Music for Openings Sparks Writing – NaBloPoMo Day 4

by Sheila Finkelstein on July 22, 2009

Earlier this week, I was on an empowering teleclass, “Catch the Breeze – Radical Weight Loss from the Inside out” led by Marcia Breitenbach, The Songletter Lady and Transformation Specialist. The call was about “energy” and “releasing” and during it she spoke of music as access to unlocking areas of our brain, opening up energy blocks . She spoke of how music is being used with people afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease and others with Alzheimers.

I immediately started feeling sad and teary. Then I got absorbed in other segments of the call and was able to let those feelings go. The next day I was once again filled with guilt, sadness and remorse, for I had been aware of the impact of music and in the day-to-day living, where music was not an integral part Sam’s and my life, I had forgotten about it.

What made it “worse” as I remembered, was that a friend had composed an upbeat song which she sang as she played her ukulele.  She gave us a copy of her rough recording. We both enjoyed it, especially Sam, and then as time went on I forgot about it and the power of the music.  Because of the effects of Parkinson’s Disease, Sam was not likely to remember, himself, to generate such conversations and reminders.

Once again, I am faced with “There are no do-overs”.  As I write the “story” of it, I am able to do more releasing. At the same time I am healing and reminding myself of the “good” things I did as a caregiver, the walks we had, the things we enjoyed. I can also remind myself that sharing like this can empower others and I know that Sam, also, would have appreciated that.  People mattered greatly to him also.

During the same teleclass, Marcia suggested we take on being with our challenges as “allies”, rather than enemies. Thus, “Sadness is my ally.” “Grief is my ally.”  “Tears are my ally.”  They are some of the components of my life, my “friends” who encourage me to write and put myself out to share and make a difference with others.

To learn more about Marcia’s work, I invite you to visit her site,  The Magnificent You. You can get the words for and listen to the Magnificent You song at Songletter. This page also includes explanations on “Music Creating New Software in the Brain” and more.

Note: For those interested in doing more exploration in writing for yourself, my friend and mentor Julie Jordan Scott is Introducing the Summer Writing Intensive Creativity Camp (at Home or wherever  you happen to be) See  Summer Writing Camp for details.


Haiku Wipes Away The Tears, the Depression

by Sheila Finkelstein on July 21, 2009

Following up on yesterday and my sharing of how writing Haiku has been healing for me, I offer you an example of writing when sleep wouldn’t come.  According to my notes, it was 5:30 AM, not a normal wake-up time for me. Evidently I decided to do my Morning Pages and be complete with them:

And in the middle of crying, scribbling wildly across pages of a new notebook, I remembered my reminders on “Haiku for Healing”, so I took my advice…

Try some Haiku now
Instant gratification
Seven syllables

All I have to do
Three lines, so simple, then done
Quiet now I am

It’s hard to believe
Simple syllable counting
Quiets my being

Crying, depression
Tearing through the pages
Then Haiku counting

Nine lines, calm set in
Is that all there is to peace
Counting simple sets?

Storming all over
Words and thoughts flying about
Writhing in my bed

Life has no purpose
At this point in time
Empty, void of love

Where is the passion
Who are the recipients
In unknown blackness

Empty words they are
No one’s there to receive them
Feeling all washed out…

Put pen down, sleep came
Woke up full of energy
Lots of new ideas

©2008 Sheila Finkelstein

Hours after writing, I concluded:

Haiku wipes the tears
Middle of the night sadness
Lonely, guilty, write

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Healing as Defined in Online Dictionaries – plus Haiku

by Sheila Finkelstein on July 20, 2009

Yesterday I concluded here with “all writing is healing.” Today in my Morning Pages writing (also referenced yesterday – 7/19), this statement surfaced and the thought to check the dictionary kicked in. It seemed like a good idea, a foundation for this blog, so I did. I found:

1. To restore to health or soundness; cure. See Synonyms at cure.
2. To set right; repair: healed the rift between us.
3. To restore (a person) to spiritual wholeness. (See Below for more definitions.)

“Cure”, “return to wholeness”, “restore”, “repair”, all words that are included in the above. All imply something is/was wrong prior to the healing process. And that’s what it is, a “process.”

In November 2005, I wrote: “Haiku When Fatigued”:

Scattered all over
Pieces of my heart shattered
Love’s disappointment

When I write for healing, in my Morning Pages and/or from prompts in my writers’ group, the words simply come. Without a specific set intention, they flow from within. The “Haiku When Fatigued” was written two years before Sam died. The “love’s disappointment” I’m sure was referring to my expectations that our lives would have healthily gone on intertwined forever, or until one of us peacefully passed in his or her sleep at a much older age… in the nineties at least. (Sam was 75 and he was blessed with basically good health during most of those years.)

