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Wiggle your fingers. Begin to move your toes. Feel your body come back into awareness. This is the end and the beginning. Shavasana.


You could say Story Charmer has been in shavasana the last six months. Shavasana, the Sanskrit word for “corpse pose,” comes at the end of a yoga practice, the last pose in a sweating, stretching, praying, (sometimes pleading) workout.

Like it sounds, the body stretches out onto the floor like a corpse, limbs heavy, muscles slack. Breath slows. Heart rate calms. And, while I haven’t spent six months lying on my back in the dark, I have spent six months tucked into the quiet cocoon of a basement office, quaintly set in a back yard cottage, 1000 miles from the city and community I called home the last 4 years.

Sweating it out

In the months before its shavasana, my life became its own stretching, sweating, deepening yogic practice when I reached into love, packed up my single-gal ways, and moved to San Francisco with my boyfriend. A few months later, spent, and stirred by my creative urge, I gave up the work on which I’d built my business. And a few months after that, wondered

what’s my identity anymore?
what will I say without the crux of my business?
am I running far far away from everything I’ve built? And if so,
to what leaping-into-the-dark end?

Answerless, I telescoped back from social media and work communities, drifting farther away the dimmer my purpose became. Who am I? What is Story Charmer built on? What am I sharing? Are we friends because we’re buying from each other? Or are we buying from each other because we’re friends? Wait, we’re friends, right?

Further down in the heart, I cooked dinners for my boyfriend, wondered at cohabitation after so long solo, carried on intense breakthrough sessions with my therapist, and recoiled … in peace. After holding life, bracing against challenge, supporting the warrior pose of business-woman, and longer, of Pema, for such a duration, stillness was deafening.

Heartbeat in stillness

Despite its name, corpse pose is very much alive. The body’s rest is awash in the heat, sweat and prayer that came before. In this most vital pose, the body is resetting, integrating—its muscles, organs, its spirit—healing itself in the empty space before the action of every day resumes, and fills it. It’s the end of practice, and the beginning of what’s next.

Six months after it began, I can see that my practice had been intense, and that the silence was shavasana. Some stillness owns you till you take what it offers.

Curating the empty space

Story Charmer will be seeing some big changes in the coming months. The blog, she’ll slim down to stories on the journey, machinations in the mind. No explicit coaching here. Just exploring, relating, filtering life through story to find its perspective, its invitation to transform. The space cleared will make way for a new site and my gorgeous and gritty new story coaching offer in the new year.

For much of my copy writing career, I thrilled to my favorite part of the process, the client interview. Our conversations and what gets created from them are one hour of epic. And then, I’d slink off to my dark corner to write, solo, for another 20 to 30 hours. With my new offer, I’m over the moon to have found the sweet spot of client interaction, creation, and serving a (most fabulous) concrete need. I’ll tell you all about it in the weeks leading up to the launch. Till then, I hope you’ll enjoy the whopper stories that will inhabit Story Charmer till year’s end from South America.

Yep! Restored by shavasana, I’m on the “road” out in the world again. This time beginning in Buenos Aires and points along the Atlantic Southern Hemisphere. And it involves a ship, and the Amazon jungle, and bodies, stretching into life.

More to come… :-)


Photo credit: I found this lovely shavasana image at


Mind’s eye

It is a Saturday. I pin my voice recorder mic to my jacket and lie down on the crest of a grassy hill. View of the ocean. University buildings behind me. Weekend courses in session and people around, but no one close. I plan on talking to myself about some very off-the-wall stuff, so “no one close” is important. No more futzing. Final falsetto trill shakes the nerves. I close my eyes.

I breathe. I meditate. Almost immediately, I see a woman in my mind’s eye. She wears white denim pants, a white sweater, loosely knit, and a slender belt on her jeans. She is barefoot. She stands there looking like she is waiting for something. Of course I figure I am making her up…so she waits. Finally I say, “Nancy? Are you here?”

The image smiles.


Reach my story

An image of a DaVinci drawing pops into my head, the man in the circle. I ask her if that is for me, and she nods.

Weird. Okay, continuing. I notice a few other things about her out loud, like she’s not wearing glasses, she’s standing, not sitting. I get this feeling that she’s still waiting, and that something is working. So, I launch in.

“Can you tell me why I’m here today?”

