We Are Messed Up

His name is Maverick. He is a dog. He lives with his human companion in our neighborhood. I think about him quite often even though I have had only several brief encounters with him in the past five or so months. Normally, most dogs when out on a walk are very friendly and looking to be lavishly loved upon by any willing passer by. But not Maverick. Every time I have come across him he growls viscously, bares his teeth, charges at me, and barks like he means it. It is not an honorary “I’m doing my job” dog bark, but rather, he barks like he wants to sink his teeth into some flesh. He barks like his life depended on his bark warding others off.

After a couple of these encounters, before I knew his name, I asked Maverick’s human companion who had a tight grip on his leash, whether Maverick was friendly or not.

The man holding the leash replied,                                                                                 “We just got back from Iraq from a tour of duty.                                                           We’re messed up.”

“Oh. Dear God”, I thought. And, I was so caught off guard by that TRUTH and the depth of its emotional repercussions, that I did not know how to reply. I think I said something that I hope that they both realize that they are in a different place and space, that they find peace and calm, and that they realize they are in peace and calm.

Then, as they went their way and I mine, and we passed by each other within a few feet, I FELT them. I felt their emotional struggles, their pain, and their fears: the fear, stress, and strain of always being “on guard”, the constant fear that their safety is never a sure thing, the fear of watching every step, the fear of not knowing if the ground below is safe to step on (IED -improvised explosive device), the fear of who or what may be around the corner, the fear that at any moment a  bullet may come from any direction, the fear that everyone they meet may be “out to get them”, the fear they may be killed and not live to tomorrow. Even though they were out of Iraq, Iraq was still not out of them. Iraq was still in their mental framework. The constant hyper-vigilance was still in their system and aura.

The Bunker Effect                                                                                                            A couple of years ago I attended a one day seminar with Rob Bell and Elizabeth Gilbert*, author of “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Magic (and other books too) at Los Angles’ Wanderlust. At one point a lady in the audience spoke about a period of about 10 years in her life  where there was much chaos and tumultuousness. However, she was now in a peaceful and calm place, but because for such a long time she was always on edge and tense waiting for “the other shoe to drop” that she could not relax and calm down. She was still always on edge. Rob Bell called this “The Bunker Effect”. The war is over on the outside, but on the inside the person is still in hyper-vigilant mode. Then he gave her some tips on how to relax, calm down, and settle into this new reality of peace.

The Soldier and Maverick were in this phase of healing The Bunker Effect, or as is commonly known PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. That’s just part of the emotional exchange/download that I felt or experienced when we passed by each other. There were also all the images that they had seen and that had been imprinted on their Beings. The images of poverty, abuse, bombed out buildings and streets, and children and people with scars, wounds, and missing limbs. The images and experiences of their cohorts – some of which may have not come back. All of this, and more I am gathering was in their being, their sphere, their aura.

As we passed each other, I did not  actually “think” all those above things, it is only now in writing about the encounters that I am conceptualizing/articulating the flooding of emotions I felt  upon passing by them. In the most recent encounter I was heading toward my vehicle when I came upon them and that is when The Soldier told me why Maverick was so vigilant and constantly on offense mode. We spoke for not even a minute before they went on their way, but as I sat behind the steering wheel, the effect of that brief encounter triggered a flood of tears out me. I sat and cried until the tears stopped flowing. I have learned it is much better and healthier to let the flow of tears take their natural course as opposed to opposing and suppressing them.

Here Come the Tears                                                                                                        I cried and cried and cried. I cried with them. I cried for them. I cried for the soldiers, civilians, birds and animals. I cried for all of humanity. I cried for peace. And, I cried for myself. My tears were my prayer and my offering. My tears were my urgent plea for greater Grace and Healing  in the Minds and Hearts of suffering men and women. My tears were for the softening of Hearts and the opening of Minds. As I write this, again i am crying for Maverick, The Soldier, All, The Birds and Animals, and me. The suffering of one is the suffering of all (and vice versa too). Thanks to them, I soaked several tissues.

