Two Weeks Of Death Can Change A Life

The last week of February and the first week of March were intense.

We spent a week in Utah, visiting family and Petey’s grave. I don’t know what to say that I haven’t already said; only that acceptance is setting in, but if you confuse that with numbness or complacency, you’d be wrong.

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Grave Flowers, Moab, UT

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Mound and Cliffs, Moab, UT

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Roses, Moab, UT

As we made our way through Southern Utah we stopped at a few points of interest. Monument Valley did not disappoint.

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Sunrise at Mexican Hat, UT

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Spine, Monument Valley, UT

Then, back in Vegas, I was honored to spend the week with Lauren and Kerry from Lighthold Massage Therapy. They are massage therapists who teach courses about massage therapy for oncology patients (presently undergoing treatment as well as those who have been cancer-free for years). I took Oncology Massage 101 with them last summer and it heightened my awareness regarding client comfort and health issues in a big way.

When the weekend came around, Kerry flew home and Lauren stuck around to teach what I call “the deathy class” — Opening to the Mystery: Presence in Caregiving at the End of Life. To most, it probably sounds like a class about hospice massage…and that’s part of it. But it’s so much more.

Five other participants and myself followed Lauren’s lead through exercises in loss: loss of freedom, loss of faculties, loss of companionship, loss of touch. The course was three days long, and each day we could see more of each other as the space we created was tested and proven to be safe. We shared our doubts, fears, and plans; we shared our stories.

Friends asked me what the course was “about”. I told them I couldn’t sum it up in words but that I would try my best in a blog post. Opening to the Mystery was profound in that it provided a safe place, lead by a safe human, where the wisdom in truthfully admitting that we don’t know everything was embraced and celebrated. Centered around the impermanence of life, Lauren encouraged us to shift our perspectives from longing to loving, and from future to present.

If you think you’re up to it, I think you should enroll. Humility and vulnerability are prerequisites if you want to get the most out of the experience. Even if you’re mostly there, by day three you’ll be a changed person.

I’m not sure where my career as a massage therapist, esthetician and nail tech will take me in the years to come, but I can tell you my practice is deeper and more fulfilling because of journeys like these. Thank you.

 

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24 Photos From New York: An Analog Annal

This November I spent a week hanging out with family and friends in Rochester and Buffalo, New York. Photography-wise, I purposely left my DSLR at home so I would be forced to use the Polaroid Spectra and 600 I had packed.

This post includes shots from Holy Sepulchre Cemetery (Rochester), Mount Hope Cemetery (Rochester), Thomas E. Burger Funeral Home (Hilton), University of Rochester, Eastman Kodak (Rochester), Forest Lawn Cemetery (Buffalo), and the abandoned aqueduct and subway tunnels of Rochester. I’m really happy with how they turned out. Enjoy!

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Double Exposure Inside the Christ Our Light Mausoleum at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

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Double Exposure of My Grandparents’ Marker at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

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Mom at Grandma and Grandpa’s Grave in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Images from Mount Hope Cemetery:

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Doug Showing Dad the Horse Drawn Hearse at Thomas E. Burger Funeral Home

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Outside an Old U of R Tunnel, Expired Film, Photo by Deena Viviani

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Tunnel Window Figure, U of R Campus, Expired Film

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Inside the U of R Tunnel, Expired Film

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Tunnel Cat, U of R, Expired Film

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Double Exposure, George Eastman’s Monument, Kodak Park

Images from Forest Lawn Cemetery:

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Abandoned Subway Tour

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Abandoned Subway

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Double Exposure Abandoned Subway and Arch

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Precarious Walkway at the Aqueduct

The Silent Sleep in Colma

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park is located next to Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. (I visited Holy Cross during my Harold and Maude tour; ending up at Cypress Lawn the same day was merely a happy accident.)

Wikipedia tells us this cemetery is also known as the “City of the Silent”, and that moniker pleases me greatly. The memorial statues here are massive and plentiful, with many figures adopting grief-stricken poses that make you feel it in here. *points to chest*

Here are some highlights from my brief but memorable visit to Cypress Lawn. Enjoy!

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Orbiting Baker: Zyzzyx, Rock-A-Hoola, and Daggett Pioneer Cemetery

Jon and I spent quite a while exploring Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel in Baker, but we still made time during our Southern California jaunt to satisfy our other creepin’ curiosities.

What’s off Zyzzyx Road, you ask? We’re going back to explore the structures; until then, here are some photos from the salt flats:

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Plus a few from Instagram, featuring Jon:

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IMG_20150508_215759After Baker we found our way to Rock-A-Hoola/Lake Dolores water park. The photos are few, but I will say this: You know you’ve made it in urbex when you’re chased off property by a trailer-dwelling gentleman and his barking dog.

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rockahoola3loresOur last stop of the day was Daggett Pioneer Cemetery. The juxtaposition of ornately decorated modern graves surrounded by older graves belonging to miners and other townsfolk made for a visually (and historically!) interesting afternoon.

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Train!

Train!

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daggett12loresUntil next time…

Killing Time at Forest Lawn

After brunch and before Love Canal, Amanda, Deena and I paid a brief visit to Buffalo, New York’s magnificent Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Founded in 1849, this sprawling adventureland boasts sizable and unique monuments, ornate and detailed statuary, and the graves of Rick James and Millard Fillmore. The photos below barely scratch the surface of the beauty to behold at Forest Lawn, but I do plan on making a return visit the next time I visit the northeast (hopefully during a warm spell). Enjoy!

Setting the Tone

Setting the Tone

Gargoyles

Gargoyles

Cross and Guard

Cross and Guard

Losing Hands

Losing Hands

Here, Lies

Here, Lies

Number One

Number One

Protection

Protection

Closer

Closer

Pretty Lady

Pretty Lady

Endless

Endless