Nearly four years ago today, my Chihuahua/Jack Russel mix, Luna, had a brush with death. I blogged about it then and am re-posting it now in honor of her passing. She died October 30th after a slow decline and then a sudden fall off a stairwell. Don’t mind the politics of the piece; what I was trying to convey was what a wonderful teacher Luna was for me that day and every day I had the honor of caring for her. In the photo below, she’s repaying all favors by writing my book for me. Now you know.
Our Global Heart, first published Nov 2008:
In the glorious aftermath of the 2008 presidential election, the Internet lit up with celebratory photographs. Images of weeping Australians, excited French, stylishly supportive Japanese, and, of course, Kenyans dancing in the streets made it obvious that something extraordinary had just happened the world over. If it was not previously apparent how connected we all are, it is now impossible to deny it.
At our house, Luna interpreted the events for us in dramatic fashion.
Here’s what happened: After finally turning off the Internet feed near midnight on election eve, we headed to the bedroom, exhausted, relieved, and deeply moved. Luna had been sleeping on Aaron’s pillow, but she got up when we turned on the light. The expression on her face was straight out of Harry Potter; she looked as if she’d been confunded. We got closer and realized that she was hyperventilating, too. Soon after, she started shivering uncontrollably.
Knowing that her heart was enlarged, I presumed that was where the trouble was. I asked Aaron if he thought we should take her to Emergency Animal Hospital, but, knowing how she shakes when we take her to the regular vet, we were loathe to do this. I threw the IChing coins and got ‘Obstruction,’ with a changing line instructing us to ‘make a womb’ and hunker down. Figuring that if it was Luna’s time to die she was better off with us, we did just that, wrapping our bodies on either side of her, soothing her with our close presence. All night, we listened to her ragged breathing. I dozed off a couple of times, only to start awake when a beat of silence replaced the expected in-breath.
By morning, her breathing was easier, though shallow. Dr. Hinko’s stethoscope revealed a heart murmur and the X-rays were stunning. Compared with the films taken two weeks ago, her heart was larger by nearly a full quarter. Apparently, her mitral valve had prolapsed and her heart had, basically, exploded.
Once we got her medication and brought her safely home, the metaphor had space to unfold. I asked myself what Luna could be trying to tell me and immediately realized that my heart had exploded, too, just a little before hers, at the exact moment when Obama told everybody that his victory was theirs and I knew it was true. Luna was illustrating on a literal scale what was happening all across the country, all across the globe: Here was hope and joy. And hearts were cracking open with the fullness of it.
When I said ‘yes’ to this interview with Jeffrey Pritchett of Church of Mabus, I did not realize it was for 11PM instead of 11AM. Nor that it would go on for two hours. I hope you can’t hear the all-kinds-of-tired I was feeling!
If you’ll be in Amherst, MA, on July 28th, come learn a thing or two about how to easily and cheaply take care of yourselves. I’ll be holding a re-skilling medicine workshop and book signing from 3-5pm at 44 Beston Street. Click here for more information.
I may or may not have had a glass or two of white wine before recording this interview last Saturday night. You decide:
Save the date for a community acupuncture event in Camp Hill, PA. I’ll be exploring sacred geometry energetics and group acupuncture on Sunday, May 6th, at 3 o’clock pm.
For more information, click here: Dynamic Group Acupuncture.
Let’s be honest: For the past week, I’ve been asking everyone I cross paths with to go out and buy my book. BUT WHEN I HAVEN’T BEEN DOING THAT, I’ve been thinking about what Chinese Medicine has to offer.
When a client comes in to see an acupuncturist or Doctor of Oriental Medicine, one of the first assessments that we make is a very simple one — excess or deficient? In other words, is the patient sick because they’re lacking something or is it because they have too much of something? It sounds simple, but making this distinction can be profoundly beneficial. It can even save a life.
For a patient with cancer, this rubric determines the course of treatment. If someone is excess, you would, in the archaic language of Traditional Chinese Medicine, begin “clearing fire toxins.” (How that is done is too big a topic for today’s post.) However, if someone is deficient, you would attempt to subdue the pathological process while you “tonify.” Only once the patient regains their strength would you try to clear those fire toxins.
