Monday, August 29, 2016

My Honest Struggle

I'm off the prednisone. Major accomplishment.. Today i went for a horse walk and achieved my fitbit step goal of 7000 steps.  I'm slowly increasing it.  I also had energy for the first time since stopping...and slept through the night for the first time last night.  All progress! 

But here's my honest struggle.  i had it happen again where i didn't recognize myself in the mirror.  No idea why i was more swollen today than yesterday....and on top of it, i have some clogged eye pore thing that makes my eye look weird.  Awesome.  Thankfully i caught it early.

Truthfully... i thought I'd get off the prednisone and return to normal overnight. That sounds silly to say, but it's kind of true. I mean...the swelling happened overnight!

But now I'm putting the journey into perspective and attempting to ask the bigger questions.  How am i to LOVE myself through this part of the journey?  How am i to let others LOVE me when all I want to do is hide. 

I talk about being body positive....but this is badass.

If you don't know about prednisone and weight, here's a good synopsis about changes to ones appearance:

"Steroids affect your metabolism and how your body deposits fat. This can lead to weight gain, and in particular lead to extra deposits of fat in your abdomen (and face). Don't let weight gain damage your self-esteem. Know that the weight will come off - and your stomach return to its normal size - relatively easily in the six months to a year after you discontinue steroids."

Awesome. So the journey continues. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016


"A woman cannot make the culture more aware by saying 'Change' but she can change her own attitude towards herself thereby causing devaluing projections to glance off. She does this by taking back her body. By not forsaking the joy of her natural body. By not purchasing the popular illusion that happiness is only bestowed on those of a certain configuration of age, by not waiting or holding back to do anything, and by taking back her real life and living it full bore, all stops out. The dynamic self acceptance and self-esteem are what begins to change attitudes and culture."

Women who run with the wolves. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Original art by Heather Thompson Blue Phoenix Art
I Am Human

Mixed Media on Woodboard

Migraine Slides and Book Recommendation

For those interested in learning more about how the brain behaves after a concussive incident, or for those that deal with chronic conditions like fibromayalgia, etc....This is the book I was told to get. You can download it onto a Kindle. Title: "Stahl's Illustrated Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia"

And, here are the slides that I was shown yesterday at the UW headache clinic.

It's a fascinating issue of "brain energy" and having the right "stuff" to manage body systems. It's remarkable that the entire body is affected by the brain - yet, in medicine, we treat them all as separate. FINALLY someone is putting the pieces together. Note that I did an art piece on this and donated it to Harborview a while back. I suppose my journey is now finally catching up to the intuitive wisdom I had back then.

Letting Go, Self Emptying, Kenosis

Letting go of perfectionism and other people's opinions is badass....but necessary as a part of the self-emptying required for ministry - also known as Kenosis.

"Kenosis" is derived from the Greek word "kenoo" which means "to empty."

What God wants is not always the same as what I think I want and what other humans might want from me. I learned this when I finally had the courage to say "NO" and it effectively ended my marriage. I continue to learn to become empty in the context of my physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual journey. Just like painting, becoming a vessel requires letting go and allowing myself to follow the gentle nudges. My will/ego/desires often gets in the way. It's only when I am willing to totally let go - even if it means "destroying a painting" - that I can notice the Spirit move. And as many great theologians have stated, it is often the chaos and mess that precedes the breakthrough. One must allow it to happen.

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Phil. 2:5-8).
Note that the painting below went through MANY layers of total chaos before it finally emerged completed. It's the only one I have ever done like it....
"Transformation: Inside the Rainbow Chrysalis"
36 x 36 Acrylic on Stretched Canvas

Friday, August 19, 2016

Let the Migraine Healing Begin!

I have written recently about the episode of sudden hearing loss (and prednisone treatment) that has consumed much of my summer with health challenges. Today, I learned that my original hearing loss was a migraine. And that once again, I am suffering from chronic migraines. And the best part is - I can turn this around. Let the healing journey begin!

I was fortunate enough (I still don't know how it happened) to be able to meet with one of the few headache specialists in a 6-state area. Literally, I got in the next day (most people wait months). I suppose they were concerned about my symptoms!

Here's lesson number 1: Many say that they specialize in migraines, but this woman is the ONLY doctor actually educated specifically to manage them. Here is her information:

The UW Headache Clinic engages in holistic care. Having worked in care coordination for my entire career prior to the TBI 5 years ago, I must say that I was beyond impressed. At the same time, I felt sad that I didn't know about this resource. In fact, I thought that I was seeing a headache/migraine specialist for the last few years - although he knew headaches, and he did good work for me, he wasn't specialized in headache medicine.

