Follow the compelling journey through the Possibility Series: Mending Stone, Catching Rain, Seeding Hope…From the Northwest to Texas and Mexico…Heartache, mystery, love…
Something shifted in me
And I couldn’t go on as we were…
My first term at college, a student across the room captured my attention with his European looks (Welsh, Finnish, English, Swiss heritage) with prominent brow, wavy shoulder length hair bleached by sun, eyes like water and sky. Oh, and fit body with broad shoulders! Confidence radiated from this guy! A pole-vaulter! He was different! We were different together! Eventually we married, started careers and family.
Now forty years later, a year or more until planned retirement, I realize I need hubby to retire his lawyerly battles now, not eighteen months from now.
Eighteen months is too long to wait.
Eighteen months is all my mom had on dialysis after years of struggle with Lupus.
Eighteen months after she passed is all my dad had until cancer took him. They were in their sixties! They didn’t get to retirement!
Eighteen months is too little time to live!
And yet, we’re lucky!
Others are dying unexpectedly by madmen, calamities, disorders. They don’t get another eighteen months! Or eighteen minutes!
Yesterdays ago, on a different day than the attack in Las Vegas, hurricanes, quakes, and fires, I learned a hometown boy I’d dated has passed. Months ago.
Three hometown boys I once cared for have passed. Not that I ever un-care about them, but we parted, moved on, went different directions.
“Am I that old?” I lamented? “So old friends and peers are dying? Who will be next? I’m not ready to lose anyone!”
I blinked back tears.
“NO! I’m not that old. I’m THAT alive! That lucky!”
I will cry for those who part from this earth. Their physical presence will be missed. But I know they’re not “gone.” Only their bodies are.
Do you feel this way?
Do you feel sure of another type of existence beyond this one?
Does it help you get through the shocking, disrupting hardships inflicted on people?
What gets you through?
A long road to Possibility has been my journey. While my upbringing was filled with love, it was also marked with struggles in perceptions with lots of stories of mixed messaging, mistruths, diversions, deceptions, demonstrations of disappointment and setbacks.
All my life it seems a deep sadness tried to get a fix on me. It didn’t feel like me, but what was it? Now I know I’m sensitive, intuitive, even many times psychically in tune with people I care about. I wish I’d known and understood at a younger age how this affected me, but I’m good with it now. I was sensitive especially to my mother and her issues and problems. (Of course this colored the story which seemed to write itself to the page in my novels.)
I know we do not exist separately. All of life is connected. No coincidences. Only mysteries and miracles.
I didn’t always believe in miracles. Not the kind we can access. They seemed to be doled our selectively if not randomly. I did not believe we could have them personally, even create them?
Why didn’t we talk of miracles
Let them into our minds, our words
Was it so hard to believe in possibilities?
Why didn’t we dare into the unspoken? Too sweet to savor and likely to sour?
Why didn’t we think something different could happen?
Why did it take so long to discover the truth: goodness grows in our garden hearts. We are the cultivators. Not that forces don’t press upon us, but we can mitigate damages. We can visualize positive outcomes even if we don’t know how to get to them!
Why couldn’t I persuade you to believe truths I was yet to know?
I’m sorry, Mama. I’m sorry I couldn’t bring you up. I hadn’t yet risen. Maybe you bring me up now to where you are. Maybe you send glimpses of grandness…
Maybe it was you all along bringing me on your silent journey…I just didn’t understand the language…
So thankful for my life’s journeying to possibility and the surprising connections I find! Here’s a good one which happened along right after I wrote the above piece:
Do you believe in miracles? Tell me about the miracles you’ve experienced!
Story within a story of loss? What’s the good in grief? Loss cannot even be true: even as water rushes over banks, spilling onto dry ground, it is not lost. Only soaked in, utilized.
Our tears soak into dry ground and disappear. But when a loved one “disappears” or passes, how can we feel more than pain? How can the “change in essence from body to spirit” be viewed as something beyond loss? Transformations to other forms are not visible. There’s only absence of what was. And it hurts so much!
