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!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Sacred Waterfall

I can't believe it is still Sunday! Today was so full. This place has wild coincidences going on all the time. You know the type - you run into exactly the person you need to see at the right time and have the conversation you needed to have - that kind of thing. So, of course, I am totally high on all that.

The waterfall: I LOVED IT!

First off, we had to pack a towel and a bottle of water. I assumed I would be freezing and shivering afterwards, so I added yoga pants and a warm jacket. Cameras aren't permitted.

Our group of 17, plus group leader, took a taxi as far down the trail as it could drive, then walked in silence the rest of the way. The forest (if that's what this is) is beautiful, even in the dry season. 

When we reached the waterfall, we formed a line to go in. We were instructed to remember our intentions for clearing, stay in the water for at least 30 seconds, make sure that we got totally wet, etc. Being fifth in line, I thought it would be good to watch everyone else to make sure that I didn't forget any of the steps. Not that you could see someone remembering their intentions....

I watched the first man go into the water and it suddenly felt like I was watching something intensely personal, so I tried not to watch the others. Still, watching him gave me this strong feeling that I could do this, that it would be okay, regardless of the water temperature or anything else.

I tried to focus on the beauty of the place, and sear the image of the waterfall into my mind without watching my friends.

While we were each under the waterfall, our group leader was clearing alot of energy out of there with her hands, too.

When it was my turn, I decided to go barefoot - they have a wooden railing to hold so you don't slip on the rocks. 

Right before I went under, I thought about Bugs Bunny and how I always wanted to do this, and that made me so happy. Then I thought about what I wanted to clear from my being. Focus. Focus.

The water wasn't as icy cold as I expected. It was cold, for sure, but bearable, and there was more water pressure than I get in my shower! I went under once and got fully wet. I stepped back, and decided to do it one more time, so stepped into the flowing water one more time, as if it were my first, remembering one big specific thing I wanted to clear, feeling the water on my skin and pulsating through my muscles and my being, then slowly stepped out. 

It was all totally amazing.

As we walked away, she instructed us to make sure we filled up with gold light and say a prayer of thanks. After that, I thought, I am SO coming back here! Turns out, we are allowed to go two more times this week, so I'm thrilled about that. Plus my skin and hair felt great from the waterfall, too. And I never needed those warm clothes.

We all hung out the rest of the afternoon. I went to the Casa to read and meditate (and nap). The waterfall definitely had an effect on me - kind of quieting, and expansive. I kept smelling this soft scent of flowers, which was really lovely.  

We all had dinner together and talked about books and interesting life happenings and metaphysical stuff. Some of us watched a little film (on John of God) that someone brought. And suddenly, it was 10 p.m.!

Sending lots of love to you from here in Brazil,

Church Service - Sing Hosanna

Frutti's the juice bar was closed this morning. Not a surprise, but an unplanned start to my day.

Most of our group moseyed over to the Casa for the English Sunday Service. It wasn't a Mass or a formal church service, but it was one of the most uplifting services I've ever attended. 

They had songbooks in lots of languages, and prayerbooks as well. We started with the Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary, and everyone said it in whatever language they were most comfortable. By the time I figured out the program, I was a beat behind but scurried to catch up verbally.

Then one woman stood and sang in a voice that was so beautiful it made me see light. 

After that, we all started in singing together as a group. I had only picked up prayer books, not song books, so the guy next to me (not from our group) shared his with our entire pew. He seemed to be really familiar with the songs; I later learned that he arrived for two weeks in March and is still here. There's alot of that happening here.

Back to the service. There was a guitar player in the front, and the songs were upbeat and catching and wonderfully energizing. I personally sang like I never sang before. I think that was true for everyone around me (unless they were trying their best to drown me out). The songs ran the gamut from religious to spiritual to popular to Sufi. 

For the first unfamiliar song, I mentioned to the man next to me (the one who had shared his song book) that I didn't know this one. He stated matter-of-factly, that I would catch on easily. That kind of confidence is so strengthening to me, and I did.

Some of the songs included Sing Hosanna, Let it Be, Kumbaya, and When the Saints Go Marching in. For The Saints, the contingent from the U.S. Southern states stood, did all kinds of harmonies, and were so loud that I wanted to cheer. And did.

