The long story:
I am back in my life with all of my amazing people, near and far. I have angels in my life who offered me the opportunity to go to South Africa and work with Leo who does auric healing. I took this opportunity and invited my cousin, on my mom’s side, Deana to join me. She is a healer who has also worked on me. It was amazing I realize that it has been a long time since we have updated the blog. Andy and I have both been facing inward and taking care of ourselves first, something that does not come natural to either of us. The only reason that I actually have the time to do this writing is that both of the kids are on sleepovers on this holiday week day. I don’t have to cook. In two hours I am going to be fried.
The long story of my travels.
I left the day after Thanksgiving and returned the day before New Years.
It was painful to get to the airplane. The airlines messed up our tickets by printing it on the wrong card stock. Luckily they ‘fessed up and fixed it for us. But not before I squirmed a bit. Deana and I were waiting in different places in the airport and could not find each other. I had her ticket. Those first few unplanned moments without cell phones are hard.
The special moments started on the plane when we chatted with this young man who opened the conversation with, “do you believe in god?” We stayed in a very nice guest house just down the street from the Shaolin martial arts center that Leo has. He does his healing from his office there. It was summer there and perfectly hot. We were not planning on renting a car, but Johannesburg has a lot in common with Texas. Lots of malls and no where to walk. I would even go as far as saying that Texas is nicer. (those who live in Austin know it is not included in these comments, Austin rocks). So we rented a little tin can of a VW. I even drove on the other side of the road. It went well. I pictured in my mind how to turn before I started the journey.
On the up side of Jo’burg and all of South Africa… THE FOOD is amazing. Those people know how to make a salad. Not just one, but a zillion different kinds. The food rocked. It was such a pleasant surprise. As Brenda, the guest house owner, said the only thing to do there is eat, so they do food well.
Our days consisted of waking up, going to Leo’s for a few hours, then having lunch at our amazing cottage. We were fortunate to receive a free upgrade from a room to the cottage. We called it the metamorphosis cottage. When we arrived I saw a caterpillar on the window. It actually made its crysalis there. As the week progressed we noticed the whole front façade of the building was covered with crysaliss. The day before we left, they started coming out. Beautiful butterflies with half yellow/ half clear wings. It was very symbolic of my experience. It was my experience.
After Lunch some days we went back to Leo for a few hours, other days we went to the mall, which was literally the only place to go, (there were at least a few of them) to run errands. Then we would go out for dinner. We only went back to one place twice. It was a culinary treat.
There was knitting and talking and sleeping and meditating….
We had three days off. Fri through Sun. We took the opportunity to go to Gwala Gwala on safari. Check it out at http://www.gwala.co.za/index.html. We went on safari! It was a beautiful place. The tents were perched on teak platforms. The bathrooms were next to the screened portion of the tents and were open air. Beautiful tile, bamboo and teak. It was very very classy. Gwala Gwala was empty while we were there except us and one couple. It was nice and quiet. The food also rocked there too.
The trip took about 8 hours each way. We were told it was five, but we were in a very very small car that rattled as we went and going the average 140km/hr was too fast. (I think that is close to 90mph) It was amazing because we really did not feel that we were in ‘Africa’ until we were about 5-6 hours out of Jo’burg. Before that point, the architecture had no context. It was just miles of suburbish, or not very exciting landscape that felt like Texas. THEN… It got absolutely beautiful. Stunning combination of Scotish countryside with plants that were definitly Africa!! The architecture also started to make sense. The bizzare castles, or modern architecture stopped and we saw buildings made out of natural materials with thatch roofs and, ironically, lots of concrete block.
The way the bush camps work is you go on a walk in the morning, come back for breakfast. Chill (or try to stay somewhat cool) during the day and in late afternoon/evening go on a drive through the bush. The first day, I was pooped from Leo’s work and slept in. I laid in bed all day, taking cold showers as needed to keep cool. On the night drive, we saw all big 5. It is pretty rare. The big five are: Lions (we saw a pride of 3 lions being very playful), cheetahs ( a mom and baby in a tree above us, very cute), Elephants (we saw a family of about 15, all of different ages, walking, drinking and playing in the water. Oh we also saw a young male in must show off and push a tree over for us), Water buffalo (not very exciting to look at, but supposedly the most dangerous because they give you no warning before they charge), Rhino’s (with birds on their backs). I think that is right. We also saw Giraffes , Zebra’s, tons of birds, monkeys and we heard baboons. Ya don’t want to see them, cause they aint nice.