Even our memories wither and begin to disappear. We can’t see what comes next, can’t know what we will feel later.
Wilderness does not linger in losses. It goes on with dynamic displays of change. Branches and roots reach out for sun and water.
Twenty-five or more years ago, we lived a decade in Coos County on the Oregon coast. How can it be so long ago already? Longer ago than I was old when just out of college and securing our first professional jobs there! A year into that rainy climate and desperate for summer heat, we found a drier spot inland along a sleepy stretch of the Coquille River. Many times each summer, we swam in the warm waters and basked in the pleasant sun on the beach then picnicked in the grassy park beneath towering trees.
Spreading branches of the myrtle trees made canopies of shade. We crushed the beautiful leaves in our hands and breathed the spicy, aromatic scent. And when autumn arrived, we kicked the golden leaves and played hide-and-seek with our young children and dog. “Better enjoy it!,” my husband would sigh, “Rain is coming! This is the last picnic of the year…” Sometimes it wasn’t! Sometimes the weather was warm enough to swim all through September and into October! We’d go again and again. He’d say the same thing each time, “The last picnic of the year…” And we’d laugh. Those times were magical!
After we moved East of the Cascade Mountains (about five-six hours away) we didn’t go back to this favorite place on the Coquille River. And we only returned to that part of the coast a few times through several decades. We were busy growing kids, careers, cows, chickens, market hogs, Labradors and fields of grass. But three years ago, after our kids married, we sold our 21 acre farm and the big house with barn and greenhouse and sheds and shop. We downsized! We were so busy paring down our possessions and preparing for the next stage in our lives – retirement – we didn’t look back!
We didn’t miss that left behind home any more than we missed the coast when we left it.
And we loved our new little place on a hill with a view of the mountains. But then we lost a young Labrador. That was not how it’s supposed to be! “The old ones should go first!” we cried. Then an old cat disappeared. I shed tears for sweet Butterscotch. But then we got a new Labrador puppy! Abby has been easy! Energetic, YES! But smart and well behaved. And actually, getting her helped us part with our fourteen year old Lab this winter – the longest winter I can remember! Snow on the ground four months! And it was so cold! I longed for summer.
The lure of past experiences tugged at my heart. It was sad to think our children now grown may never again see the old sweet places again. Their voices, or their children’s, will never echo across the grassy grounds we enjoyed so much. But, I told myself, they will find their own places of sweetness.
Recently, we returned to Coos County. We revisited the Coquille River we had loved, hiked for the first time at Golden and Silver Falls about thirty miles north. (Look at tiny me below the falls on the slippery rocks with spray washing over!) We, too, can find new places to enjoy! And it helps to forget the long winter!
We went another day to Bastendorf Beach: so much more beautiful than I remembered…
But somehow, all that water in the wet coastal areas reminded me of deep, inexplicable sadness I’d felt when we lived there. “Maybe it is only the rain,” I thought back then. (Some years more than eighty inches!) Maybe it was a sense of all we were to “lose” in coming years: passing of parents and friends, parting with pets, homes, jobs, expectations, and even our health at some points.
I got through the dry years of many adjustments in Central Oregon with protection of nature and quiet. I was thinking and saying, “As in nature, there is no loss, only change in form. Our beloveds are always with us…” And then our darling eight or ten year old rescue kitty, Betty, disappeared.
And all the things I’d been carefully covering with thoughts of the future and thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation broke through. My heart hurt! I grieved for all the passings and partings. I grieved for the mistakes and mishaps and misgivings I’d suffered through the years. I cried! And I was angry with myself for feeling sad, for shedding tears.
And then I realized, again, life is a mysterious series. There’s always another line, another character, another chapter! We can go back, reread, revisit the emotions of our experiences. We can learn from our stories. And write new ones. We can rescue the little pieces of ourselves we left behind or overlooked. We can find new places to share. Our tears only wet the ground we walk and make ready for new growth and abundance.