We never expected anything like Parkinson’s Disease. Fortunately for both of us Sam, gentle, accepting man that he was, was able to be with it throughout his 10+ years of affliction and accept what was happening.

I wasn’t so accepting. Anger would set in and so I wrote and counted syllables to gain control:

My days are stress-filled
Insidious I call it
Parkinson’s Disease

Smart, bright, humor-filled
“Sam’s the Man” they all do say
Gentle, loving, kind.

Tapping into Sam
The part that’s rich and funny
My sweet loving man

Gentle smile face aglow
Humor sparkles in his eyes
Often disappears
©11/05 Sheila Finkelstein

In October of 2008, almost a year after his death, I set up a web page with memories of those smiles and stories he wrote with photos of our sons as toddlers. See SAM SMILES. This was another creative form of healing for me.

So, I’m back to where I started today and leaving with other questions… “Restoring” to what? I like the sound of “spiritual wholeness”. And what would that look like? Also, is it a “restoration” or a new “creation?

Tending to cure; soothing; mollifying; as, the healing art; a healing salve; healing words.

heal⋅ing  [hee-ling]
1. curing or curative; prescribed or helping to heal.
2. growing sound; getting well; mending.
3. the act or process of regaining health: a new drug to accelerate healing.


n 1. the process of recovery, repair, and restoration.
2. return to wholeness.

and medically defined from the same site

healing /heal·ing/ (hēl´ing) a process of cure; the restoration of integrity to injured tissue.

healing by first intention that in which union or restoration of continuity occurs directly without intervention of granulations.
healing by second intention union by closure of a wound with granulations.
spiritual healing the use of spiritual practices, such as prayer, for the purpose of effecting a cure of or an improvement in an illness.
healing by third intention treatment of a grossly contaminated wound by delaying closure until after contamination has been markedly reduced and inflammation has subsided.


I have been in my head on what I can do here on this blog.

Do I share my writing? Do I invite you to post your healing writing? Do I need photos?
Is this about writing? Is it about healing – how to heal?
Is there such a thing as an answer to “How to heal?” And I could keep going on asking myself, and you, questions and questions.

Do I ever answer them? Sometimes.
Are there always answers? Probably. Not always the ones we want to hear.

On the other hand, if we are open to writing, simply writing – free form , with no intention other than to write whatever comes out, then usually some answers appear, often totally unexpected.

Off and on for years, I have been following Julia Cameron’s recommendation for “Morning Pages”, which I first read about in THE ARTIST’S WAY: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity . It’s also one of the core practices covered in each of her subsequent books. For those unfamiliar with them, “Morning Pages” are three pages of free flow writing, longhand, first thing in the morning. I have gone through periods where I have done this faithfully, daily , and I know the practice frees up my day. I will admit there are mornings where e-mail first wins out AND I still manage to go back to my spiral notebook.

One of the “rules” is to not look at the pages for at least two weeks after writing them. I often keep a separate pad beside me to jot down the “to-do’s” that often surface during those 15 or 20 minutes. This morning I started writing in a fresh book and to my dismay I discovered I had inadvertently purchased the “college-ruled” rather than the “wide-ruled” pages. Heck, I may be a “good girl” and do my three pages of writing daily, but I don’t want to write more than I have to, plus those narrow spaces are confining.

Being one who usually finds a way to “bend the rules” and still be “right”, I decided I would simply count the number of lines in the wide ruled books and do perhaps one and a half spaces for each of my lines. Instead of simply counting spaces in each of the books, I realized I could simply go to a book already used up and count the handwritten lines…easier to do also.

Interestingly, the book I picked up from a pile sitting near by was one in which I had written two days after Sam died. A couple of scattered pages throughout that notebook also had some other “healing” writing…writing from prompts in my writing group. I was moved by what I read and reminded that I’ve been thinking about going back to older writings and putting them together.

Then I read about the NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month – Challenge, which is writing every day in one’s blog. I decided to take it on. The 30 day count-down begins the day we start. It will be a great discipline for me and a practice in non-perfection.

I know I often go into long stories, then edit, wonder, “The point is?”, and continue on down the path of “presumed perfectionism”. The intent here will be to simply post daily (could be old writings) and know that from the practice conciseness will come. And, it will be OK if it doesn’t.

The blog in which to take on the challenge is this one. For “all writing is healing.”

