Sunday, November 15, 2015

Let the Dead Bury the Dead

by Stephie Goldfish, aka Stephie Bigheart

I often have these visions of my last days.

My last therapist or someone angelic and strong like her would be there through it all with me until my last breath. I often think about what it would take for someone to do this, be there through to the end, and a lot of my preconceived ideas seem a little selfish and delusional.

On my way to help my mother who is very ill and needs someone now to help her and be with her around the clock, I heard the words that Jesus spoke to his followers and apostles who had left their families and work to follow him:

Let the dead bury the dead.

It was odd, and it would seem an odd thing to say if your loved one was dying or near death.

I knew it couldn't mean that Jesus was uncaring or unkind.

Jesus also said, Come with me, I have living waters. And in truth, both statements he spoke are in a spiritual sense, to the spiritual dead and spiritual living.

But I think only someone familiar with suffering and sickness would understand about death and someone dying. 

Like the women who were there at Jesus' death, they knew suffering and dying. Yet, they had also been the givers of life to their children. They would be very aware that life is sacred and precious, having born children into the world.

And they would know that being there at someone's death is not much different.

While at the hospital, with our mom, a social worker was there to help figure out how best to help our mom, if and when she is able to go home. My sister and I mentioned to her that our mom has missed being around her grandchildren and seeing them grow up. And we said we wished they would visit her more often. The social worker mentioned that while she was caring for her mother she did not have her two nephews help in any way, and she wouldn't recommend having mom's grandchildren care for her. I think she misunderstood, we didn't say that they should be her sole caretakers. But maybe come visit their grandmother once or twice a year.

But I see her point. 

I know that I am dying, yet, still living. I have been near death's door many times. I have witnessed so much tragedy.

It seems my sister and I have seen so much death while we were younger. We weren't as protected. Our first funeral was at the formative years of two or three years of age. I think by the time we were five years old we had been to at least three or four funerals: Our uncle Benny (our aunt Dorothy's husband), our step-father's father, and our uncle Harold. Our two-year-old nephew died in the year we were in 6th grade. And our uncle's wife, Lina, died while we were in 7th grade, and so on.

So it seems we have only known death. We weren't around very many births, except when our first niece was born.

As it takes a strong person to assist in birthing one to life, it will take a strong person to assist the dying.

It takes one who knows life to assist the living.

It takes one who knows death to assist the dying.

It takes love, either way, but in a different capacity.

It takes strong hearts to assist the weak. It takes knowing their strengths, and your own.

It takes someone who wants to be there, and knows the way to where you're going.

Those who know the way will guide the dying, because they know they are not too far from behind death themselves.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Self-Observation Is The Wise Way To Salvation

Association with human beings lures one into self-observation.
—Franz Kafka

written by Stephie Goldfish, aka Stephie Bigheart

A few nights ago, I dreamt I was heading down a road, and up ahead was what looked like an object in the middle of the road. As I got closer, I realized it was a turtle, but it was flipped over on its back, just lying there, determined to get back to an upright position. And it was as if everyone on the road had stopped just to marvel at this turtle on its backside.

I live near a small pond, where turtles are thriving. I go out to visit them, and they hold their heads up out of the water, for a little while, getting air, until they take a last breath and plop down into the water, swim off, and, in their trail, leave a quiet ripple out through the pond.

But, I woke from that dream and wondered what it all meant.

My writing has been likened to Kafka, and, right away, I related this dream to the short story Kafka wrote, Metamorphosis, where, in the dream, the main character turns into a giant bug in his apartment, and the bug ends up, at one point in the story, on its back.

It has been written that much of Kafka’s writing pictures his life in the social world. He had a complicated and troubled relationship with his father that had a major effect on his writing. Kafka also suffered with his identity, feeling that his Jewish-ness had little to do with him, although critics argue that it influenced his writing.

Most of Kafka’s works are filled with themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent-child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations.