They invited anyone from different countries to sing a song in their language. The Germans sang, a Norwegian said a prayer, one Japanese woman said that she was here from Japan but didn't want to sing (I guess she mostly wanted to be counted), another woman stood and said that she was Orthodox from the Ukraine (there was a whole group from the Ukraine) and didn't sing as part of their worship but was happy to be there. The group of about 20 Swedes got up and sang together, twice. The second time, they belted out the first verse of their song, then mumbled through the second verse, which had them and all of us in hysterics.

There was lots of laughter and hand-holding and hugging and joy. And that was just me. tee hee. Just kidding - it was everyone. 

They sent us off with the reminder that every moment is a good moment, and every day the best day ever. (My interpretation of his words.)

I'm off to the waterfall soon. I ran into Rah, a friend I met from NYC. She went to the waterfall yesterday and came away knowing that she needed to be silent for the rest of the day. I guess she was warning me of that possibility! 

Sending lots of love to you.

Here is a link to one of the songs, in case you wanted a sample. Our version was more rollicking, but the essence is the same.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day off

Today was our day off, meaning we didn't have anything formally scheduled for our group. So, we got juice, meandered up and down the road in our little town, and went to the Casa to meditate and pray. We compared orb photos and one of the guys got a couple of photos of this green orb. It was in front of some blades of grass and tree trunks, and through the orb, the colors of the grass and everything behind it were intensified. It was a funky shape, with a light shade of green in the center, a deeper green around the edges, and the outside rim was a darker green (almost brownish). Very cool.

It inspired all of us to go orb-hunting again today. We must have looked like crazy tourists, taking photos of "nothing" but we did that for over an hour!

Also, John of God was out and about today. Some folks ran into him in the crystal shop. Others saw him on the street, chatting with people before getting into his little SUV. I didn't see him myself, but it feels like a rock star was in our midst. Or at least, it feels a bit out of context.

Tomorrow, we go to the waterfall. I'm pretty excited about this part! When I was little, there was a Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs would take a shower in a waterfall. Every since then,  I have wanted to do this! So I'm thrilled.

In preparation, we need to consider the things we carry that keep us from being close to God and / or from being happy. I'm feeling pretty good, so it is hard to come up with that list, but I don't want to miss an opportunity to shed some unnecessary baggage so will give it some thought. 

As it is always easier to see the areas where others can improve than it is to see our own, please feel free to send along anything that comes to mind, that you notice that I do or carry that no longer serves me or gets in the way! But do it before 10:15 on Sunday. :-)

Have a really wonderful weekend! It is hard to believe that I am here for another week.


Friday, August 3, 2012

In the Current

Today was the day to sit in the Current Room. All day. I have never meditated so many hours in a row. Well, I didn't actually meditate all that time - my thoughts would come in and then wander, or I would nod off. But I haven't sat still for that long since I was a little girl in Catholic school, and probably not even then.

We got in line around 7:00 a.m. for the first current session, which started at 7:30.  Again, we sat together, four to a pew. Everyone who was either going to see John of God or headed to spiritual surgery would pass, in a line, through the room where we were sitting. We were instructed to keep our eyes closed, cross no body parts (no crossed legs, arms or hands), let light in and then send it out for everyone who would be passing through. Okay, got it.

They also explained that our sitting there, focusing and sending out positive energy, helps John of God stay in entity. They explained that when the spirit / entity enters his body, it takes alot of energy to hold the entity there, and that this works helps to keep him going so that he can see everyone in the line. I kind of liked that explanation; it made me feel like I was doing something to help.

We started with two prayers in Portuguese (Our Father and Hail Mary) and then settled in for an undetermined amount of time. There were enough fans blowing air so that it was actually a bit chilly. Spiritual music played over the speakers - not intrusively - and I was close enough to the main room that I could hear the other guides announcing John of God. I could hear them doing the introduction to the physical surgeries, followed by the instructions for people to line up. It helped me gauge our progress; there would be about four lines passing through, so everytime they called a line, it was like a tick on the clock for me. 

As we sat there, about every 45 minutes or hour, one of the leaders would say something encouraging or say a prayer to help keep us on track.

We sat for almost four hours; a long time, but surprisingly not unbearable. At the end, it was so quiet that I was a bit concerned that everyone else had left and I was still sitting there with my eyes closed!

