Saturday, December 24, 2011

Part 1...

We have seen the whales almost every other day for a total of 6 encounters. One day when we went out, they were not there – we assume they were eating all morning. They eat at depths of 1000 meters because the octopus they survive on lives at bottom of the sea floor. We made it our mission to eat some octopus while we were here so we could see if it was really worth diving 1000 meters for. I am happy to report – octopus is really good. At least the dish we had that was flavored with chopped up tomatoes, cilantro and other yumminess and we couldn’t get enough.

Even Angie liked it – as long as she could close her eyes and not see the tentacles. I thought it would be chewy but it was very tender. So we forgave the whales for their one day of dining when we were ready to swim. We took a dip along the coast and snorkeled for a bit.

Finnley has this amazing life jacket that allows her to float without her face in the water. It even has a handle on the back so you can tow her along. I will have to find one for the therapy pool – I will finally be able to get her in and out of the pool on my own!

Each whale encounter has a day of rest in between so we have a chance to process what we saw, felt and learned from the whales. I really feel like this has been an intense study course and almost impossible to take it all in. Roma has done therapy with each of us on an individual basis. Angie’s was more art based and they painted a talking stick with dolphins on it. One of the sticks is so big we will have to leave it here until we can find a way to ship it home. One day at sea, there was a piece of floating wood which we put into the boat. Angie stripped off the bark and I am in the process of painting a whale on it. I am not the artist that my mother is but it almost looks like my grandfather whale so at least I will enjoy looking at it.

One of these therapy sessions became my healing point or my “ahh ha” moment with the whales. This session prepared me for a miraculous swim with many whales that I will never be able to duplicate. My session took place at Roma’s home, on her patio. We spoke a lot about not feeling safe and why I have always carried that with me. It opened up doors that until now, never made sense to me or that maybe I wasn’t willing to explore.

For people who have not done reading and research on how our time in the womb and how our actual birthing affects the rest of our life experience – this may seem strange to you. But know that how we as women - think, feel, act and react to things while we are pregnant, affects our babies. The baby’s father – whether they are there or not, how they participate in the pregnancy and birth, affects our babies. The food we ingest during pregnancy and the drugs we take, affect our babies. The drugs that are administered to us during labor - affect our babies. The fear we may feel in our labor process, affects our babies. These things can shape our babies view of the world as it being one of safety and comfort or a world of worry and uncertainty. Because these things affect US as babies and shaped OUR view of the way we see the world.

I believe that my parents did the best that they could and that their parents did the same. But that doesn’t mean that my outcome was what it should have been or what I deserved. And likewise – their births and life experiences were not what they deserved as babies. So many factors play into who we are and how we are made up. And forgiveness for those events and details opens up a lot of healing and smoothes out the edges to our souls. I just didn’t realize that by healing my insides – I am only better to help my daughters heal and grow. That is why this research study treats the family and it is a significant part of the study.

My session with Roma began with breath work. I had never heard of that so I went in with no preconceived notions as to what it was. I laid down on the cushions, relaxed with the music – kind of the way I do it with my HypnoBirthing visualizations in class. Body loose and relaxed, following Roma’s voice as my guide. She led me to breathe deep and focus on my breath. I had such a difficult time breathing deep. I felt that I was breathing deep but when I put my hand on my chest I could feel that it was shallow. At one point, I almost felt like I was suffocating because I couldn’t get enough air in. My thoughts would pull me away and my breathing would almost stop. Roma would redirect me to focus on the breath and it would pull me back to the realization that I couldn’t get a deep breath and once again the suffocation feeling would return. I am not sure how long this went on but a long time.

Roma then suggested I picture the kind of birth I wanted for myself. It caught me off guard because I had been trying so hard to just breathe. And then it was like I experienced a flash of a memory without seeing a picture – more like a feeling throughout my whole body and a knowing of what I had experienced at my birth. That suffocation feeling returned in full force and I began to cry harder than I have ever cried. Not from pain exactly but from the force of trying to breathe but not being able too. I cried a silent cry with tears pouring from my eyes . My ears filled up with tears as they just kept coming. I didn’t have words, just feelings from my body as to how I felt.

