life of m

Sustaining the Self and Beyond


1 Comment

Me and my aura


Until a little over a week ago, I had never even heard of having one’s aura read. I am thankful for a dear member of my family for suggesting it, as it was the subject of today’s field trip to Sedona.

This morning, I went swimming, came home, and got ready to meet my spiritual destiny. I put on earrings that made me think of Okami and a necklace with blue lapis I had bought when he was sick because I thought it might help me make him better.

I left mid-morning with baby Naih, who instantly fell asleep on the back seat. After some circumnavigation, we found a dog park in an unbelievably beautiful pocket of red desert, surrounded by plateau and steeples of red rocks rising up out of the ground all around us. By the time we left the park, Naih’s fur had taken on pinkish, red hues from rolling around in the gravel.



We made our way back along highway 179 and parked at the Center for the New Age. I parked in the shade, poured some water for baby, and headed inside.

I walked around while I waited for my appointment and then walked into a small room. I sat down on a small bench and placed my left and right hand onto a small blue metal box with five metal strips for each finger and a round metal plate for each palm.

I was asked to look into a kind of camera while I had my aura photo taken.

I was invited to sit in a chair closer to the woman doing the reading, and she explained a little bit about the process while we waited for the photo to develop and dry.

When she presented the photo to me, I was surprised by the presence of red, orange, and yellow. I had assumed that there would be more green and blue, I am not sure why.


The reader proceeded to explain to me that red meant that I had the energy of the universe coursing through me, which gave me the power to be a master healer shaman. Red meant that I was a healer and also a creative spirit.

You can hold your hover your hand over someone and heal them. I instantly had flashes to documentaries about Christian healers where people screamed and fell writhing on the floor.

You are a clairsentient, very empathic to other people’s energy and emotions.

Huh, I thought to myself. Maybe, I really am a witch after all?

You would be a wonderful yoga teacher, she told me, and you should look into Reiki.

You also have a strong creative spirit, she added. If you wanted to you, you could write several books, become a dancer, or perform around the world.

I am a yoga teacher and songwriter, I explained, instantly wondering why I had labeled myself as a yoga teacher when I had only actually taught two classes.

She continued to tell me that the yellow spots meant that I was suffering from some sadness, a transition or death. She told me she could see five white dots behind the yellow, which represented my five guardian angels. I wondered if one of the was Okami. I asked her if she knew who they were, but she told me they were dynamic, ever-changing so she could not pinpoint a single identity to them.

You have boundless energy, she said. You need to have movement in your day or you will go crazy. It is important that you do yoga, not just to help others but also for yourself.

I swim every day, I told her. I have to.

Your songs are important because they are healing for the people you work with and also healing for you, she said. You could be traveling the world and performing if you wanted to. You have great potential if you use your talents.

Whatever happens, you need to be creating or you will have a hard time. You also need to learn how to protect yourself because you are such a strong empathic that you will take on the energy of others.

You also need to learn to ground yourself so all of this energy does not overwhelm you.

Is that why I twitch? I asked her. She said she had noticed it and thought that it was likely connected.

I am very *vata, I told her.You have a real high and low with your energy, and you will feel this.

Though you are experiencing some trauma and sadness right now, the red around your heart tells me that you have great joy in your heart. The green in the bottom right corner also shows that you are healing.

(Note: It feels only right and honest to mention that I pretty much wept through the entire reading, so her mentioning that I was strong in the “emotionality” index was quite clear).


You should feel good that you are in no danger of living a life without feeling. Some people come in here in the midst of extreme trauma and are total deadened to feeling. They are completely detached.

I asked her about the anxiety and panic I feel with anything close to my neck or confining my upper body, and she thought it was connected to my past life, which would mean a visit with another person.

I asked about my extreme pull to wolves and about Naih and Okami and the most recent pup I had found.

I think you should put your energy into your puppy but pay close attention to another animal that comes into your life, was all she said.

I asked about Shiva and if it made sense for me to be drawn to this spirit, and she enthusiastically agreed.

Yes, Shiva is definitely a good fit for you. You should also have some Sage around and keep a piece of Hematite in your pocket.

As we were wrapping things up, she told me she was happy to meet me and to talk to her if I wanted to work as a healer there.

