Amazing Grace – A Story of Strength, Resilience, and Grace

Note: I was going to post this yesterday when it happened but we had wildfires in our area that kept us concerned and preparing in case we had to evacuate. Today is a better day so I’m sharing it now.

Amazing Grace

Early last winter, an injured doe showed up alone on our property. She looked like she might have been hit by a car as her right-front leg was disfigured from the shoulder down making it unusable. Her face showed the depth of her pain, and so did her thin, frail body.

I cried when I saw her.

I post a lot of pictures showing the beauty of the wildlife that wanders our property and share the joy it gives my husband, Michael, and me. But I’ve never really shared the other, less-joyful side of living in nature, which is witnessing the challenges and life-and-death struggles it faces every day.

This particular injured doe is that “other side” that I’ve witnessed but have not shared until now.

This deer, who we named Grace, showed up when I was in my battle with cancer and going through grueling treatment for it, and, for some reason, in Grace I saw myself. I felt that Grace and I were kindred spirits not only in our pain but also in our struggle to survive.

I have found it hard to watch wildlife when it’s struggling, knowing that there isn’t much we can do to help it, leaving us, at times, to witness nature “run its course.”

In Grace’s case, Michael and I knew the only thing we could do to help was to give her food. So we did. We heard that other neighbors gave her food, too, all of us hoping that it would give her the strength she needed to make it through the winter.

This beautiful, helpless creature in so much pain and struggling to walk, especially in the deep snow, haunted me. My heart was often heavy, thinking about how she was suffering every minute of every day, as I, myself, was experiencing the same kind of constant and relentless pain.

In some way, I felt that we depended on each other for our individual survival – for Grace it was the food we provided her and for me it was the strength her infrequent and temporary presence gave me, reminding me that if she could endure her challenges and survive, so could I.

Every morning I would look out our kitchen window for Grace, but most of the time she wasn’t there. She would be gone for weeks at a time, and when she was, we thought the worst: she probably had died.

But just when we were sure that she had, she would show up, sometimes with our neighborhood deer Rudy, who we think is her mom, skinny and still unable to use her injured leg yet, miraculously, still very much alive.

Winter turned to spring and spring to summer, and Grace’s visits to our property were few and far between. Her last visit was on May 8th of this year and she didn’t look good (see attached picture).

A few days ago, Michael and I were talking about Grace because it had been so long since we’d seen her; sadly, we both agreed that she probably had, finally, succumbed to her injuries and the harsh elements of nature that she faced handicapped.

But this morning Rudy showed up with two other does. When I saw them in our back yard, I went out on our deck to say Hi to Rudy, and when I did, I noticed that one of the does had a bit of a limp and her right-front leg looked different than her other three legs.

Could it be Grace? I wondered.

I studied her for a while, and even though she looked different because she had gained quite a bit of weight and was walking almost normal, I could tell, without a doubt, that it was Grace.

My heart was overjoyed so I ran inside to share the good news with Michael!

We both went back outside, and after carefully looking at her, Michael agreed that it was Grace.

With big smiles on our faces we watched Grace be a “normal” deer, amazed that she had not only survived but also that she was now thriving, her face no longer showing any pain and her injured leg now strong and usable.

The picture with this post shows the amazing transformation Grace has made from when she was here in May to today.

We came back inside and I watched Grace, Rudy, and the other deer wander around our back yard then off and out of sight. As I did, tears filled my eyes as I thought about the individual and collective journeys Grace and I have been on the past year and how far we both have come.

This morning, Grace reminded me that, even when a positive outcome seems impossible, or when the odds are stacked against us, or when our days are dark and our challenges big, if we just keep going, putting one foot (or one hoof) in front of the other, miracles can happen.

If you are facing a big, or small, challenge right now, I hope you remember this, and that you find strength from Grace’s amazing story and how this little creature defied the odds!

Thank you, Grace, for showing all of us what strength, resilience, and grace look like. I will remember you forever.

