Saturn Return – Material, Relationships, Health and Spirit

I met with a new friend Shannon here in Telluride yesterday. Shannon practices Vedic Astrology and she gave me a reading of my stars. It was very interesting and so different from the Western Astrology that I have dabbled in for several years. As I have said, my favorite part about Astrology is the Astronomy. I love looking up in the sky and seeing the planets (you can see Jupiter and Venus in the twilight sky in the picture above).

I wanted the reading because I have been aware of my second Saturn return coming up, and much to my surprise, according to Vedic Astrology, my Saturn return phase lasted several years, and the last day of this was January 18th, 2023. This happens to be exactly the day that I received the last of my bad news from the cerebral infarction that stroked me on January 3rd. It was January 18th that I went to the Ophthalmologist who grimly offered the opinion that I was done with driving and certainly done with snow skiing.

Well yesterday I drove myself to the Car Henge Parking Lot here in Telluride and spent the day skiing in the trees with the super expert Bill Glasscock. It turns out that the trees are easier to ski in that the open slopes in some ways. There are no people zipping into my path from the left, just trees, and the trees do not move. Also, skiing in the trees requires me to pick my way through deep moguls and to find the best path through the forest. I can study the terrain and link together five or six turns, and then regroup.

I did have a bone crunching wipe out yesterday. I caught my downhill edge on the top of a big mogul and fell downhill and impacted the next mogul on the shoulder. I heard a loud series of crunchy sounding cracks as the entire range of my thoracic and cervical spine received a big chiropractic adjustment. I lay down in the snow for a few seconds waiting for pain, but none came, and I got up laughing. What fun to spend the day skiing through the trees.

I came out of a shoot called Log Pile with my orange vision impaired vest on my chest. Knowing that his was a safe end I had linked together a couple more turns than normal. There was a group of about six people who were pondering their next move from this point. Bill knew one of them and was waiting with them when I came out. He had been boasting about his Vision Impaired student, and everyone was kind of flabbergasted as I came out of the trees.

I have learned so much about neural diversity and disability from this experience. Vision Impaired is absolutely not the same thing as blindness. My vision impairment simply means that I cannot process visual information pertaining to the upper left. But I see everything else just fine. I have learned to tilt my head to the right as I pivot my neck to the left to look over my left shoulder. By tilting my head, I make the horizon of my field of vision parallel and slightly above the ski terrain, and thus, I can see just fine. I just have to adapt to the new situation.

I have learned that every challenge is unique, and that there is joy in overcoming them. I have also learned to stop looking at people in wheel chairs with a sort of assumption that their life is not joyful. Who am I to assume what their life is like?

And so here I am in the autumn of my life. Autumn, not winter. And actually, this is only the very beginning of the Autumn of my life. It’s basically September 22nd in my Life. And yes, while there is a melancholy to the fall, it is also a beautiful time. The final harvests are coming in, the leaves are turning color and the weather is cool but not cold. And so as I enter in this new season with my third lap of Saturn around the Sun just beginning, I want to focus on four foundational areas of a Glorious life.

Material, Relationships, Health and Spirit. The foundations of a life worth living are these four, and it’s amazing how interrelated they are, and how much balance is required. How often do we see relationships, health and spirit suffer if we focus too much on the material? How many spiritual enthusiasts do you know that have a disdain for wealth and material success, or who fail in their relationship while they seek solice in solitude and meditation?

One of the things I love about Telluride is that it brings all of these together. When we are here we cook and clean and do our laundry and walk the dogs and take care of our material. We have great times together and many friends, and the lifestyle and food choices here are great for the health. And for Spirit?

Spirit lives in every rock in every canyon in this magical place. Spirit is the balance of the snow upon the branches.


Schmarya Space Shalom

Telluride Skiing With Vision Impairment – Navigating a complex environment with limited vision

I started skiing with an instructor, Bill Glasscock, who has specialized in adaptive skiing, so I can learn to ski safely with my vision limitation. Bill started the adaptive ski program in Telluride, and has actually coached completely blind skiers to make it safely down slopes with just audio direction. He has 36 years of experience teaching skiing in the winters, and kayaking in the summers. What a life he has led. If you ever want an instructor in Telluride, ask for Bill, and make your reservation two months before you arrive.

When I first started I felt very insecure and tentative. Other skiers move very fast, and it’s hard for me to keep track of them while also staying aware of the trees and bumps and other hazards. This is the story of life, right?

It’s funny. When I’m going down a slope at 40 miles an hour, everything, even the trees look like they are moving fast. The snowy slopes provide a even field. I do not really perceive the relative motion between myself and the snow, because it is so evenly distributed. Objects that are stuck into the snow, however, appear to be moving relative to my perspective. Fixed objects, like trees, warning signs, lift poles, rocks, and so on, all appear to be moving at the same relative speed. Other skiers, in contrast, move independantly.

This creates an extremely complex environment for me to navigate. That’s kind of the metaphor for life right? How can we navigate an extremely complex environment with limited vision? If you have been reading along in my blog, you will remember that after my cerebral infarction, I have a persistent blind spot on the upper left of my visual field. So basically, if I fix my gaze at a point on the wall, and hold my left arm straight out from the shoulder, with my fingers pointed to the ceiling, I can see my watch, but not my fingers. If I move my hand to the left, at about 30 degrees, in the far periphery, my hand reappears. So from just left of the midline to thirty degrees left, above the horizon, I just see a gray cloud. No details are visible.

This requires me to make some major adjustments in my skiing. It starts with the imperative that I keep my gaze up, so that the slope I am skiing on remains in the bottom half of my visual field. This allows me to maintain awareness of big hazards. But it also means I cannot look down at my skis. I can no longer focus my attention on the little bumps and snow balls, and icy patches that I am skiing over. I have to keep my head up and maintain situational awareness.

