Last Conversations with Susan MacGregor

Susan MacGregor passed away this past week.

Over the past year Susan and I have exchanged emails as she lived through her “deathing life” and this week she completed that process.

I got to know Susan through our Auckland Holistic Writer’s Group in New Zealand. We met monthly at Time Out Books in Mt Eden in Auckland.

Susan wrote sweet poetry that was very spiritual and she shared this with us in the group, but she dropped out of the group due to some health problems that eventually turned out to be Glioblastoma Multiforme brain cancer. She lived way past the usual time frame for such a tumor and she maintained a positive outlook, although it was clear she had great struggles at times. I hadn’t heard back from her over the past few weeks and a few weeks before that she typed only brief messages and often had many typos in them, a change from her previous communications.

As time went on, I would just send Susan pictures of flowers from our yard and tell her that I was thinking of her.

Please find here some of our final conversations. Even though this is a bit long for a blog post, I will make a long post and include some extra photos…

Turning To The Light

Turning to the Light, Susan MacGregor, 2016

24 May, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Feeling I am starting to walk in the light now. Last night had these dreams:

First

Mahmoud & I were sitting in hilly country having a cup of tea together whilst watching a man chisel away at the outer covering of a large boulder, the covering was a greyish white. As he struck away the last chunk of stone there was a brilliant blinding release of amber coloured light. When we looked again we could see the man had found a huge boulder of citrine crystal, it was a massive boulder of very clear bright colour.

Next Dream

A large brilliant white Angel stood in front of me with a sword of white light. It turned the sword point toward the earth then plunged it into the ground. It stood there still holding the hilt of the sword as if on guard.

Next Dream

I was joined by someone in white, emitting light who gave me their hand & invited me to walk with them.

Possible Interpretations

I was thinking about the way you seemed to be able to move above things & continued to be inclusive & responsive to all of us when we were in the writers group. Thus I think the man in the first dream was you. I believe the citrine showed you have a huge power of creativity & will be highly successful in your writing work. I believe it also showed the immense level of protection around you & your ability to rise beyond negativity. Also that citrine’s light was helping me to release my negative energy.

Then the Angel & the offer to walk with a light being. The Angel felt protective, & both felt like signs that my death is not far off.  I feel that Angel will be beside me all the way. When I got up today all the negativity was gone.

Many blessings

Susan xx

The Chalice & The Rose 9f33d6b1-48d2-4b30-88ce-dd048adfe60f (1)

The Chalice & The Rose, Susan MacGregor, 2016

May 24 (David)

Susan, thank you for sharing such amazing dreams. I have had a very active dream life this week as well and was in New Zealand and US last night.

We all labour through our lives to release the brilliance within us!

Thank you for your kind words and your blessings and being an angel of my work!

David xx

 

May 25 (Susan)

Dear David,

Hope you are making headway with your latest project. Do you keep a dream journal? Maybe that could be an interesting addition to your own biography one day?

I am mindful that if something causes a ripple on my inner calm there is inner work for me to do as otherwise it couldn’t take root in me.  That doesn’t mean other’s energy & negative thoughts can’t impact me, nor that their issue is mine, but rather that the negativity can’t cause turmoil or remain in me when there is nothing for it to attach to. The only fully self realized being I believe has walked this earth is Jesus, whom was Christed. Thus though endeavouring to improve myself I find I also need “outside” help.

Love from Susan xx

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25 May, 2016 (Susan)

Hi,

The rose is such a pretty colour & full of new buds, looks like it will be covered in blooms soon.

My function is deteriorating, some difficulty talking, tripping over words, some stuttering. Getting some laughs out of that currently.

Mild nausea, blurred vision, breathlessness, dizziness, fatigue, tremors. Had lots of lovely visitors, 16x peeps over past 6 days. Stopping visitors except family & extended family now as most others have had opportunity to come whilst I could still talk to them.

Poems were sent last Sat. Mail is lot slower than it used to be so probably arrived to destination midway through this week. Hoping there is some merit to them. If not I will ask someone to bind them into a soft cover for family & friends.

In light & love,

Susan x x

The Central Rose

The Central Rose, Susan MacGregor, 2016

25 May, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, thank you for sharing with me how you are doing. I was thinking about the roses, how each one is so beautiful and bursts into the world, bringing sweet fragrance and beauty (these Angel Face variety roses have a nice scent). And then the flower gradually fades, loses a few petals and then passes away, yet in each individual flower’s passing, new space is created for the other buds that are overflowing with desire to burst forth into the world, giving of themselves and becoming themselves. Even once the flower blossom is gone, though, then the not so beautiful work begins of transforming dead flower into seed – for the rose, it turns into a bright red rose hip berry and becomes beautiful again, until once again, at its ripest, falls from the plant and begins to decay, which allows the seeds of new life to sprout and take root. It seems so beautiful with plants, with people it is a bit harder to stretch the metaphor…

When you say you sent the poems, whom did you send them too?

I have a batch that you sent me some time ago electronically. At first you said you didn’t want them posted as they were copyrighted and you were looking to publish, later, you said to go ahead and publish. I haven’t put any up yet. I’ll do a blog now and put maybe a poem, an update from you and a picture.

Here are some pictures of my little shrine on my desk where I write. I probably have a solid day or two left of editing the manuscript.

May God’s Blessings sustain and surround You,

David xoxo

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28 May, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

That’s wonderful, again my appreciation & thanks. Metaphor about roses very apt.

My friend from Perth is here, we are having a lot of laughs together. Having known each other from babies we have covered a lot of territory together, I will forward her contact details. Such a special person I think it will be a good link.

Re tripping up on words, in saying goodnite to Mahmoud last nite I said byebye banana, getting stuck on the ‘b’of the byebye his name then becoming banana. A bit like when I called my friend Pam Lamb, then blamed it on her having moved to a farm, lol, but of course it was pressure build up in the language areas of the brain.

You asked about the poetry I have sent it to the NZ poetry Association for review, to see what needs to be done to prep them for sending to a publisher or competitions.  I have put copyright on them but don’t mind people reading them just they wouldn’t be able to use them or copy them.  I don’t know how this would work for you except for me to give you permission to post them?

Blessings,

 

1 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Feedback arrived from the reviewer, very useful.  My “poetry” doesn’t fit into the current definition of poetry & is more akin in layout & content to 19th Century poetry. Not suitable for competitions nor publishers.  It fits into rhyme, & bush poetry, but would be more accurately titled selected rhymes.

On the plus side I’m told I have an exceptional gift for rhythm & on the whole not too bad with rhyme. I am excited by the creative challenge of reworking a few of my rhymes into a modern layout & writing style. Not sure how far I’ll get but will just keep it going until I can’t do anymore. Really the most time consuming part is done, which was cataloging the key experiences in some way. Any leftover rhymes can easily be made into a booklet for family. Well worth getting the review.

Recently been told another friend is being investigated for stomach cancer. Same age as me. And my friend Kay, from Perth, who is visiting me daily lost another friend in the past few months from brain cancer & her hubby about 2yrs ago, started in his 40’s. Don’t know if I’m just more cued into things like this now due to my own experience or if its a life stage thing due to age, but seems getting more common. Also wished to ask, my friends hubby was from Polish immigrants The names Pak & Kopacz sound similar? M just arrived.

Bless, Susanxx

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3 June, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, editing more today…but it is a beautiful day here! Very summery.

One of the things I like about your poems is the elegant language. I remember Jung said that when the archetypes were speaking, they would often use Victorian language or old formal usages. It gives a kind of timeless quality and stature to language. It is not always a good thing to be accepted by contemporary society, most great artists are not great until time passes….

[Here is one of the first poems that I remember Susan sharing with our Auckland Holistic Writers’ Group in New Zealand]

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Misty Lake Magic

Behold, your ethereal waters wrapped around

In a cloak of soft white fairy down

Oh spell-cast land of watery hues

 Helpless, I am enraptured by your views

 

Mossy garlands festoon verdant banks

Sentinel trees guard watery flanks

Ensconced in hues; green, gold and red

Persephone to you has surely fled

 

Willows, with heads bent in respectful bows

Send tendrils to caress you from their boughs

Whilst gossamer threads of droplets fall

Down soft green leaves into your thrall

 

Gliding effortlessly, propelled by unseen hands

Snow white swans dance in your watery land

Slicing through mists which then quickly enfold

Them once again in your wispy hold

 

A hush has fallen, I dare not breathe

Lest this vista before me depart & leave

Or your stillness echo a disquieting sound

Dispersing this magic, exquisitely profound

 

Should something now disrupt this scene

I would wake violently, as if from a dream

For this vision, disconcertingly surreal

Has me fully lost within its appeal

 

A myriad soft lights begin to appear

Creating a shimmery stratosphere

A magical mirage before my eyes

Promising some deeper watery surprise

 

Continuing to look with transfixed gaze

Upon your mystical watery maze

I think I see, in your soft misty light

A fairy citadel of beauty bright

 

And a glimpse of creatures from another world

Messengers of magic who seemingly herald

The coming of a miracle dawn

In which all the world as this be born

 

And then the vision begins to fade

Your mossy banks now reveal a glade

The mists enfolding you vanish away

But not my memory of your splendour today

 

Copyright: 2011, S. D.Mac Gregor

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MP’s birthday today! We’re off to one of the local pubs in a bit…

Sending some extra sunshine your way….