While I was paying, I heard her begin talking to another person and telling them the red meant they were a master healer shaman, and I began to wonder if this was something she told everyone, but I also sensed that she must believe deeply in this language and knowledge and to not allow my own low self-esteem and inner critic to sway me from being open to hearing her.

Much of what she told me I already knew about myself, but there were also surprises. If anything, it was fascinating in and of itself to have reflected back to me from a complete stranger the self-knowledge that has taken me decades to derive.

I dutifully went to the store and bought several small pieces of hematite and a Shiva statue, the design of which I had long been drawn to.


The entire interchange only lasted for about twenty minutes, but I was completely exhausted by the time I walked back out to the car to drive home.


* Vata is one of the three doshas (personality types or constitution) in Ayurveda, an ancient yogic tradition to understand the human constitution and create balance in human life.

आयुर्वेद Sanskrit

Ayur = Life

Veda = Knowledge

To learn more about the Vata dosha, visit this website:

Understanding Vata

To learn more about the three doshas and to take a dosha quiz (which is super fun), visit this website:

Dosha Quiz

To learn more about Ayurveda, read anything by Dr. Lad.

To learn about a clairsentient, visit this site:




Leave a comment

What am I looking for?

As you know, I have been searching for Okami for months now on rescue sites around the country. I love my baby Naih completely, but for some reason my heart still seeks to find something missing in the absence of Okami.


I thought perhaps it was the companionship of a big male dog to protect me and follow me like a shadow. In an email from my dad, I received wisdom and clarity.


“I read that you are going to Sedona tomorrow.  I don’t know anything about aura, but I hope that it is a fruitful day for you.  I read wistfully of your searching.  You may be searching, but you have already found things that others never will.

As my dad wrote, it is the “profound sensitivity” of a four-legged being that I am truly searching for.


It is a gift to cross paths with such beautifully sensitive, loving, empathic creatures. But the drawback is that once you have known this connection, it is difficult not to wish for it again.


My dad is another being on equal par with my own extreme sensitivity. He tells me it is both a gift and a disadvantage to be this way.


You have so much love for animals, and you are such a sensitive person.  Life is more difficult for sensitive people, but it warms my heart that you are like that.  The world would be so much better if more people were like that.


It is not an easy path, and it is one that I think can be difficult for others to understand. It can be difficult for me to understand. Why can’t I just get over things? Why ruminate? Why feel when the feeling feels so awful? (I really just wanted to see how many times I could write the world “feel” in one sentence.)


So, though it pains me to think about it, I will try to stop searching. I will turn around the photos of Okami and try to move on. There is no dearth of furry beings in my life to love. I know I cannot force the universe to give Okami back to me. But I can search for another super sensitive soul who needs me. I just may need to wait until I can actually bring another furry four-legged home because there are those already in my fold who need me, as well as a two-legged.




Tomorrow morning, I head to Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is known as a spiritual vortex and the land of red rocks. Suffice it to say that there are lots of crystals and woo woo folk around.


I am going less for the crystals and more on a pilgrimage to better understand my heart. I am going to The Center for the New Age to have my aura read in an effort to try to shed some light on my struggles in this life and to see where they may overlap with events from my past in this life and beyond.


Is this real or allusion? Perhaps, it is some of both. I have begun to think that reality is not much more than each of our individual allusions, the stories we devise from life experiences.


Why does wool only itch when I think about it? Why do I feel intense panic and nausea when something is anywhere near my collarbone or closely wrapped around my neck? Why do I feel anxiety from any kind of confinement, be it clothing or beyond? And why is my heart so drawn to big, fluffy, male wolf dogs in need of a home and love?


Perhaps, the red rocks will speak to me and offer some clarity. They have been around for a long time and been witness to so much.


And I am willing and open to listening to what they have to say, should I be gifted with their wisdom.


In this life, I feel that my path is one of healing, and the most effective healer I can be is one who is able to truly listen to my own heart’s needs, first and foremost.



Leave a comment

There’s a hole in the bucket

This past week, I was surrounded at all times by friends and many, many family members. It was overwhelming at times, particularly for an introvert. Yet, after everyone left I felt the emptiness far more acutely than I imagined I would.

There was relief, to be sure, but there was also a void.

