Saturday, April 19, 2008

What's the point?

Okay, so what’s the point of The Deep Water Leaf Society? Believe me, I wondered that myself nearly the whole time I was writing the book. It is a true story, of course. I had the content for it in my journals. I knew I’d had an incredible awakening in the years since my son’s death by drug overdose in 2004, but I was still fuzzy on what it all meant and how it had all unfolded. As I wrote the book of his life and death and my journey in the aftermath, it became clearer and clearer to me that my journey had been an amazing gift—that my son Cameron’s death had been an amazing gift.

Before writing the book, I felt uncomfortable saying that to people. I can see you right now rolling your eyes and wondering what kind of trip I’m on. Or how selfish and heartless I must be to say such a thing. But I’m not. At least, I hope I’m not. I leave it to you to judge.

The thing is, for Cameron’s whole life I wondered what we were doing here together. There was so much drama. So much pain. We loved each other deeply and completely, but it seemed like all we could do was hurt each other. We lived a battle of wills. The more I tried to control him, the more out of control he became. It was, certainly, a dysfunctional relationship. I’m pretty sure they call it “codependence.” But there was no shortage of love, even if it was poorly expressed.

Through it all, I couldn’t help thinking that we must be working out some major karma. I had a feeling, though, that it was more than just the balancing act of karma. I felt like we must have agreed to something – made a contract with each other to do something together. Okay, by the end of this post you’re going to think I’m a classic psychiatric case, but I was convinced we’d come here together to do something big.

So when he died in a most inglorious manner at the ripe young age of 26, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was we’d come here to do and how badly I’d screwed it up. My editor, after reading and editing my manuscript, asked me if maybe what we came here to do together was write this book. It’s true enough that it couldn’t have been written without everything unfolding just as it has. And I think that if the book helps other people through grief, if it helps other people experience transformation and awakening the way I did, then maybe we did good, despite all appearances to the contrary.

Going back to the opening question, what is the point? I think it boils down to this:
  1. Grief is transformational, for better or worse, whether you want it to be or not.
  2. You can let it happen TO you, or you can let it work THROUGH you for awakening and personal growth.
  3. There is great power in choosing to ENGAGE the process, making choices all along the way for healing and empowerment rather than victimhood.
  4. We are WAY BIGGER BEINGS than we think we are and this lifetime is just the tip of the iceberg.
  5. LOVE is all that matters, LOVE is all there is, LOVE never dies.
I welcome your response, here at the blog or at my website:

Wishing you peace on the journey. . .

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What's YOUR Ground Zero?

I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and there’s a part near the beginning where he talks about how often great loss precedes an awakening. And this afternoon I watched a movie called The Moses Code, a Drew Hariot/James Twyman film about the power of the name of God - "I am that I am." It’s filmed like The Secret – interwoven bits of interview with several different and recognizable New Age, self-help voices. One of the messages of the film is about how we’re all connected – all One.

There’s one gentleman in the film who talks about his experience of being at Ground Zero just moments after the Twin Towers fell and how that experience was completely transformational for him. Despite the horror of the moment and the days to come, what he took away from his presence in that place and time was a transcendent experience of Oneness that completely changed his sense of purpose and place in the world.

So these two intellectual inputs – the book and the film – coming to me in the same day hammered home to me that Cameron’s death was my own personal Ground Zero.

When I learned of his death, everything I thought was real and important – all the drama of our relationship, my identity as “Cameron’s Mom,” all my beliefs about what was fair and just, my notions about how life was supposed to work, all my hopes for the future – were completely stripped away. My orientation in space and time, my ego, my carefully constructed sense of self were all suddenly and totally gone. What was left in that moment, in the very instant after the jail death detectives told me he was dead, was a sense of unbelievable peace and unquestionable certainty that all was well.

It didn’t take too long for the moment to collapse and the pain and all the questions to fill the void left by the stripping away of my known universe. But somehow that underlying peace remained with me even through my most painful struggles to reconcile myself to the new world in which I found myself.

Today, after a few years of working through this loss, I have a much deeper understanding of connectedness. I understand how much more powerful love is than I had ever previously imagined. I have moments when I can wrap my mind around the concepts of everything being One and all time being Now. I know things now, viscerally and unquestionably, that I didn’t understand before.

