Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wrapping up this blog - starting a new one

I am wrapping up this blog. You can now find me at

This current blog is a collection of the emails I sent to friends over the past five years, starting from the time I was diagnosed with rectal cancer. At the time, I couldn't even bring myself to say "rectal," calling it "colon" cancer instead! (hence the name of the blog)

A couple of years into it, I wasn't sure how the story would end. I didn't want to write about cancer forever. But at that time, I was diagnosed with Stage IV rectal cancer, so I didn't think I could ever be confident that the cancer story would be over. In fact, it seemed like it would end with my death, which isn't such an appealing ending, to me anyway. And I knew that I would continue to need the support of my family and friends throughout my life, so didn't want to stop that part. I couldn't envision the ending at all.

While I was in Brazil, I heard many messages that told me what to do. When I brushed them off, life was pretty predictable. For example, I heard a voice that gently said, "Take care of my mother." I looked at the woman referred to by the voice. She seemed to be fine, though she was fumbling for something in her purse. I ignored the voice, and went on my way. A few minutes later, I was trying to charge a purchase, something I needed at the time, and my charge card wouldn't work. I had no cash, and there was a long line behind me. From that line, I heard a that same woman say to me, "What is the problem? Can I help you?" And she covered me. How embarrassing and so right, that I ignored the call to help her, but she was right there to help me when I needed it. Drove it home.

But when I listened to the messages, amazing things happened. Awe-inspiring things. I won't detail them here, but I will in my new blog. And while I can't guarantee that that blog will be filled with awe-inspiring things, I promise that I will share any awe with you. And I hope to envelope you in its light.

Back to how this blog ends. It has been five years since my initial diagnosis. That seems like a good time to wrap it up.

EVEN MORE, though, when I was in Brazil, I heard a message that I would write one more post to end this blog, and I would start a new blog, to be called Adventures in Spiritual Living. And, the name was available.

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you may notice that my faith has grown over the past few years, and my trust in God's path for me and my willingness to walk that path have also grown. So I am trying to follow any guidance that I receive!

So, over one month after receiving that message, I am finally heeding it. I hope to see you there. Thank you for carrying me this far. And no matter where you are, I will carry you in my heart and send you my very very best.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Summary of Trip to Brazil

It's been awhile since I wrote anything via email - thank you for your messages, thoughts and prayers that continue to come my way. I can see the difference in my world, daily.

Having this break from chemo is wonderful in many ways. I'm writing this as I wait to be called for my CT scan. I am so out of the habit of coming to Dana Farber that this morning, on my way here, I took a wrong turn and found myself headed to Cape Cod instead! It took a bit before I realized what I was doing and that I was headed to the wrong place. But so fun!

The biggest event recently: I returned from a two-week trip to a small town in Brazil to see John of God. There is alot of hype around him, and miraculous healings do occur in his presence and where he is.

I went mostly because I was called to go. My usual trips involve well-traveled paths, nice hotels, and lots of family and friends. To see John of God, I would be going to a small town with unknown but certainly not lavish accommodations, all by myself. Still, life events moved me in that direction, and I'm starting to learn that it is best to pay attention to those kinds of signs.

So, I signed up with a guide named Josie and a group of 17 strangers, flew into Brasilia Airport, met three others from our group and shared the 1.5 hour taxi ride to our pousada in Abadiania.

The pousada was clean and accommodations basic. My room had a tile floor, two twin beds with a nightstand between them, a wardrobe, one painting on the wall, a patio, and a small bathroom. 

The sink had one faucet - cold water only - and we were not to flush anything, including toilet paper, down the toilet. The shower water was heated by a coil in the shower head. If the water came through too quickly, it didn't heat enough. Too slowly, it was hot but you got barely a trickle. If the shower head smoked, I was told, turn it off and get help. Okay.

Next, I wanted to check out the food. I follow a vegan diet and love to juice green vegetables every day. I figured that I would need to be flexible on this trip, but the pousada food more than fit the bill. Every single day, for both lunch and dinner, they created eight amazing vegan salads, eight warm vegan dishes (including a bean dish), plus one chicken dish, and one warm dish that might include cheese. They even had olive oil! 

