Where Do We Go When We Die? …Insights from Heaven

Where do we go when we die?

                                                            -By Kelly James Carmody (with help)

Hello, my name is Kelly James. My folks had wanted to name me Connor, but they were admonished by my father’s mom that the kids would tease me when I got in school and they would call me Connie, a girl’s name.  So, they named me Kelly, go figure.

I was born in 1978 to these charming young parents that did not have a pot to piss in or even a decent window to throw it out. Both were dreamy eyed idealists, which was apparently at the time was a systemic problem for most High School graduating classes in the early 1970’s.  They both graduated despite the organized chaos that modular scheduling had created, and both went on to get a two-year junior college degree in nursing. I came along a few years later. That is for a later story. I need to fill you in about how my parents met.  They created my story.

My dad the last of 7 children was born into a 1950’s struggling lower middle-class Irish family on the North side of St. Paul in central Minnesota. His Dad was a poorly educated, 3rd generation Irish who worked two jobs to support his family: by day a commercial milkman, by night the Constable on Patrol (C.O.P.) for Grey Cloud Island.  When my Dad was in first grade, they moved out of the city to Grey Cloud Township, a small community of 150 homes nestled on a bucolic island situated on the muddy Mississippi river just south of the twin cities.

My mom was the second in line of four children born into an upper middle-class family in one of those classic sprawling neighborhood developments with brightly colored “model homes” to choose from. All the homes were connected by freshly laid sidewalks studded with Dutch Elm saplings on the lanes, circles, cult de sacs, and boulevards as if they had grown up overnight. Every street was named for a tree genus in Minnesota and the main road into the community had brick pedestals standing guard on either side as if it were a star’s home in Beverly Hills. A sign on the left column read “Welcome to Woodland Hills”, on the right column the sign read:” your neighborhood of the future”.   My dad used to say the houses were made from ticky-tacky and they all looked just the same.

Growing up with privilege has its advantages and disadvantages. My parents grew up in totally different worlds; my mom did not worry about much growing up and you might say a bit spoiled from the wave of upper middle-class luxury hitting the early mid 1960’s society. My Dad’s parents shopped at thrift stores and the kids wore hand- me- downs.  My Mom went to a genuinely nice and affluent private parochial school for girls where they had to wear uniforms and attend church every morning. My dad went to public school, with brown bag cold lunches; he had to walk to school after completing the morning chores on the farm.

Moving to “the island” for my Dad was the best thing that could have happened in his life. They had lived in the city on a busy main road in rundown house that supported 6 children at home, one child had to be institutionalized for severe mental retardation as they could not take care of him. Their home had several dogs, countless cats, and a few free-range chickens. There was no carpeting anywhere in the home.  Walking into the kitchen you could instantly see its history. You could see evidence of the tar paper backing that lay beneath the gray and maroon design of the cheap linoleum that resembled a once shiny bowling ball.  Peeking through the surface of the high use areas were little black half-moon crescents like unrecognized smiles. They dotted the periphery of the floor beneath each of the legs of the curved chrome tubes of the yellow vinyl chairs.  The rubber floor protectors had long worn down on the legs of all the chairs around the table. Each leg a bare metal tube carving its signature into the floors pathetic (asbestos laden) floor covering.

On the far end of the table where grandpa sat you could see on the floor how far back, he had to be from the table because of his immense belly. He had to pivot the chair back and to the right to release his belly from the table after supper each night; he literally had to push himself away from the table 😊. On the floor he left his signature for the new owners to see (recoil), but a floor leaves a story.

 You could look around the table and see everyone signature on the floor except for his mom’s, in fact the floor protectors still had some good rubber on them.  I think she only sat down in the kitchen on Thanksgiving when Grandpa sliced the turkey once a year, otherwise she cooked and served, then did the dishes.

Late night when the kids were in bed, she sat quietly night smoking her Benson & Hedges cigarettes and sipping from a bottle of Tab. Her tired worn index finger would slide absently mindedly up and the down the rough bumpy edges of the bottle of Tab which was off limits for anyone else in the house. The tendrils of smoke from her often-forgot cigarette would coalesce and swirl with the tendrils of her invisible daydreams that were emanating from her vacant but lucid green almost catlike eyes. The once sparkling green eyes that had captured my Dad’s father were now faded as the grass in late November and she looked resigned to her task at hand. She was a mom.  Dreaming of what could have been, what should have been, she takes another deep drag off her ciggie-butt crushing it out angrily in the faux gold & green bean bag ash tray and off to bed. Another day in.

My dad’s mom left her signature different from his dads. We all leave our signature wherever we go, different for everyone. Take a dog walking down a quiet street, he will leave his mark on the hydrants, or an expensive rose bush, he cannot help himself it is in his nature. We leave our mark with everything we do and that we say, we cannot help it; it is in our nature.

So, you on earth, when you are grieving a loved one and asking for a sign, dream, or visitation please remember a few things from our perspective that will assist you in that endeavor.

  1. We may be in an undetermined rest state
  2. We may be preparing for our task or next quest
  3. We may be too young in earth time to have created a recognizable signature
  4.  We may have returned very quickly *
  5. Conditions may not be conducive in your geographic area, no butterflies in the depths of winter; no rainbows at night.
  6. Conditions may not be conducive in your mental world, apathy, extreme anxiety, anger, and depression et al have an insulating effect to our connection.
  7. Conditions may not be conducive in your spiritual world whether lack of faith, faltering faith, no faith, atheist, agnostic, arrogant, or just an asshole.
  8. Conditions may not be conducive in your social world. If one is silent because of being afraid of judgement, shame, ridicule, dismissal, confrontation, disbelief, or patronization, it may hinder our ability to reach you. Many times, it is through others who are more receptive (naturally sensitive) or who in are the right place and the right time for connection that we can deliver a message to them for you. The more other folks that know that we up in heaven and that we have indeed survived death, the more ways, and opportunities to connect through your network of family, friends, grief support companions, even co-workers and strangers.
  9. Transparency, be honest, be transparent; feel what you feel, when you are transparent it is a two-way glass, it lets light it and allows light out. It is that seam which is the synergistic portal where we connect.  Be honest. Be open. Be aware. Be confident and give thanks in advance. Being thankful in advance brings in the helper bees. On earth you would call then nymphs, sprites, fairies or elfin that in a few rare instances have been spotted on earth. But know that they exist…they are prayer in action made physical and are always looking for work.
  10. The most important thing is simply be open to the possibility, actively look, listen, feel and petition: identify what our signature is and look for it. When you recognize it, we will acknowledge it; it becomes our handle for the rest of your life.   

Sorry I went off on a tangent (angel ADD remember) I believe we were in the kitchen of my dad’s old house growing up. At any rate my dad’s family as in the mass exodus depicted in the book The Grapes of Wrath the family piled everything they owned in the back of a borrowed horse trailer complete with compost for their new garden at no charge. They were off to Grey Cloud Island like the Beverly Hillbillies but no oil money to purchase a mansion. They attained a 30 year mortgage on a 3-bedroom rambler with a detached one stall garage, a small barn, large garden situated on the banks of the Mississippi backwaters on 5 semi-wooded acres. My dad was in heaven, funny how everyone says that on earth, if you only knew, but then of course you would be dead.

Grey Cloud Island was an open playground for my dad, the only boy in the family and on his street, he spent most of his day on the banks of the river, climbing cliffs, swimming, exploring the woods, fishing and canoeing down the quiet backwaters by himself.  This was a paradise for an introverted, skinny little geek who preferred the company of polliwogs to people.

Then a crushing blow; his father dies in ICU following a failed triple bypass in 1969. His dad was only 49 years old. My dad was 15 at the time; everything changed in his life, Grey Cloud Island was no longer heaven on earth.

My mother around the same timeframe had been bullied severely by some public-school kids repeatedly, calling her many derogatory terms and making fun of her uniforms.  She told her parents she would not wear the awful plaid skirts, white blouses, bobby socks and Penney loafers ever again. She refused to go to school. Pampered to the extreme by her parents she got her way and she finished out the year at Our Lady of Perpetual Grace for the last time. Next year she would go to public school at Park Hi. The puzzle pieces were already coming together for my life’s task, but they were clueless.

My dad could now finally ride the bus to school. He left the security of his countryside junior high to attend Park with kids from all the surrounding suburbs. Most country kids attended an exceedingly small elementary school, my dad’s school on the island was the original one-room schoolhouse used for over a hundred years. The outhouse although boarded up was still in the back. The local kids all walked to school. They attended until 6th grade, then graduated to attend one of the two Middle School/Junior Highs according to district geographic boundaries. Graduates from both schools combined with refugees from parochial school now merged to form Park Hi.  Like a microcosm of the melting pot of our country a diverse combination of elements created the alchemy that provided the foundational corner piece for my puzzle.

My mom noticed something special in my dad, he intrigued her. He was vastly different from the other boys, odd in fact but in a good way. He did not care what people thought, was kind of loner he was not part of any clicks, gangs, or academic groups, but did not hug the walls either. He seemed to appear proud that he was a geek and that he really liked school. My mom liked that part of him, and he was cute to boot. She started a background check and enlisted girlfriends that I knew to plant seeds on her behalf et al “you should ask him to the dance “.  They gave good counsel; Mitch and Barb met at the drinking fountain in 1969. If all went well, I would see 1979 with the eyes of a brand-new baby. The summer of love was already in progress from 1967 and was flourishing, that should not be a problem.

The rest as they say is history. They dated throughout high school, then both went to different colleges together 😊, got married, got pregnant, gave birth to me, and 3 years later my sister Meagan was born. Then at 7 years old I got sick, extremely sick. Shortly after my 9th birthday I died of a brain tumor. This is when my true destiny/task began and why you are reading these words at this very moment.

 I knew I was dying; mom and dad knew I was dying, everyone whispered that I was dying, but no one talked to me about it. I was dying to talk about it !!!!😊.  My body ached, my head pounded continually, every step I took was an upward loud thud to my already throbbing brain, I could not even complain because it hurt to talk; I was just too damn tired to even try. The body shutting down really sucks, I thank God my Mom thought to run me hot baths all the time, that was all that seemed to stem the excruciating pain that was taking over my every waking moment.  Morphine suppositories are a joke and are literally a pain in the ass; a warm bath and my mom’s caressing hands was the best pain relief in your physical world.

Now on with the story. Did I pick my parents for this journey called life?  Damn straight I did, as you will eventually find out as your read this incredible tale of destiny and grace.  Life is a truly a waking dream for which we are active participants, dream big; there is a bigger picture. Let me attempt to elucidate you and expand the limits of what you believe to be true and to validate what you know to be true from a perspective only gained through my death.

I don’t know what you have been told, what you imagine, speculate or know to be true about life after death, but if I am communicating this to you the reader, it must be obvious that our personality, who we are does indeed survive death.  I am not providing this narrative to prove that fact or try to convince anyone of the notion that there is indeed life after death, it’s a story, my story.  

It’s so odd to think we that we can dream in heaven, but we do; we dream of earth. I have often dreamed of places I wanted to go visit and have often been with people that I seemed to recognize but not sure how or where I knew them from, just a “feeling “I would get.  Those feelings lingered in my soul as if though the dreams were real, the places were real, the people were real, the emotions I felt were real and I longed to go to earth more and more each time.

I started to wonder if these were scenes from a past life on earth where I longed to return to or to a new life on earth where I was being prepared to accept. Is funny that most people think that when once one gets to the other side you are in a glowing paradise sitting on a cloud with a bottomless cup of lemonade or playing a harp in the angel choir. Sorry to burst your bubble folks, it is not much different from earth in that respect, it’s a lot of work and a lot of patience. 

