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

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

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.

Intuition: The Highest Form of Intelligence

Intuition: the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.

The link below is to an interesting article and video on the subject of intuition. The incredible moment Michael and I had on the evening of February 20, 2008 that inspired THE SPIRIT FACTOR was definitely an intuitive experience.

In an instant, we gained amazing insight into and clarity on life’s biggest questions and problems, somehow knowing their answers and solutions, not intellectually but in every cell of our bodies.

The scientist in this video mentions that these “strange thoughts” can come out of nowhere and we “know they are correct.” And they did … and we knew.

After that moment of inspiration on February 20th, Michael and I made it our purpose to understand what we’d experienced and put into words what we suddenly “knew.”

It took us 9 years to accomplish this, but we feel THE SPIRIT FACTOR will give the people who read it the same “knowingness” we experienced that night and help them create moments like the one we had by removing the eleven obstructions to spirit we identify and explain in our book.

Yes, these moments can be created, and the more we individually and collectively create them, the better our lives and world will become.

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

 

The Power of Our Environment to Change Us Now … and for Generations

Below is a link to a fascinating little article about how our environment has the power to effect us genetically, and how that environmental genetic change is passed down through generations. This is called “environmental epigenetic inheritance.”

While we truly are a “product of our environment,” it turns out we are a product of our ancestors’ environments, too.

I talk about the importance of environment in Chapter 15 of THE SPIRIT FACTOR–how it is the deciding factor in whether something lives or dies, grows or withers, evolves or stays the same, and how it can literally change the shape of our entire physical and emotional beings–but this article goes beyond its immediate impact on us, showing that our environment has a generational impact.

Take a moment to think about all the possibilities and pitfalls of that.

Think about the descendants of Holocaust survivors and slaves, children of rape victims and domestic violence survivors, etc.

I’m sitting here a bit speechless, not quite able to fully comprehend how this new information will change my perception of me, others, and every living thing on our planet.

I love when I’m exposed to research and data that does this! We should never be afraid to expose ourselves to new information that challenges our beliefs and perceptions.

This is how we grow as human beings and evolve as a species.

sciencealert.com/scientists-observe-epigenetic-memories-passed-down-for-14-generations-most-animal

Finding You and Your Home, Where the “Crawdads Sing”

It’s hard to put into words how much I loved the segment on Delia Owens, who is the New York Times bestselling author of “Where the Crawdads Sing”, on the Sunday Morning show this past weekend. (See video of interview at bottom of post)

Delia is 70 years old, and “Where the Crawdads Sing” is her first novel.

She spent almost a decade writing the book.

In the segment, Delia talks about how she has spent her life in remote areas, Africa and now northern Idaho, and how she loves—and at times loathes—the isolation of these places.

She said sometimes she gets so lonely that she feels like she can’t breathe.

The reporter said, “But you like a little part of that?”

Delia responded, “I do. And I decided to write a book about it.”

I related to so much of what Delia said because of some similarities in our lives.

While I’m not a New York Times bestselling author, well, not yet, it did take me almost a decade to write and edit THE SPIRIT FACTOR.

And just like when she was writing her novel, inspiration came to me when it came and could not be forced.

Oh, and I, too, have a plastic storage tube full of old drafts, and scribbles and handwritten notes on pieces of scratch paper, that I wrote at all hours of the day and night when inspiration struck.

But I really found a kindred spirit in Delia when she talked about how she seeks out and loves isolation, and how she feels at home in nature.

The title of Delia’s book was taken from a phrase her mother used to use, when encouraging her tomboy daughter to take to the woods around their rural Georgia home and listen to what those woods had to say.

Delia explained that she learned from books that crawdads really don’t sing. But she learned from her mother that if you go far enough into the wilderness by yourself, and there’s nothing but you and nature, you will hear the crawdads sing.

Delia currently lives in a remote area of northern Idaho, and says that, “This is where the crawdads sing,” and that it took her a lifetime to find it.|

When my husband Michael and I decided to move from Southern California to a place in nature, we went on a year-long search to find a place “where the crawdads sing.”

We ended up finding a 10-acre property in the mountains of rural northeastern Washington that was surrounded by nature.

When we drove up to the property, I knew instantly it was home.

My spirit craved the silence and wisdom of nature, and also isolation after living my whole life in neighborhoods and working for many years in Los Angeles.

I fell head over heels in love with the forest that surrounded our new home and the nature that lived in it, taking long daily walks through it so I could hear the “crawdads sing.”

And, boy, did they sing!

What I “heard” in nature was different than the man-made information I had been taught and told my whole life.

It breathed life into me and my spirit, healing a depth of brokenness in me that I didn’t even know existed.

For the 9 years it took me to write and edit THE SPIRIT FACTOR, I spent as much time as possible in the woods, observing nature.

I crossed paths with a mountain lion and a lot of other wildlife.

I witnessed up close the courage and resilience that nature faces life with every single day.

I listened to nature’s voice and did my best to translate it into words without distorting it with any agenda.

I feel that I was successful accomplishing this.

To spend almost a decade on this project, and for much of the time not really knowing when I would finish writing, was challenging. So was the isolation.

But what I learned during this time is that you have to allow yourself the time and space to fully explore and understand what you are writing about.

In order to do this, it takes listening to the “crawdads sing”, or as I call it, listening to spirit, which requires isolation and time in nature.

Inspiration can’t be forced and ideas can’t be manufactured. You can’t rush them.

This can be a hard thing to surrender to. But it is important to understand.

It’s also important to understand that this pertains to us and our lives, too.

Delia started writing “Where the Crawdads Sing” when she was in her sixties and became a best-selling author at age 70.

Many of us think that if we aren’t successful by a certain age that we never will be successful.

But discovering and becoming who we are takes time. Actually, it takes a lifetime.

Delia said it took her a lifetime to find her home in northern Idaho where the “crawdads sing,” and that’s okay.

No matter how young or how old we are, the most important thing is that we keep searching, learning, listening, evolving, and becoming the truest version of ourselves we can be.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is a completely new and revolutionary philosophy — based on the simplicity, intelligence, and wisdom of nature — that provides us the tools to tap into the limitless potential of the human spirit.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR helps you identify, understand, and remove the eleven most-common obstructions to spirit.

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