The desserts were an array of fresh tropical fruits plus one dessert that had sugar. As far as solid food, I was more than covered!

I soon learned that everyone in our group followed a non-standard diet, as I recognized the "no carbs, no sugar" talk, or noticed the Himalayan sea salt that someone would pull out of their bag. These might be strangers, but we were definitely kindred spirits.

Stepping outside the pousada, if you turn left and walk maybe a hundred steps, you reach the Casa. The Casa is a collection of small buildings and a garden, and it is where John of God does his work. There is the main hall, which functions as a place for quiet prayer, group rosaries, and waiting to sit in Current or to see John of God (more on those later). There is a garden with wooden benches where you can sit and contemplate, meditate, pray, sleep, etc. There is a kitchen and stone picnic tables for serving and eating bowls of soup, a shop where they sell crystals, rosaries, etc., a little cafe, get the idea. Lots of little buildings spread over the grounds.

Entrance to the Casa

Benches for reading, meditating, etc.

If you turned right out of our pousada, you would find an internet cafe, other pousadas, and a series of small shops. Some sell crystals and clothing, others sell soaps and lotions. The pizzeria provided amazing pizzas, organic salads, and you could drop off your laundry there as well. 

And my favorite hangout: Frutti's, the juice bar. Score! Frutti's served smoothies made in a VitaMix, as well as fruit juices and green juice, made in a juicer like the one I have at home. I LOVE IT!!! I was there almost every night. This was my kind of place.

Each of us, presumably, took this trip for a reason, though we introduced ourselves with our names and not our challenges or what we hoped to gain from the trip. It felt wonderful to be just Marie and not someone dealing with cancer. Our personal challenges just weren't part of the conversation unless we ourselves decided to bring them up, and we simply didn't focus on that.

Before I took this trip, I did a little bit of reading about this place, and people described all the love they felt. I kept an eye out for that, but everyone seemed to be kind, not loving in the way it sounded. No worries - it was a good trip and definitely exactly where I was supposed to be. So I settled in for the ride.

From our first group meeting, I realized that Josie was a FABULOUS guide, and "fabulous" even feels inadequate. I really liked her as a person, but also, she provided all the information, in all the detail we needed, as we needed it and not before. For example, the night before we were to see John of God, and not earlier, she gave us the information we needed to be prepared for that and for anything he might direct us to do. Trusting that I would get the information I needed, when I needed it, helped me to let go of worrying about logistics and really just be in the moment. It also helped me to, overall, feel like I didn't need to worry about anything and it would all be alright.

And then there was our group. We were a mix of men and women from the U.S. and Canada, born in a variety of countries, including China, India, Philippines, Italy and the Dominican Republic. Our ages spanned at least 30 years. We were couples, singles, friends and relatives. Some of us clicked instantly, some of us were more reserved, some more open. 

Tiron and I have taken group trips before, and I study group dynamics, so many elements of group trips were consistent here. There is the potential for an "in" group, the ones for whom this trip just comes easily to them. They were meant to be here, and are the "teacher's pets" of the group leader. In my experience, there is always one scapegoat - the person that everyone avoids, who no one wants as a dinner companion, who just feels high maintenance and out of step with the rest of the group. At best, people ignore this person. At worst, others make snide comments behind their backs or even to their face. There are smaller groups that form within themselves, who do the group activities at a faster or slower pace. As I looked around, I started to see the seeds of all this.

But this group didn't evolve in that way. We formed as a WHOLE GROUP.  I don't know exactly why or how, but it totally blew my mind. Maybe it was because we were all there for our own growth and healing, and that negativity just takes away from our own goals. Maybe it was the makeup of our particular group. I don't know. 

It was decidedly NOT COOL to treat someone in a way that was not loving. If you did, no one would give you the cold shoulder or make you aware that it wasn't cool, or tell you not to do that. It just felt like everyone started seeing the light in themselves and in each other, and when you do that, it is harder to be critical or demeaning to another in any way.