My connection to the world has shifted. I spend much more time now feeling at peace than feeling worried. And when worry does rear its ugly head, I recognize it for what it is and I am able to release it much more easily than before. I can let go of things more easily – whether they be tangible, physical things or beliefs and perceptions. I am more willing to live with uncertainty and to take steps into the unknown with trust. I have discovered that my Ground Zero experience, the stripping away of everything, offered me the great gift of seeing beyond the illusion, the maya, the constructed reality in which we live. The stripping away of all my “givens” allowed me to choose how to recreate myself or, more accurately, to remember who I am.

So, I’m wondering, what’s your Ground Zero? Has anything ever happened in your life that stripped you so down to the bone that you had to begin to re-member yourself one limb, one muscle, one cell at a time?

I can tell you that the experience hurts like hell. I can tell you that it’s also an invitation to a far greater expression of yourself than you could ever have imagined. I can tell you that, despite the pain, it is a gift beyond measure.

Wishing You Peace on the Journey. . .

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Visit With Cheech

When Cameron was 19, he left to serve in the Marines. I was never too keen on the military, but it was one of the few goals he’d ever had that he stuck to. Ever since he was a young boy, he’d wanted to join the Air Force and learn to fly. In high school he joined the Air Force ROTC. It was touch and go because his grades were poor, but somehow he managed to keep his grades just high enough to stay in the program. Then, when he took the ASVAB, his scores were too low to qualify for pilot training. So he decided to be one of the few, the proud, the Marines. I think he just loved the macho image.

At 17 he pre-enlisted. I signed the papers with mixed feelings. It wasn’t long after that, that things started going to hell in a hand basket. He was ditching school, failing classes, hanging out with gang bangers. I’m sure, looking back, that he was already doing drugs at that point. He nearly didn’t graduate. But graduation was a requirement to be a Marine. They won’t take you with a GED. And he really wanted to be a Marine. So he finally went to an alternative night school and managed to graduate about a semester late. Then, off to boot camp.

Just before he left, he came to me with his cat, Cheech, begging me to take him. He said he couldn’t find anyplace else for him, he couldn’t take him with him to boot camp, and he didn’t want to have to take him to the pound. I already had two cats and I really didn’t want another one. And this was a male (I had females). And yellow (not my favorite color). And not quite a kitten, but a gangly half-grown thing (much harder to fall in love with than a tiny purring ball of fur). And not yet neutered (here come the $$). And he had a kink in the end of his tail that made him look like he’d got caught in a door at some point (who could love a cat like this?).

Cameron swore he was born like that, but I wasn’t sure I believed him. Cheech’s brother Chong had met with an unfortunate demise (the details of which were not disclosed to me) way too early in life and I figured that Cameron and the guys he lived with had probably not been the most conscientious of pet owners.

Sigh. What can I say? I’m a pushover for cats. Reluctantly I agreed to take him in.

It took me about five minutes to fall madly in love with him.

Cheech was the coolest cat I’ve ever had. He was very affectionate and loved it when I turned him on his back in my arms and scratched all those sensual places around his ears and under his chin and on his chest. That cat had a purr motor that would put a Harley to shame.

I took him to the vet and had him neutered and brought him up to date on vaccinations. Very quickly he became part of the family. When Cameron got back from 3 ½ years of service (not 4, it ended badly, but that's another story...), he wanted him back. No way. Cheech was mine and that’s all there was to it.

When Cameron died in 2004, Cheech was going on nine years old. Both of my female cats were now gone, and Cheech was my only kitty. In a way, I felt like he was my one remaining connection to Cameron, too, and I dreaded the day that I would lose him. A couple of years later, I got a new kitty, Scooby, because I didn’t want to have a house empty of feline company for even a day, and I knew Cheech was getting up in years. Plus I figured when the day came for Cheech to leave us, getting a new kitty at that point would feel too much like I was trying to replace the irreplaceable. So, Scooby was a kind of insurance package – a pre-emptive strike against grief.

Scooby is a great cat in his own way, too. He’s very long-legged and has extra toes on his front feet. He towered over Cheech, who had a shorter, stockier build. And his tail seemed to be about three inches longer than Cheech’s crimped and broken tail. They got along pretty well, but I think Cheech knew that soon it would be okay for him to go. I think he knew how important he was to me, and he knew that Scooby was an indication that I’d be okay when the time came.