That's the first "aha" I wanted to write about - not all neurologists are created equal. In neurology, they have their specialties. I have one Neuro-endocrinologist, a Neurotologist, a Neurologist that is nationally recognized for Dysautonomia (the only one on the West Coast) and now a Neurologist specializing in Migraines. All of these docs know each other and work together - and it's essential that they each weigh in because all of the conditions are inter-related!

So here's Lesson #2: It turns out that the brain suffers a massive "loss of energy" after a concussion. People start to experience chronic headaches along with the symptoms of dysautonomia. I will write more about what I learn on this journey after I read the book that was suggested. Needless to say, it's complicated and I am getting a crash course in some complex neurology.

In the mean time, I will share this - migraines and dysautonomia can be turned around. The problem is that so few doctors know what to do about it! I feel compelled to write about my experience on this road so that others can learn....because not everyone has access to this information. Note that this is only my experience - it's not medical take what you like and leave the rest!

OK, here's the last Lesson from today...
Lesson #3: Feverfew! OMG this is so simple! I woke up with a migraine. Even with vicoden and valium, it didn't totally relieve the symptoms. The headache doc said I needed to start taking Feverfew and Magnesium three times a day. Within a couple of hours of taking the first dose today, the migraine was GONE. I don't mean slightly gone, I mean clarity like what I would get after taking an immitrex (which is not an option for me right now due to co-occurring heart rate issues from dysautonomia). You can purchase Feverfew on Amazon or at the local nutrition store. Amazing. Easy. Worth it.

I will write more as I discover more. But today begins a journey that feels almost like a new birth. I am swollen from the prednisone and weaning off of it. The side effects are terrible as I attempt to peel away the steroid from a system that already struggles to find balance (that's dysautonomia). But, I always come back stronger. I already do acupuncture, cranial sacral, horse therapy, art therapy, and meditation (all while studying theology) to manage all of this. Now, though, I have a new perspective...and I am thrilled to integrate it into my picture of wellness. Ultimately, everything I do is in service of God, helping those living outside, and finding my theological voice in the wake of the injury that changed my life.

Stay tuned for more information about the healing journey, along with art, theology, and all of the other things that I enjoy writing about!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Today's journey

Today's journey....quite simple really....quit coffee and drop the prednisone by another 5mg.  Note that every 5mg drop is the equivalent of an entire human replacement dose of steroid for people without functioning adrenals. 

The good news is that my BP is coming down.  My heart rate is a runaway train tho...and we are watching it. And I'm still swollen like the blueberry girl on Willy Wonka....that'll go down soon.  But this is the mess of transformation.  Through this experience, i have learned to be REAL in ways i never thought possible.  And I've learned to rely on the movement of God to power my ministry, instead of the driving will that taps into my life force- that was my old way as a CEO.  And I've learned that even in the midst of their own suffering, my homeless friends want to make sure that I'm ok....think about that for a moment.....such GRACE.  i may not always like the way i learn...but I'm willing....because this is the Call.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

THIS - It's KENOSIS - SUFFERING THE DIVINE - Pouring forth one's own will to experience the will of God.
"There is a teaching that says that behind all hardening and tightening and rigidity of the heart, there’s always fear. But if you touch fear, behind fear there is a soft spot. And if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky. You find that which is ineffable, ungraspable, and unbiased, that which can support and awaken us at any time." - Pema Chadron

Art - Rising Courage 2

Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art

VIDEO - Creativity is Divine

Facing Homelessness - LOVE TRANSFORMS

Today, thanks to the generosity of this new community, I had the pleasure of dropping off much needed supplies to Les. As soon as I saw him, I wanted to just reach out and hug him (and I did)!!! He was vibrant - with a fresh hair cut and new clothes and a glimmer in his eyes. He told me how wonderful the people have been coming to visit and bring food/water. He expressed incredible joy at finally feeling like he has a path to move forward - he said he felt HOPE. I could see it in his eyes!
That's when I handed him the gas cards he needed, along with a grocery card. And because of the generosity of all of you, I told him to let me know when he needs more...and I can provide it for him. I also gave him a full hygiene kit for both Les and Mary Ann including soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary pads, shampoo and razors. A meal was included, along with cliff bars and an entire package of bottled water. His reaction was one of leaping joy! He told me that his phone is all connected, and he is making progress on the situation that involves the former landlord.
It's amazing what LOVE can do. Thank you to everyone who contributed!! I will keep you all informed.
Read the full story below - and please LIKE this page! LOVE Matters.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Finished! I prepared this for my course work focused on God and the Sacred. This is my latest compilation video documenting the theological exploration of EMERGENCE through art. Enjoy!

