Monday, December 3, 2018

Advent Day Two...The Eternal Christ

Advent Meditation....
The Eternal Christ
Fr Richard Rohr

What if we’ve missed the point of who Christ is, what Christ is, and where Christ is? I believe that a Christian is simply one who has learned to see Christ everywhere. Understanding the Universal or Cosmic Christ can change the way we relate to creation, to other religions, to other people, to ourselves, and to God. Knowing and experiencing this Christ can bring about a major shift in consciousness. Like Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9), we won’t be the same after encountering the Risen Christ.

The Universal Christ is present in both Scripture and Tradition, and the concept has been understood by many mystics, though not as a focus of mainline Christianity. (See John 1:1-5, Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:9-12 if you think this is some new idea.) We just didn’t have the eyes to see it.

The Universal Christ is Divine Presence pervading all of creation since the very beginning. My father Francis of Assisi (1181–1226) intuited this presence and lived his life in awareness of it. Later, John Duns Scotus (1266–1308) put this intuition into philosophical form. For Duns Scotus, the Christ Mystery was the blueprint of reality from the very start (John 1:1). Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) brought this insight into our modern world.

God’s first “idea” was to become manifest—to pour out divine, infinite love into finite, visible forms. The “Big Bang” is now our scientific name for that first idea; and “Christ” is our Christian theological name. Both are about love and beauty exploding outward in all directions. Creation is indeed the Body of God!

In Jesus, this eternal omnipresence had a precise, concrete, and personal referent. God’s presence became more obvious and believable in the world. The formless took on form in someone we could “hear, see, and touch” (1 John 1:1), making God easier to love.

But it seems we so fell in love with this personal interface in Jesus that we forgot about the eternal Christ, the Body of God, which is all of creation, which is really the “First Bible.” Jesus and Christ are not exactly the same. In the early Christian era, only a few Eastern Fathers (such as Origen of Alexandria and Maximus the Confessor) noticed that the Christ was clearly historically older, larger, and different than Jesus himself. They mystically saw that Jesus is the union of human and divine in space and time; Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit from the beginning of time.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, we’re believing in something much bigger than the historical incarnation that we call Jesus. Jesus is the visible map. The entire sweep of the meaning of the Anointed One, the Christ, includes us and includes all of creation since the beginning of time (see Romans 1:20). This Advent, let us wait in anticipation for the eternally coming Christ.

Original Art by Heather Thompson Blue Phoenix Art

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Advent Day 1

When the religious say that there is a WRONG way to be a human, things get very dangerous. Haven't we learned this lesson from the cross, crusades, holocaust...need I go on? Do we not continue to learn this lesson every day with those that are shoved to the margins or kicked out of religion because "the bible says so?"

I am struggling this first day of Advent as I see the darkness before me, with Christians creating divisions and judgements along lines of immigration status, gender, sexuality, and more.

I believe that the journey of faith is an interior walk with God.  It's a loving walk, exemplified by St Augustines Confessions.  Instead of using the confessions to force perfection, tho, perhaps we could see it for what it is...courageous transformation naked before God.

If Christians genuinely trust the Holy Spirit, then we can trust that the Spirit is moving always for good...even in the hearts of those that spread hate and division in the name of God.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

There's HOPE in this Health Update

The EXCRUCIATING leg pain that has been unrelenting for months is so much better today. I could do backflips, although I hesitate to be so hopeful. What happened? Well, we put me back on a medicine to help the dysautonomia (I'm not holding water again)...a medicine that just happened to help the weird leg pain years ago...and hot damn it's working.

Incidentally, it was so validating to see my autoimmune disease on the ultrasound yesterday. "There it is," said Dr. Moon. "We finally caught it." Reactive/Psoriatic Arthritis - Humira is gonna work!

Add that to Dysautonomia, Myesthenia (VGCC+), Adrenal Insufficiency, Pituitary Dysfunction, Small Fiber Neuropathy, and other issues...well...you've got one badass mixture of stuff that only the big guns (IVIG and Humira) can fix.

Do I have a Diagnosis? Yes - Several.
Am I healing? Yes - Slowly.
Will I ever be fully "recovered?" - Who the heck knows - I am on God's path. But, I love myself regardless. Finally.

Next step - drop the Prednisone with the IVIG down another 25 mg and hope to God (literally) that there isn't an anaphylactic reaction.

In the mean time, I have a goal - two more walks and a groom of Harvey, then I get to ride my warhorse

"HEATHER AND HARVEY"
Original art by Heather Thompson Blue Phoenix Art
www.BluePhoenix.com

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Prayer in Polarizing Times

I'm contemplating the notion of loving and praying for those who are different from us...those who have nothing to give us...those who can't do anything for us...those whose political beliefs are different...those whose faith seemingly opposes ours...those who make us uncomfortable...those who we can't see but we know are there....those who have power and riches...those who live in poverty...those who have a voice...those who lack the platform to speak...the bully and three bullied...

We live in a polarized society.  It's easy to pray for "our team."  It's much more difficult to pray for all sides.  And it's even more challenging to pray for the invisible few who sit on the margins only to become lost in the midst of ideological fighting. 

My prayer is simple.
Speak God, thy humble servant is listening.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Healing and Hoping

This new brand of IVIG is so much better. I'm having fewer side effects, and I don't feel the constant anaphylaxis.  Dare I say that I actually feel good today?

I'm in a big healing process. People talk about fighting disease.  With me, there's nothing to fight....just malfunctioning systems that need repair.  It's taken me a long time to get to this point, and the walk out will likely take just as long.

I could so easily become depressed and apathetic, but that's not what I feel.  When I pause and check in with my body, I feel hope.  Beneath the exhaustion, fear, and struggle is the strong drumbeat of my warrior spirit. And it is from that place that I say YES to God.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Prayer for Healing

Focusing on Health and Accomplishments today.....Thankfully I learned that my blood isn't so thick that we have to stop IVIG (YaY!). So we keep going with IVIG - and I begin again on the 29th. And....I had a second morning in a row without an allergic attack (can't even begin to describe what these feel like, so this is a major accomplishment)! And so far so good with the Humira injection yesterday....Dare I say no reaction yet (other than usual side effects).

As I am sitting here...I feel the need to give a prayer of thanks. I will be submitting this prayer to Bethany Seminary as a part of my vocational statement. Most importantly, whether you read it or not, and regardless of religious affiliation, I have learned that I don't need to pray alone.

I used to be ashamed to pray with others. I used to feel ashamed to ask for prayer. In my formation for ministry, I have learned that prayer is something we should feel free to do as we wish - for ourselves, for others, in private, in public....using words, using color, using silence. There is no right way to do it...so today...I am daring to pray in public. I have never done this before - but for me, as I get my voice back - it is an important part of my journey. St. Augustine did it in his Confessions, so I shall do it today.

A prayer for today...

God, you have bought me back from the brink of health crises so many times, and as I have looked into the abyss of my own finitude, I have felt your hand upon my back filling me with the strength of your LOVE and the awareness that it is not yet time for me. While healing, I have thrashed against the notion of remaining quiet, and yet it is this very stillness that unveiled a powerful flow running through the center of all that is, and I choose to call that Grace. "Be still and know that I am God." Amen.

Lord, as I continue to heal, I no longer wish to walk to the edge of finitude as a means of learning my lessons in ministry. I pray that you open my ears to LISTEN and my eyes to SEE your WORD expressed throughout all of creation. I pray that you grant me the courage to ACT when I feel the nudges of the Spirit that moves me each day, that I am not so caught up in my own agenda...that I learn to maintain the inner stillness even as I walk in the world.

