the tremor twins

Neck tremors:  They came and went without pattern, yet, up to that point, did not affect my sleep or daily activities. Besides, it is often useless to explain the onset of odd quirks in the body. They’re like Minnesota weather—wait for a little while, and things change. I suppose there could have been a number of competing causes: harvesting tomatoes, herbs and raspberries; cleaning up the gardens and yard for fall; decluttering our house and filling a 20-yard dumpster; and preparing for and hosting a yard sale. These stressors were the basis of the “Last Straw Award,” recognized periodically by various compromised parts of my body.


Stress or not, this time my encounter with muscle tremors in my neck was markedly different from the first experience. As I lied down to go to sleep, they consumed me. They were unstoppable. They increased in severity. For fourteen hours my head did nothing but wobble, regardless of my body position. For the most part, yogic breathing, meditating, or telling my ego to go to her corner—that I wasn’t in any physical danger—mediate my stressors. Not this time. I tried replacing my trusty pillow with the ergonomic one recommended by my chiropractor, embracing and calming my fear, and thinking of things for which I was grateful (that actually helped for a while). However, the tremors returned. Fear grew ten-fold, and panic set in. It was a vicious cycle. I was certain that I had a serious disorder and was not long for this world.


Morning hours approached and, although exhausted, I decided to attend an early yoga class because yoga always makes me feel better. A fellow yogi, who is a neuro-muscular therapist, gently took me by the shoulders and said I would be fine. Fear was the driving factor—I needed to continue my breathing and visioning. The tremors did not go away; they just came with less intensity. I managed my daytime activities to include movements and positions that offered me comfort and support. I had an earnest conversation with Source, indicating that I was knocking at a portal and would appreciate knowing that I had been heard. My all-consuming fear had blocked any chance of realizing Source’s presence. I felt a smidge like a four-year-old, begging for a night light to be left on in my room because of the monsters lurking under my bed. The tremors were scary. I did not want to think about the upcoming evening hours. I was not alone, yet it felt like it.


At 9:30 p.m. I meditated on “Calm Lake,” a Buddhist visualization that substitutes calm mental pictures for nagging worry phrases. Still somewhat anxious and feeling subdued tremors, I fell asleep. Some time later, I was awakened by the voice of a familiar friend from the woods near our home—the eight-to-nine-note call of the Barred Owl.


During an earlier, twenty-seven month writing project that culminated in PENROE: in another field without time (, I had researched and written about the Barred Owl. This was the totem animal of the main character of the book. The sound that I heard was its distinct lyric that called to me on three previous occasions during the development of the book. Locating a specific line of poetry among thousands of lines, deciding to diverge from the standard use of dialogue, or using non-traditional ways of shaping the narrative, the Barred Owl’s voice brought courage and confirmation. All energies are connected. Clearly in the thick of things, Source had spoken to me then through the owl and was speaking to me now. Everything is exactly as it should be and all is well. The owl’s call spread calm and peace throughout my anxious body. The tremors subsided. Source had heard my knock, and I was humbled and grateful to have received an answer. In hindsight, Source is always available; it was I who needed more faith.


The tremors are still with me, yet their random presence has happened fewer and fewer times. I set appointments with my doctor and acupuncturist. I know Source “has my back.”



In the quiet moments : When you’re in a situation where you’ve run out of options, feel out-of-control (not that you ever were in control!) and don’t know if Source is truly listening, call on faith and persistence. Know that you can trust Source.



© 2015 in the thick of things

pick it up, put it down, let It be

November generally gives me a break from the fall harvesting, freezing, and dehydrating of fruits and veggies, and lets me slow down. Not this year! Everything was focused on November 6, my daughter’s due date for the birth of the couple’s first child. The mommas had a plan. They had selected a midwife, doula, lactation expert, pediatrician, and chiropractor as their birth medical team at Hennepin County Medical Center. The nursery was ready; the gender-neutral first name had been carefully chosen. All of the baby clothes were washed, folded and placed in drawers. Everything was ready for baby’s debut. Source was in the thick of things.


As the magic date came and went, more home improvement projects were finished; “Meal Train,” an on-line sign-up for meal delivery, was organized; and a tsunami of support and love manifested. Yet, as the days passed, I grew less positive, picking up my “pain body” from earlier birth experiences, knowing that no amount of wishing on my daughter’s behalf would affect the unfolding of the upcoming event. Yet, always in the back of my mind was the question, Where is Source?


I am reminded of Eckhart Tolle’s comments about pain body. “Emotional Pain Body is the main cause of drama, pain and suffering in humanity. “ Cumulated Emotional Pain (Pain Body)”, A pain body triggers strong emotional reactions (fear, anger, distrust, destructiveness, grief, even illness) based on painful, earlier experiences and starts an internal dialogue that overtakes all human senses and powers. If a person is not aware that the pain body is becoming active and telling a story, then the individual cannot get the upper hand, and the pain body soon controls all of the thinking and feeling. Only by becoming an observer of the pain body can it be exposed for what it is—a charlatan that thinks it knows the answers. Besides, emotional reactions from earlier pain body experiences generally do not apply to current situations. It is more effective to observe the pain body, than to get caught up in it.


I knew the strategies for overriding a pain body, yet my humanness caused me to waffle. My pain body was a set of four childbirth experiences; I was recalling my own labors and projecting circumstances on my daughter’s experience. Memories came flooding back to me:  a  l—e—n—g—t—h—y  delivery, the feeling of being totally out-of-control, ineffective Lamaze breathing techniques, and a near-miss C-section. All conjured up fear. In those days, I did not see Source in the birthing process, only in the resulting precious life. I did not know that I was more than my pain body and emotional reactions.


A dear friend helped me to loosen the grip of this pain body during my daughter’s days of labor and delivery. We referred to it as a practice. I had a choice to surrender my suffering or pain body to Source or to keep the drama going. To know this choice existed was Source in the thick of things. Surrendering meant that I put down my pain body, and Source carried it. Clinging to the pain body meant I wanted it and believed that I knew what was best. Even though I felt some relief and lightness when I gave Source my pain body, it continued to reappear. Pain bodies persist as long as they are nourished by any negative emotions or drama—even traces. This was not a time for a token gesture. I was challenged to wholeheartedly eliminate or override my negative emotions. That process takes a willingness to change habits and doesn’t happen quickly (twenty-one days, research confirms) Intention, observation, practice and non-judgment are needed to stop the progress of the pain body. Once it is released to Source, we gain more room for love, joy, compassion, and peace of mind.


Often, I put down my fear surrounding this birth, and Source carried it for me. Just as often, I picked up the pain body of fear, feeling the return of emotional reactions from earlier life events. Cultivating a different habit takes commitment. It takes practice. It takes work. I wish I could report that, in addition to expanding our family circle, I am now able to put down all of my pain bodies and release them to Source. Not so, yet I am more aware of my choices. I continue to practice and am grateful. All is well.


Six “grands” over the last eight years have taught me a little about how I imagine Source to view birthing. There is a plan, and all things work together in beauty, light and perfect timing. Babies choose mothers who are perfectly suited to meet their fledglings’ needs, and Source works through medical team members who often perform at a level beyond their highest training and expectations. At a birth, Source smiles and resounds, Yes, another pearl! The rest of us are awed by unlimited potential.


In the quiet moments: Think about a time when you had a choice to surrender your suffering to Source or to maintain the drama. What happened? What if you had made a different choice?



© 2015 in the thick of things