We’ve now adopted another rescue kitty! Moona – because her yellow eyes are like moons, our grandson says! She’s settling in and getting more comfortable with us. And it’s strange how many things she does just like Betty. And I think once again, “There is no loss, only change…”
And as I write this, I realize the story within a story here: it’s fifteen years since taking mom’s ashes to the beach, thirteen years yesterday since taking dad’s to the river…Not that beach, not that river, but they’re all connected, as are we. Right? The water continually flows…Life moves on…Our tears only add to the flow.
Life is for loving. And I am so grateful for all of it!
Recently, penance has been on my mind. Penance as in the following definition #1 not #2 as found in a Google search –
1. voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.”
synonyms: atonement, expiation, self-punishment, self-mortification, self-abasement, amends; punishment, penalty “true penance requires honest self-examination”
2. a Christian sacrament in which a member of the Church confesses sins to a priest and is given absolution.
It doesn’t matter Why I feel the need to make amends. Or what my offense is or what brought it on. But you wouldn’t have to look very far: turn on your television and watch the political horror unfold! I’m trying to avoid the daily barrage of incidents inciting my ire!
I was baptized Catholic shortly after birth. I’ve received many of the sacraments. But I don’t practice any religion. Not unless you believe attending the Church of the Outdoors and communing with nature is religion! I do have faith. I do believe in an organizing Power, a force connecting us to the All.
Here is my retribution: a big dose of beauty! Nature doesn’t reflect out negativity, frustration, anger, fear, and confusion. Or does it? Is nature affected by our emotions and thoughts? See more on this here
What better way to make more amends than to make an offering? These books are wonderfully rewarding. Give them a read! Let me know what you think!
Read Unleashing Passions my guest blog post http://carolcassara.com/unleashing-passions/ and then come back here for more of the story. Ten years later, my life is beyond anything I could have dreamed…except…maybe I did!
Maybe I hoped and prayed and worked and wondered myself all the way to a miracle!
Ever wonder what it takes to be healthy? Exercise, good nutrition, good genes, sleep? Passion?
I’m more and more convinced traditional Western medicine does not have all the answers. Tough to prove what makes a difference in disease and healing, but results matter, even unproven!
If you’ve followed my posts, you know I believe there is so much more we share than can easily be explained. Unless you believe in something greater than ourselves and this life we see! Odd and sometimes wondrous things happen! Often!
I was diagnosed in 2006 with a rare autoimmune liver disease I feared might cut short my life! I was shocked, though I may be more susceptible to some autoimmune problems since my mom fought Lupus -another autoimmune disease- for years. I had wanted to prevent any problems by majoring in health education, eating a healthy diet. exercising. I thought by age 50, I was good! Not so fast!
Doctors said prescribed medication could postpone or eliminate need for a someday liver transplant! I did soon feel better. And I didn’t want to think about what might happen, but a few thoughts did cross my mind.
What if I died too young and my husband found a new woman? Would he love her more? Would they have a beautiful wedding with gorgeous flowers prettier than the garden flowers we had?
What if he bought her everything I never asked for? What if they did adventurous, fun things we hadn’t? These thoughts made me want to enjoy MORE before I was gone!
And suddenly, I wanted a diamond! If he’d buy one for the new woman, why not me, NOW?
Okay, that was a bit dramatic! Especially since I’d always thought jewels were just expensive and frivolous symbols…or are they? What about the power of gemstones? Don’t various natural substances have healing powers? My sister makes gemstone jewelry for healing and empowerment. See some of her work at gemstone alchemy
And I wrote about positive effects of gemstone jewelry in my Possibility Series novels – Mending Stone, Catching Rain, Seeding Hope! I even featured an amazing stone on the first covers of Mending Stone (Read it for $0.99-1.99 this week on Kindle Mending Stone And then read the other books in order in the next two weeks! Act fast and read all 3 books in the series for less than $3.00!)