This forces me to stay well balanced over my skis and allow my knees to flex like shock absorbers. I also have to constantly stay on one edge, turning either right or left, edge to edge, so my skis slice through the terrain. I have learned to put a little skid at the bottom of each turn before starting my weight shift to the other ski to bleed off excess speed. I picked this up really fast, with Bill’s guidance, and so my form is actually better now than it has ever been. Another gift of the gift.

I have also learned that I must really study the mountain. Bill knows every inch of the terrain here, and this knowledge has helped so much. I need to learn every place where a cat track enters the slope. I need to have a mental map of very spot where two slopes merge and every place where skiers exit the trees onto a slope. I’ll give an example.

One of my favorite runs in Telluride is called Cimarron. The access to this run is off the little used Lift Seven, a slow old school two seater chair that connects the free parking in the “Car Henge” lot to the ridge above Mountain Village. This is a lift mostly used by locals who park in the free parking. To get to Cimarron from the Gondola, which most tourists use, you would have to hike up a gentle slope for about 100 meters. Most people do not bother, and so they head down just a bit to Milk Run instead.

Cimarron is steep little skied. They groom it about every other day. On Tuesday, I reached my daily maximum speed of 49.4 MPH on Cimarron. The top is wide, steep and empty. But at the bottom, Cimarron merges with the Telluride Trail, which is basically a wide cat track that provides the easy way down from the top. It also merges with Milk Run, and some other chutes, which are also steep and busy. There is a point about halfway down the mountain where a narrow, very expert, trail merges from the left, and there is a jump on the downhill side of a cat track. Expert skiers entering from the left hit this jump and fly into the bottom part of Cimarron.

Above this point is a rope barrier on the left, which I like to ski next to, making tight slalom turns, but when I get to this intersection, I have to cross over to the right to avoid dangerous traffic. Too dangerous it turns out. So now I have learned to ski down on the right and stop above this jump. I can then crane my neck around to the left to make sure nobody is coming and then safely cross the cat track and enter the bottom part of the slope. After this crossing, there is a cliff wall on the right and a steep drop on the left. I can pick a side and ski safely all the way to “Kids Run” which will take me back to Chair 7.

Bill skied this route with me about six times. I learned every little nuance of this terrain, and so now I know where the danger points are. I can ski fast and free in the wide open and steep faces where nobody can enter from my left, and then I can carefully pick my way through the points of intersection.

This is why they call it adaptive. I do have a disability in the sense that I cannot see some pretty important information that most people expect me to perceive. But I can adapt by changing my form and by learning the terrain. The result, as it was with driving, is that I’m actually a much better and safer skier now that I was before.

This of course applies to life itself, as an analogy anyway. It’s about keeping the vision broad and maintaining situational awareness, and navigating the minor details with firmness and balance in my stance. Awareness and broad vision coupled with firmness and balance.

I am really grateful for this experience. I am so grateful that I can push through this limitation and turn it into a challenge. But most of all, I’m grateful that I can still enjoy the spectacular winter environment at 11,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains above Telluride Colorado.

After skiing, go the Petite Maison on Pacific, sit at the bar, and order the locals Steak Frites for $25.00. It’s not on the menu and you have to sit at the bar to get it. So much good in life comes from paying attention to the details.



Secret to Assertive Communication

I had two situations arise over the weekend where people I am close with were asking me for things that I did not feel good about giving. The first was a request for a substantial amount of money to help someone make a down payment on a house and the second was to send a letter with a false statement about a business purpose so they could treat a personal trip like a write off.

“All you have to do is send me an email saying that we are going to have a meeting!” And it was true, we are going to meet. But that’s not the primary purpose of the trip, it’s an after thought. I just did not feel right about it, and I did not want to lend my name to it. I had to respond that I did not want to be involved in any way in creating a false pretense for a trip. Period. I have a seven minute long voice message in my Telegram that I received in response that I still have not listened to.

The second request was to assist a distant relative. Sure that person is having a difficult time right now, but my assessment is that the situation they are in is a result of their own bad decisions. It’s not my job to bail people out from the consequences of their own bad choices. This is not charity, this is enablement.

But people do not see it that way right? A lot of people see what they want in what we have, and they want us to give it to them, and if we refuse, they make us feel like we are failing to be generous. It leaves a kind of guilty feeling in the conscience. And then it becomes unpleasant to talk to the person. I feel a little threatened, like something is going to be taken from me that I don’t want to lose.

Truth is, I could have given the money and written the email and it would have been no skin of my nose. As my Brazilian friend told me “Não tira pelo do meu nariz”. It does not take any skin from my nose. This is not an idiom of Brazilian Portuguese, but it still sounds funny. Yes I could have given the money and it would not affect my bottom line at the end of the year, and yes I could have written the email and it would never come back to bite me. But it did not feel right to me, and I did not want to do it in either case.

And I did not even want to debate it, so I left my negative reply in recorded Telegram messages, and I have not listened yet to the replies. One because it is seven minutes long and I do not even want to open it. The other because I have not received a reply at all. So I have managed to say no to both of these requests, but I still feel some angst about it in my chest.

I am highly aware of stress these days, especially since stress blew a gasket in my brain and caused me to suffer a cerebral infarction. No fun! So I really do not want to wind up my stress response just for saying no to things I have no obligation to be involved in.

Stephanie was also a party to the request, and we are in agreement about both decisions. One was more clear for me, and the other more clear for her. I wanted both of them out of my inbox, and so it was me who left the responses. But she and I were definitely both on the same team, and she was fully supportive. So it was a joint decision and joint action.

My friend told me, Spencer you are an upstanding man, and you have integrity, and if something is not in alignment with your integrity, you should say NO. And I realized that is the key to these communications. Assertiveness is simply speaking clearly about our needs and decisions. It does not require any defensiveness or argument…unless I am feeling insecure.

