A Warrior In A Garden

I love this quote from Bruce Lee, saying “ It’s better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in a war.” I believe we need to cultivate the garden of our life. Every time we express kindness, compassion, empathy, and love, we plant a flower in the garden of our own life, and someone else’s. Whether that flower is an annual, only around for a season, or a perennial, blooming year after year, it still brings joy to anyone who sees it.

The thing about gardens, as anyone who has ever had one knows, is that they need to be nurtured and protected. They need the proper amounts of water, sunlight, and nutrients, as well as being protected from insects and animals that want to devour the plants, flowers, or vegetables. Our inner garden deserves the same care. There will always be those that have no boundaries, feeling entitled to harvest the fruits of our labors. Unwilling to do the work themselves, they can be parasites in our lives, piggybacking on the spiritual work we’ve done.

Being a spiritual warrior means that we hold others to the same standards we have for ourselves. No excuses. We choose to live from impeccability, and a ruthless examination of our subconscious motivations. We refuse to allow the mind or ego construct to run the show. That takes a level of commitment and vigilance that is ongoing. We weed our garden constantly, removing negative thoughts, beliefs, and toxic relationships that no longer grow beauty in our soul. Sometimes, the culture tries to make us feel guilty about that weeding process. Don’t. Protect what you have planted, understanding that anyone can plant a garden, the same way that you did. Only you have the right to harvest the fruits of your spiritual work. Overgiving teaches nothing, other than reinforcing a person’s entitlement issues and a negative belief that they may hold about themselves, regarding their own capabilities.

Love is the sunlight that washes over us, greening and growing who we are, and strengthening who we came here to be. Faith and trust are the waters that replenish us. Empathy is the soil that nourishes us. Compassion is what gives us the courage to move forward. The gentle breezes oxygenate our spirit, and invigorate us. We need to treat our garden within as the sacred place that it is. Those that would pollute it, intentionally or unintentionally, must not be allowed access. Having strong and healthy boundaries is the equivalent of posting “ No trespassing “ signs.

We can, by being a warrior in a garden, model for the world what a beautiful garden of love looks like, while at the same time encouraging others to grow their own gardens. Gardens of love, creativity, joy, and abundance. Anyone can become a gardener. Love is the easiest thing in the world to plant. A person just has to want to. The magical thing about love, is that once it’s planted, it spreads. It’s a perennial, rewarding you with blossoms for decades to come.

Being a warrior in a garden is a beautiful thing. The flower that most embodies that, for me, is the rose. It is a perennial, it has the most exquisite fragrance, it draws bees and hummingbirds to itself, sharing it’s nectar, while at the same time having thorns to ward off predators that would eat it. The rose is a heart healer. Rose essential oil is so uplifting, calming, and soothing. Diffused, or applied topically on pericardium points or heart points can be very powerful during trying circumstances.

I choose to be a warrior in the garden of my life. It is my responsibility, and the sacred commitment I have made to myself, since walking away from an abusive marriage over 30 years ago, where I learned about pathological narcissism first hand. I learned about protecting and honoring my garden. I learned about reciprocity. I learned to expect to receive. I learned to be a warrior of light. Become that. Honor your garden. Honor what you have planted. Honor who you have become. Blessings, Judith

Hunter, Healer

Art by Kinuko Y. Craft

It’s important in life to keep updating how you see yourself. I’ve been many things in my life, and all of them have been accurate at a given time. I’m an incest survivor, and a survivor of domestic violence. As a child, I was prey. I was hunted by my offender. No place was safe. I was raped and tortured for years. Yet, somehow, I always remained connected to Source. I was prey in my marriage. After years of emotional and physical abuse, I walked away from my marriage and started my life over. I’m living proof that anything is possible, with enough fierceness, faith, and determination.

