4. Beyond what I think

More and more, studies show that our heart sends more electrical signals to our brain, not the other way around… So how and how intensely we feel about what we deeply, truly believe, changes our entirety. Our hearts produce EMF. Our hearts are the body’s strongest electric field generator- 5000 times stronger magnetically than our brain (according to #drmarkhyman! Imagine how much of an impact we have on ourselves and one another… So I now so value my Father God who cared so much about the state of my heart and my emotions that He would speak to me in such a way to help me see a way forward to how He wants me to heal unto complete completeness. I share this today because it is a special week of celebrating miraculous life from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday.

So, as you know form my last blog, I had the promise from that prophetic song that I would indeed overcome, but when here feels so far from there… what’s the bridge between the now and then?

As much as I believed and believe more as years go by that the mind is a most powerful mechanism to change our world, it can also get mixed up with striving by an ego-driven outlook to achieve and that was something I knew I could not intuitively afford in the precarious situation I felt I was in. I needed something beyond what I could muster on my own at the time and I much more than just practical answers of changing diet, lifestyle, and well…changing everything. I needed to know that doing all that it would take to heal in totality would be worth the who-knows-how-long process it would become. I got my uplift in what some would call the night watches.

Sleeping was never a forte for me and it was one of my first struggles to change my lifestyle for healing. I needed to get over the guilt over sleeping more than 5 hours as I felt there was always so much to be done and so much I could be doing instead of unproductive dormancy. I drove myself around the clock and even when I tried to sleep, it would often elude me until I starting taking medical-grade cannabis oil and suppositories for the anti-cancer benefits that I started to sleep a lot. But before that, I would toss and turn and then return to my computer to work… and one week morning, I felt that this notion of suffering through life matters wrestled with me until I came to terms and at peace with this :

In fact, once I finished this meme, I felt an instant release to be able to rest and I wandered into bed with a great sense of peace. And my next night visitation came and confirmed my sense that suffering can often be changed by a choice to be wielded for our utmost good. As I dozed I had this otherworldly sense of pure joy rise in my heart and core area… almost to the physical extent that I felt I was holding a big bouyant beach ball… I was nearly awake in this state of sleep stupor and in my deepest being, I knew I had received a big gift of strength through joy for the journey of choices before me. Then that beach-ball lowered into my core and into my being…a strange enmeshing I was wide awake to know it was not just my imagination. There is the unseen more real world that loves the world we can touch. To overlook this reality is a shame that I had done for much of my life.

In my humanness, I still pressed for more in my recurrent dismay that I needed a reason or many deeper reasons to keep on going when the last decade of living in obedience and trust of my Maker was relentlessly crushing and often devoid of much earthly reward. The answer I was sent surprised me. And it’s often when the spiritual message I receive is not logical to me that confirms to me that it is indeed not me, but from beyond my limited flesh.

Of course, the answers I get from God often come in times when my resistant conscious brain cannot protest very much and since my Creator God knows me well, I got a dream. In this very vivid dream, I saw myself at a table signing things for visitors. it was not headshots being autographed. They were books I was signing … they were books where my rescue pups were the stars… and this is the main thing–I FELT HAPPY. I actually felt something other than sad or mad or nothing. I felt something. I felt happy. This reminded me that happiness was a real palpable sensory experience. I had been without it for so long, this guided me toward a productive creative outlet that could keep the happiness going and growing in my life. How I felt awakened me out of sleep. That was it! I knew that I had a future that would include working on books about my pups even though it had been 6 years since my first charitable book about them.

This dream awoke me… that I could be–that I would be happy once more. That was what I really needed–that an all out fight to live would be worthwhile and that my life indeed has purpose and value…even more so perhaps because of this process of refinement. I held on and continue to hold onto that powerful dreamlike vision. I realized that I also needed more happy in my life overall. Don’t we all?

I was and still am quite happy (yes, HAPPY!) that God chose to answer my earnest pleas so sweetly. Thank you Abba.

2. Hard to Swallow

What drove me to seek more than the usual attention I don’t typically demand? A strange little lump in my throat that made swallowing annoying and sometimes difficult. It seemed like a simple case of post-nasal drip after months of the horrid respiratory trouble and a serious flu with endless coughing. The odd swallowing issue lasted too long after my flu left for my comfort, so I sought an Ear-Nose-Throat specialist–one of the best reputed.