The Antidote is the Venom

I was given the gift of this Rumi poem today in an incredibly POWERFUL cranial sacral session.

"The antidote is in the venom." -Rumi

Prednisone.  Learning. Swelling. Transforming. True self.  Not hiding even as my body feels poisoned and swollen from the steroids.  It's all badass courage preparing me for the Call.

The Root of the Root of Your Self

Don’t go away, come near.
Don’t be faithless, be faithful.
Find the antidote in the venom.
Come to the root of the root of yourself.

Molded of clay, yet kneaded
from the substance of certainty,
a guard at the Treasury of Holy Light —
come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

Once you get hold of selflessness,
You’ll be dragged from your ego
and freed from many traps.
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

You are born from the children of God’s creation,
but you have fixed your sight too low.
How can you be happy?
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

You were born from a ray of God’s majesty
and have the blessings of a good star.
Why suffer at the hands of things that don’t exist?
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

You are a ruby embedded in granite.
How long will you pretend it’s not true?
We can see it in your eyes.
Come to the root of the root of your Self.

You came here from the presence of that fine Friend,
a little drunk, but gentle, stealing our hearts
with that look so full of fire; so,
come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

Our master and host, Shamsi Tabrizi,
has put the eternal cup before you.
Glory be to God, what a rare wine!
So come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

The Badass Journey of Self LOVE

There is a scene in the movie "What about Bob" that captures my seminary journey. In it, Bob experiences "death therapy." He is exposed to his deepest fear, and he moves beyond it. Theologically, we call this "non-being" and "facing finitude."

So, I think about this scene often, and especially in the last couple of weeks. I have written about the fact that I have been struggling with health issues this summer. Sudden hearing loss. Dysautonomia. Now weaning off of prednisone. I haven't struggled this much since I had the traumatic brain injury in 2011. Yet, it has been balanced by the most incredible gifts. I have continued to walk through school even in the midst of discomfort. I have allowed other people to see me going through the challenge - no hiding. And my work in ministry continues to THRIVE - perhaps now more than ever before.

But the transformation comes with it's own version of "death therapy" - in other words, the things that make me feel like I am standing on scary ground.

OK, sounds silly, but I might get my first B since i was a freshman in college (Calculus). And before that it was 7th grade (Shop). I could end up getting a C this quarter. I have no clue. It could be an A when all of my final projects are in. The truth is...I have no idea. NON-BEING! HA!

But seriously... grades have been a source of compulsion for me for much of my life only to be replaced by the "gold stars" that come with high work performance. Don't even get me started on how i went through my last two years as an undergrad....just to hear the computer say "congratulations". only heard "STARman" (University of Washington) say CONGRATULATIONS when you got a 4.0. Confession - I got addicted to it.

I know it seems silly, but we all have our things. Grades are one of the big ones. The other is my body. I have talked about having an eating disorder before on this blog. It started so simple - a comment by my boyfriend at the time that he didn't like my body. He said it in a way that was cruel, angry, and devastating. Truthfully, he was having his own body issues - a muscled guy eating 1200 calories a day to lose weight rapidly because he was dissatisfied with his appearance. At the time, I weighed 126 pounds. I was healthy, but I was turning into a woman. I didn't look 16 any more.

When we got married, we lived under the paradigm that I needed to lose weight. Note that my wedding dress had a 26.5 inch waist. Shortly after the wedding, we signed up with a top personal trainer and nutritionist. My trainer was a former Marine Drill Sergeant. He taught me how to train for hours and hours in the gym bootcamp style. I kept my calories restricted. I dropped to 14% body fat. It took me years to finally learn what was happening - Anorexia. Exercise Bulimia. Orthorexia. In total, I spent 15 years like this.

Throughout the entire process, I received the external validation that I craved. People constantly told me how amazing I looked...yet it wasn't REAL. My health was deteriorating. I had to get my gall bladder out due to rapid weight loss. I developed hypoglycemia. My metabolism was shot. I had chronic neck and back injuries from over-training...and more....

But then I got an injury to my brain. This is the kind of injury that brings veterans and professional athletes to their knees. I went up to 200 pounds after the injury because my hypothalamus was affected, and there was NOTHING I could do about it. The intellect that I relied upon for external validation in the form of grades (and subsequently work performance) was no longer the same. No one knew when I would be "better" or even if I would ever recover. No one is prepared for that kind of walk into the unknown. Talk about "death therapy." This is facing NON BEING at it's finest.