David xx

 

12 June, 2016 (David)

I think I commented on the comments of the reviewers in another email, but I think you are from a different time, or perhaps timeless…I think the 19th Century suits you…

 

11 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Following small seizure last Friday am unable to stand or walk without 2x staff. Although previously being averse to having a catheter I have accepted the need & looked for a positive to help me adapt, the positive is I can now drink as much coffee as I like. Previously I limited coffee as it made me need to pee too much & sometimes I wasn’t able to make the toilet in time. Hope that’s not too much information?

Mahmoud stayed over one night this weekend he plans to do that once a week now. I had hoped to make my next birthday, on 25th Aug, but going by my current status predict mid-July which is ok. Have really enjoyed spending time with my life-long friend from Perth, Kay, she has been in every day until recently when she had to go to Matatmata to sort out some things for her mother who is in a Private Hospital there. Kay returns to Perth on the 17th July. We have reminisced at length, laughed, cried, listened to favoured music from our past. I am so lucky to have such a great friend!

God Bless,

Susan x x

stepping stones with petals 688e3ccd-3499-409c-a1cc-79d00eef0768

Stepping Stones with Petals, Susan MacGregor, 2016

11 June 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, you are an unfailing optimist – seizure and then can’t stand, but you are able to drink as much coffee as you like! Well, I hear you on the coffee, I would really miss that if I couldn’t have it. That is not too much information about the catheter. I had to go through medical school to become a psychiatrist.

I am glad you had such a good visit with Kay.

Every day is your birthday now…

I am so happy to see your paintings. Please keep sending them.

I have been bogged down in editing for weeks now. I thought we were getting close with the book after it went through these last edits, but there are still substantial conceptual and structural issues that need to get sorted with the book, so I have been doing long days on the weekends editing…

I did my first presentation that was starting to introduce the book a little bit. I was on a national VA conference call for the Post-Deployment Integrative Care Initiative. My talk was on “Pathways to Moral Healing.” I’ll send the PowerPoint if you can open that…

It is always so nice to hear from you, thank you for sharing yourself and your journey. Mary Pat and I were talking about you this morning and thinking we probably met about 5 years ago. I can’t remember when we started the writing group, I think maybe 2011?

Blessings

David xx

sunshine on my window makes me happy

Sunshine on My Window Makes Me Happy.1, Susan MacGregor, 2016

14 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear Friend,

Hope you are making headway with the editing? I am doing ok, not suffering, started morphine syrup….  Yuk taste but so lucky to have this option, staggered with panadol for consistent pain relief. Was nervous about taking morphine as never taken much other than panadol or Brufen so didn’t know what to expect. Wouldn’t know except no pain & slept well.

Mahmoud is staying over once a week. It is reassuring to have him with me & he does so many extra little things that make life more comfortable like massaging my feet, legs & bringing me my favourite foods. He is being strong but I see him crying when he thinks no one is watching. It breaks my heart to see his grief but be powerless to help. He, at least, will have the support of my brother whose experience of losing his first wife Ann unexpectedly at 50yrs old has given him a real understanding of the impact things will be having on Mahmoud.

Going back to the morphine I find it is rather weird,  as if the Death Eaters from Harry Potter have swooped in & withdrawn life & emotion causing everything to be bland, dampened down, monotone from my norm. Not sure if that is typical. Am wondering how it will impact on the experience of dying.

Have you got someone who can give you help to edit your book?

All the best.

Love & bless,

Susan xx

sunshine on my window makes me happy.2

Sunshine on My Window Makes Me Happy.2, Susan MacGregor, 2016

14 June, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, that is interesting with the Morphine. I think it can cause some of that emotional blunting for people. A lot of people who get addicted to it use it for that purpose to dull emotional pain as well as physical pain.

I’m sorry for you going through all this, but I see how you are worrying about Mahmoud, too. How difficult this deathing life can be at times. It is quite an initiation process you are going through and it changes those around you as well.

With my book, Mary Pat is doing some of the editing. It is gradually shaping up. How nice it would be for us all to get together again at Time Out Books and talk over our writing and our lives…

Love & Blessings for you

David xx

 

14 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Yes indeed re the meetings at Time Out. Those were good times, a great venue plus group of people. Yes it is that blunting I’m not used to. I’m glad I’ve never felt the need to do that to myself deliberately as have been able to experience so much emotionally both ups & downs that it has opened the door to being able to experience more joy, more love, more sensory pleasure.

I’m sure Mary Pat is invaluable help with editing.

As always my best wishes to you and yours.

Love & light.

 

21 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Congratulations on birthing your latest work. Thank you for forwarding to me, what a treasure…I recall Chris James singing peoples’ stories to them surrounding them in a circle of voices, how moving that was for each person, used for healing from physical health issues.  Also singing their names along with personal qualities. I used that in some of the group work too within mental health rehabilitation services. It’s a shame I had to hide what I was doing from more traditionally trained workers as results were good. What I hope is that mental health workers move toward a more encompassing approach of methodologies that do produce results even though they may not be mainstream. It seems easier for some people to do that within a cultural context than apply same principles to every, living being, I hope Joseph’s explanation of the principles convinces these people of the universality of the approach. Surely it will.

When added to better outcomes for the veterans you are working with.

Grumpy and Down, But Not Alone

Grumpy and Down, But Not Alone, Susan MacGregor, 2016

19 June, 2016 (Susan)

Hi,

I’ve had the worst day of all today since being diagnosed, nausea, constipation pain in neck from old neck injury being disturbed by being pulled up the bed etc…Getting into grapes, kiwifruit etc as lactulose is disgusting.  My room mate puss is now dubbed Beethoven as keeps rattling his collar bells throughout the night…his Moonlight Sonata perhaps, I would love to try him on keyboards. He is such a treasure.

Puss

Beethoven, Susan MacGregor, 2016

21 June, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, sorry to hear it is such a rough time at the Solstice.

Beethoven makes me smile.

I am just finishing the acknowledgements. Do you prefer your surname as:

MacGregor

Or

Mac Gregor (with a space)?

Prayers, love, and lots of sunshine on this longest N Hemisphere day down to your darkest S Hemisphere day…

David xx

 

20/6/16 Susan

Dear David,

Glad to hear you are at the other end with editing. The no space option is preferable for my surname “MacGregor,” thanks. Feel much better now no nausea kiwifruit are working. Thank God for Mahmoud who thinks nothing of going all over town to find what I need.  Yes interesting I had my darkest day on the darkest day in our hemisphere. Weather is still very mild. Supporting a friend & wife currently, just been diagnosed with stomach lymphoma. 58yrs old, comparatively I’ve had it easy. Had good role models too, a friends hubby used to be in the room opposite me same diagnosis but worse than me couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk or move independently but always kept good sense of humor, loved a joke, & exceptional self management of frustration, I used to watch over him for my friend, it seems his gift to me is in showing that even on dark days I can still be better off than others & can always access fun & laughter to lift stress. Such an exceptional person.

Lts of love,

Susan x x

playful kitty.2

Playful Kitty, Susan MacGregor, 2016

21 June, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, glad to hear the nausea is better. Those kiwi fruit are good for everything, eh?

I’m just sending out the manuscript to potential endorsers tonight – it being the Solstice and the Full Moon, seems like a good time for that….

Here is the possibly final version of the manuscript for you to skim if you have the interest and energy, no worries if it is too taxing.

Keep on Susan-ing, as Joseph Rael would say….

David xx

 

24 June, 2016 (Susan)

Hi

Getting lots of rain, which I am enjoying being wrapped up warm & cosy. As the song goes… “I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night”… good there are so many things to be enjoyed still as slowly my world is becoming flatter with side effects from meds causing issues plus unpleasant aftertaste so not enjoying food at all…Nausea, constipation dealing with daily but that’s ok they are easy enough to modify with other preparations. Don’t know what to do re the unpleasant taste, except finding hot milky milo [hot chocolate] helps for short while. Picked that up from friend who died from bladder cancer, the only thing she could keep down. Thank you Erina.

the worlds gone flat 940631b8-2144-46f6-b9d7-b067f45c9c77

The World has Gone Flat, Susan MacGregor, 2016

12 July, 2016 (David)

Can you see the

Angel of the

Sun?