Thankfully, my husband didn’t think requesting a diamond was silly. He was shaken as much as I and he wanted to demonstrate his love and support. He surprised me with a pretty three-stone diamond ring much larger than my original three-stone engagement ring from 1977!
I was appreciative, but the new ring didn’t sparkle enough to cheer me! We secured a refund, and a few weeks later, we bought another ring. I felt so loved and appreciated. But one day, I noticed a flaw. I wanted a different new ring! Again!
Then we were in Portland and went into Tiffany! Oh my goodness! What a beauty we found: 💎 a center diamond with rubies (my birthstone) on each side! WOW! Oh how I wanted it! But $24,000? Disease scare or not, it was waaaaay out of character for either of us to say yes to that purchase!
A few weeks later, a local jewelry store had a sale! We found similarly sized stones in a ring but the setting was hideous! A new setting and the sparkling diamonds were on my finger! I was filled with happiness!
Somehow the disease did not seem so scary! I cheered up! Symbols of love are important. They’re reminders of all we cherish. Every sparkle of my diamond ring reminds me of the surprising nature of love and release of worry about the future. We must live NOW!
After ten years and several visits to Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, I’ve been relieved of the diagnosis! I no longer have the antibodies to the disease! Liver specialists wouldn’t have expected them to completely disappear! Two of four physicians said I could safely stop taking the medication! And there’s no evidence of the disease! I do have some irritating digestive issues and osteoarthritis, but not the scary liver disease!
I wonder…ARE diamonds more than a girl’s best friend? Are they also healers? Or was it medication, lifestyle changes, and LOVE ❤️ that banished the disease? Whatever, I call it a sparkling miracle of healing hope!
Hot deals in Mid-July! Each of my books will soon be on a 1 week only Kindle Countdown deal!
You’ll love reading this great fiction with romance and mystery!
July 16 buy Mending Stone Kindle edition for $0.99! Yes! Under a dollar for a few days, then it goes up to $1.99 for a few days! Then you can buy Catching Rain discounted for a week, and then Seeding Hope!
Three weeks of reading great books in this Possibility Series – Act fast each week and you can read the whole series for less than $3.00!
Why would I offer these hot deals? Because it’s my birthday month! And I love sharing the fun!
Because I believe in this ongoing story!
And I know you’ll be entertained! I know you will be intrigued!
I know you will love at least some of the character! You’ll enjoy traveling across beautiful landscapes, through heartache and turmoil, and finding answers to troubling questions! I did! (Will there be a book 4 in the series? Only the characters know! I’m waiting for them to tell me the rest of the story!)
Don’t like to read on-line? Me either! But these are such hot deals, how can you resist?
Hot deals in July! Watch for them starting July 16 here
Find out more on my books page here
I’d be thrilled to hear from you! Please, leave a comment! Ask questions about the story! I love talking about the story and the most amazing journey I’ve been on since that strange winter dream…and the story which started it all…
Ever wonder if your wants and needs and pleas are heard? If spirit—or someone—will answer? Does spirit travel like our love and prayers to protect us and keep safe those we adore?
I’m sure my relatives must have wondered this as they embarked on a trip of a lifetime. John and Mary Lorang left their Genesee, Idaho ranch in the early spring of 1910. They traveled by buggy and train across the country and boarded a ship for a six month tour of Europe. Left behind, perhaps never to be seen again, were ten children, including my grandfather, ranging in age from eight to twenty-six.
I heard little of these great grandparents while I was growing up. I didn’t see photographs of their trip – over 300! Nor did I hear of their stories, or see their diaries and memorabilia saved in attics and closets of the old home. But in 1960, I did hear my grandfather traveled to Europe to follow his parent’s journey. He took photographs and bought back his own trinkets. I remember a delicate dolly – four inches high, made of wire and felt – a larger carved wooden camel. These captured my imagination of foreign places!