She has been nodding up to now. I tell her, “You can speak to me. I would like to hear your voice.”

Nancy speaks. I can’t hear her, but I am reading her lips as she speaks slowly. “I want you to tell my story. I want you to reach my story to the world and all who will listen to it.”

She is nodding and saying thank you. I’m watching her mouth move, turning into communication, and I get a rush of wonder.

Rush of wonder

“Thank you, Nancy. I’m listening and I’m watching. What is your story? What do you want me to say for you, on behalf of you? I feel an urgency in my chest and my heart right now, kind of a welling up.”

Nancy’s nodding is vigorous now. Yes yes yes. Her feet are together, her hands on her knees, which are together. She is s sitting up. “I want you to share and to pray. Pray for yourselves, for your welfare. Pray that your welfare be in good hands.”

And immediately my heart plunks a minor key. “Pray?” I ask her. “Is that what you said?” I am definitely not making this up.

She nods again. “The most important word is ‘pray,’” she says.

“Who should we pray to?” I ask.

“Your god, your nature. Your spirit. Just be quiet.” Nancy is closing her eyes in stillness. She brings her hands together in front of her chest, drops her head in a bow and says, “Just be still.” She takes a deep breath. “Go inward.”

Letting the light shine

At this point as I lay on the blanket, I feel an odd stillness in my feet, as if they are sleeping, not tingling, but as if they are taking a nap and I don’t want to disturb them. I tell Nancy this and she nods. Then, they do begin to tingle, but only from the top of the arch to the underside of the arch. The tingling intensifies to give me another image in my head, and yet another plunk in a minor key. But, I’ve come this far. I decide to go for it.

“Nancy, do you mean Jesus?”

She nods.

This is not the hip, New Age experience I am expecting. I follow the image she is giving me, the Jesus in my feet, and her hands placed together in prayer, and continue speaking, “Letting the light shine through the crucifix holes of the palms as they’re placed together.”

She nods. My feet begin to buzz.

Fiercely love

“Is Jesus present?” I ask.

She nods again.

“Did you pray to Jesus?”

Nancy is crying. She was very afraid before she died. She prayed. I am seeing her on her knees. She was sending her daughters love. She was wishing they could hear her, that she could be with them, wishing that the distance between them in that moment was not so impossibly far. Nancy is crying. Her face is wet with tears. She stands up and looks out a window of the World Trade Center.

“You should love your daughters fiercely,” she says, “but tenderly. Bless them because they are not only your daughters in flesh but they are your tribe, your people. You reach far forward and far back in time together. You miss them not only when they die but when you die. You love them as family forever.”


Nancy is now on her knees with her hands together. “Tell my daughters to take the best of me and send it along through their lineage. Let them know they carry the lineage of light. It is our lineage to spread this light, to share it, in being this family of light, this soul family that started long before our human flesh. Remember what begins with you ends with you, and connects in you, and together, you are whole and one, and you may walk on the earth as one, together in light, with Jesus, who is light, beaming through him. One.”

The words come in a rush. When they are over, the image of Nancy is quiet, still kneeling.

I am quiet too. Then, “Nancy,” I say. “Do you have more to say?”

She shakes her head. I thank her. And then I open my eyes. The sky is as blue as when I started. A bird circles overhead. I am a little afraid to notice myself now that I am back in real time again. Did all of that just happen? I press a button on my digital recorder and hear the words again. I press stop.

It did.

I give thanks, fold my blanket, and drive away.

. . . . . . . .

(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

P.S. The name in this story has been changed.

Thanks for reading Day 30 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.


In 2006, I had a series of readings with Robin, the psychic medium who confirmed what another person had suggested were “souls in my field.” Earlier posts refer to her channeling them. It was also suggested that the serious, seemingly impossible-to-heal problem I was having with my skin was directly related. The following is an excerpt from one of our readings.


R: How are you feeling?

PT: I guess it comes in waves, I’m, well. I’m really, really itchy. I mean, that is there all the time at different parts of my body. But in terms of anxiety, like when I saw you guys last, I was a wreck, so anxious from all of the itching. In the past week or so I’ve gotten some calmness but I still get pretty anxious sometimes when the itching is bad.

R: Yeah I would think so.

PT: It’s, bad. I look like I have the chicken pox.