Lord I pray that I continue to have peace and serenity in my body and spirit as I slowly turn the corner toward healing. I pray that my body is restored to wholeness, and that with wellness in place, it brings me closer to you, oh God. I pray that I enjoy the calm of stability and inner stillness even as I gently walk the path toward new healing. Lord I thank you for saving me.

Thank you God for walking with me...every step of this journey giving me the strength and perseverance needed to keep going. May I use what I have learned on this embodied journey to walk with others in ministry... as you see fit, oh Lord...in your time, oh Lord...in your vision for my life.

I completely surrender.

Speak God, thy humble servant is listening.


Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The UNKNOWN of Rare Disease

Rare disease, chronic illness and invisible disability can be difficult to grasp if you've never walked that road. It's not a clear path lined with happy care protocols and treatment regimens.  Nope, it's a wild wood filled with uncertainty, false negatives, inaccurate tests and more...And those who journey with me (friends, family, physicians) must learn to be comfortable with the unusual road.

People say all sorts of things when they don't understand the path...I'm sad to say I've heard most of them...but those words don't matter. They don't get it...And I'm working to forgive.

As I move toward healing, all that matters is the quiet, deliberate steps.  With amazing specialists, I've come to realize that there are things that are KNOWN about my health/diagnoses and others that require further investigation.  So we treat what we know and we keep investigating. No drama...just moving forward.

To those in my tribe lovingly walking with me...I am grateful beyond words. I LOVE you.

Amen

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Ministry on the Margins

I'm a minister that travels to the margins where there is immense unseen suffering. At times God sends me there to learn (as in my health journey), yet other times I'm drawn there simply because I am capable of seeing LOVE amidst pain.

Noticing LOVE amidst suffering on the margins has become a clear part of my ministry.  I remain quiet, and empty myself to the best of my ability, until I feel the nudge.  At that moment it is time to act...it may be a voice through art, writing or speaking... or it may be simply observing...it might mean taking acton...I don't know until the nudge pushes me forward. This is the Holy Spirit in my life.

I've learned more about LOVE on the margins then I ever knew in the comforts of the world. So, if you see me talking about things that others try to avoid, it's because I find meaning in those spaces. Some I can control, others are forced upon me. Both teach me and inform my theology. They give me perspective. I'm filled with gratitude and I am a better person when I allow myself to live into the Franciscan call. 

So after a very scary day yesterday, when I once again faced the horror of an allergic ivig attack, I'll say that I found my root of gratitude tonight. It took all day drawing, but I emptied myself and noticed the gift of psychoactive. Thank you God.

Grateful for my Tribe

This morning I feel so grateful for the friends who have made sure that I do not walk this healing journey alone. I'm grateful for the people that have never doubted these rare diseases, those who check up on me, those who hold me in prayer, those who send me virtual hugs when I need them, those who have helped to drive my daughter when I need the support, those who come to the emergency room when I need someone with me, and most importantly those that have just quietly been a part of my life.  I'm deeply grateful to you.

On many occasions I've indicated that getting IVIG is a very serious treatment, and if you've ever seen one of the post IVIG attacks, the kind that landed me in the ER like yesterday, then you know what I mean. They're still trying to figure out what it is, whether it's a mast cell attack, a vasovagal reaction, anaphylaxis or something else...regardless, it's a truly horrible experience.

I'm not one to complain, or even to talk about how difficult it is to walk this healing road, but today I felt the need to be real about it because yesterday was one of those days that required my warrior self. I'm turning the corner, yet I'm still in the fight of my life.

I remain deeply grateful that I'm not battling cancer, as I learned yesterday that I don't have carcinoid! That being said, what I'm battling is plenty....And today I'm tired.

Friday, October 5, 2018

My thoughts as a survivor of abuse and assault....

Thousands of years of sexual assault...being forced to marry our rapists, forced to remain quiet about incest lest we disrupt family dynamics, told there's not enough evidence when we do speak up, told there's not enough resources to process the horrific rape kits that could actually prosecute our offenders, told we probably wanted it, told we have other motives in coming forward, told that maybe we don't remember it correctly, told that telling the truth would ruin a good man, told that it wasn't that bad because we weren't penetrated, told as a young girl to relax if a man tries to rape you,  told that you never say NO to your husband....

Ignored by the church, police, community, and sometimes even parents....

Trying to understand why vivid depictions of rape and sexual violence are considered entertainment on TV while swearing is banned...

Why are women furious?
We've heard it all before. It's like a broken record. Let's face it, 1 in 3 women have survived sexual assault, harassment, abuse, or stalking.

While men talk about a fair process for Kavanaugh, women are wondering about the thousands of years of pain that we have carried, while being treated as damaged even by other women. The culture of silence is powerful. Now we see a woman bravely speaking. We don't need a scape goat. I want a fair process for anyone being considered for the supreme court. But make no mistake, women need to be authentically HEARD. This woman - Dr. Ford - has had an experience with this man, and we are rushing to confirm him. Why?

I hear men are uncomfortable with the dialogue...I say good...because so am I.  Maybe that means we are all beginning to authentically LISTEN.  Men and women are allies in the change that we so desperately need to marginalize the abusers. Let's come together.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Importance of BELIEF

I can't help but FEEL the collective pain brought forth by these Senate Hearings.  When I stared the thread of believing survivors, I had no idea that it was the day of testimony.  This is simply being in the flow. So....I've been in a contemplative stance, asking questions, allowing the answer to reside in tiny nudges from Spirit. 

Tonight I felt the nudge...Something Mother Theresa said felt SO right today:

I can't change the world, but I can do small things in my own tiny sphere that could send ripples out into the world. (Paraphrased).

Tonight it was BELIEVING my daughter when she said her body hurt. It got me thinking....

How often do we dismiss such things as "drama?" How does this issue of BELIEF prepare girls for REAL LIFE as women in this world? Who do I doubt when they are in desperate need of someone to BELIEVE in then/what they say? Who do I BELIEVE and even TRUST in my life that may be unworthy?

This discernment has long been at the core of my ministry, and it isn't about the other people...I learned quickly from life experience while reading Anthony De Mello that it's about finally trusting myself as I live into the big questions.

I will draw more tomorrow.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

New Art Emerges

Enjoy this new compilation video of an entire summer of transformation...










Thursday, September 20, 2018

My Most Powerful Life Lesson...So Far...

I was asked to share my most powerful life lesson...Here's what I've learned from my most recent series of health challenges:

"Becoming an EMPTY vessel filled with Spirit is what life's about; suffering is simply resistance to the fluidity of the cosmos."
~ Blue Phoenix

"Kenotic Wisdom"
Ink and Paper
Www.bluephoenixart.com
Contact for Purchase information


Why?

I've been wondering "why" for a while now, but this morning I decided to share some of my questioning out loud....

Why do we idealize smaller/tiny feminine bodies? Why are powerful feminine bodies considered masculine? Why do we look for a woman's frame to be as thin as possible when she turns sideways in the mirror, especially her belly? Are we trying to make her less threatening/take up less space/disappear? Speaking of the belly, the place where life emerges from, why do we want a woman's tummy to be shredded, masculine, cinched, almost inverted as opposed to full? Oh my isn't it telling that we want the source of life in a woman to be cinched! And why are fully covered braless breasts unacceptable? Breasts must be CONTAINED!  Why do we find it more desirable for women to be perched on stiletto heels? Why are tools and trucks considered masculine? Why is jewelry feminine? Why is a loud male voice booming and powerful, and a loud female voice is....INSERT INSULT HERE.  Why is my bulldog considered a "man's dog?" Why is polygamy only one man with multiple women? Why not the other way around?  Why do women participate in cultural biases? What would be the implication within our relationships with men if we were to drop the contortions and simply live in harmony with our own truth? How is our feminine truth shaped by the masculine lens? Are we even aware of how the masculine lens shapes feminine thought? How are these questions different across the spectrum of women (gender and sexuality)?  How does questioning impact relationships with other women? Even in asking the questions, do we risk being put down, made fun of, shamed or even abandoned? 

