m back to having more tests, and possibly a surgery, to try to figure out what is causing these issues that flare up after I have dental work.

As I mentioned in my September 4th post, I have found a place of “neutral” to rest in during all of this uncertainty. But I will admit that I have had days where I am depressed, anxious, and feel like giving up.

I appreciate the friends and family who have called, texted, and checked in with me over the past 3 months, offering support, encouragement, and information that has helped me through this challenging time.

I know that there is something causing the issues that are going on with my body and that we’re close to figuring out what that is.

If you have experienced anything similar to what I’m going through or know someone else who has and you can provide any information that could help me put the pieces together, please, please share it … because it could not only help me but also many others.

To all of you who are going through uncertain times as I am now, my heart is with you. I’m sending love and healing energy to you, hoping you find peace and patience on your road to recovery.

In spirit,
Marie Kukula-Tyner

REMEMBERING 9/11: UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF THE COLLECTIVE, INTERCONNECTED EXPERIENCE WE ALL HAD THAT DAY AND HOW WE CAN INTEGRATE IT INTO OUR EVERYDAY LIVES

Twin TowersIn Chapter 32, You + Me = US: Our Collective, Interconnected Experience, of THE SPIRIT FACTOR, I talk about the collective, interconnected experience we, and people from around the world, had on September 11, 2001 and explain how and why this happened.

As we remember this tragic day, I am sharing an excerpt from Chapter 32 and also from Chapter 13, God, which is in the obstructions section of the book, because it also talks about 9/11.

I hope these help you understand why tragic events like 9/11 unite us and how we can collectively live from this powerful place every day, and not just in times of tragedy:

Chapter 32, You + Me = US: Our Collective, Interconnected Experience:

THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES WE HAVE BOTH individual and collective experiences.

Our collective experiences can be with other people or small groups, such as our families or the people at the companies we work for, in the towns where we live, and the schools we attend, etc.

Then there are the collective experiences we have with a large number of people, such as with the people in the country where we live or even many people from around the world. These collective experiences bring us together for a brief moment—or for much longer—to celebrate, cheer, support, grieve, mourn, speak out, or stand up.

The most powerful example of a large-scale collective experience I can think of (which I’ve mentioned before) happened when the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York were attacked and destroyed on September 11, 2001.

Together, as individuals, countries, and the world, we watched in shock and disbelief as both towers fell into piles of rubble.

As the events of the day unfolded on live television, we collectively grieved for those who died and for the loved ones they left behind, while cheering for the heroes who so courageously responded to the disaster.

It didn’t matter where we lived, what language we spoke, how much money we had or didn’t have, what color our skin was, if we knew anyone who worked in the towers, or anything else for that matter; we were all deeply affected—instantaneously feeling the pain, the loss, and the gravity of what was happening.

In that moment, the world changed forever, and we all knew it.

I have never before and have never since felt anything that compares to what I felt that day. To me, it felt as though every particle in the universe was grieving.

For the most part, we all experienced the same feelings—not intentionally, but instinctively—without thought or reason or anything else.

When a tragedy of this magnitude happens, our obstructions to spirit that make us feel separate from each other in our everyday lives, for some reason, disappear. And when they do, there is nothing to stop us from feeling the pain of what is happening. It travels across the universe, through the infinite web of invisible interconnectedness, instantaneously affecting all of us, bringing us together as one all-inclusive tribe.

At these times, there is no doubt that we are all somehow and in some way connected.

Collective Potential

These moments show us the potential we have to instantaneously connect with each other on a global level when obstructions to spirit are out of the way.

But we don’t have to wait for a tragedy to happen to experience this. Spirit does not go away in our everyday lives only to reappear in times of tragedy. It is always there, ready, willing, and able to bring us together when it is unobstructed.

But for this to happen, we will have to change the way we think, act, and move through our daily lives.

Yes, I know, change can be scary. Because of this, we resist it, even when we know it will create something better. This resistance, or unwillingness, to let go of antiquated beliefs and ways of doing things that cause pain and suffering is what stops us from evolving both individually and collectively.

We can become a bit more open to doing things differently when our suffering or pain reaches a level that can no longer be denied. But even then we can be slow to take action.

Unfortunately, I feel this is where we are in the world today—it has become too painful to continue on the path we are on.