The difference is there is no hell up here, that is reserved for you earth dwellers. Heaven is a divine realization that cannot be denied, hell is denying it, hell is living in a vulnerable body, hell is feeling pain, hell is separation from the cosmic grid of perpetual grace. If there is a hell, Hell on earth is the most logical assumption. Purgatory is plain ignorance.  Heaven is cool, I like it here, but I also know I must travel to earth, like a moth to a flame, drawn to a light that it finds impossible to resist.

My Earth dreams were becoming stronger and more enduring, I could remember smells, remember names and places. I knew my time was coming soon, I was going to Earth!!!!   I had a dream of young couple who met for the first time at the drinking fountain just prior to Christmas of 1970.  It was my mom and dad of course. He took a sip from the fountain and water was dribbling down his chin, my mom without thinking flipped the droplets from his chin very seductively but yet quite innocent and said “are you going to the Christmas dance on Friday at the Country Club?  My dad, quite the geek that he was, replied to her:  No, I am going to a Friday bible study.

I said to myself: are you kidding me?  A beautiful girl walks up to you, makes physical contact that sets fire to your burgeoning hormones, then she asks you out for a date and you reply I am going to a flipping bible study?  That did it, this ain’t going to happen unless I intervene. I had to go in and make my first human contact at this stage of my development. Geronimo!!!! I jumped into my future dads head without any reticence and made him say…” wait a minute I think I will go to the dance, I will meet you there at 6:30. With that he blushed deeply and quickly ran down the hall to his next class.   My mom pulled the invisible air horn as she rounded the corner down the other hall to her class and said “yes”.   Close call. Dad is kind of naïve that way.  Mom makes shit happen.

My dad arrived late, which made my mom a little nervous that he had gotten cold feet and she thought he had decided to warm them up with a good fire & brimstone bible study for a few hours. LOL.  His bible study teacher Mr. Morrie was legit, a great guy, very humble and a good honest servant and I approve but I needed to be born. My dad’s feet were not cold they were floating on air, his buddies were late picking him up.

He arrived late with a consort of his buddies dressed in almost matching dirty blue jean jackets with long hair to their shoulders to match. My mom was escorted there by her older sister Jackie. Jackie recently has come to stay up here in heaven and OMG she was soooo glad to see me again!!! But off topic…at the dance she clutched my mom tightly and said “he is not one of them, is he?  They look like hoods “. My mom responded to her, just his ride sis, he is a sweetheart.

A far cry from a hood he was a although a thief. He stole her heart. He also stole a blue Christmas bulb off the clubhouse tree in the foyer, one of those very thin fragile glass ones, ice blue as her Nordic eyes.  He presented it to her as if it were the gift of the Magi outside in the cold Minnesota night in the snow-covered parking lot of the country club. Light newborn snowflakes glittered momentary in the warm glow of the sodium lights and melted softly on their upturned faces.  Her face glowing, she accepted the gift and thanked him with their first kiss.

 I was in like Flint.  I was so grateful and ecstatic they were perfect for me; they would create a perfect vehicle for my task and a chance to shed my wings for good.  It was either that or I start looking for a new car, and God forbid I get a used one again, my karma ran over my dharma last time; this is my last trip to Earth and all goes well I will get to be a full-time guardian angel and graduate to Angel 2nd class.

I know that the boychild that they will create for my vehicle will be a short lived one, as I will die incredibly young, but I also know it is my choice. This will cause them much pain, horror and duress but is also part of the task they themselves chose for their soul’s own participation in the master plan for which I was/am a part of.  We are all puzzle pieces in some beautiful mosaic that has already been created at the dawn of time and that we slowly become aware of …sooner…or later and we put the puzzle pieces together in this life or the next.

This life that I am being born into, granted is a short arduous, unpleasant one, but one that needs being done and completed by design. I will be like Johnny Appleseed planting seeds in the landscape of the moment, and like Johnny when you run out of seeds, your task is done, you give thanks of gratitude for the journey that it took you on and have faith the seeds will sprout, and they will.

The human body is amazing but limited in a very oppressive world, all things living are subject to dying.  Our earth task is “our time in the body”. Our genes, our environment, our body, mind, and soul choices and that of others can cut short or extend the years the body survives on the planet.

I accepted this task in spirit, knowing what was in store, I have no regrets, it is impossible to have regret, remorse, guilt or sorrow in heaven.   There is however regret et al with choices that we make on earth. Free will is a blessing and a curse. Faith is knowing we will make the right choice. Wisdom is knowing when we have not. Serenity is when we recognize the fruition, the completion of the puzzle set before us.

For the most part it seems many pieces of the puzzle are missing in our lives, when in reality the timing of their placement is just not right. I remember trying to force a puzzle piece in; on earth we tend to do that.  You want to make it fit, not wait for it to fit. Your biggest problem on earth is not allowing the wheel to turn, even some so ignorant to think they can stop its course. Like trying to stop a hot lava flow, you cannot; you get out of the way. Sometimes on earth we need to get out of our own way.

The cogs of eternity shall continue to turn regardless, resistance is an illusion, but you can grease the cogs with intention to promulgate non-resistance. Time will still move forward, but without  perceived resistance the apparent flow of time is indiscernible; it just is; like the pause on a remote that seems to view a static picture when in reality the story has been already been told.  Things appear to be paused when in the ultimate reality -we are paused.  We are at the center of the wheel with many spokes that lead outward to our story. As the wheels on the bus go around, and round… so does our story. We cannot escape the wheel; we are the wheel. Be your story.

Going back is impossible. Time exists because it is a product of our creation, a creation that continually recreates itself moving forward as does the expansion of the universe, as seen in the centrifugal images of the nebulas of our galaxy; like our own DNA a helix, chain, a flattened torus of perpetual reinvestment. Now is all that we have, time does not forget, it does not foresee, it only is… so we be the best we can be at the current moment.

Einstein nailed it with his theory of relativity, Ram Dass said “be here now”. Jesus said I am the way and the light, follow me.  The past, the future, the present all on the same wheel. On earth you tend to concentrate on what you think is your individual spoke of the wheel from a place of ego and not a place of connection.

 You are much more than a single spoke (spokesperson 😊) but have not evolved enough to feel the wheel.   As Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars might have stated differently… “Luke…feel the wheel”.   From the circling electrons in an atom of your big toenail to the to the spinning and ever-expanding matter in the galaxy of Andromeda, the wheels on the bus go around and round into infinity. Nothing ever dies, energy is not consumed, it is transformed.

It is fair to say I was not consumed when I died. My body was being consumed by cancer when I was alive, but it could not touch my soul. My body without spiritual support merely transforms back into its carbon and hydrogen-based constituents that it shares with all matter and reconstitutes itself.  The soul gets back on the bus and the wheels go around and round.  When I took my last breath, I found myself back on the wheel and like a contestant on The Price is Right some angel like Drew Carey barked at me:” Kelly James Carmody come on down”.  

I remember his voice from when I died the first time but that time it was Jesus who spoke to me, but it was same gentle voice with the same reassuring and soothing timber that “I felt” as much as I heard. This felt the same.  When I died the first time my body was being operated on to remove a brain tumor that was wrapped around the medulla oblongata of my brain stem.  The diagnosis was terminal, but surgery would give me more time. Without surgery I would have died within weeks in horrible pain. My parents had no choice.

This all began when I was playing with some buddies in the playground at Bayport Elementary school, just a few short blocks from my house. I was hanging on the monkey bars when I heard a loud buzzing in my brain, like a loud freight train coursing through the echoes of a long tunnel and everything got blurry; I let go of the monkey bar falling to the sand below in a full blow grand mall seizure.

It scared the living shit of my teacher, and all the kids were crying.  That was the first time I left my body remembering only the acrid iron taste of blood in my mouth as my teeth clamped down like an alligator on my tongue and I shit my pants.  I could see my body cashewed into itself and was violently shaking on the ground in repetitive convulsions; pink foam bubbled from my tightly clenched lips that were now turning the color of a long-faded tattoo. I felt a warm light breeze carry me away from my body,  I felt like a baby again wrapped in the arms of my mother and she was singing softly in my ear the iconic Bob Marley song “Don’t worry about a thing; every little thing is going to be alright” and I fell into a deep, deep slumber and all went dark.

The next thing I remember was waking up in a hospital bed, my head shaved with a breathing vent tube be stuck in my throat. I could not talk, and I wanted to scream about what happened to me in the operating room, I remembered it all. I had left my body and I was holding hands with Jesus; I shit you not! it was him freel. Somethings you just know, he did not introduce himself, but he just smiled and said, “My Son you will be well”. He smiled like he had some great wonderful secret and I reached out to hug him but then everything faded and was wide awake in the hospital bed unable to talk. 

I had just met JC, the man, the savior, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, many names, same powerful entity. I know we had met before, but things get cloudy coming and going. I guess in old books they called it the veil of forgetfulness, like when you hurt yourself really bad, or someone causes you great pain we tend to forget shit associated around heavy-duty trauma; birthing and dying ain’t no picnic so it’s a good thing. But you do not forget meeting Jesus.

I could not wait to tell my Dad, he would think that was cool, as he believed in all that weird boogie woogie spirit stuff, Ouija Boards, Tarot Cards and crap, but he also had a very good relationship with Jesus, albeit a very casual one 😊 he had a deep faith.

Would someone please take this God damn tube out of my throat, so I can tell him! I screamed with my eyes.  I felt fully awake but could not seem to make my body work, and my head hurt like crazy, like the time I fell on ice when I was about 5 years old on the skating rink next to St. Charles church. I blacked out and had a concussion. It felt like that again waking up and not knowing where I was. My head hurt the same but this this time a could not move my body except for my eyes. I was scared but JC just told me I would be well, so I had faith I would be able to speak again.

A nurse came in with a look of alarm on her face. When her eyes finally connected with mine and we had eye contact, she saw I was awake; my eyes now pleading for recognition. I could feel most everything, but I could not move, and my whole right side felt extremely hot as well as did my head and the back of my neck. My head hurt everywhere, but the constant thudding headache was gone! I could not move or talk but I could feel the cooling pool of tears puddling up on the pillow behind my neck that had been streaming down my face since my eyes opened. The nurse quickly adjusted something on the IV and I drifted out of consciousness and felt myself zooming back home again (heaven).

When I arrived in Heaven, I found myself smack dab in the middle of lucid dream back on earth again. I was on another freaking game show, only this time it was Monty Hall on the stage of the Let’s Make a Deal, and he said Kelly come up on stage. Once on stage there was a hula girl from Hawaii that I knew (that is another story) who was the Vana White kind of lady that was introducing me to each door with almost a comical Hula move that made me laugh.  As she pointed to each door one at a time, Monty Hall with the same gentle voice I had heard before said: Kelly Carmody, this is your life, it is time for you to pick a door number.

I had to choose what was behind door number 1, 2, or 3.  Behind one door was the scenario that I would return to earth and live a full child’s life, grow up to be an adult, marry have my own family with three boys, a job as a computer analyst and my wife an author of children’s books. Behind another door was the scenario that I die of an undiscernible brain hemorrhage and wake up from this dream back in heaven, dead on earth.  Behind the third door I would go into a coma for a short while then have 18 months to get better, stronger and make some very necessary appointments before I die. Appointments that would fulfill and set up scenarios for other future synchronistic puzzle pieces to come together that have wonderful ramifications for the world. We all have our task to make that happen. It is our soul DNA helixing through eternity, reinventing itself for survival of our collective soul.

I had no idea which door held what fate, but I instantly felt the urge to choose door number 3 and shazam!! I immediately woke up back in my body in Peds ICU and I could move!!!  I am back; let the games begin.