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17 July, 2016 (David)

Lilly from Madison, Wisconsin

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18 July, 2016 (Susan)

Thanku, this is wat M & I call the Susan Lilly as Susan means lilly. M buys these ones for me regularly. Having sum fun he feel bit better each day. xx

 

20 July, 2016 (Susan)

🙂.xx

 

21 July, 2016 (David)

🙂

xx

 

31 July, 2016 (David)

Sunny here today, will send some your way…

Love,

David

xx

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4 August 2016 (David)

Hi Susan!

I think of you often and send my thoughts and prayers to you…

Love,

David

Xx

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4 August 2016 (Susan)

Tha k nk youDazvid those thought s &

Prayershelp me through my worst days I am certain I Wouldn’t cope sometimes otherwise.

Love & blesz .xx

 

[Susan’s emails ended and I received a couple updates from her brother, Rob. He wrote that she passed away peacefully on 23 August, 2016. Susan had said that she hoped to make it to her next birthday of 25 August, which she very nearly did. She lived through what she called her deathing life far longer than is generally predicted for her type of cancer. We’ll close with one of Susan’s poems, which seems very appropriate around her death. I sent Susan a painting a few weeks ago, I’ll also include a photo of that as it was in progress.]

 

Separation

If I can’t hear you

Does it mean you’re not there?

If I can’t see you

Does it mean you’re not near?

If I can’t feel you

Does it mean you are gone?

If I believe I am alone

Would that perception be wrong?

 

How may I reach you

Without sight, touch, or sound?

Is there another truth

Perhaps, much more profound?

Do we all have a connection

Beyond what appears

To be a continual resurrection

Of endings and tears?

 

2011, S. D. Mac Gregor

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Treating All of the Patient Physio Matters Interview, August 2016

The following is the text of an interview I did for Physio Matters, (member magazine of Physiotherapy New Zealand) August 2016.

FEATURE 22 | PHYSIO MATTERS AUGUST 2016

Treating All of the Patient
Interview by Rhonwyn Newson

David Kopacz, author of the book, Re-humanizing Medicine: A Holistic Framework for Transforming Your Self, Your Practice, and the Culture of Medicine, defines a holistic approach to healthcare means taking into account all human dimensions that influence health and illness.

These include not just the physical, but also the emotional, relational, mental, creative and spiritual dimensions of the person.

“To be holistic is the opposite of being reductionist. In addition to focussing on the physical body, we also are heartcentred, bringing caring and compassion to our work,” Dr Kopacz says.

How can physiotherapists provide a more holistic approach to treating patients?

Dr Kopacz believes clinicians can only provide holistic healthcare by first developing one’s own ‘wholeness’.

“We cannot give to someone else what we have not first developed in ourselves. Healthcare is both an art and a science, although we often forget the art and only focus on the science. If we want to give more compassionate care, we must cultivate our own compassion.”

‘Counter-curriculum of self-care’

Dr Kopacz notes that healthcare workers are often not trained to take care of themselves.

“If we do not care for and replenish ourselves, we end up with professional burn-out, which leads to a loss of caring in healthcare, and ultimately a loss of health for both the healthcare worker and the client.”

The basics are a great place to start – stretching, exercise, regular movement and engagement in life. Proper nutrition and relaxation techniques are helpful too. From there, the concept of mind-body-spirit should be looked at, and this applies to both the clinician and the patient.

DSC_7647

David Kopacz at Re-humanizing Medicine book signing at University of Washington Bookstore, January 2014 (Photo: Salin Sriudomporn)

According to Dr Kopacz, there are nine dimensions that need to be looked at:

  • How can a person engage their body for health?
  • How can a person engage their emotions for health?
  • How can a person engage their mind for health?
  • How can a person engage their heart for health?
  • How can a person engage their creativity for health?
  • How can a person engage their intuition for health?
  • How can a person engage their spirit for health?
  • How can a person engage their context and surroundings for health?
  • How can a person engage their time for health?

Looking at these nine dimensions gives a holistic view of a person, and each dimension has health benefits. Physiotherapists can individualise a treatment plan by finding out how to support a person to engage all of the dimensions of their health. “We don’t have to be an expert at working with each of these different dimensions, but as healthcare workers, we need to have basic fluency in each dimension.”

Treating more than just an injury

“When people are injured or have a movement disorder, it doesn’t just affect the physical body as a machine – the body also ‘thinks’,” Dr Sandra Bassett, senior lecturer in Physiotherapy at AUT says.

Dr Bassett believes a biopsychosocial healthcare approach means taking into account the beliefs people have about their treatment and their injury.

“It means taking the time to talk to a patient about any limitations to adhering to treatments – what their time and social commitments are.”

From Dr Bassett’s perspective biopsychosocial healthcare is different to providing holistic healthcare.

“It’s about finding out and respecting what a patient thinks. What their commitments are, and how they think their bodies work.”

She also believes patient education is so important. Knowing how the body works, and how treatment will help, means patients are more likely to adhere to their treatment and manage their disability.

“I often hear physios saying, ‘But I’m not a counsellor’, and that’s true,” she says. “However, physiotherapists are well-placed to connect with people, and get them to think about their day and when they might be able to fit in their treatment exercise regime, for example.”

Physios can also place responsibility on a patient to encourage self-efficacy. “Our research shows that when patients take responsibility and ownership of their treatment, they cope much better. Patients feel better about themselves and think more positively.” In this sense, the physiotherapist may act as more of a coach by setting goals, and providing encouragement and support, as well as educating the patient.

Dr Kopacz says an injured person may also suffer from grief over lost physical functionality, anxiety over being re-injured, and even depression around an injury. These emotional and mental elements need to be addressed in order for a person to even have the motivation, and commitment, to doing the exercises that physiotherapists know would help them.

“A key question is asking a patient, ‘What do you want your health for?’ This helps to motivate a person, and individualise their care. It’s not enough to provide information or appeal to a person’s intellect. We need to focus on engendering hope as much as providing an evidence-based physical treatment,” he says.

Although this may seem like a lot to take on in a busy clinical setting, it is a vital component of providing care.

“…really, it comes down to making sure that we are good human beings to each other as well as being a good technician or clinician. Kindness and caring only take a moment and we need to make sure that we make space for that moment to occur.”

DSC_9344_color_corrected

Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and David Kopacz working on their new book, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD. (Photo: Karen Kopacz, 2016)

 

Conversations on “Deathing Life” with Susan.6

Here is another installment on my conversations with Susan as she goes through her “deathing life” with brain cancer. Susan suggested that I share these conversations with the world and it is an honour to be able to have these conversations with her as she lives this new stage in her life, sharing her insight and wisdom.

Sometimes the dates are the same on the posts as we were responding to multiple email threads, sometimes replying to different threads on the same day.

I wonder if living a life focussed on spiritual issues makes the transition to death easier in anyway – maybe it is another spiritual life transition? Here are some more of Susan’s words:

____

March 7, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Love the photos of Corbin & Sofia. Sending them a BIG energy hug.

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Yes, agreed it is challenging for staff to manage all the differing needs of palliative care, dementia care, psychiatric care, & the needs of the frail elderly.

In this facility we are all mixed in together. I believe it would be easier were the facility to have a separate palliative care section with staff given specialist training in that area. In having discussions with management they are of the same opinion.

I am slowly reading through your attachment on stewardship, & have nothing yet to add.  It is written beautifully, from the heart using knowledge & personal experience. I still have more of it to read.  I haven’t read a lot of Joseph’s part of the book that you are co-writing so will go onto that in the future.

What comes to mind right now in thinking about Stewardship is my lesson about energy & responsibility…when giving clairvoyant readings I used to put a lot of effort/energy into helping the client,  including trying to “enlighten” them. In doing this I often found myself exhausted. Ultimately my lesson was simple…it was not my work to enlighten my clients, only to deliver the messages I was instructed to give them. It was the clients own work to seek enlightenment. It was not my exhaustable energy that was needed to deliver guidance & support…all I needed to do was to be a willing conduit actively engaging with the person with right intention, a compassionate heart, & openess to the inexhaustible energy of Source. Having done this I used to find that rather than feeling depleted, I was greatly energised …on all levels.

Rising Consciousness

Rising Consciousness, Susan MacGregor

I have read about the man you mentioned who can move his eyes & lids only [Jean-Dominique Bauby, author of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly]. Remarkable person. Much more fortitude, tolerance of pain, acceptance of incapacity than myself.  Things I can’t do now are; drive, dance,  play piano, crochet, cook/bake without help, dance, walk barefoot through woods, swim, soak in the sea, stroll through parks or gardens, kayak, walk barefoot in the sand,  take full care of a pet, dress myself, shower myself, make my bed, fold or hang my clothes…. etc., etc.  Many tasks are full of difficulty. I have, as you said, needed to turn away from the physical, external plus give up much of my independence.  It’s been hard to ask for help & relinquish my high standards/preferred ways of doing things. It’s been a major loss to no longer be able to freely move when or where I wish. My fragile energy is drained every day doing basic things e.g. pulling up my pants after toileting. I find myself angry with this new body I’m in, its constant pain & limitations. I look forward to the freedom of relinquishing this tired used up lump of flesh that entraps my spirit.

diving-bell-cover

The_Diving_Bell_and_the_Butterfly_DVD

On another note we recently returned from a road trip up north to my birthplace of Whangarei, first property at Hihi Beach Mangonui & childhood haunts around Kerikeri, Puketi Forest etc. Travel is very uncomfortable & excursions limited to wheelchair friendly areas. However this physical journey felt very important to me, in that I was connecting with key parts of my life then actively letting them go by saying goodbye to that area. Some people believe we leave energy imprints in places, so this was, in a sense, an opportunity to pick up pieces of myself. I had been doing some of this previously by going through photos & memories with Mahmoud, my brother, foster sister & niece. However the physical journey has made this process feel more complete.