The second week we went back for more of the same with Leo. I was nervous to go back because I did not know what to expect. I thought that it would get harder every day, kinda like chemo, I guess. I figured the second week would be much worse than the first. It wasn’t. Sometimes he made me feel nauseous like from the chemo. Sometimes I was so tired I could barely walk. Another time, he tried to get me to sit up in my chair, but my head would not get off of my knees. Most days I was just wiped out and a little nauseous & dizzy while he worked on me. One time I walked outside and could not stop laughing. I haven’t had that kind of laugh in years. It was fun. Sometimes while he worked on me, we talked about issues in my life and the wisdom that I need to get where I want to get. Sometimes we were silent for hours. Deana was permitted to sit in on the treatments, I found out later that it is very unusual for Leo to allow that. It was so amazingly special to have her there with me to be a part of it and witness it with me. It has created a bond that we will always have. Some people ask me why Andy did not go with me. The answer is really simple. He needed to be at home. Not just for the children, but for himself. Next year he will go with me and we will be leaving the children.
Then, very suddenly, it was over. We went from Leo’s healing, to lunch and an airplane home. Both flights were very very easy. We used homeopathic jet lag pills, some special scented oil deana had and melatonin. Anyone who travels with kids knows the joy of sitting on an airplane, even if it is for 18 hours, without having to entertain anyone! Both ways, we had extra room to stretch and lay down. I sleep well on planes after I take a dramamine.
I came home and the next day went to work. I followed up on one client who had some time sensitive work. The second day I was back, my car was stolen from our driveway. Yep, my crazy hand painted by the kids car, someone stole. I confess. One must be careful what they ask for in this life, because that is what you get. One day with Leo I was talking about what type of life I wanted. I talked about wanting to bike and bus everywhere and be less dependant on the car culture. It is something that I have wanted for a long time. I thought I would ease into it. But nope. Cold turkey. Luckily all of my clients except one are in walking distance. The furthest one is only a bike and a bus away. The busses here have bike racks on the front. Coooool.
(Later note: the car was found with only damage to the ignition and the need for a new battery. It was about 6 blocks from our house parked behind some apartments. It is still at the shop, but I am going to strive to use it as little as possible.
So anyway, three days after I returned the whole family left for a 3 week trip to Baja, Mexico. It was our first driving vacation, we still have the minivan that Andy drives daily. It went great. We went to the library and got some books on cd to listen to in the car. It worked great. I would say it is the best family vacation we have ever had. I really fell in love with Baja but think that the main reason that it was so great is that we were all in a good frame of mind to enjoy it. I feel like my trip to SA has touched everyone that I think of. I have the opportunity to invite peace into peoples lives now. I love it. My whole family has benefited from my trip to SA, each person in their own way.
We visited Andy’s sister Julia and her family in LA both ways. We took 5 or 6 days in total to drive to Mulege (moo-le-HAY). It is two thirds of the way down the peninsula. It was so beautiful. Andy and I really enjoyed ooing and ahhing at the deserts and boulder fields down the middle of the country. The shore on both sides was much cooler than the center. We went to beaches. The water was warm, but the constant wind made the air too cool to want to get into the water. Laying on the beach, one could warm up. We saw lots of amazing creatures in the tide pools including spitting clams and inch wide holes that had shrimp in them.
We met lots of good people on our journey and hope to see them as we and they pass eachother in life. We got back to Berkeley in time for new years. We spent the night as a family watching Harry Potter 1. The first few days back we implemented some projects in the house that we have meaning to get to in forever. I have not been calling many people because I am moving a bit slower now and can only do so much before 9:00 before we crash.
I also got poison oak on my way back through LA on a hike with the kids. The good news to this is it is the first time my body has contained the poison oak. In the past when I got poison oak it would go systemic no matter how quickly I treated it. Now I only have a little spot on my arm and a smaller spot on my leg. I have lived in fear of poison oak for a long long time. I am no longer scared of it. That feels really good.
I just got my tumor marker checked with a blood test. Before I went away it was 156, now it is 110. This represents the amount of cancer in my body. So that means that my cancer has physically shrunk! I will be getting a CT scan in mid March and meeting with the oncologist at the end of March. +The part of me who wanted a measurable miracle is a little disappointed, but I do know in my heart that I am on the right path and going to be fine.
So Now. I am looking forward to a slower life. I am going to be working a bit more. Andy is going to be working a bit less and more involved in daily chores. We went on our first joint grocery shop today and managed to spend MUCH less than I usually do. So far so good. I know that my health resides in my hands and my ability to maintain a low stress level. I am looking forward to decluttering my house and making it a more peacful place to be. Andy and I have realized that what we want out of life is to be together more. To be in a place, that is a physical place, where we can make things and be able to welcome people into our place. Right now it is going to have to be our house in Berkeley, so now we are setting that up. Sometimes, We dream of having a place, maybe where people vacation… a hotel? A retreat center? Where we can build and make and weld and sew and throw pottery and do stained glass and cook and invite others into our peaceful world to find their own peace.
