It has been a long time since the last newsletter. I am writing to say hello, and to let you know I am still here. And I have a couple of projects in the works for Just One Look. One of them is an Italian translation of The Just One Look Method e-book that I hope to make available soon as a free download.
John’s Memorial Service was held here in Ojai on November 20. I posted the audio recording of it as a new episode in our podcast. You can listen to it click here.
People have asked how I am doing, so I thought I would share some of it here.
So much has changed in my life since John passed away on September 29. I now work a full-time job here in Ojai in a medical coding and billing office. In February, I joined the Santa Barbara Choral Society and just sang my first two concerts with the choir two weeks ago. And I am dancing again. I am taking a contemporary dance class once a week here in Ojai, which is a real blessing. Bringing music and dance back into my life has helped in this period of mourning.
After John was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in May 2019, I went into a tailspin. The barrage of old patterns of thought took me completely by surprise. For a long time, I had experienced life without fear. But now there were all these emotions—fear, doubt, panic, anxiety, and anger—begging for my attention. My attempts to ignore them, to refuse to pay attention to them, did not work. They were relentless. Yet, as in Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, instead of trying to get rid of them, I resolved to somehow “welcome and entertain them all.”
It has been quite an adventure, this deep dive into a whirlwind of emotions, into this “crowd of sorrows.” I could see how my reactions—the fear, the self-doubt, the self-loathing, the worrying—had been set in place a long time ago. They were trying to protect me, to help me. But I could also see that now my task was to open.
Thankfully, the gift of learning to look at myself had broken the illusion of “I am my body,” “I am my thoughts,” “I am my emotions.” But in the face of loss, of watching John gradually disappear, with nothing I could do to stop it, my old emotional survival reflexes were overwhelming. All I could do was welcome the intensity. As much as possible. Bit by bit. Moment by moment.
If, like me, you experience intense emotions that overwhelm your body and mind, this is an open invitation to stop running, to stop trying to fix yourself and welcome all those parts of you that you have despised. Now that you have looked at yourself, there is some space between you and the thoughts and emotions. You can watch them. Deep down you know these reactions are not who you are.
John used to say that when you look at yourself, it is as if you opened the prison doors, and all the prisoners with teardrops tattooed on their faces come rushing out. We cannot ignore them, cannot fight them, cannot erase them, but we can welcome them with compassion and tenderness. All they want is to be seen and loved. By welcoming the despised parts of ourselves we can become more whole human beings. We can end the war within ourselves.
Wishing you all the best,