 I awoke to see my mom and dad both holding my hand, as I reached for their hand they were struggling to speak, tears were pouring from their tired ashen faces; they were smiling and gasping for air at the same time; they thought I was a goner, but I picked the right door, not the worst, not the best one, but the right one. I had them for 18 more months, I had work to do to make those months count for my task and for theirs.

They alerted the nurses right away and as quickly as they could they removed the tracheotomy vent from my throat. I was obviously agitated, thrashing about and I was struggling to open and use my lips to speak.

Finally, the stupid tube was out but my throat and my tongue were so dry I barely croaked out “water” sounding very much like Patty Duke playing a young Helen Keller – it came out a very weak and raspy wa…wa but they got the message. I was given some water and started to rattle off the best I could what I had just experienced.

I was running at the mouth like crazy, but the looks on my parent’s faces looked perplexed and confused; they could not understand a word I was saying. The surgery had caused a small indiscernible bleed which would have killed me if I had chosen door number 2. Seeing as I chose door number 3 the bleed resected itself, but it had caused a stroke on the left side of my brain, the area that controls speech which also resulted in partial right sided paralysis. I could understand in my head everything I was saying, but all they heard was wa wa, dubba dubba wawa dubbadub wa etc.

WTF?  I want to go back to heaven, this really sucks, everything hurts, I cannot talk, I only have 18 months to live anyway. I just want to die, but I cannot as I already did. Boy howdy, was my brain in cognitive dissonance. I should have picked door number 1 or at least door number 2, but why this and for what?  So, I can hurt some more before I die again for the 2nd time. Let’s make a deal, thanks Monty, fun game, and you too Drew Carey thanks a lot, the price is right my ass.  I hope to awaken from this nightmare on the game show You Bet your Life and the duck from the ceiling drops with the magic words “you are going home”!!!  

I was so agitated and obviously making no sense they increased my pain meds and things started to fade and I soon drifted off to sleep. This time I wake up and I am sitting on a park bench but it not in a park, but a bench oddly placed in the middle of nowhere on the crest of a hill overlooking a beautiful bucolic valley.  It had a shiny brass plaque attached proudly to the top rail of the back of the bench with the words “The 4 O’clock Bench” stenciled in italic relief. There were meadow larks singing loudly who were gracefully soaring above the blooming areas of clover that were bursting with hues of whites, pinks, and magentas. Honeybees joined the mix and the starlings were pecking away the drying cow pies scavenging for undigested grass seeds. A slice of Heaven. Or is it?  I am still trying to get my bearings and figure out what is real and what is a dream.

The meadow opened to smooth rolling hills manicured smooth like the green felt of poolhall billiard table from the hundreds of years of family owned land that supported large milk herds. I could see hundreds of ever-grazing black & white Holsteins peppering the verdant green landscape, not unlike a Grandma Moses painting come to life but in the right perspective 😊 and in HD. I never felt anything more peaceful in my life. In these relaxed soothing musings that I was having, I suddenly realized I was in no pain at all. I jumped up and off the bench screaming thank you God…and found myself soaring above the bench and above the serene landscape.

Not sure how to control this flight thing, was this heaven? was this an earth dream of heaven or a heaven dream of earth? or was I really flying? I was confused but delighted as I continued to soar above the countryside. It made me think of a movie my dad and I loved so much starring John Candy my favorite actor, who incidentally I got to meet up here!!!! He is a hoot; he is even funnier in spirit. In the movie, John Candy was riding shotgun in a dust cropping airplane and the pilot scared the hell out of him when suddenly, she shouted, “You ever buzz sheep Steve”?  The pilots face stamped with the look of someone about to scare the shit out of you and loving it, the pilot proceeded with a full downward plunge dive, with John Candy screaming the pilot pulled back on the throttle and just cresting closely above sheep, and they scattered madly in all directions. I remember when I was alive telling my Dad, I want to do that someday and it dawned on me that day was here.    

Like Casper the friendly ghost I flew down over the grazing milk cows and they scattered away scared as hell just like Steve’s sheep. Wow, what a feeling!!!! Then the epiphany struck me that they could see me, or at the least feel my presence. OMG I can still affect this world! I can communicate through the veil with my presence! This is huge. I can connect, I can engage with the planet in a very real way and I am confident it will work with humans as it does with cows; if they just learn to get out the way (the humans that is).

I started to think about the bench and there I was again just sitting on the bench in the warm summer sun listening to the meadowlarks sing and I drifted off into a deep slumber. When I awoke this time, I was back in the hospital bed again hooked up to monitors, the room was dark except for the faint glow of the monitor lights and the silent reflection of the nurse’s station lights dimmed for the evening. No sound on the floor except for the distant whirring of medical equipment, the steady woosh, pause, woosh, pause of someone’s life support and the occasional beeping monitor that stabbed the silence with an eerie calm. I was back, I was going to be okay.

 I believe that I am being groomed for “my task” but first my physical body needed to rest & digest, rebuild, and reclaim its potential. The cancer is still alive and well and the surgery had spread cancer cells in my body like a blowing seeds from a spent dandelion bloom.  Those seeds need to be beaten back if I am to make it 18 months, so they intend to pump me full of roundup and throw me in the microwave to slow it down. Then I will have daily physical therapy to rebuild control over the right side of my body as well as speech therapy to be able to speak intelligibly.  Isn’t this going to be fun?

Eventually I got the use of my speech back, but I had switch dominance of   hands and now was a born again left hander like my sister Meg. My recovery is another story in and of itself, a lot of hard work but not germane to this tale or my task at hand. If you are diagnosed with ADD on earth you will absolutely love it in heaven. When you find yourself in heaven, you will find we are big time multi taskers, especially early angels that are hungry for many simultaneous projects and tasks. Almost like bees collecting pollen in every direction with no sense of time, only of duty. They fulfill a plan (puzzle pieces) that they innately know what they need to do. Just as the geese know to fly North and the butterfly South it is in their nature.

This to so some extent is why so many people who want to hear from their loved ones get so mad/sad when their loved ones don’t seem to send them signs. We are busier than hell (pun intended) LOL up here, so much to do, get done, experience, discover, seek, prepare, influence, and intervene. Time does not exist in heaven so we may lose track of it, if that makes any sense. I know that processing the pain for the loss of loved one is time consuming. In grief you consume much time but without the awareness that it is happening.

The overwhelming grief for the loss of child can actually cut a piece out of the fabric of time; it changes the course of natural events, its bends light, it warps our constructs of time and parts of your reality are gone forever into a black hole of time and space. An “essential pause” takes place; not gone but embedded. Embedded in dark matter where light cannot reach, a missing puzzle piece waiting to be found. Read Einstein’s theory of relativity, he will validate what I mean.

I had referenced before in trying to stop time it is akin to pressing the pause on the remote. Grief gives us the illusion of a stoppage of time when time in your reality is only slowed down. Slowed down to growth of blade of grass, imperceptible but it happens. Nothing stops its forward movement.

Have you ever sat on a train in the trainyard and your train is sitting motionless, yet when the train on the next track moves the other direction you feel as if your train is moving forward in your train car? If you look out the other side of the train window and you now see a motionless train, your brain understands you are motionless too. Now if that train started to move you would again feel the same sense of your train moving when in reality it is not, but it is an illusion your brain believes.

What if the train on your right started to move one direction backward and the train on your left started to travel the same direction backward you would indeed experience the illusion that your train is moving forward when in fact you are static or paused while forward movement goes on regardless on either side. This is the illusion of time. It is our perspective that governs the speed at which we perceive its forward movement.   Driving home from a trip always seems faster does it not? Yet it is the same distance, same time covered. A good book, a good conversation accelerates our perception of time; pain slows it down; grief brings it to a halt. It takes forever for the toasting bread to pop up from the toaster when you are hungry and late for work; payday arrives way to slow when your broke. Backassward is it not?

In grief we are paused; time moves on regardless; we lose track of time in grief because our soul is on pause. In heaven we lose track of time because there is no point of reference to provide the illusion of its existence. For a point of relatable reference, one minute in heaven is roughly equal to one year on Earth.  I died 31 years ago in human understanding; at this writing in Heaven time I have only been here for a half an hour or so.  Crazy stuff huh?

With that being said, we can easily lose track of your time, which makes a big difference to you on earth and yet only a few milliseconds to us. Sometimes when our deaths are very violent, traumatic, sudden, or self-inflicted our souls rest in what some earth religions might call a kind of limbo. It is basically an ICU for the soul, a trauma reentry room of sorts that up here we call the cradle. Those souls who die in trauma need a very delicate reentry. Conditions of horror as in the holocaust or as in your society today with the many school shooting and terrorist attacks, so many souls leaving the earth unexpectedly and violently were totally spiritually unprepared.

Take 911 for example thousands of souls without presage ascended to heaven in an instant. All immediately went directly to the cradle. It is comparable to putting your earth body into an induced coma for long rest. Souls of evil intent and malice of heart who died that day also went to the cradle for rest (mostly containment) and eventually are reprocessed in completely differently area of the trauma reentry room that deals with dark energy (more on that later).

We are all composed of the same Star Stuff as your Carl Sagan coined on earth in the last century. He was pretty darn right on. We are star stuff. We are matter, our bodies are matter just as is the stars. Our souls our different although. They are made of anti-matter, alike in every which way but with a negative charge, whereas the body has a positive charge.  Just like a battery can only send energy to a bulb to produce light with a negative and a positive flow of energy. As is above is below. Its Yin Yang man. Basic shit.

Conception happens in humans and matter is created, a body grows in the womb from a mixture of DNA, and like the blue creatures in the movie Avatar await the arrival of soul. Soul can only enter the developing body when there is a working bipolar current which begins in the heart. Our consciousness, our spirit of life, our signature, the footprint of our soul and who we are -begins at that first heartbeat only 18 days from conception. Heart cells are specialized electrical cells, the heart itself is only a blood pump with no on/off switch. Its cells beat in syncopation with each other at a cellular level. The heart provided with oxygen in saline solution will continue to beat outside the human body indefinitely and why it transplants to other humans works so well.

When those first few heart beats begin, spirit, the life force, the light from the big bang invites in soul to animate this growing human child and a life begins. That is where we as potential earth dwellers get our call to “Geronimo in” and our task begins at that first heartbeat.

The flow of souls to and from earth is complicated to explain but I will try to simplify.  Currently on earth the retired baby boomer generation is dying to get here 😊 we get over 100,000 beleaguered souls a day.  The birth/death rate algorithm by design is 2 to 1. Twice as many souls heading to earth as those leaving or currently about 200,000 births a day worldwide.  Sadly, enough about 10% of those births are returned because of genetic flaws, a non-viable environment, disease, accident, abortion, or murder. Those returning so quickly are often sent back immediately if there is an opportunity that aligns with their task.

When death happens for any reason at age, it is when our heart stops. We are off the grid of grace, we lose power, our body goes dark, our soul separates from the physical like smoke from a lazy campfire. 

When death occurs matter and anti-matter separate. We are not the star stuff you see glowing in the night sky, we are formed from the collision of matter and anti-matter that creates pure energy, the quintessential form of synergy where the sum is greater than the means. When that happens, a life is created, and we get back on the wheel.

Dark matter is another thing, much is unknown on earth about it, but it nevertheless exists.  Dark matter is the space between matter and antimatter, like the space between the nucleus of an atom and its electron or the space between the nebulas in Andromeda or between the rings on Saturn. It is the plasma of the universe that holds all things together.  It does not interact with light, its dark and invisible yet has mass and exists in quantities 6 times that of matter and antimatter.  It coexists and has purpose.