While many of us know this, there are other people, businesses, politicians, and governments who benefit when things stay the same. So they will fight to stop progress, even if it means adamantly denying the existence of any problems, especially if they’re the ones causing them.

Chapter 13: God

Spirit Always Does the Right Thing

Spirit always does the right thing. It doesn’t wait, analyze, question, or discriminate—it just does.

I know we humans are capable of this kind of “doing,” and I know you know it, too. We have seen it countless times on television—and maybe even a few times in real life—in emergency situations or times of disasters when immediate action is required to save lives.

The most powerful example of this I can remember happened on September 11, 2001, when the world watched the incredible acts of heroism in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Towers in New York.

Race, religion, political differences, and anything else that divides us in our everyday lives, disappeared as we collectively watched, collectively cried, and collectively cheered for the heroes who quickly took action to save so many lives.

They didn’t wait for God to tell them what to do or for Him to save people. They took action.

In this horrific moment, as we watched mere mortals take God-like actions with courage, compassion, and strength that is seldom required in everyday life, we witnessed Unobstructed Spirit (US) and its profound possibilities.

When there is no time to wait, analyze, question, or even pray, we will do the right thing.

The obstructions that stop us from stepping up and taking action in our daily lives are temporarily removed, and when they are, we will risk our own comfort and safety to help or save others.

As I said before: Spirit always does the right thing. And we do, too, when our obstructions are out of the way.

Possibilities Exist with Spirit

Can you imagine the world we could create if we lived every day from this place of Unobstructed Spirit (US) that we witness in times of tragedy?

I can, and often do. It’s what has provided me inspiration many times during the long processes of writing this book.

But it took more than just this to keep me going. I had to truly believe that the world I imagined could be created. And the more I wrote and lived the SPIRIT FACTOR, the more I knew it could be created.

I saw how removing obstructions to spirit transformed my life, and I knew other people could transform their lives by doing the same.

In reality, all it will take for us to create a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US) is for each of us to live lives of Unobstructed Spirit (US). It really is that simple.

Even so, I’m not naïve enough to believe that we will be able to live every day without obstructions to spirit. But by striving to live this way, we will create more and more days in our individual lives where we do live this way.

And if enough of us do this, we will begin to create a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).

Learn how to live a life of Unobstructed Spirit (US) in THE SPIRIT FACTOR! Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions!

The (R)EVOLUTION of spirit starts now!

How I Discovered the Power of Resting In “Neutral” When the Future Is Unknown

Neutral Cropped FinalThe past three weeks have been nothing short of a nightmare. I had some serious health issues come on suddenly that have led to 4 emergency room visits, with one ending in an overnight stay in the hospital, and a slew of procedures, tests, biopsies, scans, and x-rays to help the doctors make a diagnosis.

I’ve been scared and overwhelmed since my husband Michael rushed me to the ER three weeks ago because I was having difficulty breathing while walking short distances and even just standing.

Before we left our home, I kissed our dog Amber on the head, thinking it might be the last time I saw her sweet face, and looked around our home and property, wondering if I would see them again while thinking about how much I’ve loved living surrounded by nature.

I felt this way because a CT scan of my chest the day before showed some shocking and devastating findings, and at that time, it felt like I was dying, the life force in me growing weaker by the minute to the point I had to use a wheelchair when we arrived at the ER.

The news has gotten better over the past few weeks, but there is still a mystery as to what is causing the health issues I’m having so the tests continue.

Last week, while waiting to have one of these tests, I found it easy to not go to a dark place and imagine all the horrible, terminal things I could have, but I didn’t have the strength to be positive and allow myself to believe that everything would be okay. It just seemed too far of a reach considering how my body felt, the results of some of the tests, and what I overheard some of the doctors discussing.

So in that moment, I decided I would stay “neutral” about my situation, and not try to predict any positive or negative outcome. I would just stay “neutral” as I took in information and test results as they came. No thinking too far ahead, no jumping to conclusions, no “what ifs,” just taking it one minute at a time.

With this decision, I could feel a heavy burden lift and the overwhelming feelings I was having diminish. Being “neutral” felt doable and lighter than trying to be positive, and it also took much less energy, which I was short on.