R: I’m so sorry that’s happening to you. What did the doctor say?

PT: I went to the homeopath, and he’s just checking it out. It’s just the beginning. I didn’t go to the regular doctor because they haven’t tended to help me and also, every time I take something for it it seems to get worse.

R: Yeah.

PT: And a couple of things have crossed my mind, like today I noticed, I was scratching and scratching and scratching and the skin I just leave skin behind like dust, and I saw it falling to the ground and I thought, “it’s like ash.” And then I thought oh, it’s like ash, it’s the working title of my book is Voices from the Ash.

R: Yeah, well that is what I feel vividly, is that this is about that, and I guess you have a predisposition to it anyway, but this is really intense. So I am hearing to proceed in reading so I’m gonna go ahead and connect with your soul and say a prayer and then just see where we go and take it from your questions and just see what happens, okay?

PT: Okay.  . . .


R: The voices from the ash are telling me we need to clear your system so that you’re not carrying it through your physical body but you’re downloading their experience through your higher states of consciousness, so that– There it goes it’s shifting.

Now I seem to be inside either a room or an airplane, and I just heard “Airplane is it.” And I’m seeing people in their seats and they’re not very alarmed. There’s people walking up and down the aisle, but there’s no disturbances, no energetic knowing that harm is about to descend on people, so the lack of awareness is really permeating this vision, the innocence of this vision is coming in, and then I’m seeing an individual begin to make some sort of an attack, whether it’s someone taking someone else hostage or a verbal exchange, you know getting people to understand what’s about to happen. And there’s a lot of emotional response here.

You’ve picked up on the emotional charge of the people this time. I’m hearing it’s a byproduct of the people in the plane. I’m hearing there’s 8 people here that are somehow involved with you that are running your energy. I’ve got to find a way to communicate here.

Long strange trip

Okay I’m going back up into the vision of the airplane. And there does seem to be an individual who is remaining calm. Very calm. I’m gonna see if I can bring some of that energy into your field. And I’m hearing that approach isn’t working either. So I’m just gonna stay with that individual and just see if there’s um—okay let’s try tithing that calmness out to the group and bring them in this pre-death experience to—there it goes, it’s shifting. What are you feeling in your body right now?

PT: I feel like  calmness washing over my skin, not just over my muscles or something but over my skin.

R: Good. Your energy became your own again. Now, “transmutation device is deficient.” What the heck does that mean? Is that in Pema or is that in the soul group? I’m getting soul group, Beloved. Okay. So, what is a transmutation device?

PT: I keep thinking that I’m the transmutation device, if I’m trying to transmute their voices out from my body and from this experience into, you know, existence. I feel like, my biggest question is, “How do I train myself through this?”

R: Yeah, I think this is exactly it. And that’s what I’ve been feeling that this story is about your experience with these people, it’s not—Like I think before you were thinking about just channeling them, but what you’re having to go through to be their transmutation device so their voices can be heard I think is just as important, because I think as people. It just feels like it’s really important that in the process of all humans waking up, we all become more telepathic, we all become more sensitive, so how does one cope with that?

PT: Right.


R: Okay. . . And now I’m back up on the airplane and the man who was calm had the tools to remain calm in a crisis. He had the metaphysical tools, he had the knowing, he had the trust, that you know, no harm would come to him, you know, even if he blew up in an airplane, he trusted that everything was happening for a divine purpose and he was equipped for the danger, if you will. So okay let’s see, he says he wants to speak a little bit more here. I’m feeling that he might have been either of Indian descent, although I feel he may have been American as well, so he may have been both, or he had studied the India approach to using the different tools of staying calm.

It seems like this person had something red. And I’m also hearing he had prayer beads. And the power of prayer is very strong here. He’s saying that he was praying that their voices would be heard. He was praying for peace. He was praying that there would be a transmutation device who would hear him beyond death and be his voice and speak this information that’s coming through. And he’s saying it’s not about religion it’s not about that separate thinking. There you go, you’re taking it in. What’s happening with you?

PT: When you were talking I had chills all over, I have tears in my eyes, like I’m here, like I hear him, like, “Oh, it’s me.”


R: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like tonight is really about connecting with this particular soul, because he knew that there was no other means of communication but to go directly to his soul, to his high self, and put out a signal from that high place, that he would be heard beyond the grave, that he knew the eternal.

