My Take on Reiki

I am a Level II Reiki practitioner, which means I have been trained by my excellent instructor, Marilynn Carter (Reiki Master and Teacher) in the first two levels of Reiki. I won’t go into the important (and interesting ) history of Reiki; I’m afraid that I won’t do it justice. Suffice to say that my training has changed me and made me not only a practitioner, but a lifelong student.

Simply put, Reiki is a method of treating bodily disorders and restoring spiritual balance in which a practitioner places the palms of the hands on a part of the body so that healing energy will flow in that area. There is no disrobing and no touching if the recipient doesn’t want to be touched; it can be done over, not necessarily on; the body areas. Any disease or pain we have is the result of blocked energy that for some reason isn’t flowing as well as it should. Reiki allows the movement of energy through the entire system and can help relieve pain or discomfort.

NOTE: Reiki is not a substitute for medicine. Reiki is energy work.

My own experience with Reiki has been enlightening and illuminating. Reiki has helped me greatly, and I am happy to be able to help others when I work on them.

Reiki practitioners are different; each one knows the general patterns to follow, but they may do it differently. For example, some practitioners prefer to keep quiet during sessions. In my sessions, I can’t seem to shut up. When I close my eyes and put my hands over a part of the body, I can see colors in my mind: red or purple or burgundy mean pain, blue means the area needs attention, grass green means healing, pea green or a sickly yellow means serious sickness, black denotes an emptiness, pink means new healing and comfort, and white and/or gold is God light and healing. Seeing these things, I tell my client what I see and what it means.

Since the Crankee Yankee is my main client, I will tell you what I could ‘see’ after he had radiation therapy for prostate cancer last year. He had been diagnosed about 10 years ago with prostate cancer, and had his prostate removed. Everything went perfectly and he had his PSA checked each year afterward. All was well until last year when his PSA began rising again. It was discovered that there was one lone cancer cell that somehow had been left over from the surgery. Radiation was advised, and he had an 8 week course of it. Following that, his next couple of PSA tests were less than zero.

However, the doctors wanted a scan done to see if everything was clear. The night before he had it, he asked me to check to see what I could see. What I saw was this: a clear grass green area with a small black hole in the middle. My immediate thought was, ‘it’s gone–the cancer cell is gone.’ The scan confirmed it; he was cancer-free.

This color thing is not unique to me; many other practitioners see colors as well. Some hear things, feel things, and so on. One of the great benefits of Reiki is how relaxing it is; it can literally take you out of yourself, calm your mind, and ease discomfort in the body.

Many people do not believe in the healing power of Reiki, and that’s fine. It isn’t for everyone, and if I were to work on someone who wasn’t comfortable about it (but I certainly would hope they would say something about it!), that energy would simply go straight to the earth. But as a practitioner, I absolutely love the fact that I can help someone else feel better. I talk during my sessions, and I speak of what I see and feel. Often I will ask up front what is bothering the person, what pain are they having, and so on. Knowing this, I will work more on those areas.

My hope is that by telling you what I know and experience from Reiki, that it might take some of the mystery and/or apprehension out of the equation for you. I find Reiki to be as important and as relaxing and rejuvenating as massage or meditation.

If you decide to try a Reiki session, keep your mind open, ask questions and simply enjoy the experience.

Try Some Self-Compassion

I found this gem, “Self-Compassion,” in the Kindness Blog (and endless source of inspiration) by Leo Babauta. It really struck a chord for me, and I hope it will for you as well.

“When we’re frustrated with others, or feeling bad about ourselves, we often turn toward habit that comfort us, such as distractions, food, shopping, smoking, drugs/alcohol, etc.

These don’t often work, because they tend to make us feel worse in the long run. We become unhappier, more stressed, and then need to seek comfort in these things again … and the cycle continues. These are sometimes the only ways we know of comforting ourselves! I know this because for a long time I always turned to all of the above for comfort when I was feeling stressed or bad about myself. It made me very unhealthy and it took a long time to change my patterns. Today I’d like to suggest a method of self-compassion that I’ve been learning, that has worked wonders.