My body was struggling not only from what was going on internally but also from being pocked and prodded by doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff. Staying “neutral” allowed me to just be, without the added emotional stress of thinking negative thoughts or depleting my limited energy by forcing myself to stay positive. “Neutral” was a balance point in between the two, where I could rest and relax. Understanding this was truly a transformational moment for me!

Being “neutral” in challenging situations when the future is unknown is not something I’ve ever considered doing; I’ve always thought my choices were to face these situations with a positive or negative attitude.

But, man, “neutral” is a really powerful place to rest in to reduce stress, conserve energy, and to be present to take in information and facts from a reality-based place, not from a distorted place that being too positive or too negative can create. It stops our minds form creating scenarios that are not based on facts, depleting our limited energy and causing unnecessary worry and stress.

As I continue on this journey, if I find myself getting too far ahead of the reality of the situation or if I find myself thinking negative thoughts about “what could be,” I will remind myself to go to the powerful place of “neutral” so I will have the energy I need to face whatever comes next.

In essence, this is what THE SPIRIT FACTOR is about: removing obstructions so we can see the truth and live from a reality-based place. What I’ve realized these past 3 weeks is that I have truly integrated the concepts and philosophy of THE SPIRIT FACTOR into every cell of my body and I have removed most of the obstructions in my life so that in challenging times I can easily go to the unobstructed place of “neutral.”

I will write more about this subject in the coming weeks, but I felt compelled to share this information with you now because I feel it’s important, valuable, and even urgent for those who are struggling.

If you are facing some unknowns in your life, I hope this place of “neutral” will help you as it has me. Please share with me if it does so we can heal and grow together.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.

In Spirit,
Marie

In Our Pain We Can Find the Courage to Transform Our Lives and Our World

Michael & Marie Looking UpIt has been an extraordinarily painful few days for our country with the back-to-back mass shootings that occurred over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

The grief we feel as we mourn the many innocent victims who so violently and tragically lost their lives unites us not as a country but as human beings.

Even if we don’t personally know any of the victims, at some level we all know that we lost something this weekend because of these shootings.

It might be that we lost the belief that things will ever change, or our faith in humanity that was already hanging on by a frayed thread, or that we as individuals have the power and ability to change the trajectory of our individual and collective lives.

I know the speed and intensity at which all that is good in this country and in us is being attacked, dismantled, and destroyed is mind-boggling.

I know it’s hard to catch our breath let alone figure out what to do or how to organize and combat what’s going on.

I know that you are in pain, because I am too.

But I’m asking you to not walk away or distract yourself from the pain you’re feeling.

If you’ve read THE SPIRIT FACTOR, you know that the inspiration for our book came from a moment of pain, deep pain, that Michael and I unexpectedly experienced one February night.

That moment of pain was so powerful that it kept me questioning and searching and writing for almost 9 years, eventually turning our pain into a completely new and revolutionary philosophy for creating lives and a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US) so each and every one of us has the opportunity to live to our fullest potential.

Pain can be a great motivator if we allow ourselves to sit with it.

We need to remember that pain has an important message, and that its voice should be listened to.

Pain tells us that there are imbalances, injustices, inequalities, and many urgent issues that need our attention.

Below is something I wrote a few weeks ago about an experience that made me realize I have been avoiding painful feelings that have been building up in me over the past few years.

I didn’t know when I wrote this post how relevant it would be today.

I hope it inspires you to listen to and use the pain you’re now feeling as motivation to take action to create positive change in your life and in our world because we need you!

A Park, A Picnic, and the Pain It Uncovered

This afternoon, I sobbed uncontrollably as I made the 15 minute drive home from a community fair in a small rural town where my husband Michael and I had a booth for one of our businesses.

I wasn’t crying because something bad happened.

Actually, I witnessed something at the fair that was so beautiful, simple, and rare these days that it brought to the surface emotions that have been building up inside me over the past few years as I’ve watched the cruelty and cowardice of so many politicians and people online and in person.

Recently, the rhetoric and vilification of immigrants from Mexico has reached such a disturbing level that my heart hurts when I think of the fear so many of them live with every day and the new challenges they now face.

The rural area where Michael and I live in northeastern Washington has very few people of any color, which has always felt strange after living in a very culturally diverse area of Southern California for most of our lives before moving here 14 years ago.