PT: I feel that so much I just keep getting chills all over my body, and I feel really close to him.

R: Yeah. He feels really close to you too. My feeling is that there was almost like a moment of impact where your souls connected. And I’m hearing prior to death is strong, so his conscious attempt to reach out to someone and your willingness in your ability to pick it up feels very very strong to me.

PT: I have chills again.

R: Yeah. So I’m feeling like he may have actually had some kind of a vision, or a knowing, he’s saying it wasn’t a vision it was a knowing just prior to the impact that caused his death, he knew someone had conn—he knew he had connected, and he’s saying when that happened, his soul purpose was fulfilled, and what you do with it, Beloved, is up to you.

. . . . . . . .

(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

Thanks for reading Day 29 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.


Beginnings and endings

I hear so many stories of beginnings from people who were witness to the 9/11 attacks in New York. A friend I met recently arrived the day before in a moving truck. Meg got sober the day before, conceived her child two days after. I arrived three weeks before: Grad school started on 9/10. And the stories continue. Was it a season of beginnings? Or was it a heyday of creation, creativity always beginning at something?

When I went to grad school, I didn’t do it alone. I often referred to it as church camp without God. We bonded immediately, the actors, directors and playwrights. Orientation week got us settled into the city, and on the first day of classes and the first night of taping at Inside the Actors Studio, we laughed as Bruce Willis told us he had saved the world 17 times in his movies. We were 12 hours away from a plane hitting Tower 1 two miles south.

Light framed

We would get to know each other deeply in the ways we exposed ourselves in our work. But the events of 9/11 sped that up in a ghastly precursor that blew open the doors of us, ready or not. Being creatives, the only way to survive was to create. Being theatre folk, the way for us to create was to be together, to open up and dive together into the places in us that would be freed.

Last weekend, Rhea MacCallum, my fellow classmate and playwright, posted a letter on Facebook to Cohort 8 of the Actor’s Studio Drama School. She captured with crystalline detail our excited sense of “purpose, potential, community, security and hope.” Her images are so clear, her memory so dear in framing our hopes and courage and leaps of faith and people who supported us to be there taking them, that they tell a story of light I have wished for as this series nears its conclusion.

With great thanks to Rhea, I invite you into the picture of light that brings to life those days in the beginning, as the end of what we knew of our world was beginning, too.

Dear Cohort VIII,

Ten years ago today we introduced ourselves to each other. So much of our orientation week bounces around like a fiery comet trapped in my brain.  As we filtered into Tishman we were continuously instructed to ‘come forward, move to the center, leave no empty spaces’ and the mostly vacant auditorium vibrated with our exuberant energy.

That day, that first day, we met James Lipton.  We were told that our talent was as recognizable as spotting your sister in a crowd.  We were told playwrights don’t hug and most of us promptly decided that we would be the exception.  Then we got up, one by one, alternating sides of the room and introduced ourselves.  Our name, our track, where we were from, what brought us here.

A few weeks later, after the planes hit, after the towers fell, after walking from hospital to hospital looking to give blood, after surviving world altering events, we gathered again, a bonded unit, for a workshop led by Lisa Formosa.  Our homework was to bring a personal object, something of great significance to us.  Our class work was to share with each other what we brought and why we choose it, in three sentences.

Ten years later our orientation week and personal object workshop have become bits of memory strung together in a not so linear fashion.  When I look back at our grad school experience, and think of it fondly, these two events emerge as moments in which I was filled with a sense of purpose, potential, community, security and hope.

This is what I remember…

Henriette’s map of NYC.

The wooden box A’ndrea received from her boyfriend.

Jamie’s chilling rape monologue.

The beer scarf.  I think it was Waldron’s.

Bi with her boyfriend’s wallet filled with cash he’d earned over the summer.

Pema, the freelancer from Santa Barbara/San Diego/San Francisco, who had a 30th birthday/going away party who also received cash… in a wallet?

Holly and her grandfather’s cross, monologue about being invisible and mutual North Dakotian cheering with Brandon.

Naveen and her frog puppet Dostoevsky.

Monica, who left us for Cohort IX, delivered a monologue about feeling like an object.

