I realized within the first hour after waking up following the liver transplant last month that a fog had been lifted. That, no matter how well I had thought I felt emotionally and cognitively, I was nowhere near where I was now. I was thinking in real time.
I had not felt this way in years, at least a decade, perhaps two, and it was wonderful. I remembered that Jonathan had encouraged me to keep a running journal of the journey from the time I was diagnosed with cancer, who came to be called my Teacher, up to this time and through recovery. I had done this, it was not much, perhaps 40 typed pages, but now I was more than ready to flesh it out.
So being that I am still in recovery from the transplant and as of yet can not even drive my own car, I am splitting my time fairly equally between online CEUs in various areas of Peer Recovery Support to stay fresh, researching and applying for positions at a very select group of practices/centers/groups that are hiring, and piecing together all those journal entries into a small book form.
The reason for the book is not to brag about how difficult the process was to go through, to strike it rich and wind up on Opra (though that would be cool, the former that is, though I could be convinced to go on Opra, I am easy), but rather some pages for someone who is currently or about to be wearing the same shoes I did for so many years. It is easy to want to give up when you are in a place of hopelessness and despair, but you can't. I didn't, and I did not have any rah rah story to help me along. Mine will not be a rah rah story, but it will be a story of victory, about not giving up, and about turning adversity into opportunity.
I am not even sure who I am talking to here these days. I no longer have a group since we no longer are associated with an Athens area practice. Twelve-step programs rule here. I have a couple of people, or clients as they used to be called, but now they call to check on how I am doing after the surgery. That's nice.
Perhaps I am writing this to my next group, or my next individual person I will be meeting in some state more than 1,000 miles from here. Now you can know a little bit about that guy sitting across the room from you. Run! :-)
Though I had been working without any over site for some time in matters of the Soul, or in the spiritual realm with people who come to me for such things, I still made it a point to continue to seek out further instruction from teachers who would make offerings either in Athens or at a location that I could easily get to for a weekend to attend.
Over time, I began to notice more and more that these events were repetitive despite dealing with slightly different content matters, and the ways that they were the same were become increasingly a feature of the way I was conducting my own individual sessions.
Then something big took place. I had wanted to attend a two year training that would certified me as an "official teacher" of a specific very well known individual's programs. This would have opened up all kinds of opportunities for me to offer workshops, individual services, and much more. However, due to my physical heath at the time, I had to withdraw despite having been one of the relatively few to have been accepted.
It turns out that the teacher offering this program was a good friend of a man whom I had known for a time and was currently working with on an individual basis. They talked about my situation, they even discussed it over lunch which was just by chance because he happened to be in the US and the two live 5,000 miles apart. I did not know any of this was taking place.
While he did not know it, I had such high regard for him that I considered this as a sort of unofficial apprenticeship because being at least 30 years my senior he is perhaps the most powerful man I know in this field. I don't mean power like lightning bolts or earth quakes, but power in that he has such a firm grip on himself, the world around him, and what it means to be, and how to be, and why. That might sound flighty, but it makes sense to me, and so does he.
Anyway, I we spoke again, like we do, on Skype not long after that and he told me I did not need any more teachers. He told me that I should turn to Spirit as my only teacher now. That was a big moment, and so much of the questioning of things suddenly made sense. I was not rebelling against the things I had been taught earlier, I was not growing tired of workshops, they had worked for me, and I was ready to move on.
So now, I shall be on my path, and stopping to be an apprentice much like in the link I am going to share below. For no matter how much we think we have it figured out, there will always be the time when we have to stop and learn something new no matter how badly we want to continue, so that when we do continue, we do so effectively.
This blog has been swirling in my mind the past couple of weeks, but reading the blog of author Sharon Blackie today I had to write.
Here is the link, and while I encourage you to read the whole blog, if you are short on time, the part that directly impacted this blog starts next to the image of the woman seated on the bench looking down into the box.
Click here to visit Sharon Blackie's Blog
Well, after a seven year running battle with Hepatic Cirrhosis and Stage Four Liver Failure and a 15 month standoff with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (liver cancer), I have undergone a successful liver transplant and now a free from both. The operation was on January 3rd at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs Hospital and my recovery has been rapid. I should be back home by mid February.
There are not adequate words to embody the feeling of gratitude I have for the woman whose gift to me in death was life, the team of doctors and specialists that have been with me every step of the way (and will be as I will forever be in their care), my dear family and friends who lent be support though the toughest of times, and my mother who has been at my side for every doctors visit and extended hospital stays since the cancer since our initial trip to Pittsburgh a year ago.