Side Note: {At my birth, my mother was induced with Pitocin. Not a whiff of Pitocin to get things going as they may refer to it now, but a lot of Pitocin with no pain medication. Her desire had been a natural birth and had requested no pain relief but she was not told that Pitocin was powerful labor drug and produced much stronger contractions than natural labor with little break for mother or baby in between. When the contractions became unbearable, she requested pain medication only to be denied and then the Dr. upped the Pitocin even more to hurry me along. It was excruciating for her and she felt like she would die from the pain. As a baby, I was part of that equation too and nobody asked me if I was ready to come that way.}

As the tears rolled down my cheeks, Roma asked again for me to picture the birth that I wanted. My thoughts went to Finnley’s birth.

It was calm and loving. The labor was gentle and natural. I was in charge of my birth and felt supported by my team. I was able to surrender to my body and work together with my baby to birth her. It was a magical time afterward with hours of skin to skin and laughing and amazement from everyone there. Her dad and sister were there – they loved on her as well. I was able to picture that for myself because it was what I was able to give Finnley. Is that why she is so open and trusting? Is that why she melts hearts with her smile and has such a deep love for everyone around her. Could that have been me if my birth were like hers?

I then pictured myself being held skin to skin. I could not see faces but knew that the first arms were those of my mother. I was warm and nestled in to her chest as she spoke softly to me. This was her desire for my birth as well so I felt her presence there very strong. I then felt that my dad held me and that my brothers and sisters were there. Everyone laughing and cuddling me. It was what Finnley had it’s what I has wanted. I felt a connection to my family that I have never had before. A peace came over me and the tears kept coming.

Roma let me emerge from this in my own time. She held my hand and wiped my tears. The sun had set by this time and a warm breeze was brushing across the patio when I finally sat up.

I immediately noticed that I could breathe. And the breath was now deep. A full breath that filled my lungs without a struggle. I have never felt breath like this. I felt more alive...but didn’t understand the full impact until the next day.

To Be Continued…

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our Strong Little Girl…

Finnley has been the most amazing travel companion on this voyage around the world. Our flight over was long but she played most of the time and made everyone smile around her. She had only one small fit of crying during the last leg but we felt it was our fault for a medicine overdose! Even the layover in Madrid was ok as long as we kept the stroller moving. We noticed what other parents were dealing with so it really could have been worse.

Roma and Volker shared with us last night how many worries and reservations they had about us coming from such a long way to Tenerife. She acknowledged me for my bravery in making the trek. The truth us – it was not bravery – it was me just being naïve! My extensive world traveling has left me with zero stamps on my passport up to this point. They don’t stamp you in Hawaii or Florida… I truly had no idea what, “It’s on the other side of the world” meant. I just knew that if that if the other side of the world is where the dolphins and whales were – then that’s where we would go. It gives new meaning to “ignorance is bliss.” There was no question in my mind and no fear about the decision to go. Finnley led us to her healing and I have learned that her soul is much wiser than mine. I am grateful that I ignored the few people who tried to explain the gravity of the trip to me and basically told me that I was crazy. I’ve had that “crazy” label all my life – at this point – it doesn’t even phase me!

For Finnley, this journey has been life altering. I am in awe of her calmness and ease with everything that has been asked of her this trip. She has been taken from a sun kissed boat repeatedly and put into cold sea water without a single complaint. Water and music have always been Finnley’s favorite forms of expression and her best mode of body movement so it has been incredibly therapeutic for her to enter the sea with Roma singing to the whales. Finnley was made for this. Maybe Finn created this somehow before she came…and how perfect is her name for this work? She named herself so maybe this is all her doing…who am I to question her plans?

Roma has a silver bell that she wears around her neck and she uses it to call in the whales. To watch Roma work is so beautiful. The songs that she and Volker sing to bring in the whales for the day is magical and the songs resonate and stay within your heart space, if that makes sense. Angie makes fun and laughs at my “English version” of the songs when I sing them because I hear the words so differently than what Roma sings. I have the tune right but I tend to massacre the language. Finnley gets it though and that’s what counts! Roma also makes whale sounds below the water that Finn loves to hear. It turns their heads and they respond, so the whales must understand her. Roma and Volker’s work is inspiring to say the least.