Chantel and her cherished bookmark

Fred who brought a telegram from his sister and sang and sang and sang his little heart out.

The clown that Vered brought creeped me out.

Kari’s plain vs. pretty monologue.

Sean Harris in his Counting Crows t-shirt and Claddagh ring.

Bob and his backpack.

Nancy who people seemed to already know and talked about a Friday night party at Battery Park City.

Jacqui tripping her way out of the aisle to introduce herself sang Easy to Be Hard, dedicating it to the people working in the Financial Aid office

Moti sang a funny song.  I want to say from South Park, but something tells me it was Russian.

Mr. Lipton calling attention to Ronit who he swore was the spitting image of Susan Saradon.  And a sheep.  I’m pretty sure Ronit’s item was a sheep.

Billingsley, who made me snort when he delivered the line “Fat people make me feel good.”

Eriko and her father’s watch.

Francis’ photo album.

Cole’s navy polo tee.  It’s the only top I ever remember seeing him in.

Terry who made a number of people sit up and take notice when he said he applied to grad school because “he always felt like a fraud.”

Yasmin calling herself a former Muslim and carried a new ID having destroyed all others.

Uran who sang White Snake, “lived all over” and within seconds of knowing me talked ‘shrooms.

Sari’s rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody and her brick napping picture taken on Lucielle Ball’s property during construction/demolition.

Melinda bringing an American Flag and espousing the virtues of exercise in her monologue.

Larry’s Hairy Ape monologue and plaque that was given to him as a thank you gift from a recent production.

Jesus who sat next to me and already had an MA from NYU.

Kawanda who thought life stopped after 25.

Luis’ hand carved lady with his grandmother’s name on the bottom.

Casy brought and wore a brooch of comedy/tragedy masks.

Brian with the mug with his brother’s picture on it.

Nichol who ranted like Homer Simpson, carried a journal that was a gift from his father and had just returned from an amazing hike in Alaska.

Sean Stevenson’s miniature mouse.

Kristen, the NYC tour guide whose friend had recently passed.

Mary, who was still holding onto Beth’s ring when she walked away to go to the restroom, leaving a nervous looking Beth alone.

Sayeeda singing You Are My Sunshine and weeping unabashedly about Ellen Burstyn’s performance in Requiem For A Dream.

Soft spoken Matt from So. Pasadena who seemed to have a case of the sniffles.

Rich, who I met in line at the registrar’s office, brought a wallet with an emblem on it.

The ball from Arnold’s first date.  I think it was orange.

Miranda, who tugged at our heartstrings as she spoke of her janitor father who worked extra shifts so she could pursue her dream and made us all chuckle when she brought in a strawberry air freshener that survived, what was it, 7? car accidents.

Trevor and his passport.

Michael Raimondi who had never lived away from home and brought a turtle from Brandon… I think.

Jonathan and the journal his mother gave him.

Colette brought a book.  I’m guessing it was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, not that I remember the title from that day.

Doug and his flask.

Aziza’s evil eye.

Stephanie called herself a Jewish drop out and brought a stuffed animal from an ex-boyfriend.

Seibert who sang The Smiths.

Max and his ball.

Nicole Hurley who sang Lean On Me.

Linda, the lawyer, whose conservative mother would rather she was unwed and pregnant than going back to school to be an actor.

Kira who worked the hell out of her Vagina Monologue.

David Salsa, as in chips and salsa, who spoke from the heart about the Smurfs.

Seth, in his white baseball cap, who showed up to the workshop with Papa Smurf.

Jake who sang If I Were A Bell brought a sprig of eucalyptus, one of my favorite scents.

Kristen and her pig.

Poorna and her house keys.  At least I think it was Poorna.  There were definitely house keys.

I remember we prayed to the sun and the moon and the stars.  We burned sage.  We sat in silence.

I also remember my mother being comforted to hear that I was studying playwriting with a Teeter (my grandmother’s maiden name) and a Stevenson (her maiden name) taught by a Laura (my sister’s name).  She wasn’t normally one to view the world through cosmic signs, but she made an exception.  She felt I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.

Try as I might, I don’t remember every one from those early days.  Isn’t the brain a funny thing?  Why do I remember, so vividly, Nicole Hurley who I spoke to once, once in my life, but not so many others?  And as for the accuracy of my memory, well, only you can tell me how well I did.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you, as I do every year when it gets to be about this time.  And when I think of you, when I think of us, as we were in these days, I smile through the tears.