People on earth are often quick to claim they have the answers before they even know the question. Scientists, spiritual leaders, and politicians alike have their own versions of the truth.  No one really knows on earth, so they speculate, harangue, and proselytize their version of the truth. Humans are merely arrogant hairless apes with an attitude of superiority that they think that they oversee the planet and the heavens. They are not in charge.

There is only light when matter and anti-matter collide and produce it.  Light is God; the inceptual algorithm from the big bang sending light forever outward in the universe for eternity. Darkness is merely absence of light, the dark matter between the stars. This is what you earth dwellers call hell.

Many religions say hell is the fires of eternity, a lake of fire within the bowels of the earth to burn and torture the malevolent souls for eternity. Many people claim hell is on earth with so much pain, murder, and mayhem besetting people every day. Many claim that Hell is a fictional place invented to keep the masses in line and that it simply does not exist.

To put it succinctly hell is separation from God. We are matter, our soul’s antimatter, in-between we have dark matter that will not hold or react with light. Dark matter has the capacity up to 6 times that of matter. The malevolent souls who separate from the God given light that they are born with, will most likely bypass the trauma re-entry room upon their physical death. They spend a short period in the cradle for a chance for remorse/reconciliation. If it is determined that they can be exonerated, they will return, or they will spend eternity in the dark matter and slowly be absorbed back into the sun to nourish the planet. Kind of a cosmic compost, a process that turns shitheads into photons.  Like the phoenix rising from the from the flames of the sun. Light waves return to earth.

Heaven is not so much a place… but a place of being; intense light and divine matter. Earth gives us the opportunity for expression of that being.  Almost unilaterally across the globe most religions state that God is up. That heaven is in the sky and most beings when they die are said to ascend.

As in most beliefs system it stems from a kernel of truth, which is then telephone gamed into somethings else entirely, but this is fact. Heaven is up and it has a name. Scientists have referred it to as the Van Allan Belt. They are not referring to it as Valhalla or a heavenly paradise but to the radiation belts that surround our planet.

Around our planet is two doughnut shaped belts of intense radiation that circulate in Taurus fashion from the Earth’s Negatively charge pole to its southern Positive charged pole.  They are to thought buffer and protect the planet from dangerous solar flares but are a dangerous radiation concern for Astronauts. When passing through it, they do so quickly at the thinnest part.  For souls coming and going from the planet, The Van Alan belt is Grand Central Station for all travel. The inner belt for all intents and purposes is our trauma reentry area and where souls are cradled and bathed in the positrons of goodness and light.   

The inner Taurus is where all the newborn souls “Geronimo” in from to their intended bodies when its designated heart cells start to beat.  Quick returns who only stay briefly, stay, rest and are returned from this the area of heaven very quickly. In the last few years, your scientists have discovered an overwhelming presence of anti-matter in the inner belt, never known to exist.  As I told you before our souls are anti-matter. The mirror image of each other but with reversed polarity.  Our bodies matter (pun intended) our souls are anti-matter. Therefore, when people see a vision or visitation of their deceased love one and it looks like them because it is them. Only difference is they are anti-matter, pure light not physical mass, but a mirror image of the matter you knew. Like the reflection in a mirror does not have mass but still exists, we see it.

The inner belt is closest to the earth at both poles where it is the thinnest and where astronauts travel through back and forth from space. This is also where souls pass back and forth. The outer belt is composed mostly of electrons, but it is where brand new souls and recycled dark souls coming in as photons (loose particles from the sun) who gather to form a human soul. With the store of excess electrons in the Van Alan belt God creates a new ethereal body of anti-matter that can take on physical form. When that is accomplished, they travel to the inner belt where they are assigned or reassigned their task; they wait patiently for their avatar’s heart to start beating.

This lower Torus (Grand Central Station) of heaven is only 360 miles above the Earth. We are much close than you think. Souls leaving earth enter the magnetic field of the first Torus, rest and wait instructions as do souls entering from the upper Torus going earthbound.  Antimatter in the lower Torus is for the most part recent souls from earth awaiting task assignment. Cradle time is almost instantaneous for those needing it.  Those waiting, orbit the planet by its gravitational pull until it’s their Geronimo time and  two become as one, God manifested in Matter and the heart begins to beat. That is what is so unique about our planet and why it sustains life, we are girdled by heaven created by father God and sustained by Mother Earth. One inseparable ecosystem of the divinity that runs by laws of physics not the laws of man.

This lower Torus is where the trauma reentry room is located as I mentioned before its where souls travel too upon their physical death. You may remember the scene from the movie the Wizard of Oz where they brought this unlikely band of travelers to special room upon their initial entry into Oz. They re-stuffed the Scare-a-crow, oiled, and buffed the Tin Man, gave a spa treatment and pedicure to the Cowardly Lion.  That is kind of what happens up here, it’s our port of entry where all souls who cross over are cleaned up, deprogrammed from earth logic and prepared for re-entry to heaven (task completed), a return to earth, spend some needed cradle time or are jettisoned into the dark matter and recycled.

The more traumatic cases go to areas of deep sleep, akin to a coma in heaven the rest in cocoons of ancient light emanating from the beginning of time; they rest for as long as needed. In earth time that can be many, many years. Not only are they processing this as part of their task, but they are processing it as part of yours. Your loved ones, your friends, the strangers you encounter, are all puzzle pieces. Puzzle placers or puzzle dodgers are placed in your life as part at their task and yours. There are things left undone, unfinished business, seeds sprouted and yet unattended, holes that we leave on earth left unfilled.

If grievers on earth harbor any anger, resentment, guilt and unforgiveness toward their loved one or in constant petition to have them back in their life it only holds us back and we may slumber through a griever’s earth lifetime.  Just a heads up to earth dwellers, you can help us or hinder our journey and how you choose to live your journey. Please try to remember that we are in this together, always have been, always will. It is a part of every task we accept; we are spokes on the same wheel.

It is also important for earth dwellers to remember to pray for the wee ones that cross over too soon whether they die in the womb, at birth or soon thereafter.  They only rest for a short time in the cradle if at all, and its back in the saddle again.  Wee ones have not created a signature for the world to recognize and it is challenging at best to communicate back.  Mothers who carried their child and or a gestational twin that shared the womb have a physical conduit of connection that others do not and may be predisposed to receive signs easier.  

The wee ones who return so quickly are heaven’s cherubs. You must realize the birthing is an extremely arduous task not only for the mother but for us.  We have the freedom of no restrictions in heaven whatsoever and we can convey our thoughts at a whim; we don’t use our lips in heaven; its heart to heart which need for translation.  We can move about easily without hinderance of physical form and we feel no physical sensations.

When we take on body, we are comfortable, cozy, well fed listening to the comforting metronome of our mother’s heart. When someone lets the water of the bathtub, we know it’s time to get out; shortly thereafter cold and shivering we are pulled into the very small drain of the birth canal and literally get the shit squeezed out of us.  I did not need someone to slap me on the ass to get me to cry, I was screaming with a voice I never heard in a scary place I have never seen. So why did I want to come here?

To piggyback on that, when there is fatality at or near birth with a baby, after a brief rest (in heaven time) their soul returns from cradle as a cherub and they flit around happy as can be, ready for the next task, or making mischief on earth to get a new vehicle ready. See where the Cupid story comes from, it has a basis in fact. But in many cases, they return right back in the same birth mother or a member of the extended family very quickly to resume their task where earth conditions, timing, people, geography were all still favorable for the task at hand.

The onus to the grieving earth dweller it to learn how to communicate heart to heart. Look with your love and believe with your soul that it ain’t over when it is over.  Expect miracles, but you must look for them. You do not find a 4-leaf clover if you do not look for one. You do not get directions if you do not ask. You do not win the Lottery if you do not by a ticket.

We are not in control of our actions when in rest, but after an undetermined rest in limbo the souls are released. On earth we would call it PTSD, in heaven its PTDS, Post Traumatic Death Syndrome 😊. In horrific death situations as mentioned before, energies must be balanced and insights into transitioning restored slowly and delicately which takes (from your perspective) much time. It may be years before they fly, dream visit, send a sign or communicate or prepare again for their task. They cannot venture out while resting, but they can and will when ready. Incidentally, prayer is a very real energy flow and helps us heal in the cradle faster, as well as in healing from any of your earthbound challenges.

Now on with the story when I made my dad “go condo”. This was last click in the stargate between our worlds that opened the portal allowing placement of the last piece of the puzzle into place for my task. That is where my Dad is now. My task is our task; we did it. 

To be continued.   Chapter 1: Going home, the day that I died.

Mitch Carmody

August 2020

http://www.heartlightstudios.com

Who Let Toto Out?

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In every psychosocial trauma experienced in a relationship there is always a catalyst or trigger that begins a chain reaction of unfolding events that snowballs into hyperarousal and a three-ring circus of shame and blame, where trauma becomes drama.

Who, who …who let the dogs out?

Did Dorothy herself let her dog out, who then allegedly bit Elvira Gulch?  Did Auntie Emme, or Uncle Henry let Toto out while going out to get the mail? Was it one of the farmhands who neglected to close the gate? It is obvious that the inerrant innocent act created a cascade of life changing events for Dorothy and her family when Toto was loosed.

Who let Corona out of its cage?  Did he escape or was he let loose? Color me confused.  I believe in wearing masks, I also believe in herd immunity. I believe in vaccinations, but also starting to lose confidence in their efficacy and safety.  I believe in opening the beaches, the forests, parks, golf courses, but not large gatherings inside buildings.  I believe in freedom but also protective marshal law if necessary, to contain a pandemic.  I believe in generating and reading data and believe in a whistle blower’s dispute of that data also being valid. I believe in health professionals that I know that are standing on street corners saying to wear masks, I also believe in health professionals who say it may be over kill.

I believe in washing hands a lot; I do not believe in overuse of disinfectants that is killing our other natural immunities countless times a day. I believe in freedom of speech but not carrying weapons to a protest. I believe in the American flag, but not next to a swastika. I believe in intelligent unified compromise, but not derision and entitled violence.  I believe in natural phylogenetic adaptation; I also believe that viral DNA manipulation happens.  I believe humans are inherently good, I also believe humans make mistakes. I do not believe money is the root of all evil but do believe that greed is.

We as a human species share a common genetic inheritance that yearns for warm attachment. Our whole nervous system, the limbic system e.g. is always looking for connection; much as a dog does with its nose lifted to the wind.

Between everyone us on this planet there is this invisible synapse between the dyadic relationships that we carry with every human being that we encounter. From the moment we are born, we are given a template for relationship for our survival.  We crave human touch and face to face contact from inception; it is fundamental to our DNA; it is in our nature. There is so much communication that occurs below our conscious awareness, and it is this perception that for the most part is invisible to us all. It is this universal synapse that brings families, communities, fraternities, tribes and best friends together.

We already have primitive epigenetic coding in our brains to self-isolate to protect “our tribe” from animals, weather and marauders.  From the Neanderthal guarding his cave, to early American settlers holed up in a mountain cabin for the winter, to a COVID-19 grandmother holed up in a senior care facility for months on end. We have the genetic predisposition to handle isolation for periods of time, but an extended amount of time without human interaction we can indeed get cabin fever or stir crazy.  In simpler terms we get extremely restless in isolation which leads to anxiety and if left unabated it may lead to trauma, and even psychosis. The limbic system in hyperarousal may go into forays of violence and anger, or conversely a hypo-arousal response into a limbic system freeze; an autonomic shut down with apathy, numbness and depression.

What is obvious is that we are all hard wired with genetic tools of adaptation to survive under a plethora of assaults to our mind, body, soul and spirit. We are built to survive, and we shall survive if we do not fuck it up with arrogance, self-entitlement, ignorance and greed.

I believe in the capacity of the human body to defend itself if given the right tools and resources to boost its own innate immunological response.

