See You In The Light

In MemoriamOn Valentine’s Day, Sunday, February 14, 2016, my husband and I facilitated our first Higher Love event. Our Higher Love events are workshops and retreats for individuals and couples focused on deepening relationships and loving intentionally. This was our very first so it was a day of “birthing” a project that has been in the gestation period since 2009. And now, after much time and consideration it has been birthed and on its way to healthy growth and aliveness.

We had a wonderful day of sharing and loving with an amazing group of people and when the day ended we were absolutely thrilled and triumphant – it was high-fives and fist-bumps all over the place. We lingered awhile with some of the attendees then packed up for the drive from New York City to our home in central NJ where we met up with my brother and sister-in-law for a celebratory Valentine’s Day dinner. Finally, after a very long day, we arrived home exhausted and ready to surrender to rest.
When I sat down on the sofa to remove my boots I noticed the blinking green light on our phone indicating messages waiting. Flopping back into the seat I put my feet up and began to listen.

Suddenly the mood of this auspicious day changed drastically as I heard my dear friend Beth telling me that her husband, Larry, had passed away early that morning – Valentine’s Day morning. Larry battled pancreatic cancer for the last four years. It was one of the most amazing battles I’ve ever seen. He did it with powerful intention, lucidity, and tremendous courage. Oh, and his usual dry intellectual sense of humor. Beth and Larry were an amazing team fighting this disease together – a united front and a force to be reckoned with. It was a rough go for a long time. Long hospital stays, the ravages of chemotherapy and endless testing and doctors and waiting for news. It was the proverbial roller-coaster ride of physical and emotional ups and downs. He actually conquered the original cancer site and at one point was actually cancer free, an unheard of result with pancreatic cancer. But those cells were virulent and eventually showed up in his liver. He was actually doing much better in the last year, gaining weight and regaining his joie de vivre enabling him to attend his son’s wedding in Florida as well as sharing sporting events, parties and family time with more vigor than had been seen in many months. Only two weeks ago he was accepted into a cutting edge clinical trial for immunotherapy. In spite of how ill he has been these last four years, his death at this time came suddenly and shocked us all. We had hoped this new therapy would give him much more time. It was not to be.

As soon as I hung up the phone after speaking with Beth I began hearing Larry’s voice. Nothing specific, just a sensation of his voice. I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it, if the fatigue from the day and the shock of this news had rendered me a little bit crazy and I was just hearing things through an exhausted brain.

After a rather rocky night trying to sleep we got up and tried to have a relatively “normal” morning. I was alone in our living room sipping my coffee when he came to me. It was Larry. I could feel his energy as clearly as I felt my own. It was as if he were in the living room with me, sharing a cup of coffee. There is no easy way to say this so that it makes sense, but I will try. Larry was “telling me” that he was amazed at how “cool” it was to be where he was. His energy was that of child-like wonder…excited and amazed. I said his name out loud and he sort of “nodded” hello (I know this sounds wild but this is how it happened) and kept indicating that it was “so cool” to be where he was. I could feel him everywhere. Then he indicated that while he felt ecstatically happy and free, he was concerned for his family and how his leaving would impact them. All I could do was acknowledge his being there and mentally offer to him that all would be well. He stayed a little while longer and his energy simply faded away. The experience lasted about two minutes…maybe less; time is hard to measure at a moment like that. I went upstairs to find Bob and told him simply, “Larry was just here” and told him what happened. Knowing me as Bob does he was not at all surprised and just hugged me and said he was glad he came to me.

Of course I allow a certain amount of healthy skepticism to enter my thinking after an experience like this one so I phoned a good friend who is also a gifted psychic and channel for some support and counsel. She was very supportive and knew that Larry and I had many spiritually-oriented conversations and that I had done a Reiki session with him while he was ill. She said that he came to me because he knew I’d understand how he was feeling the freedom, the joy, and the total happiness – and that I would know it was him. She said that he saw me as a beacon and knew that he could come to me to share “how cool” it was. I cried then. I cried because of the loss of Larry’s earthly life; I cried for the release that he was now feeling. And I was and am deeply humbled that he chose to come to me that morning. I am also truly amazed that we humans can hold deep sadness and great joy in the same exact moment.

Larry is the first friend of my generation and group of friends to die. He had a million friends, all of us in relatively the same age group. No doubt we all reflected on our own mortality and where we are in our own earth continuum as we escorted him home and held space for his family. In my thoughts I realize that Larry has done the hard work. Larry now knows the answer to the question we all hold in our minds – what happens when we die? He has stepped through the veil and knows the deal. And I sense that he is paving the way for us all for the time when it’s our turn to step across. Larry is now the beacon. I can’t help noticing that February is the gateway to spring. It’s fitting that Larry would leave at a time when new life is stirring beneath our feet.