So, today, when a Hispanic family of five sat down at a picnic table in the park the fair was in a short distance away from our booth, I noticed them, and wondered what it must feel like to be in a community where no one looks like you and in a country where you have been singled out and called criminals, rapists, and less than human by the president.

I was surprised by the overwhelming sadness and grief I felt when I thought about the dangers this lovely family now faces and the anger and hate that is being directed at them.

Tears filled my eyes and soon started rolling down my cheeks as I watched this family, not only because of this but also because the love they had for each other was one of the most beautiful things I’d seen in a very long time.

It was so strong that it was visible, tangible, and so simply stunning that it took my breath away. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.

I watched as the mother pulled several small plastic bags filled with homemade sandwiches from a reusable grocery bag, giving them to the father, who had a kind face and a gentle spirit, who then handed out half of each of those sandwiches to his children and wife before taking one for himself.

I was amazed how he treated the food with such gentleness and appreciation, and how each family member received the food in the same way.

When everyone had their food, they all closed their eyes and bowed their heads as the father gave thanks for the meal they were about to eat.

When he was done, they looked happy, eating their lunch while quietly talking to each other with undivided attention.

No “selfies” or other pictures were taken, no texts exchanged or phone calls made, and no social media accounts checked or posted to.

Actually, there were no cell phones in sight.

It was refreshing to see that this family felt no need to try to impress or prove anything to anyone, and that they were content in the simplicity of eating homemade sandwiches on a Saturday afternoon in a park with each other.

This beautiful family was not some story on TV or meme on social media. They were in my community, sitting next to me, in real life, close enough to look in the eyes.

And at that close distance, I saw the truth—that this family didn’t pose a threat to anyone—and not the lies told to further the agendas of politicians who want us to believe that some “group” they single out is the enemy instead of them.

When those in power label a group of people as bad, as the “enemy,” it makes the world much more dangerous for everyone in that group, including the sweet family I saw today peacefully living their lives and who loved each other deeply.

Knowing this, I wanted to walk over and give each of them a hug, and say, “I’m sorry. I’m just really, really sorry, for everything.”

I wanted to tell them that I wasn’t one of “them,” and that I don’t believe the lies that are being told.

But I didn’t.

And I didn’t because I felt so deeply ashamed by what’s happening in our country that I was immobilized.

To be honest, this experience has totally and completely wrecked me. I can’t stop crying.

I don’t know that I can put into words the significance of what I’m feeling, but I must make an effort not only to give you an idea of the gravity of it but also for me to understand the many different emotions I’m feeling.

You see, as I watched this beautiful family, whose skin color and ethnicity has made them the target of vicious attacks, I felt the dam that has been holding back the grief, hurt, frustration, anger, and despair building up inside me over the past few years completely break, flooding me with a tidal wave of emotions that I felt I might drown in.

I thought about the words I’ve wanted to say and people I’ve wanted to confront but haven’t.

How I’ve bitten my tongue bloody and chocked back words that needed to be said but weren’t.

The community meetings I should have attended but didn’t.

Like you, I’ve watched this nightmare unfold in real life, in real time, in our country, expecting someone else to step up and stop it.

But no one has.

I’ve tried to find ways to navigate these challenging times by limiting my exposure to the 24/7 news cycle and social media, distracting myself, and just trying to be joyful in spite of what’s going on.

But it’s been hard.

No matter where I go or what I do there is an always-present feeling of uncertainty, instability, and danger hanging heavy in the air that my body and mind are keenly aware of.

Today, I felt the depth and seriousness of what’s going on in our country as I sat close-enough-to-touch to a family who is most affected by the dangerous rhetoric being used to turn us against each other, and it hurt, bad!

But I’m okay with that.

I’m letting myself feel the pain, not walking away or distracting myself from it, because I know that in this pain is where I will find the courage to stand up and speak out, and by doing so I just might find in me the person I’ve been waiting for to “save” us and make the difference in the world we so desperately need.

Maybe if you do the same, we can create a world that’s kind and safe for everyone, and look towards a future that’s filled with limitless possibilities for all of us.

In Spirit,
Marie Kukula-Tyner
Author, THE SPIRIT FACTOR

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats!