So the real problem is not the request that I am receiving. The real issue is that I am not in alignment within myself, then I feel threatened, and then the request seems like an attack, and the requester like an enemy. But if I am confident in my own inner guidance, then I am simply reporting the outcome of the computations of my inner conscience.

So I could say… “oh you want me to write an email to support a false statement that a trip is for business purposes?” OK… Let me get out my magic quantum 8 ball calculator.

Shake shake shake…. “it appears that the answer is NO WAY”. I am simply reporting the results of my examination of my inner voice, that speaks through a feeling of tension or relief in my gut. If a request makes me feel anxious and stressed, that is a “NO.” If a request makes me feel like “oh wow, that’s awesome” then it’s a “YES.” In either case, I can simply report the result without getting distressed over it.

If I were at a school fair, with a magic eight ball booth, I could take a quarter from passerby in exchange for offering a response to whatever question they have. No stress at all right? But when they are asking me for something, it is more personal. But why?

Because I want to make people happy, and I don’t feel all ok when they are not happy with me. When I say no to a request, even an unreasonable one from an unreasonable person, and they are not happy and want to discuss it further, it becomes a personal squabble. So the key is for me to have my own personal integrity as a guide AND the confidence that I am going to follow my internal guidance, and that it’s ok for me to do that. I am enough, as I wrote the other day, regardless of whether I grant every request that is directed to me.

From this place of confidence and calm, I can report on the answers I receive from my own examination of my conscience without anxiety. And then being assertive is not longer stressful. It is simply stating the truth about how something feels to me. If I end up alienating people who make unreasonable requests and get mad when they are refused, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

To those people, I say, Go Singing, Go Dancing… but GO!


I am enough

What stories have I bought into that something is wrong with me, and that my natural inclinations are somehow bad, and that I am not worthy of being loved or valued unless I conform myself to the expectations of others? I received those messages since I was very young. And I internalized them, and I believed them. I’m not sure if everyone else does this, but from the books I’ve read and meditations I’ve listened to, it sure seems that a lot of people are laboring through their lives with the basic underlying belief that they are somehow bad.

I’m sure this starts in school. I was placed in a room, usually near the back because my attention wandered and I was unruly. I did not know that I was not able to see as well as everyone else. How would I know? I assumed everyone else saw things the same way I did. I remember my one season of baseball with the coach admonishing me to watch the ball. I would swing in the air after seeing the pitcher swing his arm. I never did actually see the ball. I never knew that my vision was about 20/200 until I failed my drivers license exam at age 16. I simply did not know that others could see the ball better than I could.

I did manage to get on base one time that season. It was at that classic critical moment at the end of a game when the bases are loaded and there are two outs. I was the last in the batting order and it was my turn. The Coach was visibly frustrated that the game would depend on me. “WATCH THE BALL!” He yelled. I watched the pitcher wind up, I watched the motion of the pitch, and waited in anticipation of the ball, which hit me squarely under my left shoulder in the ribs. I never saw it coming, but the whole team cheered! I walked to first base, and I can still in this moment, remember stepping on home plate a couple plays later as we won the game. I was the unlikely hero!

I did not really understand the whole idea behind a chalk board, as nothing that was ever written on the chalk board was legible to me. I assumed nobody could read it any better than I could. As a result, my handwriting was atrocious. It was completely illegible. I was given remedial exercises so I could make rounder O’s and straighter L’s. It never occurred to anybody that I simply could not see what I was doing or see what was being written on the board. I was simply determined to be lazy.

So naturally, sitting in the back of a classroom, where someone spent the day writing completely illegible things on a board that I could not see, was kind of a drag for me. I was clearly the problem. But I could read books! I would read with the book about four inches from the end of my nose, where with my near sightedness, the words on the page were nicely magnified and quite clear. The printed letters bore no resemblance to my handwriting, but they were not supposed to look the same anyway. Books were my refuge. The worlds of Narnia and Lloyd Alexander, and Middle Earth, and Dune, and Ring World, were my dream worlds and my escape.

I remember when I picked up my first pair of glasses from the optician. It was back in the day when people smoked cigarettes, and there were ashes in the ash tray in the optician’s office. I could see the texture of the ashes for the first time, instead of just a grey shadow. I remember going outside and seeing the leaves on the trees for the first time, and trees were not green lollipops anymore. Patterns of tiles on the floor seemed to be three dimensional.

We went that night to see “The Year of Living Dangerously” and I could recognize the faces of the actors for the first time. I had, for my whole life, gone to the movies without being able to recognize the faces of the actors on the screen. I would ask, is this the same guy as in that other scene? People thought I was not paying attention, but I was just blind. I was bad at sports, bad at writing, bad at a lot of stuff, and the answer was always–MORE EFFORT. If only I would apply myself, I would achieve so MUCH MORE!

I was born with, and half always been blessed with, a liquid intelligence. Geometry and Science just made sense to me. I remember when, in 7th grade, Mr. Kasyan asked the class how to measure the height of a tree. I think I was the only kid who went home and grabbed a yard stick, and measured the shadow of the tree with the shadow of the yard stick. I thought it was fun. I did not, on my own, derive the equation of the relative length of the yard stick to its shadow, but I did get the right answer about the height of the tree. I simply moved the yard stick to the end of it’s shadow in steps, and counted the number of yards. Then I went to catch lizards.

I loved catching lizards and creatures of all kinds. I would generally treat them with great care and kindness, although there were a few specimens who would not agree I’m sure.

I had a deformity as a child too. My chest was sunken in. My sternum was about two and a half inches concave, so my nipples were at the top edge of a bowl that was my chest. Kids made fun of this relentlessly. I HATED playing shirts and skins, especially when I had to be a skin, because everyone would gather around me and make fun of me. They would say “hey look, Spencer eats his cereal in bed!” The fact that I could not see did not help. I could be relied on to drop the critical pass or miss the critical at bat.