Love,

Marie Kukula-Tyner

When the Last Raindrop Falls

As we take refuge inside again today from the heat and now the smoke from so many fires, I am saddened that this has become the norm for our summers up here in the Pacific Northwest.

I miss hiking, biking, sitting in our garden, and our morning and evening walks.

But we humans are lucky, because we can come indoors and get a break from the heat and smoke. Nature is not so fortunate.

We have a lot of wildlife on our property and I am seeing the toll the extreme, prolonged heat, and now the smothering smoke, is taking on it. The deer, birds, and the turkeys and their chicks seem agitated and exhausted, and it is oh-so sad to bear witness to.

I wrote this poem years ago when I thought things were pretty bad. Sadly, they have only gotten worse. We need to do better, my fellow humans. Hopefully we won’t be to late …

When the Last Raindrop Falls

Maybe when the last raindrop falls,

when we can no longer hear nature’s call

Maybe when the last tree is cut down,

and the last flower pulled from the ground

Maybe when the last eagle flies,

when the sun sets in a lonely sky

Maybe when the wolf loses its pack,

and its last howl is never answered back

Maybe when the last bee is gone,

we will finally see that we were wrong

Forsaking the truth for their lies,

and thinking the Earth would never die

Marie Kukula-Tyner

IT’S BEEN A WHILE, BUT I’M BACK!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. So much has happened to me personally and to us collectively over the past year. While our world faced a global pandemic, I was dealing with my own health challenge.

I won’t go into the details now, but I will tell you that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I’m happy to say that I am on the road to a complete recovery.

I’m still processing everything we individually and collectively went through over the past year, but what I learned, to a greater extent in that time, is that our health is truly the most valuable asset we have.

Dr. William J. Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, understood this. I took the picture above when I was at the Mayo Clinic last year because what it said resonated deeply with me.

Dr. Mayo’s words have stayed with me since then, especially as I watched so many people in our nation, and around the world, get so sick or die from Covid-19.

While a pandemic is a rare occurrence that we individually don’t have much control over, how we take care of our health on a daily basis is something we do have control of.

Taking care of our health is the single most important thing we can do, because if we lose our health, we lose our ability to be independent, to have a bright future, and to pursue our dreams. If we get sick, we end up struggling to get through our days and we find ourselves surviving instead of thriving.

While the emotional and physical toll of an illness can be tough on the patient and their caregiver, the financial consequences can be devastating for those who are under insured or who don’t have insurance. So taking care of our health and the health of our loved ones is the best investment we can make on many levels.

In Section Two, Obstructions to Spirit, of THE SPIRIT FACTOR, the first obstructions I talk about are Our Health and Food because I feel our health and the food we eat can be the biggest obstructions to spirit we have.

While I’ve considered myself to be educated about food and a pretty healthy eater over the past decade, I realized the past few months that I could improve my diet a lot. This is not such an easy task when we are bombarded with unhealthy fast-food commercials constantly on TV and so much of the food available in our groceries stores is processed and lacks any nutritional value.

But after what I went through, I’m committed to cutting out most processed foods and switching to a more whole foods plant-based diet. Every part of my being is telling me that this is the right thing to do. I feel by making this change, I will put the odds in my favor for not only recovering completely now but also for staying healthy and happy in the future.

Rather than looking at this change as some sort of deprivation, I’m looking at it as a joyful thing, knowing that I’m giving my body the nourishment it needs to heal and become stronger every day. This is exciting to me!

I have a lot left in life that I want to accomplish, and I want to do everything in my power to make sure I’m strong and healthy for the work, and fun, ahead.

There were times during my treatment journey that I wasn’t sure I’d make it, and I could feel the dream I have of Michael and me teaching THE SPIRIT FACTOR philosophy around the world slipping away.

Feeling that all the hard work we had done, the sacrifices we had made, and the time we had spent writing the book would be lost made me incredibly sad. I felt sad, too, for all the people we wouldn’t be able to help because I know the information in THE SPIRIT FACTOR is needed now more than ever.

But now, I know that if I continue to make healthy choices and work hard, I can make my dream come true. And that is worth any effort my new, healthier life will take.