Lots of love,


P.S. from Pema: Rhea brought that day a wooden, multiple-holed picture frame filled with pictures of family and friends and inscribed with “Best of Friends.” It was a thank you gift from a dear friend for having hosted her baby shower.

Rhea’s most recent production, “Independence Day,” won the Audience Award for Best Drama at the Life and Death Matters Film Festival last weekend.

Not her first, and not likely her last award. Congratulations, Rhea. To find out more about her work, find her on her Facebook page.


(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

. . . . . . . . . .

Thanks for reading Day 27 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.


Julie Daley is a beloved coach, teacher, writer, healer and wise woman who writes about and works with the feminine principle. Julie has worked with grief in her life and others’, has taught classes to “9/11 widows” in their transitions after loss, writes about the earth and our connection to it as humans, as women, and she explores female existence and spirituality, unearthing sacred awareness with each article and blog post.

I wanted to ask Julie about her work with grief, specifically regarding her closeness to the healing process of the personal and collective tragedies of 9/11. And we did get to talk about that. But where our conversation turned surprised even me. Julie’s listening, and her answers to my exploration, made way for a big share from me, and made me understand the deeper reason for our call, indeed for my whole 31-day Memory to Light project:

To witness, to be witnessed. The sacred call of seeing and being seen.

What follows is the big share and the wisdom in its wake. This is one small part of our rich conversation. Stay tuned for more of our interview in future posts.

. . .

The story

Pema: In the last few days when I’ve been thinking about our upcoming conversation, it’s occurred to me to ask about phenomena. If you’ve listened to people talk about phenomena that they experienced, if you ever talked about letting themselves be guided by supernatural phenomena, mystical phenomena, these very images and elements we’ve been talking about. I’m going to put a period on that and stop asking you questions and tell you something, because it sounds like all of my questions are leading to this anyway.

I had a really wild awakening about four or five years after 9/11. I had moved back to California a year afterward. It took me a couple of years to realize I had PTSD, and that my life, much like many of my friends’ on that day, had taken a nose dive in certain areas. I left school because somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, I thought I was going to lose my mind, and I’d better be in a safe place when that happens. And so I went back to California. I still followed an opportunity to study, but I left school proper.

Then, it did. Everything began to unravel. It kept recessing and recessing, and so I went further back, to Santa Barbara, this place that is a womb and a healing place for me.


While I was there, and living in the good graces of my friends’ charity, and this community that I left a long time ago, I started looking for what would heal me. All over my skin, I had psoraisis that took over my body. I would go home at lunch time and put oil on my body [to relieve the pain] and I would lay in bed. And after lunch I’d go back to work. I’d do it again when I got back home. And I was looking for: “What is going to heal me?” Not only that, I was having panic attacks. Everything about myself that I had known was gone, or eclipsed.

And in my search for healing, I went to a massage therapist, a holistic massage therapist, and she said, “By the way, you should probably see if you have souls stuck in your field from that day.” And I’m like, “I have what in my what?” And she said, “You know, you were there in New York on that day, you might have souls stuck in your field.” I thought that she was a quack. But a few months later, I couldn’t forget about that.

So, I ended up talking to this psychic one time that I kind of ran into. I said, “Look, you might be a good person to ask this, because it keeps coming up. What do you know about, like, souls in your field or something?” And she immediately started channeling. She said, “You have 30 souls stuck in your field, from that day, and this is what they’re saying.”


I was, of course, floored. At the same time I felt this intense release in my body. For two days that followed, I felt this light coming through my head and out my feet. And I felt this clarity and this pure joy that I hadn’t ever known before. And I thought, “What do I do with that? What the hell was that?”

And so this journey that I started on August 11, has very much been about, “What do we do with grief? And why is it so hard to take on.” As I’ve taken these steps in these last days, I’ve realized, “We’re all on so many levels of experiencing our grief, who am I talking to? Who wants to hear this? Whose mind am I trying to change?”

You know, you just said, “I have clients who say, ‘I’m afraid to feel my body.’” One of the things that was channeled was this anger. [They said:] “Wake up. Wake UP. If only we had bodies to walk around on this earth and to hate our jobs and to make choices. If only we had our bodies. Wake UP.”