Lastly today…I don’t find death morbid. Viewing it that way would seem to convey it is somehow dirty, repugnant, & to be avoided at all costs. The labour of death may not be pretty nor comfortable, but neither is the labour of birthing into this life.  It is merely a transition, transformative in its process.

colour my world

Colour My World, Susan MacGregor

Choosing my own coffin … it was like choosing a new car, exciting & full of anticipation.  I have nothing to lose …. I either go to oblivion, being oblivious to all further suffering or go to the home from whence I came.

Love & Bless,

Susan

March 7, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

I have absolutely no issues at all in your use of content from our email discussions. In fact I consider it an honour & privilege. If any of it can resonate in a helpful way for others that’s good. However my poems are different, in that I have copyright on them. Mahmoud will be their owner when I pass away.

I find I can’t cope with a lot of mental “stuff” now, so often you will find I’m slow to respond.

To answer one of your questions, I have always had one foot in this world & one in the next, being clairvoyant, clairsentient & clairaudient all my life, plus experiencing lucid dreaming, premonitions, recall of some past lives, etc. Things are no different for me now.

In regards Joseph Rael’s statement “we don’t exist” I can’t agree with that totally.  Rather I take the perspective that…Energy never dies…in our true form we are light beings/having energy…we do exist but confuse our physical beingness & ego identity with our true self. Our true self, originating from the source of energy & light, doesn’t belong to us in fact, but rather to the “I am” presence, i.e. God.  Our purpose then is to return love/ light to our source. We do this by being manifestations of love & light in the world…living ethical, moral lives, & loving our source as much as we love creation plus ourselves. If we confuse only what can be seen, heard or experienced by our baser bodies, for truth, we lose sight of all of the magic & mystery in our existence & become unconscious automatons. Also I believe our soul is a combined vibratory record of all our actions, thoughts, non actions, throughout various lifetimes. Thus our soul survives each lifetime in the form of a collective memory, alongside the myriad other souls, or perhaps merged with all other souls.

When applying principles of vibration to healing, remember each word we utter has a vibratory pattern, plus a positive or negative connection in an individual’s memory. NLP teaches a lot about linguistic principles which can then be included into therapeutic groups & 1:1 therapy.

Talking more along the topic of vibration, I recall one event in which participants were called to list all items hidden beneath a cloth…several participants got many correct & one got all. How is this possible? We are sensing the energy pattern of different objects. Divine principles govern energy & light & I Believe that the divine Being I call God orchestrates these principles to various ends.  If we trespass upon these principles we suffer negative consequences.

Turning To The Light

Turning to the Light, Susan MacGregor

During one meditation I…meaning my spiritual self…passed through a tunnel toward a door. On opening the door a brilliant light was present & loud sound similar to the rushing of a strong wind. “I” immediately felt myself flying through space & time, hieroglyphs & symbols shooting past at a tremendous speed.  I have come to believe that these symbols unlock certain energies & memories. Can I remember the symbols now…no, not consciously, but I later learnt Reiki which uses various symbols in its healing, seeming to reinforce this perspective. The higher our rate of vibration, the more “light” we are. Perhaps the more light we are, the more removed we are from “ego” consciousness & the consequences of a denser reality…I consider that this was how the Buddhist healing techniques freed me from 6yrs of constant pain i.e. by raising my vibratory level.  Also Vibration from trumpets, chanting & tempered walking flattened the walls of Jericho, as recorded in the bible. So it is a two edged sword, having power to raise up & to destroy.

When I was 18yrs old the I Am informed me that there are 7x worlds above & 7x worlds below; referring to vibratory realms. Planet earth is in the middle, like the heart of the entire organism.  Earth is Jesus’s footstool, he being the divine being supplanted in earthly soil.  It is here, due to our own free will that we can increase our light quotient, or decrease it.  We influence this by our deeds, words, thoughts, plus not taking action when it is needed.

Well enough from me, I am tired, & perhaps tiring you with these thoughts too.

The very best.

From Susan

ps, Sorry didn’t mention the trumpets also when referring to Jericho.

 

March 11, 2016 (Susan)

Hi to all my beautiful friends & family.

I trust & hope you are all ok.

Sorry to say you may not hear much from me from now on.

Following a few lovely days away up north, upon returning to the P.Hospital I had a significant seizure.  I am now very weak & will not be able to maintain the Skype chats or emails as previous. We are trying to get to Tauranga for a few days.  To assist I am taking dexamethasone.  However that will stop on returning. I expect thereafter the seizures & strokes we were told about will take hold.

Please don’t be sad for me, I am happy to leave this disabled body & go to a place beyond the suffering & struggles of this world.  I have led a blessed life with the love of good parents, friends, family, & of course Mahmoud, a good career & lots of fun along the way.  Thank you all for the memories & support.

When I leave I will be caught in the embrace of angels with a heart full of joy.

Love you always,

Susan xx

Love

Love, XX, Susan MacGregor

[Susan had sent this email, but then some days later began emailing again]

 

March 18, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, your thoughts are never tiring to me, always fresh and vibrant. Thanks for sending these details about your spiritual and mystical experiences in life.

I haven’t posted anything yet.

Do you have photo I could include on the blog? Or a suggestion for an image and I’ll find something on the internet.

In the second book Joseph Rael and I are working on, we will focus on how to develop a vibrational or visionary sense, another way of perceiving ourselves and the world. I am looking forward to delving deeper into that. I am also planning a book on Carl Jung and Philip K. Dick’s visions that keeps getting put off. Thank you for sharing your experience of the tunnel of hieroglyphics.

So much of what you say about vibration makes so much sense. Joseph speaks a lot about vibration and called his classic book, Being & Vibration. Physics, too, seems to be moving toward a view of matter as energy and vibration, rather than the solid objects that we perceive as a “table” a “chair.”

Finger Paintings Joseph

Joseph Rael, by Susan MacGregor

I better get working on the talks I am going to be doing in Grand Junction, Colorado in a couple weeks.

Blessings,

David

 

March 18, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan,

Your journey to your roots sounds very important. My last month in New Zealand I took a road trip by myself and went up to Cape Reinga and stopped through Mangonui and Hihi Beach, a beautiful area.

DSCN0314

Cape Reinga

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Thank you for your thoughts on Stewardship and for sharing how beautiful your journey is even with all the loss and disability. In your writing I only sense the liveliness of your spirit and not any of the limitations of your body. I like how you describe being a conduit or channel to Source. That is such a sweet feeling to have that flow through.

With the book, I have been contacting people for possible endorsement blurbs on the book. So far I have had a lot of excitement from people.

We had a guest at our Whole Health Class that we run for veterans, this week. Mike Lee, who is from the plains tribes and is an elder of the American Lake VA Sweat Lodge, spoke with us. He did a ceremony in which we turned off the lights and sat facing outward in a circle, with our backs to each other, and then he sang a couple songs and kept time on his drum. It was very moving. He said that our bodies are made of the body of Mother Earth and they are not our own, our spirit moves through them for a while. We breathe in at the start of life and we breathe out at the end of life. It is all just one big breath, moving through some earth, and there really is no such thing as death as the breath and spirit never die. It was very beautiful.

Here are some pictures from my trip to Northland, New Zealand…

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Cape Reinga Light House

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DSCN0368

Meeting of Tasman Sea (left) and Pacific Ocean (right) off of northernmost point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga

Beautiful day here, today, clear, we can see the Olympic mountain range, covered with snow, to the West, and the Cascade Range to the East, not as tall, but also with snow, and to the south the massive bulk of Mt Rainer, a vast snow-covered peak.

My heart and thoughts and prayers are with you,

David

xoxoxo

 

March 18 2016 (Susan)

Hi David,

Thank you for the photos. You looked very relaxed in the caravan, with hot drink in hand…that’s the life eh?

DSCN0392

Having only now read your email the things that come to mind as a picture for the blog could be based on what has been shared…perhaps something with swirling patterns of coloured light, transposed with transparent images of symbols, angels or such.