I’m happy to be back! I look forward to sharing more of THE SPIRIT FACTOR with you and the world! Maybe you will be inspired to join me on my new, healthier-life journey so we can create a (R)EVOLUTION of spirit, together!

It is time, don’t you think?

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. You can click the Shop Now button at the top of the page to purchase a copy!

In Spirit,Marie Kukula-Tyner

YET ANOTHER LONG-OVERDUE GOODBYE

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I will be writing a longer post explaining why. Right now, I’m working on healing, which is requiring me to look at a lot of things in my life, especially on an emotional level.

Today, as I sat quietly in our garden, I realized that long-held anger has manifested into toxic matter in me physically. While there’s a lot to be angry about in the world right now, I don’t feel that this is new anger, and, interestingly, I don’t feel that it’s my anger.

This anger was given to me long ago and I’ve held on to it because I’m not sure I even knew it was there. But, today, it became evident that it is there and that it has been there for as long as I can remember. Now that I realize this, I will work on releasing this anger, prying myself from its terminal grips, which will allow me to discover who I am without it.

This epiphany in our garden today reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago, A Long-Overdue Goodbye (see below), when I was releasing some old emotional trauma. I end Chapter 19, Your Mind, of The Spirit Factor with this poem. I’m sharing it here because, like me, I’m sure many of you also need to say a long-overdue goodbye to something in your lives.

It may not be easy, but it’s necessary for us to not only survive but also to thrive. Life truly is a never-ending journey of letting go of things that hold us back and smother our spirits. So, today, let’s be brave together and say a long-overdue goodbye to what we need to let go of, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, and discover who we truly are without what we’re saying goodbye to.

I hope that my poem helps you with this process. Read it, meditate on it, and let it be your mantra as you free yourself and your spirit.

A Long-Overdue Goodbye

I’ve carried you around for quite some time
Little did I know, you were never really mine
I took on your burdens as if they were my own,
and you gladly handed them over, then left me to be alone

I waited for you, hoping you would come back for me,
but the days and months and years went by,
and never again did you I see
I tried to move on and hide my wounds from the world,
hoping no one would notice I was just a broken little girl

I looked for someone to rescue me from the prison of my pain,
but no matter how much others loved me, there it would remain
The inner war raged on for, oh, so many years
It was a brutal and bloody battle, that would never end, I feared

But just as I was ready to surrender and let my life slip away,
I realized I had suffered a debt that was never mine to pay
So I must say a long-overdue goodbye to the sins of our family tree
For I’ve decided that it’s time for me to finally be free

Marie Kukula-Tyner

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. You can click the Shop Now button to purchase a copy! Join our community of spirit and “like” our page on Facebook!

A Long-Overdue Goodbye

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!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the Anniversary of the Birth of THE SPIRIT FACTOR!

tsf new book cover front only 7-16-2018

Eleven years ago today, our book THE SPIRIT FACTOR was born. Well, at least it started Michael and me on the road to writing a book about spirit.

At the time, we had no idea that it would take us almost 9 years to write and edit the book. We also never could have imagined the many challenges we would face over those years that would almost derail us and this project, or the amazing journey we would go on because we asked one question: What is spirit?

THE SPIRIT FACTOR could never have been written on a deadline nor could I have prepared an outline for the book when I started writing.

The bits and pieces of the book came to me slowly, over the years I wrote it. I would have to digest the information then try to explain it in writing in a easy-to-understand way.

I included a quote from Joseph Campbell at the beginning of the book that describes perfectly how THE SPIRIT FACTOR was written:

“Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself.”

This is truly what happened with THE SPIRIT FACTOR, and it was one of the most magical things I have ever experienced!

THE SPIRIT FACTOR became the book I needed but had not been able to find in my decades-long search for something that would help me understand every aspect of life and live it to its fullest potential.

Below is the Introduction to the book that explains what happened on this day 11 years ago, and how, in an instant, the trajectory of our lives was changed.