And, so, I also sense these qualities about my writing world and the way I see myself in the real world.

I notice these qualities about me in the "social media world", but especially so when presented in a live setting among a group of individuals, which happened not too far back, at The New Moon Fire Circle retreat I attended, held by Pixie Lighthorse, at her SouLodge Ranch, in Central Oregon.

While there, at some points of the retreat, I felt like that over-turned turtle in my dream, or the over-sized bug Franz Kafka wrote about, feeling completely out of place, not being able to relax, and being anxious most of the time.

I know that what I feel inside has prevented me from realizing my true wise self.

People often tell me that my presence in the writing world is very big and real, but when those who read my works and writing actually meet me in the physical, they’re taken aback, because my physical world doesn’t seem to match up to my writing world.

At the SouLodge retreat, we did a journey meditation, and a yellow butterfly took me out to a field on the plains where I met with White Buffalo among the herd. And Eagle flew over, saying, "Up, fly with me!" 

The buffalo herd began running, and I jumped on one of the buffalo, and I flew up with Eagle.

Eagle said, "Honor your journey, where your heart has been, where your feet have walked. See, how far you have come?" 

"What do you want me to honor?" I asked. 

"Your wisdom," Eagle said, "Walk in your wisdom — your wisdom needs to match your walk. Bring them back in sync."

So, I’ve been thinking that these Kafkaesque situations I often find myself in, even in my dreams, have been showing up in order for me to learn the valuable wisdom of self-observation, in a way that brings me more healing.

One of the precious gifts I received at The New Moon Fire Circle, was her first book, Prayers of Honoring, written by Pixie Lighthorse. 

I love every prayer Pixie offers, because she speaks from her heart, her true wise, yet, humble self.

And in one of her prayers called, Honoring Wisdom, Pixie prays:

"Please help us to hold ourselves in high integrity so that we can shed all that keeps us from experiencing intimacy with you, and our loved ones. We know that it is through deep compassion, respect and love that we become wise. We understand that it is love, not knowledge, which begets intelligence. Help us to grasp that we must love ourselves before we can truly love others, and the world."

And, when it came time for the honoring ceremony circle at SouLodge, I made a declaration to honor my wisdom, knowing that I have to bring my wise self into sync and harmony with my true physical authentic presence, full of love, and humbleness.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Don't Look Back

by Stephie Goldfish

"We are all filled with a longing for the wild. There are few culturally sanctioned antidotes for this yearning. We were taught to feel shame for such a desire. We grew our hair long and used it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of Wild Woman still lurks behind us during our days and nights. No matter where we are, the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed." ~From her book, "Women Who Run With the Wolves", written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

I packed up my bag, bundled up for the cold air outside, and while standing close to the door of Starbucks, fixing my scarf, headband, and gloves, I took a few deep breaths to prepare for my walk up to the library, which is only two blocks away.

As I exited the store, a black African-American man, whom we had seen here a few times, now, opened and held the door for me. He said, "I just saw your sister going to the library, is that where you're headed?"

And something stopped me to stay a few moments longer to talk with him. I asked him his name (James), and I introduced myself and shook his hand. He mentioned he wanted to play his games on his computer.

And something about the innocence of that struck my heart. He rides his bicycle here to get free wi-fi and be in company with others, and today it's a slushy and rainy and overcast day.

After my many years of working on computers, the computer game apps have never interested me. It seems so isolating, like when my mother plays solitaire with her deck of cards. My mom also loves to play solitaire on the computer.

But I could sense that these new computer games have possibly opened up a new life for some, like James, who may have never worked on a computer, not because they never wanted to, but, like my older sister and my older brother, now deceased, they never got the opportunity to learn computers, and it wasn't until the last year of my brother's life that he took an interest in video syncing songs from his CD collection with video graphic imagery into YouTube music videos.

I often wonder if my brother had had our schooling and training would he have been more successful in his life.

And I saw how something about these computer games intrigued James, letting him feel like he's in the world, as we know it.