Kopacz 02

Untitled, David Kopacz, 2013

Speaking more of vibration, I have wondered if we ourselves actively influence vibratory patterns when having visions so that the vision suits a frame of reference that we are familiar with being merely representational, rather than actual, in its appearance. As typically we would not visually perceive vibration itself, & the mind has a tendency to want to organise sensory stimulus into orderly patterns that are familiar. This could be at work in psychosis as well, with the visual hallucinations matching an internal vibratory state & using images that represent that state for the person.

When seeing angels ascending staircases this occurred to me.

Flying High

Flying High, Susan MacGregor

In Whangarei one of the Senior Psychiatrists was Sufi, we talked about Sufism & my interest became piqued.  Knowing me somewhat he would refer clients to my caseload, as a Mental Health Rehabilitation Therapist, who were reluctant to be treated medically due to the belief they were psychic, not unwell.

My approach here was based on having a foot in each camp i.e. I informed the client that I do believe in illness including illnesses of the neurological functions of the brain, but I also believed in Psychics & knew some personally.  In CBT fashion I then invited the client to “scientifically” approach the questions of … am I Psychic or am I unwell, or am I a bit of both? Using DSM we would list on one side of a whiteboard diagnostic criteria, on the other side the phenomenon experiences of what we collectively knew about psychics, drawing from our personal experiences as well as what we had read or found out from others. We then ticked or crossed off items from each list to see what was left. In the few cases I worked with in this manner we typically ended up with some items from each list. The client was then asked to return to the three choices at the start to hypothesize where they might sit along a continuum. End result being the client usually concluded they had a little illness & accepted orthodox treatment knowing that if they wished to do a “planned” withdrawal from meds I would support them in that. With this input they were typically offered much less in the way of medications as they were able to express more clearly to their Psychiatrist only the DSM symptoms they were having & had lost their fears re other phenomenon, having talked these through & being given some “alternative” strategies to manage these if they wished….I hope this illustrates one way mental health workers could include a more wholistic paradigm into mental health diagnosis.

In personal experience with visions, voices, sensations one thing has remained clearly differentiated compared to DSM, i.e. I have never lost awareness of who I am, what is me, what is other, what is  “real” what is vision or other experience…. in other words my ego boundaries have remained intact, no psychotic break has occurred. Only once have I been in a situation where I felt controlled by something not me. This happened when I was learning about “channeling”. However I established control again via focusing my mind on a particular piece of music. I never liked “channeling, & never did it again.

Well seems each time you send me something it brings to mind something else. You are definitely a positive catalyst in my life. Thank you.

With best wishes for your continued development of new ways for “being” in healthcare.

Love from,

Susan MacGregor

The Chalice & The Rose 9f33d6b1-48d2-4b30-88ce-dd048adfe60f (1)

The Chalice and the Rose, Susan MacGregor

 

Conversations with Susan.5

Susan MacGregor and I have been continuing our email correspondence and she has been updating me on her process of “deathing life” as she lives with her brain cancer and copes with the changes that brings.

Susan has encouraged me to share her thoughts and words and paintings with others as she continues to grow and change in this “deathing life” process.

These are some of our conversations from February and March and I will include some of Susan’s recent artwork.

Rising Consciousness

Rising Consciousness, Susan MacGregor

_______

2/26/16 (David)

Hi Susan, thank you for such beautiful, heart-felt writing. I will draw upon it as I put together these 11 hours of talks to patients, family members and staff around end-of-life decisions and hospice. What can we call it instead of “end-of-life?” I like your term “deathing life.” I have a working title of “Holistic Decision-making Across the Lifespan,” but I am writing about holistic decision-making and death or deathing life. I don’t like the phrase “end of life” so much, as it doesn’t sound active enough.

Can you open a PowerPoint on your computer? I will send you a drafts of the lectures if you are interested….

I am interested in developing something around “death stewardship,” or the dying process as a form of initiation in which the role of family and staff is to support the active, transformative initiation of person in the deathing life phase.

What you have written is so beautiful and full of wisdom. If you would like a public speaking space, I think your words would be an honor to my blog, Being Fully Human, if you would care to have me post them. I don’t want to exploit your deathing life, but I wouldn’t mind mining your wisdom and sharing with others what you would like to share.

Thank you for the gift of yourself!

2/26/16 (Susan)

Dear David,

Thank you again for your appreciation & support.

I am not sure about power point as am using a tablet. Computer is at home but don’t go home much.

I would feel honoured for you to use any of what I send in whatever way you think appropriate. Perhaps if you will bear with me I will write more….

I feel the term “deathing” life conveys a more active involvement in the tasks & processes of leaving this world than other more commonly used terms. And it is also meant to convey that I am still very much living.

Strong Loving Arms Enfold Me Each Day

Strong, Loving Arms Enfold Me Each Day, Susan MacGregor

I have found the love & support of others key to my being able to move onto the life inventory work mentioned previously, i.e.  the non critical, non judgemental acceptance of my life as a whole. I haven’t experienced all of the classical stages of dying as described by Elizabeth Kubler Ross, whether that’s due to my spiritual beliefs or other factors I’m not sure. There has been no anger, no “why me”, no bargaining…so I think it would be false to believe everyone follows that path exactly. There has been sadness, letting go, cherishing, & communing, in a very rich meaningful way. I am approaching my death willing to accept it as a transitional stage of life, & as a part of my life that I can still be actively involved in.  The ability to self reflect has been a great bonus, & I believe would be a useful skill for anyone to have. Mindfulness has been a useful tool & having alone time has been essential. I’ve found I have no interest in establishing new bonds, although this still happens naturally. Rather, existing bonds have been my focus & there has been a “turning inward” away from the world. Sometimes this has been hard for Rest Home staff to accept, as their focus is more on maintaining an active, engaged life as people age. Their desire has been to fill my hours up with activities, which I have resisted. Other helpful tasks have involved completing an Advanced Directive, detailing how I would like to be cared for & where I wish to die, plus meeting with a Funeral Director to discuss my wishes (plus inform Mahmoud of what to expect, as there is no embalming of the body etc. in his culture). I have engaged Hospice Services into a “shared care” relationship with the Rest Home Facility as they are the experts in care of the dying. I have chosen my last piece of furniture, i.e. my coffin, where I wish to be buried, & Mahmoud & I have chosen a headstone/a double one. All these things done I am now enjoying the time I have seeing friends, family, having outings & doing short trips in NZ. So that is my life until I am “returned to sender”.

All the very best to you & family.

God Bless,

Susan

3/1/16 (Susan)

Dear David,

I have been reading through the attachments you sent when energy allows. I am finding your writing enjoyable, cohesive & easy to read. I am still reading through Joseph’s writings.

So good to hear mention of Joseph Campbell, one of my “heroes” in developing my thinking about spiritual matters.  And Martin Buber still rings clearly in my mind from Psychotherapist training. Some of what you speak of reminds me of the concept of the Adam Kadmon within the Kabbalah & gnostic or Pauline Christianity. I certainly relate to the perspective that all is vibration. In fact this reality made it possible for me to be healed via a Buddhist sound technique taught to me at a healing retreat by Chris .This technique enabled me to move beyond 6yrs of constant pain, which I was experiencing due to a ruptured c5 disc. On day 2 of this week long retreat all pain dissappeared, & though subsequent x rays show the old injury still exists with narrowing between the discs, I have never returned to that daily, debilitating pain. Also as a result of the work we did on this retreat I entered such a heightened sensitivity that I experienced the “oneness” you talk about, including hearing the sound that “everything” makes. This retreat spoke directly to my heart, enabling me to release the feelings of longing & sadness I had internalised, engendered by my belief that I was “separated” from God.

Breath travels through matter, creating movement which creates sound. Sound alters vibration & structural patterning. Years ago I experimented with the music of Geoff Clarkson, a Kiwi musician who composes music to aid meditation, relaxation etc. I was Matron of a Rest Home at the time, & found my residents were often fractious, having petty squabbles & altercations. Playing Geoff’s original soundtrack of “Butterfly” via the paged music system had such a profound effect on staff & residents that I later incorporated his CDs & live music sessions with him into my work in Psychosocial & Inpatient rehabilitation.

In looking at memory & PTSD I am reminded of my training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which was a 1yr elective at Psychotherapy school. I found a combination of CBT & NLP more effective than CBT alone in getting results with anxiety sufferers.

It gives me joy to read how you are incorporating a peaceful approach towards talking about war & the development of war consciousness. Through Kriya Yoga I was benefited by learning that the way to protest for change is by creating more balance of peaceful, proactive, or positive energy. This is to counterbalance the energy of anger, hate, violence, already in the world.  Some of the early “circle dancing” I did, missed this point, with facilitators propagating, “express you anger into the dance”, with no modifying expression to follow.

With discussion of the four directions I am reminded of four Archangels; Michael, Raphael, Uriel, & Gabriel.  These vibratory emanations speak to the Mastery of the colour/sound/movement components you mention.   I am currently wondering how I can use knowledge about suffering for myself, regarding my physical disability. Though the cancer hasn’t thrown me, the disability has. I am certainly not at peace with that. The only thing I can be grateful to it for, is that it is making it easier to let go of this existence.