I'm not looking for answers to the questions...that's not the point.  I am allowing the questions to be what they are....and I suppose I'm encouraging other women to ask their own questions, because transcendence begins with questioning.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Kierkegaard and God

Today I met with my Spiritual Director.  It was a major accomplishment, as I FINALLY was well enough to see her in person in the City.  What emerged during our time together was powerful and transformative, as I allowed myself to walk into the terror AND grace of my most recent health emergency.  I'm not ready to put my thoughts into words just yet-I'm drawing my feelings instead.  However, I'll say this...the following quote from Kierkegaard (one of my favorite Theologians) captures some of the experience. Rooted in nondualism, both terrifying and glorious, an authentic brush with non-being WILL indeed shake a person to the core.

Søren Kierkegaard

"To love God is the only happy love, but on the other hand it is also something terrible. Face to face with God we are without standards and without comparisons; we cannot compare ourselves with God, for here we become nothing, and directly before God, in the presence of God, we dare not compare ourselves with others. Therefore in every person there is a prudent fear of having anything to do with God, because by becoming involved with God we become nothing."

Source: Provocations

Saturday, September 15, 2018

"The Too Much Woman" - By Ev'yan Whitney

"There she is. . . the “too much” woman. The one who loves too hard, feels too deeply, asks too often, desires too much.
There she is taking up too much space, with her laughter, her curves, her honesty, her sexuality. Her presence is as tall as a tree, as wide as a mountain. Her energy occupies every crevice of the room. Too much space she takes.

There she is causing a ruckus with her persistent wanting, too much wanting. She desires a lot, wants everything—too much happiness, too much alone time, too much pleasure. She’ll go through brimstone, murky river, and hellfire to get it. She’ll risk all to quell the longings of her heart and body. This makes her dangerous.

She is dangerous.

And there she goes, that “too much” woman, making people think too much, feel too much, swoon too much. She with her authentic prose and a self-assuredness in the way she carries herself. She with her belly laughs and her insatiable appetite and her proneness to fiery passion. All eyes on her, thinking she’s hot shit.

Oh, that “too much” woman. . . too loud, too vibrant, too honest, too emotional, too smart, too intense, too pretty, too difficult, too sensitive, too wild, too intimidating, too successful, too fat, too strong, too political, too joyous, too needy—too much.
She should simmer down a bit, be taken down a couple notches.

Someone should put her back in a more respectable place. Someone should tell her.

Here I am. . . the Too Much Woman, with my too-tender heart and my too-much emotions.

A hedonist, feminist, pleasure seeker, empath. I want a lot—justice, sincerity, spaciousness, ease, intimacy, actualization, respect, to be seen, to be understood, your undivided attention, and all of your promises to be kept.

I’ve been called high maintenance because I want what I want, and intimidating because of the space I occupy. I’ve been called selfish because I am self-loving. I’ve been called a witch because

I know how to heal myself.

And still. . . I rise. Still, I want and feel and ask and risk and take up space.
I must.

Us Too Much Women have been facing extermination for centuries—we are so afraid of her, terrified of her big presence, of the way she commands respect and wields the truth of her feelings. We’ve been trying to stifle the Too Much Woman for eons
—in our sisters, in our wives, in our daughters. And even now, even today, we shame the Too Much Woman for her bigness, for her wanting, for her passionate nature.

And still. . . she thrives.

In my own world and before my very eyes, I am witnessing the reclamation and rising up of the Too Much Woman. That Too Much Woman is also known to some as Wild Woman or the Divine Feminine. In any case, she is me, she is you, and she is loving that she’s finally, finally getting some airtime.

If you’ve ever been called “too much,” or “overly emotional,” or “bitchy,” or “stuck up,” you are likely a Too Much Woman.

And if you are. . . I implore you to embrace all that you are—all of your depth, all of your vastness; to not hold yourself in, and to never abandon yourself, your bigness, your radiance.

Forget everything you’ve heard—your too muchness is a gift; oh yes, one that can heal, incite, liberate, and cut straight to the heart of things.

Do not be afraid of this gift, and let no one shy you away from it. Your too muchness is magic, is medicine. It can change the world.

So please, Too Much Woman: Ask. Seek. Desire. Expand. Move. Feel. Be.

Make your waves, fan your flames, give your chills."

Ev'yan Whitney

New! Mini-Meditations on YouTube


I am now offering 1-2 minute mini-artistic meditations. Sometimes they will be drawing. Others will involve paint. Simply rest your brain when you watch, and allow yourself to feel the creativity emerge.

You can access these short videos on my YouTube channel or via my website (www.bluephoenixart.com).

The idea is to allow your brain to access the same healing spot that I go to naturally through the use of "mirror neurons" - in other words, by watching the artistic process, your brain is learning to do as I do...This isn't woo-woo - it's neurological science!

Let me know what you think about this new offering :)


People Shouldn't be Blindsided in Healthy Relationships



A morning thought - People shouldn't be blindsided by the feelings of those close to them. Unfortunately, this is an all-to-common occurrence. When authenticity isn't at the center of a relationship, individuals avoid being deeply honest with each other. In the avoidance of pain, however, suffering multiplies.

Healthy relationships require transparency. When all of the doors and windows are open, individuals are free to do as they wish...free to take care of their own needs...free to ask for what they want....free to say yes or no...free to be honest about gifts and limitations...freely LOVING one another without co-dependence and enmeshment.

I've been blindsided by some significant relationships, including my most recent break up (via text no less). It's something that I think about often...as I try to prevent the anguish that goes with unanticipated HURT. I have come to realize, though, that I cannot prevent it; i can simply continue to live with an open heart, I can continue to LOVE, and I can be discerning about those with whom I journey.

Today, I feel grateful for my tribe. I have people that I can count on, and I can trust that they are being REAL. Ironically, this trust is rooted in their ability to say NO...because with that in place...I know that any YES is freely given!

Monday, September 10, 2018

My New Work Day






















Starting my "work day"....

People come downtown for their jobs every day, but beneath the usual hustle and bustle of the able bodied are those if us that make the trek downtown for one reason...healing. For us, the medical journey is our job. Treatments, tests, appointments all take a great deal of time and energy when you're fighting for health. And the days at home are spent recuperating so that you can keep running the marathon that lies ahead.

Unless you know where to find us, you might not even think that we are in the city amongst the law firms, tech giants and designer shops. In this sense, we are largely invisible. But we are here.

So today I packed my Tumi rolling bag that used to accompany me on long flights in my entrepreneurial days....and I await the start of my NEW work day. I'll be here for 8 hours. In fact, every three weeks I spend five FULL days in the infusion center getting my ivig treatment.

I am not gonna lie, the treatment isn't easy.  IVIG is life saving, and potentially curative for me, but it comes with a whole host of side effects.  Add to it the big needle that they use to access my port each time, and I'd say that my workday is pretty badass.

Truthfully, though, I feel deeply grateful. One year ago, I had no idea what was wrong with me...and that was truly terrifying.  I have since learned so much, and I feel held in a cone of grace that continues to give me strength for the journey.

I'm choosing to be seen these days. I no longer wish to hide. I am invisible no more.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Happy Birthday to my Daughter

10 years ago at this moment, I was laboring to bring you into the world. The Republican national convention was on the TV, because John McCain and Sarah Palin were running against Obama....little did I know how hard labor would be for both of us! But with the Grace of God and a huge load of courage, we both summoned the strength to bring you into the world! 

