Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Cameron's Birthday, But the Present's for YOU!

Today is my son Cameron’s 31st birthday, or would be if he was still here. I’m not sure how old he is where he lives now, or if age is even a concept there. It’s been nearly five years since his death and rather than feeling bittersweet, today I am feeling very happy about his birthday. I’m going to celebrate by giving away 10 copies of The Deep Water Leaf Society: Harnessing the Transformative Power of Grief in eBook format. The book has been available since September in paperback and I’ll be officially launching the eBook release within the coming month. Here is your chance to get a free pre-release copy of the eBook, which includes full-color illustrations.

The Deep Water Leaf Society tells the story of Cameron’s death and the journey of awakening I experienced in the aftermath. While it is autobiographical, it is also a guidebook to healing for anyone experiencing grief. You will learn how to use art, journaling, dreams and synchronicity to heal and grow. Even if you are not grieving, the tools, practices and messages of the book can show you a pathway to transformation and personal growth.

Many people have asked me what the title of the book means. The name was given to me in a dream. You can read the dream in the first chapter of the book, which you can download here, or you can read about it in my very first blog entry here. Even so, many people still scratch their heads over the title, so let me tell you what I think it means.

Most of us live our lives like a leaf floating on a very deep lake. Just as winds and currents move the leaf around, we allow much of the direction of our lives to be determined by the people and events around us. We drift along like sleepwalkers living surface level lives, never finding out who we really are. I think of the “deep water leaf” as one who has had that smooth surface shattered, one who has been pulled into the depths and found that rather than drowning the experience has left him or her more alive than ever. Because it’s only in the depths that we will see the mystery, the magic, the timelessness of who we are and how we are connected. We can only find those things by diving deeper. We can wait for a tragedy to shatter the surface for us, or we can just take a deep breath and dive.

So, if you’d like to receive your own copy of The Deep Water Leaf Society in eBook format (268 pages filled with color illustrations) totally free with no strings attached, be one of the first 10 people to post a comment on this blog entry telling me about one of your own “deep water leaf” experiences:
  • when have you found yourself experiencing the magic and mystery of the deep?
  • what triggered that experience?
  • did something shatter the surface, or did you just dive in?

To post your comment, scroll down to the bottom of this blog entry and click on the “Comments” link. In addition, please send an email to Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety that includes your name, your email address and some reference to the context of your post. I will confirm your winning status and send a link to your download within 48 hours of receiving your email and verifying your posted comment.

Now, I know Cameron’s listening, so everybody sing along with me:
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you…

As always, I welcome your coments here or by email (

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  1. Hi Claire~
    There is SO much to say....and yet I am at a loss for words today...I am in the midst...I had to just cancel my day & do moving forward paying of my rent today....just heart is w/ you today as I read this...feeling the connection over the loss being so different...& yet....
    I am so grateful for discovering you. Realizing that you were meant for me & not so much for my friend. It brings tears to my eyes to even write that. Because in coming to the computer just now, I was not only reminded from seeing your post, but also an e-mail from the circle that I had to leave....
    Okay, okay....enough said...
    Thank you my dear one....I am definitely in my deep water leaf

  2. How lovely, Claire. I am moved by the eloquence of your writing style, and I can't wait to read your book (would love to have you as a guest on my radio show, actually, so please Tweet me about that).

    In answer to your excellent questions, I found myself "experiencing the magic and mystery of the deep" ever so many times in my life. Like you, I chose to write about them in my own book. The key experience that really triggered the "big" deep-sea dive of my existence was my father's death in 2001. Without going into the story of that (as it's all in my book, so there is no need), what it did was, as you so beautifully say "shattered the surface" of the veneer of my life at that time. I had been in a very long-term state of numbness that made me feel disconnected from myself. The way I describe it in my book is "When we fall into the dreamless sleep of our own emotional anaesthesia, sometimes the only thing that can wake us from our dormancy is a pain so severe we can neither ignore it nor cover it up any longer." In my case, one thing I had been "covering up" was a secret life within a 22-year abusive marriage, which had been taking its toll on me in body, mind and spirit. When my father died, it was as if my defense systems could work no longer. At first I plummeted into a very, very dark place indeed. It even kick-started the onset of menopause at the age of 46, which made life even more confusing. However, ultimately, this incident proved to be the catalyst for a rebirth in my life, without which I would never have become the person I am today (indeed, my physical and emotional health was so poor back before my father died, I sometimes wonder if I would still be alive had this catalyst not occurred.

    So, yes, yes, yes... I have dived the waters of the deep, not just then, but so many times. Self is endless and phatomless. When we dive, we find still more and more. Isn't it wonderful? When we learn the beauty in sorrowful joy, or joyful sorrow, and that all is equal in the bigger span of things, then we finally become peaceful, happy and able to walk through the world without fear.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful words and depth of heart.