Stored in our hearts

I am compelled to tell you that because I’m asking you to share so much. And because we’re having these conversations about: How DO you know, how DOES your body know? How DO you feel?

And you know, I have talked about this experience, but I have talked about it in kind of guarded circles, because those are people who died. People in our nation’s consciousness, in their families’ consciousness. Real people who had real lives and real loved ones and here I am saying, “Well I had this experience, with these souls.”

I’m still working out what to do with that, but suffice to say I have been compelled enough by the messages to follow another journey. And I’m noticing that this exploration of grief I’m taking keeps leading to that, to what you just said, that this information is stored in our bodies and our hearts.

There is this whole question of waking up. I keep talking about waking up to grief enough to know that it will take you to the other side of yourself. It’ll take you on a transformative journey.


Julie: Yes AND. It will do those things, AND, it is NOT linear. You have no idea what else is going to come. Where it is going to come from.

That is important to pay attention to, because, as you were saying that, it was like something driving you–I don’t know if it’s you driving you, or something driving you–to do this. As you started to tell that story, your whole voice changed. There was a lot of energy there. A lot of power there, about that story.

When I shared what clients say, “I don’t know how to feel my body. My body feels like concrete.” This dissociation from the body, that’s the split between the sacred and the earth, the spirit and earth. And one of the things I know Llewellyn talks about and that I’ve experienced in my own vision is that women have something here to share. It has to be shared for us to move forward as a species to heal.

Sacred body

…It’s so important for spirituality to come down into, for us to bring our awakening and our awake-ness and our awareness down into the cells of our bodies, because life on earth is a sacred experience. It’s an amazing, beautiful experience and we’re walking around like lollipops trying to prove it all. It’s this glorious experience, which sometimes it’s not glorious in the way we think of glorious, but it’s all beautiful because we are feeling it.

When I try to tell people how beautiful it was when Gary died–I was awake finally. I mean, I felt in every cell of my body, even though it wasn’t what people would call a pleasant feeling. I was no longer sleep walking. I was feeling. And that in itself is I think a miracle, that we are even here feeling in these bodies. That we’re alive. It feels like there’s something in those messages that you got about that.


Pema: There is. I’ve been spending the last six or seven or eight years trying to understand…who I am in relation to those stories, or who I am to speak for these people? The minute I say that, I realize I’m not speaking for anyone, I’m just sharing the experience. I’m telling the story. And as I build my identity as a storyteller, as I discover how much I relate to story in the world, as I say this right now, I think, “Oh, well look at that, that’s a safe place to be.” If I am a witness then I can just tell the story as a witness rather than claiming this really far afield experience…

Julie: Yeah, and it’s interesting when you asked me how I worked with [the “9/11 widows.”] …It feels sort of parallel to what you’re saying about these souls, because…the healing and all the stuff that happened is sacred. I can talk about MY experience of being in the room, but I can’t share what–I have to notice the line where I would be disrespecting that sacredness. That’s what I notice, I think, that you are articulating around these souls.

Pema: Right! Right. They are not mine to claim.

Julie: No.

Pema: They are not a soapbox to stand on.

Julie: They’re not.

Pema: And at the same time, there are these messages that are coming through.

I had to go on this journey of understanding, of gathering up myself…wiping off all of the stuff that’s not mine that I’ve collected over the years, and then pulling back up…what is mine? What do I want to do? What feels sound to me? And then in understanding who I am, is there a way for me to be a voice or a channel for that which has come to me, that is not mine as a claim, but is an experience, a life experience to relate that is universal?

Julie: Well yes. Yeah, absolutely because it’s coming through you. That’s what’s happening. And trusting that if it’s coming through you, it’s all going to be revealed.

…It’s like trusting yourself, trusting your heart, trusting your body, trusting that you can move through it, trusting in the sacred and the greater, whatever you want to call it. That it is holding you. When I was in Hawaii, I kept hearing these words: “So much is given. You are so loved. So much is given. You are so loved.”

When you really get that, we are so held.

Pema: And when we’re held that’s when we heal.

Julie: Absolutely, whether we’re held by a human being in somebody’s arms, by a community, by ourselves, we can do the healing work, absolutely. That’s beautiful.