This is one soldier and one dog on their new path of healing their past journey and memories. As I begin to extrapolate this couple to all the soldiers, dogs, civilians, animals around the world that are or have experienced such trauma in their lives it overwhelms me. If I harp on it too long, it paralyzes me emotionally. This is why I can no longer read or watch the news. I had asked for the Gift of Feeling, since for a large portion of my life I suppressed and oppressed my feelings, and I received that Gift, abundantly. Little did I know that in The Gift of Feeling it not only attuned me to me, but to the Oneness of us All. With everything there are two sides of the coin, a blessing side and a side of responsibility in living with and managing the blessing.

I also saw and felt the bond and closeness between Maverick and The Soldier. I felt the deep love and trust they had for and toward each other. I saw how Maverick, who was an Iraqi native and was found and trained and served with and then brought to the USA by The Soldier, was wholeheartedly devoted to protecting his friend, family, and companion. I saw how The Soldier was fond of Maverick and that the canine’s presence was soothing and comforting to him.

They kept each other safe, sane, together and composed as best as they could. Their love gave warmth and comfort to their Hearts and lives. This side of their relationship was a Gift to behold.

And then I thought, maybe they are my mirrors. “They say” everything and everyone are a reflection of some accept of ourselves. My fears do not revolve around actual bombs, bullets, snipers, IEDs, and ambushes. But there was a long period in my life where I too had been in constant hyper-vigilant mode. We all have those periods where “We’re Messed Up” or where we come out of “The Bunker”. Then a new season comes in and it then takes an enormous amount of awareness, humility, and energy to let go of one season and embrace the next. Alone, this is not possible. With Grace and with The Gift of Others whom God places in out lives, this is very possible and doable. All we need do is invoke God’s Wisdom and Grace in each and every day, hour, moment  of our lives.

May God grant us all the Grace and Humility in being present and trusting to and in each season.

God Bless You,                                                                                                                  Irena As I Am                                                                                                           03/08/2018

*NOTE about Elizabeth Gilbert                                                                                           In the weeks and days leading up to this seminar, I really really really wanted to see Elizabeth Gilbert in person, outside of the seminar. And lo and behold it came to pass. It was outside the restroom. I walked out of the restroom and there she was in the hallway waiting in line. I knew the Universe set this up for the two of us. We had a brief chat and then exchanged a warm hug**. Her books have had a profound effect of my life and thus, seeing her in person and expressing my gratitude was a Gift beyond joy.

**NOTE NOTE about hug with Elizabeth Gilbert                                                                  The chat was going really really well and we were connecting, Soul to Soul, and then my ego stepped in and asked if I could take a picture with the two of us. At that point she closed up and the conversation ended very shortly after that.  Ah!

D+Anger = Danger

D(enial) + Anger = Danger

The denial of anger could lead one to danger.

“The anger of a friend toward a friend, and the anger of parents toward their children – and of God toward men – is not a storm that uproots the tree, but a wind that strengthens the tree, and rids it of rotten fruit, so that the healthy fruit will increase in number and beauty.”  St. Nicholai of Zica

This is a very interesting perspective on anger. This anger journey I have taken, or rather, The Flow of Anger, took me on its journey. It was like getting into a river raft boat and heading down into class five rapids where one gets tossed about and tossed out. But, I did not even know I was angry. That is the scary part. I was so unaware of the deep deep deep underlying seething anger that I just plodded along on life’s path by covering it up, running from it, and dealing with it in two ways: being a super-being, and being a passive-aggressive being. The super being me showed up being as super positive, super congenial, super people pleasing, super accommodating, and, in super denial. That is one side of the coin. The other side of the coin my anger came out by my being passive aggressive. I would be angry on the inside, pleasant on the outside, but my actions  revealed my true inner state. Rather than facing and expressing my feelings, or god-forbid, me discussing my feelings, I would counteract with my stubborn stance. It was subterfuge. It was a veiled protest.

Even though I was a married adult woman and a co-partner in a successful business, underneath it all I saw myself as a girl, a little girl. This inner little girl, about five years old was the real person showing up in the adult life. She did not know how to stand up for herself, speak up for herself, and provide for herself. This little girl had to maneuver and navigate in an adult world and in her adult body, even though her emotional developmental age stood still and had not progressed past her tender five year old self.