    Warm wishes,
    Lynn Serafinn
    author of "The Garden of the Soul: lessons from four flowers that unearth the Self"

    P.S.: Happy Birthday, Cameron!

  3. Claire,
    What I have read of your writing so far, touches me. When I moved to Arizona in 2000 it was to break myself out of the rut my life was in at the time, & had been for years. I knew that I needed to take advantage of being laid off and change places, to shake me up and out. It was kind of like starting over. Just diving in. It has been a wonderful adventure of discovering what I wanted and what I didn't want; why I am here and what I want to do to contribute to the world. I am in grad school now, studying to be a counselor; learning as much as I can about various types of healing; and exploring and unlocking my creative, artistic self. I am happy with my life & looking forward. Having a ball. Can't wait to read your book. Rosaland

  4. I already have my copy, of course, but I did want to comment about birthdays. Only 3 of my sweetie's birthdays have passed now without him, and I do get sad that he's not growing older like he should be. I get some comfort from a George Harrison song, called "Rising Sun": "Universe at play inside your DNA, you're a million years old today." That's how old he is, how old I am, how old you and Cameron are--and older. We are eternal. Some day, I hope I have healed enough and gained enough enlightenment to see the day he died as his latest birthday, into something else.

  5. My brother, mom, and dad died in 3 consecutive years. No choice but to plunge in...tho I masked it with relationships and distractions for a long time. Realized much later that what I grieve most for is my unlived life. All the times I've held back, said "no," made myself less-than. Love never dies; it just changes form. The trick is loving ourselves. The greatest thing we can do is fully live this life, as ourselves and cherish the time we have with others, whether it's a few years or a lifetime. Honor God by living in joy and gratitude by what we have, stop measuring our lives by what we lack or what we have lost.

  6. I had my experience when I had to suddenly move from a scary landlord situation. Then my 12 year old car broke down! It wasn't until I surrended to the circumstances that things started to move again for me. But it took a few years because I kept making fear based decisions. Whenever I get scared now - I just remember the calm of that night - and then find the picture I drew - with my non-dominant hand, of course.
    Happy Birthday Cameron - you sure are loved.

  7. Thanks so much for the fabulous response so far! IMPORTANT NOTE: In addition to your comment, you will need to send me an email at so that I can email the link to the eBook to you. Please note your name as it appears above your comment. I don't want anyone to miss out just because I can't find you!! (Okay, some of you I can find, but send me an email anyway.)

    I can see from your posts that it's often the most challenging and painful circumstances that spur our greatest growth and awakening. Even when these experiences leave us with more questions than answers, somehow we learn to be more comfortable with the unknowns and more comfortable in our own skin. Thanks again for all these great comments so far.

    So, with the exception of TGLB who already has a copy, that makes 5 winners and 5 more books to give away!!

    My technical editor is putting the finishing touches on the eBook as we speak, so you all should receive a link by Monday. IF I get your email addresses, that is! ;-)

  8. Dear Claire, I'm Orli from Israel, losing my daughter of 14 41/2 years ago. Thank you for some deep understanding and finding a meaning, something which I find so difficult to do.

  9. Dear Claire,
    As your uncle,I have been with you through most of what you wrote in this book. I can share my last "deep water event..." with you and others.
    With my wife and a friend, Michael we created a COMMUNITY OF FAMILIES in which I lived for 25 years. In January 2005 I lost my wife Monique and about a year later, I went to stay with my son in an extention of the community in Colebrook NH. During the 3 months I was there, I went through many difficult events that brought me in a state of INTENSE SADNESS... I went down and cried for 18 hours in line. Then I told myself that I did not want to stay in that state anymore and went into the forest near a beautiful fall and... ASK FOR HELP. The answer was immediate and I was guided to meet a group of peoples where I connected to THEIR JOY OF LIVING. Since that day, over three years now, I never let go of that JOY. So as "deep" down we can go, as "high" we can also climb.
    I want also to tell you how I admire and honor you in your own path and the service that you are now giving with your wonderful experience. May you be blessed...

  10. Just wanted to say....Happy Birthday Cameron!

    I too lost my beloved son three years ago
    in a tragic motorcycle accident. He had
    been involved with drugs and drinking for
    a long time after graduating from college.
    He had been in his own "deep water" for so
    long and none of his family could pull him
    We all watched him hit bottom over and over.
    This in itself is agonizing for his family who
    loved him so so much. This is where we all were
    when the accident occurred.