When we were done, I was calm and ready to get up, and it actually felt pretty nice. Afterwards, they gave us each a glass of water and a bowl of yummy vegetable soup, and we returned to the pousada for lunch. 

After lunch, it was back to the Casa for round two. The group leader told us to expect a longer session in the afternoon, and emphasized 3-4 times that if we don't think we can sit for a longer session, to please leave now and give our seat to someone else waiting. I was tempted but decided to stay in the game. 

Turned out to be the same gig and same length as the morning session. It was harder for me to focus in the afternoon, but the time flew by. As tiny as this town is, it is noisy at night so I'm not getting alot of sleep. Since my eyes had to stay shut in Current anyway, it turned out to be a good chance to catch up on some shut-eye. I did try to stay awake, but later learned that most others in my group nodded off as well.

So it was a long but good day. It was nice to be able to send energy out and feel like we are supporting others here. And at the end, each time, we did about 30 minutes of healing meditation for ourselves.

We are on our own tomorrow. I'm hoping to get some sleep tonight.

I hope you had a wonderful week. 

Much love,

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Spiritual Surgery and ICU

I am out of solitary confinement. Actually, it wasn't totally solitary, as my new girlfriend, Gloria, kept popping in to check on me.

But I'm jumping ahead. Along with about 7 others from my 17-member group, I returned to the Casa after lunch to receive spiritual surgery. We were led to a room that had benches, kind of like the pews in church, but with cushions on the seats and no kneelers. I sat next to Norma, from my group, on the end of the aisle about one row back from the front. You basically file in and don't really get to pick your seat. Everyone just sits shoulder to shoulder until either a row fills or until someone who looks like they are in charge points somewhere else for you to sit.

I'll describe my experience of it, though afterwards I learned we each had a different experience. We were instructed to put our right hands over our hearts, close our eyes, and pray for healing or for whatever it is we want, and pray to be open to it. There is music playing in the background - loud enough to hear but not intrusive at all. One of the group leaders prayed in English, and when she finished, someone else prayed in Portuguese. I noticed that the music in the background was a song I love from Deva Premal, and figured I would settle in for what would essentially amount to a meditation session. I listened to the second song that played (don't know what it was) and then, suddenly, we were told surgery was over and to open our eyes.

It felt like only minutes, but it was actually about an hour later. It reminded me of being under anesthesia, when I think, "I don't feel anything" and then suddenly, some nurse is asking me to open my eyes. Actually, they refer to it as spiritual anesthesia.

At this point, we picked up our post-surgery herbs and were to return to our rooms for 24 hours. We could go to the bathroom, and sit up to eat the meals, which were delivered to our rooms. Other than that, we were to stay in bed.

It was REALLY hard to do absolutely nothing for 24 hours straight. Gloria would sneak in to make sure I was okay, and to bring me green juice, but that was for only a moment at a time. 

I am not usually prone to headaches, but I had the strongest headache I can remember. The only one worse was after an epidural.

After about, oh, 12-15 hours, I got up to turn on the light and got back in bed. Then I noticed the ceiling fan, so I got up to turn that on, playing with the speed and direction of the blades. Then I got back in bed. Then I decided to go to the bathroom. Back to bed. Then, I thought, it would be nice to have some fresh air. 

When I started to get up to open the sliding doors (I'm on the first floor and have a little patio), I got a SEARING pain in my right side, like a knife stick. I couldn't move past it. So I figured, okay, I won't be opening those doors! I guess they really meant it when they said to rest.

All in all, not too bad. If this was spiritual ICU, the food was really good and I got to drink as much water as I wanted and have fresh air (I eventually was able to open the doors). I liked all that. Plus, no IV sticking to me. 

It gives you lots of time to meditate and listen to God and get some sleep.

I wanted to take notes on all the thoughts and things that were happening, but I wasn't supposed to write. I don't remember them all. Some felt truly hallucinogenic, some felt deep and insightful, and some were simply annoying. I imagine it is like doing mushrooms.

I got together with everyone tonight for dinner, where we compared stories. 

Tomorrow, we return to the Casa and I will sit in the Current Room. The Current Room is where you sit for hours so the entities can do more work. It is called Current because it is like an electrical current, with energy running through everyone. No one is to open their eyes or cross their legs or arms, as it interferes with the flow of energy. Gloria has done this already. She usually has back problems and can't sit for long, but the night before she went to the Current Room, she felt work being done on her back. Her current session was 3.5 hours and she was able to do the whole thing.

