Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur

Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur
Valerie Anne Burns

Thursday, February 27, 2020

My Nine and a Half Lives


My Nine and a Half Lives


      I can’t help but ask the higher power, the gods, or the departed why I’m still orbiting with our Mother Earth. What makes one soul continue, and another one not able to cope with whatever harshness comes their way? Does each dark mark to the soul travel to the light and into the next life?
     I'm just recovering from my 9th surgery last month (a doozy) and feel as though the trauma of all eight surgeries landed on me in the 9th and final surgery. It seems as if I've lived nine lives and embarking on a new one now. Although the diagnosis of breast cancer is far behind me, infections and complications resulted in multiple surgeries. Cats are known to have nine lives and my cats have had the most fierce spirits, which have been incredible teachers. I'm certain that my strength and deep desire to be a dreamer and seeker of beauty has kept me living on this spinning planet but I wasn't always confident that I'd survive. The spirit can push forward with purpose but the heart can feel bruised...if not broken.
A token of advice from personal experience: If you know someone going through difficult trials and tribulations and they are someone you assume to a be a person (like a cat) who always lands on their feet, consider how isolated they may feel in their ordeal. Reach out with love and support. You can't imagine how far that act of kindness can go to a person who may be alone and reluctant to reach out for help or comfort.
     When I look around observing other human beings, whether at the doctor’s office or in a coffee shop, I wonder if deep scars have been left on those human beings. Have most of them used up their nine lives fighting health challenges, and experiencing other great losses through life’s ongoing trials? Maybe it comes down to accepting that there are no answers and that not all of life’s painful adventures happen for some bigger cosmic reason.
     Beauty has marked my soul forever and I rejoice in those out-of-body sensations where worries fall away, and poetry begins—such as when my head is thrown back in laughter with a friend; the feel of warm saltwater on my skin and diving to the cooler water beneath transforming into a mermaid searching for seahorses; strong embraces and sexy kisses; the magic of hummingbirds sitting on my finger; closing my eyes to take in the feel of my departed cats--Nika’s (in photo) regal Blue Russian face and fearlessness, Lenie purring against my heart, or the way Gracie looked at me when I rescued her off that porch; and all the cats that cuddled with me through childhood.
     Was losing my mother at the age of three to breast cancer one of my nine lives? I wouldn’t mind if those sad memories erased permanently when my ashes are scattered one day out in the cyan sea. I would consider it a blessing to be free of the dark places within my spirit, and the relief it would be to have them carried away on the wing of a soaring hawk and dropped into ocean water to dissolve.
     My health challenges were the result of genes inherited from my mother, and I didn’t have the privilege to have known her. It’s highly possible I sensed her pain as a toddler and still hold it in innocence. I can only imagine how different I might be if she’d lived a long life. If my mother reincarnated to live another life, I hope she’s lived an enduring one, completing nine heavenly incarnations where she’s happy, loved, and healthy.
     I have concluded that the truest of truisms voiced from country-to-country is that it is the briefest moments of grace that count. After staring into the abyss more than once, I have embraced this truth. I’ve known this all along, but particularly in the first few years of my cancer journey when I received pure affection in the remaining months of Gracie’s life. She did not care if I happened to be looking haggard or feeling upset. She purred and nuzzled against my cheek. And, when I stepped outside, it was from my resident hummingbird’s wing vibration entering my body that sent me into an ethereal reprieve or sinking my face into the scent of fully bloomed jasmine or gardenia. I’d happily carry these sentiments when I travel to the other side.
     There’s something about the popular phrase, “Let go,” that irritates me. It’s overused. Its significance is huge while being complex; not so easy to let go…holding onto remarkable blessings of beauty and ditching everything else that muddies the water. However, a mermaid believes in her divine essence far past the horizon’s visibility.
     As I’ve played guardian over my beloved cats or hummingbirds, it has fulfilled a need to be kind…and to be needed. In some way, I felt like I was increasing their nine lives. My nature, instilled as a young girl, imbued me with a hummingbird and cat’s fierceness, sweetness, wiliness, and well-honed survival skills.
     Hummingbirds are wild, but they’ve trusted me to be a part of their lives. I’m diligent about supplying them with continuous nectar in their feeders, and I’ve come to know the intricacies of their life patterns. They are the epitome of dynamic nature in a package weighing less than a penny. With what hummies face, they live nine lives in a single season; tiny beings that show substantial strength. They connect, fly fast, sing, protect, survive, and they thrive. I can relate.
     After deciding to take the lead from Saint Francis, where I began to hand-feed them to deepen our connection. I sat in patience with a washed out, red cap from a spice bottle, and the yellow plastic flower from the feeder. There was the usual hovering while staring at the cap, circling me, and flying away. Eventually, a braver one came to my hand to receive the gift of homemade nectar. This incident caused a sensation to pour through my body, creating perfectly formed chills. To see the bold colors, just inches away, of these magical little beings was something I held in awe. The various greens on their backs, magentas, oranges, reds, and golds of their throats were colors Van Gogh and Gaugin strove to create. They are the colors I’ve been inspired to use to decorate and include in wardrobe accents.
     There were weeks though, when hand feeding was of no interest to them. It could be a little discouraging because I missed them. Seasonal migration brought more to my door. One day, like any other, near sunset when I lived up in the hills, I sat in my chair with the red cap in hand while the feeders were being washed. A mere few minutes later, a scarlet-throated beauty flew to me. I grew still. Within minutes, there were four hummingbirds all unique in personality and color flying around my hand. The scarlet-throated one sat on my thumb and another on my pinky finger taking nectar. Then there were six flying and circling taking turns zooming in.
     Soon, my hand was crowded with their determination, and I could feel a breeze from the speed of their wings. We were forces of nature together creating a sphere of energy. It was super-magical. The hum entered my hand and moved through all of me. I kept whispering, “Oh my God, oh my God,” and told myself that no matter what, I’d always have the memory of another wondrous sensation. The sun had set, and the freeway action of the hummingbirds calmed down.
     I sat afterwards in reverie. I knew that there was a greater meaning to being one with the hummingbirds in absolute trust. Angels showed up for me in the hummingbirds. Their unique vigorousness expanding in a frenzied energy for a need of nectar before their night torpor filled me with elation and satisfaction. I was taken by surprise and after weeks of no visitors to my hand feeding, they all came at once.
     Abundance all at once. I came to an epiphany that rang true in my own energy force and spirituality. While scarcity and difficulty may seem endless, a shift can come without warning. When my hummingbird friends gathered all at once to take nourishment by an open-hearted human soul, my life was pure and generous. Maybe, just maybe, what life has in store for me (in my nine and a half lives) will take me by surprise and come in a burst of bountiful blessings.
     We many souls may have the challenge and gift of living nine lives in one present lifetime. We have an undeniable will, a robust will we may not even be aware of, that propels us forward with an invigorating breeze of power. Awareness of fragility, animals wild and domestic, a blossomed pink peony, precious nature at our feet, a sumptuous kiss, human connection that fills us with a sizzling aliveness, feeling weightless in the turquoise sea, and catching the perfect wind that keeps our sails up can all blaze a trail toward the free-hearted curiosity of what’s next. I look forward to the next adventures where I blossom in fulfilled dreams and swim in oceans around the world.

Keep on swimming through life,
Valerie