Valentine’s Day will forever have a new meaning, just as my own birthday, when my father died 4 years ago. Not a day for sadness, although we will feel that and remember. It will be a day for Love in a new way. A day to reflect on how we are expressing love. A day to remember how much love Larry had for his wife, children, grandchildren, family and his millions of friends. It will be a day to dedicate ourselves to the purity of that Love and to remember our friend Larry Rudnick.

Farwell my friend. I will see you in the light. ~ FD

Weekly Stretch 2-19-16

dark night
After a week of riding an emotional roller coaster, I arrive at this moment with a flood of thoughts. I’ll be writing a blog post later but for now what comes to mind for our stretch this week is about our relationships. Is there someone you love dearly and haven’t connected with in a while? I think our lives are so busy and full that we sometimes lose sight of some of the important people who are not in our immediate circle of day to day living. It’s certainly true for me. I have the blessing of knowing so many beautiful people and have cultivated many deep friendships over the years. Life has a way of keeping me from connecting as often as I’d like and this week, after losing a very dear friend to pancreatic cancer, connection and relationships are at the forefront of my mind. While it’s not possible to reach everyone I know and love in the world, social media, texting, email all make it a lot easier to simply say, “I’m thinking of you”. In the old days we were limited to letters (remember them?), telephone calls and chance meetings.

My intention is to reach out more, even if it’s only a text or email, to let people know they are in my heart and on my mind. Time is short and easily lost. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to let people I care about and miss know that I see them, even if I can’t actually see them with my physical eyes.

STRETCH: Think about someone you’d like to connect with who you haven’t heard from or contacted in a while. Just a quick hello via email or text or FB message…or maybe a call or a card (another lost art). Then think of another person you might like to re-connect with and reach out.

Weekly Stretch 2-12-16

IMG_1648
The political scene in our country seems to be having a powerful effect on the people I worked with this week. So many are feeling the energy of negativity and dreading that energy continuing to escalate in the weeks and months leading up to the election in November. I admit that I feel it in my own being. It can be draining. It can make us feel uneasy, unsafe, disempowered, irritable, hopeless and on and on.

That said, how can we protect our precious energy? First, acknowledge that your energy IS precious and deserves protection. Make an effort to avoid negative input. We can always “change the channel” be it the actual TV, radio, the internet…remember that you have the choice to listen or turn it off. We can stay informed without drowning in the 24-hour news cycle that has claimed our airwaves.

Next, we can avoid entering into conversations that become political arguments. “Just say no”. My practice is to simply not engage and change the subject whenever possible. Or, we can say, ” Let’s agree to disagree” or “let’s talk about something else for a while” and move on to another topic.

Keep your attention on the wonderful, positive things in your life. Find what gives you pleasure and joy in your life and bring your focus back to those people and things. This requires effort as the rhetoric can become a huge distraction from what is truly important. It’s worth the effort to preserve your peace of mind.

STRETCH: Set the intention each day keep your energy safe by limiting your exposure to current events that can cause you distress. Remember that you are empowered to simply and kindly say “No” to conversations that drain your energy. Look around and see where you can effect positive change in your own sphere of influence and take whatever steps are possible to help others.

A Reflection On and From the Heart ~ A Valentine’s Day Message

Light-in-Heart

Valentine’s Day is such a trigger for so many people. Reflecting on my own love/hate relationship with the day I admit that I’ve been a willing partner in the hype of this so-called holiday. My Dad was a very romantic guy and always made the day special for my mother. I was abundantly aware of how in love they were and, while it made for a loving household (not without ups and downs certainly…sometimes more downs than ups) it sparked a young girl’s imagination about how love would show up in her life. I was also “Daddy’s Little Girl” (that song still brings me to tears) so he also recognized me on Valentine’s Day with a card and a little box of chocolates. Of course it thrilled me to no end because I absolutely worshiped my very handsome and dashing Daddy and basked in the glow of his love for me. But we all know that expression, “It’s all fun and games until someone…..fill in the blank…..” Well it was all fun and games until my lofty dreams and expectations about how Valentine’s Day – how Love – should be were dashed many times as my adult life unfolded. Like so many of us, we learn our reality lessons the hard way, often because that’s the ONLY way we will learn them.