The void is something I have tried to fill for a long time. I think it is a part of human existence that western culture has quite a bit of trouble accepting. Being a part of western culture, I have learned to feel uncomfortable with my own dark places.

The events of this past year have created several dark holes in my heart, ones that I have desperately attempted to fill.

First we lost Blue, our Siberian husky, the day before my beloved’s birthday. He was fine, running and playing at the dog park on a Sunday afternoon. Then, he grew a bit lethargic over the course of a few days. I brought him to the vet on a Friday afternoon, and he passed a few hours after returning home.

I walked through the desert alone for months, while I tried to convince my partner that we should get another dog. “Fill the void, fill the void,” my heart would whisper to me over and over again.

I searched animal rescue sites until I found a four-legged who seemed to speak to both of us.

We are only going down to look at him, my partner told me as we headed south to Buckeye, Arizona.

Ok, I responded, my heart already drawn to this unknown animal.

We brought home Okami and within 24 hours he had become my shadow, my protector.

Five months later, I made the choice to put him down when he could no longer breathe on his own. Ehrlichiosis, an insidious tick-borne disease, had consumed his body’s ability to create red and white blood cells on its own.

The void this time was even deeper. It took me hours to finally place his body in a grave and then several more before I was able to cover him completely.

It just didn’t make sense. He was only three. I had thought we would have him in our lives for years to come. And his life had been such a struggle. Why would the universe take him away from me when I needed to shed light on the dark places in my heart?

I spent the entire week after burying my Okami searching for his soul in another dog. We brought home a puppy. I poured my heart into her.

As much as I fell in love with baby Naih, I began to discover that the void left by Okami was still present. This time, I was not successfully filling the void.

You honor him by missing him, my partner would tell me each time the tears would begin anew.

At least once a week, I search for him on rescue sites. I have found dogs with similar coloring and yellow eyes, but none of the eyes look at me the same way his had.

Why can’t Naih be enough? my partner asks.

I don’t know, I tell him.

Maybe she should be, but I still feel sad. I am realizing that the love of one being does not replace the loss of another.

So here I sit, deep in the void. I feel the pain course through me, wishing it wasn’t so painfully but also holding onto it because it connects me to him. My new baby lies on the couch beside me, and I love her. As much sadness as I feel, I cannot help but smile when I see her.I know she is not Okami and never will be, and I am learning to accept that I had to lose one love to gain another.

The void is ever present, and I imagine it may endure.

There are some voids that cannot be filled, and I am learning to sit with the emptiness in my heart.

2015-11-11 Rich & Marieke 192luv



What’s in a name?


Let me start by saying that I have grown to love my name. It feels like it fits me; at least, I can’t really imagine being someone with any other name. And a life with my name has been quite character building. Not a dull moment to be found. My name has become an important part of me, and it is me. Also, mom and dad, please do not be offended by this post. It is just a bit of fun. I am honored to have been given my name by you both.

Now, I may not be able to imagine myself with a different name, but I can wonder at what life might have been like were I to be have bestowed with a name that was easier on the eyes and tongue.

I can wonder what it might have been like for the past few decades to not have to apologize for the difficulty and discomfort my name presents to most people I meet.

Of course, I had also experienced my share of apologies coming from the aforementioned individuals.

This afternoon’s visit to the Women’s Clinic presented a series of interactions that I sometimes wish were less familiar.

Marieke walks into the clinic. She stands awkwardly at the window, waiting for the secretary to open the glass window.

Why do they need a sliding glass window, she wonders? Are they trying to hide from us? How does glass actually make people disappear? Or is it just the feeling of being “on the other side” that helps alleviate any discomfort?

Window slides open.

I need you to fill out this form. Marieke starts writing.

Ok, you’ve written enough, she said shortly before I had finished filling out the address line and zip code on the small sticker.

I need your ID and health insurance card and for you to fill out these other forms as well.

Ok. I go sit down and write down my partner’s name and relationship to be in four different boxes and sign my own name and add the date to four other separate boxes.

Note: I am not sure what prompted me to begin writing about myself in the third person, so I have reverted back to the first person. I hope this is acceptable to you. If you are frustrated, feel free to attempt to pronounce my name. Maybe, it will help you empathize with my plight.