Sometimes I watch the news, and see some people holding forth with their opinions on women, the #MeToo movement, on domestic violence, or sexual abuse. And I’m astounded by their arrogance, and their hubris. I wonder, as I’m watching these pundits, how many of these men have taken a fist to the face? Been choked until they lost consciousness? Been spit on, dragged by the hair, been threatened with death? How many of them have known terror, from the earliest age, and have not only survived, but worked to become an advocate, a defender of the innocent? So, what do they know about courage?

For all of us who have survived the unspeakable, and have chosen to live from compassion and empathy, watching people who have no fucking idea about courage offer their opinions is an exercise in patience. So here’s what I know. I have been prey. I will never be prey again. I’m a Phoenix, risen out of the ashes. I’m a Dragon. I’m a hunter of the darkness that assaults the innocent. I am fearless, because I have survived. I’m a healer. I’m a guardian. I’m a teacher. I’m a mystic. I’m a badass bitch that suffers no fools.

I share my story, so that others beginning their journey of healing see that anything is possible. Believe in yourself. You have the light within you. You are not prey. You are the thunder, the lightning, the wind. Redefine yourself as the person that you are today: strong, free, and unafraid. Many of us have done this, and you can, too. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself the kindness and love that you didn’t get when you needed it the most. Become the badass that you have within you. Trust me, it’s in there. This is your moment. Seize it, and start over. I am with you, the Hunter. The Healer. We are one heart. Blessings, Judith



Snake Medicine: The Alchemy Of Shedding

Art by Kinuko Y. Craft

Each blend of Chinese herbs we take offers different teachings. This recent formula has been incredibly powerful for me. Over the past few years, I’ve been clearing a virus out of my system using Chinese herbs. (Western medicine has no way to remove a virus.) Operating under the premise that all illness is an invitation to change, the basic principle of Classical Chinese medicine, I’ve been focused on what the root cause of the virus might be, and releasing it. Each formula has brought up something different. This one was no exception.

I’ve talked about being an Empath before, and what that means. Over the past 40 years, my work as a counselor has focused on working with survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, survivors of narcissistic abuse, ( people in relationships with personality disordered individuals, people with mental illness, or addicts), and working with high-risk adolescents. That last group, while being difficult, was probably the most important out of all of them, for me.

The first high-risk teen I worked with was in 1993. A friend asked me to see his 14 year old daughter, who was in a very volatile place. She had already chewed up and spat out two other therapists. My initial reaction was, oh, fuck no. I hadn’t worked with many kids. And this was like jumping into the deep end of the pool. He begged me to reconsider, saying that I was his last resort. Oh, goody. No pressure, though. She was drinking, drugging, acting out sexually, and was a cutter. ( Self-injurious). She was defiant when she arrived for her first session. She was defiant for the first few months. She didn’t trust me, and made that perfectly clear. Trying to reach her was challenging, to say the least. I was close to giving up, until during one session, she said, “ Can I ask you a question “? Me: Sure. Her: Do you think it’s okay, that sometimes I still play with my Barbies? Me: ( In my head, oh, my god, she’s just a baby.) And in that moment I knew I was totally fucked, because she had me. She had my heart, and I was completely committed to keeping her on the planet, while she was doing her level best to self destruct. Yep. Fucked.

Our journey together was incredible. She learned to trust. She got into 12-Step recovery. She worked with Taoist Master Dr. Yuen, and drank nasty tasting herbs. She learned to meditate. She connected to her Higher Self. To Spirit. She blossomed. (She’s 38 now, is a vibrant, courageous, and loving woman.)