Flying High

Flying High, Susan MacGregor

As you can see, your writings have moved me to recall these moments within my own life, & some of the rich teachings I have been privileged to discover. Thank you for that.

All the very best, may your work be blessed to produce the results you want.

Kind regards, Susan MacGregor

Conversations with Susan.4

Angel Face Rose

Angel Face Rose

26 May, 2016 (Susan):

Hi,

The rose is such a pretty colour & full of new buds, looks like it will be covered in blooms soon.

My function is deteriorating, some difficulty talking, tripping over words, some stuttering. Getting some laughs out of that currently.

Mild nausea, blurred vision, breathlessness, dizziness, fatigue, tremors. Had lots of lovely visitors, 16x peeps over past 6 days. Stopping visitors except family & extended family now as most others have had opportunity to come whilst I could still talk to them.

Poems were sent last Sat. Mail is lot slower than it used to be so probably arrived to destination midway through this week. Hoping there is some merit to them. If not I will ask someone to bind them into a soft cover for family & friends.

In light & love,

Susan x x

An Angel Without Wings

An Angel Without Wings, Susan Mac Gregor, May 2016

28 May, 2016 (Dave):

Hi Susan, thank you for sharing with me how you are doing. I was thinking about the roses, how each one is so beautiful and bursts into the world, bringing sweet fragrance and beauty (these Angel Face roses have a nice scent). And then the flower gradually fades, loses a few petals and then passes away, yet in each individual flower’s passing, new space is created for the other buds that are overflowing with desire to burst forth into the world, giving of themselves and becoming themselves.

Even once the flower blossom is gone, though, then the not so beautiful work begins of transforming dead flower into seed – for the rose, it turns into a bright red rose hip berry and becomes beautiful again, until once again, at its ripest, falls from the plant and begins to decay, which allows the seeds of new life to sprout and take root. It seems so beautiful with plants, with people it is a bit harder to stretch the metaphor…

When you say you sent the poems, whom did you send them too? Was it to XLIBRIS?

I have a batch that you sent me some time ago electronically. At first you said you didn’t want them posted as they were copyrighted and you were looking to publish, later, you said that I should post some of them on the blog. I haven’t put any up yet. I’ll do a blog now and put maybe a poem, an update from you and a picture.

Here are some pictures of my little shrine on my desk where I write. I probably have a solid day or two left of editing the manuscript.

Here are the plans for my future books:

Becoming Your Own Medicine, with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

Art Medicine, with Joseph Rael

Healing Circles of the World, with Joseph Rael

Return: The Hero’s Journey Home after War and Other Life Events

Re-spiritualizing Medicine

Every Thought Leads to Infinity: The Role of Visions in the Life & Work of Carl G. Jung and Philip K. Dick

That should keep me busy for a while…

 

May God’s Blessings sustain and surround You,

Dave xoxo

 

Earlier email with update for Susan’s bio…

 

15 May, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

 

This is a more accurate reflection of my early life.

As a young girl I was identified as being brighter than my peers. My teachers wished to advance me 1yr but my parents, sensibly, declined. However this advantage stood me in good stead later in life, achieving honours passes in all fields of my post school study, both theory & practice. My weak area was maths. My good fortune led to job offers in some instances & to offers of sponsorship into further study. None of which I pursued, instead prioritizing my desire to have a freehold property. As I was single until my late 20’s that meant putting in overtime shifts. When I did marry I made a poor choice, which delayed things somewhat. I then put myself into high debt to buy a house in Auckland that could accommodate taking in my sick parents. I was glad to do that, those years with them being very special, though stressfull. After they passed away I began to experience a series of illnesses requiring surgeries then was diagnosed with the cancer. Prior to my parent’s deaths I met Mahmoud. We have known each other 13yrs. Throughout that time he has helped me & my parents. The home in Papamoa Beach Tauranga is slowly being paid off as it is rented out.

Motuotau Island, Tauranga, 2013 Jan.March

Motuotau Island, Tauranga, New Zealand

 

Though my childhood home was full of love, music, laughter & creativity, my parents were poor. We could stay at Tauranga Bay Motor Camp free of charge because mum had divined their water supply. Access to bush, beaches, nature was close by. But sometimes my parents had no money for food except bread & milk. There were no WINZ benefits then & though Social Welfare paid a clothing allowance for my 4x fostered siblings, they didn’t pay any other expenses relating to their care. My clothes & shoes were hand me downs from other families. We did what we could collecting windfall fruit to eat from orchardists who knew the situation. We also collected shellfish from the beaches, & dad built one of N.Z.s first Kontikis to fish with which was a success. However there were days when our tummies were only filled with bread & milk. This occurred between my years of 11yrs to 13yrs, spiralling into my mother’s ill health & lengthy hospitalisation when I was 11yrs. She had uncontrolled hypertension & was having blackouts. Being the eldest daughter I took on her duties, caring for my siblings, doing household washing, ironing, helping Dad with food preparation, bathing younger siblings, & organizing the housework rota. When mum was back home I stayed off school often, as she was anxious to be left on her own. Eventually my father secured work as a Carpenter at Kingseat Hospital, Sth Auckland, which job came with a small house. Due to the size of the house & mums ongoing poor health they decided to move only with their two natural children, my brother & I. Amongst others, I was heartbroken by that decision. Mum soon found work too at the Hospital, as a Domestic Supervisor. The move did mean my parents were able to get out of debt.  Plus they were able to feed & clothe my brother & me. Thus life improved despite the continued sadness re my fostered brothers & sisters.

The rest of the previous bio still applies, only I had glossed over the financial situation, & omitted a key aspect of my fortunate genetic inheritance.

2013 Jan.March, Kopacz 132

Mt Maunganui, Tauranga, New Zealand

Good cheer to you,

Susan xx

Tauranga, 2013 Jan.March

Tauranga, New Zealand

 

Conversations with Susan.3

Susan’s health has been deteriorating lately. We have been emailing back and forth, but I have not been getting these up as posts very quickly. I’ll be putting up posts more regularly now, starting with our earliest emails in this post and I think I’ll also put up a separate post with more recent updates. While we human beings usually have a bias for a linear narrative, my work with Joseph Rael has been opening me up to non-linear narratives, which is what this series of blog posts is ending up being…I will include some of Susan’s artwork and some of my photos in the mix.

My picture b16eea51-9c6f-475e-b009-856c8c3f730c (1)

Susan Mac Gregor, May 8, 2016

Susan to David: February 7, 2016

Hi,

How are you & Mary-Pat?

Seem to have got so tied up on Facebook that other communications have lagged. Mahmoud & I have had a great Xmas & summer with lotsa socialising amongst friends & family, a trip away to Tauranga, & some lovely local outings. Though the cancer did return, following further radiotherapy, I am again in remission. Looking at things overall I’ve well exceeded the norm for this thing, the cancer having started in Oct 2012. I am not “fighting” it, just accepting it & taking one day at a time.

On other matters finally I’ve contacted a publishing company re a selection of my poems. They distribute through AU, UK, NZ & USA. Not having great expectations, but it will complete a goal I’ve had for some time. The company is ‘XLIBRIS’.

We are off to the exquisite beaches, hot pools & restaurants of Tauranga again in early March. I expect this will be my last visit there, as prognosis now months, not years. Frankly I am ready to “go home” & shall welcome that journey when it comes. My brother is tasked to inform everyone on Facebook so that no one is left wondering. His name is Rob MacGregor, so please don’t be surprised when you get an email from him.

Look forward to your news.

Kind regards,

Susan MacGregor

David to Susan February 16, 2016:

Hi Susan, thank you for writing. Your trip to Tauranga sounds great and I hope you enjoy it thoroughly.

I am sorry to hear about the recurrence and that the doctors are giving you months now rather than years. Just remember, time and life is not really a doctors to give in the first place…

Good luck with your publishing. If you ever want to put a poem “out there” I’d be happy to put one up on my blog with some info about you.

I’ve been working on a book with Native American visionary, Joseph Rael, it has turned into two books. Working with his publisher is great as they are a small press and are really moving things along. July publication date for Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing PTSD [this has since been pushed back to September, 2016]. I’ll send you a draft and also a draft of Becoming Your Own Medicine, which will be the second book, but hasn’t been edited yet.

I just started reading The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche and also read the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I am preparing to give a series of talks to patients, family and caregivers at a hospice programme out in Colorado on end of life decisions. Do you have any advice for me for the talk? I’ll send you the PowerPoint when there is a PowerPoint to send…maybe in a month…I am thinking about some topics like Death Stewardship, using the Red Road of the Medicine Wheel which orients one to the emotional and spiritual to balance our culture’s over-focus on the mental and physical, and then something on holistic decision-making, using the 9 dimensional model from my book.

