Dear friends, 2017 has tested me as a human. After losing depth perception in my left eye (due to high altitude shock) while visiting ancient civilizations in Peru and Bolivia in July of 2016, I had no choice but to stop and look at my human limitations and change my way of viewing and living life. Not a bad choice to move out of the fast lane, take eye breaks, and enjoy each breath-taking moment. As a result, I count blessings more often and allow myself to become my BEST possible every day.
My goal for 2018 is to continue to learn from the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, and remember the secret—learn from it all. I first learned this lesson in 1976 when a singing elephant showed up in my dreams at a time when I was ill and depressed. My first book for children was a result of that profound realization. Just reminding myself all these years later.
Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year! XX
AS children we sang of the “sweet by and by”
and a beautiful shore in heaven on high.
We were taught if we lived by the “good book” rules
we’d inherit a mansion with gold and fine jewels.
Older, I questioned many things I was taught
by asking myself if they rang true … or not.
My dear brother “Bud” loved a lively exchange;
be it religion, karma, or how molecules rearrange.
Whatever the topic, he had researched and threw
ammunition to start a feisty interview.
Our discussions revealed the importance of living,
of loving each other, of taking and giving.
A husband, a father, grandfather, and son,
a brother, an uncle all wrapped up as one.
Bigger than life with huge hugs to share.
My memories of Bud will always be there.
He made the world brighter and better by far.
For me, he will always be the most brilliant star.
When I learned of Bud’s death, I saw a circle of light;
souls connected together—twinkling bright in the night.
Here today, gone tomorrow? For me, that’s folk lore.
The energy of souls dances on … forevermore.
“Dusk turned to night. Gentle swells rolled in from the west, indicating the sea’s unease. I went up on deck for some fresh air. The ship rolled port and starboard a few times, settling into a steep heel because of the strong winds. The full moon night with a complex mix of shadows and light, and the rolling motion, put me into a trance.
“Put on a safety harness.” Dylan yelled. “Click into the jack line.”
I followed his orders and moved closer to the deck’s edge. My eyes searched the deep swirling ocean. I saw screaming faces twirling about, crying out for help. Were they lost souls who had died at sea? Their distraught faces looked identical to the ’‘scream’ painting by Edvard Munch; the infinite scream of nature. I stared at them for quite a while.
They seemed to float in an alternative universe, a different dimension. How had I sensed their screams while no one else seemed to hear them? How did I move into their frequency? I kept staring at them. “How can I help you?” I asked.
My guardian angel whispered. ’‘Tell them to let go and move on.’
“Move on?” I asked. “To where?”
“‘Wherever their souls take them,’ she said.
A bright moon emerged through a break in the clouds. I blessed each soul with the moon’s reflected light and let them know it was okay to let go of limbo, and move on.
In the blink of an eye, the faces disappeared, the wind died, and the boat stabilized.
How could I see images no one else seemed to notice? Was it my imagination forming new images and sensations that are not normally perceived through normal senses such as sight and sound? Am I dead or alive? Perhaps I’m in purgatory awaiting word of release before going on to heaven. That’s ridiculous, I thought. I’m not even Catholic.
Charles was on deck, so I asked him if he had seen and heard the screaming faces.
“No,” he said. “But it’s a crazy time. In addition to feeling sick, I feel like I’m also going mad.”
“The Zozo moved on through deteriorating weather. I unhooked from the jack line and went inside to the galley. I grabbed my journal and made notes about seeing the lost souls, and sketched a drawing of a scream face.
Did the souls move on to another dimension?
Had they died at sea? Perhaps in a shipwreck?
The wind blew steadily for hours. We rocked and rolled on the steep seas. I heard Dylan say the winds were reaching gale force. He said it often as he went up and down the stairs, to refill his coffee cup and check the boat’s compass to verify direction.
“The compass is still the single most valuable navigational tool,” I heard him tell Charles. “Helps us know what direction we’re heading.”
“A good thing,” I heard Charles mumble.
Dylan was having a hard time trying to keep his coffee cup steady as he moved up and down the stairs. Coffee kept spilling over the edge of his cup.
He made notes in the ship’s log to measure distance sailed, and continued to tap the barometer several times a day. When he saw the pressure falling fast, we scurried to prepare for another storm.”
Bombay, India — 26 June 1975
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. —Marcel Proust
We arrived in India at 7:00 AM. On final approach, I pointed out to Charles the hundreds of shacks, surrounding the airport. Endless clothes lines strung across roof tops to dry laundry.
“Welcome to Bombay, gateway to India,” the flight attendant announced.
We pulled our belongings from the overhead bin, and waited for the cabin doors to open.
Exiting the plane with us was a beautifully dressed Indian woman, in a sari which appeared to have gold threads woven into it. “Be careful in the terminal,” she said in a thick British accent. “There are bands of thieves who steal valuables. Keep your suitcases close to you at all times.”
“In the airport?” I questioned.