Your dad's first statement was..."she's so beautiful." Then they placed you on my chest, and I felt our hearts connect. You looked at me, just like you did in this picture, and I immediately saw the depth of your wisdom. 

It was clear to me that God brought you here for a very special purpose...my only job is to be the steward of your journey...guiding you along the path...protecting you...And LOVING you with everything I have and all that I am. I LOVE you my daughter. You are the greatest blessing of my life






What am I Being Prepared For?



















Like mom like kid.
Such a happy life.
She's off to school and I'm off to get my badass IVIG treatment.

That's why I have the bandage on my chest, it's a port that allows the infusion to go directly into a catheter in my heart.

I find myself wondering....the traumatic brain injury completely rewired my thinking, I got a microbiome transplant just a few years later, and now I'm getting an entirely new immune system. If this is the upgrade that God has in mind for me, what on Earth is God preparing me for?

Monday, August 27, 2018

Fellow Acquired Savant on National TV Show

Jason lives in Tacoma....he's another acquired savant.

I LOVE that he sees FRACTALS.  I also see fractals and tie it to color/theology where he ties it to math.

See Interview

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Grateful for the Challenges

I look back at where I was a year ago....two years ago....three years ago.....It's been a long trip down the rabbit hole.  Thankfully I didn't know what was coming. But I'm sitting here grateful.  I've been carved out in ways that I never could've imagined. Brought to my knees so many times that it's now my default posture. And my roots run so much deeper....so much so that I feel almost silly for the things I was caught up in just a few short years ago. I've discovered that as I grow and learn, I become more humble...I'm less concerned with image and more concerned with substance...I cultivate my awareness of the LOVE that is everywhere...and i empty myself...Entering into POVERTY so that it's GOD that fills me up.

It took losing my health to gain this understanding. It's up to God if I get my physical health back.

But I choose to think of myself as healthy at this moment.  Although I'd like to be restored to physical wellness, I feel such deep gratitude for the lessons that I've learned.

I'm a Secular Franciscan. I'm a minister. I bravely say YES to God, on my knees, and then I wait.

This is the prayer that started it all for me after the TBI....
"Speak GOD, Thy humble servant is listening."

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Rare Isn't Rare


One by one we are discovering my diagnoses. What have I learned on this journey? RARE ISN'T RARE.

"Rare disease impacts more people than cancer and AIDS combined."

"There are more than 350 million people who have 7,000 identified rare diseases worldwide. In United States alone, one out of 10 people have a rare disease."

Read the full article below written by a rare disease researcher....

https://themighty.com/2016/11/message-to-people-with-rare-or-undiagnosed-diseases-from-researcher/

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Moment of Honesty about my Anorexic History

A moment of honesty....I got on the scale this morning as I do every morning. Normally I don't care about the number. It simply integrates with my app on my phone and helps me track overall progress with swelling, water, and weight loss too. It's taken me a long time to get to this point, to where the scale number doesn't matter, because of my former history with eating disorders. 

But this morning was different. I got off the scale and it said a number 10 pounds less than where it's been for the last several weeks. Suddenly I felt elated. Where I should have been concerned that I was dealing with severe dehydration ( sudden drop of 10 Pounds is likely water), instead I felt joy. Recognizing it could be a fluke though I stepped back on the scale and yes it was indeed an incorrect reading.

Reflecting on that moment of joy, I recognize that the anorexic history is still an active neural-net in my brain.  And so I choose to lovingly acknowledge it, and then with a breath of kindness release it into the universe. That is why I'm writing it here, because we are only as sick as our secrets.  If I'm honest about it, it loses its power to dominate my thoughts in my mind. And now I go on about my day!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Start Where you Are

There are times when we get it all wrong as a society. Tonight I want to name that our greatness will be measured by how we walked with those that are dying, cared for the chronically ill, advocated for the marginalized, and tended to the children...all without complaints of burden or hardship.  It's an honor to help those in need...And WE ALL WILL BE THERE AT SOME POINT IN OUR LIVES.

How do we fix it? Start where you are...start small...a family member, friend or neighbor. Act out of compassion and gratitude - that's how we will change the world.

Blue Phoenix

Friday, June 15, 2018

Cultivating the NO

There are those who take advantage of the generosity of others...and this causes resentment.  There are those that give endlessly...But they do so with transactional motives (in other words, it's not freely given). In both cases, an inability to say NO becomes problematic.

I once learned that there is no YES without an authentic NO. People feel that they have no choice when they lack the ability to decline. Thus, a well cultivated and loving NO is something we all must learn to invoke for good self care.  In this model, every YES is given in freedom.

Imagine a different community paradigm where those in need can ask for help, members of the community can say yes or no, and everyone trusts that both the request and the response are genuine. This removes the discomfort, blame, and resentment on both sides, as each person owns their request and response.

This is my vision...my hope.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

How Can I Help?

As we collectively grieve the loss of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I can't help but feel a sense of sadness at our cultural tendency to ignore those that are struggling in our immediate circles. Let's face it, we all know someone who is struggling, and yet, how often do we reach out to offer help and support?  Every moment of every day we can look around and see someone who is suffering in their own way. Whether it's the encampments on the side of the road, the elderly neighbor living alone and homebound, the woman at school going through a divorce, the new business owner struggling to keep finances afloat, the man suffering from depression and suicidal ideation, or the friend living with chronic illness.......Instead of opening our hearts in loving kindness, how often do we respond by assuming someone else is helping? Or do we respond in judgement? Or do we say we don't have enough time and energy? Whatever the reason....It's worthy of contemplation.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Naming the Cultural Sickness

We mourn the loss of brilliant individuals whose lives end too soon due to suicide, and yet we continue to attach a stigma to all kinds of chronic illness and disability.  We ostracize those that don't live up to perfectionist ideals, either intentionally or by defacto.  We don't gather as a community to help those in need....Instead we judge, ignore, or express pity yet do nothing. This is a CULTURAL SICKNESS that must be named and addressed. It is why we are called to help those that are suffering....in doing so....We prevent the insidious illusion of disconnectedness from infecting our society.

It (whatever "it" is) can happen to any of us, regardless of social status. Life can change in an instant. I learned that only a few people in my life really LOVED ME, independent if what I could do for them. Needless to say, life is different now, and I'm grateful because I am genuinely LOVED.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Get Lost...Richard Rohr

The following meditation is by Richard Rohr...

"Although true solitude—alert aloneness without diversions—can be challenging, it is often the necessary gateway to our deepest passions, and the discovery of what we must do to live them. As David Whyte writes,

. . . Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

The Wanderer learns to look deeply into the face of her aloneness and discover what truly brings her alive and what doesn’t. . . . You discover ease, inspiration, belonging, and wisdom in your own company. . . .

When wandering, there is immense value in “finding ourselves lost” because we can find something when we are lost, we can find our selves. . . . Imagine yourself lost in your career or marriage, or in the middle of your life. You have goals, a place you want to be, but you don’t know how to reach that place. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want, you just have a vague desire for a better place. Although it may not seem like it, you are on the threshold of a great opportunity. Begin to trust that place of not knowing. Surrender to it. You’re lost. There will be grief. A cherished outcome appears to be unobtainable or undefinable. In order to make the shift from being lost to being present, admit to yourself that your goal may never be reached. Though perhaps difficult, doing so will create entirely new possibilities for fulfillment.