Check out our website at www.thespiritfactor.com and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thespiritfactor and become a part of the (R)EVOLUTION of spirit!

STANDING UP FOR SPIRIT, FOR THE TRUTH, FOR WHAT’S RIGHT

Martin Luther King Quote
My spirit is weary today, tired and oh so saddened by the lies, corruption, and cruelty in our world and in so many hearts.
 
When I feel this way, I turn to our book for comfort and inspiration.
 
The chapter that came to my mind today is Chapter 34, Standing Up for Spirit, because it reminds me that standing up for spirit, for what’s right, for the truth, is always the right thing to do. It truly is the only way we can create lives and a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
 
We are at a critical moment in our history so the message of this chapter seems more important and urgent than ever. If we want to save ourselves and our planet, more of us have got to find the courage to stand up for spirit, and we also need to support and rally around those who risk their safety by publicly doing the same.
 
I hope this chapter inspires you and gives you the courage to let your voice be heard. We need you!
 
CHAPTER 34: STANDING UP FOR SPIRIT
 
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it’s right. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
THIS IS A HARD CHAPTER FOR ME TO WRITE. I have to tell you to stand up for spirit, which means standing up for the truth and for what’s right.
 
Most of us were told to do this from a young age. To me, it always sounded simple enough, noble, and, of course, the right thing to do. No question!
 
But I was never told about the challenges I might face or what I could lose if I did.
 
For most of my life, I believed that when you “do the right thing” you would prevail and make a difference in the world.
 
The many movies I’ve watched over the years about real-life people or fictional characters who risked everything to do the right thing reinforced this belief. The stories, told in entertaining 90-minute packages, always had happy endings.
 
I’m sure many of you have seen some of these movies, and, like me, thought, I could do that! It’s easy to say that we would when we know there will be a happy ending. But, truly, would we if we had to risk everything without knowing the outcome?
 
We might, especially if we believe that the truth always prevails—like I did, until a few months ago, when I found out that it doesn’t.
 
The Truth Shall Prevail?
 
Michael and I have been involved in a lengthy legal battle in which we have stood up for what’s right and fought for the truth. It’s been brutal and exhausting financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
 
Throughout the many years of litigation, we have told the truth, every step of the way—in motions, hearings, trials, etc. That’s the law so that’s what you do, right? Well, it turns out, not if you have something to hide.
 
We were warned by our attorney when the case started that people lie in court all the time. But, even if they did, we felt that we had more than enough evidence to support our position while they had nothing to support theirs.
 
Because of this, we were confident that we would prevail. Judges have to rule based on the facts, evidence, and law, right?
 
Um, wrong. Judges have some-thing called “judicial discretion,” which pretty much gives them the power and freedom to rule however they want, even if it’s contrary to evidence and law.
 
And that’s what happened in our case.
 
On a beautiful sunny July day, we sat in a courtroom and listened in shock and disbelief as the judge ruled against us.
 
Wait a minute! I thought. When you stand up for the truth, you always prevail!
 
Well, at least that’s what happens in the movies. But there we stood, in real life, defeated. It felt horrible.
 
Pointing a Finger at Spirit
 
That day, Michael and I lost any kind of faith we’d had in a fair and competent judicial system, and even worse, in spirit.
 
We couldn’t help but point a finger at spirit and blame it in some way for what had happened.
 
While I took the loss hard, Michael took it much harder. I wondered if he would be able to recover physically and spiritually from such a devastating disappointment. He was inconsolable. I had never seen him so sad and lost. I was scared.
 
When Michael, who is the most positive and optimistic person I know, is sad, it feels like the whole world is sad. And that’s how it felt.
 
He had always been the one who offered words of wisdom and encouragement during the challenging times in our lives. But not this time. He had nothing to give—no words of comfort, no “everything will be okay.”
 
Michael’s sadness quickly turned into anger. He was pissed off at everything, including spirit. He said to me, “Spirit abandoned us! It totally let us down!”
 
In that moment, I also felt spirit had let us down. But after thinking about it, I knew it hadn’t.
 
What happened in the courtroom had nothing to do with spirit; it was all man-made.
 
No matter how much we would have hoped and prayed, visualized and believed, or even provided more evidence, the outcome would still have been the same.
 