Try this “self-compassion method” now if you’re feeling stressed, frustrated, in pain, disappointed, angry, anxious, worried, or depressed:

  1. Notice. Take a moment to turn inward and notice your pain in this moment. Now notice where it is in your body, and how it feels. Describe the pain to yourself in physical terms, in terms of quality, in terms of color or shape or motion.
  2. Accept. Now tell yourself that it’s OK to have this pain. It’s perfectly OK to feel bad about yourself, to feel bad about your body, to feel frustrated with someone else. Let yourself feel the pain.
  3. Comfort. Now treat this pain with compassion, like you would with a friend who is suffering, or your child who is in pain. Be gentle with it, kind to it, like a suffering child. Comfort it. How would you comfort your friend whose parent just died?
  4. Smile. Finally, try wishing your pain well, wish it happiness. Give it love. Smile at your pain in compassion.

This method takes a lot of practice, for sure. I’m still learning it myself, and I don’t claim to be an expert at self-compassion. But I’ve found it to be truly amazing, because we very rarely do this for ourselves. We’re good at being kind to others when they’re having a difficult time, perhaps, but not always with ourselves.

And it can be transformative. If you practice compassion with your pain, it becomes less of a burden. You realize that it’s temporary, you feel less bad about being frustrated. And you feel loved–by yourself.”

I am working on this very method myself right now. As I come closer to a surgical date for my lumpectomy, I realize that my bursts of anger, tears, frustration and distractions are all part of the process. I find myself feeling helpless more often than not; worried about how this will change my life, how this will affect my husband, my work, and so on.

It’s time for some self-compassion, and I’ll bet you could use it, too. I tell you what–I promise to try those four steps myself. I’d love it if you joined me.


Shaming Kids or Saving Their Lives?

When I was growing up, parents were parents and not friends (if you’re lucky, the friend part comes later). Parents saw to it that they raised adults, not perpetual children. We children of that time, learned our manners, our habits, our values, our responsibilities from our parents. There were definite consequences for misbehavior–the rules were consistent and when we got out of line, we were punished appropriately. I’m not talking spanking or being locked in a dark closet–I mean sensible, reasonable, ‘did you learn anything?’ type of punishment.

This seems to have gone out of favor these days. Parents who act like our parents did are constantly accused of being too mean, too bullying, too restrictive, and so on.

Personally, I applaud the following two mothers who refused to let their children get in trouble; Ms. Graham of Baltimore, MD, and Val Starks, Denver, CO mom, as outlined in the following quotes:

“In the video Ms. Graham is seen repeatedly hitting her child. The initial blows appear to be part of her effort to physically drag her son away from the [Baltimore, MD] rioting, which is certainly understandable…..Graham should be praised for being a caring parent with pure intentions. If more parents dragged their teens away from violence, the world would be a much more peaceful place.

A Denver mother’s (Val Starks) video on Facebook is going viral after she shamed her 13-year-old daughter [on Facebook] for posting racy pictures and saying she was 19 years old. “You’re 13,” the mother says to the girl. “So why does your Facebook page say that you are 19?!”

I’m sure that that young girl was embarrassed nearly to death by that, but I see a mom who would rather embarrass her child than have to identify her raped and brutalized body in a morgue.

We know that our brains do not fully develop until age 24; up til then, we can make some pretty stupid decisions. It is our parents who keep vigilant to keep us safe and who remember to be parents, not best friends. A child may have many friends, but only one set of parents.

When I was in grade school, there was a candy store right across the street; a huge temptation to us all. We were strictly told not to leave school property to go there or anywhere else. One day a girl not only went over there, but she stole candy. The owner reported her to her parents and to the principal. The principal took her by the hand, told her to keep her other hand open, displaying the candy she’d taken.

He walked her to each and every classroom, opened the door and explained that this is what a thief looked like. Harsh? By the standards of that time, it was right and just punishment. This was the ’50s, and parents raised adults, not entitled babies. If the child did something they knew was wrong, there was punishment–swift and effective. I don’t know if that girl ever stole again, but after seeing that I decided I would never steal anything, ever.

Maybe the next time a riot breaks out in Baltimore, that boy won’t be part of it, remembering how his mother literally slapped some sense into him. Perhaps that young girl will some day get over her embarrassment and anger at her mother, but live a long life.

God bless the parents who actually parent!

How About Some Jokes Today?

If you’ve had the week I’ve had, you really need some good jokes right about now. So here they are; let’s both enjoy them, thanks to the great joke collection from Garrison Keillor from one of his annual Joke Shows.

(Go pee first–some of them are that funny.)

“Marriage is like a deck of cards.
You start out with two hearts and a diamond; and you end up wishing you had a club & spade!

Do you really believe your husband when he tells you he goes fishing every weekend? Maybe he is having an affair.
I know he’s fishing because he never comes back with any fish…

Marriage and death are two different things. They are very different.
When you’re dead, you don’t wish that you were married.