Surrendering fully to being lost—and this is where the art comes in—you will discover that, in addition to not knowing how to get where you had wanted to go, you are no longer so sure of the ultimate rightness of that goal. By trusting your unknowing, your old standards of progress dissolve and you become eligible to be chosen by new, larger standards, those that come not from your mind or old story or other people, but from the depths of your soul. You become attentive to an utterly new guidance system. . . . This kind of being lost and then found is one form of ego death and rebirth, one form of entering the tomb-womb of the cocoon. . . .

In order to live your soul into the world, you must continuously loosen your beliefs about who you are."

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Body Positive

There's nothing wrong with having a beautiful body, training hard, getting healthy and showing the progress on social media. But for a moment, consider the silent perspective....those that are suffering with chronic illness or life threatening diseases and can't possibly think of going for a walk let alone sculpting a body...Learn to witness those who have redefined what health means, beyond what we see displayed in magazines and talk shows. Notice those on the margins with children that can't keep up all the time due to life with disability, and find ways to be inclusive...welcoming...kind.  Most importantly, avoid saying that "everyone can do it"...Because everyone can't....And I never would have understood until it happened to me. Let's celebrate ALL bodies!  Amen #bodypositive

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Silence - Wisdom from an Early Quaker - Isaac Penington


After the mind is in some measure turned to the Lord – his quickenings felt, his seed beginning to arise and spring up in the heart – then the flesh is to be silent before him, and the soul to wait upon him (and for his further appearings) in that measure of life which is already revealed.

Now, this is a great thing: to know flesh silenced, to feel the reasoning thoughts and discourses of the fleshly mind stilled, and the wisdom, light, and guidance of God’s spirit waited for. For we are to come into the poverty of self, into the abasedness, into the nothingness, into the silence of our spirit before the Lord; into the putting off of all our knowledge, wisdom, understanding, abilities, all that we are, have done, or can do, out of this measure of life, into which we are to travel, that we may be clothed and filled with the nature, Spirit, and power of the Lord.

God is to be worshipped in spirit, in his own power and life, and this is at his own disposal. His church is a gathering in the Spirit. If any speak there, they must speak as the oracle of God, as the vessel out of which God speaks; as the trumpet out of which he gives the sound. Therefore there is to be a waiting in silence till the Spirit of the Lord move to speak, and also give words to speak. For we are not to speak our own words, or in our own wisdom or time; but the Spirit’s words, in the Spirit’s wisdom and time, which is when he moves and gives to speak.

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart how and what things God reveals to his children by his Spirit, when they wait upon him in his pure fear, and worship and converse with him in spirit; for then the fountain of the great deep is unsealed, and the everlasting springs surely give up the pure and living water.

Source: “A brief account concerning silent meetings; the nature, use, intent, and benefit of them,” published 1680 (text lightly modernized)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Unseen

This morning I've been contemplating the Unseen Among Us. I spent a lot of time with people that live outside, noticing how their life on the margins is often ignored, judged and ultimately not witnessed. I'm discovering that the chronically ill population and the dying are also among those that are often unseen, excluded, judged, and pushed to the margins. This must change.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Becoming Willing

7 sticks with out hitting a vein....I'm finally willing. Time for a port.

And this morning, I heard once again that what I'm going through with IVIG treatment is just as intense is going through chemotherapy, sometimes with even more side effects. Yeah, I suppose that's true.

I tend to make light of the things that I'm going through, as I'm used to doing things on my own.  But I'm increasingly learning that I don't need to do things alone.  Those that view me as a burden can simply take a hike!  That line of thinking is no longer welcome.

I'm very grateful to those of you who have helped to maintain normalcy for my daughter as I've walked this road, and to those who kept me company while I've received these difficult treatments which will continue for the foreseeable future... and to those of you who continue to reach out with loving support and kindness.

I was told by a doctor recently that this might be as good as it gets for me. I'm unwilling to accept that reality, as I continue fighting for healing! But I will say that I feel a depth of gratitude for how good I have felt this last few weeks, and I feel very hopeful for what lies ahead for me in the future!

God Breaks In

From Richard Rohr today....
And I'll add this commentary.....For the longest time I didn't realize that my art was ministry, meditation, contemplation and theooetics! I simply allowed my hands to do what felt right!

Yes...God breaks in and meets us where we are... one of these days soon I will write about how the Holy Spirit  showed me that she can even work through dating apps like Tinder! Now that's badass theology.


God Breaks In
Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today Barbara Holmes continues exploring the contemplative in surprising places:

Contemplation is not confined to designated and institutional sacred spaces. God breaks into nightclubs and Billie Holiday’s sultry torch songs; God tap dances with Bill Robinson and Savion Glover. And when Coltrane blew his horn, the angels paused to consider.

Some sacred spaces bear none of the expected characteristics. The fact that we prefer stained glass windows, pomp and circumstance . . . has nothing to do with the sacred. It may seem as if the mysteries of divine-human reunion erupt in our lives when, in fact, the otherness of spiritual abiding is integral to human interiority. On occasion, we turn our attention to this abiding presence and are startled. But it was always there.

. . . Art can amplify the sacred and challenge the status quo. The arts help us to hear above the cacophony and pause in the midst of our multitasking. The arts engage a sacred frequency that is perforated with pauses. Artists learned . . . that there were things too full for human tongues, too alive for articulation. You can dance and rhyme and sing it, you almost reach it in the high notes, but joy unspeakable is experience and sojourn, it is the ineffable within our reach.

When you least expect it, during the most mundane daily tasks, a shift of focus occurs. This shift bends us toward the universe, a cosmos of soul and spirit, bone and flesh, which constantly reaches toward divinity. Ecclesial organizations want to control access to this milieu but cannot. The only divisions between the sacred and the secular are in the minds of those who believe in and reinforce the split. . . .

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

You will lose everything - Jeff Foster

You will lose everything - Jeff Foster

You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away.

But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realizing this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude.

Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Christianity BELONGS on the Margins



Oh my...how pretentious we Christians have become...time to remember what Christians are all about....walking with the outcasts and standing with those that are suffering. Instead we look away as a society, candy coat suffering, and blame the marginalized...going so far as to exclude people from the church! I say no.

"Jesus went directly to those who were outcasts. He much preferred to associate with the “sinners” than with those who proudly set themselves apart. Jesus shared the lot of the downtrodden because God himself loves those rejected by society, those the world deems unworthy. God wants to help all people, and raise the dignity they possess to the light."

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt
Source: Everyone Belongs to God




Photo by Rex Holbein, Facing Homelessness
Image of me and some fellow humans living outside.

Midwifery and Transformation

I've been called a midwife. I've walked people and businesses through transformation for my entire career. From new entrepreneurial ventures to multi-billion dollar companies; from the homeless to the wealthy; from the suffering to the joyously free.........transformation means wading through the field of chaos to the other side of form and dynamic energy. The fact that I'm going through my own transformative process again and again makes sense....afterall....would you trust someone to walk with you if she's never done it herself?

I am a Blue Phoenix - Paradox. Transformation. Water AND Fire.
The following quote from Kristen Roderick says it beautifully!


"Events like marriage, childbirth, the death of a loved one, a health crisis, or a divorce are clearly transitions that change us. But there are other, less obvious circumstances that create the conditions for a rite of passage to occur, moving us into that cycle of transformation, separating us from what we know or submerging us into a state of enclosure. The creative process is one of these.


After we let go of old identities, but before we emerge as artists, writers, small business owners, or whatever our creative gifts long for us to be, we enter a space of conscious incubation – a protected state where growth and change can be held in a kind of sacred trust within, until we are ready to share it with the world.