I still have an appointment in March for the alternative doctor in Sebastapol. For those of you who do not know his story, Isaac Eliaz is a MD, Chinese doctor and does some Tibetan medicine. When I first went to Leo, I was sure that I would keep this appointment. When I left South Africa, I was not sure whether or not I needed it anymore. Today, I think this bloodwork tells me that I should go. I have not made a definite decision yet. I have a couple of months to decide. In the mean time, I am on an aromatase inhibitor from Kaiser. I am taking chinese herbs, some vitamins, and some mushroom powder that Isaac Eliaz recommended to me. Three powders and 6 pills a day. Not bad. Not tasty, but not bad.
For those out there who have been tracking my diet issues. I am now eating most foods and just doing my best to listen to what my body wants at any given time. This may change at any time, which makes me oh-so-fun to have over for dinner, but right now the main thing that I am rejecting is eggs. I am not eating red meat more for political issues at this point. I think I could eat it if I wanted to, but I am proud of not supporting the cattle industry.
Leo has a gift. After 30+ hours of auric work in 9 days, I have returned a new person. I really feel like I have been the beneficiary of a miracle. I am grounded and happy. Both my spirit and body are responding differently to the world around me. I want to thank everyone out there who has been supporting and praying and being there for me in my life. I hope to offer you the support and love that I feel from you. I have become the best me that I can. It feels great. Life still can be frustrating, but most if not all of my anger has been wiped away. I wish that for all of you too. Yes, I guess I went to SA so that I could come back and sound even more like a Californian than ever before.
My new life includes waking up and walking the dog in the mornings and then meditating before the day begins. Some days are easier than others, but the resistance, that I have felt my whole life, around doing things that I want to do and are good for me, is just gone. That is part of the magic.
Now for the new years’ update. The kids are great. Merav is really becoming a tweenager. Very independent and proud one moment and wanting to be taken care of like a six year old the next moment. I need a book on teenage girls! She has a very strong sense of fashion that seems to have skipped a generation. Her social life has shrunk to a few very close friends and one best friend, Emily. They both take violin from the same teacher and are in school together. Because I didn’t have a best friend at that age, I watch them with wonder. During homework time, if Gideon has any questions, she just aches to help him with anything she knows. The other day, I told them to do homework and was getting frustrated with the chatting. I asked them what they were doing and Merav said that she was teaching Gideon the difference between multiplication and division. It was a cute moment.
Gideon has finally lost his front teeth. As I watch them come in, I watch him look like my brother Abe and me before him. I worry about orthodontic bills... I remember not being able to close my mouth too… Luckily, we often see those teeth through Gideon’s smile. He is still always doing something goofy and trying to make people laugh. He has become a real climber. I have dubbed him Senior Apprentice Climber. Yesterday, he asked if he was the master paper aiplane maker in the house. I told him that because he works at it so hard, of course he is. We go through a lot of scrap paper!! He just got some heelies for his birthday, shoes with wheels on the heels, and has been wheeling around. At school, Gideon is socially comfortable. It is really sweet to see. He has a bunch of friends that he gets along with really well. Some of them are even girls still. He seems more comfortable socially than ever before. Lately he has begun transferring his goofy sense of humor into spanish puns. The other night dinner there was one about ‘piglet’ in spanish sounding like a town near here called El Cerrito. I didn’t get it, but the kids both laughed.
Andy... He has just fired all of his employees in an attempt to change how his business is run. They are temporarily out of money for payroll. Of course, they all love and trust him so much that they are off getting temporary work until they can come back to work with him. He describes the process as a snake that has gotten too big has to take off its skin so that it can continue to grow. I think he was a shaman/wise man in another life. I love his analogies. This change is allowing him to be around more and not only a work-aholic. I think he is very brave for taking this directional change with something he has been working toward for so long. His goal is two fold, 1, to find the part of the work that makes him happy and only do that instead of all of the drudgery that he could let others deal with and 2, to do it at a rate that allows other aspects of his life and being through.
Since we have been home he has used his new woodworking tools to build some much awaited part of our kitchen. Some shelf dividers and spice holders for a drawer. He is very good at it too. Next is the stained glass. He is looking and sounding great. We are having a lot of fun together too.
I look forward to talking to all of you soon, but it may take a while in as much that I am finally enjoying my own company, so I am keeping it more than I used to. Don’t be too shy to ca