How many optimists does it take to change a light bulb?
Who says it’s dark?

How many New Yorkers does it take to screw in a light bulb? 50.
Yeah, 50! Read the contract.

How many gorillas does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Only one, but it takes a lot of light bulbs!

How many Yale graduates does it take to change a lightbulb?
Two. One to mix the martinis and one to call the electrician.

How many Boy Bands does it take to change a lightbulb?
We don’t know – lightbulbs last longer than most Boy Bands!

How many agnostics does it take to change a light bulb?
We can’t know.

An Agnostic and an Atheist were married and had a real problem.
They couldn’t decide which religion not to raise their children in.

A young lady came home from a date, rather sad. She told her mother, “Jeff proposed to me an hour ago.”
“Then why are you so sad?” her mother asked.
“Because he also told me he was an atheist. Mom, he doesn’t even believe there’s a hell.”
Her mother said, “Marry him anyway. Between the two of us, we’ll show him how wrong he is.”

There was a terrible car accident. A woman was lying in the street, covered in blood. Someone in the crowd shouted, “Call a priest!”
The woman opened her eyes and said, “I’m a Unitarian.”
“Then call a math teacher!”

What do you call a dead Unitarian Universalist?
All dressed up with no place to go.

A woman hiking in Yellowstone Park was chased by a grizzly bear and she ran to a ranger station where she was arrested by park rangers. It’s illegal to run through the park with a bear behind.

What should you do if you’re attacked by a gang of clowns?
Go for the juggler.

Cross country skiing is easier if you live in a small country.

What do mountains talk about?
A range of topics.

Why doesn’t the Gingerbread Man wear shorts? —
Because he has crummy legs.

How do the Amish hunt?
They sneak up on a deer and build a barn around it.

A guy runs into a bank, whips out his gun and screams, “Everyone get on the floor or you’re all Geography”
Don’t you mean History?
Don’t change the subject.

There is a beautiful white bear in the zoo who, some days, is very playful and friendly and other days he just lies in a dark corner and doesn’t move. He’s a bipolar bear.

So this musical chord walks into a bar wanting to get a drink. The bartender looks at the chord and says, “I’m sorry. I cannot serve you. You’re A minor”.

Julius Caesar walks into a bar. “I’ll have a martinus,” he says. The Bartender gives him a puzzled look and asks, “Don’t you mean a ‘martini’?”
“Look. If I wanted a double, I’d have asked for it!”

A man walks into a bar and orders a Manhattan. The drink comes and he sees a piece of parsley floating in the glass.
“What in the world is this?”
The bartender says, “Central Park.”

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar.
One says, “I think I’ve lost an electron.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m positive.”

A Chihuahua, a Doberman and a Bulldog are in a bar having a drink when a great-looking female Collie comes up to them and says, “Whoever can say liver and cheese in a sentence can have me.”
So the Doberman says, “I love liver and cheese.” And the Chihuahua says, “Liver alone . . . cheese mine.”

A guy liked to go in to Boston Friday night for fresh scrod and one night his favorite fish restaurant was closed so he hailed a cab. He asked the cabdriver: “Do you know any place where I can get scrod?” The cabbie said: “A lot of guys have asked me that in all kinds of ways, but this is the first time anyone has ever used the pluperfect subjunctive!”

An 82-year-old Boston man went to the doctor to get a physical and came home to his wife and said, The doctor told me I have a hot mama.”
His wife said, “I think he meant heart murmur.”

How do you keep a blond at home?
Build a circular driveway.

There was a blonde who wasn’t affected by the high price of gasoline because she always just put in $10 worth.

The blonde joined Facebook and saw that her password had to be at least 8 characters long, so she chose: MickeyMinniePlutoHueyLouieDeweyDonaldGoofy

Hear about the blonde that got an AM radio?
It took her a month to realize she could play it at night.

Where do all the blonde jokes come from?
Brunettes sitting around on a Saturday night.

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
I like Herbie.
I like Herbie who?
I like Herbie Hind.

Knock! Knock!
Who’s there?
Lilac Who?
Lilac a politician, and you just might get elected!

Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Bush and Cheney tortured.
Bush and Cheney tortured who?
That information is classified, and you’re under arrest.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
I’m a schizophrenic.
I’m a schizophrenic who?
So am I.

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Interrupting pirate.
Interrupting —

Why did Emily Dickinson’s chicken cross the road?
Because she could not stop for death.

