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 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!'s a badass path...warrior goddess shit....preparing ministers to walk with those that are 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.


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Unmanifested Wings (2011)


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:

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."