Finnley is gathering whales each time she enters the water and harnessing their healing. This journey has not been all roses for her but she has gone through it like she understands the uncomfortable parts are necessary for the healing to take place. Her sleeping has been even worse and I am sure that jetlag is to blame for some of that, but it’s really been hard on her.
At first, her seizures increased at night to the point where her legs extended and contracted each time she fell asleep and then the rapid movement would startle her awake. We knew this could be part of the healing process as her body made a shift but it has not been easy to watch my daughter as she has struggled through each night. Neither one of us has had sleep.

The other night, Roma brought over a homeopathic remedy for Finnley. Roma has a homeopathic Pediatrician who lives in Germany. This doctor only treats children with homeopathy and is an expert in remedies. Ignecia(if I am spelling it correctly) is for emotional release of sadness(other things as well but this is the only thing I caught). I took it as well. She said she hoped that one dose would be enough for Finnley and that if we see increased seizures it would be a good sign. Trust in these caretakers has been a big part of my process in our whale journey. Who wants to see increased seizures? But my gut said it’s right - so we gave the remedy. (My doula training taught me to trust my gut and it’s never wrong if I follow it – so I never question the gut!)

We gave it to her about 15 minutes before we left for dinner. It was the first time we were going out to eat in Tenerife - at a highly recommended local restaurant. We have been so careful with eating in but this was our treat night. We made the trek up the hills to “Pedro’s b y the Sea”(I have calves of steel by the way – this town has been all uphill!). Finnley sat very reserved in her stroller all the way there. We sat, we ordered and had just received our water when she began to sob. I mean – lip quivering, huge crocodile tears – it was heart wrenching. At first we thought something had scared her and we were trying to console her the usual ways. Then her legs began to jerk and the screaming began. I took her outside to calm her down but it was not happening. She cried and cried and it only got louder. After about 15 minutes of that, we decided to get the food to go and started back down the hill. Peggy stayed behind to get the food and Angie and I went home. Once we got Finnley walking, she quieted down and never made a peep the rest of the night. In fact, she was quiet smiley and calm. Poor Peggy sat at the restaurant for over an hour – they thought she cancelled the order when she asked for it “to go.” I guess in Spain you have to say, “Can I take it away.” Who would have known that?
Finnley slept great that night – only up for two hours and no seizures. She went back to bed and slept until 10am. Roma was thrilled with the release effects and apologized for giving it right before we left for dinner. She didn’t expect it to work so fast.

Finnley has been making more eye contact and really interacting with the whales. She looks right at them and giggles at their sounds. She loves Roma’s singing and snuggles right in to her chest. Roma holds her on the edge of the boat and Finnley dangles her feet into the water while the boat is going full speed and she loves it. The harder that child is bounced and thrown around the more she laughs. Her neck strength seems to already be improving but that could be because she is just seeing better and wants to hold her head up more. I am so grateful for each tiny step we see happening. And it’s all thanks to you – everyone that has supported us in this magnificent endeavor. We will be forever in your debt.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Within the Eyes of the Granfather Whale...

Translucent as ice blue glass – his eyes offered me protection

Wrinkles and the folds of skin underneath that smiled in a peaceful, playful way

Trustworthy and steady - all is well – I am safe

Forgiveness for myself and for others is freely given while he looks deep into my soul

I saw his light as he shared in mine

I am whole and now present for others, for he opened up my heart for healing

The warmth of love under a chilled sea, encompassed my being, as I floated within arms reach of this giant

God’s work through God’s messenger in this heaven below the waves

So soft, so gentle, so massive, so enormous

The blessings of love and hope all within the eyes of the Grandfather Whale.

How do we share this experience....