This is part of what I am still processing, or mostly, actually, just letting it be and periodically staring at it with wonder.

I will skip to the John of God part. You can research whatever you like on him; here is my take:

John of God is a medium. Entities inhabit his body with the intention to help us each heal. The entities don't necessarily work directly on the disease or the challenge on which you are focused, but instead on the root of it. Their intention and power lies in bringing us always closer to God through love and helping us to shed anything that blocks us from opening our hearts to God. Our healing begins there, with that love and connection. John of God always says that it is not him who heals, but God.  The huge power of and belief in God permeates everything and everyone. 

Quite possibly, that may be why we were all so loving toward one another, and why that love grew and continues to grow, even now that we are in our separate homes. You are pretty much your best self in the face of love like that.

On the days we saw John of God in entity, we dressed all in white. My first thought was that this isn't my best color, but once I sat with the crowd of people, I appreciated the calm and visual quiet of having white everywhere. 

To meet with John of God, you first walk through the Current room, where people are meditating for hours on end, sending good energy to you and to John of God. The energy literally flows through them and through everyone in line. It is so tangible you can feel it. I saw John of God in entity briefly, where he directed me toward surgery. First I got a bowl of this incredible healing soup, then had lunch and returned for surgery.

My surgery was a spiritual surgery (as opposed to a physical surgery, where you are cut open). I sat, with a group of others also having spiritual surgery, with my eyes closed for about an hour. If you want to read more about that, the link is at the end of this message. It was indeed surreal.

After surgery, I spent 24 hours in my room, lying down. The pousada staff brought my meals, and I could get up to eat and to go to the bathroom. That is it. No reading, no music, no writing, no chatting. I tried to do more than lie down and could not because it was physically painful. Though I joke that it was like being in solitary confinement, it was more like a spiritual recovery room or ICU. Twenty-four hours of solitude and silence isn't easy, but I did get alot of out it.

Other days, I spent time in Current, sending energy to John of God and those in the line to see him. Sitting in Current means you sit with no body parts crossed (no crossing your arms, legs, hands, etc.) and eyes closed the entire time. Because John of God sees each person who wants to see him, the length of Current depends on the size of the crowd. You don't know how long you will be there, though it is typically between 3 and 4 hours.  I was really worried that I couldn't do it, but I did, I think four times, and it was amazing. For the all people I met who had miraculous healings (including a brain tumor, Parkinsons, and others), they ALL say that sitting in Current is the most powerful tool for their healing.

Before I wrap up, I want to mention the sacred waterfall. When I was little, I watched lots of Bugs Bunny, and there was one cartoon where he would shower under a waterfall. Every since then, I thought that would be a really cool thing to do. But I'm not really that outdoorsy, so figured that would never happen. And then, HERE IT IS! We walked into the woods to this incredibly beautiful place. A piece of me kept thinking things like, "Okay, they call this a sacred waterfall. And it is nice. But sacred?" After I did it, though, I now also called it sacred. 

That is my high-level view of the trip. There is much more to it; I have a gazillion little stories, as well as small stories that weave together into a larger story. I am still processing the ways in which it is changing me and my life, and I continue to feel its impacts. Many people who see me regularly have commented that I physically changed. I feel like I just discovered this whole new world and I don't want to lose it. Our group is keeping our connection going, so we can keep the feeling alive and allow it to grow.  

As I sit here waiting for my CT scan, I don't know if I got my physical healing, but I do know that whatever I did get was what I truly needed. And while I would so love to be physically rid of any and all cancer cells in my body, I feel tangibly aware now that there is much much more in my life and in our world that I can tap into. Despite my initial impression of not feeling the love, I slowly, over the two weeks, felt love inside and around me that is more expansive and powerful than I ever imagined. I believe that that is a huge part of my healing, why our group evolved as it did, why we treasured each others' stories, why we could laugh at each other's and our own quirks, why what could be annoyances instead became endearing, and why we are bound together with an enormous love that vibrates.