INTRODUCTION: A BOOK IS BORN

On the evening of February 20, 2008, between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., as a total lunar eclipse was taking place, Michael and I experienced a moment we had not planned on or that either one of us had ever imagined.

It was a moment of absolute clarity: clarity as to why the two of us were in pain, why so many others were in pain, and why the planet was suffering.

This moment started out as a conversation between Michael and me that began from a place of pain—deep pain—that we were both feeling but that neither one of us could explain or un-derstand.

Looking at our lives, we had so much to be grateful for. We had a loving relationship; we lived on one of the most beautiful pieces of property on the planet, surrounded by nature and peace; we had ideas and dreams that we were working on together; and we had three amazing dogs that brought complete joy to our lives.

Life was pretty darn good!

Over the years, Michael and I had worked hard to improve our lives on our own, and continued to do so after we met. Because of this, we were, at the time, in a place we had once dreamed of.
So, according to the numerous self-help books we had read over the years, the self-help speeches we had listened to, and the current onslaught of self-help movies we had watched, there was absolutely no good reason why we weren’t in “bliss” every moment of every day.

Since we weren’t, we felt there was something wrong with us that needed to “fixed” by affirming, acting as if, doing steps, being grateful, not watching the news, not getting involved or speaking out, or whatever else the latest self-helper was preaching as the way to this ever-elusive bliss.

If they were right, the pain Michael and I were feeling was all in our heads and could easily be “fixed” for the price of their latest book, CD, or seminar.

Unfortunately, we had believed this for years and tried to “fix” ourselves with these types of products, but we always ended up feeling like failures for not experiencing the results and sustaining change that had been promised.

On the night of February 20, it became clear to us why we— and so many others—were suffering.

You see, the pain Michael and I were feeling was not just in our heads; it was in our hearts and in every fiber of our beings.

Even though we had improved our lives, we could still feel the pain and suffering of so many others on the planet—and the suffering of the planet, too.

And even though our home was filled with love, peace, and respect, the moment we walked out our door, turned on the television, talked to a friend, neighbor, or family member, or basically did anything that involved being in the world, we could feel the pain and suffering that existed.

This pain no longer lives beneath the surface where it can be denied; it has reached the point where it is in clear view for all of us to see—and feel.

It can be seen in our addictions, illnesses, and disorders; in our broken homes and neglected children, elderly, and animals; in our prejudices and lack of compassion; in our apathy and pursuit of money and “things” at all costs; in our greed and separation and segregation; and in our words and in our wars.

On this night, Michael and I felt the collective pain of the people and our planet at a level that was beyond what we thought was humanly possible; we felt it at the level of spirit.

Feeling pain at this level is much different than feeling pain on an individual level—it is a depth of pain that can swallow you up and leave you in such despair that you could disappear in it forever.

When most of us feel pain, any pain, we try to avoid it or do something to stop it.

But on this night, Michael and I bravely sat together with this unbearable pain and looked it straight in the eyes.

When we did, we understood the pain, and realized it was telling us something very important—something we would have missed had we tried to avoid or stop the pain we were feeling.

Because we sat with this pain and listened to it, information, answers, and our purpose flowed freely from a place of spirit that was so present it was palpable.

This information was not separate from us; we simply knew it with every fiber of our beings, even though we had never been taught or told it.

There was no thought of doing anything other than completely surrendering to the moment with no judgment or distractions.

Actually, there was no thought involved in anything that happened that night—we transcended from thought to knowingness.

It wasn’t just an experience of being connected to spirit—we were spirit!

Every answer we had been searching for, we knew. All the pain the world was feeling, we felt.

This moment brought us to the purpose we had been searching for our entire lives.

But, to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t the warm, fuzzy place we’d expected or that we had been promised in those aforementioned self-help books.

Actually, it was quite the opposite.

It’s not what we would have chosen had our decision been based on riches, relaxation, or a comfortable life.

But it is something we know we must do.

This purpose runs so deep, we feel that our survival depends on it.

It’s a purpose born out of the suffering and pain we are all feeling, yet have not been able to understand or express.