Nothing. There’s nothing there. Nothing is wrong with you. For those who have exhibited no tell-tale signs of sickness, but know something is wrong, receiving this pat answer to an earnest seeking can be outrageously maddening. It was for me and has been during the years of various physicians telling me I “looked” fine, slim, becoming, and very healthy even when my neuro-hormonal symptoms and some tests suggested otherwise. But that was and is the quandry–reconciling whole body, holistic wellness and compartmentalized, often-organ-specific perspectives on regaining health. It is in the grey area that isolation, hopelessness, rage, as well as soul-saving resolution happens…over time, of course. Even after several visits and scopes sent down my breathing passages revealed nothing, I refused to accept that I was behaving as if I had Globus Hystericus–the name itself obviously suggesting it was “all in my head.” Irritation… yes, absolutely. While various factors that may have caused this might show in the years to come, in this moment, I resisted this mild-mannered dismissal and I persisted until I was sent for an ultrasound, just in case.

Wish my intuition was wrong–the imaging tests showed suspicious spots on my thyroid. And then a fine-needle aspiration (biopsy) confirmed papillary carcinoma. And getting the results was not easy either as the doctor who initially told me the results since my main ENT doctor was unavailable didn’t know how to really tell me. It was awkward and I had to pull it out of him since more than a week had already gone by and I no longer wanted to wait to get the confirmation that I already felt in my gut. Just say it and tell me I insisted. So he did. Cancer. He said the only solution was removing it…and actually, that meant removing the thyroid. Unacceptable to me.

That weekend (after the biopsy results) I was scheduled to participate in a 3-day martial arts survival training program…and it was brutal. I wondered if every strike with hand or knife from throws and falls or practicing self-defense moves would make me worse or break free the cancer from its current location. I remember resisting hard not to spontaneously cry in the middle of the massive mental and physical learning curves… my pain was emotional, but the physical challenges were tough, too. I’m a fighter I kept telling myself… I did make it through the 3 days and weathering the onslaught helped me curry a deeper, inward warring spirit which I innately knew I would need for all that was ahead.

When I finally let the news settle and set an in-person meeting with the ENT doctor I initially sought for an annoying lump, I didn’t tell others. I was not in a place to tell my husband either as he was very busy and traveling so much, I just didn’t find and want to add another stressor to his already busy life. Yes, I know, this is also not a healthy situation. Nonetheless, it just shows how difficult to swallow a medical diagnosis like cancer can be and how much resistance can come in the place acceptance must be to allow for empowered decision-making.

As I mentioned, I promised myself I would fight cancer naturally and avoid conventional go-to solutions of surgery and radiation. That’s precisely what I told the doctor when my husband and I went to discuss my options. He said he would only have to take 1/2 my thyroid and would monitor the other half and the remaining parathyroids hoping they would not go into shock and also be felled to death. From an outsider’s perspective, it was reasonable– a fair-enough compromise, with very little risk, and a speedy way to get rid of the “problem.” In violent opposition, my psyche refused and my body tensed, square against this sending a feverish revolt through my body up to my head. I could not take this simply proffered option. I said no and politely asked him to take me on as an “experiment” to watch and see as I wanted to explore other options.

Such explorations will be shared later, but for now, the main matter is the diagnosis and the response to it. I felt disappointed that I did not react as positively and resolutely as I promised myself I would should I become part of the 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 to be diagnosed with cancer in America. And I see now that I was not being fair to myself and beating myself up for what I perceived as lack of bravery and failure in adequately taking care of myself. It was understandable in that I was already tired from my uphill battle to recover from an electrical brain injury which became the chronic inflammatory assault on my entire body that brought confusion within my cells including cancer. I was trying not to be angry at the woman (a medical practitioner and medical machine manufacturer) who was responsible for my electrical injury… I was trying not to be sad at feeling so alone as most medical professionals had dismissed my need for help saying I “looked fine” for years… I was heartbroken and didn’t want to face how upsetting it was that my husband was too busy to be an actively involved part of all this… I was hard-pressed from every side from external and internal pressure. I just did not want to feel anything… at all. It was too much and too hard for too long and this last drop of an added trial nearly pushed me over the edge. To simply function, I refused to process fully or let myself feel anything at all… Not for many months, actually.