    After being numb for the first year...I pulled myself out of the deep hole I was in and
    have tried to go on with life. We all have trouble on the holidays..sometimes on his
    Birthday. (He was 38 when he passed away)

    I often thought when seeing Mom's losing infants, how blessed I was to be able to
    have this wonderful son for 38 years!
    And to have all the good memories.....
    and always knew and felt so much love
    from this very kind son.

    I hope both Cameron and Paul are having
    a good day..perhaps sharing some cake
    and laughter together. Happy Birthday are loved always by a very special Mom.

  11. Dear Claire,

    I do have your book "Deep Water" and I feel like if I actually pick it up and read I will drown. I am not ready yet....will I ever be? It sits on my nightstand along with a couple of other books that I cannot bring myself to open. Tears are falling as I type this. Two years on 4/10 since I lost my best friend, who happened to also be my Mom. Anyway one day I will read your book. So until then I know I have it anytime I feel strong enough to start reading it. Crystal

  12. Thanks so much to everyone who's posted a comment here! I have tried to reply to each of you individually via email, but there are a few of you I don't have a way to contact...

    Krista White - 3 losses in 3 years - what a lot to sort through! It sounds like you have found your way back to yourself over time. I honor you for realizing that the key is to love yourself and live fully, cherishing life and relationships. I would love to send you an eBook, but I have no way to get in touch with you. Please send me your email address (to

    Crystal - I think I remember you from Grief_Steps? Are you the same one I'm thinking of? I don't want to push you to read the book if you don't feel ready, but I wanted to say that at first I thought I would drown in my tears and my grief, too. Some of the art and journaling I did very early on showed me that I wouldn't drown, though, and that if I allowed myself to travel as deeply into the tears as I could go, I would actually find healing. Anniversaries are difficult and you and your Mom were (are!) so close. I'll be thinking of you on the 10th and sending love and healing your way. If you decide to risk opening the book (or the others that wait with it), may the words bring you peace and healing. I'm assuming you don't want an eBook if you've already got the paperback...

    Looks like I have 7 winners so far (leaving out those of you who already have a copy) and 3 more books to give away! I'll keep the giveaway open for a few more days.

    Those of you who have won (and for whom I have an email address) will receive a link to download the book within the next day or two.

    Blessings to all of you, and may you find peace on the journey...

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  14. Dear Claire...It has been wonderful for me to discover you and DWLS. When my daughter, Michelle died so many years ago, I felt so alone in my grief, then later, so alone in the transformation her death made to my life. I'd like to share a poem that I wrote only a few weeks ago that is not in my book yet. But first, a little explanation would seem in order.

    My daughter, Michelle, died in 1974 from Reye's Syndrome. She was eight years old. She had been sick with the mumps and I gave her baby aspirin for the discomfort. The doctors didn't know what was wrong with her and gave her more aspirin in a suppository to help the vomiting. She died a day later. It was that year that the Reye's Syndrome Foundation was founded.

    When I was two, I was close to death with symptoms very much like Reye's Syndrome. I had just recovered from chickenpox when they began. The doctors did not know what was wrong with me, either. I suspect that I was also given

    I believe that the girl in the bed next to me in the hospital was my connection through time, to Michelle. She read to me and her presence gave me something very special, even though I never saw her face and only heard her voice. She was 8, the age Michelle was when she died from Reye's. I don't know how I know this, but I do. Michelle and I had already agreed to be there for each other, (on the other side of death), to comfort-hold life with precious appreciation and joy.

    I've wondered often about that girl that read to me for what seemed like endless time when I was so little....and now I'm sure that she was a
    manifestation of Michelle. The doctors didn't know how to treat what I had, because they didn't know what it was. My veins were too small for them to get any kind of IV fluids into me, and I was told later that I was in a coma and near death. A young intern thought to give me fluids by injecting them under the skin. I began to improve. I think the girl telling the story in her bed next to me had as much to do with it as did the intern. This is still the story, only my hands now hold the book.


    The room is blurry.
    A cloth partition hums
    with words from a story book.
    I love the girl that is reading to me
    from the other side.
    She is sick too.
    I think the story is real.
    Stay awake an echo tells me,
    this is too sweet to miss

    but I fade in and out.
    I am two
    I tell the girl beside me
    lost in the tall grass of time;
    she smiles her words,
    reading on into the drift of me.

    She is eight and reads like angels
    lifting clouds,
    with each word comes
    a dancing of choir,
    making the compartment of my bed
    into a meadow-come-spring.

    We are woven, she and I
    into a story
    that happens many years away,
    then tells itself again
    as I hold her across the partition,
    knowing the kindness of death
    has painted the cloth again.

    Happy belated birthday, Cameron