I share that love with you, and know that you will grow it and pass it along.

If you are interested in the day-to-day observations, you can check them out here, starting on July 30.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Leaving Abadiania

I did Current ALL day today. In Current, you sit and meditate and send energy to John of God until he sees everyone who came to see him. Today, in addition to the thousand or so people I am accustomed to seeing, there were two huge busloads of people. I sat, along with my friends, for four hours in the morning, and three in the afternoon. I wasn't sure if I could do it, but I made it all the way through, and it was even less time than I expected. 

Afterwards, we had our final group meeting, then a small subset of us headed to Frutti's. Most were going to hang out for a bit, and I wanted to get some take-out for my flight tomorrow. 

When we arrived, the lights were on and customers were hanging out, but they were OUT OF FOOD. They had no ingredients for meals or for their juices and smoothies....the influx of people totally cleared them out. I guess they do a good business.

So....we meandered across the street to the pizza place. I had been there last week to drop off my laundry and was curious about their salads, which are advertised as "Organic from our garden." I ordered a green salad to go, and we all shared an acai pudding before heading back to the hotel. 

I leave here early tomorrow morning - It was difficult to say good-bye to everyone. Lots of hugs all around, some tears, and I'm all packed up and just about ready. I feel like I got so much from each person, from the group as a whole, and from being here.

Thank you for being with me on this wonderful journey.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Resurfacing after Spiritual Surgery

The 24-hour period in my room after this surgery was a bit different than the last, maybe because I knew what to expect. But I actually relaxed into it a bit more. We were joking that it is like spiritual ICU, or maybe like lockdown. When we get together afterwards, we compare our experiences and find that each of us has a different experience. We were told that we are to lay in bed. We are allowed to sit and eat, and we are allowed up to go to the bathroom. 

I tried to follow that, and it was really good for sleeping, meditating, and praying. Afterwards, we compared notes on our experiences. Some of us had some deep and amazing insights that I felt privileged to hear. Others, well, I howled with laughter when I heard that one person went for a walk outside (and got caught by our guide!) and another decided to wash her patio furniture because it had a layer of dirt on it. I still laugh thinking of that!

Spent the rest of the day chatting at the Casa, than having dinner together and hanging out at Frutti's. 

Tomorrow is my last day here. There are two Current sessions - one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. In Current, you close your eyes and meditate and send energy to John of God to help him hold the entity in his body, and send energy to those who will be having spiritual surgery. Each session is of unpredictable length but typically run for four hours or so each. It is where the deepest work is done, so I am trying not to focus on the four-hour chunk but instead take it a moment at a time.

Sending love to you.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Spiritual Surgery again

After seeing the entity today, we all gathered and kept asking each other, "What did you get?" It felt a bit like Charlie Brown's Halloween - I almost expected someone to say, "I got a rock." Given that this place is built on a crystal bed, that might not be too surprising!

Anyway, I got spiritual surgery this afternoon so I will be back on email after 4 pm. tomorrow.

Love to you all!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Miracle meeting

It was another free day today, but so much happened that I am not sure I can remember it all. 

One bit of info: Many of the folks in my group have seen orbs in their rooms and have felt the entities work on them. For example, this morning, one guy woke with this wild pattern on his back. He is an MD from LA and was puzzled by it. Everyone really wants the entities to visit them and do their work.

Me, I'm scared. Petrified. I sleep with the light on. No joke. So my prayer since Sunday has been to get over this fear so that I can comfortably ask the entities to do whatever they need to do, and that I can hear from them what I need to do. 

This morning as I was getting ready to go out, a young boy came to visit me. He died several years ago and is the son of a woman in the group. He wanted her to know that he was happy and okay. I think also that he came to visit as a way to ease me into all this, as he was young and sweet and non-threatening, he arrived in the daylight so not scary, and he didn't have an emotional connection to me, so his visit wasn't loaded with that.