A man is seated next to a woman on a plane, and they get into a conversation. The guy says, “I just got out of prison for killing my wife. Cut her up with an ax.” The woman says, “Oh, so you’re single.”

Coffee or tea, gentlemen?
Me, too. And be sure the cup is clean.
Two coffees. Which one had the clean cup?

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list.

There was a girl so thin that when she swallowed an olive, four guys left town.

How long did Cain hate his brother?
As long as he was Abel.

What do the Vikings and possums have in common?
Both play dead at home and get killed on the road!

The Minnesota Vikings observed Take Your Daughter To Work day and they lost, 15-3.

Why don’t cannibals eat Pentecostals?
They keep throwing up their hands.

What do the guests do at a cannibal wedding?
They toast the bride and groom.

So– Why do doctors make lousy lovers?
They sit and wait for the swelling to go down.

Three old men are at the doctor for a memory test.
The doctor says to the first old man, “What is three times three?”
“274” was his reply.
The doctor says to the second man, “It’s your turn. What is three times three?”
“Tuesday” replies the second man.
The doctor says to the third man, “Okay, your turn. What’s three times three”?
“Nine” says the third man.
“That’s great!” exclaims the doctor. “How did you get that”?
“Simple,” says the third man. “I just subtracted 274 from Tuesday.”

A man went to the doctor and told him that his pants didn’t fit. The doctor weighed him, but he hadn’t gained a pound. The doctor said, “You must have Furniture Disease. “That’s when your chest starts sliding down into your drawers.”

(Th-th-that’s all folks!)

I’m Thinking I’m Shrinking

Oh dear–I’m thinking I’m shrinking:

I’m too short for my pants.

I tried on my summer slacks–did they fit? Fat chance!

They hung over my shoes and dragged on the floor

I looked in the mirror and said, ‘never more!’

Never more will I spend evenings taking up hems

With a lap full of long pants and a mouth full of pins–

Oh no, that won’t do, it won’t do at all.

Starting today I’m seeing the tailor–she can do it all!

I’ll pay any price, and wait any length of time

I’ll  gladly wait til they’re done and drink gin and lime–

For the privilege and pleasure of well-fitted slacks

I’ll drink and read and nap and relax–

I could do it myself with my cranky old Singer

I’ve had her 47 years, love her but could fling her

Out back in the yard as her mechanisms are hard

They don’t want to keep stitches,

Or hear all my bitches.

So, to the tailor I go

Pay her out of my cash flow–

Wear those now-fitting pants

With style and romance,

Until next year, when, I sadly fear

I’ll have to do it all over again, oh dear, oh, dear!





Have You Found Your Tribe?

As many of us know, it’s hard to find your particular “tribe” in life.We start searching for it early in life, too–instinctively searching out those who share our interests, concerns, views of life; in short–our own “tribe.”

Sometimes you find it right away–sometimes it takes years. This is especially true for those of us who never did fit in with the cool kids, the jocks and the brains in school. But eventually, we all seem to find our own place to belong, people with which we have a connection, and those who accept us for who we are.

When we are very young, our tribe is our family–we are accepted into it by blood. As we get older, we begin searching out tribes outside the family. When I was growing up, I adored summer camp–that was my loving-everything-about-being-outside tribe. In high school, it was the drama and music tribe. In college, although I was an English major, I still hung around with the drama and music tribe.

Did you ever get into an unfamiliar group of people, watch and listen to them for a while and think, ‘no, that’s not for me. We don’t have any common interests.’ You don’t like what they like, and they don’t like what you like. So, no tribe there. That doesn’t make them bad people, it’s just that you are not one of them and don’t want to be.

But now and then someone or a few someones show up in your life and your internal tribe meter goes off–you feel an instant affinity with them and they with you. It’s a fizzy kind of feeling–you get that tickle of recognition somewhere between your heart and your head that says “wow–we could probably talk forever!

We also find ourselves making our own tribes as we get older. It could be a book club, a few caretakers for family members who meet now and then to blow off steam, or a couple of rock hounds who take off a weekend or two each year to go exploring caves. The circumstances are endless. Now that you know yourself better, it’s easier to make or join a tribe of your own.

When the Crankee Yankee and I went to see the fabulous NE Fiddle Ensemble last month, we both looked at each other and said, “we’ve GOT to join these people!” He takes fiddle lessons and I take ukulele lessons. We are not great at it (yet), but oh, how we want to become part of that tribe!