The ruling was made by a flawed human being, who, unfortunately, was in a position of tremendous power.
 
Whether his ruling was based on some kind of agenda, bias, vendetta, or just flat out incompetence, he knew he could rule however he wanted and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
 
Because of this, spirit was pushed out of the courtroom—and the ruling.
 
Many times the truth doesn’t win in the courtroom, or in other areas of life, no matter how hard we fight, because humans, with all our obstructions and agendas, stack the odds against it.
 
Win or Lose, Doing the Right Thing Is the Right Thing to Do
 
After going through what Michael and I did, I’ve often wondered if we would do it again, knowing what we know now. I have to say, I’m always a bit surprised when my answer is “yes.” Because even though we “technically” lost, doing the right thing was the right thing to do.
 
But beyond that, if we hadn’t done the right thing by standing up for spirit in our own lives, how could we possibly tell anyone else to do it in their lives?
 
For our words to carry any weight, we have to “walk our talk,” and Michael and I do when it comes to standing up for spirit. And because we do, we know intimately the sacrifices, challenges, and obstructions you will face when you do.
 
To be honest, standing up for spirit is a hard thing to do! But it’s a necessary thing to do if we want to create both lives and a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
 
It’s how we will “turn the tide” and start stacking the odds in spirit’s favor, giving it a chance to win. If we don’t, we all will lose—quite possibly everything.
 
We Can No Longer Look the Other Way
 
Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
When our obstructions are out of the way, we know what’s right; and we also know when we need to stand up for what’s right. But many times we choose to “look the other way,” justifying doing so with excuses that give us a temporary reprieve from the guilt we feel.
 
While this may ease our minds for a moment, it does not fool spirit. Spirit knows what we need to do, and it will continue to remind us of what we need to do.
 
When we don’t listen and, instead, “look the other way,” over time the “wounds we inflict on our soul” from doing so will become fatal.
Many of us have become so disillusioned and depressed by what we see going on in the world that we’ve given up believing in any possibility that things can improve.
 
When we feel this way, our bodies notice. Our inaction literally eats us up from the inside, deflating us of the life-giving force of spirit.
 
But when we do the right thing—no matter what the outcome—we experience a powerful peace in knowing that we did the right thing.
 
I can attest to this. The legal matter Michael and I were involved in went on for almost five years. While we suffered greatly from stress and disappointment during that time, we are recovering. In addition, we’ve gained a newfound respect for ourselves and each other for having the courage to stand up for spirit the way we did.
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
 
Through the “challenge and controversy,” Michael and I stood with and fought for the truth. I will forever be proud of us for doing this.
 
As I mentioned before, standing up for spirit is not an easy thing to do. Because of this, I cannot promise you the warm, fuzzy place that so many people do with their self-help philosophies.
 
But there is something I can promise you. When you stand up for spirit, you will be actively participating in creating change in the world by helping to stack the odds in spirit’s favor. When enough of us do this, we will create a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
Truth Be Told
 
Below is a poem I wrote when Michael and I were going through the challenging legal situation I talked about in this chapter. Truth’s voice woke me up in the middle of the night and gave me these words.
 
Truth Be Told
 
Here I stand in front of you, waiting to be told
Longing for the moment that you look inside my soul
Lost between two sides and promises never meant to keep
Treated like an outcast, like a beggar in the street
 
Held hostage, bound and gagged, waiting to hear my fate
Hoping you pay my ransom before it’s much, much too late
I’m lonely here, alone, standing in what’s right
Growing weary of the battle,
I feel I might be losing this fight
 
You think I haven’t noticed
that you won’t look me in the eye
But when you lie to truth, I will never take your side
Even when denied I will never go away
Here I stand in front of you,
and that’s where I plan to stay
 
So patiently I’ll wait for you
to fall in love with me again
For I am the one, the only one,
that matters in the end
 
#truthbetold #standingupforspirit #dotherightthing

What’s Waiting for Us On the Other Side of A Goodbye?

20190708_163243_HDRThe logging project on our property I wrote about in my last post is done and the final piece of equipment was removed last week. I have to tell you, it was harder than I expected but not in the ways I thought it would be.

I knew watching our beloved trees being cut down one by one would be challenging, especially my favorite tree I’m standing next to in the picture. But the level of disruption to our lives caused by the army of machines required for the project was a surprise to Michael and me.