And so around 5th and 6th grade, when boys and girls started to “like” each other, I accepted the basic reality of being ostracized. I naturally sat by myself and kept my own company. I was a strong swimmer, and I could see well enough to play waterpolo, with the big, slow moving, bright yellow ball. Water polo really is a lot more about swimming that it is about the ball. These were my sports.

I had a surgery to correct my chest in 9th grade. They cut out the ends of all of my ribs, and cracked, removed, reformed and reinstalled my sternum. My heart moved over into the new space, in the light of the room. Recovery took a year. The next year I got glasses. Suddenly, high school was over, and I was deposited into college with a drinking problem already firmly established. Nobody, and I mean nobody, at college knew me at all. Suddenly I was thrust into this environment where I was meeting all these new people. But deep down inside, I knew that I was not worthy of any loving relationship, and so I kept everyone at a distance. I had lots of friends to party with, but no real connections.

I remember eating magic mushrooms on my 20th birthday. It was my sophomore year of college. We all gathered in the winter at a friend’s apartment. I sat on the sofa breathing the air that poured in through a crack in the sliding glass doors that were left ajar. The room was full of smoke, and this little thin line of clear cold air was coming through the doors. The magic mushrooms made me want to avoid alcohol and cigarettes and cannabis. I drank water and breathed the fresh air, and had a review of my life. I saw how I was fucking off as my college years ticked by. The next year I was married and got straight As. A switch had flipped and I really applied myself to school and work. It was through achievement and my capabilities that I could earn love and respect. Law School was a natural environment for me. I was like a fish in the sea. I graduated 5th in my class of 197 people. My life took off from there.

And now, on the cusp of my third revolution of Saturn around the solar system, I am getting ready to enter the final stages of this life.

I was listening to a meditation from a book this morning about “I am enough.” The meditation dropped me into hypnosis and took me back in time to my childhood and encouraged me to imagine feeling that I am enough and have always been enough. This, of course, was not at all in alignment with my view of myself.

I, to this day, get so many messages that I am a bad person, and that my instincts cannot be trusted, and that I need to be careful to avoid dangerous situations where I might be tempted to doing something bad, and that these situations, since they inevitably lead to bad outcomes, are themselves bad. I need to watch out for who I am friends with, I need to be careful of where I go, I need to do all kinds of things to avoid falling into my natural tendencies, because I am inherently a bad person, and it is only through great effort that I can behave correctly. We have this notion of “Original Sin” that we are inherently bad if left to our own ways. This is an incredibly toxic and unhealthy view of ourselves!

Until I had a stroke. I literally blew a gasket in my brain. I had a brain cramp so severe that it caused me to suffer a cerebral infarction. This has been building in my system for many decades, and it is the little straws of recent events that caused the system to finally fail. But I am realizing that the stress comes not from the external events, but from my believing in them.

I am very fortunate that I have a rich life full of loving relationships. I have built beautiful structures in my life, and there are many people all around the world who count on me to continue behaving in a consistent and reliable manner. This is a great blessing to have such a rich and connected life.

But I have to own my own love of myself. I am a good person, and my natural inclinations will not lead me astray. I can follow the joy in my heart, and this is not a danger or threat to anyone. I naturally seek out and desire to do good in the world. I don’t have to be afraid to follow my instincts, or to enjoy things in my life. If people are upset with me or if people think I should behave differently, that’s really not my concern. People who want me to be different simply want to be with someone different and they are trying to fit me into their mold. All kinds of people do this to us. From bosses to spouses to friends to our mothers and families to the government and society at large. Everyone wants us to conform so that we can be reliable cogs in the machine.

How does one manage this? I don’t want to be cold or unfriendly or defensive or secretive. I just want to be myself. I don’t need to stand on a soap box, I don’t need to preach, I don’t need to change anybody’s mind. I just need to be at peace with myself, love myself, and be happy with myself and my life. It has taken me 56 years to get to this point, and I want to live right the last part of my life.

I love my wife, I love my church, I love my family, I love my friends, I love the work that I do, and I love my home, my dogs, the place that I live, the weather in Miami. I love skiing and Telluride, and I love going on the sailboat. I love my training regime. I love my life. I have nothing to feel guilty about. I release the stress of other people being disappointed in me, and I embrace joy of living as my guide. I am enough, I have always been enough, and I don’t have to change myself to please anyone. These are all gifts of the gift that I receive, and I must embrace them, so that I do not need the gift anymore.

If I do not fundamentally upgrade my internal stress and need to please people, if I do not let go of the belief that I won’t get invited to the party if I don’t bring the cake, if I continue to buy into the story that my natural tendencies and desires are bad, I will continue to live at such an intense stress level that my brain will simply stop working. I have already received a dramatic warning that cost me about 20% of my visual field. The next warning could cost me my ability to speak, or walk. I’m going to take that message to heart right away.

I am the Warrior Spirit of the Rainbow Wind. I live at the top of the Canyon. The Sun is my father, the Water is my Mother, the Wind is My Spirit, and I AM MY FRIEND. The Warrior Spirit is enough.


Birthday Prayer for 2023

We cancelled sailing due to rain today, my birthday, and so it has been a very slow day at home–slow, but not sad. I enjoy the rest that comes after cancelled plans. Nothing is scheduled after the schedule has been thrown out! We did manage to take the dogs for a walk during a break in the clouds, and when we got home Stephanie went into her office and I was left in quiet solitude–which I normally resist.

Are you that way too? When I find myself alone and with nothing to do, my over active mind jumps in and tries to fill the void. Something to read, something to do, someone to call, something to fix, or eat, or someplace to go. But not today. Today with the rain and the solitude I was left with myself on this day of my 56th Birthday with nothing to do but relax in contemplation.