The Tibetans sure know how to die, I am learning from these books. The view it as a very important and sacred time in transitioning from this realm to the next. As they believe in reincarnation, the emotional and spiritual state at the time of death is very important in determining the next birth.

Please keep in touch as your time and energy allows.

Here are very rough draft copies of the writing I am doing. [attachment to email] Please don’t feel any need to read them, but if they are of interest, enjoy!

Blessings upon Your Beautiful Soul,

Dave

Oh, have you ever heard of Nevit O. Ergin? I just read The Sufi Path of Annihilation by him and found it quite interesting.

Conversations With Susan.2: Susan’s Biography

I have been emailing back and forth with my friend, Susan Mac Gregor in New Zealand as she has been going through what she calls her “deathing life” with Stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme. We are having some great talks and Susan would like me to share these through this blog. Here is her biography and we’ll be posting some of our discussions in future posts. Susan has also started making digital art and we’ll include some of her artwork in these posts.

___

The Centered Heart

The Centered Heart (Susan Mac Gregor)

Biography:

My name is Susan Diane Mac Gregor. I was born in Whangarei, New Zealand, on 25th August 1958. I grew up in Northland enjoying its beautiful beaches, native forests, waterways, & small town lifestyle. When not reading much of my time was spent exploring nature, riding friends horses, rescuing damaged birds or small animals & swimming. There were cats, pidgeons, chooks [chickens], sheep, dogs, canaries as pets, plus my blood brother & four fostered siblings to share time with. Having a musically talented mother & poetically inclined father, who enjoyed limerick & rhyme, meant our household was filled with music, rhyme & laughter. Despite some financial crises for my parents, it was an idyllic childhood.

Qualifications:

Cert Industrial Cookery; R.P.N; PG Dip Gerontological Nursing; PG Cert CBT; Cert N.L.P. & Eriksonian Hypnotherapy; PG Cert.Relationship Guidance; PG Cert Sexual Abuse Counseling; Cert Solution Focussed Therapy; Cert Grief Counseling;  Cert Group Facilitation; Cert Stanford University Facilitator Self Management Of Chronic Conditions Groups. Successfully completed one year from Diploma of Psychotherapy, plus stage one National Certificate in Adult Education.

Alternative Therapy Qualifications:

Diploma Therapeutic Massage; Reiki Level 3; Cert. Therapeutic Drumming; Colour Psychology … being a methodology of using colour & drawing to analyze & address psychological issues; Chaldean & Pythagorean Numerology; American Indian Aura Cleansing;  Hands On & Crystal Energy Healing; Buddhist Sound Healing via Chris James; Home Study of Aromatherapy.

Gifts:

I was born with the gifts of Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, Clairsentience,  Pre-cognisance & Telepathy. These gifts began expressing themselves firstly amongst my direct family, surprising my parents on more than one occasion. As an adult I have practiced for 25yrs as a Clairvoyant, offering guidance to100’s of people throughout the North Island. This service included dream interpretation, energy clearing, & numerology if desired. As an adjunctive I have developed a method whereby it is possible to map a person’s phases & time frames toward achieving changes & goals in their lives. The phases allow the person to consciously make the most of the vibrational energies in each phase. Feedback has confirmed this is a reliable tool for its purpose.

Harley The Rainbow Lorikeet

Harley the Rainbow Lorikeet (Susan Mac Gregor)

More About My Roots:

Family have significantly influenced my character & interests. Mums father Reverend Norman Hyde established an Orphanage during the N.Z. Influenza Epidemic of the early 1900s, & along with mums mother Lillian, brought up thirty three Orphans, plus eight of their own children. Prior to that Norman lived & worked closely with the Tainui Iwi, an indigenous Maori tribe from the Waikato region. Grand-dad spoke fluent Maori, & was fully conversant with Maori protocols & customs. When he died in his 50’s he was given the rare honours of having Maori “wailers” at his funeral, plus a Chiefs cloak was presented to the family from that Iwi. As is customary, the family has since offered the cloak back, the Iwi have not accepted it, thus it & its significance remain in the family.

Respect for New Zealand’s indigenous peoples & customs was passed onto me through my mother. Mums mother was a gifted pianist, being asked in her early teens to go to Germany to further a musical career. Grandma’s parents didn’t permit this however. Prior to marriage Lillian established her own music school, teaching piano & singing. Her talent passed to my mum, who could play any instrument she was handed, & sang on radio in her early adulthood. Our household was always filled with music, with many nights sat around the piano singing Redemption Hymns, or listening to mum play from the great classics, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn etc. Though never having her ability I took lessons in piano, & continued to play into adulthood.

My father, born to the son of a Scottish Immigrant from Loch Carron, bought another form of creativity into our household. Dad had a love of words, particularly in rhyme & limerick. In early adulthood he published his poems in the local News Paper. His work as a carpenter also a creative occupation. His father was a lay preacher in Churches throughout the Tauranga District. Thus we have the foundations for my love of music, rhyme, respect & interest in different cultures, nature, the humanities, & Christian faith.

Faith:

Despite our Christian underpinnings, Christianity was never forced upon us as children. My parents wished us to choose rather than be forced to accept Christ, leaving the door open for enquiry & spiritual exploration. Not withstanding that, prayer was a given in our household & my parents lives were distinctly lived from Christian principles.

In addition, my mother had the unusual gift of being a “diviner” i.e. someone who could find underground water merely by walking around with her hands held out to sense it. She would sometimes demonstrate this gift for others using a forked willow stick, which would violently twist in her hands when over water. She became well known in Northland for this gift, having divined the first steam bore at the Ngapha Steam Plant near Kaikohe, plus the water supply at a privately owned Camp Ground on the East Coast of Hohoura Harbour, called Tauranga Bay. Not to mention many farmers water supplies, etc. She was capable of identifying how deep in the earth they needed to bore, which way the water flowed, if it was salt, brackish or fresh & could, by the same means, divine  for minerals such as gold. This left the way open for enquiry as to things unseen, though felt or known.

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Susan Mac Gregor

As a young adult I entered training in Psychiatric Nursing, having chosen to diverge from my training at the Auckland Institute of Technology, where I qualified as an Industrial Cook. This led into my Career in Mental Health, & interest in Psychological methodologies. Upon qualifying I further developed my interest in caring for the Elderly, plus Special Interest in working with people with Dementia. Post Graduate study included a Diploma in Gerontology. Next I began developing qualifications & skills in Psychological Therapies. Gradually I moved from working within Private & Public Elder Care into Mental Health Psycho-Social Rehabilitation, including providing CBT counseling. I was working full time as a Therapist in a Psychology Division of a Primary Healthcare Organisation when I was diagnosed with Grade Four Glioblastoma Multiforme, this being my final job.

Spiritual explorations have included initiation into Western Sufism, initiation to The Rosocrucian Order AMORC, a home study course provided by my friend Patricia Sarne Paul in Kabbahlah, exploration of Western Spiritualism, Meditational Dancing in the form of Circle Dancing, Dances Of Universal Peace, & Sufi Zikr, practice of Hatha Yoga in my late teens, then training & practice in Raja Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Mudra Yoga &  Kriya Yoga, the latter following Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings. There was a short foray into Tibetan Buddhism, via Dhargyey Rinpoche at the Buddhist Centre in Whangarei. Training in Mindfulness Meditation. At times I would “drop” in on Hindu services to join in with the singing of Bhajans, which I always found an uplifting practice. Or through Jewish friends I’d join in Sabbath services at the open Auckland Synagogue, or join in at Anglican or Catholic Services & discussion groups. I gathered books to read surrounding these topics borrowing some & buying others.

Influential writers were M. Scott Peck, Martin Buber, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Richard Bach, Carlos Castaneda, Erich von Daniken, works from the Western Mystery Hermetic School,  Sophist Philosophy, The Paulene Gospel, Celestine Prophecy, amongst others.  Having cast the net wide I can say with conviction I decidely favour Christianity, finding truth & mystery in the life of Jesus & his gospel based on love, forgiveness, & grace. Following baptism by the Spirit as an 11yr old I have consolidated my Christian declaration with Baptism by water as an Adult.

Some Favourite Poems:

“Gunga Dinn” (Rudyard Kipling)

“Kubla Khan” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

“Jabberwocky” (Lewis Carroll)

“I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” (William Wordsworth)

“The Walrus & The Carpenter” (Lewis Carroll)

“You Are Old Father William” (Lewis Carroll)

“Ode To A Mouse” (Robert Burns)

All the best to both of you, and wishing you success in your endeavours.

Love from Susan xx

Sky Painter

Sky Painter (Susan Mac Gregor)

Guest Post: Sandy Carter on Bonsai, Simplicity, and Joy

Marie Kondo writes of love, joy and the beauty of simplicity in a manner that inspired me to utilize her principles in a recent downsizing experience, which changed my life. For years, I have intuitively created space I felt appreciative of, but our recent move presented challenges we hadn’t faced before as we reduced our living space by seventy-five percent.