I could not have imagined at the young age of 19 in 1985 when I volunteered for the U.S. Army Infantry that all these later it would be the Department of Veterans Affairs that would live up to their end of the deal and provide this health coverage for me 100%, to include all travel, hotels, etc., for my support person, aka my mother.
So, it is high time that I get back to work now that I am clear of mind and am regaining my physical strength.
If you are someone whom I have worked with in the past and you ever need to get in touch with me my number is the same, or you can email me or use the contact form on this page. I can make time to call you just as soon as I can at any time.
As for where I will be living; that is to be determined. My primary focus is to take my recovery and trauma work to the VA and work with fellow veterans, but I am not ruling out working with a practice again. That said, the tables will be somewhat reversed now that I have options and that practice would have to share the same basic approaches and goals.
Regardless, I will still maintain individual relationships with anyone who would like to sit with me. In person, on the phone, at a bench in the park, wherever. It is all about you, and I am only there to help you in whatever way I can to find your own healing and not some text book or workshop's step by step system.
Trust, honesty, humility, and a touch of humor can do wonders in opening the path to happiness.
So, join me in a big group hug to celebrate all that is going well in our lives, and as for the rest of it, let's talk. I am always here for you.
In my never ending quest to be on the cutting edge of approaches to working with people navigate through troubled waters of substances and trauma, I recently went through the training and now can facilitate individual or group settings for Seeking Safety. You will see SS mentioned in the following story from the Department of Veteran Affairs.
The Link between PTSD and Substance Abuse/Addiction
About 50-66 percent of those who suffer from PTSD also battle simultaneous addiction, and the reverse is also true, TIME reports. People who suffer from PTSD are between two and four times more likely to also battle addiction than their peers who do not also struggle with PTSD, the journal Clinical Psychology publishes.
Discover the Medicine Wheel & how it can help you open to the life you desire – FREE event w/Jose and Lena Stevens…
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During this potent hour, you’ll be introduced to:
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It has been a while since I had an entry here and I figured that now is a good time as much is changing in my life.
The ongoing learning with my teacher cancer continues, and it well documented elsewhere so I will not go into that, and, while the Alcohol and other Drug use work I do is highly volatile and not dependable due to the nature of clients (which I refer to as my people ) coming and going, has seemed to be coming to a clinical end more and more in recent months. Lately, the director has indicated that he may be ready to retire from some areas of his life--our practice being one. He is my only connection to this work because I greatly value his 40 years of experience.
But that is not what I want to write about right now. Instead, I would like to turn my attention to Seidr. If you are not familiar with the term, Seidr is basically northern European shamanism that has existed since before the region was converted to Christianity about 1,000 years ago.
Though my work with the Norse tradition as a rune caster took down a spiritual approach path, I have been a fan of the classic Norse mythology since I was a kid. I even listed my first name as Loki on my one and only fake ID in high school in the early 80s. But Seidr remained a mystery to me.
As I took up the path of the Shaman many years ago, I naturally tried to combine my understand of the pre-Viking Age Norse world and core Shamanism through teachers such as Michael Harner, Sandra Ingerman, and Hank Wesselman. Also strongly represented was the inspirations given to me by the Nagual Lujan Matus who has had the single largest impact on my life of all my teachers.
Last year, I began a two-year training in Celtic Shamanism, and this coming fall I hope to begin a two-year teaching training from Ingerman. While the later is exclusively core Shamanism, the Celtic work is much more mystical in my approach.
So I felt that the time was right to learn about Seidr. I approached a group of people that I know, and then the four of us opted to jump right in with our limited understanding but vast about of experience is similar practices.
In his book The Re-Enchantment, A Shamanic Path to a Life of Wonder, Wesselman writes, “In my humble opinion, the time has come for an upgrade in our cultural mythos, and at all levels, one that will include respect for that which will serve and support us forever.”
Also, having come from an experiential background in Shamanism, I wanted to equip myself with a basic understanding of Seidr as presented in classic Icelandic manuscripts and some respected modern day practitioners. However, like Shamanism itself, I found there were many differing views on Seidr even among the practitioners. It was clear we would have to figure this out on our own as we went along, and that is exactly what we have been doing for a few weeks now.
The four of us come from very different backgrounds, but the overall intention of our works have been helping either ourselves or others in spiritual matters. That said, the path is highly charged at times, and at other times rocky--at least for me.
I enjoy the group, but I do not get the same out of it as the other three, at least not yet. I keep running into myself in my pre-existing condition of core Shamanism. Since I am first and foremost a practitioner of the later, I can not distance myself from the need for a nature and ancestors aspect of mystical work, and as of yet we have stuck almost exclusively to Norse mythology tending Icelandic Magic.