Many spiritual practices guide us to focus our attention to produce the outcomes we desire in our lives. This basic practice is available to everyone from the corporate productivity specialist, the the devoutly religious, to the woo woo new age manifestor of abundance, to the positive mindset sports coach. The basic concept is that our internal conscious process produces our external results in the material. This can be a prayer, a positive mindset, or a dominant thought pattern. Whatever you call the practice, our consciousness brings about the life we are experiencing. I call in prayer, because prayer for me is the most powerful tool for focusing the power of our consciousness.

My good friend Destiny once gave me advice about how to pray to achieve results I desire. She told me to pray for how I want my solutions to feel, not for a particular solution that I think will solve my challenges. I think that advice came to help me work out some personality issues in our church that broke apart in the summer of 2019. Don’t worry about the solution, she admonished me, just focus on how you want the solution to feel. I remember thinking that I wanted it to feel easy, simple, and fun. Two months later, it was exactly that, and I had no idea what we would have to go through to get there. But it worked.

And so today, on my Full Moon Birthday, I would like to put some prayers forward so that my results in the coming year can feel good to me. There are a few areas that I want to focus on now. They are my physical well being, my relationships with other people, my projects and investments, and my spiritual community and practice. For those who are reading along, you can try this too. Just sit down and write down how you want to feel about the areas of your life that are important to you right now.

Thank you God for my health and physical well being. My body feels strong, mobile, and resilient. I feel a sense of ease and comfort in my well functioning body. I feel happy that I heal easily, avoid sickness, and feel strong. I am able to enjoy all of the activities that I love and I feel young and vital. I have plenty of energy. My attention is sharp and I can focus while being comfortably aware of my surroundings and my interior state. My body is a miraculous and vibrant machine that constantly surprises me with its ability to adapt, grow, and heal.

My relationships are joyful, loving and stress free. I attract good people into my life and feel abundant joy and camaraderie. I make friends easily and feel part of a good community. I have trusting and secure loving relationships with the people who are important in my life. I am free of suffering from jealousy, envy, disrespect and resentment, both from myself to others, and from others to myself. I feel completely fulfilled and satisfied in my relationships with other people. Toxic people and people who would do me harm pass me by without even seeing me. I am invisible to evil.

Projects and investments that I am involved in move forward easily and successfully. Obstacles and blocks that have caused frustrations and delays are easily dissolved and disappear of their own accord. Projects that have been stalled and delayed in recent years move forward quickly and easily. Investments are profitable and safe and feel very rewarding. Our financial engine runs smoothly. We generate enough income to meet all of the requirements of our organization. We have plenty of battery power, plenty of generator capacity and well managed, non-wasteful, loads upon the system. We invest where we find joy and enter projects where we feel energized. We bring good people together and share abundance and opportunity. Everyone we associate with enjoys ease and abundance in participation in our ventures.

My spiritual community is thriving and growing. I myself feel uplifted and supported in my spiritual practice. I receive guidance when I need it, correction when I deserve it and miracles come around me every day. A golden light shines down and around me and protects me from forces that would throw me down. My angels and guides are alert to dangers and traps, and they keep me safe and on course. My faith gives me firmness and confidence and frees me from fear. Everything is easier when the Master walks in front, and so it is in my life. I walk behind my master, and so following everything is easier.

Today is my Full Moon birthday, which happens about once in every 29 years, just like a Saturn return. This means that the my Natal Sun, my inner child, is in alignment right now with the Sun and the Moon, which are presently in opposition to each other in the sky. With everything aligned like this, it is a good opportunity to call these prayers in to benefit me and those that I love.

I am so grateful, after such a heartbreaking January, to have this new start to the next year on my Birthday. It seems like everything was so derailed last month, and it feels so good to have everything back on track. I give thanks to God for my health, relationships, material abundance and my faith. These are the cornerstones of my happy life. I pray that these gifts I have received can be multiplied and shared with all who read this and all who do not read this.

Thanks everyone, and when your day comes around, may it be as happy as mine has been.


Fever Dream

“I feel like I just woke up from a fever dream” my friend said last night at dinner with Dani. We had Stone Crabs and Challah bread to celebrate Shabbat. A fever dream. I felt the same way.

I had my two hour driving session with Jose the instructor yesterday afternoon. He picked me up at my house. I pulled off my street onto Main Highway in Coconut Grove and went down Douglas Road to Ingram Highway to Riviera Drive. Then we went around all of the traffic circles on Riviera, Granada, Maynada and Hardee. Then I took US1 to the I95 and exited 8th Street to Brickell Ave. I followed Brickell back through the Grove and returned home. The whole trip took almost two full hours, and we had encountered every whacky driving situation Miami could throw at me. “You have NO PROBLEM”. Jose was adamant that it had been a serious injustice to suggest I not drive. “Trust me,” he said, “You have no problem driving. You are fine.”

I thought that might not be a bad thing to have a record of, and so I asked him to confirm that in a text, and that’s the explanation for the photo at the top of this post.

I figure that Jose knows a lot about Miami driving. He does, after all, spend all day in a car with student drivers. I think this like taking a slow path to PTSD. Jose was a talker but also a very nice guy. He came over a year and a half ago from Cuba and had a green card ready upon his arrival here. He was a tour guide in Cuba with a green 1952 Ford.

He was so adamant. “Trust me” he exclaimed repeatedly. I think the the previous occupants of Jose’s driver seat have set a low bar. And now Stephanie is on the plane on her way home from Brazil, and I am here at home, making pinto beans for her and feeling as though I have just woken up from a fever dream.