The trip was not all good for my grandfather. He did see many sites visited by his parents fifty years before. Much had changed. And the long trip was taxing for a man with emphysema. He became ill – was suspected to have typhoid and was detained in Turkey. It was many months, interventions of diplomacy, and legal adoption by my uncle before my grandfather was released! After hearing this story, I marveled over his courage and wondered if someday I might travel abroad…
Fast forward from 1960 to 2004. A second cousin I’d never met, and my Aunt Janet who now owned the family ranch, successfully had it designated as a National Historic Site: White Spring Ranch Museum/Archive Library. A ceremony was held to celebrate. We gathered in the yard outside the Victorian ranch house beneath shady trees planted by the great-grandparents. I sat at a picnic table covered with a plastic cloth. As I listened to a blessing to the four winds, I set down my empty coffee cup, and reached for the hand of my Aunt Pat beside me.
“My dad would have loved this!” I whispered.
Tears sparkled in our eyes as she responded, “I miss him.”
“Me, too,” I said. The words were still on my lips when my styro-foam cup scooted several inches and stopped in front of Aunt Pat.
“He’s here,” we said gawking at the cup and squeezing each other’s hand.
My dad loved coffee. The last thing he did on earth before dying the previous summer was take a sip of decaf vending machine coffee, smile, and quip, “AHHHH!”
Spirit seemed to send me a clear message with the empty styro-foam coffee cup not blowing over or tipping, just sliding sideways!
Something special happens whenever we go to White Spring Ranch where my great grandparents farmed and raised their family, where my father grew up, and I went every year as a child. Though this was the first time I visited without the physical presence of my parents, I felt their spirits travel with me!
I felt a strong kinship with all those gathered there that day, many relatives I’d never met in our large family with Catholic roots. We were witnessing our heritage with collections of photos, diaries, letters, and possessions now on display and being archived as historic treasures of not only generations of our Idaho farm family, but also lives shared across the nation.
A desire rose in me then to learn more of my forebears, and possibly follow in their footsteps on a similar journey across the sea on the hundred year anniversary of their journey!
Oh, but sometimes, life develops differently than one might hope or plan!
As 2010 arrived, that trip was on my mind.
Did I have the courage to go even though my husband declared he wouldn’t go and didn’t want me to go either! I stewed about how I could negotiate through his objection and also allay my bigger fears of foreign travel! It was silly! My great grandparents had gone with only letters and a few telegrams to connect them to home and family left behind!
But could I leave mine and go?
I continued to stew as winter months were passing and I was not finding a way clear to go without great difficulty. My husband of over thirty years was not seeming himself. And I was afraid to go without his blessing or accompaniment. Then in early spring, we were cutting firewood of bug kill trees at our mountain cabin in the Oregon woods just 60 miles from the family ranch in Idaho. Suddenly he turned off the chainsaw, limped to the four-wheeler, and barked, “Let’s go.”
We weren’t finished stacking the wood! And he is…well, you could nicely say he likes to finish what he starts! We silently returned to the cabin and went inside. Then, my husband shocked me with announcement: “My hip hurts! I’m going to see a doctor about it! And, I’m having heart trouble!”
“What heart trouble? How long?”
“Over a year.”
What? How could this be? My strong, can-do-anything husband is only 57! Had the spring wind been warning me of this? (See my post about the wind: Unleashing Passions at http://carolcassara.com/unleashing-passions/ )
That summer 2010, I did not go to Europe for the adventure of a lifetime. I nursed my husband back to health following a full hip replacement.
Our daughter was away house sitting in Santa Barbara and experiencing life in California. Our son, who was finishing his first year of law school at ASU, was away on a six-week exchange program in Italy. His studies allowed time for numerous short trips around Europe. We were thrilled when he returned home for a visit in August; he brought me a glimmering volcanic rock pendant. As a kid, I’d taken a big chunk of identical and colorful carborundum for show and tell at school, but never told him about the stone or where my dad’s rock-hound friend got it.