Even though there is no road map to follow, we know with absolute certainty, if we allow spirit to guide us, it will take us in the direction of healing—not just for the two of us, but for all of us.

Marie Kukula -Tyner & Michael Tyner

Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth

Somewhere CD Cover

Since moving from Southern California to the mountains of eastern Washington over 13 years ago, I have experienced so many moments of incredible beauty in nature.

While I love each of the four seasons the Pacific Northwest offers, I especially love the winter months because of the snow.

I don’t care who you are, when the first snow of the season arrives, you feel like a kid.

Yes, by the end of the winter I’m ready for the snow to go, but there is nothing more beautiful and magical than watching snowflakes gently fall from the sky, swirling about before they land on the ground or find their places on the branches of the trees.

Snow creates a silence that we seldom experience in our lives, and it turns everything it touches into a piece of art, softening the sharp edges of the world as it does.

I have taken countless walks through the forest we live in on many a snowy days, and there is no other experience I’ve ever had that compares to the silence and beauty of those times.

It truly feels like you’ve been transported to a place somewhere between heaven and earth.

On one of those walks, surrounded by stunning beauty, words came to me that turned into the poem “Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth.” (The forest is where most of the inspiration for THE SPIRIT FACTOR came from.)

I sent this poem out in our Christmas card that year. Joe Rozum (joerozum.com), who is a talented pianist and composer, was one of our friends who received it.

Years later, Joe and his friend, gospel vocalist Stephen B. Steward, turned that poem into a song. Actually, they turned it into the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard with truly inspired vocals, music, and arrangements that brought a life to my words that I never could have imagined.

With no budget, we put together a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEdIhTuP-gc), which includes Joe and Stephen performing the song and me walking on the same forest path where I wrote the poem.

Please take a moment to watch the video, and let it transport you to that place where beauty, peace, and possibilities live … somewhere between heaven and earth.

A Night of Spirit with the Spokane Symphony and the Music of Queen

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My husband Michael and I went to see the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” last month. As you surely know, this movie is about the rock band Queen.

I grew up listening to Queen’s music, along with music from mega-rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, etc.

I never considered myself a huge Queen fan in the past, but that changed after we saw the movie. I am now completely obsessed with the band (especially Freddie Mercury) and their music!

So when I found out that the Spokane Symphony would be performing the music of Queen at the Fox Theatre in Spokane on my birthday a few weeks ago, I knew we had to go to the show.

Unfortunately, by the time we found out about the show it was sold out.

Michael continued to check online for tickets as the date approached but had no luck.

We’d accepted the fact that we wouldn’t be going to the show and tried to figure out something else to do to celebrate my birthday.

But on the afternoon of the show, Michael decided to check one more time to see if the theatre had released any tickets at the last minute. And they had!

The online box-office seating chart showed that two great floor seats had become available so Michael bought them. Yes!

That evening, we headed to Spokane early so we could have dinner before the show, making the hour drive from the rural mountains north of Spokane where we live to downtown.

When we arrived, we found street parking in front of a big, beautiful old church then made the short walk though the foggy and warm-for-January temps to the restaurant.

After a lovely dinner, we walked a short distance to the Fox Theatre.

There were other events going on in town that night at the Bing Theatre and the INB so the town was bustling with traffic and people walking about.

Spokane is a beautiful city, but because of the busyness and the fog that blanked the city it was magical that evening!

We arrived at the Fox Theater about 20 minutes before the show started, took our seats, and talked with some of the people seated around us.

The Fox Theatre is a special venue because of its history and intimacy.

It is an art deco movie theater that was built in 1931. It was part of the Fox Film Corporation Empire founded by studio mogul William Fox.

In 2000, the Spokane Symphony purchased the building and spent 7 years and $31 million doing an extensive restoration, which included reducing the seating from 2,300 to 1,700.

Just a few days prior to the show we went to, the theater had installed a new sound system that was paid for by an anonymous donor.

Inside Theater
Inside the Fox Theatre

The show started shortly after 8:00 pm, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that it included a full rock band and a vocalist named Brody Doylnuk.