She did not see nor feel herself as an adult, nor the successful businesswoman everyone said she was. But rather, she saw herself as this little girl pretending to be an adult. It was a scary high tight rope she was on. She was tip toeing on egg shells. She was doing her best to please the adults and their expectations. Like a duck is drawn to water, this little girl had two imprints on her that dictated her attitude and behavior. The first being – little girls are to be seen and not heard – thus, stay quiet, keep quiet, and, the corner is your place of abode. The second being – little girls do not get angry – it was a big No.No.No! The expression of anger was not allowed, it was shut down, it was frowned upon, it was not the way sweet little girls ought to behave. They must be sweet at all times.  (Note: “Must” is a word that i disdain now.)

Oh my! Dear Lord have mercy! Abundant mercy at that! Not just a dollop scoop of mercy. Not just a bucket full of mercy. Not just an ocean full of mercy. But the Eternal Mercy of the Cosmic Consciousness of Christ.

Interesting Side Note: Since I grew up this way, observing more that speaking, my observation skills became laser sharp and super astute. I became a masterful surveyor of human interactions, nuances, and intentions. I also became an accomplished listener. I was the go to therapist for adults and strangers. In this respect, I advanced well beyond my years. See, there is always a blessing in everything, even though we do not know why at the time and even though it may seem  like an injustice. God always uses the clay of our lives to make something beautiful, in time and with patience. Then there is the deeper and more eternal perspectives of Soul Contracts, Karmic Debts, and lessons needed for growth. These were some of the other reasons for why I was set up the way I was by the Cosmos in my journey. Deep deep deep are the layers.

Add to the above formula or imprint the Christian mentality that was in my head: turn the other cheek, forgive forgive forgive – seventy times seven hundred, and anger is not a Christian virtue. Oh no, not anger – a good Christian girl/woman does not get angry, let alone display anger – no no no, a big ‘NoNo’ at that. Oh yes, I would on occasion point to Jesus turning over the tables in his anger, but then I would quickly retract and laugh, out loud. It was my way of putting my toe in the water of anger, but not actually swimming in it. I did not think that it was acceptable, nor did I even know what that would look like. I had to learn how to express my anger.

Now I am not saying that I never got angry or expressed anger, because I had. But it was superfluous anger, not working with and through the real source of it,  and it was projected at people and things that were irrelevant to the truth of my anger. It was at small slights. It was at world events. It was at politicians and leaders. It was directed at things, events and people who had nothing to do with the cause of my anger and were not even in my life.

Meanwhile, deep within me, like a volcano, the anger fire was building and rising slowly to the top being stoked with each occurrence. It was dormant for a long time just hovering at the surface but not exploding or boiling over. YET!

Volcano boiling over after stewing a long time. (Image: CNN.com)

I now see the expression anger as a basic human function and necessity, like going to the bathroom. Who in their right mind would deny themselves the gift (and joy) of the relief and release of going to the bathroom.  Emotions are just like that too. The two are analogous. We have a life experience. Likewise, we eat a meal. From each meal our body savors, processes, digests, absorbs the nutrients, and lastly releases the leftovers, the waste. No one would even think of holding it in for days, years, let alone decades. If it does not come out, it becomes toxic and lethal. Likewise with emotions. We have a  life experience. It can bring us joy or heartache. Joy, laughter, and the rainbow emotions are very socially acceptable in their expressions. It’s the shadow ones that are shunned, shut down, and discouraged. We the people are very uncomfortable when someone has or is expressing the shadow or the moon emotions. We try to distract ourselves and others. We deny them. We ignore them. We stuff them down deeper with food, substances, sugar, work, sex, and obsessions over gossip, sports, politics, hobbies and other people’s business. We runrunrun from  them by being busybusybusy. But that does not erase them nor negate them nor heal them. Healing them is by feeling them. Healing them is by stopping to look at them, acknowledge them, name them, and express them in a safe manner that does not harm others.

I know. I’ve been on both sides of the coin: the denial and the healing. In 2008 I  was in a marriage counselors office when the counselor said to me a most preposterous and false (I thought) statement and question,

“Why are you angry at your parents (and a number of other people).”