Within the dark womb of the creative process, many of us may find ourselves avoiding parties and other social events, staying close to home, and engaging in activities that replenish, rather than consume our energy. Particularly for those of us who are changing careers, becoming writers and artists, finding our voice for the first time, dismantling old identities and trying on new ones – we are creating and birthing ourselves anew, and this is painstaking work. We are in the trenches of our lives, creating the very things that will later help us to fly."

"Mother and Child"
Original art by Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Courage this Mother's Day




Today, I finally have the courage to let my hair down again....what a journey of radical self acceptance!
I am finally learning to feel beautiful amidst the strangeness of chronic health issues....loving this unfamiliar body and making it home....Courageously wearing a bathing suit! As I undergo my own transformation, I am teaching my daughter to love her body as it changes and transforms throughout her life (a lesson my mom never taught me). This is among the greatest gifts that I can give to my little girl.


And, the transformation/radical self acceptance includes a willingness to continue walking the healing path. So, I have to spend the next 24 hours without the neuromuscular medicine that gives me strength because I have a badass diagnostic test tomorrow called an EMG. This test will involve both needles and electric shocks for over an hour. They say it's going to be uncomfortable, although I am willing to endure it and frankly I've done it before.

It's the time without the medication, though, that is difficult. My eyes are blurry, I am stumbly, my voice is raspy and the pain is increasing.  Just walking down the hall feels like I am climbing Mount Everest! If only people could understand what it feels like to attempt to move this body.

As the day progresses, I can feel the judgement from other parents as I sit at the pool, being very quiet, in the shade, so that I don't exacerbate my condition. However, I have SO MUCH JOY watching my daughter swim in her glorious mermaid tail, recognizing that I haven't been able to do this for some time. I am in Portland for testing, yet we are treating this like a much needed vacation. Lemons into Lemonade!.

It's Mother's Day, and I am grateful, even with the invisible illness and the limitations that others can't possibly fathom. That's a perspective that has been earned through years of difficulty, AND it's a perspective that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Happy Mother's Day!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Pain Heals

Today was painful. Some days are just that way. But if ever anyone thought seminary formation was the easy path...ha!  Nooooo....it's a badass path...warrior goddess shit....preparing ministers to walk with those that are suffering...to gently hold the souls of those we serve in prayer....And today was a day of deep physical pain....yet this poem states it well...with pain comes healing. Amen.

"And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.
And he said:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen,
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears."
~ Kahlil Gibran

What it's Like to go from Feeling Good to CRASH

God cannot fill what is full. He can fill only emptiness – deep poverty – and your “yes” [to Jesus] is the beginning of being or becoming empty. It is not how much we really “have” to give – but how empty we are – so that we can receive fully in our life and let him live his life in us. In you today – he wants to relive his complete submission to his father – allow him to do so. Take away your eyes from yourself and rejoice that you have nothing.

Source: Come Be My Light, Mother Teresa

I wish I could explain what it's like to go from feeling good one day to crashing the next. I never could have understood it before it happened to me, and it's so humbling. 

All that I can say is that I have learned how to walk this very uncomfortable path. I've learned that there are days when plans have to be cancelled, and people may or may not understand. I've learned that some will believe me, some will think it's not real because it's invisible, some will try to empathize, some will give advice trying to help ("Have you tried <insert latest trend>")....and yet none of that will change the reality of the moment when my body goes haywire. 

I'm grateful to have what I need to manage at home, because the ER is among the worst places to go when you have a rare disease. It's especially bad when you're in the middle of a complex diagnosis like me. Their care protocols don't always work for Zebras. 

But even with the tools to manage at home, I still face the reality of feeling truly terrible... and the quiet knowing that I simply need to walk through it. Fractured ribs don't level me...but these crashes...holy cow.  This is the stuff of warriors.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Dance of THREE - Having Needs is Okay

Today is the day I realized I have needs, and that is OK. It's one thing to know that intellectually, and another entirely to FEEL it at the depths of my being.

I felt anxious. I barely slept last night. So today, I ventured into my art studio and allowed all of my feelings to emerge on the canvas - I scratched, punched, scraped, traced, caressed, clawed and even wiped the canvas until it was nothing but a cacophony of glitter, glaze and acrylic color (See Images Below)



Where I started this week...
This Canvas already had several layers...


Then I painted this layer yesterday...


Only to DESTROY It Today!!
What a Mess!

As I painted, I noticed that there was nothing I could do to alleviate the mess. The more I tried to "make it pretty," the more profound the mess became.

Then it hit me - It's time to embrace the mess. Transformation is messy. Relationships are messy. Learning is messy. Being HUMAN is messy. It doesn't always have to be clear and simple. In fact, nothing REAL in life is ever cut and dry...and so I sit in the mess...and I notice that it is from the chaotic mess that the Phoenix rises again.

The painting is one that I started in 2007 - I haven't shown all of the layers, as there are far too many! This canvas holds layers and layers of my transformation. I call it "Ancient Phoenix Rising"...and it has yet to be completed. I suppose this one canvas holds my journey - and today, that journey is muddy and filled with uncertainty.

Amidst the uncertainty, however, I came to a new realization - I pour myself out to help others, yet deep down, I don't feel that I am allowed to have needs. I worry that I am a burden, or that my needs are too much, or that people will get sick of helping me...I have difficulty trusting others when I am vulnerable...especially right at this moment when I am staring down treatments for a rare disease that has leveled me in the last couple of years. 

Add to it negative comments from those that I love, and there is a toxic mix of painful emotions that tell me - PLAY SMALL!  IT'S NOT OKAY TO HAVE NEEDS!  That voice is loud and painful and persuasive, yet it no longer serves me.  Thus, I ask myself the question - how do I want it now? 

As I contemplate what it means to have needs, I have come to the conclusion that needs are a part of being human. No one is expected to be perfect and completely independent - We were made in the image of God, and the Godhead is THREE for a reason - God is constantly pouring from one to the other, thereby providing an ever-flowing kenotic love that endures for eternity.

This is the image that we emulate, although imperfectly. It's not about making ourselves smaller so that we can be more individualized, more autonomous, more independent....NO! It's about resting upon our rooted wisdom - the endless source of LOVE that comes from the source of all that is - so that we are able to clearly communicate what we need and therefore live in healthy community with others. This is the dance of THREE in human life - individual self, blessing seed of GOD, and community.

So today, I realized that it is okay to have needs. This is new for me, and I am learning to bravely explore this new dance.

Amen.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Unmanifested Wings (2011)


UNMANIFESTED WINGS

Tiny nubs poke just above my shoulder blades,
Bound, restricted, cut, bloodied, plucked, strapped to my body
Underneath a fa├žade of stiletto prestige.

The shadow of my subconscious silently commands:
DO
NOT
GROW.

Every blood feather
Every bit of down comfort
Painfully pulled at the root
So frequently that it goes completely unnoticed.

Until the day it stopped…suddenly
The day the shadow went silent.
A cone of grace formed
All around me
With a complete sense of peace.

Slowly, v e r y s lo w l y
The bloodied nubs formed scabs
And scabs gave rise to tiny quills
Which birthed new blood feathers
And puffs of down comfort.

And after all of these years,
I realized that the tiny nubs
that poked just above my shoulder blades
weren’t nubs at all.

Instead, I discovered
that inside my cone of grace,
through time and s l o w healing
I had been given wings
so long ago
that I don’t even remember
when forgot how to fly.
We all have wings-

Unmanifested nubs
Yet to be discovered.
What would happen
if we stopped restricting them
and just let them grow?