I squelched every rumbling of rage and capped sobs into silence and unfortunately, I let my soul fester with all these poisons for a while before I even asked God for His direction and hope and listened. All I could think of was pounding everything into submission like mixed martial artists in a blind rage do to their opponents. Kill-kill-kill. Destroy, destroy, destroy. Not much finesse in denial, hurt, and fear…and that is where I remained for a while. I had to grow quite a lot to face my brokenness and broken heart so I could see a way forward unto life. All I knew was I was determined to win and do it my way and that no one was taking my body apart. Radiative dissolution or surgical removal of this powerhouse hormone modulator felt tantamount to letting the Devil cut my throat and drain my life. Yes, it was that insanely dramatic for me. All I could do, think, or say was that I would not be beat….not by anything. Funny how such denial of a full perspective could masquerade as determination. At least I still had that… and that is where I started.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. -2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Until we meet again

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I celebrate his life and will never forget him.

We laid him to rest today after a life full of great overcoming. He was 72. I miss him, but am so grateful for the treasure he was to me on Earth and the eternally impactful gift he leaves me…answering my deepest relational query before my Maker.

I write this remembering my long visit recently with him in which I got to hold his stroke-withered hand, tell him how much I love him, how greatness reveals itself through him in the face of his most staggering heartbreaking journey. His response? Said with a quieter-than-normal Korean man’s grunt, “I have a lot more to work on on the inside.” My heart broke open more in the ensuing palpable silence and from that moment began this unexpected confluence of revelations.

I wrote this poem to describe my uncle:

LOVING WITH UTTERLY EVERYTHING

EXPECTING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

HOPING SOLELY, COMPLETELY ON THE LORD GOD ALONE

THIS IS FREEDOM AND HIS PEACE…HIS SHALOM

EXEMPLIFIED AND ONCE EMBODIED BY MY “SAMCHOON”—UNCLE SUNGJIN CHOI.

In the throes of final arrangements and interactions with family and his friends, I am hit more deeply and see more clearly the gift he truly was.

You see, I battled anger lately about how I come from a lineage and family that is so stubbornly, incomprehensibly self-sacrificing and given over serving others… as I had lingering thoughts that this may have further compromised uncle’s already hardship-wracked life and body. He could barely walk, yet he would load himself down with things others needed and delivered them on foot! That’s just one example.

I have seen too much (and too often) injustice; unfairness…things clearly “wrong” done towards those I love, including uncle. But then, in the time since his passing, my own angst and prayers were addressed. The answer from the quiet of His Spirit unlatched the prison encasing my hurting heart : real, eternally rooted love is unreasonable. And so, that’s why it is also hard to accept the endless, unfathomable, boundless, overcoming love of God, Agapeo, because it makes no sense to a finite human until the connection and flow from God is established and flourishes. It is still hard for our human hearts–oh, the deceitful beauty of humanity. But prioritizing this flow from heaven is essential in this life because it allows the liberty only eternal election can provide. For me, this means as much self-forgiveness as the forgiving of others. Still, it’s hard to quiet the wish I did more, with more care while uncle was still with me on Earth.

As the last human to see him and embrace him in this world, I am so unspeakably moved and grateful… I got to hug him and smother his chubby right cheek with kisses. For this, I am so joyful.

Pained with gratitude, I weep that I got to see how a human who seemed to “need” so much due to his disabilities and heartbreaks pursued and found true peace…showing me how to live with the love of God in Christ and reliant on that bountiful provision alone. He showed me how one’s true hope and expectation can be on the Heavenly Father with no other dependence to cause one’s soul and footing to waver too long. Because of my family’s faith and especially in this time, due to my uncle (and my mom whose heart bears her brother’s likeness,) the deepest relational puzzle has resolved for me. Having my heart ever full, and buoyant overflowing in God’s peace and love is indeed possible in the face of any painful situations with any other soul, including those in my innermost circle…for is it not when we are most vulnerable, the deepest soul wounds can happen? Yet, it requires brokenness to be made more whole than otherwise possible. The how of this is my own path with steps to discover, but I know that because my uncle proved it possible, it truly is for me, too.