I love the energy here, though my body misses rowing. Alot.

Enjoy the full moon tonight! The constellations here look foreign to me, but I love that the moon is the same everywhere.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 1 with John of God: Spiritual surgery

Hi y'all -

Saw John of God this morning. The place was PACKED with people wearing all white. I appreciated the color coordination. I think a cacophony of colors would have felt like visual noise.

Our guide told us, in advance, where to sit and what to do. We got there an hour early and there weren't many open seats left. I should know by now that these spiritual events are like rock concerts for the faithful.

Anyway, our group did get to sit all together. I got worried about being claustrophobic as people crammed in but it all worked out fine.

John of God did a few physical surgeries on about five different people, each a different body part.

Then they announced the lines to form. The line to meet with John of God was long but well-managed and moved quickly. It helped my experience that our guide got us into the front of the line.

I had a very short list of requests but he didn't get to ANYTHING else on my list besides the rectal cancer. We (my guide / translator and I) barely got that out when he immediately said, "Surgery today" (or something like that in Portuguese). You'd think by now, with all this religious travel, I would know a few more languages. Mostly, I recognize the Hail Mary in English, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and sometimes German. It is pretty soothing in any language.

After meeting with John of God, I was moved into another room for a group blessing, and for the first time, I had uncontrollable shaking (and, of course, tears).

I am scheduled for spiritual surgery this afternoon so will definitely be offline until at least tomorrow night. Everyone who went through this tells me that they were really out of it.

The surgery starts at 2 p.m. (1 p.m. Eastern time) so send good healing vibes and happy thoughts!

Love and blessings to you,


Tuesday, July 31, 2012


This is wild BUT....the group leader told us that, if we took flash photos of the sky above the Casa at night, we might see orbs.

So I went there with a few others from my group. We took some photos on the street outside the or two things you might call orbs showed up (in my camera - they were getting nothing), but not enough to be convincing.  

Then we went into the Casa (grounds with a few buildings, so you are mostly out in the night sky) and WOW! Orbs everywhere! I tried taking a photo of the same piece of sky twice in a row - two completely different patterns of orbs. It was wild. Totally awe-inspiring.

After taking lots of these photos, I went under a rooftop to meditate and doubt set in. Maybe it was just my flash reflecting off whatever dust was in the air? Because of course, I have an experience and then I doubt....

So again, I step out from under the roof, still in the Casa, and take more photos...nothing. Another photo....nothing. So if it is dust, why are there NONE? I am guessing that they aren't appearing when I'm not believing. 

I'm so in awe.

The people here are really nice. Josie, our group leader, describes it as being surrounded by love. I don't feel that way, but I do feel an absence of stress in everyone, and alot of kindness. And I personally love that enough to surround this whole area with love.

In case I am offline for a bit...

I'm writing now because not sure if I will be able to write for the next three days. Tomorrow morning, we get in line at 7 a.m. to see John of God. The line doesn't actually start moving until 8 a.m., but we are advised to be there by 7:10 at the latest. 

Once we see him, we will get our specific next steps. One of those possible steps involves being totally quiet in your room. The only movement allowed is to go to the bathroom. No reading, listening to music, or computer work for 24 hours. Meals will be delivered to our room.

In case this is our path, we had to fill out meal choices in advance. Today, I went to Frutti's, the Juice Bar, and they make an awesome green smoothie, complete with spinach, chard, watercress, parsley and cucumber. I predict that most of my cash will be going to Frutti's. In the meantime, I put that green drink on my meal card, in the hopes that, if I need it, someone will make a Fruitti's run for me.

Then I learned about my green-juicing soulmates in my group, so we made a pact that, if any one of us is allowed out and about, she will do the Frutti's run for the rest of us. See, we green juicers aren't such rare birds! Or maybe we just nest together. Either way, it rocks to be among my people.

I am just returning from my crystal bath, which involves heated crystals that clear and balance your chakras. Something definitely shifted in me - I went to the shop, and NOTHING called me to buy it. Nothing. I wasn't disappointed, either. Hmmm.

Next up is dinner, followed by a run to Frutti's to get my green juice to save for the morning (they don't open until 10 a.m. and I need it by 7), and concluding the day with the rosary.