What happened over the next few hours was amazing!

The outside world with its problems, political divides, and noise disappeared.

If you’ve been to a concert since smart phones took over the world, you know that most people take pictures and video throughout the show. But this night, every person honored the “no recording” policy for the performance.

For Michael and me, what was so beautiful about the night was how everyone in the audience knew the words to every single song, and sang along in perfect harmony with the vocalist who was professional, entertaining, and very talented.

To not only see but also feel the joy in the audience as they participated in the show, clapping and dancing as they belted out the lyrics to “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Tie Your Mother Down”,  “Another One Bites the Dust”, Somebody to Love”, I Want It All”, and the many other hits Queen had, was just what our spirits needed.

While I enjoyed all the songs, there were two that really affected me.

The first was “Under Pressure”, which Queen recorded with David Bowie and released in 1982.

Interestingly, it had never been one of my favorite songs in the past.

But the lyrics took on new meaning and relevancy as I heard them at the show, thirty-seven years after the song was released.

I was brought to tears as I sang, “It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about. Watching some good friends scream, ‘Let me out!” because, man, I feel that way sometimes.

The second song that affected me deeply was “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

This seemed to be the song that affected the audience the most, too, and was also the song they sang the loudest.

But it also affected the vocalist, Brody, deeply, when the audience so beautifully and tenderly accompanied him on the final few versus of the song, which are sung with minimal musical accompaniment.

He teared up, as did Michael and I, when everyone in the theater sang, “Doesn’t really matter to meeee,” carrying the last note together in perfect harmony, as we, in that moment, became a choir that had never before and never will again perform together.

We did the same for the final verse: Any way the wind blows.

Those who weren’t yet on their feet, rose, and the theater erupted in applause and cheers.

I think many were a bit surprised by the power of the amazing moment we had all unexpectedly created and participated in.

The clapping transitioned us into the final song of the show, which the audience politely demanded with its thunderous stomping and clapping.

Stomp, stomp, clap! Stomp, stomp, clap!

Yeah, you know the song.

Everyone remained on their feet, stomping, clapping, and singing their hearts out as Brody, the orchestra, and the band performed “We Will Rock You – We Are the Champions”.

We all felt like champions and rock stars as we released our inhibitions and freed our inner Freddie Mercury, who has been hidden away deep inside of us for far, far too long.

It was spectacular!

I didn’t want the night to end because it’s been a long time since I’ve had that much fun and experienced such an entertaining show,

This show and also the movie reminded me of the level of talent, creativity, imagination, and willingness to experiment that Queen possessed, and how much I miss that.

This level of “creative genius” has disappeared from the music industry, gradually, over time, and many of us haven’t even noticed.

But Michael and I, and the 1,700 members of the audience that night at the Fox Theater, where reminded how hungry our spirits are for music that is created and performed from this place.

I’ve been watching a lot of Queen videos on YouTube since the show, and what I’ve noticed about Freddie Mercury is how he sang each note of every song with every fiber of his being.

He put every ounce of himself into his performances, and seemed completely free.

His talent was extraordinary, and he was unapologetically himself, embracing his uniqueness and peculiarities, which is oh so rare today.

I love that the movie has rekindled a newfound love affair with Queen and their music for me and so many others, while also introducing their genius to a new generation of fans.

The mark of truly great music is that it remains relevant over the years, oftentimes becoming even more relevant than when it was originally released, making it eternal and those who wrote and performed it immortal.

Our spirits need to experience this level of creativity to survive. That’s why it’s so important to not only value and embrace creativity in our lives and in the world but also to become creative ourselves.

I talk about this in Chapter 33, “Valuing and Embracing Creativity,” of my book THE SPIRIT FACTOR.

Valuing and Embracing Creativity

Our lives and the world will benefit the more creative each of us becomes, but we have to give creativity the time, space, and resources it needs to live in us and others.

THE SPIRIT FACTOR will help you do this, and in the process free you from obstructions so you can discover the limitless potential that lives inside of you.

Marie Kukula-Tyner

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 is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.