My knee jerk response was,

“I’m not angry at my parents (and a number of other people).”

(Note: The stronger the denial, the deeper it is buried and suppressed.)

Oh my! Lord have mercy! Mercy on me! Mercy on the heavens! Mercy on all the people in my life! Mercy on the next TEN YEARS of my life.He not only opened a can  of worms or a Pandora’s Box with that question, he opened up a cistern full of toxicity and set the tone and theme for the next ten years of my life. Such a simple little question did that.

Just the awareness and then the acknowledgment of anger, or any issue, is, I feel half the way to healing. One can not heal or work toward wholeness if one is not aware nor willing to admit that there is a hole that needs the Love and Light of God. But once one says, “oh yes, I have a booboo” and then if one invites and invokes  Divine Assistance in healing the pain, the prayer will be answered.

The journey of anger and working with it and through it was
HEART WRENCHING, emotionally taxing, physically exhausting, and
humbling humbling humbling humbling. I thought it would only be a few months or so, but it ended up being YEARS. When there is decades worth of built up anger, When the anger was not in my awareness, When the anger was suppressed, oppressed, ignored, denied, covered up, not socially acceptable to bring up or discuss or work through,


the Healing also had to be radical to get me to acknowledge it and then have the courage to work with it and through it, until it was all out and healed.

I also realized, or rather it was shown to me, that I did not want to (and that it would not be wise to) live or go through life with that “toxic energy” in me and worse yet, seeping out of me onto those I encountered and loved.

This was all done with an ABUNDANCE OF GRACE.                                                           i am Humbly Grateful,                                                                                                                          irena as i am                                                                                                             02/08/2018

PS                                                                                                                                    Now, my encounters and engagements with the other(s) is MORE AUTHENTIC, grace filled and LOVING because there is not this ball of “uckyicky stuff” between us. The communication lines & channels are more clean and more authentic by the Grace of God.

How i processed and dealt with that anger…well, that is another story for another day.


It’s called EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, or just simply, Tapping. And, I stumbled on to it about ten years ago, or rather, I was led to it.

It was 2007 and I had just finished reading a book by a healer whose office/practice was based in Old Town Scottsdale. I don’t remember now neither the name of the author nor the title of the book. Since for a number of years I had dubbed myself as the Queen of Clean, the book has long since left my domain. (Actually, in all of my “spring cleanings”, books were the hardest for me to part with.) I was so impressed by her approach and efficacy to healing that I went in search of her in Old Town Scottsdale. When I arrived to the address that was in the back of the book, she was no longer there but there was a sign on the door that she had moved to Scottsdale Rd & Shea Rd. Her neighbors confirmed that that is where they knew she had moved to, but they had lost touch with her. Thus, off I went on my quest to find her.

When I arrived at the professional office park and looked at the directory, she was not listed to my disappointment. But around this time I was listening to (online and audio books), attending seminars, and reading awareness and Hay House authors, and specifically Doreen Virtue’s work about Angels. She would say “follow the bread crumb trail”, which meant, follow the hints, signs,  and promptings that the Angels leave for us on the path of life. When I am on such a quest, sometimes I hum or sing a song from the movie “The Wizard of Oz” called “We’re Off to See the Wizard of Oz”. I see myself as “follow(ing) the yellow brick road”. And, most important of all, trust the path, however illogical, silly, or clowny it may seem. It’s almost like a treasure hunt with clues, but it is a real life game of following the path of Light suggestions. The office park directory did however list a different healer, a naturopath. My ancestors have a saying, “everything you need to know is at the tip of the tongue”, meaning, ask. Thus, I decided to walk over to this naturopath’s office and ask if they knew the whereabouts of this author/healer.

Side Note: If you think healing has to be painful and complicated, think again, just look to The Word, The Bible for instances where it is simple and easy. All that Namaan had to do to heal from leprosy in 2 Kings 5 was to plunge in the Jordan seven times. In the Book of Tobit, sight is restored with an ointment and a woman’s spiritual and earthly fortune returned by a simple sacred ritual in chapter eight. Tobias’s companion on his journey was in human form but in actuality was Archangel Raphael, the angel of healing. You just never know who is in your midst. Angles love disguising themselves!