In August 2007, I finally had to have Cheech put to sleep. He was 12 years old and his kidneys failed. The poor thing couldn’t even get his feet up under him. It came on very suddenly. The vet didn’t think there was much that could be done. There comes a point where medical intervention becomes too much like doing something to them rather than doing something for them. I held Cheech and stroked him and told him I loved him while he gently took his last breath. I looked up at the ceiling in that empty, sad examination room and I said, “Ok, Cameron. You wanted him back. Now you’ve got him. You’d better take real good care of him!”

Some months later, I had a dream.

I’m upstairs in the bedroom and Cheech comes walking in. “Oh, Cheech!” I exclaim. “I’m so glad you came home.” It seemed like he’d been gone an awful long time, and I wondered why I hadn’t realized he was missing. Then I remembered putting him to sleep and burying him in the backyard. I got a little puzzled, but I went to pet him and talk to him. Scooby went to see him, too. I called to my husband, “Look who’s here!” But my husband couldn’t see him and didn’t know what I was talking about. I realized then that Cheech was dead, but his spirit had come for a visit. I was so happy about that! Then I noticed he seemed a little taller. And his tail was straight as an arrow.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

So, What's the Deep Water Leaf Society?

On May 3, 2004, I lost my oldest son in the most heartbreaking way I could imagine. He died in the county jail of a drug overdose. It was my worst nightmare come true. He'd struggled for years with addiction and for a lifetime with ADHD. Since his adolescence, I'd found it hard to expect anything but more trouble for him in his life. He just couldn't seem to function the way the world expected him to. As much as I believed in and understood the Law of Attraction, it seemed I could not keep my thoughts positive when it came to his future. When he finally died in the worst way I could imagine, I felt tremendous guilt. And I felt the most overwhelming pain and sadness. I could not imagine how a friendly Universe or a benevolent God could allow such a thing to happen - not only the tragedy of his death, but the tragedy of his life. It just seemed so senseless to me.

So, imagine my surprise to discover, over time (a LOT of time), that his death - the most painful thing I'd ever experienced - was also the greatest gift I'd ever received. Somehow, his death opened up a door for me. Always a dreamer, I suddenly found my life taking on the quality of a waking dream. Magical coincidences (aka: synchronicities) became an almost daily occurrence. I began to walk with one foot in the waking world and one foot in the dreaming.

Almost from the very beginning, I began to receive messages from my son. At first they came in dreams, and then through my artwork and journaling, and then in songs on the radio. Occasionally, they even came in very physical form - like the heart-shaped shells and stones I began to find everywhere. I doubted the messages at first. I felt it might be just wishful thinking.

An incredibly powerful (and accurate) session with a medium ( about a year after my son's death set me straight on that. My son was talking to me. He was talking to me all the time. All I had to do was listen - and trust.

So I started listening in earnest. And I did a lot of work. I journaled. I expressed myself through art. I explored past lives. I did body and energy work. I did a lot of dreamwork and continued to study ways to explore dreams. I did hypnotherapy. I practiced forgiveness. I allowed myself to feel everything I was feeling and I explored those feelings in depth. I even went to Egypt, where amazing healing took place. And every step of the way, something or someone was laying the path out before me. All I had to do was continue to take the next step as it appeared.

Through all of it, there was a single, simple, powerful message that kept coming through: love is all that matters - and it never dies.

My son and I are still connected by love and always will be. He is not really gone at all. We are closer than breath - no more than a dream away from each other. Life is meant to be lived with love and joy, not fear and worry. He helped me to understand that. What a gift!

Oh, so what is the Deep Water Leaf Society? It's something that came to me in a dream. A dream that I had seven years before I lost my son. A dream that told me I would lose him. A dream that held the answer to healing from that loss. The dream told me that after losing my baby, I would create the Deep Water Leaf Society and it would not only help me to heal my own grief, but would help many others as well.

So I wrote a book about my loss, but mostly about my healing journey. I called it The Deep Water Leaf Society. The writing of the book lifted the last of my guilt and sadness. It brought me closure. It left me knowing with the deepest certainty that everything is now okay and always was okay and always would be okay. "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well." (Julian of Norwich)

If you want more information about the book, which will be released in the Summer of 2008, you can visit for release dates and other information. Beyond the book, though, my hope is to create a community of the same name. A community of hearts and souls bound by the shared human experience of grief and by the knowledge that we are so much more than just lost, lonely souls experiencing a few brief years on this planet.

We are like leaves floating on the surface of a very deep pool of mystery and magic. I invite each of you to take a deeper look.

I welcome your response, here on the blog, or via email at

Wishing You Peace on the Journey. . .