Ummm, let me see if I can get this right. Mar-ee-kee? A voice calls out tentatively from behind the open sliding glass window.

Marrrr-ick-uh, I respond as I walk up.

Yeah, I know. There are a lot of vowels. Thanks, mom and dad, for making my life so easy. Followed by my nervous laughter.

Ohhhh. I figured it must be foreign. I don’t do well with those foreign names. She laughed without a hint of remorse.

Well, this is America and also Arizona, I thought to myself. At least she is accurately representing the stereotypes.

Let’s move on, shall we?

Mar-eek? The nurse called out to the empty waiting room. Yep, that’s me.

Did I pronounce it correctly?

Close. It’s Marrr-ick-uh.

Oh. Ok. Please take off your shoes and step on the scale.

I am led into a small, sterile room with beige, tan walls.

Then the small talk begins. In the middle of my attempt to explain what I did as a park ranger, which was understood from the nurse’s perspective as a tour guide (Ok. Sure. Why not a tour guide?), the nurse excuses herself to answer a call from somewhere outside the room.

Huh, I thought. I guess I will just sit here with the blood pressure wrapped tightly around my arm, feeling like I have lived a ridiculous life with a ridiculous name and wait.

Seconds and minutes go by. At least, it feels like a microcosm of an eternity before the nurse returns.

Here is a cloth to put over your lap, she explains as she sets down a crinkly, papery excuse for a blanket. And this one you put on with the hole in front.

Ummm. I have no words for a response at this point. A gown with a hole in the front?

The nurse leaves the room. I step down from the chair, lift the white white “gown” with blue trim, and unfold it to reveal the familiar open back with a string of blue to match the blue trim around the edges.

Freaky! The front of the gown has been sliced open from the neck down to just bneath tummy range.

At this point, I have forgotten about how irritating it is to explain and apologize for my name and have been transported into a disturbing Sci Fi film where they are breeding women with aliens and need a hospital gown that has been cut open in the front for quick delivery of the alien-human babies.

I am flashing back to scenes from Battlestar Galactice when the doctor opens the door and walks in tentatively, stopping as she peers down at the chart.

Ok, I think I’m going to need some help with this one, she says, looking up and smiling at me.

Marr-ick-uh, I respond robotically. It’s a tricky one, I know, I lift my shoulders into an apologetic shrug and offer a few har har hars.

I’m going to write it down so I can pronounce it, she says.

I recommend spelling it M-a-r-i-k-a, like Monica but with and ‘r’ instead of an ‘n.’

Oh yeah, she says. That makes sense.

Yes, I think. Yes, it does.

We go through the first part of the medical interview. Then, she has to leave to get the nurse to help her.

I’ll only be a minute, Mar-eek, she assures me.

Guess that phonetic spelling did not succeed in working its correct pronunciation magical powers. I should have suggested that she speak like a pirate, Marrrrrrr-ic-uh. People love that one. Gets ‘em every time!

The doctor returns with the nurse, and they proceed to talk about me while I lay on my back for the poking and prodding. It just feels wrong, but I try to play along.

No, it’s super comfortable, I joke when the doctor apologizes for the scapula. I could lie here all day. Seriously. This is great.

The visit over, I get dressed and text a photo of the holey gown to my sibling.

You look straight out of a Margaret Atwood book, they write back.

I follow a series of arrows that lead me in a circuitous route to the check out, wondering as I walked if I really was in a Margaret Atwood book and I was walking into an alternate reality from the one I left upon opening the door to the clinic an hour earlier.

At the check out desk, I wait for the secretary to print out a form.

Ok, Ms. Slaw-vin. You’re all set.


I smile and thank her.


Did I say it right? She asks.

Close, I respond. It’s Slow-vin.

For a temporary respite from reality and some humor, I am sharing a short video I created wherein I explain the proper pronunciation of my name, along with some tips for remembering how it is pronounced.

Flagstaff Aspen

Leave a comment

There is nothing wrong with failure

I couldn’t remember my login information for an online yoga site with videos and tutorials. I inputted what I thought were my username and password, and a box highlighted in red came up with the words “Login failed” followed by a big, red X.

I know I keep getting more and more sensitive, but it was kind of alarming, especially coming from a site for yogis.