I walked in, greeted the receptionist, showed her the book, and asked her if she knew the whereabouts of this healer. She said she was not aware of her but that the naturopath, who was not in at the moment, would be glad to assist me and she gave a tour of the office. During the tour she asked what I was needing healing for. I told her of my physical misalignments and that I was looking for a natural way of healing from the inside out. She said that she works in conjunction with the naturopath and her offering is  an energy healing modality called Reiki and emotional healing. She then asked if I would be interested in a session.

Now this was the moment of Truth. Would I proceed based on what was presented to me, OR, would I decline because it was not as I had expected it to be? By the Grace of God, I said yes, and it opened up a whole new world for me. It was like I had stepped through a door, a portal that was mysterious, magical, and I soon found out, gentle and effective. This receptionist was a Reiki and EFT practitioner. Although at the time I had no clue what that meant or what it had entailed, I was open and willing to try. It scared me to my core, and it opened up the core for gentle healing.

I laid down fully clothed on her massage table in her healing room, or womb of healing, a sacred space.  She lit some candles, put on some New Age music, asked me to relax, close my eyes, breathe deeply, and just allow. ‘Ok, I can do that’, I thought, even though I was slightly hesitant and  trepidatious. Then she pulled up her rolling stool, sat on it, began by calling in weird sounding names of people or spirits (Usui and Madame Takata), saying things that I had never heard before, and hovered her hands over my head. Part of me was curious, part of me was terrified, part of me was thoroughly confused, part of me said, “just be still” and another part began to feel deep deep relaxation and calmness. Fear was telling me several things: what if she is calling in the darkness, what if others found out what you were partaking in, what if she harms you in ways you are not even aware of, what would the church think of this, and the church would most certainly disapprove of this. This last thought surprised me but it would hover around me over the coming years as I went deeper and deeper down the path of spirituality and the New Age way.

This, my first ever Reiki session lasted about 45 minutes. My troublesome and worrisome thoughts aside, afterwards I felt much lighter, more hopeful, positive, and stronger. I was amazed, perplexed, surprised, and grateful for the relief I received, with seemingly no side effects.

Then, as I opened up to her about my emotional angst and tensions, she suggested we try a technique she had just learned and been certified in. It was called, EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, or simply put, “tapping”. She said that our bodies hold the energy of our tension and by voicing the feeling along with tapping on the body on certain meridians, channels of energy flow (chi), it would help release the insanity, intensity, and the grip it had on the body and mind. Again, because of my fraught emotional state and distress, I was willing to try anything that did not involve pharmaceuticals. As I spoke outbound my issues, she asked me on a scale of 1 to 10 how intense they were. It was usually in the 7 to 10 range. Then she tapped on her body and asked me to tap in the same places on my body (head, face, upper chest, hands, and underneath the arm pits) as I continued to speak my pain. I would begin with “Even though I feel _______________, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.” Then after we went through all the meridian points, I would do eye rolls and sing something happy, like “Happy Birthday”. Then she would ask me to rank the issue again.  I was amazed, perplexed, surprised, and grateful for the relief I felt by doing something as simple as speaking and tapping on my body. I also felt silly doing the practice. Now I take it very seriously and have embraced it whole heartedly. It literally lightened me up. It was like tonnes of emotional weight and baggage had been lifted off of my mind, Heart, shoulders, chest, and psyche. It all went somewhere. Where I am not sure, but it worked. The emotional intensity had downgraded from a 7-10 to a 0-3. It was miraculous, really.

I had another nine sessions with her. Just when I was becoming too depended on her, too needy, like on a narcotic, she moved to another state. God, The Universe was telling me, “She was Our instrument. She did not provide the healing. We sent it to you through her. You no longer need her. Let her go. Time to move onto your next teacher and healer.” This too would become a common theme: don’t get too attached, and move on to the next teacher.

Little did I know it then, but one day, I too would take the journey of Reiki attunements. But that is another story for another day.

Healing can be natural, gentle, simple, graceful, and peaceful.                                        Tap It Away, Gently,                                                                                                                  Irena As I Am                                                                                                      02/01/2018