I believe in the capacity of the human mind to research, investigate, experiment, learn and create.

I believe in the capacity of the human soul to think out the box and to make intelligent decisions for the good of the whole.

I believe in the capacity of the human spirit to attempt to conquer any obstacle in its path.

I believe in God that provides us with all the necessary tools for survival, procreation and joy.

 

So, who let Toto out? Who put the whole world into chaos?

Let us not consume our energies with conjecture, conspiracy, violence and lies to who let the virus out. The horse is out of the frigging barn. Let us combine our efforts and intellect to contain the ramifications this virus has unleashed upon the world.

I believe in the human spirit of the American people to come together beyond party lines to make America safe again.

What I do not believe is any statement from any politician from any party, or any representative of any pharmaceutical company.

Toto got out; this is not Kansas; we cannot pretend it is. We either comply with efforts to resist the spread and do our part to cooperate; we collaborate with naysayers that may encourage the spread, or do we join the resistance for truth, tolerance and a cure.

Follow you heart; be kind; take one day at a time.

I continue to believe in America body, mind, soul, and spirit.

“There’s no place like home”.

Heartlight Studio’s Carl Griffith Sourdough Bread Tutorial

 

Heartlight Sour Dough Bread

This is the best recipe that I have found for making Sour Dough Bread. It is a method that I have developed over many years of much trial and error with ingredients, preparations etc. It is easy to bake a loaf a bread, a child with a Easybake oven can do that. To make Sourdough bread you rely on the artist in you to and why it is called artisan bread; it takes some time and effort, but you will be heartily rewarded. Sourdough does not mold, has a fantastic taste and delightful texture/crust, digested slowly and is tolerated well by gluten sensitives.

This bread is composed of three main ingredients flour, water and salt. You add a few 175-year-old bugs and you have a sourdough starter. There is no commercial yeast used in making this sourdough, it replicates a natural yeast called Candida milleri, and little baby microbes of bacterium called Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis that have survived since 1847.  Wagon trains heading west carried and created sour dough starter across the country for making bread on the road. In that process they picked up bacterium strains from all parts of the country. Yeasts that were born in the wild west from wild winds and wild grains from across this land that took refuge on the flour bags in the Conestoga wagons creating this unique starter kept alive since 1847.

The most important ingredient that I not listed in the recipe is love. This bread recipe is infused with love; Love is patient; love is kind; all by design. To make good sourdough it must have this ingredient. One must be a nurturer, someone who needs you and knead them. One needs to be patient with the process and committed to caring for and feeding your starter on a regular basis to keep it healthy and vital. You need to use some or discard some once a week and then feed it and refrigerate.  It still is active but slowed down. If it is in storage too long alcohol may form a thin layer on top, that means the bugs you need to be fed. The bugs eat simple sugars, they burp CO2 and shit alcohol; when swimming in their own shit, they stop burping… it is time shake it up, remove some and then feed.  I either bake bread, make sour dough muffins, dry it out to send to friends for starter. I do not like to discard.

A baker’s dozen tips:

  1. Use unbleached “bread flour”, bread four has higher protein/gluten content
  2. Use some natural whole wheat flour for beneficial fiber, (it helps move the mail)
  3. Use a little Rye flour which helps to stimulate the starter
  4. Use natural unrefined sea salt with beneficial minerals and add salt at later step, it slows down the bugs replication initially.
  5. Use only un-chlorinated or bottled water or boil your water for 20 minutes, chlorine is bad mojo for bugs
  6. Use your oven with the light on and place resting dough and or levain in oven to double, keeps it about 80 degrees and no draft or bugs.
  7. Add some Potato flakes to the starter as friendly catalyst to encourage activity
  8. Mist the bread with water just prior to baking
  9. Preheated 500-degree oven
  10. Bake in Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  11. High Hydration water content (sticky dough); Dust with rice flour to prevent sticking to banneton
  12. Sharp razor for scoring
  13. Patience, it is a two-day process

METHOD:

  1. Activate sourdough starter.
  2. Autolyze: measure/weigh all ingredients (except salt) into a bowl. Mix well. Cover and rest dough for 2 hours.
  3. Bulk ferment: Add salt. Stretch and fold dough (with damp hands) every 45-60 minutes for 2-4 hours at room temperature. Keep dough covered.
  4. Pre-shape. Cover and rest the dough for 15 minutes on the bench.
  5. Final shape. Put dough into a floured banneton (or floured, cloth-lined bowl/tin). Cover dough with cloth. Cover with plastic and retard (refrigerate) for 8-12 hours (optional).
  6. If dough was refrigerated, bring to room temperature. Rise in banneton for 1-3 hours or until ready.
  7. Pre-heat oven, baking tray and roasting lid (or ceramic casserole dish including lid) for 1 hour before baking (500°F).
  8. Sprinkle the dough surface (base) with dusting flour. Turn out dough onto a sheet of baking paper. Spray lightly with water (if adding topping). Score bread. Spray lightly with water. Put bread in Dutch Oven with lid on. Bake at 500°F for 15 minutes (lid on).
  9. Uncover and Bake at 450°F for 15-30 minutes (lid off) until golden and cooked.
  10. Remove bread from the oven. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  11. Slice bread and serve.
  12. Store bread at room temperature (covered) or wrap and freeze (whole or sliced).

Detailed instructions

img_2794img_2772                                           Step 1. Making the Levain (starter sponge)

The night before you make the levain, make sure to feed your sourdough starter. I usually add 1/3 cup bread flour, dash of rye and 1/3 cup water and mix it well.

¼ cup (40 grams) bread flour

¼ cup or (40 grams) wholegrain wheat flour

¼ cup (40 grams) sourdough

1/3 cup (80 grams) unchlorinated water

Mix all ingredients and put it into a tall see-through glass. Put an elastic band around the glass or mark the jar so you can monitor the growth of the levain

Cover the glass and put the levain somewhere warm. Preferably 77°F (in oven with light on is perfect)

When the levain has almost tripled go to the next step.

 

img_2791          Autolyze ( hydrating flour)

3 ¾ cups (675 grams) bread flour

½ cup (150 grams) whole wheat flour

2 cups (575 grams) water (reserve 50 grams of water for adding salt later)

Instructions:

To do the autolyze all we need to do is mix water and flour

Measure out all the flour in a bowl and all the water except 50 grams that we reserve for mixing in the levain and salt later. Mix it but don’t knead, just get all flour hydrated

Cover the flour water mix and leave it until your levain has at least doubled in size.

Mix the dough

Put the levain on top of the dough. Spread the salt over the top and add the reserved 50 grams of water

Mix it all very thoroughly. I usually use my fingers and push the levain through the dough and do some light stretch and folds. I keep repeating until I feel like it’s been mixed very well

Cover the dough and leave it to rest 30 minutes somewhere warm

Bulk fermentation

It’s time for the bulk fermentation. During the fermentation we develop the doughs gluten and get air into the dough. With this dough 3 stretch and folds are usually enough

Wet your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers

Grab the size of the dough furthest away from you with both hands. Grab a hold and stretch the dough upwards if it can go without breaking. Then fold the dough down towards yourself

Turn the bowl 180 degrees (a half turn)

Do another stretch and fold

Turn the bowl 90 degrees (a quarter turn)

Do another stretch and fold

Lastly you should turn the bowl 180 degrees (a half turn)

Repeat the last stretch and fold

You have now stretched and folded the dough from all four sides. Leave the dough to rest somewhere warm, covered, for another 30 minutes

Repeat this process two times more

After the third stretch and fold, I will do a windowpane test. Lift and edge of the dough and stretch it with your fingers. You should be able to make a thin membrane without the dough breaking. Look at the video in the article

If the dough still is not strong enough to pass the test, I do a 4th stretch and fold and repeat the test. Do this up to the 5th and 6th stretch and fold.

After the last stretch and fold you should leave the dough until it’s grown by 20-50% (usually 1½ hours)

Preshaping

First we are shaping the dough to build a gluten membrane on the top of the dough. This will help the oven spring during baking

Pour the dough unto an unfloured table and divide it in half. Put a sprinkle of flour on top of both

Grab a lump of dough and flip it using your bench scraper so that the floured side is now on the table top

Grab the part of the dough that us the furthest away from you. Stretch it and fold down in front of you

Repeat with the part that is right in front of you. Grab the dough with both hands and stretch it and fold it away from you. Repeat with the right and left sides of the dough

In a swift motion invite the dough so that the part you previously floured is now turned up

Put your bench scraper behind the dough and pull it towards yourself. I hold the scraper in my right hand and I guide the dough with my left. The front of the dough should be pulled underneath, and the top of the dough should tighten

Now put the scraper in front of the dough and push it forward while twisting, so that the scraper ends up behind the dough. You can now repeat the process in the previous step

Repeat until you have a nice round and taut boule (ball). Pop any big bubbles you see on the surface

Repeat with the other lump of dough. Let them rest 15 minutes under a cloth

Prepare the bannetons

Make a mixture of half bread flour and half rice flour

Put a dish towel in the bannetons. If you don’t have one, you can absolutely use a bowl with parchment paper.

Put some of the flour mixture in a strainer and flour the bannetons. It’s better to use too much than too little

Final shaping

We do the final shaping to make sure the dough is super strong

Take a boule and sprinkle it very lightly with flour on the top

Flip it using your bench scraper so that the floured side is against the table

Repeat the process from the preshaping

When you have finished the shaping, grab the boule with your scraper and invert it into the banneton. The bottom should be up

Repeat with the other boule and place it in the banneton

Sprinkle the dough liberally with rice flour and put the bannetons into separate bags. Make sure you get some air in there so that the plastic does not get into contact with the dough

Place in the fridge overnight

Heat the oven – next morning

Place Dutch oven in oven as well to get piping hot.. Turn the oven to 500°F. If it doesn’t go that high, put it to maximum. Heat the oven for at least an hour. We want the Dutch oven to be completely warmed through

 

Baking the bread

Take a banneton out of the fridge and let rest covered for a few hours on the counter

Put a piece of baking paper on top of your peel and put it on top of the banneton

Turn it over and carefully lift the banneton off the dough

Slash the dough using a super sharp knife or razor

Open the oven and move the dough to the Dutch oven

Spray the top of your dough lightly with your spray bottle

Put on the lid and close the oven

Bake for 15 minutes

Remove the lid so the bread can get some color. Turn the oven down to 450°F. I usually bake for another 20-25 minutes for this bread or until internal temp is 190°F. I love it when the crust gets dark and crunchy.

Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack until it is COMPLETELY cooled off.

Turn the oven back up to /500°F. When it is hot, repeat the procedure for the other bread.

Watch master breadmaker Sune at the Danish Bread Geek website:,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Znv99QbfWGs&t=222s

Origin of starter and instructions to activate:

http://www.carlsfriends.net

 

Easter Mourning and Elephants

1-elephant in room

Pastel colors, daffodils, shiny new shoes, hats with yellow ribbons, hugs, hard boiled eggs and bunnies; hams in the oven and the songbirds are chirping love songs, it is Easter morning…but for some this year it is also an Easter mourning.

Easter is the U.S. is a major Judeo-Christian holiday that is celebrated by most Americans in a Hallmark Card kind of way as opposed to a deeply religious ceremony that some observe.  Regardless of your religious convictions Easter is treated as an unofficial national holiday when families get together for Sunday afternoon repast and relaxation. When families do get together sometimes there is an empty chair at the table and an empty heart in despair.

How do we survive a loss in our life and face the holidays with honesty and joy?  How do you prepare something delicious to eat for others, when everything tastes the same?   Food in general becomes meaningless for it represents sustenance when we do not want to sustain.  How do we make small talk when our soul is screaming inside?  How do we not cry when all we see and feel is the empty chair that no one else sees? For most everyone else all they see is a very large sleeping elephant, one that they dare not awake.