I have journeyed on this a few times of late and find that I am shown temporary connections and shifting paths that eventually resume in the center. I still do not really understand Seidr, none of us do because like Wesselman suggests, we are re-inventing the mythos. I do, however, hang around if for nothing more than curiosity in my exposure to the spiritual capsule that is being born.
I will find my place in this at some point, but as of yet my awareness has grown so wide in my gaze that I can’t seem to find the start point. So I flow, like a river, and that is all I can ask for until the messages of Spirit are finally received and my mind illuminated once again.
Good day all, I hope you are all well ...
Things are moving pretty quickly as far as appointments. In the last 48 hours I have had five things scheduled: dental, breathing, heart, social worker, and a body scan. Tuesday is "VA" day, and all of this batch of tests will be done by the 16th.
Other than a very slight case of HE (https://www.mylifeline.org/WindAndRaven/learningli...), I have had no noticeable change in my health other than that which already existed for the past six years.
I have decided to reverse course after the last two months of re-introducing non-vegan items to my diet. Which I not going full on vegan this time, I am going to drastically cut things like eggs, dairy, and anything other than lean organic meat (and even then, very little). I noticed after going back to eating these other foods I felt much more grounded, less "thin", and it was nice.
However, the byproduct of eating these foods are not worth their overall negative impact. That said, next Christmas it will be impossible to get into the ham and turkey--jes sayin'.
I have had conflicting reports on how long I should expect to wait for a new liver. One person said as few as a couple of weeks, while another said it would likely be a year or more and as many as ten. Who knows, who cares, I can't change it, so whatever.
The only thing for sure is that something will happen. I can just put myself in the best place physically, emotionally, and spiritually so that when what ever that is arrives I am prepared from my end.
Still, the sooner the better would be awesome so I can get back to my pre 2011 live.
Thanks again to all of you for being there for me in this hour, and together we got this.
Happy (almost) New Year!!!!!
My new years resolution is to be more upbeat and help others whenever I can. I challenge you to do the same. Stop and smell the roses, touch the bark of a tree, feel the warmth of the sun on your cheeks, listen to the birds sing, and sing the song of your heart--loudly.
I hope you are all well today, I wasn't earlier, but am now. Last night, at about 3 a.m. I was visited by my Grendal. He comes in the form of constricting pain and begins suddenly and quickly dominates the physical world.
Let me explain.
As part of the effort to prevent edema in my lower legs and feet I have been prescribed a diuretic. This believed to be one of the causes of extreme muscle cramps in my legs and feet, and they almost always hit at night. Last evening, I was sleeping in a much dryer environment that in Georgia, and there were heaters going to further dry the air.
Grendal answered the call and stuck violently about 3. My inner thighs, but deep inside to where they remain beyond massaging (at least by me), that then descends down my shins like a zipper on to my feet. Then the toes start to bend at every joint, in the wrong direction.
After about an hour of this I started to give in. I thought of just lying back and letting the pain take over, to transmute it somehow into a hypnotic vehicle to propel me out of the pain. It was then I glanced over and saw I had just received a message.
It was my healer, many miles away, asking "How are you?" Emotion poured out as I tried to message back, I couldn't for my hands too were cramping. I pushed the microphone button and said "Pain".
"Lay back, I will start working on you from here," came the reply. Within seconds I could see in my mind long arms with long fingers coming my way. Was I delirious with pain? Who knows. Who cares.
The pain started to subside. I then saw a great rib caged over me as I lay there, it opened to me and encased me and all pain instantly went away.
I am the most grateful and feel like the most loved person in the world right now.
Back to last night. I then was able to type, but neither could talk due to the hour. We exchanged messages for about an hour. I felt so at ease that I drifted off to sleep and stayed in a deep slumber until about 8 a.m.
The reason I tell this story is to remind those who already feel Spirit strong in their lives, and for those who do not, to know that on this day, as on every day, Spirit is alive and well. We are joined by it, we are it, and it holds us.
I left you yesterday with words to go out and do something for the world, today go in and love yourself. When you do, you allow your light to shine so brightly that it can been seen and in times when it dims those who love you can see that and come to your aid.
I am proof.
Love yourself today, and all the days. Live, let live, and laugh. Sing, yell at the top of the your lungs that you are here, you are here.
I love you all,
Góðan daginn friends and family,
I had the great honor of leading a portion of a Yule celebration here in Athens among friends and families last night. It was beautiful, and it was especially good to see many children among us not only so that they too can be aware of our traditional ways, but also because like Yule and the Winter Solstice, it is a time to celebrate the return of the light, and indeed children are our light.
I had a moment near the close of the facet of the gathering which I was leading. Spirit had flowed through me as I recounted the tale of Odin's ride on Sleipnir across the nine realms to Hel [both the name of the place and the goddess who resides there] to retrieve the slain Baldr the Beautiful, the shining one.