Thank you God…Thank you Jesus for overcoming death, hell, and the grave and giving me real hope. I look forward to seeing my beloved uncle as he was first intended to thrive on the other side of eternity.

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalm 62:5

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walking and growing in faith…

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A gift from a friend to remember my uncle.

A gift from a friend to remember my uncle.

Oh, Our Soul… on Acting & Artistry

— “OH, OUR SOUL”

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(I am always so moved and filled to overflowing in being part of the rich artists’ community of BGB.)
These words just burst from me after a class working with fearless actors who help one another get free and have fun. So, I thought it was worth keeping and posting online to share as part of my celebration and gratitude for fellow artivists building such a sacred space.” See below…
—-
There are times I feel compelled and capture some fleeting words.  Wave after wave, the swells wouldn’t abate and so here they come for you and me…
After class, my heart-space panged against the limitations of my flesh as your faces and feelings ricocheted within riddling me with undulations of gripping and rending.  I’m sure that’s why we are human–because we are made most beautiful through bleakness and brokenness.
And it’s in figuring out how to live and show-up while in unspeakable pain that our otherwise divergent paths crossed enabling us to experience and elevate one another.  Who could have prescribed a better remedy for a weary and flat-lined soul than each and all of you?  To see and be…to be embraced… to feel so much — a jarring and delightful awakening.  I’m so privileged and grateful.
In each of you I see majesty, tenderness, ferocity and a can-do/must-do need to unleash the richness of yourself into this malnourished world.  Armed well through life’s chaos, loss, and seasons where celebration finds balance with purposeful suffering, our weapons of emotional warfare in this brilliant craft of acting finds its razored point unto breakthrough.  Therein and not beyond the maddening struggles and pain…there, will we all experience our greatest glory arise in strength, fervor, and clarity and we will all revel in that transformative, allowing emergence.
Fighting through and for a calling that only makes manifest sense to similarly crazed freedom fighters, our hunger to heal, urgency to connect, and the mandate within to imagine betterment sustains.  And yet, the brave pursuit crushes without discoveries of delicious uncensored truths … and destroys us if isolated and alone.
What a treasure it is that we don’t have to be so.  In pursuit of pure-honest-love, we war relentlessly and in due time, prevail.  And the victories are greater sweetly shared together.
Thank you for challenging me to weave deeply into this community, daring to believe that all is possible and real in our world of play.  In this place, I honor each of you and your commitment to thrive in the ways we are uniquely designed to powerfully and joyfully change our world.  And thank you for the lively black and white shot of me wrangling camera wires Casey !
Our class is remarkable.  We are SOULdiers!!! To me, BGB = Becoming.  Glorious.  Being…
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PALEO CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

wp-1485758475807.jpgI THINK COOKIES ARE FOR ANY DAY…EVERYDAY, BUT ONLY IF THEY’RE NOT YOUR STANDARD JUNK FOOD VARIETY! SO, HERE’S A HEALTHY OPTION!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups almond butter (1 16 ounce jar)

1/2 cup date puree or 1/3 cup honey

1 pasture raised egg (skip and sub with chia/flax egg if you want to go vegan!)

1 teaspoon each baking soda, Himalayan pink salt,  and vanilla bean paste

1 cup chocolate chip cookies of your choice

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WHAT TO DO

1-heat oven to 350 degrees

2-mix all ingredients together folding in chocolate chips last

3-use scoop to drop cookie dough balls on parchment or silicone liners

4-flatten with spatula if you want classic cookie shape or leave puffy and round if you like!

5-bake 10 minutes (longer for crispier)

6-let cool and devour… or put a scoop of coconut ice cream on it while hot! YUM!

Note: these end up being chewy and slightly crumbly in texture by the next day… they are not a very doughy-heavy textured cookie.  Perfect for a snack!

Idea: skip the chocolate chips and substitute with dried fruit for a nut butter-fruit snack to take on the go! 😉

wp-1485758475809.jpgENJOY!

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CHICKEN BONE BROTH

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SOUP-ER GOOD!