Let’s get serious, a kitchen, a living room or dining room is just no place for a sleeping elephant.  Who in their right mind would bring a creature like that into the house? I remember growing up on the farm with a variety of animals domestic and feral alike that would get into our house. My dad’s horse was his best friend and I will never forget when he brought Lucky into the kitchen when we had guests over for dinner. People move quickly with a large animal comes in the room; believe me and why this metaphor has such power.

In our continued despair we speak in frustration about the elephant in the room and why it’s there. We have to realize for the most part it is our elephant; we brought it here with us and people are just being polite not to mention it. It is up to us to lead it out of the room, ask others present for help in doing so. Literally ask them “can you please help me get this elephant out of the room?”  If it steps on a few toes on the way out… so be it.  Grief is not pain free; pass your pain around, share it. Wake up the elephant, and use it to carry you to a new place at an elephants pace, slowly one step at a time.  An elephant can also break down walls if they are in the way, use your elephant.

The timing of Easter is interesting as it is determined as the first Sunday following the last full moon (Paschal moon) of Passover which roughly coincides with the vernal equinox of March 20/21. Easter bespeaks of the resurrection of Christ in the Christian tradition, beginning of Passover in the Jewish tradition, and in most cultures is recognized astronomically as the first day of springtime and rebirth for the planet, when days get longer and the fields get greener. This cycle governs all living energy forms on the planet; we are all on a yearly cycle of death and rebirth.

Our calendar days without the rotation of the earth -meaningless; our calendar years without the earths’ rotation  around the sun -meaningless; our birth without our death -meaningless; love without loss -meaningless; extremes define each other, they need each other to exist. So we learn to dance between the extremes.

This Easter, this spring, look at each new lengthening day as an opportunity, a day to start a new year with hope.  I think most New Year’s resolutions are a sham and are built to fail from the start, they are made in the darkest time of our planetary cycle and we make resolutions based on hope not on faith.

If we are to make a resolution to bring new hope and healing into our life, let us coincide it with the natural flow and growth of the planet. Experience our own rebirth, our own renaissance, our own unique healing and personal growth as the planet comes alive.  I believe all resolutions should be made at this time of the year. This is our own fiscal year of the soul that starts at springtime and we can change our tomorrow with faith in an even brighter spring next year. It’s up to us.

We as a collective tribe will never forget the Easter that never was. Churches empty, no baked ham at Grandma’s house, or croquet in the yard, no main street parades, or mom’s hot buttered rolls made with love and lard. But we shall rise from this tomb that we find we ourselves in surely as Jesus did. We can become a casualty  from our great losses or become a springboard to an unknown, non-envisioned future of limitless potentialities. We have choices. Grief is a powerhouse of transformation, how and what it turns us into is up to us. Use your elephant if it’s in the room, a elephant can take you places. carry a lot of weight and it can travel a long distance at a slow pace. Be your elephant.

Peace love n light

Mitch Carmody

 

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always To be Blest.

-Alexander Pope

 

 

 

In the Eye of the Storm

2-eye

In the Eye of the Storm

 

Oh, the terror of blue skies

with open windows

That let in silent storms

Leaves no longer dancing

quiet fills the air

birds have gone in hiding

we hold our breath and stare

It feels like the world is in pause

God’s thumb is on the remote

The calm before the storm

Time to shutter the windows

against wailing sirens

…this is not a test

 

The crisis we find ourselves in today, is not a “New Normal”. This viral pandemic that we are experiencing is a domestic wartime crisis. A war for the first time on our soil where all American are feeling hostage in their own homes. We find it happening across the nation; felt in the heart of every American citizen regardless of age, race,color or creed.

There is a plague sweeping across our country and it is murdering us in our homes, our business, our schools, churches and our villages. It seems there is not much more that we can do other that wearing proper P.P.E. and to practice the recommended social distancing. When in the eye of the storm we know there is no going back; we wait for the wind to pick up that will bring in the foreboding clouds gathering on the horizon…and we pray.

Circa 1994 a manmade plague swept through a small country in Africa that wiped out one million citizens in three months’ time. No one saw it coming, no one was prepared, their windows were wide open. There was no immunity, there was no local or world assistance to stop the plague which ran its course in 99 days killing over 1,000,000 innocents which was 70% of one vulnerable population. It profoundly changed their country and neighboring countries. The Country is Rwanda.  The virus was genocide.

A population unprepared for the storm, a government unprepared to halt it, and a live media broadcast that only fanned more mounting deaths. Chaos, mayhem, unfiltered aggression and the brutal knife murders of men, women and children ensued. Peasants, teachers, doctors, neighbors, relatives and friends murdered in while in mid step in the light of day. Sound familiar?  This virus is a great equalizer. We are in the eye of the storm; the other edge is coming. COVID-19 is literally in the air. Microscopic Hutu killers armed with machetes are coming to your village. Close your windows. Turn off Fox news and stay inside. Paint lamb’s blood on the lintel and doorposts of your home if you must but remain at home. Survive.

One year ago, I was in Amsterdam with my wife for the trip of a lifetime. While there we were urged to see The Resistance Museum which was dedicated the Dutch resistance during WWII.    The theme that was concurrent throughout the tour were the words used by the resistance in their efforts to stave off the murderous activities of the invading Nazis.

collaberate

The words: COMPLY, COLLABORATE, RESIST.      

A lethal virus had arrived slowly from Germany and soon enveloped all the Netherlands. The city of Rotterdam lost 1,000 residents in one day. Amsterdam immediately started to prepare, started to resist the rapidly spreading virus that was already present in their city. Three things happened in Amsterdam.

  1. People COMPLIED with all government recommendations issued for the invading virus without question. They by majority were the middle class and the educated masses. This is our “new normal” they said, this too will pass. It can’t be as bad as they say, many other countries have the virus and are complying. Our leaders know what they are doing.
  2. People COLLABORATED with the virus itself. Many did not heed the public recommendations; many communities actually inviting the virus into their homes. They fed it, they introduced it to their family, close friends and with people that they worked with; most of whom also thought that life will go on as usual; this isn’t so bad; nothing wrong here; I’m healthy, I’m happy. We may lose many of the old, the sick, the infirm, the helpless and the homeless but they are acceptable losses for the good of the nation. The majority will survive and be stronger for it.
  3. People RESISTED the virus. They knew it was coming; saw that it was threatening to destroy their city, their country, Europe and the world. They stayed at home, they went into hiding, they practiced social distancing, they armed themselves with intellect to survive, they help create change to help others survive. It was impossible to kill the man-made virus, but they empowered themselves to resist its damage and ultimately its mortality. They sacrificed and resisted with all they had until the virus was defeated.

COVID-19 is that invading Nazi soldier, it is that marauding Hutu madman, it is that reckless collaborator. How are your reacting to this malicious attack in your community?  Think carefully.  Are you Complying, Collaborating or Resisting?

  1. Are you complying with all local, state and federal law? Are you complying with common-sense hygiene rules to mitigate the spread of the virus for the greater good? Are you staying home?
  2. Are you collaborating by hindering mitigation efforts with arrogant disregard for containment recommendations ?  Are you denying data and allowing your selfish and ignorant behaviors to contribute to the reckless  spread of the virus?
  3. Are you resisting the temptation to break the rules? Are you taking this pandemic drop dead serious? Pun intended. Are you protecting yourself and your family to the best of your ability? Are you reaching out to others in creative ways other than proximity contact? Are you one of those heroes who is resisting this invasion on the front line? Are you a physician, hospital employee, police officer, fire fighter, paramedic, national guard or volunteer who looks the virus straight in the eye every single day? You are the resistance, saying back off…you do not win?

You decide.

We are in the eye of storm at this writing the first day of April 2020, but this is no joke. It is time to batten the hatches, lower the sail, latch the portals and hunker down and ride this storm out.  Even the madmen, psychotic shooters, and suicide terrorists are staying the fuck at home. Comply. Resist. Do not collaborate.

Do your part for your Body. Eat healthy foods with lots of probiotics/prebiotics to boost your immune system, try to maintain regular walking indoors or out, and get some sun on your face at least once a day if possible. Drink lots of water (best warm). Gargle with antiseptic mouthwash or heavily salted warm water often for a full minute. The virus incubates in the back of the throat, it dies in the stomach but thrives in the lungs. Cold liquids encourage cell replication.

Do your part for your Mind. Read and self-educate about the virus, how it works, protection, mitigation, vaccines, routes of infection, activities and medication/supplements that may help. Question, compare, research; empower yourself with tools to best defend and or cope with the virus.

Do your part for your Spirit. Practice mindfulness, self-introspection, listen to music, create, write, sing, play, volunteer, practice peace, compassion for others, pray for others and consult your higher power or you greatest good. Depend on it.

Do your part for your Soul. Practice self-compassion, carefully weigh decisions, compare, compromise and re-create your life to survive.  Do the research. Resist impulse: make well informed choices, draw to your strong suit, be your assets.

The “New Normal” is a term was spawned from the 2008 financial crisis not our current pandemic. Grief from a loss is not a new normal either but has been applied in that context. A shortage of a mediocre commodity like toilet paper is not a new normal. Bars & restaurants closed nationwide is not a new normal. Not being able to hug your children/grandchildren is not a new normal.  This is all out war. Wars end. Life will return to a semblance of what it was. If it does not, we are in trouble.

When there is war at anytime, anywhere as in grief we will have collateral damage and collateral blessings.  From this war with COVID-19 there will be extreme fallout after it has run its course. There will be many casualties. Many unsuspecting individuals will get sick and die leaving the dance floor in the middle of song; no more today and no tomorrow; so much unsaid, unfinished, uncreated, unfulfilled; a life undone.

So many families will be inheriting grief and loss instantly. Something that they never imagined. Life will never be the same and they will have to reimagine their altered path to survive. The whole world will have to reimagine its altered path to survive and for our children to survive, as well as the sustainability of our planet.

This is not a new normal but a new challenge.  The collateral blessing from this virulent pandemic is that just maybe, just maybe,  that in combating this common global enemy together…we may stop killing each other.

Be your best, be prepared. Use this time in the eye of storm wisely and expeditiously, it may just save your life or that of someone you love. Self-Isolate to protect and to inhibit the spread.

This is not a drill, it is not a hoax or conspiracy theory, there will be over a million dead worldwide by summer’s end, and the true journey will begin for each one of us.  Are you be prepared for the coming storm that will follow this calm? Will you be prepared for another storm next year?

Be your best asset. Gather tools, educate your mind.

Practice wise nutrition for your body.

Connect with your higher power to empower your spirit.

Make informed decisions from the seat of your soul. Embrace your uniqueness.

Not being in-sync with our own natural balance is our only weakness.

Make a ripple and ride it like a leaf on a stream. Take your mulligan; be your phoenix; the world is changing; be the change you want to see in the world. Be here now, but for now, do it at home for the greater good.   

Namaste

 

Surviving A Pandemic in the 100 Acre Wood

 

 

 

                                            Surviving A Pandemic in the 100 Acre Wood

A long time ago in the exact geographic center of the North American continent a very extraordinary thing happened. One simple innocent moment in time, one split second decision that changed the world forever and has blessed us all for generations to come.

An English soldier stationed in Manitoba Canada was traveling to London at the advent of WWI.  While in the train station in Winnipeg he spied a trapper trying to sell a small brown bear cub in a cage.  The bear looked hungry and helpless, so he bought it and it traveled with him across the country and soon became a mascot for his troop of soldiers. When reaching London his troop was dispatched to the front lines in France. The soldier had named the bear Winnie after the city of Winnipeg and donated him to the London zoo in 1919.