Good lord! I said to my friend, with whom I was attempting to share the website. That is quite an intense message.

I remembered my login and succeeded on the second attempt, and carried on with my morning.

I forgot all about being a failure until I took my husky for a walk through our neighborhood. We live in a part of Prescott, Arizona called the Granite Dells, so named for the large outcroppings of granite rocks that surround us.

Our neighborhood is a popular place for climbers, and puppy Naih and I happened upon a couple as we were walking.

One person was attached to a rope and climbing close to a wall of granite rock. On her head, she wore a white helmet.

She was talking to another person who sat on the trail below her, offering cues to help her.

We are very impressed, I called out.

You and the puppy? She asked.

Yes, she is just trying to get down there stairs.

Laughter from the climber.

Well, it’s always easier going up than down, she responded.

So true, I said, as puppy and I continued on our way.

As I tugged at puppy to continue walking with me, I heard the grounded partner say, You’ve got a good, firm grasp, and it’s a clean fall.

Wait, I thought. Was he giving her permission to fall?

I decided that he seemed to be doing just that. Such simple words, but the expression I found to be incredibly beautiful and touching. Perhaps, climbers become accustomed to falling? To survive, I imagine they must learn how to fall safely.

But how magical for it to be ok to fail.

As I walked along, I thought about how much I have learned from the unpleasant experiences of my life. It seemed that what might be deemed failure was the way I seemed to learn the most—management styles, different jobs, relationships, instruments, etc.

I have tried a lot of different things on for size and moved around a lot in search of success.

What about the phrase, If at first you don’t succeed? I don’t remember the word failure ever being included in that language. Perhaps, we should just stop using the word altogether?

Flagstaff Aspen

Flagstaff Aspen Heart Bark


We need more of this

I wrote the other day of receiving some unnecessary hostile and judgmental treatment from a complete stranger. As I have continued to reflect on the communications I received, I am further convinced that this kind of aggressiveness had no place in our interchange or any communication between two people. There is just no need to be aggressive and unfriendly, whether it is toward a person you know or to a complete stranger you have labeled based on other people you have known.

That being said, first impressions can be tricky, particularly those made via a medium like email. In my own experience, I have been wrong on so many occasions when I have made assumptions about a person’s character or their feeling about me as a person upon our first meeting.

I instantly infer from a person who seems standoffish or unfriendly that I have done something to offend them in the first 60 seconds of our time together or that they simply don’t like me. And then, my tail between my legs, I proceed to agonize about it after, creating all kinds of allusions and stories in my mind.

I begin listening to my inner critic listing out everything I could have done wrong. My clothing was wrong. I made a face. I made a joke they didn’t understand or found offensive—I have a tendency to tell Jewish jokes when I am nervous; just keep them laughing and they will like me seems to be my fallback behavior.

I have learned that these initial interchanges have very little to do with what comes after. A woman who I thought detested me became one of my dearest friends from my time living and studying in Africa. Months into our study abroad program, I asked her if she had not really liked me when we first met. She told me she had been filling awful from severe cramps while menstruating.

There was a woman I knew in college who I always thought disliked me. We were in the same circle of friends, but I always felt uneasy around her. We spent an evening together just after graduating, and somehow confessed a fear we had both shared. I had thought she disliked me, but her own actions were stemmed by her own fear that I disliked her.

Seems like a waste, doesn’t it?

I have been wrong so many times that I now realize there is more going on than any of the stories I create in my mind.

I also have come to realize that there is more to one person’s reaction to another person than meets the eye. They may feel uncomfortable or jealous if a person is embracing life more fully than they. Or it may simply be that one person is having a bad day or going through a divorce.

Who knows?

And therein lies the secret.

I don’t know what is going on for most people, so I am trying my best to let go of whatever hostility or other less than desirable energy they may be sending my way and try as well to not engage the proverbial beast.

I still feel the sting of present and past hostilities, but I do not wish to wallow in the sting. When I feel the sting and can sense the desire to stay there, I know it is time for some aloe, sage burning, or whatever else it takes to cleanse my emotional pallet.

What remedies do you use for forgiving and forgetting, or at least for moving on.

Flagstaff Aspen Heart Bark


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 876 other followers