It was 24 days ago that I woke up with a headache. On the 7th we celebrated the Day of Kings and I played half of the hinario of Mestre Irineu (search “Mestre Irineu” if you want to go down a rabbit hole) with my eyes closed. Then I went to the doctor, had an MRI, discovered I’d had an infarction, then I had all of those tests including 5 MRI/MRA scans and an echo cardiogram, and about five doctors appointments. I went from thinking I’d had a stroke caused by a blood clot that had passed through a hole in my heart and the regrettable, and now proven completely false, prediction that I’d not improve or drive again. And then that I would need heart surgery. Then Stephanie left for two weeks and I was home along without being able to drive. I was in a fever dream. Charlie, Simone, Noah and Wylie left half way through.

I was home alone almost every evening by 5:00 or so. This may have been self isolation, but it was eerie feeling being alone at home like this. I really had to do a lot of work, and am continuing to do so right now, to stay in the right frame of mind and to let this condition run its course.

I can drive again. I am stable. I do not need heart surgery. I have a medication that will prevent this from happening again. I am getting better.

I realized yesterday that there are many gifts of this gift, and once I embrace them all, the gift itself will no longer be required, and it will simply disappear. And so it is happening.

And now I am here typing on the dining room table. Stephanie is due to land in Ft. Lauderdale in about fifteen minutes. I have pinto beans in the pressure cooker. Everything is fine. But life has this new shine on it. I’m different. Life is different. Both are better. I am so grateful.


Schmarya Space Shalom

“Why” do we do this?

I read this post from Renard’s World which reminds us to remember the “Why” behind the choice to start blogging. It struck me, because I have the desire to write this blog, and I feel disconnected from it when I do not write for a while. But I have never really thought about the specific question about “Why” I would want to do this at all in the first place.

I am not much of a journal writer. Somehow writing in a journal with the idea that nobody, not even myself, will ever read it, does not inspire me enough to stick to it. I have so many little notebooks and journals scattered about, each with a few pages written determinedly in them before they were abandoned to the pile of partially used journals. Does anyone have that tendency to like buying new journals more than actually writing them? I have tried morning pages, I have tried prompts, I have tried all kinds of methods to get me to keep journaling, believing that there is some virtue to be found in the practice. But to no avail. I’m simply not one who journals.

But this is different somehow right? I feel in my heart a little bit of desire to have this blog of mine be well read. I do not have any social media like Twitter or Facebook or TikTok or any of that. I have no instagram feed. I think that this blog makes me feel like I am connected to the world at large, that there is some sort of “good human peer review” process that naturally occurs when we make our statements public.

Sometimes when I am dealing with a difficult situation involving multiple people, I like to write a single email addressed to everyone involved. This way I am certain that I am saying the same exact thing to everyone involved. Otherwise, in one on one conversation, I feel a tendency to avoid the discomfort of saying things that will disappoint the other person. So in talking to one party at a time, I might soften my words, or avoid conflict, or tell them not to worry about something that maybe is actually worrisome. And then in talking to another party, I might soft sell other issues that are important to that other party. So everyone gets a little bit of a different message because of the natural tendency to avoid conflict. This is a subconscious process right?

So by writing one message, then I have to stand by the same words to everyone. Blogging is like that. I can get called out if I say inconsistent things. Blogging requires a certain degree of integrity.

I have been thinking of this in relationship to my driving lesson this afternoon. When I first saw the Ophthalmologist a couple weeks ago, and he mapped out my visual field, he said that it’s up to me if I want to drive, but that I might have some liability due to my limited vision. So this kind of left me in a Catch 22 situation. I could not determine whether I am safe to drive without driving, and the cost of an error could be an accident. How could I figure this out?

Well I wrote about this in the blog. I could not drive to figure out whether I can drive. Catch-22 right? But then I was in traffic behind a car that had a sign mounted on the roof that said “Caution Student Driver.” The car had dual controls so the instructor could take over at any moment. I realized that I could sign up to drive around for a couple of hours with a professional whose job it is to sign off on people that are safe to drive. And for the last several days, I have been sitting in the passenger seat whenever I am in a car, and I have been careful to observe how I would look and see and drive.

So my lesson in driving is this afternoon. I will write about the result, and I am confident that driving will not be difficult with my condition. The simple reason for this is that I can see everything I need to see with the visual field that I now have. I simply need to cast my gaze a little farther to the left to make sure no one is approaching from the area that I do not see.

This area is actually smaller now that it was two weeks ago. Now if I hold up my hand in the middle of my blind spot with my fingers all splayed out so that my thumb is pointing as far away from my pinky finger as possible, I can see the end of my thumb on the right side of the blind spot, and I can see the tip of my pinky finger on the left side. Also, I see pretty well below the horizon. I have learned and practiced to dart my eyes a little up and left, and then back again, to check to make sure my blind spot is clear.

The visual test they did required me to look with only one eye at a time, and to lock my gaze at a fixed point in the middle of a bright white half sphere, and then click a button whenever I detected a very brief flash of a very small and dim point of light. This measurement is good for a frame of reference, but it really has nothing to do with the real world. If the machine had lights that moved and persisted, and if i could use both eyes and move my gaze, I’m sure I would have no trouble finding all of the lights. It’s about function in the real world.

My wife Stephanie is functionally blind in her right eye. This is not exactly the same as my condition, but it is very similar. It effectively limits her peripheral vision on the right, which is the same as me. It is perfectly legal to drive with one eye, and my ability to see on the road is not any worse than that. So the question is how can I adapt?

So what does this have to do with Why I am blogging? By writing things out as I go along, I have to keep my stories straight. I have to be accountable for what I said then, and what I am saying now. Back then, I was faced with the diagnosis that I had had a stroke caused by a blockage of an artery that came about when a blood clot passed through the Patent Foramen Ovale between my atriums and plugged an artery in my brain. From this event little recovery is possible.