Bonsai Tree

Our house was filled with possessions we had collected over many years from travels; heirlooms passed onto us by family members and childhood mementos from our children’s growing up years. We felt attached to most everything, and knew what displayed beautifully in our present home would clutter our new space and over stimulate us and we had to make a huge change.

 

Using Ms. Kondo’s book as a reference, we let go of our things in layers over time and succeeded in choosing what we needed to accompany us as we opened a new life chapter. With her philosophy guiding us, we now live in beautiful and joyous space. The process was not easy, but well worth the effort.

 

My life has personally changed because I’m been more mindful of the choices I’m making. Surrounded only by things I love has helped me embody wellbeing in more depth. Another gift related to experiencing joy is co-writing a blog with Dave on the topic. Because of this, I’ve trained myself to be aware of joy’s presence again and again. As I’ve focused my attention, I’ve engaged with more subtle experiences of joy in others and myself.

 

One such joyous occasion occurred with a recent experience between my father and me. Dad told me he was going to buy himself a birthday present. I listened half amused and half curious, wondering what my 88-year-old father had in mind. My father is an example of graceful aging. He is continually appreciative of life’s blessings and surprises my siblings and me all the time, as he lives his life with zeal, seeking new opportunities to learn and grow. Unpredictable as ever, when Dad declared he was going to purchase a Bonsai Tree I was stunned, and asked him if I could go along. I had no idea Dad was interested in this ancient Chinese art form and thought sharing this experience with him would be worthwhile. An idea I am grateful I had, as there are times when I’m too caught up in my world to take advantage of such gifts.

 

Although the word Bonsai is Japanese, the practice originated in China. In 600 AD the Chinese started using special techniques to grow dwarf trees and they eventually became very valuable and were offered as luxurious gifts throughout China. Later, Japan adopted the Chinese tradition basing the art on Zen Buddhism influence and referred to the practice as Bonsai. Not long ago, the idea spread beyond Asian culture and into other countries. My Dad researched possibilities for a Bonsai Tree purchase in his area, and we headed to a retail establishment called the Bonsai House.

 

The Bonsai House is a small house transformed into a retail shop for the sale of Bonsai trees. The space is filled with hundreds of Bonsai trees of various shapes, sizes and varieties. A Chinese couple owns the business and the woman not only has a passion for Bonsai trees, but a vast knowledge regarding them. While Dad and I looked at the Bonsai’s, she educated us on the history, types and care of these ancient and beautiful trees. What we discovered is that Bonsai trees can live for several generations, and caring for them can be a deeply satisfying personal experience. Dad insisted we choose a tree together. Although, we did not speak of it in so many words, we knew the tree’s care could be passed onto me and possibly outlive both of us. We had no idea Bonsai shopping would bring us face to face with our mortality. This could have been a depressing thought, but instead it had the opposite effect as we decided on the tree that needed to go home with us.

 

After our purchase, we left to drive back to the retirement community. As my Dad and I sat side by side in the car we shared a joyous silence reveling in our good fortune of being together and sharing this experience. Later, we put into words what we’d both been feeling. We agreed, no matter what hardships have passed or what may come, having these precious times together brings us much joy and happiness!

Choose Joy

Conversations With Susan

I have been having email conversations with my friend from New Zealand, Susan Mac Gregor. We were in a writer’s group together when I was in Auckland. We periodically have been emailing, but recently we’ve been having more frequent conversations around the topic of what she calls “deathing life,” Susan was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme, a serious brain cancer, and she has been sharing her insights and experiences with me. Part of what initiated our increased emails is the fact that I have been preparing to give a series of lectures in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Health Care Decisions Day. These talks will be on end-of-life decision-making, holistic decision-making, and also staff wellness for hospice workers. I had asked Susan to give some feedback on a draft for my talk and this really sparked off our conversations. As I have been wanting to expand the focus of this blog, Being Fully Human, it seemed like a good idea to post these conversations as Susan shares her honest insight and experience about the process of “deathing life,” living life right up to the point of death.

Susan has written a fairly long biography, and we’ll publish that at some point, but for this post, I’ll excerpt it and then also start with a summary that she has written about her “deathing life” process. I asked Susan about an image to include in the blog post and she said,

“Having only now read your email the things that come to mind as a picture for the blog could be based on what has been shared…perhaps something with swirling patterns of coloured light, transposed with transparent images of symbols, angels or such.” So I will put a few of my paintings in the blog that fit that description.

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My name is Susan Diane Mac Gregor. I was born in Whangarei, New Zealand, on 25th August 1958. I grew up in Northland enjoying its beautiful beaches, native forests, waterways, & small town lifestyle. When not reading much of my time was spent exploring nature, swimming, rescuing damaged birds or small animals & swimming. There were cats, pidgeons, chooks [chickens], sheep, dogs, canaries as pets, plus my blood brother & four fostered siblings to share time with. Despite some financial crises for my parents, it was an idyllic childhood. 

As a young adult I entered training in Psychiatric Nursing, having chosen to diverge from my training at the Auckland Institute of Technology, where I qualified as an Industrial Cook. This led into my Career in Mental Health, & interest in Psychological methodologies. Upon qualifying I further developed my interest in caring for the Elderly, plus Special Interest in working with people with Dementia. Post Graduate study included a Diploma in Gerontology. Next I began developing qualifications & skills in Psychological Therapies, successfully completing the first year of study in a Diploma of Psychotherapy with Auckland University of Technology.

In addition to Susan’s health profession credentials, she is also a poet and spiritual seeker and we will hear more about that in further posts.

For today, we’ll include the email that Susan sent me that gave me the idea of posting her insights to share with others. I think she gives such a great, heartfelt, and wise words and experience.

25/2/16 (Susan)

Dear David,

It was with interest that I read about the latest books you’ve been reading. I have read many of the books you have cited in references, etc., including The Tibetan Book of the Dead, however not the recent Sufi book you mentioned.

I can’t give advice for your talk at the Hospice, as everyone’s experience differs, however I can write about my experience.

Initially I experienced shock & grief at receiving such a finite diagnosis. I remember looking around the rooms in my house at the things I had built up & worked hard for, & thinking what did all of that mean, was what I had invested to get those things worth it?  The answer that came back in response to that question was a feeling of emptiness. Then my heart filled with sadness thinking about my 3x beautiful cats & Mahmoud being left behind & I was glad at least that Mahmoud’s life would be more comfortable, as a result of my previous efforts.

Within 2wks I was trundled off for brain surgery, after which my life completely changed. The surgery caused damage within my brain, leaving me with left sided paresthesia.

Mahmoud was devastated. His welfare was always on my mind, as was mine on his. I had a large amount of time left lying in my hospital bed with nothing to do but think.

Years prior I had experienced a “healing” at a Buddhist retreat, in which my “difficult to control” hypertension completely dissappeared, leaving my GP astounded. During that retreat I learnt that even illness has a beneficial purpose, i.e. to teach us something, to deepen us in some way spiritually, to raise our awareness or break through unhelpful patterning.  Thus I started to look for the lessons in this experience.

For me cancer has done all of the above plus brought me to an awareness of how much love surrounds me. It has deepened my relationship with Mahmoud, with God, & given me fresh hope for humanity. I have been shown so much love & kindness, even from complete strangers.  Often those with little in the way of possessions have given me the most. I have been able to see the busy, tense person who “didn’t have time “ that I used to be, reflected in people around me, & their counter balancers in the people who will let me que jump, or help me out in getting something in a supermarket, etc., because they see I’m disabled.

As a consequence of my health & disability mine & Mahmoud’s lifestyle has dramatically changed. We have needed to offload a lot of possessions & have moved to a two bedroom rental unit. The money from my salary no longer flows in & the goal of being mortgage free in 3yrs has disintegrated. However I have found that I am surrounded with so much love & kindnesss that my soul & heart are completely full.

From this point of realisation forward I have been able to take inventory of my life, looking at past regrets & losses, & freeing myself of built up emotions through self forgiveness & forgiveness of others. This has been aided by gratitude & compassion, both of which have deepened within me exponentially.  I have become free again, letting go of pursuing goals, things, dreams…. most of which are erroneous now. Being present in each moment, with each breath, is how my days unfold. The natural world around me is exquisitely defined, colours, shapes, contrasts, each being impressed into my being through every sensory system I possess.

I still give … a smile, a kind word, my knowledge or time. My “deathing” life continues to have purpose & meaning, people ask me “what is this like”, “how do you stay so optimistic”, “are you afraid”, etc, etc. I do experience moments of fear, but at the end of the day my answer to all of these questions is, “this is life, I am blessed to have lived it, I believe in an after life, & it is my faith in God & Jesus Christ that sustains me when all else fails.

May your love-light continue to shine.

Love & Blessings, Susan xx

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