If the entities never give you more than you can handle, then, okay, I was able to handle that.

It was funky and marvelous and I went about my day. I went to the Casa and saw the enormous amount of vegetables being prepped for this week's soup. I sat and meditated and prayed. I had lunch with our group and joined in the communal singing at the Casa, even shouting out songs that I wanted to hear - I was the most vocal one there and was so uplifted by song.

We returned to our pousada for a meditation and clearing session, and then dinner, complete with a birthday cake.

After dinner, a bunch of folks left for the Casa, and I had meant to go but was in the middle of a conversation with Ig (short for Ignatius). Remembering my feelings from yesterday, I actually interrupted the conversation to suggest we go to the Casa. Unusual for me, and good.

It was dark out, and we took our cameras to go orb hunting. (I'm trying to take photos of other things, but the orbs are so fascinating!)  My first few photos showed no orbs. Then Ig suggested I call to them, and once I did, they showed up all over the place! We were having a great time when this guy interrupted us.

He spoke fabulous English with a strong foreign accent. He asked whether we believed they were orbs or dust; he wasn't sure what to think. So we took photos together and compared and commented. Ig and I both thought that he felt like a strong skeptic.

When we exhausted our conversation about orbs, we asked him how long he had been here. Slowly, he started to tell his story. 

In summary, he and his wife and daughter have been coming here since 2008. His daughter (now age 20) was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005. After two unsuccessful surgeries, chemo and radiation, the doctors told him that there was nothing more they could do. They traveled to different places in the world to get help for her, and then heard about this place.

They came for 3 weeks in 2008, and the entity told them that they needed to stay longer. They had to return home, so they did, but returned in a month to stay for six weeks, doing all the work that the entity prescribed.

They returned the next year for five weeks, and when they got the MRI after that, there was no sign of tumor! 

However, the tumor had done quite a bit of damage so they returned here to Brazil. The entities said that she wouldn't fully recover, but she could get to 90% and be independent and take care of herself, and they were happy with that. This family takes it one year at a time as far as traveling here; the economy isn't good enough for them to plan ahead, and he admitted that finances are difficult, even through he seems to be smart and well-educated. This year, they are here for six weeks (and are staying at our pousada). I figured, it was enough cost and effort that they must believe strongly in what happens here.

As I understand / recall, most of the work prescribed to her is about having a connection to God through deep meditation and a strong faith.

It felt like a miracle story, the first one I heard firsthand, and that alone was amazing. But wait, there is more!

Before we parted, he asked our names, and told us that he was from Romania and that his name is Livio. 

I was a bit stunned - you don't hear that name often. Growing up, my father's business partner was named Livio, and he was like a second grandfather to me, a strong and loving presence in my life. I had been thinking of Livio occasionally on this trip. It isn't like I think of him on a regular basis, so I kind of marveled in my mind that I had been thinking of him and that this man had the same name.

We said goodnight and parted ways. 

Ig didn't know any of this when he stopped me and said, "I felt like he was talking to you, like he wanted you to hear that story. And what an unusual name. I have never heard that name before."

So, I feel like I was visited by a second spirit, of Livio, tonight, appearing through a human form, something I am quite comfortable with and could completely handle.

And now, I am to follow a ritual to have the stitches removed from my spiritual surgery. Talk about stepping into your fear. But I am starting to get the feeling that it will be all right, and I am breathing to let that feeling grow.

Signing off, full of marvel and love,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Decisions, decisions

That there is started to be so much to absorb, so much change, that I am starting to feel overloaded and beginning to shut down. Though it is understandable, I feel that if I can work through this and re-engage, there is growth available to me on this trip. 

So perhaps now is a good time to see what in me is saying, "Enough!" and why I don't want to push past that. Not that I have an answer...

For example, this morning, we all gathered for breakfast, each arriving in our own time, until at some random moment, we were all there. I knew that I wanted to get green juice and get going to the Casa, but instead got into a great, fun conversation with a subgroup. For some reason, I couldn't pull myself away from it, as much as I knew, deep inside, that I needed for myself to sit at the Casa. 