My mom and her tribe, the Coffee and Book Club, meet at the local book store a few mornings each week. The Crankee Yankee and his tribe, the model train enthusiasts, have meetings and train shows to attend, and I have my lunch date each month with my own tribe, my two best friends (since grade school).

A tribe is a wonderful thing–you are part of a group who likes and understands you, there are shared interests and acceptance; most of all you can be you at all times with them.

If you haven’t found your tribe yet, start looking and trust me–if you don’t find it, it will find you. It will add so much to your life.

Welcome to the Loudest Place on Earth – a 4-Year Old’s Birthday Party

The Crankee Yankee and I, along with his younger brother, David, traveled up to Maine to attend the 4th birthday party for our granddaughter Ava this past weekend. We were armed with all the right stuff: Princess Sofia’s Pony Stable kit, bright pink Lincoln Logs, and a pink canvas bag full of princess-y stuff; rainbow tiara, pink and purple wand with feathers, aqua, pink and purple beads, a princess coloring book, a Princess Sofia purple brush, and so on.

By the time all of Ava’s little friends showed up, the birthday table was loaded with sandwiches, several salads, a fruit plate, blueberry squares, chips, Cheetos, tortilla chips and salsa, a huge jar of jelly beans, and another of lollypops, and more. An enormous cake, decorated with a big purple, pink, blue and green pony, waited on the kitchen sideboard. The freezer held vanilla and blueberry ice cream, and there were colorful gift bags on the table for all of Ava’s guests.

Outside on the lawn, there were bubble wands, soccer balls, hula hoops and games. Both dogs, Jack and Ross, the two cardigan corgis, waited politely to receive the guests. The bunnies lounged in their outdoor hutches, ready to be admired. MCat, the tiger kitty, had wisely disappeared to one of his hideouts for the duration.

Honestly, it all looked wonderful; it was everything you could ask for to make a 4-year old girl giddy with happiness. The kids began to arrive; each one was wearing bright party gear, hair neatly combed, freshly washed hands, shoes on the right feet; everyone was ready to party big-time. Each guest was greeted with hugs and squeals of laughter, and everyone started chatting and making plates to take out on the porch to enjoy.

And that was the end of all quiet and civility. It was as if we had all suddenly been transported to Mumbai at high noon on a business day–a full-on assault on all the senses: loud and hard-to-understand foreign languages, wild colors, small people hurtling everywhere, and an overall sense of danger about to happen at any moment.

There may have been about eight or nine kids there, but I swear it seemed like 40. The sheer noise was unbelievable. And this was all before the cake and ice cream and opening of the gifts.

The kids went nuts with sugar-fueled energy, and there was mayhem everywhere you looked. There was a little boy who found a cup of milk and put all the crayons he could find in it. There were a few half-eaten sandwiches haphazardly spread out on the couch, and several chunks of fruit on the coffee table, the juice slowing staining the surface. Around the same time, a little girl began rubbing a slice of cake into the wooden floor, followed by her cup of milk. (What is it with kids and cups of milk? They pour it more than they drink it!)

The Crankee Yankee stepped in, re-directed the kids to some dry activities and cleaned up the mess. Muttering imprecations under his breath, he picked up the remaining smooshed and scattered cake and food bits and threw them out. I’m sure I heard him say, ‘there–no more ammo for YOU, you little cracker smashers!’

When it was time for Ava to open her gifts,all the kids lost their minds. They of course wanted to help her open her presents, and it turned into an orgy of ripping paper and tossing ribbons. Ava’s mom, a superb negotiator, sat in the middle of the maelstrom, managing to keep the house (and the kids) from imploding. She even managed to direct Ava to each and every gift-giver and thank them with a big hug.

As the present frenzy notched up, some of the kids seemed to think that part of all that party booty was for them. One little girl began stockpiling the gifts she liked. When her mother explained that these were Ava’s gifts and not hers, she screamed bloody murder and stomped around like a miniature CEO.

When everyone started to gather up kids, party bags, lost shoes, blankets and diaper bags, things began to wind down. Ava began to crash from sugar and excitement, and the Crankee Yankee and David and I prepared to leave.

Well, I won’t say that we didn’t feel the effects of the party, but will admit that, as soon as we were buckled in, we too crashed. Dear David drove us home, both of us out as cold as frozen flounders. Once we got home we had just about enough energy to feed the cats, wash up and go to bed.

I am pretty sure that when Ava turns five, her mom and dad are going to be mighty glad for any venue other than home to have the birthday party.

Hello, Chuckie Cheese!