October … a time to get ready for winter and a time to start celebrating family birthdays. Twice a month till Christmas we ate cake and opened presents as children. I came from a large family and a small neighbourhood so special occasions meant that everyone got invited. Sorting through slides this summer allowed me to observe myself and my brothers through the many stages of youth and helped remind me of the fun times we shared. Having these pictures stimulates my forgotten memories and makes designing the front cover easy. As the photographer, my Mom is delighted to see each month’s front cover and follows my Musings with great interest. I love hearing the interesting stories that people tell me as they resonate with a certain picture. They keep asking me if I am going to run out of photographs … someday, but by then my interest will be elsewhere as my business partners take over more of the publishing.
On the front cover this month is David, the firstborn of our family, holding ‘The Rack’ from the first moose that we ate as children after we moved to Rosswood, B.C. in 1959. I choose this photo to honour his 47th birthday, October 21st, and to publicly thank him for all the support and love he has given me over the years. It is great that he lives in Grand Forks and we can visit regularly, for he does remind me of my early days when hunting, farming and building buildings were the main- stay of life. He also mirrors my family upbringing for me and reflects the belief systems that were instilled in us as children.
Connecting my past with my present helps me to release stuck energy from my body as I continue to change and heal. During last month’s Rolfing session, Gary continued to work at loosening up my pelvis. As he pushed deep into the ligaments that control the rotation of my feet, they felt freer and moved without too much friction. Then he found points inside my mouth and in my neck that felt like knots of frustration stored from long ago. When he pushed on my tongue, I could it feel it pull deep from inside my pelvis. Then he moved to the front of the chest where he found one very sensitive rib just below my clavicle. As he pushed, I felt like it was on fire and it continued to burn for more than a week. I gave it attention as often as possible by rubbing it till the intensity lessened. I also made note that the corresponding point in the back moved as I pushed on the front rib: it seemed to be loosening up something in my spine where the nerves exit into the digestive organs.
During the summer I work week-ends at the Summerland Arena, as a Zamboni driver. Before each flooding, I fill up the machine with water. As I leaned against the tank waiting for it to fill, my fingers absent-mindedly started to rub on the tender spot on my chest. As I did, an old memory flashed into my mind as if it happened yesterday…I am eleven or twelve years old and we are in California on holidays … me, my Mom, my aunts and several friends are going shopping. I am skipping ahead, leading the way, for I know we have to cross the street. The women are busy chatting about ten or fifteen feet behind me and I stop at the crosswalk wishing they would hurry and catch up, as the light turns amber and then green. I put my foot forward to step into the street. And then I hear my mother’s voice… calling my name in a tone that meant danger. As I listened to the voice in my head from long ago, it sent cold shivers up and down my spine for several minutes. I remembered how abruptly I stopped and pulled my foot back onto the curb as a red convertible whizzed past my stomach. The fear that rose in my belly was instantaneous and I thought to myself… “Some holiday Mom would have had if I had been hit,” for somehow I knew that I would have been killed instantly. The adults caught up to me and as we crossed the street together, my aunt explained … “This is California. The people here drive fast and run yellow lights, so pedestrians have to be very careful before they cross.” Mom didn’t say anything as we continued towards the store and more shopping but I felt her fear and wanted to apologize for scaring her, but the moment didn’t allow it.
As I leaned back, listening to the water fill the tank, a daze came over me, tears came to my eyes as the stress released and the memory surfaced. I decided to continue on and reenact the drama, for I have learned that unspoken emotions get stored in the body and the best way to release them is to say them out loud. So I imagined my Mom and me talking after the incident, telling each other how we felt. I told her how scared I was and how bad I would have felt if I had ruined her holiday by getting killed. These are things that were never said because I knew they would have freaked her out. The thought of me dying still bothers her, so we seldom discuss it. As I kept rubbing the tender spot the pain faded and so did the tears but I wanted to share the experience with you for it helped me to understand yet another connection.
During that visit, my California cousins also showed me how to walk with class, toes pointed outwards, so I didn’t look a dumb country kid. I also attended an adult party where the rage of the day was dancing to Great Balls of Fire and chatting about one’s latest Rolfing session. I couldn’t help but overhear the many different opinions, for some people thought Rolfing was painful and others didn’t feel a thing. I also remember being amazed at the neon lights of the fast food drive-ins that stayed open way past dinner time and the creek bed of the Los Angeles River, which was paved twenty feet deep although it had less than twelve inches of water in it. Also, everyone drank from blue glass water bottles that were turned upside down in the hallways of all the office buildings.
Thirty years later I am living beside a creek that is paved, I drink bottled water, and I am enjoying getting Rolfed… Yes, it can be painful, but I feel it is worth it, for I know without a doubt that if I didn’t get help straightening up my body, I would be a hunched-over Grandma someday for whenever I see a hunched over lady on the street I stare at her, sending my love and hoping never to look like that.
I have learned that the shape of the body and the way we hold ourselves reflect stored memories, years and layers ?
of unspoken feelings… It doesn’t seem to matter if they are happy or sad, painful or joyful. If emotions are not spoken, recognized and released, we store them till we are ready to deal with them.
As my rib released, a band of tension in my opposite shoulder relaxed, and over the next few weeks my hip slowly shifted, causing me intense moments of discomfort as the muscles stretched or contracted. My shoulders are straightening and levelling as I become more aware of how each muscle is interconnected with every other muscle. I have learned to walk again with my toes pointing forward. Margaret, my yoga teacher, points out that “Our feet are like wheels: they need to point in the direction we are going.”
We truly have amazing bodies, and it is great that I am given the opportunity to connect with mine, for pain is such a good teacher. Getting used to really being in my body and feeling the shifts as they happen is delightful. I am grateful to be in a position to have so much assistance and thankful it happens, so that I can have something to write about. Totally trusting that the universe is abundant and will always give me exactly what I need is fairly easy for me. On those off days when I forget, Jan or Urmi will say something that reminds me that life is but an illusion and a journey, and we are here to enjoy it.