After a few months, my husband told me he didn't love me any more and that our marriage was fundamentally broken. Rock bottom. But that was where the truth emerged. I am lovable - fundamentally, completely, lovable just existing on this planet. There is absolutely nothing about me that needs to be a "certain way." I found my anchor. It was no longer about other people's opinions or external validation - it was about God. As a child of God, I have inherent value. And if I have that value, so do others - even and especially those on the margins. Thus began my walk into the Call of God - and I have since learned that my walk is with people undergoing transformation...people in the mess of life...people experiencing great suffering....people that don't want to be SEEN in it, but there is nothing they can do about it.

Letting go of the idolotry of other people's opinions is a badass journey. It's easy to just say that I just don't care about what other people think. But it's not a switch that can be turned off. Just like every other part of me, I just love the part of myself that yearns for acceptance, LOVE, appreciation, validation. It is in that yearning and in the unmet needs that God pours out God's grace. It's like Augustine said - "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, Oh God."

Being so willing to relentlessly follow the Call of God that I am willing to let go of EVERYTHING is where my happiness resides now. This is the concept of self-emptying, and it allows me to follow the nudges of the Spirit when it moves.

Thus, I am going through another transformation. I will be honest - It is frightening to me. My body is swollen from prednisone and I don't recognize myself when I look in the mirror. My intellect is also rewiring also, as I develop new ways of thinking and processing theological information. My ability to perform academically has been challenged for sure. Yet, this is how I am called to walk through the world at the moment - exposed - for everyone to see.

This is my "What About Bob" moment. And the question is...Am I willing to let go of external validation and allow God to work?

I say Yes to God.

We all have a path to walk. This is mine. And I finally have the courage to post some photos from these times in my life. Shining a light for everyone to see is a part of my ministry. It is with an abundance of courage that I shine a light on this.

Photo taken last week reaching out to some homeless friends.
Following GOD's CALL now.
These are my people. This is my CHURCH.
In the midst of my eating disorder.
Back then, I thought I still needed to
lose weight.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Contemplation - Life is Movement

I have been contemplating that Life is Movement as we move forward through (or exist within as some might think) the kenosis (or self-emptying) of God. This was beautifully captured by the above video showing the vortex of the solar system moving through space. And it got me thinking - how much of human suffering and pain is caused by our lack of willingness to allow the energy to move? Of course, this doesn't account for EVIL in the world (that's a different ballgame), but there is a great deal of pain (I know I experience it) that comes from failing to LET that the movement can continue.

This brings me to a quote by Tillich that is among my favorites - 
"Therefore, everything finite is innately anxious that its substance will be lost. This anxiety refers to continuous change as well as to the final loss of substance. Every change reveals the relative nonbeing of that which changes....Anxiety about change is anxiety about the THREAT of non-being implied in change. It is manifest in all great changes of personal and social life, which produce a kind of individual or social dizziness, a feeling that the ground on which the person or group has stood is being taken away, that self-identity or group identity is being destroyed" (Tillich Systematic Theology Volume One Page 107)

From a place of personal reflection, the health issues I am going through at the moment are a part of learning to be fluid. That fluidity requires allowing others to SEE me in the midst of it, as I let go of my tendency to want to HIDE my discomfort for the benefit of others. It is humbling, uncomfortable, counter cultural and ultimately exposed to allow oneself to be noticed by others in the midst of the mess of transformation. Interestingly, though, it is through this very process of allowing myself to be SEEN that I am developing an even deeper understanding of what it means to be among the most vulnerable on the margins of society – and those are the people that I walk with in ministry.

Over time, I have come to see myself as a Neoplatonic thinker. Although I have eyes that look at the world (Aristotle), I see God in everything – this is the “seeing through” of Neoplatonism and even Celtic Christianity, where the tree, the stars, the single atom, is all a reflection of the God of Mystery – or the God beyond the God of our understanding. This was address in a book I was reading where the author quoted Ilia Delio (one of my favorites): “…Christianity must take into account that in this second Axial Period we are moving into a world that is globally conscious, ecologically sensitive, communal, and mindful of the evolution of the whole cosmos” (Vincie 69). This quote captures the change to a new phase in our human journey, one that I believe revisits the Neoplatonism of the ancient world while integrating our scientific understanding gained through the Aristotelian period of theology. To best capture my thinking on this topic, I have included an original poem (by me) below: 

If God is in the Mountain
If God is in ME
The Mountain is ALSO in me. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Grace Filled Day

Today was filled with Grace. Where do I even begin? Dropping prednisone sucks - yes I had a migraine and felt dizzy as hell, but that meant that I couldn't drive I got to spend the day with my daddo doing stuff in my truck...that alone was Grace!