James and I said our quick goodbyes, and I made the trek up to the library. Although it is only two blocks away, there is a slight incline up to the library, and I stop about four to five times to catch my breath.

I was on a mission, though, and I was excited to get started on the Vision Quest material and videos for a course I am going through at SouLodge 2014. I also wanted to see if the library might have this one book I've been wanting to read from the suggested reading list, "Women Who Run With The Wolves", written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

Something these days has made me feel like I've been running with the wolves, all along, wild and free, but on a quest. And although I do have a hard time keeping up with "the pack", I feel, in a lot of ways, I've been leading the way, too.

So, right before I enter the library, I stop one more time, and calm my breathing down, and, without hesitating or looking back, I enter.

I walk up to the help desk and ask the young librarian if they have the book, and, to my glee, they do. I take the elevator up to the second level where the book is located, and just as I was passing the rows of shelved books, one title of a book jumped out at me, caught my attention: Don't Look Back.

The admonition was all I needed. It was an OK from Spirit or God or a sign that said, This IS the way in which to walk. Or run. And don't stop.

And this epiphany, at that moment, was all I needed to propel me in my direction, to flame the desire in me to keep going, without fear, and to not look back.

I am enthralled in the book, so far, even though it's a little intimidating. And I wonder why it has taken until now for its wisdom to come into my life.

It was written or published in May 1992.

May 1992 is when I feel I was called to a higher way of being or called to an elevated enlightenment. Even though it was a very scary experience in some ways, it was the closest I'd ever come to the realization of my Hubris, my reality of "whether I survive into old age with my serious congenital heart and lung disease I still can't escape death", at least not on this side of life.

I've come close to death a few times in my life, a few months after I was born in 1965, then in 1988 having two ectopic pregnancies four months apart, then in the Spring of 1992, I feel I died, in a way, but was renewed in spirit.

And this happened again in 1996. It scared me a little, but I received a message at that time from a higher source, from God, Spirit, Mother Earth, to seal up the words or keep what I had knowledge about secret until the appointed time to make it known, until the time was fertile enough for it to be heard.

So, now, I feel I have been given the green light, the OK, the approval, a nod to shoot like an arrow in the direction I'm supposed to go. Yes to being a lightbringer, and to stop worrying about the past, what's left behind.

And the voice keeps saying, "Don't Look Back in regret, Don't Look Back to what was, what would have been."

I am going to look ahead to the beautiful future I want for myself in whatever time or space I'm here on this earth for, and bring my light to those I meet and come in contact with because I want their future to be as beautiful as I envision for myself.

And, scary as it seems, I won't look back, except every once in a while, to glance at my four-footed shadow running close behind me, encouraging me to stay the course, acknowledging the wild woman I am, running with the wolves.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Bullshit Artist

written by Stephie Goldfish

          "Bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."

                                         —Harry G. Frankfurt, American Philosopher

I wish this blog could be a continuation of my last blog, a follow-up story of where I was at just a month ago, where I spoke about getting to a new team of doctors, making progress in some of my personal goals. I wish I could say I was a little more stable than I was a month ago, that I finished the pastel portraiture I promised my poetess friend and her twin daughters.

And, it’s not like I’m telling these big fat lies, intentionally misleading everyone about what I’m doing, what I intend on doing. It’s not that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Honestly, I don’t want to come off as some protagonist bullshit artist obfuscating the truth, nor bringing about some perversion of the truth.

But, as well as my intentions have been, every single month, it’s like I’m back at zero, starting over, sometimes in a completely new environment, new city and state, different hotel or apartment. It’s as if I’m running on emergency mode all the time.

And this month, I find myself having ripped and ran back to my hometown in my home state, trying to come to some sense of it all. I’ve gone into a “loss and recovery” effort, trying to gain perspective before any more damage is done.