And I did learn many lessons about romantic love. A lot of them were hard and painful. The childish illusions were replaced by disappointment, remorse, resentment, anger, bitter tears, and a host of other things I’m sure many of you can relate to. The pendulum swung in the opposite direction for many years as I traveled the road of the divorcee trying to find a way back into single life, failing miserably as I kissed many of the frogs that crossed my path. In fact there came a time when I was pretty sure that frogs were all that was available and eventually decided that Love was not a game I wanted to play. I had a great life, a great career, a delightful daughter, a loving family and fabulous friends – and that was quite enough for me. It was then that things shifted and lo and behold…well…I found a Love like no other (or shall I say IT found me).

What I have learned finally about Love is that we need to love ourselves, period. Now this is not a new notion. Many people, especially women, have been writing and speaking about the notion of self-love, self-esteem, self-worth for years. The wisdom has been shared in so many ways. I read book after book, listened to tapes (remember them?), went to classes, watched programs, meditated on it, affirmed it daily. And somewhere in the process of peeling layer after layer of ill-conceived ideas about my own self-worth (or lack of it) the lights started to go on. And guess what…illumination is (at least for me) a slow process. Some days the lights are burning bright…some days not. Some days I see a woman in the mirror I admire and love from the depths of my soul, and some days I don’t like what I see in the mirror at all. It’s progress because the lights never go out anymore. I am always emanating my light regardless of what kind of day I’m having. That much I know for certain. I love that light…and since that light is coming from me, I love me too.

And then there’s the heart. We were all born with this amazing muscle that runs our body machine every moment of every day. I am constantly awed by the way it emits just the right amount of electricity, pumps just the right amount of blood through the many little tiny vessels running throughout our bodies, making that beautiful sound it makes…all day long. All day it keeps doing the job of keeping the rest of our physical being nourished, carrying the vital nutrients we need through our blood to the far reaches of every system. Sometimes my mind has trouble conceptualizing that I am alive because this muscle is expanding and contracting within my chest second by second. It’s truly a mind-blower.

Something else I know is that within this vital organ is the capacity for Love that is beyond our understanding. Ancient teachings identify this place in the body as the center for the emotion of Love. And Love is more than having a boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, or spouse. It’s more than flowers and chocolates. It’s more than a candle-lit dinner and love-making. Love is not little red hearts and a bunch of roses. Yes those things are nice, wonderful even. And they are not Love. Love cannot possibly fit into such a tiny container. It’s just too big for that. In fact it’s so big that to try to define it is impossible. The concept of Love makes me feel the same awe that I feel when I think about the beating heart, and I all I can do is stop and allow it to wash over me.

I spoke earlier of my Dad. He was, and is, a heroic energy in my life. He had a heart that emitted more love than any heart I’ve ever known. And the day his stopped was one I will not ever forget. I wasn’t sure mine would or could continue to beat in the presence of the grief of losing him. And yet my heart did continue beating and within it is the essence of the Love my father emanated toward me and everyone who knew him. It’s a living thing. It’s real. As real as the muscle that beats this very moment in my chest and yours.

So the symbol of the heart and the work it does is really what I like to think Valentine’s Day should be about. Valentine’s Day is about affirming life, affirming the gift of being alive and of having that remarkable muscle doing its work moment by moment. It’s about basking in the glow of the emanation of Lovelight that each of us is sharing with every living thing. And it’s about recognizing the Divinity that we are and the gift of life we’ve been given. And as I tune into the rhythm of my own heartbeat I tune into yours and share this magnificent wisdom with you:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.

~ Franne 2-5-16

WEEKLY STRETCH AND VALENTINE’S DAY

snow morning
Snow is gently and silently falling outside my window this morning as I sit and sip my coffee. I love the silence that accompanies snowfall. I read somewhere that there is science to support that snowfall creates a certain unique silence of its own and this morning when I stepped outside to snap a few photos I “heard” and felt it. It’s not a lonely silence. It’s a gentle, holy stillness. And within that is a sense of playfulness and childlike wonder. While the word “holy” might connote something “religious” I use it to describe something that is a gift of Spirit or The Universe. If you can, take advantage of a snowfall to step into this unique silence and see what you hear and feel.

STRETCH: Take some time each day for holy silence. Find a place to sit comfortably, drop your gaze, take a deep breath and relax your body. Listen…listen to the silence and simply be. Stay in this place of quietude for about 5 minutes, or longer if you can. Notice your breathing and anything else that accompanies this time with childlike curiosity then allow it to drift away like a leaf in a gently moving stream. Enjoy the peace.

In addition to this week’s stretch I am offering a post about Valentine’s Day. I hope you will read it and share it as you see fit. I invite any and all comments and thank you, as always, for your friendship and attention.