With mammals as large as Whales, you would almost expect them to be intimidating because of their sheer volume in size. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Swimming next to something that large puts your life and presence on earth sharply into perspective. These creatures command the sea. Not just with size but with their intention as they glide through the water. Whales are one of the oldest species on earth and Blue Whales are the largest of all the mammals. They emanate an ancient knowledge of the planet that is hard to put into words. Feelings of safety, softness and love pour all around you and seep into your pours as you enter their world. Have you ever wept under water? It’s all one can do when you are surrounded by such power and grace.

The whales have certain markings and sometimes fin patterns that make it easy to recognize the same ones when you see them over and over again. One rather large male(my guess is about 30 feet in length and if I were to hug him around his neck, I wouldn’t even come up half way with my arms) has a distinctive nick out of his top dorsal fin. He was with us all day but was safely keeping his distance. Almost overseeing the days activities, just making sure everyone was okay with no need to get involved directly.

As I watched this scene unfold with Angie in this vast Atlantic Ocean, I cried. The beautiful journey that took place on the surface of the water was nothing as compared to what I knew was going on down below. She and Roma got in together and swam towards the two whales. They roved about on the top of the water with their plastic flippers, while whale fins and blowholes would rise and fall in a flowing pattern. The girls were in the water for about five minutes when more and more fins began to appear. Soon, whales of all sizes and pairings were around them. Mothers and babies, adolescents and fathers, groups of three – they were everywhere, swimming in circles around my daughter. It was breathtaking.

And then, from the far right, that massive male with the nicked fin made a b-line towards Angie. When they swim so directly with purpose, you can’t help but see flash backs of “Jaws” and hear the music in your head as you catch your breath and remember these are whales – and that fin I see is a gentle mammal not a man eater. He was there in an instant and he stopped just short of Angie and bobbed softly to the surface. He was within a foot of her, resting with his back out of the water. Her paddling stopped and I could feel the eye contact between them. He held that space as the other whales began to circle around both of them in a clockwise motion. Fifteen to twenty whales making the most beautiful circular ripples in the water that I have ever seen. It was pure love and protection. You feel it on such a cellular level out there in the sea and it warms your soul from the inside out. There is nothing like it and no words to adequately describe it. Emotions and communication from the whales of safety, love, protection and unity rose out of that water and encompassed you. Roma shared afterward that what I couldn’t see were the small whales were circling underneath their bodies at the same time as the larger ones were swimming on the surface.

When we get back into the boat, our whale experiences are not discussed right away. We sit with the sacred pictures and images in our minds until we make our way back to shore. Messages and ideas the whales communicate to us are taken into our hearts first and we feel them before we speak of them. Roma knows that the first instinct we have as humans is to chatter about what just took place and so she has asks us to sit with the experience first and share later. Some things are shared with each other and other experiences and messages we keep to ourselves. Angie has not spoken much about that experience except to say – “Wow, you could feel that love.”

I would only add to that – WOW…you could feel that love…now how do we share that with others?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Whales Can Save Our Souls...

Such a dramatic title - maybe - but these creatures are far more than we are as human beings. I wish you were all here to see the fins begin to show themselves on the horizon each morning as we go out. First one... and then another... and then the extended whale family almost surrounds us as we cut through the water. You feel so included with these animals. No judgement, only acceptance - it feels like home.

This morning the sea was still and reflected the sun like translucent glass. The shades of blue were so calming and had a glittery sheen to them. I wish that I was a painter to capture that image, although I am not sure even a photograph could do justice to God's work of this mornings sea.

As I watch daily how these animals are creating change in my daughters, I am in awe at the love and humanness I feel as I swim with them. Finnley makes more and more eye contact after each encounter, Angie has been able to voice feelings and ideas that she has been to shy to reveal up to this point. Daily I am shown images of life messages the whales are wanting to share with me.

Today for example, I was shown that life is safe. A message that I have not carried in my life. I have been guarded and in "protection mode" as I have lived thus far. My vulnerability has been low on the scale as I have built up walls to hide and shelter myself from pain and hurt that I may or may not encounter. Not sure where I learned this or who I patterned after - but to me - the walls sheltered me from the "yuck" life brings. But those walls have also kept me from the joy life brings and the love that it offers. I didn't realize the full impact of that until a father whale showed me that this morning.