It is a rich story that covers a lot of ground, so to speak, as far as the many messages it conveys. But I specifically I made the evening about Odin's eight legged horse Sleipnir. I will not go into the particulars here, but if you invite me over some time I am always glad to share these coffers of wisdom.
It was what happened at the end of the journey (think deep mediation if you are unfamiliar with the term, it is kinda like that only deeper, much deeper). I had been rattling a consistent three beats a second for about 10-15 minutes and slowed so that everyone could return.
Then, as I sat the rattles down, stood up, and began to sing Morning Sun, a shamanic song from a great teacher.
As I made my through the lines, "Morning sun, morning sun, come my way, come my way." Three more times of the same line, then "Come my way, come my way, take my pain, take my pain", it began to set in, in the solo voice there was a crack. "Take my pain, take my pain, down below, down below", the damn is breaking now piece by quivering piece. "Down below, down below, cool water down below," four times and I fall to my knees weepy and messy. That moment is with me now.
I am glad that my children Boone and Luna were not in the room to see this, and I was quickly comforted by my dear friend Jacqueline who rushed quickly to my side, but was a messy couple of minutes.
I sleep alone and have for a long time. It gets lonely, and the flat spot next to me is always cold. To help with this, I no longer "get under the sheets". Instead, I sleep on top of a quilt my grandmother made (don't worry it is washed regularly like "normal" sheets), and I just toss about eight blankets of various thickness on the bed and dive in.
This morning, about four, I was cold, but instead of pulling up my Icelandic wool, which is my go to emergency response team, I pulled across my chest and shoulders a relatively small blanket that is a heavy weave with gaps between the woven strands. My fleece blanket was having non of it and was being difficult in accommodating this strange, somewhat odd, blanket.
As I twisted and got way too awake for such a thing it occurred to me that the fleece no longer felt important. Like it was being replaced.
Then I was taken back to the Yule journey. As my friends were lying around on their journeys I had been walking around the room rattling. I was so happy to be doing this. I was so happy to see people who remember that we have deeper roots than just being Americans, or Christians, or Jews, or whatever box we choose to sit in today, that we go back much further.
This journey, on which I had placed them on the back of Sleipnir for a ride across the realms, was taking them to the place of their ancestors. If only for a little while, they were free, and not like American free, but free free. Freedom from even being free. Nothing and everything at once.
At these gatherings, people often say very nice things to me about the power they felt. It happens every time, and it happens with people on their first time, but it isn't me. I am a hollow bone through which Spirit flows and nothing more.
So, while I had been rattling I thought to myself, "Once again I put myself first. In living too recklessly as a youth, and even as a man, I may have danced too close to the edge and now could be lost) . What was I taking from these people? Who will do this when I am gone. There are a lot of people who do what I do that have heavy Native American, or South American, or some other distant tradition and that is great, it is just fine. But I am all Celtic and Norse, and there are relatively few who do this work in that setting.
Will these people ever hear of Heimdalr, or my beloved Danu, or anyone them should I fall?
So, as I lay there negotiating a peace between the fleece blanket and the new comer I realized it didn't really matter which I pulled across me, for both would keep me warm.
I know that my teacher Cancer is showing me these things, and I know it is working. I am grateful to Cancer for this expanding awareness I am undergoing. When I was diagnosed with cirrhosis six years ago it changed me in one day. No longer was almost anything from the day before important to me. In face, I actively undid all that I thought I believed because I had not explanation for how I had manged to get to a diagnosis of 3-5 years.
I walked out of the hospital not believe that at all. I have not had any desire to include drinking in my life since that day. In time I went vegan, and through it all I rededicated my life to help at least one person not get to the place I was in.
I began working with people in substance misuse Recovery, then I had my first individual client, and 15 months later he left fully sober and is living a happy life today. He still texts me from time to time, he calls me now his "Sage", and every time he does I momentarily get a bit weepy.
I am no Sage, I am Steve. That is all, and that is enough.
So that brings us to the blankets again, I don't really know who claimed the choice spot over my heart, but one of them did, and that too was enough.
It does not matter in the end, who did what, what matters is that it got done. We are all in this together. Someone will be there for my spirit tribe should I need to take leave, and that person will also warm their hearts.
I now see that life itself is all that matters. We are just pieces of the action as my mentor Larry Walton would say (he has never heard me refer to him in that way until say that until now),
We are all in this together. We are all in this together.
Happy Holidays everyone. I am leaving for Chicago today and won't be back until the middle of next week.
Do me a favor would you. Don't go out today and do something nice for just someone, go out and do something wonderful for the world.
I love you all,