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Thursday, October 13, 2011

charming places: adventuregirl log day 4: the vision quest

The Vision Quest
I know this is going to sound unbelievable. I know. My friends kiddingly call me Spock since I treasure logic but this, I can't explain so I'll just lay out the facts.
It was 6:18am when I glanced at the clock. I woke up happy and opened the sliders to the patio. The sky was still dark blue over Red Mountain Resort and the air smelled like fresh laundry drying in the sun. I noticed a bunny sleeping beneath the sage bush. I was quiet and slowly moved into a few good morning yoga poses on the red rock patio that was still warm beneath my feet and breathed in the cool desert air. I got dressed: white t-shirt / black yoga pants and my Merrell hiking shoes. Hair in a ponytail and Baby Coppertone waterproof sunscreen. I was good to go for the big day, my vision quest day.
With my backpack and my schedule I walked over to the cafe for my morning shake. I was doing the Weight Loss & Well Being Week as well as the Detox Week and I was feeling amazing. I filled up my Camelbak (a hydration backpack that has a water container that you can sip from as you hike) with ice water, got my Detox shake that the kitchen had waiting for me and stepped out into the sunshine. I needed to be ready for what was to come. Today my schedule went from 7am straight through until 10pm. I would continue to do things that challenged/scared me: Today’s two challenges among the busy schedule: hike alone into Snow Canyon and meet with a Shaman for a Life Path Reading and Sound Healing
I looked at the map the outdoor concierge had given me and I set out alone. Alone. There was no safety net here. It was a magnificent bright blue, sunny, hot 90+ degree morning. I had water and my phone which I was told would work to at least halfway through the canyon. Setting out I listened to my Western themed play list I had prepared: John Denver, Glen Campbell, Frank Sinatra. Taking a left out of the resort I started hiking along the street until I hit Snow Canyon. As I walked along, I stopped to smell the sage brush. I plucked a few leaves and crushed them between my fingers. It smelled like Thanksgiving dinner. It was potent. It smelled hot. I took off my headphones to listen to the quiet. A hawk flew overhead and I heard his wings move through the air. Whisp, whisp, whisp. I decided to keep my headset off and be present to all my senses. The air was hot but dry. It felt like the sauna at my gym. I imagined the toxins leaving my body with every step I took. The effect of the red rocks against the blue sky was technicolor.

And I wasn’t alone. On this hike I saw bunnies, lizards, a rattlesnake (I was becoming good at spotting them) and several different species of birds. I found coyote tracks and scat (animal poop that identified the animal as coyote).

As I hiked I looked up at the enormous rocks/mountains and I wondered exactly how many hundreds of generations have been awed by the same question. Further on into the canyon, the rocks started to resemble things. This one looked like an alien face to me. What do you think?
My legs began to ache. I remember hearing that this was a sign of dehydration. I drank more water. I began to think about my life. I was so grateful for my husband and our dog. Sometimes when I think about that stroke of luck in that one moment that L. and I met, I am amazed at the serendipity of it. How lucky I was to be in that exact place at that exact time and here we are now. Life is such a series of moments that can be life-altering. There is such humility when I think about this. I started to think about the losses we’ve experienced as well but I wanted this week to be positive, to propel me forward. I pushed these sad, negative thoughts out of my head and hiked. Hard.

At 4 miles I knelt down on the soft sand and I stopped to thank God for my life, for all of it, for all of the amazing things that had happened and even the not so good things that had happened in my life to lead me to this very moment and what was about to come, including what was to happen later that day.
Meeting the Shaman
I am a logical girl. I worked at Microsoft and I love structure. I can’t abide clutter and I love logic puzzles. Which makes sense that I would choose a resort where medical science could help me learn how to best treat my body so it runs optimally. However, one of the reasons I chose Red Mountain was because in addition to logic and science they also offered something for my spiritual side, the otherworldly part of me.

After a morning of hiking and swimming I met Betina Lindsey, a Shaman Spirit Guide in a place called the Butterfly Building, an adobe dome structure on the far edge of the resort. When I entered Betina’s space it smelled like a cross between a campfire and incense burning in church. We said hello and she immediately turned me towards east, facing the window. I fixed my gaze on the mountains in the distance as the Shaman stood behind me and placed her hands on my shoulders and called upon the winds of the east. I closed my eyes as we turned north, west then south as she called upon the winds and the spirits. I felt tears roll down my cheeks and I know this sounds crazy but I swear to God I felt so much energy and I was afraid if I opened my eyes there were be a legion of Native American Shamans staring back at me. I kept me eyes closed tight. I realized I didn’t want to know either way.