“Wow! Beautiful!” I said.
“I bought it for you at Mt. Vesuvius,” our son answered.
The next month, September 2010, our daughter’s helicopter pilot friend she’d house sat for offered a thank you, all-expenses-paid vacation overseas. Quick plans were made and soon they were off on a big adventure and our son was back at law school in Phoenix.
Prescribed medications to treat hubby’s irregular heart rhythm had rendered him incapable of working or functioning at more than the level of a very old and sick man. So after he’d recovered from the hip surgery, he opted for cardiac ablation. It was terrifying for him to go under the knife again so soon after his hip surgery but he was determined to get everything repaired and back to full health! He had excellent doctors and almost no issues with his recovery! I breathed sighs of relief and prayers of thanks!
It was hard going through all of it with just the two of us together, but that is what we pledged when we married. We were growing closer with fun adventures and not so fun health scares! (I’ll write more in a follow-up post about MY health scare I mentioned previously in the post Unleashing Passions at http://carolcassara.com/unleashing-passions/ ) But don’t worry, spirit has a clever way of answering prayers and fulfilling our desires.
Our daughter enjoyed her “once in a lifetime” trip overseas. She brought back several gifts: a sliver Cartouche of my name, and a chunk of quartz to make into a necklace. (She hadn’t known her brother also brought me a beautiful stone souvenir though they both knew I love stones and believe in our connections to the earth.)
I was struck by an odd sense of serendipity and peace as I worked that fall on edits for my debut novel: Mending Stone – a story of heartache and longing, family, and foreign travel!
In 1910, my great grandparents, and fifty years later, my grandfather, had traveled around Europe as our son did in 2010! And our daughter had traveled to another place they stopped and posed for photos!
My body did not journey to foreign lands on the 100 year anniversary of my grandparents’ trip, but my blood did!
Spirit travels like prayer, and answers.
Health. Such a simple word. Where do you find it?
What is the key factor in health and longevity?
Read about it here
I’ve “sacrificed” money by giving up jobs I enjoyed because I needed to be outside. I needed to be with nature.
There’s so much of all of that in nature! I find I’m suddenly more creative and able to solve problems more easily after I’ve spent time outside, especially if it’s walking in the forest.
But sometimes a walk down the aisle at a fabric store can free up some ideas!
What do you love? What can you do more of? Do you think you would have a more positive outlook and better health if you could do more of what you love?
Do it! Maybe only a little bit more. And a little bit more. And more of that…
What if reading the right book could cure what ails you? What if you could trade a trip to the doctor for a visit with a librarian? Or a hike in the forest? That’s the premise behind some amazing kinds of therapy!
I’ve experienced bibliotherapy! Who doesn’t feel better after reading great classic fiction, an inspirational book, or a lovely memoir filled with grace and beauty? But can reading really improve your health and well being?
Read more on the fascinating concept in this cultural comment from the New Yorker article on Bibliotherapy
I’ve been so happy since I read this! See, it works!
Happiness also fills me when the weather warms, flowers are blooming, and we’re getting out into the forests. Give me sun, winding paths, big trees, and water…you will see me smile!
See the tiny person standing on the rock? (Actually, braced on the rocks to keep from slipping?) ME last week! The water spray was powerful! It felt like a shower! My shoes were a little slippery climbing down the rocks. It was thrilling!
There’s an emerging field of ecopsychology called nature therapy or green therapy. Read about ecotherapy here in Psychology Today
If you can’t actually get out in the forest, enjoy a bit of nature now. You know you need it! Breathe…
What if you combine bibliotherapy and ecotherapy, reading and nature? Double the therapy!
And it can be free! Try it now. Get a book or magazine.
Feel the paper between your fingers as your turn the pages. Smooth your hands over the cover. Feel the weight on your lap. This is real. This is substance. This is made from something of the earth. You are something of the earth.
Go ahead. Go outside. Breathe…