Usually, when we get into the water, we take Roma's hand and she guides us toward the whales. She is our safety net. Sometimes the whales are right under us and other times they elude us and we must swim to them. Today, my fins were ready early and Roma said, "Get in the water first and look down - go towards them." As I entered the water on my own - without that familiar hand to hold, I saw several whales in front of me. The large father whale(I estimate about 20 feet long or so) turned towards me and began to swim right to me. He was massive, enormous, majestic and a presence to say the least - My heart stopped as he got closer and closer but not wanting to put out a scared energy towards him, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes for a moment and stopped swimming. He kept coming and when he was about about three feet in front of me and I was sure we would collide - he dove down just enough to go under my feet and then came up around my side. We locked eyes and he ask me to follow him. No words - it was in thought that he communicated and we began to swim together. Other whales in the family joined underneath and we moved together. My heart was calmed and I felt a part of them. It was a feeling bigger than I have ever felt. And I felt safe. Life is safe. As I rejoined Roma and her warm hand a few minutes later - I was different. I am different.

We are all part of each other. We are all here to help each other. We are each others safety nets. I am shown that lesson daily with those of you who help me with my girls, my business, my home and my spiritual life. I am now able to accept it. Why do I guard so much? Why do we guard so much? I teach that birth is safe and I wholeheartedly believe that. But I missed the lesson that the rest of the time here is safe. We need to get that message to our children so they can live and love what life brings. Life is to short to live in fear of what may or may not happen.

Our hearts are full as we travel back to shore each day and a quiet reverence rests above the boat. Our time with the whales is too short and the lessons we gain - almost too much...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

We are here in Tenerife!

A HUGE THANK YOU for all of you who helped me bring my little girl to these whales. Yes - we are still taking donations and if you have mailed checks they will be cashed when we return home - those are the questions I have seen the most in my email.

It is the most amazing, overwhelming, gratitude filled experience of our lives. We were been bumped from our first flight, had our luggage lost, things stolen from the luggage and got it 2 and 3 days later - BUT - it showed us that we can live in the same clothes, bathe in the ocean and meet people that want to help the Americans who speak REALLY BAD spanish! This would not have been possible without all of you - Thank You!

We are having to Taxi everywhere and have learned that you ask how much BEFORE you get in. We have to buy our water from the grocery store in 2 gallon sizes - good thing we have Finn's stroller for the transport. The euro is a lot lower than our dollar so we are being very careful as to what we spend and so far are managing quite well. We found Nutella and Peanut Butter for Angie so she is happy. The WiFi has been down since we arrived so I found a nice German tourist today who took me to a pub and that's where I am. I have to hurry because we go out with the whales again today.

We have swam with the Whales three times now and there just aren’t words… The Dolphins haven’t come down the coast yet so they may show up or it will just be the whales. Awesome, breathtaking and spiritual. The whales just hover around Finnley. We(Angie & I) have to swim to them but they just come to her and surround her – it’s astounding.

The baby ones flip their tails on the top of that water around her and the mamas swim underneath her. They just line up and sit by her. I heard them for the first time yesterday while snorkeling with them. I am getting messages for my life as well each time I swim them and a lot of tears are coming. The way these researchers are connected to these creatures is astounding. They call them in to us with singing and a harmonica. The sea will be perfectly open = not a whale in site for as far as you can see and then the singing starts and they emerge all around us. It's magical. Steven Speilberg couldn't do it justice. Big, massive deep grey fins, just floating in the water. We aren't allowed to take photos of the boat trips because it disrupts the process but they will email them to us once we are home.

Finnley loves the water and the boat and smiles with the whales. Angie is having a lot of processing too – this is truly a once in a lifetime trip. Finnley is making so much more eye contact with all of us. Yesterday she kept looking right at the whales and laughing. It brings tears to my eyes. I don't know if I have ever cried this much. I will try to update again this weekend. THANK YOU so much again!! Love to you all!

About Me

I am a mom of two beautiful girls. Our family has been greatly blessed by the Lord. His message of love and hope needs to be shared and my girls are a testimony of His plan for all of us.