But then add to it the fact that a woman on the verge of eviction is now going to have money for RENT because of an amazing new friend that I met while picking up a table through a Facebook Buy Sell Trade group. I had no idea how we were going to come up with $500 today....but then Laylia stepped in with $180...and my dad matched her donation...and another person from the Facing Homelessness-Issaquah page (a project I manage) stepped up...and suddenly rent was covered.

When I told the woman that her rent would be paid for, she cried - told me that a friend of hers had died yesterday and she really needed the hugs today. She said that she wants to volunteer to pay it back. And I simply told her that the Facing Homelessness movement isn't about paying anything back - we all need help sometimes. It is about finding our own unique gifts and giving them away...and that's all that is asked of her too!

The Holy Spirit MOVES in such subtle yet powerful ways. I am consistently amazed at what happens when I empty myself to such a degree that I can feel the nudges. Powerful shit. Yes, that's me - seminarian - using curse words. Because sometimes it really is powerful shit.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

New Art! Emergence

Today i did my first encaustic mixed media piece...I'M IN LOVE WITH IT.  Watercolor ground...encaustic wax...acrylic....layers of paper.  A new piece is born.

Today's observation after painting: Humans don't like the mess of transformation, but it's in the badass willingness to step into the unknown with NO PLAN....NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL I'M fully embrace the Mystery of creation...that something entirely new can EMERGE.  And like the birth of a child, the way we are all born into this world...we simply must surrender to the process and allow it to be what it is.  This is GRACE.

Contact for purchase information.
Title: Emergence
12 x 12

Thursday, August 4, 2016

DETACHMENT by Anthony de Mello

“The only way to change is by changing your understanding. But what does it mean to understand? How do we go about it?

Consider how we’re enslaved by various attachments; we’re striving to rearrange the world so that we can keep these attachments, because the world is a constant threat to them. I fear that a friend may stop loving me; he or she may turn to somebody else. I have to keep making myself attractive because I have to get this other person. Somebody brainwashed me into thinking I need his or her love. But I really don’t. I don’t need anybody’s love; I just need to get in touch with reality. I need to break out of this prison of mine, this programming, this conditioning, these false beliefs, these fantasies; I need to break out into reality.

Reality is lovely; it is an absolute delight. Eternal life is now. We’re surrounded by it, like the fish in the ocean, but we have no notion about it at all. We’re too distracted with this attachment. Temporarily, the world rearranges itself to suit our attachment, so we say, “Yeah, great! My team won!” But hang on; it’ll change; you’ll be depressed tomorrow. Why do we keep doing this?

Do this little exercise for a few minutes: Think of something or someone you are attached to; in other words, something or someone without which or without whom you think you are not going to be happy. It could be your job, your career, your profession, your friend, your money, whatever. And say to this object or person, “I really do not need you to be happy. I’m only deluding myself in the belief that without you I will not be happy. But I really don’t need you for my happiness; I can be happy without you. You are not my happiness, you are not my joy.” If your attachment is a person, he or she is not going to be very happy to hear you say this, but go ahead anyway. You can say it in the secrecy of your heart. In any case, you’ll, be making contact with the truth; you’ll be smashing through a fantasy. Happiness is a state of nonillusion, of dropping the illusion.”

“…I was afraid to say this, but I talked to God, and I told Him that I don’t need Him. My initial reaction was “This is so contrary to everything that I’ve been brought up with”. Now, some people want to make an exception of their attachment to God. They say, “If God is the God that I think He ought to be. He’s not going to like it when I give up my attachment to Him”! All right, if you think that unless you get God you’re not going to be happy, then this “God” you’re thinking of has nothing to do with the real God. You’re thinking of a dream state; you’re thinking of your concept. Sometimes you have to get rid of “God” in order to find God. Lots of mystics tell us that.”

Art by Heather Thompson Blue Phoenix Art
Blurry Window

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Open Hearted

"Take care, take care, never to close your heart to anyone."
Pierre Favre

Original art by Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art
Contact for Purchase Information

If you like what you this independent artist and click LIKE on my page! Artists thrive on a foundation of LOVE and SUPPORT as we dare to be REAL.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Facing Homelessness Issaquah

Meet Facing Homelessness Issaquah. 

By reaching out and saying hello we begin the process of turning a stranger into a friend and in turn find the beauty that is in all of us. If you walk past someone that is in need, say hello, give a smile, perhaps stop and just for a moment find out something about them, you will be amazed how easy and rewarding it is. So many people struggling with life on the streets feel invisible. By simply giving acknowledgment you are making someone feel loved. 

Officially a part of the Facing Homelessness Movement