But it turns out that I had a cerebral vasospasm, and this condition is different from a stroke caused by a blocked artery. And this means that the blood flow to part of my brain may have simply impaired the function of some of my neurons. It may have permanently damaged some part of my brain, but it’s not as permanent a condition as a blood clot.

And also, I am taking driving lessons in a dual control car, so that I can have an expert observe my driving and give me the green light that I am safe. In fact, I may actually be a safer driver now than before because I intend to be super fastidious about obeying every traffic rule. Also, I’m going to be the annoying driver who does not pull out into the middle of the intersection on yellow lights, and who does not make right turns on red into busy traffic. I’m going to stop completely at all four way stops, and also stop completely at yield signs before entering traffic circles. I am going to be very careful before crossing pedestrian walkways on the sides of roads and also cross walks.

With these safe practices and with a little extra scanning to the left, I am confident that I will be fine. But if I am not safe, the instructor will be able to see that.

And so by blogging about all of this, I make a record of my recovery.

But it’s more than that. I also have this urge inside me to share about my life and the lessons that I am learning. I want to be able to express these things freely and to share them authentically, but at the same time, I do not want to ask or expect anybody to read them. Instead, those who are interested may read, and those who are not are free not to.

This blog is my song to the universe and it is shared by those who are free to read it, and also free not to read it. But by putting it all down in writing, there is some element of integrity that must run through everything.


Schmarya Space Shalom

Mountains are only difficult to climb if we ourselves are heavy

I started my day today (after coffee and walking the doggies) with 15 minutes of focused attention. I chose to focus on The Freedom Transmissions, which is the book of the teachings of Yeshua channelled by my dear friend Carissa Schumacher. I opened to a random chapter and started reading a lesson she channelled about how love can move mountains. A bit of wisdom that stuck with me was the statement that Mountains are only hard to climb if we ourselves are heavy.

This situation with my vision is just such a mountain. It just is what it is, and it is my perception that makes it difficult or simply interesting. We are both the dreamer and the dream, Yeshua teaches us, and thus we are both the creator of the Mountain and the one who must climb it. The unavoidable conclusion that this presents me with is that I brought this into my life. I asked for this and I received it. And now for me to complain about getting what I asked for simply acts to separate myself from the Divine Love and Power that resides in all of us.

The teachings channelled by Carissa in her book open a channel within my own being for me to receive my own teachings, and this is a very important one. I dreamed my condition into being, and I can dream it right out of being as well. Or I can work with it here in my waking life. I can rail against the injustice of having been struck by an exceedingly rare and stubbornly permanent brain damage that has distorted my vision, or I can drop that victim mentality and really look at how this is serving me.

How is this serving me? Well for one thing it has given me the perfect justification for doing a lot of necessary housekeeping in my life. It has also given me a very good reason for stepping away from things that I simply wanted, but lacked the courage, to step away from before. It has given me the opportunity to slow down and take care of myself. It has given me permission to make my own well being a priority.

Is this selfish? No. It is not selfish to take care of myself, because if I neglect to take care of myself, then I will not be able to take care of anyone else either. This event has brought my attention to what is actually most important to me, and so thus it serves me as well. There are so many examples of the gifts of this gift. Sure I can complain that I did not get to go down to Brazil with Stephanie and the family, and yeah, that one does hurt. Sure I can complain that I’ve been home alone and unable to drive a car. I was complaining to myself last night that I was home by myself with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. But I have to be careful before I complain about that too much, because my Mom actually invited me to dinner and I declined. I wanted the time at home alone. Can I then complain about it too?

And this, I realize is the key to healing. The key to healing is to embrace all the gifts that this condition has delivered to me. Then I will no longer need the condition. That’s really the key. Once I embrace the gifts of this situation, I will not need it anymore, and then I can change the dream, and it will simply disappear.

Or maybe it won’t change a bit. But something else will, and that is my perception of the situation. The “Mountain” in my case is the infarction that caused brain damage that limits my field of vision. The weight is my attachment to being able to do things as I had always done them. The weight is my attachment to being “capable” and deriving self worth from my capabilities. I valued myself according to my ability to please other people. I was the one who could get the job done. I was the one who would take ideas and weave them into material reality. My role, through my capabilities, was to manifest into material reality the dreams we shared in our spiritual journey.

But now my “capability set” has been dramatically reduced. Now I need help. Now I need the capabilities of others. Where is my self worth in this situation?

It is inside. My spirit is light and air. My spirit, like the Warrior Spirit of the Rainbow Wind, is as light as a cloud of mist blowing in the wind from a mountain waterfall. The most gentle breeze can lift me up and over the highest mountains. And so it is that the Mountain becomes a mole hill. It just is.

And that is the key for me. Embrace the gifts of the condition that I created for myself. Let myself be light. I am the dreamer and the dream, as are you. My consciousness encompasses everything, and content in the present moment, I am free.

Lightning Strike, Ride my bike, Driving test on Friday

This has been a big week for me with tests and doctors. I had three magnetic resonance images taken on Monday, MRA’s they are called, to examine the blood vessels in my head and neck. And then I had back to back appointments with the Neurologist and the Cardiologist. I called my primary physician in the morning to see if they had received any results from the MRA’s, but they had not. I had to hear it from the Neurologist.

Dr. Bruce Kohrman is the Neurologist. What a pro. It turns out that he saw me in 2006 when I suffered a very intense migraine, which I remember, because I lost my ability to speak with that one. I could not access my vocabulary. It was like all the words I knew were in a book that I could not open. Dr. Kohrman had uncovered a record of his notes of my previous visit.

He reported that the MRA images showed no signs of any arterial disease at all, and no sign of any blockage of any blood vessels in my brain. He said based on these findings, it looks like the “infarction’ or “starvation of oxygen” was actually most likely the result of a very intense spasm in a blood vessel that was severe enough to crimp off the blood supply for long enough to cause the brain damage that the first MRI revealed.