In case I am offline tomorrow, have a wonderful, wonderful few days and I'll be back in touch when I can.

Sending love from Brazil.

Getting Settled

Our group has 17 people from all over the U.S. and Canada. There are folks from Texas, Florida, California, South Carolina and Hawaii. Three are from Canada. I'm the only one from Massachusetts. We are many races, nationalities and religions. We discussed basic things so far, such as how we got here, but not why we are here or what our particular challenges might be. We each had to write a short list of what we want from this trip (1 - 4 things) but no one asks each other about that. For those with wheelchairs or walkers, I assume they are here for something physical, though I've learned that isn't always the case. And those of us who look "normal," well, sometimes those interior challenges are even stronger than the physical. So who knows?

Everyone is in good cheer and loving and seems to know much about a variety of spiritual topics, so I'm learning alot even from that. And I'm learning more about how I am in a new group.

Last night, we took a quick tour of the Casa, which is like the headquarters of John of God. Our pousada is about 2 buildings away - insanely close, and I love that. Before we entered the gates, our guide set the context, and reminded us that we are not here alone, the we each bring spirits with us, loved relatives and friends who have passed, and spirits who are "hangers-on" who will be released during this journey. Suddenly, our little circle felt a bit crowded.

I will give more details on the Casa as I experience more of it, but for now: There are seats in various places, a small shop that sells crystals and triangles, up-to-date bathrooms (well, women's. men's is still old), a kitchen area, the building where there are healing rooms, and benches in front of an amazing view of the hills.

After that tour, we got a tour of the town where we are staying. The town is divided by a highway, and our side is tiny, one street long, with a few shops. There is a little pizza place, a juice bar (YES! A JUICE bar!!!), a place that sells natural ointments made from local herbs, and a few little shops that sell white women's clothing and some jewelry. There is an internet cafe and some dirt fields, so when the wind blows, the dirt flies.

The pizza place, where you can also drop off your laundry

Frutti's, the local juice bar and what will become my regular hangout spot

The weather has been like an LA winter - a bit chilly in the morning and evening, but warm in the daytime sun. The days are shorter because it is winter here - I miss the evening light!

This morning, I went with another member of our group to the Casa to help with soup preparation. We picked up some gloves, a peeler, a knife, a bucket of squash, and a brief demonstration from someone regarding what to do. Then we pulled up a bench and got to work.

It was like preparing for Dia de los Muertos at Tania's - BUCKETS full of vegetables to be peeled and cut, and groups of people speaking so many different languages. Next to us, for example, was a lovely group of about 10 folks from France. We were peeling and cutting outside in the fresh air and sunshine. I love that I could contribute something that I know I can do, and so much better in such a comfortable group!

After that, I sat in the meditation area facing the hills for a bit, and had the weirdest, nicest feelings in my lungs / ribs. It was a calm fullness. That is the best description I can give. Maybe I would add the word smooth.

I'm off to get some juice at the juice bar and then back to the Casa. I will post pictures after I return to the States. I remembered my camera but not the attachment to download the photos!

Love to you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Traveling to Brazil

Traveling to Brazil was, gratefully, a breeze. I wasn't sure how far I would need to walk between flights, so I dressed in my most comfy clothes: a long, flowing orange skirt, sleeveless soft t-shirt, and one of my husband's oversized cotton sweaters. Oh, yes, and purple and grey sneakers on my feet.  Not stylish, but it was an overnight flight so I figured, who cares how I look?

My husband got an upgrade to business class for me, so I settled in pretty quickly. As usual, I put all my bags under the seat in front of me. I do this because it feels like an efficient use of space, in order to save the overhead space for others who might need it more than I do, and so that everything I might possibly, conceivably want is at my fingertips. Never know when you might need sunglasses or a flashlight.

The flight attendant must have asked us three or four times to be seated so we could taxi. After each announcement, as if it were a cue, someone would get up and go to the bathroom, or open the overhead bin to retrieve an item. They weren't even rushing! I love the Latino culture. Eventually, everyone was seated, or seated enough for us to get going.

I looked around the business class cabin and realized, I was literally the ONLY one with bags under the seat. At first embarrassed by not following some unwritten rule that maybe I should have known about, I then decided that I would revel in my peasantry. I had another opportunity to strut my common stuff when the flight attendants offered tons of food during the flight. Each time, I responded, "No thank you," as I pulled various foods from my bag, including a complete macrobiotic dinner I had packed. 