My sister and I have these ongoing discussions, which begin innocent and respectful of one another’s thoughts, beliefs, and worlds, but, before long, we are in a full blown argument, reached an impasse, and each of us clearly seeing matters in our own way, defending our positions, blaming each other for where we’re at today.

But my sister and I agreed, recently, we feel it’s more truthful to say I don’t have all the answers, I don’t know where else to turn, what else to say, what else to attempt that before long finds me feeling overwhelmed and detaching from my original intentions.

So, many promises are made and broken, and disappointment sets in.

I rarely say NO to people and their requests, and, in fact, I usually make a proposal first of promising something for someone, and sometimes decisions I make in a split second are what most persons would do, too, with no hesitation, they do what is needed at the time.

But I need to follow through on my YES replies, and when I do say NO, not feel guilt.

I’ve been told I have a Rescuer Archetype personality, but I need to accept my limitations, accepting my answer NO, or even NOT NOW.

Already, over the spring and summer, I’ve had shingles, bronchitis, and severe shortness of breath, more swollen lymph nodes, a respiratory/lung infection, and itchiness all over. And I began a new medicine which continues to cause acid reflux. The new medical team also recommended the Mediterranean Diet plan.

So, anyone can see where I need to focus my attention.

I wish I could know where I’ll be next month, what I’ll be doing. I wish I could know if my current situation will get stable where I can really concentrate on taking care of myself. But I don’t know. One of the steps to recovering, though, is to truly be honest with myself and accept things as they are now, just be.

And as long as I am still trying to better my circumstances, there is hope.


The edited version of this post was published over at ACHA on September 19, 2013, with the title, Promises Made, Promises Broken.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Waiting On The Gods

written by Stephie Goldfish
Sometimes waiting is all one can do
When you’ve exhausted the gods with your cries and pleas.
And the waiting may seem in vain, until you get a clear
In the storms, you hold on to a firmly rooted tree, until the tree
Is pulled from its foundation and you along with it.
And you are carried to a strange, but familiar, place.
So, you’re left standing, all alone, again, with nothing
Else to do but to wait, waiting for the next strong wind
That will carry you away from here.
If this is how you want to spend your life, drifting
Hither and thither, then, by all means, wait for the
Winds and storms to come, for they will.
But, I say to you, the gods won’t mind if you decide
Your own path, for they know you’ve been putting it off
Too long. Trust in that part of you that will guide and lead
You through the storms. They’ll come anyway, to test you
And knock you off your feet, again.
There’s no wrong in waiting, but I’m afraid you’ll become
so paralyzed you won’t be able to move when the time
for action is required of you.
While waiting on the gods to answer, you’ve missed
all the sunrises and the sunsets.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mistaken Identity

by Stephie Goldfish

Don't try to find the reasons for the gross neglect,
nor the exact moment you accepted your truth.
Don't spend time defining who you are,
by confusing your life with someone else's dream.
This new life you’re searching for won’t be found
turning over the ground, as if hidden somewhere
in earthenware vessels, lost deep in the ruins
of excavated lands. Look, the error is from the beginning,
the red flag they chose to ignore. Yes, it’s been
disastrous, I know, and you are angry, but don't let
your mistaken identity cause you more uncertainty
to the transplant you’re seeking. Go inward. Open your
mind and eyes, listen to what your own heart is telling you.
This journey will lead you to where you’re bound.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Cotton Still Needs Picked

written by Stephie Goldfish

From generation to generation, from time indefinite to time indefinite, even forever, the cattle need raised, the crops need plowed and tilled, the hungry need fed and clothed,
 we still have our needs and desires to be met, and the production lines need filled.

Besides, the cotton still needs picked.

From generation to generation, from time indefinite to time indefinite, even forever, our hearts need mended and cultivated, our sins need forgiven, our prayers need answered, our bodies need healed and our souls need saved, and justice needs meted out.

After all, the cotton still needs picked.

The sun will keep shining and then the rain will come, again and again, but these cycles of life have no end.