London writer A.A. Milne author of children’s books often visited the zoo with his young son Christopher to see Winnie. Young Christopher was even allowed into the cage with the docile and friendly bear.  Christopher adored the bear and named him Winnie the Pooh. The name Pooh was taken from the main character in one of his Dad’s book, Poo the swan. The name of a “good friend”.   Winnie the good friend bear.

Later Christopher acquired stuffed animals over a course of several years and ” The 100 Acre Wood” was truly born; several years later his fathered penned Winnie the Pooh.

I find it amazing that one of the worlds most beloved, and enduring characters in fictional writing is based on a true story.  Mr. Milne today would be in jail for child endangerment, as well as pending charges on cruelty to animals while facing extradition to Canada for illegal abduction and transportation of an endangered species. He may have eventually written a book from his jail cell, but it clearly would not have been the same.

The very real story soon became a lovely children’s book, eventually picked up by Disney where it spread faster than herpes at Woodstock; soon hitting every corner of the civilized world. Winnie became a worldwide celebrity overnight.

Why is that? Because good news travels fast. Subliminal good news travels faster than a virus. Metaphor is understood subliminally whether we are cognitive or not of its applications for our life. The characters, the stories, the nuggets of wisdom Milne created in his children’s-book classic has never been more important, and more needed than ever before. Not just for our children, but for our village, each one of us has our own village, our own 100 Acre Wood, our own refuge, our own tapestry of relationships and the matrix of support for our mutual survival.

Without realizing it Milne created fictional characters that reflect the 5 basic archetypal phenotypes of our global village. Personality is created by the morphism of genetic predisposition, epigenetic expression and neural plasticity from persistent environmental cues. We have a basic personality type that is our dominant or built in default mechanism from genetic predisposition combined from our parents from the pairing of 23 chromosomes each, combined which defines our physicality and our tics. Less than .1% of our total DNA defines our uniqueness.  We are 99.9 % all the same DNA, but that small percent in conjunction with our environment creates our dominant personality for survival.

We inherit most of our personality traits that we can doing nothing about, but it does change/fluctuate with our environment and our awareness. Universally we have 5 distinct personality types known as the big 5. The Five Factor Model of personality traits suggests that individual differences in levels personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) are present from a young age.

In working with those who grieve for over 30 years I have seen how important it is to be aware of one’s dominant personality when inheriting a grief journey, one does not expect or anticipate. When we are caught by surprise we default to our strong suit, our dominant character of survival.  When a bilingual person is angered, in great pain or fear they always scream out in their native tongue, it’s their ingrained default. In grief we default to the depth of our experience in loss. We may be clueless and toolless, but some survival mechanism kicks in that we were born with. Which one that is, will be one of, or a combination of the big five to stay alive.

A person can take any personality test, but they all boil down to the big five. One does not need to look any further than reading Winnie the Pooh and looking closely at the 5 main characters to see how they reflect the big five. Find which character you are in the 100 Acre wood and you will have found your strong suit, your default to survive.  Take a close self-assessment/personal inventory of yourself and you will find you are at times many of the characters, but one really bespeaks of how you engage socially; that is your personality you need and use for survival.

In processing grief, facing trauma or daunting social engagement we draw our character strengths automatically, its in our nature.  We also have mirror neurons that allow us to feel emotions that others are exhibiting simply by witnessing the non-verbal cues they express in their communications, which is also in our nature. We are all villagers of the same global village, are hard wired for empathy, compassion and cooperation. It is fear that interferes with that innate understanding

We as humans are born with only two innate fears: the fear of loud noises & the fear of falling, all other fears are manufactured by our experiences. If you are bitten by a snake as a child, you will fear snakes. We fear darkness because we may fall. When there is no light there will be fear. We fear sudden loud noises; it is our fight or flight response when taken by surprise. When we are taken by surprise or caught in the dark there will be fear.  Both are innate.

Light dispels fear in darkness, education dispels fear of falling (being taken by surprise). Create the light and seek knowledge, that is wisdom.

When we know who we are as a person; we are armed by our own assets. We are born as one complete human being, body (animal), mind (intellect), spirit (avatar of animation) and soul, the arbiter for the journey to not only survive but to thrive. Animals can survive but only humans can conceive of choices to thrive. The footprint we leave behind created by the choices we make.  Our bodies may die but our choices do not. Acknowledge and empower the strong suit you were born with, recognize what is in your nature. Listen to your body, listen to your intellect, listen to your higher power, make your best decision from the input from all three -in all things.  The Latin phrase “nosce te ipsum” means: Know Yourself.  Know yourself, be yourself, be your best asset.

Part 2 -Assessment:

How do you relate to people whether at home, work, or play? How do you engage with people most of the time? How do you represent yourself; how do you survive? This is important to knowledge to have when we are in survival mode. How we can survive and mitigate the spread of Covid-19 pandemic?  We must arm ourselves. We are at war with a microscopic alien that is intent on weeding out as much of the world’s very old, its infirm, its weak, the homeless and the destitute.  A science fiction novel has become reality.

We need to empower ourselves to fight this alien attack. P.O.W.ER. is an acronym for the 5 major characters from Milne’s classic Winnie the Pooh: Piglet, Owl, Winnie, Eeyore and Rabbit. We are composed of traits from all these colorful and diverse characters built in to one dynamic individual; a personal operating system that we are born with. We are a plethora of human qualities and characteristics that personifies how we act and how we are perceived by others. It provides us our basic personality with its assets and its flaws. It fluctuates with our environment, education and experiences as we try to maintain equilibrium in an unbalanced and ever-changing world. In theory we are an amalgamation of all the characters, but in practice we draw to the strong suit that we are born with. This is especially true when engaging with others from a place of fear and trauma or extreme courage.

So, who are you in the hundred Acre Wood?

Piglet                     

Piglet is an extrovert and one who craves/needs to hug and to be hugged. He/she find the pandemic social restrictions are very frustrating and personal space social distancing almost painful.

Piglet is a person who is open to experience; one who is passionate, inventive, and curious, with an appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, and variety of experiences. This person is imaginative, highly independent and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine with a proclivity for novelty. Piglet can be perceived as unpredictability or having a lack of focus. Moreover, they may seek out intense, euphoric experiences, such as skydiving, living abroad, gambling, et cetera.

Piglets have a general appreciation for beauty and willing to try new things. They tend to be, (when compared to others) more creative and more aware of their feelings. They think more abstractly and are more likely to hold unconventional beliefs. They can be politically active and a champion for racial intolerance and equality. Piglets may start many projects at once; change jobs/frequently or start new careers. Some people may perceive them to have a low attention span, scattered and searching, but regardless they are all about heart. Piglets love to hug, piglets lighten up a room with their energy; they are magnanimous by nature

Owl

Owl is an introvert. Owl is researching, reading daily, downloading and graphing statistics on the disease; Owl purchased sanitizer and TP for a month the day after the Corona virus was announced in Wuhan China. Quarantine has already been in place for years.

Owl is a person with a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement against measures or other’s expectations. Owls are in control of how they regulate and direct their impulses and emotions. Owls are quiet, studious and take much pride in academic achievement; often writers and/or teachers. Owls maintain a low profile and stay under the radar.

Owls are highly organized and dependable, establish and maintain routines. Owls prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior and may be perceived as stubborn and resistant to change; Owls may be obsessive in certain personal routines. Although perceived slow to change, they are wise and think before they speak. They are extremely adaptive once they have processed facts to their conclusion. Owls are steady as she goes and very resourceful in chaos and possess many survival skills. Owls love alone time; still waters run deep; Owls are always good counsel.

 

Winnie

Winnie is an omnivert exhibiting both introvert/extravert characteristics that thrives on routine. During the crisis Winnie is still visiting friends, going to work the exact same time etc. but is extremely frustrated not going to his/her daily stool at Starbucks at 8:45 am on the way to work.

Winnie loves social harmony and highly values getting along with others. They are generally considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with other. Winnies have an altruistic and affable nature and have an optimistic view of human nature and people in general.

Winnie’s nature of agreeableness positively correlates with the quality of relationships with one’s team members or in any social engagement. Winnies also possess transformational leadership skill; they shine by example. They tend to have many friends and make few enemies. Winnie is compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic. Winnies stay steadfast and hold firm in their convictions; they are comfortable in their own skin. Winnies have a trusting and helpful nature, and what may be naive or submissive is in fact the power of their own vulnerability and probably the most resilient in the face of trauma. Winnies want/need to make a positive difference and usually do.

Eeyore is an introvert and he/she expected the virus would come and that he/she thinks they will most assuredly become a casualty. Eeyore thinks he/she has probably has already got the virus and has spread it everywhere and will quarantine easily but frustrated having no one complain to about getting “ it “ but would give you extra TP if you needed it.  

Eeyores tend to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression. Often, they are emotionally reactive and vulnerable to stress and may complain a lot. They are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. Their negative emotional reactions can persist for long periods of time and they may appear to be in a bad mood or have mood swings.

Eeyores want to stay in the background, they have a desire to help and be of service but often too shy to step forward. Often come to work early and leave late. Always sees projects and tasks to their end and fruition. Dots his I’s and crosses her T’s; always keeping deadlines. Eeyores love to be designated for a task as opposed to volunteering. Eeyores tend to be calm, collected and relaxed in most situations.  Eeyores do not like to take a leadership role or speak in public but excel as a major support person in the background. Eeyore is a steadfast friend and that person who would literally give you the shirt off his/her back or give you a ride home. Eeyores may be complex but are dedicated and trustworthy; people love Eeyore.

Rabbit

Rabbits are obvious extroverts who are championing the war on Covid-19 wherever they can. They are Organizing food/water/ masks for the needy, creating websites and ad hoc support groups, volunteering for public health militias, manning tents and putting up posters. Most are already in jobs that require their presence during the crisis. Rabbits are invaluable during a pandemic.

Rabbits are characterized by high energy with a breadth of activities and have a profound ability to easily engage with the external world easily. Rabbits enjoy interacting with people, and are often perceived as High Energy or Type A. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented individuals. They possess high group visibility; very talkative they like to assert themselves and may provide their opinion unsolicited. They like to take leadership roles.

Rabbits are extraverted, outgoing and energetic and often over-achievers. Filled with positive energy and emotions, they have a tendency for surgency, immediacy and assertiveness. They are highly sociable and seek stimulation in the company of others. Rabbits are talkative by nature and can be perceived as attention-seeking and domineering. Some may consider rabbits to be to be pushy, intolerant and labeled control freaks but regardless they are always there when you need them; they are invaluable in an organization or group for it to be effective. Rabbits are multi-taskers at heart and are great organizers

Summary

It is very likely you will know someone who has been exposed the virus in your family, friends, neighbors and workmates. It is also very likely someone may die from the virus in your community. Whether navigating the waters of uncertain times or navigating your personal trauma/grief journey, draw to your strong suit.

It is highly unlikely that you will be one character alone but rather two or three characters will be prominent and two or three will be less prominent. Which character you resonate with most is likely the most prominent character of your personality.

What is important is to take inventory of ourselves to promote our self-worth and gain confidence in what we can provide and honesty in what we cannot. We must strive to take advantage of our natural strengths and work on our shortcomings.

During this global pandemic crisis:

Be yourself. Be honest. Be your best. Be kind. Express gratitude. Show respect. Wash your hands often.