The noise and vibration from the massive machines that fired up at 5:00 am each day and rumbled around for 8 hours obliterating everything in their paths was disturbing, and felt like an assault to all of us, including nature, who live on our usually peaceful property.

Our dog Amber stayed close to me, panting a lot, and didn’t devour her meals as she usually does.

The tiny birds that have a nest above the porch light on our back deck and the family of robins who have a nest in the vine on the east side of our house stayed close to their nests, making sure their babies where safe while the machines were running.

A few deer wandered our property but didn’t bring their fawns with them, instinctively knowing that they would have a difficult time navigating the obstacle course of deep ruts made by the machines and tree limbs and other debris that now cover our property.

It looks like a tornado swept through our ten acres, and I’m finding it hard not to get overwhelmed with the amount of clean up Michael and I now have to do.

But there are a lot of positive things that came from the logging project that I didn’t expect either. So let me go through them:

– Removing many of the big trees has completely transformed our property and our home! It feels like a different property, bigger and more alive, giving it a new identity that is more in line with who we are and how we use our inside and outside spaces.

– The inside of our house has always seemed dark, especially during the short days of the winter months but also during the warmer months. Now, with the many tall trees that once encircled and shaded our house gone, the early-morning sunrises to the late-night sunsets this time of year in the Pacific Northwest brighten up every room in our home, making it so bright that sunglasses are almost needed when I’m doing the dishes in our kitchen.

– The sky seems so expansive over our property now since it is no longer blocked from our view in many areas by trees, making it easier for us to see the sun and the moon and the stars … and even the rainbows that created a work of art on the sky’s canvas the other night just before dark.

– We now have more of a breeze on our property, and it finds its way through our open windows making the sheer curtains in our living and dining rooms gently flutter as it does. The air feels fresher and the energy more alive all around us.

– Our garden that was deprived of morning and late afternoon sun by tall trees now gets full sun almost the entire day. This additional daily sun has transformed our garden in less than a week, the plants all going through amazing growth spurts as they drink in the abundance of warmth and light that gives them life and the ability to produce vegetables that nourish our bodies.

– We discovered a crabapple tree in our pasture that we didn’t even know was there for 14 years because it was hidden in a group of pine trees. The loggers took great care not to disturb it has they removed the trees around it.

– We now have a stunning view of the beautiful mountain behind Deer Lake that we knew was there but didn’t know could be seen so clearly from our property.

– In addition to the changes we experienced, one of our neighbors told us that it was like someone turned on the lights in their house when the trees on our property that blocked their morning sun were removed.

While the above changes were visible and tangible, the most unexpected and significant change for Michael and me is an intangible one.

We had not realized that the many tall trees were literally and figuratively blocking the flow of energy on our property and in us.

As the trees grew taller over the years, the energy became stagnant and still in and around us. In the week since we’ve had many of them removed, we’ve realized how deeply this affected us on an energetic, emotional, and physical level, holding us back from moving forward on new projects and making it hard to transition to the new life we want to live teaching THE SPIRIT FACTOR philosophy.

The disruption on our property from the logging project shook things up in ways that continue to amaze and inspire me, opening up the flow of energy to new possibilities.

As the particles continue to settle around us, finding their new places in their changed environment, and nature feels safe in returning and moving around our property, I’m excited to see what effect this change will continue to have on us, our goals, and nature as we all adjust and adapt to our new environment.

As I was writing this post, I was happy to see a tiny fawn just outside my office window curiously exploring the new lay of our land.

And last Sunday, I took great joy in watching the two baby birds from the nest on our porch light learning to fly, bravely going from their nest to the edge of the deck to the branches of a pine tree just a short distance away then back again, while a group of mama turkeys used the turned up ground left behind by the machines to teach their 15 chicks how to look for bugs.

Michael and I had no idea all the positive things that were waiting for us on the other side of the very hard “goodbye” we had to say to all the trees before they were cut down, nor did we realize the chain reaction of change that would take place when the trees were gone.

This has made me think about all the good that is waiting for each of us on the “other side of a goodbye” that we know we need to say but haven’t had the courage to do.

A goodbye to an unfulfilling job or toxic relationship.