So, yes, I had a “stroke” which is “brain ischemia,” which means part of my brain was starved of oxygen for a long enough period to cause cell death. Most ischemic events in the brain are the result of a blood clot in one of the arteries of the brain, which I do not have. Instead, the reduction in blood flow in my brain was caused by the spasm of a blood vessel, which is the root cause of the migraine.

It turns out that strokes without brain bleeds are not painful. My first symptom was the intense pain of a migraine. Dr. Kohrman posited that it might be possible that I had a stroke at the same time I had a migraine, but there is no evidence of any blockage of any blood vessel.

So basically, I am perfectly healthy, except that I got struck by lightning, and that caused brain damage.

“Let me give you my cell phone number, and have the Cardiologist call me.” He handed me his business card with his cell phone number written on it. I was stunned! When was the last time a high level doctor just handed you his cell phone number?

I went up to the Fourth floor of the medical building by South Miami Hospital after the Neurologist appointment, and checked in early with the cardiologist. The card was missing from my pocket! How could I lose it? I checked through every pocket and every paper in my backpack and my wallet. The nurse practitioner called my name while I had all of my stuff strewn around (brain damage), no card.

“If you could get the neurologist’s number, that would help a lot” she said. I went back downstairs and found the card on the floor upside down by the check out station in Dr. Kohrman’s office. I retrieved it and hurried back upstairs. They asked me to wait for a few minutes while the cardiologist phoned Dr. Kohrman, and then he saw me.

He was really surprised. Here I was, perfectly healthy but with permanent brain damage caused by a really bad headache. It is exceedingly rare for a migraine to cause permanent brain damage, but wow, here’s a case! Everyone talks about how this can happen, but he’s never seen a case of it. Nor had Dr. Kohrman.

“The standard for a PFO Closure is when a person under 60 has a stroke and is found to have a PFO with no other explanation for the cause of the stroke, but in your case, it was coupled with a Migraine, so there is no reason to believe that your PFO had anything to do with your condition.”

In fact, he said, he was not even sure that I have a PFO at all. Usually the air bubbles go right through the hole, but in my case, they appear in the other atrium after a few beats of the heart, which indicates that the bubbles might be returning from the pulmonary vein into the arterial side of the heart.

My entire condition is disappearing. No vascular disease, no blood clot, no blockage. Just brain damage from a headache.

Before all my appointments, I went and picked up my bike. I realized that it’s been two and a half years since we moved into this house, and my bike has never been here. It’s here now, and it sure makes it easier to get around the neighborhood! I’m going to ride to my workout at noon.

And on Friday, I signed up for a driving lesson in a car that has dual controls. I will spend a couple hours driving around with an instructor in the passenger seat who can take over if I make an error. This will give me the chance to practice my driving without putting anyone in danger.

I think with a little practice, I will be able to drive safely. I just don’t want to put anyone else at risk while I figure it out. So after driving for 39 years (my first car was a stick shift), and having my pilot’s license and plenty of expertise with boats, from small sailboats, to high powered multi engine boats, to our 50 foot sailboat, I’m going to be in “Caution–Student Driver” car. I have always been a nut for driving. Having to sit in the passenger seat for the rest of my life might be my reality, but I’m not going to just accept that without trying to do better.

So no blood clot, no heart procedure, no blood thinners, no passenger seat.

My first inclination may just be right. Dr. Kohrman’s role in this is to witness the miracle.

Love to all who read this. thank you.

Schmarya Space Shalom

the momentary end of busy

I read a thought provoking blog the other day about whether anybody cares about what bloggers write about, and whether that should matter. The author pointed out that he often receives several likes within the span of a minute or two, or receives likes without having the page actually opened. He pointed out that these people are just clicking like and that the article could be about planning a wedding for a cat and people who like without reading would happily click away.

But he also pointed out that if one writes enough, eventually there will be some people who actually do look forward to reading the content. And it is for these people that we should write. And think about.

So here I am, writing about my experience after having a stroke, and that’s pretty much just therapy for myself. So to this I can add the dimension of thinking that there are a few friends out their in the world who give the gift of their time and attention, and so it is in appreciation of that energy that I must write.

And so what can I share that was of benefit, that someone can read quickly, and enjoy?

I had two cool experiences over the weekend. The first was Sunday morning when my friend who is also my executive assistant picked me up to go to the beach. She regularly meets a friend out by the lighthouse on Key Biscayne on Sunday mornings if the weather is good. She invited me into this little window of her personal life just to brighten my day. And it was really fun.

Reflecting on friendships is such a door to gratitude. If we have a few people in our lives who show up for us we are so lucky. I’ve had a couple go arounds with loneliness over the last ten days with Stephanie being still down in Brazil. One loneliness episode struck right after Dani dropped me off around noon on Sunday. I went out to the patio with the dogs to let them run around, and my friend the parrot that you see pictured above was hanging in the tree.

I started to feel that sort of anxious energy of “what do i do now” coming up in me. Who should I call, where should I go, what should I do? How can I fill these minutes and hours remaining on this Sunday afternoon. My parrot friend’s intractable gaze reminded me. This time where no one and nothing depends on me is a gift of the gift. Here I am, in my home, which is beautiful and peaceful and comfortable, on a balmy Sunday, with nothing to account for.

My parrot friend reminded me that it is in these times that I can write, or paint, or work with photographs, or play guitar, or just sit an be. Just sit and be. Sit and be. sit and be. sb.

So today, if anyone actually reads this far, please comment! If you liked this page and never opened it, please go singing on your happy journey. And for everyone, whether you read this or not, I invite you to breathe in and breathe out, with no extra achievement or goal except to nurture yourself lovingly with oxygen. And sit. And be. And sit and be happy to be here.

Love to all and everything

Schmarya Space Shalom