After the opening prayers Betina led me to a chair where we spoke for a few moments. She took several stacks of cards like tarot cards out and asked me to select cards from the stacks. I complied and when dozens of cards were arrayed before us she started to turn them over. It was all good. There was one card left to be turned later. One of the cards was two people in a bowl much like that children’s nursery rhyme I vaguely remember. She smiled at me and said “You and your husband have a very good relationship.”

“Yes, that’s true. You can tell that from a bowl?”

“Yes,” she said “You’re in a BOWL!”

I nodded. “Right. We’re in a bowl. That’s good. Bowls are cozy. OK.”

After the reading the Shaman led me to an area on the floor where she asked me to choose an item from the nature collection she had assembled. I chose a seashell. She motioned for me to lay down on the sheepskin rug. As I did she placed the seashell on my sternum and I closed my eyes. She placed other items on me, a stone on my throat, one on my forehead. I pressed the logical part of my mind to be quiet, to see where this goes. Being brought up Catholic in parochial schools for 16+ years I was taught not to believe in any of this but after interviewing psychic Sylvia Browne so many times when I hosted MSN Live, there were things I couldn’t explain and I realized I had to open my mind up to religions, other beliefs like right now.

I know, again, it sounds crazy but I felt myself float. The Shaman was kneeling in front of my head with her hands holding my head softly as she prayed. I couldn’t hear what she was saying but I didn’t care. I felt myself float. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to move. It was lovely. She asked me what I wanted out of this session. I started to cry. I told her I wanted to be a mother so much and that my heart breaks for every baby that we have lost. I hurt. I felt guilty for not being able to bring them into this life. She asked how many. I told her 9. "There were 9," I said. The Shaman was quiet for a moment and then she said we are going to love each one of these babies, kiss them and send them off to be with God. It was time for me to let them go, to not keep them bound to me forever. My tears filled my ears. It sounded like she was speaking to me underwater. I heard her say “Baby #1, we embrace you. . .your mother loves you. . .she’s letting you go be with God. . .” I don’t remember the exact words. I do remember I didn’t want to let my daughter go. We did this 8 more times, ever so softly that only the Shaman and I and the baby would hear.

Tears flowed as the Shaman created this incredible music via a drum. It sounded like the noise when you wet your finger and run it along the top of a wine glass but as she did this over my body I felt my entire body reverberate. It felt like the music, the sound was reaching into every cell of my body. (I know how this sounds, I know, but I swear to you this is the truth.)

And then it was time to open my eyes. I didn’t want to. I wanted to stay in this floaty moment of bliss, of pureness, of finally letting go of the guilt and the sad and the feelings of failure for losing my job and our children. I failed. I was a failure at the most basic thing in life, having a child, having a job.

I opened my eyes and saw Betina smiling at me. “How did that go?” she asked.

I sat up and shook the tears from my ears. I looked up at the Shaman. “That was amazing. I sent the babies off to be with God and they all went but the first one. Grayson stayed. She didn’t want to leave.” Betina smiled at me again. “OK.”

Betina took my hand and led me back to the chairs. There was one card left. She met my eyes then looked down at the card. I turned it over. It said “Forgiveness.” I have chills running through my body as I type this. I can’t explain this session. I can’t explain the feeling I had when I left. I felt renewed.

Later that night after dinner and yoga and several sessions I was outside by the pool. It was a little after midnight and the only light was from the pool. I was on the phone with L. I was missing him and telling him about my day, about the session with Betina and my vision quest. Throughout the call though I was distracted by a bird that kept hovering near me. Down to my head, just millimeters away from me she would swoop then back up. L. asked what it was. I was about to tell him a swallow when the hummingbird stopped maybe a foot from my face and hovered there. In the pale aqua light from the pool we stared at each other. I whispered to L. “It’s a hummingbird. This is incredible.” and then she flew away. I told L. I loved him and we said good night. I needed to go process this. As a logical girl this day was blowing my mind.

Later that night, I had the most vivid dreams of Native American faces coming towards me, not threatening, just sort of like I was at a cocktail party and they were swinging by to say hello and aren’t these canapes fantastic? I would wake up and think OK, enough. I need to sleep. I would fall back asleep and there they would be. Faces, hello, how are you? This went on all night. While at first I was scared, when I gave in and went with it I slept like a baby. I felt like I was watched over and for the first time in a very long time I didn’t feel like I had to worry.

I had been forgiven.

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