Even if you’re not interested in medicine, you’ve probably heard of people with cancer dying because of the treatment. Chemotherapy is so toxic that it could kill you, not just shrink your tumor. Who is more likely to experience this outcome? I’m obviously going out on a limb here to suggest that it might be people with deficiencies. There is currently no way of measuring excess or deficiency within the western paradigm — and certainly no double-blind studies about outcomes for excess or deficient patients. (The whole idea deserves a LOL, no?) But it’s common sense, people. Patients without a lot of strength (qi in TCM terms) are going to be less able to withstand treatments that require a lot of strength.
Here’s a story that illustrates the benefit of making this distinction. A colleague of mine, a well-respected acupuncturist working out of Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, had a client with stomach cancer who sought her opinion before beginning chemotherapy. My colleague assessed her as being deficient and advised her to regain her strength (with acupuncture and herbs) before beginning treatment. Once my colleague determined that her patient was strong enough, via pulse, tongue and other forms of diagnosis, she sent her off to the Western doctor. But then a funny thing happened. The oncologist could no longer find any trace of cancer. What had been a four-inch tumor had vanished.
That’s not to say that acupuncturists achieve miraculous results with every patient, but it should suggest that outcomes for patients might be improved if the western world borrowed this basic parameter from the East.
Dear friends and colleagues,
I want to highly recommend the new book “Star Sister: How I Changed My Name, Grew Wings and Learned To Trust Intuition” by Stella Osorojos. It is really deeply inspiring, it’s a spiritual path, an awakening journey describing all the unexpected and surprising paths that “awaking” takes, the ups and downs, the fear, sometimes even the terror , the bliss and most of all the humility of staying open to the unknown.
It is a personal journey that explores how some awakening processes lead us to reconsider what mental health is, and how ancient traditions, whether it be Chinese, shamanic, Christian mysticism, or even extraterrestrial (believe it or not!), help us make sense and bring light in a realm where our western rational perception would just put negative labels.
It’s also a couple journey that embodies what I often say to couples: when you get to a place which is quiet enough and safe enough, there, in that space between two souls, the best decision for the relationship can emerge. Sometimes growing up means staying together and sometimes it’s moving apart, but doing it from a loving place, honoring and blessing each other for the learnings and the shared journey.
Sometimes real love takes the form of letting go and letting be. Allowing the other to be himself, freeing him from our expectations, and trusting him for the upcoming path. That’s unconditional love… It’s not about staying together at all costs but about learning the teachings of life, and of course it’s not just running away at the first conflict (otherwise I wouldn’t be an Imago couple therapist!). And that is also true about real love towards oneself, by staying open to everything and attached to nothing, letting go of trapping expectations about oneself and trusting our inner wisdom, or as Stella may say, our intuition.
It’s also a great inspiration for couples who are stuck in the impasse of having a child or not wanting to have one and how this struggle to make a decision may be excruciating for both because it touches a core value / dream. It’s a moving testimony of what this issue brings up in a relationship and she gives a wonderful example of getting out of the “blame it on the other” mode to move towards honoring the sovereignty of each one and staying connected nevertheless.
And finally it reminds us of our interconnectedness as humans beings with other humans, with the planet and the cosmos and how 2012 may not be the end of the world as the Mayas predicted it, but the end of one way of being in the world, moving away from an attitude of getting and consuming to one of embracing and giving more love and consciousness.
Last but not least, the wonderful woman that wrote this inspiring book is my cousin, Stella Osorojos, and I am deeply proud of witnessing and promoting her work…
It’s been a year and a half since I wrote that memoir and much has happened in my life since then. Nearly everyday I wake up thinking that I might fill you all in on what some of the changes have been, but I simply haven’t had the time—nor the emotional fortitude. My fortieth year was about as tumultuous as a year could be. And the stardust hasn’t settled yet!
Is that a sequel I hear? Maybe. But before that I will get back to blogging, I promise. Until then, enjoy the memoir! And do let me know what you think about it. I’ll do my best to respond to every email.