A goodbye to a city that is noisy, crowded, and unhealthy.

A goodbye to people who don’t support us or who are abusive.

A goodbye to antiquated ways of thinking and doing things.

A goodbye to a routine that keeps us in a perpetual state of sameness … and so much more.

We all have “goodbyes” we need to say in some aspect of our lives that we have not done because of what we feel we will lose.

But maybe, just maybe, if we begin to imagine what’s waiting for us on the other side of those goodbyes, we might find the strength and courage to say them and begin to truly transform our lives and the world.

#personaltransformation #creatingbetterlives

Change Is Hard… But that Shouldn’t Stop Us from Making Changes in Our Lives

20190707_144022_HDR (1)Yesterday my husband Michael and I walked our 10-acre property saying goodbye to many of the beautiful tall pine trees that cover most of it. You see, we made a decision to have our property logged for the health of the forest, fire safety, and to protect our home from trees that could fall on it.

My head absolutely knows that it’s the right thing to do.

But this morning, when a ginormous, scary machine rolled on to our property at 7:00 a.m., I started to panic and second-guess our decision.

OMG! I thought. So many of our beautiful trees are going to be cut down and our property is going to look so different! YIKES! I’m not ready for this!

My heart hurt as I felt the loss of the trees before a single one was cut down.

I love the trees on our property, and have enjoyed watching them grow tall and strong over the 14 years we’ve lived here. Their presence makes me feel protected and safe, somehow buffering the harshness of the world outside our property lines.

Their beauty awes me, especially when their branches are weighted down with freshly fallen snow or when they dance in the breeze.

I love the shade they’ve provided for us and how the deer rest beneath them on hot summer days and find safety in them from the weather on stormy days.

But so many of these trees are now too tall and pose a risk to our safety and our home.

Knowing this should make the process easier, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t, at least not for me.

While Michael is at peace with it, I’m struggling as I listen to the machines outside cutting the trees down then hearing the big thud they make as they hit the ground, and the rumbling of the huge tractor dragging the trees to our pasture area where another huge, loud machine strips them of their branches and bark before cutting them into smaller pieces.

It’s a violent, disruptive process that shakes the ground, making me feel sick to my stomach and weak in my legs.

So to keep my mind occupied, I decided to write this post about change.

If you’ve read THE SPIRIT FACTOR, you know it’s about creating exponential change in our lives and in the world so we can live to our full potential individually and collectively.

So you might think it’s strange that I find change challenging.

But I’m in no way ashamed to admit that I do. I think it’s completely normal and natural to feel this way, and it is important for all of us to understand this.

I feel too many people in the self-help and personal development worlds have been remiss in covering this point because they’ve sold people on easy and effortless philosophies that promise bliss in every situation, setting them up for disappointment and failure.

But THE SPIRIT FACTOR is different from these philosophies! We will never tell you that change or transformation is easy or that your participation or action is not required.

Make no bones about it, change is hard physically, emotionally, and spiritually, even when it’s good or necessary.

Change is scary, noisy, disruptive, uncomfortable, and also sweaty, snotty, and messy, as I say in our book. In addition, there will be people who will get mad at you for making changes in your life if they feel they will be affected by them.

Even when change has a positive effect on us and our lives, we can still grieve for how things once where or for what we’ve let go of or lost because the energetic shift created by change can leave a tangible void that feels awkward and unfamiliar.

This is why many times we will avoid making changes in our lives at all costs. It’s why so many people stay in unfulfilling jobs or relationships, and so much more.

When I look back at the times I’ve made major changes in my life—ending a 13-year-long abusive relationship, leaving the security of a job I had been at for over a decade to pursue my creative dreams, and when Michael and I sold almost everything we owned and moved from Southern California to our current home in northeastern Washington 1,200 miles away—I remember how scared I felt, how out of control things seemed, and how I desperately longed to feel the comfort of a familiar routine and environment again.

What I tried to remember today, as the energetic shift took place on our property, is that what I’m feeling is only temporary and is just a part of the process of making positive changes in my life.

If you are in the middle of creating change or getting the courage to make changes in your life, I hope you remember this and find strength and courage in knowing it.

I am honored to share this journey with you, fellow traveler, and know that we are on our way to creating better lives for each of us and a better world for all of us.