Original Art and Poetry by Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art


Flight Paths 2018
Heather Thompson
Mixed Media 20 x 20

The CREATIVE LIFE at Blue Phoenix Art

Fluid art allowed to EMERGE at Blue Phoenix Art Studio today! My friend Chrysty Hendrick taught flow painting, my kiddo taught some alcohol painting techniques, and we even did a group project. This is the CREATIVE LIFE...surrounded by animals that complete the very Franciscan picture out here on the mountainside!  





Reducing Prednisone on the Healing Journey

Dropping steroids is one of the hardest things to do when you have adrenal insufficiency AND auto immune stuff. But, you do it anyways. Basically imagine the worst flu EVER mixed with a stomach bug and PAIN. Yet, for me, the prednisone was causing a weak spine, so down we go.

Gotta honor the wins! I've come so far. And when I feel like I'm getting worse, I have to remind myself that I'm now managing my life with less steroid on board (thanks to the IVIG) and that is a huge accomplishment!

As of today I'm down to 30mg hydrocortisone (my replacement dose) and 10mg of prednisone (headed to zero). Note that 10mg of prednisone equals 40mg of hydrocortisone!

Why do I post about my health? My animals? My art? Theology? All in the same place?!  The answer is simple - this blog is a journey and my art is one of many expressions of the embodied experience of my life that includes healing, exploration, creativity, inspiration, challenge, suffering, failure, success and everything else that I encounter along the way.  I choose to no longer live in compartmentalized in boxes that others have created as an illusion of safety or perfectionism. NO!  I choose to live authentically and with integrity, and that means allowing the full integration of life to be what it is. This level of vulnerability is far from easy, but it is how I stand in harmony with my understanding of the Divine. And so I continue.....

Friday, May 4, 2018

Authentic Community Emerging

As I'm forced to BE STILL, I'm discovering a community emerging...authentic community...authentic relationships...people serving one another out of kenotic LOVE....people journeying and praying together...the role that "church" served in so many lives before it changed....

The following blog from Richard Rohr this morning not only speaks to romantic relationships and friendships, but it also expressed an entirely new idea of people intentionally being in relationship with one another.

Here's what he said....

"Teilhard, studying the human race over many thousands of years, realized that humanity was indeed learning to evolve in love. And once enough people began living with agape love, it would create a revolution like no other revolution. In time, such all-embracing love would bring about true freedom, true peace, and true harmony on Earth. . . .

Two things happen in any loving relationship. First, a new being—the relationship—is born with its own unique potentials and purpose. Second, the relationship—this new being—enhances and develops the individuals within it, each with their own unique potentials and purpose. Both effects, when recognized and developed, foster evolution. . . .

St. Thomas Aquinas was onto something important in the twelfth century when he wrote, in Latin, Relatio realis est. In English, this means something like “A relationship is something real.” If something is real, it means that it exists and can have an effect on other things, an effect that individual elements of the relationship by themselves might not be able to have. This is true of relationships on all levels of existence.

Among human beings, it is easy to see that a relationship has a life of its own and can have an effect on things—both on the individuals that make up the relationship and on things outside the relationship. Think of what close-knit groups of people can accomplish, for example, sports teams, research teams, ministry groups, and certain famous families. . . .

[In] Teilhard’s approach, when two people come together in a caring and productive way, not only are the two relating people enhanced and their capacities developed by their interaction, but their union, or relationship, becomes itself a Third Self [which] Teilhard calls . . . “a psychic unity” or “higher soul” or “higher center.” . . . The Third-Self relationship is capable of accomplishing more than either [of the members] alone."

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Artist Video Receives Award by Invisible Disabilities Association!

The following video, produced by Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art, will be honored with an award by the Invisible Disabilities Association for their I Am Invisible No More campaign!

The video bravely walks viewers through the medical and artistic journey of 2017...enjoy!


Resistance and Healing Art

Fractals, Flowers and Facades
Original Art by Heather Thompson, Blue PhoenixArt
2018
20x20 Acrylic on Canvas

Today it felt challenging just to walk down into my studio space, let alone allow my hands to express what was deep within my consciousness. But this is the essence of HEALING art.  It's bold, genuine, REAL.


Over the years, I've learned that it can feel daunting, almost like resistance, when old habits are attempting to stifle my flow of creativity.  There are times of profound exhaustion right before I feel the nudge to PAINT.  Today was one of those days.

So, I bravely sat down in front of the blank canvas and allowed the color to emerge.

It's drying.
I think it might be called...
"Flowers, Facades and Fractals"
This is what my synesthesia looks like when I need to say something that feels difficult to SPEAK in words. Thank GOD for the language of COLOR.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Real Talk about Opiates and Chronic Pain

New York Times Article on Opiod Crisis

Click on the above link to read an important OP-ED piece on the Opiate Epidemic. 

We must talk about the immense suffering that will take place if this rule passes. Imagine arriving in the ER with PAIN beyond childbirth and being told they can't do anything for you. It's already happening. Most people can't imagine this kind of pain until it happens to YOU.

Have you helped an elder in excruciating pain, yet they don't meet these criteria? I have. Imagine the screaming, and feeling helpless to relieve their suffering.

Furthermore, we need to address the arbitrariness if the rule. Case in point...Cancer patients are allowed pain relief, but what about those with rare diseases that are lesser known (and therefore lesser lobbied) yet EXTREMELY painful?

Here's the BIG question that's currently unanswered....
"If you’re going to eliminate opioids, what is the treatment alternative you recommend for the millions of chronic pain patients who use opioids responsibly?”

It's time to have an open discussion.
#raredisease


Monday, April 9, 2018

Exploring Truth

Over time I have come to realize that certainty is the opposite of faith. The unknown - questions - mystery - doubt - suffering - these are the cracks where the light of God enters day to day living. Today I am exploring the notion that TRUTH sits alongside certainty. By definition, the human experience of truth is relative as it is observed through the lens of a person's individual perception. In my younger years, my relationship contracts with those I LOVED often required that we share the same truth and/or worldview and/or perceptions. If the other person experienced a truth that was different than mine, I needed to contort myself to suit their perceptions or risk losing the relationship. This is not authentic LOVE. I am learning that truth can be experienced differently, and genuine LOVE connects people at a level beyond shared perspectives. In LOVE, my truth does not negate that of another and their truth does not negate mine. This is the "field" beyond right and wrong - beyond duality - that Rumi speaks of...and I am learning to spend some time there.

Original Art by Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Integrity and the Serenity Prayer

Living with integrity requires gentle, genuine and loving attention to the ways in which my behavior impacts myself and the people around me. It means dancing in the intersection of individuality and community, where I maintain my own autonomy in the context of communal interaction.

Integrity requires discernment from a variety of angles. It means noticing the things that I need to take responsibility for, while at the same time letting go of the things that I cannot change. It means resisting the temptation to apologize for the sake of peace, if that apology is not authentic. It means relinquishing my illusion of control over people's perceptions of me. It means having the courage to examine the uncomfortable aspects of my life in an effort to bring healing to the wounds that continue to affect daily interactions with others.

Freedom arises through adherence to the principle of integrity. Perhaps that's why the Serenity Prayer is at the cornerstone of addiction recovery.

God
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

May God grant YOU and ME and ALL OF US the blessing of serenity today.

Amen.

"Flight Paths"
2018
Mixed Media on Canvas
www.BluePhoenixArt.com
PM for Purchase Information

Sunday, April 1, 2018

WOMEN Called by Angels

Easter.
When WOMEN were called by Angels to be the first Preachers of the Risen Christ.

Mark 16:1-8

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Gratitude for Rib Fractures!