Be your Winnie, use your Piglet, depend on your Owl, express your Eeyore, energize your Rabbit and remember what Christopher Robin said to Pooh:

“You are Braver than you believe, Stronger than you seem and Smarter than you think”

To take test, go to: Free download for the P.O.W.E.R. Personality quiz at   www.heartlightstudios.com

 

Raindance of Resilience

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Do rainy days and Mondays get you down?  Do endless gray days heighten your anxiety? Or does the rain wash away the pain, and the gray skies dilute the light of a nebulous tomorrow?

When my son was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February 1985; we finally had a limited understanding of the persistent health maladies that he had been experiencing for several months.  Daily harsh headaches, nausea, etc. but it was finally the double vision that prompted us to bring him to the ER. They immediately performed emergency surgery to remove a large fast-growing tumor on his brain stem.  The tumor was a called a Medulloblastoma which is most always fatal.

All our pick-up sticks fell off the table.

We signed up for surgery, radiation and chemotherapy so we could kill the lion’s share of our son’s tumor. He died on the operating table for several minutes until he was again revived but was left in a coma for a week. When he awoke and the breathing apparatus was removed, he recounted immediately that he had left his body during surgery and that Jesus held his hand and said, “Kelly you will be well”.  He also said Jesus looked just like Half Nelson, one of his Garbage Pail Kid cards.

Kelly was raised  a very moderate Christmas/Easter Catholic as was I,, he never went to catechism and attended limited Sunday masses; we never discussed the bible at  home but  Kelly as  every kid  in our country knows that on Jesus’s birthday you get presents, so he was acquainted with  Jesus but not on a first name basis.

Something happens to your faith and belief system when your dying child has a conversation with arguably the most famous persona the word has ever known. This can rock one’s world, which it did, and we are still rocking.  We had obviously connected with the hard drive of the universe which left a cookie of continual correspondence upon Kelly’s soul and a timestamp of hope in our hearts.  What happened after that could fill a book which is did: Letters to My Son, Turning Loss to Legacy. That is not what this writing is about although, that was then, this is now.

In 1985 modern medicine was still fighting cancer akin to hitting a fly on a glass table with 30# sledgehammer; we started to kill our son’s body, ravage his brain, numb his soul and test his spirit.  We seemingly had no choice. We followed the rules, listened the doctors and proceeded to slowly poison our son. During that first year Kelly grew dark in spirit and sullen in soul and he would only wear black clothing. He recovered in part physically, but the dark clouds remained; the cancer more persistent then the chemo and he was dying.

Through Make-a-Wish and other circumstances we ended up in Mexico for several months where Kelly had a miracle healing in a small Mexican chapel.  Following the service, he experienced a profound unexplained change physically, mentally, and spiritually and the tumor disappeared. Kelly was feeling great and he started to wear very colorful clothing and smiling all the time.  Something happened in that chapel beyond our explanation; we had our son back.

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We enjoyed the new color of his wardrobe as one appreciates a beautiful sunset. This was his sunset. The last rose of summer, the swan song for a 9-year-old boy.  We had a miracle healing from God that brought color back to his young life that would prove to provide us with 4 more months of living his last days to the fullest that we could muster.

I am so grateful for the many miracles that were  and have been springboards to healing by providing us with so much hope in the darkness of our despair; love is not lost, dead is not gone and heaven is a very real place; I saw it reflected In my son’s eyes, I saw it in the smile that formed on his lips as his paralyzed face relaxed and contracted muscles lost their hold… at the same time  his hand went limp in mine. My son was looking right through me and was obviously seeing something very glorious; then the lights went out, but slowly with a look of gratitude, and recognition accompanied by one last unlabored sigh. Someone was there to bring him home.

Surviving the loss of child in your lives will alter your universe forever. Nothing will ever be the same. We can survive physically; our body demands it.  We can survive mentally; our brain is resilient with plasticity. We can survive emotionally; by the choices that we make and the drugs that we take.  We can survive with all the insights we glean from body, mind and soul, just as one can sit on a three-legged stool and rest, but a four-legged stool is much sturdier. When we embrace spirit, our connectedness to all, our child and to our higher power we create that fourth leg of equilibrium that rules them all. This enables us to not only survive but to thrive.

When the pain is so severe

We soon lose our fear

…and too learn to dance in the rain.

 

MC 2/26/20

The Weight of Grief and Free Radicals

IMG_4682-001When my son died from brain cancer in 1987, I wanted to die too. No one should experience the death of their child. In one fatal swoop time stops and surreality steps in; dropping a coin that lands on its edge, we can’t believe what just happened, it stuns our brain and we step into the twilight zone. Life as we know it will never be the same.

Hearing of or witnessing the death of a loved one, the flight or fight response immediately sends hormonal shockwaves throughout our body with enough Cortisol in our system to paralyze an elephant. We go into shock head to soul. We are ground zero; we are in pause; we are the phoenix preparing, we are the cicada gone underground, the worm in the cocoon, the seed deep in the ground. We have been assaulted body, mind, soul and spirit and the body is our immediate front-line autonomic defense. We are numb because we are, with almost toxic levels of stress hormones.  Over time the levels naturally dissipate until the next “trigger” that may give us a booster shot but overall it can be reduced through mindfulness techniques and diet.

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Our brains are amazingly resilient and can create new neural pathways with consistent repetition as in learning to play the violin. Research indicates that on an average after 66 days of a newly created daily routine, through the process known as neuroplasticity the brain will establish a new pathway of behavior that can become dominant over previous “habits”.  The caveat being what are the new pathways that we are creating in the early days of our grief journey?

When Kelly died, I was 32 years old and in pretty good shape weighing a consistent 175 lbs. regardless of what I ate or drank. I never worked out, not a runner or sports enthusiast but being a bit ADHD, I was always busy. After Kelly died, my busy died too. PBR me ASAP became a very strong new neural pathway, and Brussel sprouts turned into Burger King. I did not give a fuck anymore. Life obviously can be too short, our time here feeling like a spurious assumption of joy at best. There is no gravity, the world just sucks. Life Sucks. I don’t care if I live or die. Call me apathetic…I don’t care. I will eat my way through my despair.

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By the time I turned 42 years old I was up to 225 lbs., balding, wearing bifocals, on medication for blood pressure, high cholesterol, & acid reflux. In those first 10 years I also tore my cornea on  two different occasions, shattered my left heel from falling 30 feet, broke my left leg twice, broke a left finger, tore my left rotator cuff, tore my left knee meniscus, enduring unabated chronic plantar fasciitis in my left foot, as well as intermittent tachycardia with ablation surgery recommended. I was still using those dominant pathways created in the first 3 months of my grief journey, they had become my default drive for 20 years. I was a physical wreck at age 62 and I was afraid my grandbabies would not have a wise old grandpa around to see them graduate.

In January of 2017 I set an intention to get back to my body weight chart of 175 lbs.  I called it the 66-day Heartlight Challenge. At the end of those 66 days I had reached my goal weight shedding 50 pounds and although happy for my success my arthritis seemed much worse in areas where I had broken bones. Not unlike grief  it’s a bone itch that aches and you cannot scratch and it persists. I started to research cosumptionary agents with natural anti-inflammatory properties and discovered that many blue juices (dark berries) have high concentrations of polyphenols, antioxidants called flavonoids which attack free radicals. As the body ages, it loses its ability to fight the effects of free radicals. The result is more free radicals, more oxidative stress, and more damage to cells, which leads to degenerative processes, as well as “normal” aging.

Grief amplifies oxidative stress and we age faster, gray faster, cellular age increases more rapidly, wrinkles etc.  We are the tin man after a rainstorm. These free radicals are one electron short of a full deck and will bond to the electrons of other healthy cells resulting in a weakening and aging of their host’s cellular structure. No different than the rust on your old Ford pickup. Oxidative stress ages it.  I had been stuck in a dark wet place for a long, long time and I was in desperate need of an oil can.

Although I had reached my goal weight, and was off all medications, I did not feel that great and I felt and looked like a skinny old man. This free radical needed more free radicals to stop the deadly progression of stress oxidation going on inside my body. After two years of trial and research on the use of natural juices for relief of discomfort due to arthritis I eventually developed this daily use tonic that I dub blue juice.

Part of reclaiming my vitality was the addition of naturally occurring probiotics & prebiotic in my diet as well as the blue juice concoction. I make my own kefir, yogurt, sourdough, sauerkraut, Kimchee Kombucha & Kvass as part of my staple diet. To aid daily ingestion of probiotics I added some probiotics to my blue juice tonic which is listed in the recipe.  Without these two ingredients you still get all the critical flavonoids from the juices to combat oxidative stress.

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Blue Juice Heartlight Elixir, the oil can for the Tin Man

Basic Recipe for 1 Gallon

  • ½ gallon long steeped (until room temp) green tea. Green teas is robust in antioxidants and the caffeine aids in accelerated metabolization.
  • 2 cups pure Blueberry Juice
  • 2 cups pure Cranberry juice
  • 2 cups pure Red Tart Cherry Juice
  • 2 cups pure Pomegranate Juice
  • 1 cup Kvass which is a  fermented beet tonic (optional)
  • 1 cup Kombucha  fermented sweet tea (optional).
  • If adding probiotics, merely reduce the green tea amount

Drink at least one large glass a day of blue juice, more if arthritis symptoms persist. Drink at least as many glasses of pure water a day. Get some sunshine.

In addition to diet for cellular repair, we need vitamin D directly from the sun. It provides critical elements for cellular, bone and tissue repair. We need at least 15 minutes of outdoor sunshine 3x a week for adequate of levels of Vitamin D; 40% of people in this country (especially the elderly) have deficient levels in vitamin D.  It is the UV ” B” rays in sunshine that turns cholesterol in our skin to Vitamin D and releases serotonin in our system.

Unfortunately UV “B” rays cannot penetrate glass as UV “A” does and we need to be outdoors. The use of sunscreen, body coverings and individuals with dark skin will require longer periods in the sun.  Many women in cultures who are heavily veiled have high incidences of bone rickets from chronic Vitamin D deficiency.  We need sunshine as surely as the cornfields do. Try to ge limited sunshine regularly and/or regular use of a mood light can do much to retard aging and promote cellular health. The use of tanning beds is not encouraged as UV “A” rays are carcinogenic.  We need rays from the sun. We cannot eat enough salmon to get enough vitamin D without getting mercury poison but foods with vitamin D and supplements are highly encouraged October through March.

Vitamin D deficiency is also is the direct mechanics behind Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) when there is not enough sunshine to turn melatonin  into serotonin which is our mood boosting/happiness hormone and why become become sad. When depleted of serotonin sadness, depression and apathy can insert their influence much easier.

Field tested by sufferers of arthritis to include my 90-year-old mother in law who claims it works better than the cortisone shot had received previously. If I am out of town and off my routine for a week, those old familiar places again start to throb…my cells are screaming oil can.  And as the Scarecrow said to the Tin Man “oil can what?” It can reduce the inflammation of oxidative stress. Don’t take my word for it, try it. I drink one or two large glasses of iced blue juice a day, in several days you will feel a marked difference.

On a side note, one unanticipated result I have noticed now on my third year of drinking the tonic every day besides experiencing no/little arthritic pain, is a reduction and even reversal of gray hairs, wrinkles and sagging skin. I have gained some weight back  from the target weight as I did lose some muscle mass losing my weight so quickly. The weight I gained back is some muscle, healthy tendons etc. and not the normal stomach/saddlebags areas where stress fat is stored. Even my toenail fungus disappeared, and my old yellowed nails grew out pink and clear in one year.

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Over 200 years ago the brilliant French physician Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote:

“Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.”

In English “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”.

Be your best advocate, be your best physician, trust your body to do the right thing but provide it the best fuel and means to do so.

Grief and your diet can both kill you, or it can propel you into an area of your destiny never imagined. Imagine; believe.

MC/2/12/20