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A Love Note after Healing, Releasing Ritual

by Sheila Finkelstein on May 10, 2009

Sheila deep in thought.
Sheila deep in thought – Early 1960s Photo by Sam Finkelstein

Your body it comforted me.
Your arms were strong;
Your heart was even bigger.
It filled all spaces with love.
It filled me with love and
Gave me space to practice
To learn, to grow.

Ultimately you gave me the space for all of that and more.

I nurtured you on many levels and in some I may have held you back. Who knows?

You were a leader and initiator in your own right – Fatherhood, Scouts, B’nai B’rith, Synagogue, Ohr Bits, newsletter for four years and so much more of which I was not aware, because I never asked.

This is one of my biggest regrets. There is/was so much more that I could have learned about you/from you and what does that all mean now?

More knowledge?
More history?
Did I appreciate you enough?

Obviously from what you wrote, what I read, in notes to me, you felt fully fulfilled and loved.

Ina said your purpose in this life was to support and honor me.
It is thus my responsibility now, my privilege, to soar higher and higher in your name.

You are now unchained. I am no longer holding you here. Periodically I’ll see signs of you. A gardenia, a bird perhaps, who knows what else and if Hedy (Army girlfriend in Germany) is there I’ll smile for you… be glad that you have another to now fulfill your desire to appreciate and love and be appreciated and loved.

I loved, and love you, so much, my Darling. Through you my world and the world I/we live in is a better place.

All my love, Eternally,

Your precious Sheila
(Though not a “precious” is not a “pet” name you used, I know that’s what I was for you, the “jewel” in your life.)

Note: – This was written toward the end of a three-day Healing/Releasing experience, as suggested by Amethyst Wyldfire I offer it here should what I wrote make a difference for someone else going through a healing process of losing a spouse or loved one. Sam has been gone two weeks less than 18 months, as I write these words.

The photograph is one that especially appealed to me yesterday as I was going through a book of beautiful portraits that Sam took of me in the first years of our marriage, in the early sixties. You can see more of Sam’s Black and White photography on B&W Photos.


Last Memories

by Sheila Finkelstein on April 25, 2009

I walked back into his hospital room after a satisfying lunch. He was sitting straight in a big armchair, body slightly propped with a pillow. A table cart was in front of him. As I walked toward him a bright smile appeared and lit his face.

I sat across from him, told him about my outing and asked about his. He probably struggled with some words. I don’t remember. What I do remember is playing with the ball, the spongey one with hundreds of inch long extensions encompassing it all.








We rolled it back and forth
Tossed it too and
Played a little catch.

Some exercise for him.
Calming for me.

Relaxation and contentment,
Precious moments, so few remained
Though we knew that not.

I think I crawled into his bed for a bit, while he was able to sit in the chair. I was exhausted and craved a bit of rest. We changed places a short time later and that was the last time he was in a chair.

Eleven days later I crawled back into his bed. This time he was in it also. I curved my body against his back and buttocks. Under the sheet, arms hugging and hands caressing. Only moments remained. A couple deep, harsh and gasping breaths. Then he was gone.

And, now, fifteen months later, I play alone with a spongy yellow ball, one of the several we sporadically used, at home. The blue one used in the hospital is someplace amidst my bags, I think. We had a magenta one too, my favorite.

Flattened Yellow spongey ball

I sit here and pull, stretching, the individual pieces. They bounce back like a rubber band. There is a loop and sometimes we put that on our fingers and gently bounced the ball, an inch or two away from us.

Reminded me of a yo-yo. Only the yo-yo goes almost to the floor and rolls up again, when done with skill, back into the waiting hand. This one doesn’t go far. It fills the whole hand as it returns. Solidly soft it is.

The hollow inside has lost some air, I’d say. No longer in use now, a portion of it flattens out. Though I can pull it out to a full sphere, it’s only temporary. It quickly goes back to flat, supporting a now three-quarter sphere when put to rest on the table.

Flattened blue spongey ball

A symbol of my life it is. Flatness, circular, a multitude of stretchy pieces, possibilities of playfulness. Open to manipulation, it resumes its shape when left alone.

Resilient always. He’s gone. I’m here.

©2009 Sheila Finkelstein

(Note: My beloved husband, Sam Finkelstein, died on November 21, 2007. We were married for 47+ years. He had Parkinson’s Disease for 11 years and out of nowhere contracted a bacterial infection in his blood which ended up playing all kinds of havoc with is body. For more on this wonderful man and for links to his extraordinary black and white photography, see REMEMBERING SAM.)