When the meal service was done and we all settled in for the night, I realized why there were no bags under the seats: Each seat has FOOTRESTS that extend under the seat in front of you, so you can have your own little insta-bed! Very cool. I could skip the meals but I wasn't missing this! I pressed the button and heard the electronic whir as the footrest eased its way under the seat in front of me, cozying in with the rest of my stuff. 

Once we landed, the really handsome Brazilian gentleman next to me (wearing gorgeous dark blue jeans and nice leather shoes) asked if this was my first time in Brazil. Obvious? 

After going through customs, I waited in airport seating for the rest of my "tour group" and had the opportunity to observe all the well-dressed people in very fine, appropriate and coordinated shoes, walking by me in my orange skirt, oversized sweater, purple sneakers, and Disney-labeled luggage and handbag with Mickey ears hanging from the side. I'm not kidding. The picture-perfect American abroad.

I'm now at the hotel.

It is clean, the food is wonderful, and the people are very nice. I would love a hot-water tap in the sink and the ability to flush toilet paper, but hey, these are small things. I got a footrest!

I meet with everyone else in an hour or two for a tour of the Casa, followed by dinner and rosary. More on that later or tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Celebrating Wellness

I appreciate all the gratitudes you are sharing with me. It is fun and energizing and I love that you have so many good things in your life. Thank you for sharing all that with me, or even just doing it on your own. Today, July 16, is officially the last of the 50-day celebration and it has been so fun to be partying with you! 

If you sent money to Dana Farber (or anywhere else on my behalf) and I did NOT send a thank you note to you, please let me know. It just means that they didn't make the connection. 

It has been fabulous to enjoy summer without doing chemo. I still go to Dana Farber once a month to get my port flushed. (I have a power port in my chest, which we use for anything for which you would normally use a vein. They flush it to keep it clean and clear.)

This past Tuesday was my port-flush day, but before going to Dana Farber, I went rowing, had lunch, and glanced at the New York Times. The front page showed a story about a woman with cancer in her retina, and she had to have her eye removed. One of my children looked at the post-op photo of her eye and asked me what someone would look like if they took out your eye. I don't know much about eyes, couldn't tell much from the photo, so our discussion was brief, and I headed out to DFCI.

While waiting for the elevator at DFCI, I started chatting with the woman standing next to me. She seemed to be about 65 years old, stood 5 feet tall, and had a slender build. As we spoke, I noticed her eyeglasses. The right lens was clear but the left lens appeared cloudy, like it needed a good cleaning. When she turned her head to look at the elevators, I suddenly saw behind her glasses and noticed that there was skin covering the spot where her eye once was. I guess our questions generated by the NYTimes news story were answered.

Going to a place like Dana Farber provides constant reminders of the many ways to have cancer. Of course, there are a myriad of other ways to be sick, too.

The flip side of this is that there are a myriad of ways to be well. Every patient I meet, who isn't exhausted beyond all belief, is pleasant, friendly and interesting. One told me her story about having lung cancer for the past five years. She was in her late sixties but looked at least 10 years younger and had a tough, street-smart way about her, like she would take crap from no one. Aside from cancer, she carried a toughness and optimism that many would envy.

Another woman had ovarian cancer and was off and on chemo as needed while enjoying her retirement and time with her husband and grandchildren. She had a joyous air about her, as if this were a visit to the dentist, an inconvenience in an otherwise pleasant day.

And the woman with one eye appears to focus on what she can see, rather than on what she can't.

All of these women, and so many others getting treatment, may be ill in some ways but well in so many others. They have a sense of humor, the ability to connect with others, appreciate nature, or share a cheerful word. We are each dealing with something and it is so easy to have that take over our lives, at least for me. 

However, meeting all these folks reminds me that we are well in more ways than we are not-well. Their good health is contagious, and instead of being depressed by their illness, I walk away buoyed by what is well and strong in them. It carries not only them, but me as well. 

I hope that you are able to find someone who generously shares their cheer and positive vibes, and that you always feel the good in your life and the ways in which you are strong and well. And that will be contagious, too!

Thank you again for your continued prayers as they carry me through the summertime, and sending much love and gratitude your way,