One by one, or two by two, people peeled away to do crystal baths, shop, go to the waterfall, or do whatever called them. Only three of us remained in that conversation when I finally and reluctantly pulled myself away. By then, it was 11 a.m. I still hadn't had my breakfast (green juice), so I walked to Fruitti's, with the intention of sitting down, mindfully drinking my juice, then going to the Casa.

At Frutti's, I ran into two women from my group. They had been shopping and raving about their purchases. I wasn't pulled to go shopping, but they were going on and on about the beautiful crystals at a store just down the street, and saying things like, "Get them now. When will you be back?" and "The prices are so much better than in the States." Against my better judgement, I decided, well, it is worth a look. I knew I wouldn't go on my own, so maybe I should go now, with them.

This is a tiny town, at least, our part of it. The road is paved, but barely. The side streets are dirt. Beautiful, red dirt, but dirt. The road itself is wide enough for two small cars and about two people walking. There are a few places on the street to shop, a few to eat, and a few pousdas (little hotels). It takes me less than five minutes to walk, at a slow pace, from one end of the street to the other. That is it.

We passed only a few storefronts before we came to one crystal store. Sure, the crystals were beautiful, but I wasn't pulled to buy anything. I saw some earrings - hmmm, maybe these? Then I realized that I was buying just to buy, not because it was something I really wanted. I left the earrings there.

We went to another store and by then, I had broken down and bought a few things. When I left, I didn't feel great about my few purchases. Sure, they are nice, but not really anything I wanted or needed. 

We returned to our pousada for lunch and I recommitted myself to figuring out why on earth I couldn't get myself to the Casa. Or, if I couldn't figure it out, just DO it.

After lunch, I went with four other women to the waterfall. There was a long line and we were waiting for a long time, possibly an hour or more. I didn't time it; that would make me crazy. I found myself slipping into old habits that make me crazy in other ways. For example, there were 24 women and six men in front of us. (You go there in groups, usually with your own gender.) I could not see the waterfall, but I could hear it, and I focused on listening to discern when someone was under the falls, and counting that, hoping they were moving along so we could get our turn. Or I would calculate, if there are 30 people ahead of us and each person takes their allotted five minutes, how long would we be waiting here?

I was getting annoyed with the folks in front of us for seemingly taking so long and resentful of having to wait my turn. I didn't like the way all that made me feel.

So, I used all that time waiting to help myself work to shift it internally. It took a bit, but when I did, I was relieved to be back in the zone. That felt much better, and after our turn in the waterfall, it was easier to get myself to the Casa for the next couple of hours.

When I finally did get to the Casa, I sat on a bench under this enormous tree with large, long, deep green leaves. Shortly after I settled in, I heard the snap  of a yellow leaf fall off the tree, and it landed with a thunk onto my right wrist. That little wrist-slap made me giggle, and I stayed there for a couple of hours.

Later, after dinner with the gang, I wandered over to the local (juice) bar and ran into my new friend, Nigel, who I met while singing my heart up at church services on Sunday. Then I met two guys who just landed from England. One of them, Rajesh, follows a diet like mine and we got right into food-speak. While we were talking, the woman behind the bar mixed up our order (and my change) and the other one, Fabian, cleared it all up in such flawless Portuguese that you could see the shift in the woman behind the bar, as she visibly relaxed and started smiling. We hung out together, for a bit. Rajesh shared some hemp protein with me (he, like me, travels with a suitcase filled with food!), Fabian demonstrated more of his many language skills, speaking, at various times as needed, Spanish, Italian and, of course, English. And that was the evening.

It was all such a blast and I can't get over how openly and easily everyone connects. Maybe it is like this everywhere and I just haven't traveled much.

Tomorrow morning, we can again help to prepare the soup and / or go to the waterfall. It is likely to be our last unstructured day before I return home, as we see John of God again on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

I hope you are having some interactions that make you smile big, with old or new friends, or both, and that you are doing the things that feel right to you!