Here's a total paradigm shift...Yesterday I learned that I have bilateral rib fractures at the 10th ribs. One in my FLANK on the left. One above where my LIVER sits on the right. You might recall this is EXACTLY where I complained of a machete on the left at a chainsaw on the right. Two hospitalizations, endless tests, x-rays that didn't show rib fractures, and two weeks at the Mayo Clinic including seeing a rehabilitative medicine specialist, and no one caught simple broken ribs.

Last December a bone scan revealed "old" rib fractures... but when they said old, I assumed as did the doctors that this went back to my fall when I was 5 years old. No one told me that these fractures were recent. Yesterday in the emergency room when they were looking for pulmonary embolisms, the CT revealed the rib fractures and I was told that it likely occurred within the last year. HOLY COW.

So what does this mean? It means that the sudden onset acute flank pain last August was likely due to fractured ribs. OUCH. I have no idea how it happened, but that's less important than recognizing that ribs heal! YES!  Mix that with neuromuscular disease that was undiagnosed at the time (causing weird symptoms), and steroids for Adrenal Insufficiency, and you have a recipe for what's happened over the last several months.  ANSWERS! 

I could be upset about the fact that something so simple was missed. But then I reflect with gratitude and realize that had the fractures been caught right away, they never would have discovered the rare neuromuscular disease.  And frankly this is something that I've struggled with my whole life. Therefore, the journey has been totally worth it!

I've dared to HOPE this Lent.  And slowly but surely I have noticed a path emerging on the road to Healing. The IVIG is restoring my immune system and helping to heal the rare neuromuscular disease. Discovering broken bones gives us a path for healing. It also raises concerns about osteoporosis which we will further investigate. The acute foot pain at that I've been experiencing could be caused by a variety of things, not the least of which is also the potential for broken bones. So we will further investigate that. But most importantly, there are answers! And healing fractured ribs takes time, especially when you're on steroids, and so I have marching orders to be very careful not to keep reinjuring myself.

Hope. Answers. A path to HEALING. Gratitude this Easter!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Who Gives Humans the Power to Preach?

It's Holy Week. I find that the stories leading up the crucifixion of Jesus are relevant today. In fact, many of the criticisms that Jesus had of the organized Church back then are the same things that people criticize today. So I am openly pondering some very revolutionary scripture. I'll start with this one -

Who gives humans the power to Preach?
(Mark 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8)

23When Jesus returned to the temple courts and began to teach, the chief priests and elders of the people came to Him. “By what authority are You doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave You this authority?”

24“I will also ask you one question,” Jesus replied, “and if you answer Me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25What was the source of John’s baptism? Was it from heaven or from men?”

They deliberated among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will ask, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26But if we say, ‘From men,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.” 27So they said to Jesus, “We do not know.”

“Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things,” He replied

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Healing is a GIFT

Because HEALING is a GIFT.
I can see it happening....And I'm deeply grateful.

From Richard Rohr Today

"All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image that we reflect. This is the work of the Lord who is Spirit. —2 Corinthians 3:18

We are created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of our conception. The Creator gives us our core identity as sons and daughters of God, “from the beginning” (Ephesians 1:4-5). Throughout our lives we co-create our unique likeness as we grow and mature. Yes, we have a say in the process! God creates things with the freedom and permission to continue the act of creation. (See Romans 8:28-30.) Many people struggle to think this way without an evolutionary worldview. Religious folks often attribute transformation entirely to God, and secular folks think it’s all up to them. But of course, you who read these meditations are nondual thinkers and can say both/and!

Life gives us opportunities to discover our image and develop our likeness, often in the form of necessary stumbling and falling. Throughout it all we are always held inside of Love. Challenges and disruptions invite us to move from what I call the first half of life to the second half, from forming and serving the ego to the ego, in fact, serving the soul. With the guidance of the Spirit and the help of wise mentors and elders, all of life, including our “false” or small and separate self, can lead us to our True Self or “who we are hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

Most of us tend to think about the second half of life in terms of getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of our physical life. But the transition can happen at any age. Moving to the second half of life is an experience of falling upward and onward, into a broader and deeper world, where the soul has found its fullness and we are consciously connected to the whole.

It is not a loss but somehow a gain. I have met enough radiant people to know that this paradox is possible! Many have come to their human fullness, often against all odds, and usually through suffering. They offer models and goals for humanity, much more than the celebrities and politicos who get so much of our attention today.

Helen Keller (1880-1968)—an author, pacifist, suffragist, member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and a woman who was deaf and blind—was such a model. Once she discovered her own depths, she seems to have leapt into the second half of life very early, despite considerable limitations. She became convinced that life was about service to others rather than protecting or lamenting her supposedly disabled body. Keller’s Swedenborgian mysticism surely helped her grow and “fall upward” despite—or maybe because of—her very constricted early experience. Helen had to grow; she had to go deep and broad. She clearly continued to create herself, even though she could have so easily complained about how little she had to work with. Where did God end and where did she begin? It is an impossible question to answer. Helen and God somehow worked together."

Friday, March 23, 2018

Entering into Holy Week

"Tree 2"
A Meditation on Kierkegaard 2016
Original Art by Heather Thompson, Blue Phoenix Art

Entering into Holy Week, as a person that did not grow up in the Church, I have been continuously shocked at the way that American mainstream Christianity seems to skim over the shocking reality of Jesus's walk to the cross, then into death, and then resurrection. Forget Easter Bunnies, pretty dresses and delightful hymns...there is a deeper issue with how we package his journey from death to resurrection...

We tend to look at the path from the perspective of hindsight. In other words, we know the ending. The suspense is eliminated, because we know it turns out okay in the end. We know that God delivers on the promise of resurrection. We know that Jesus ascends to Heaven.  

But what about pausing to consider the journey on a moment by moment basis?  What about removing hindsight and placing ourselves into the present moment alongside Jesus as he began the journey to the cross?

The pattern of walking into the unknown - and suffering there - can be found throughout the Bible, from Moses to Abraham to Jesus and more. The great Philosopher/Theologian Soren Kierkegaard dissected this theme throughout many of his writings, but most notably in "Fear and Trembling." Kierkegaard explored the story of Abraham...asking us to imagine the suffering of walking for three days KNOWING that God has asked you to kill your son. 

Erase the benefit of hindsight - eliminate the knowledge that it turns out okay in the end - stand in the midst of that horrific walk - from that space, faith looks entirely different. 

Faith then becomes the humble choice to continue to walk in the way of God, even when the outcome cannot be seen or imagined...even in the midst of great suffering...even when it seems absurd or impossible.  Faith is the recognition that even if the very worst happens, God will redeem it...God will turn it into something beautiful...God will give us the strength to endure. 

I spend a great deal of time contemplating the path of Jesus to the cross and beyond.  He was betrayed, mocked, tortured, and crucified. He suffered more than any human at the hands of fellow humans claiming to do the work of God. He both cried out to God to forgive his persecutors, AND he questioned God from a place of deep human suffering ... "Why hast thou forsaken me?" But this was not enough. Jesus was then sent to Hell for three days only to then return to Earth for 40 days....and it was only after that incredibly long and painful road that he finally ascended to Heaven. 

In the Apostles Creed, the above journey is recited, from the perspective of hindsight. Pausing again to imagine what Jesus endured on a moment to moment basis...not knowing if God was going to deliver on the promise of resurrection...the journey begins to take on a different feel...one that is so powerful that it should both inspire and deeply offend our human sensibilities. 

God became fully human. God was tortured. God was crucified. God endured unimaginable suffering. And in doing so, God gave us the prototype of what it really means to LOVE. 

I see this as my personal challenge during Holy Week. How can I be more LOVING? How can I endure the pain of the present moment, allow myself to cry out to God (as Jesus did), and simultaneously deepen the vessel of LOVE within my spirit?