Another one was also 14. She had been in and out of rehab. She came for a few months, and began to stabilize. At that point, her Borderline mother decided that she didn’t need any more therapy. I suggested that that was not the case. But, that was it. I got a frantic call from the mother a few months later, that the daughter had run away, and they had no idea where she was. Could I help? I had a number of kids seeing me, going to the same school. I asked if anyone had seen her. Yes, actually, she was in class that day. I got a note to her, asking her if I could come to the school and talk to her. Yes, she said. I went the next day, and waited for school to get out. And there she was, in a group of kids, her hair was matted, she was a mess. She saw me, and ran to me. I hugged her. She agreed to come home with me. We got her cleaned up and fed. I contacted her parents. She went home. Then I found out that they had institutionalized her. Their insurance company wouldn’t pay for another rehab, so they put her in a mental hospital. I asked her parents if I could see her. They agreed to take me to the hospital. When we got inside, she again ran to me, sobbing. She wrapped herself around me like a koala, and wouldn’t let go. She was begging me not to leave her there. “ Please, Jude. Please. Don’t leave me here. I know I need a rehab, but not this. I’m scared”. The hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was to leave that child there. I lobbied all the way home with her parents, to find another solution for her. When I got home, I laid down on my bed. Sobbing. Devastated. We did find another place for her, a high school for high-risk adolescents. She graduated, and went on to nursing school.

So, somehow, the word spread that I could reach the wounded kids. The kids others had given up on. They found me. One after another. Sometimes, the kids would tell their friends about me, and one of them would call me, and ask for help. I never said no. And I fell in love with each and every one of them. I never saw them as kids. I saw them as baby dragons. Old, powerful souls that were fearless about everything. It was an honor to be trusted by them. And they all healed. I became a minister because of them. I found out that clergy could not be denied access to hospitals and prisons. I figured that was a plus, given what some of them were doing.

These kids all had one thing in common. They all had survived at least one mentally ill, alcoholic, or personality disordered parent. Sometimes both. What I learned was that if they had just one person in their lives that truly cared about them, loved them, they could heal. Sometimes, that one person was me. Now, loving humanity is easy for me. I’m an Empath. But here’s what’s hard for me, which brings me back to the title of this post: Shedding.

I very consciously absorb into myself some of the pain of a client, if I see that they need help processing trauma. That’s not a problem. The problem is that sometimes, I don’t realize that I haven’t let it go. It’s still floating around inside of me, invisible. Last night, I saw a clip from a movie someone had posted. It was brutal. It was a scene of an 8 year old little girl, following her narcissistic father out to his car, begging him to take her with him, while her mother stood back, watching. Knowing what that asshole was going to do. And let the father reject her, and ignore her pleading. And drive away, leaving her sobbing and devastated on the street. Who was the worst parent, the narcissist driving away, or the mother that did nothing to protect her child from the emotional abuse she knew was coming? ( She had been married to him, after all). That scene gutted me. It triggered an avalanche of very specific memories of all of those kids in my practice. Their pain. Their bewilderment. Their tears. Their grief. It was an endless, excruciating loop of traumatized kids playing in my head, complete with sound, color, and vivid detail.  And that’s when I got it. I had absorbed some of that, yes. But until that moment, I had no idea it was ALL STILL IN ME. Son of a bitch. I immediately got to work releasing it. I already feel lighter. I also wanted to smack the living shit out of the characters in the movie.

Snake Medicine is about alchemy. A snake sheds its skin as it grows. For me, the teaching here is about shedding. It’s about the importance of releasing everything that no longer serves us. If we don’t release, we can’t grow the way we need to. We’re going to be stuck in the old skin, constricted by it.

There was no reason for me to have held on to any of that old pain. ( All of those people are adults now, with wonderful lives. I officiated at the weddings of two of them. That brought me incredible joy.) The startling thing is, I had no idea it was still in there, a vast untapped reservoir of other people’s grief. Clearly, this is a soul pattern for me, and for many of us. This is my invitation to change. To immediately release what I have absorbed, after every session. To trust the person’s process. To trust Spirit. To give the best that’s in me in that moment, and trust that it’s enough. I’m ready.

To all of those wonderful souls I had the privilege of working with, I’m so proud of you all. You are fierce and fearless warriors. I’m so honored to have been a part of your journey. You all taught me so much. Be proud of yourself. You’re all miraculous. You humble me. I send you all love. Always. Blessings, Judith

** Kinuko Craft’s painting of the Medusa.**