(You can read all of the Memory to Light stories in order on the side bar –->)

. . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks for reading Day 24 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.



The night my brother died, there was a 30-minute window during which I was wide awake, and praying with every last muscle of my will that he come home. It had sounded like things were fine. But the more minutes that passed, the more logic built its case against fine.

As a girl, I had a will that could shut everything else out. I would set my belief on something, and it was a matter of time till the situation materialized. In the 30 minutes of waiting–for normalcy or devastation–I prayed like a stadium of believers, changing the tides of the moon.

“Let him be okay, he’s going to be okay, make him be okay.” There was no space between pleas. The pleas were belief. I was a freight train. Doubt was the driver, fear propelled me, but the more I prayed, the more I gained strength over those weaknesses. Until–whooosh! The sensation in my body, and in my mind, was as if someone threw the generator switch to OFF. There was silence. Nothing but silence. I didn’t breathe. I didn’t think. And from somewhere in that silence I heard or felt or knew the words, “He will come home or he won’t. What is done is done.”

Soon after, the coroner showed up instead of my brother.

. . . . .


I hadn’t seen Abe since the night David died. David and Abe had been friends since third grade. They were getting ready to go out. He was wearing a new acid-washed denim jacket, and showing it off.

On this night, Abe came in without the jacket, and said they’d had to cut it off at the hospital. He told us what he saw that night, this 17-year-old witness to his best friend’s death. He came to our house by himself, let himself be surrounded by our family, and told us what he had seen.

Outside the house, the three boys walked to the Jeep. David hopped in the back seat. And Abe said, “What are you doin’, man?” David said back to him, “Get in.” He’d been in a bad mood that night. I wasn’t surprised to hear it. But I was surprised to hear Abe say that they’d had a system. A habit. A hierarchy? Abe in the back seat. David shotgun. Mark drives. On this night, David jumped into the back seat without impetus. Later, a car driving 90 mph plowed into the back of them and threw the back seat from the car, killing David on impact with the road.

The Jeep was totaled. Its roll cage was shoved fully forward. Abe and Mark escaped with bruises, and an internal loss I can only imagine to this day.

. . . . .


Abe went on to tell us that there had been eye-witnesses that pulled over and ran to the scene. It was late at night. They were driving on the freeway, miles and miles from our neighborhood, several suburbs west of our high school. When the witnesses appeared, it was a kid from one of my classes, and his family.

. . . . . . .


What is “bereft?” To say one has been left behind, abandoned without resource, is a use of language. It’s a string of words wrapped around an image, a perception, a thing that really is. But how do you communicate “bereft?”

Some losses take away not only the lost itself, but cancel out everything else. For me it was language that darkened. I don’t remember talking a lot after my brother died. Expression lived somewhere as deep as my toes, or internally, in some universe inside me from which I had no transportation. My resources were gone. Everything was quiet in me, like the silence that had started when the generator got switched to OFF.

When I heard Abe’s stories of that night, when I heard that the eyewitnesses were people we knew, and about the undeniable coincidence that saved Abe’s life and took David’s, I stubbed my toe against something… that I could hold. They were rocks I could pick up off of this blinding path, and turn over and over in my hands, my existence. The “coincidences” were the only recognizable elements in the whole of this unrecognizable scene. It was like being in a black night and seeing two stars. Illumination, barely. But enough to consider that maybe I wasn’t in this darkness without a map, somewhere, and a plan, somehow, that I would be privy to, sometime, step after step after step.


(Hi. FYI, you can read the stories in order on the side bar –->)

. . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks for reading Day 15 of “Memory to Light: 31 Days of Stories, August 11 – September 11, 2011.” It is an exercise in writing about loss, for the purpose of letting grief wake, live, and pass through the system. Grief is transformation. Story is transformation. Our world could use a some wakeful transformation right now. Take a peek at the introductory post for the full story of what we’re up to.

P.S. Names were changed in my story today, in the interest of focusing on the story rather than the identifiable in it.

Join me

Consider this project an online story circle. Read a story that moves you. Write your own on your blog. Link it to the comments below, so we can read your piece. If you don’t have a blog, write your story in the comments.

Let your memories live. Let small corners of your grief breathe. Let your loss be swept into the collective experience of people sharing, witnessing, and letting be.