Catching a cold or flu is no fun, but getting to enjoy rich, hearty soups can be a delight!  This 48-hour bone broth was prompted by a super special delivery from a most Fantastic-O…aka Omar, my fellow producer for The EATS Community.  He thoughtfully dropped off all the ingredients I needed to make this because I had the sniffles…Thanks Omar!

INGREDIENTS: Chicken (whole or pieces) with bone and skin on…pasture raised or organic only

3 average onions (halved)

1/2 bunch celery (rough chopped)

1 bunch carrots (peeled, chopped)

ginger  (peeled and smashed)

salt, pepper, and spices you like

bay leaves (2-3)

bok choy (1 bunch)

splash of white wine

honey is optional if the person you are serving has a really scratchy throat

extra veggies to put in at the end: more chopped celery and carrots, bok choy and julienned ginger with noodled carrots

WHAT TO DO:

Rinse chicken and fill large stockpot 3/4 full of filtered water

Peel, prep carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and ginger

Throw it all in pot with salt and bay leaves and simmer for 12 hours

Lift out all the veggies and chicken parts

Add splash of white wine and return chicken bones to simmer another 12 hours

Wait until broth is cool enough to strain through fine mesh

Taste and add your choices of seasoning as needed

Separate broth in to different pots to make varied soups, including classic chicken with veggie soup and east Asian inspired shiitake mushroom soup with noodled carrots, sliced green onions, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes to garnish.

I froze several portions of both soups for gifting and to have on hand to cook with for the next dish.

Note:  I like to brew the heck out of the chicken to maximize the bone broth’S nutritive value.  After all, if an animal is going to help fuel me, I want to do it justice by making sure not to waste any part of it.  Also, you can brew much shorter than the 2 days I spent deepening the flavor and health profile of this broth, but please do not brew any less than 8 hours.  12 hours or brewing would be an good compromise.

ENJOY THE SOUP…and enjoy sharing 🙂

 

 

TREAT for PUPS and PEEPS for WORLD ANIMAL DAY!

wp-1474013566328.jpgAs part of #WORLDANIMALDAY (October 4th,) let’s give our furriest friends some extra love!  To be honest, though, I give my beloved pups healthy treats very often… sometimes earned, but sometimes just because I love them immeasurably.

If you’re an animal-lover, one of the recent buzz phrases is “human-grade” food for dogs. Well, with our world full of commercialized pseudo-foods, it’s hard to make heads or tails (couldn’t help it) out of that.  That’s why homemade meals and snacks with sustainably sourced ingredients are so key to our health and that of our loved ones!

wp-1474013571828.jpgSuper quick and super easy… try this simple recipe for FROYO FOR PUPS!

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They are so well behaved, I can’t help but love them more!

INGREDIENTS:

1.5 cups or goat yogurt (I like humane certified brand Redwood Hill Farm.)

1 cup berries of your choice or skip and sub soaked dates

1 cup unsalted peanut butter

1.5 bananas (defrosted from frozen make it easier to mash up)

3 Tablespoons of ground flax seed

DIRECTIONS:

Mash up the fruit in a bowl, add yogurt and mix together.  Add peanut butter and mix again.  Pour into bowls ready to freeze. Sprinkle each with flax seed.  Freeze and pull out anytime for you and your pups!  You can add these frozen gems to your own smoothies.  I LOVE THAT MY FURBABIES AND I CAN SHARE A HEALTHY TREAT!!  If your pup is extra finicky, increase the amount of peanut butter by 1/2 cup and decrease the fruit.

wp-1474013580635.jpgI let Rocky and Tessa lick up the bowls and they couldn’t get enough!

I like to offer extra special treats like this for the times I need to leave the house…it makes them happy and occupies them for a bit.

ENJOY THE LOVE AND SHARED SWEETNESS WITH YOUR PUP!

Follow Rocky the Rescue and his sister Contessa Bear Smith on IG : http://www.instagram.com/rockytherescuedog and FB: http://www.facebook.com/rockytherescue for their ongoing sibling adventures!  Or http://www.ROCKYTHERESCUE.com . 🙂

You can see how much these pups love this treat on a video to be released on World Animal Day http://www.instagram.com/eatscommunity.org !

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