“Yes, It’s terrible. Crime in India is out of control. The government needs to do something about it.” “Oh, thank you,” I said, “we’ll be careful.”
With only ten minutes to catch our scheduled flight to Madras, we stopped at the airline desk to ask them to hold the plane for us.
“What is your final destination?” the airline clerk asked.
“Colombo, Sri Lanka,” Charles answered.
“I’m sorry,” the airline clerk said. “It’s not possible. You’ll need to collect your baggage and pass through customs.”
“Customs?” I asked. “We’ll never make the flight.”
“I can book you on the next available flight to Madras in two days time, and on to Colombo,” she said.
We wondered aloud how to contact our friends in Trincomalee. No clue how to let them know.
“Surrender to fate,” I said.
“Not much we can do,” Charles said. “Book us on the next available flight out.”
“Since the delays are Air India’s fault, we will book you into a luxury hotel and pay your expenses,” the clerk informed us.
“Where will we be staying?” I asked.
“The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel,” she answered.
“The Taj Mahal?” I asked. “Fabulous!”
“It is,” she said. “It’s been renovated and is beautiful. It’s Bombay’s first harbor landmark and the first licensed bar in the city.”
“Sounds great.” Charles smiled.
“It’s legendary,” she said. “Ask the hotel staff to tell you about its history. The ballroom has a gorgeous view of the Gateway to India.”
“Exciting,” I said. “Thanks!” I turned to Charles. “Time to see the sights of Bombay.”
“But for now, all I want is a shower and a comfortable bed,” I announced.
With our tickets re-booked, we followed the crowd into the baggage area.
After two frustrating hours, we found our luggage and proceeded through customs.
We lugged our heavy suitcases along a long corridor in the direction of the exit. Charles walked ahead of me, trying to locate a bank so he could change money. Seeing none, he suggested I stay with the luggage while he explored.
I pushed our suitcases close together and stood waiting for him to return.
Disembarking passengers thinned out. All at once, the terminal seemed eerily empty.
Out of a side corridor, three young Indian men appeared, moving toward me.
I quickly straddled the suitcases and sat, legs dangling across them.
Approaching, they asked if I wanted help moving them.
“No, thank you!” I said, firmly. “I’m waiting on my husband.”
“We help you,” one young man said, reaching for a suitcase.
“No,” I shouted, looking around the terminal for help.
I noticed a sea of orange robes heading my way. A group of young women chanting and dancing in brightly colored orange saris.
“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama,” their chant grew louder and their dancing got wilder as they neared.
The three young men backed away and disappeared into a dark passage.
When the dancers reached me, they smiled.
One introduced herself as a devotee of Krishna, and offered to sell me a booklet to benefit the starving children of India. Others continued to chant and sway.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“New York,” she said. “And you?”
“I’m from LA. Why are you in India?
“We’re here to sell our books and spread the word about Krishna Consciousness, and build a temple to honor our Swami, Srila … ”
“There are thousands of starving children in New York,” I said.
“We worship the Hindu god Krishna as the one Supreme God,” another young woman chimed in, ignoring my comment.
“So you’re missionaries?” I asked.
“We’re evangelists. We believe in reincarnation …” one follower wanted to explain their beliefs, but another interrupted, while others continued to chant.
“I believe in reincarnation,” I said. “But I don’t think I need to sell it to others.”
They kept chanting and dancing around me.
“How many times do you have to chant this?” I asked.
“Sixteen,” a young woman answered.
I shook my head in disbelief. Where the hell is Charles?
“We’re vegetarians, and abstain from worldly pleasures,” the young woman said.
“Does chanting help?” I asked. I must have looked confused.
Another young devotee explained they practiced being celibate.
“No drugs or alcohol,” another chimed in. “The temple will be our heaven on earth when it is completed.”
They tried again to sell me the book.
“No. But thanks,” I said, my eyes searching the corridor for Charles and grateful for the diversion which drove off apparent predators. What was taking him so long?
When the Krishna believers realized I had no intention to purchase a book, they moved on.
I looked again for Charles and sighed, relieved to see him coming back. His smile told me he had found a place to exchange money.
Returning home after being away is always thought provoking. For me anyway. My husband and I have just returned to our home in Uruguay after a cruise on the Alaska Inside Passage and a visit with our son in Arizona. Following our arrival in Uruguay, I expressed feeling grateful to be blessed with a comfortable home and loving animals waiting to welcome us. Over the years, when I’ve returned home to various places around the globe, I’ve scribbled notes in my journal of my diverse thoughts about going home. Each time I’m aware that I see ‘home’ in a different light.
When I lived in Germany on my own in the late 70s, I discovered Dory Previn’s music and rediscovered myself after a painful divorce. One of my favorite songs was from her album “Mythical Kings and Iguanas (Going Home is such a Ride).” Her sad but realistic lyrics tell about “a low and lonely ride.” I knew that feeling. The song comforted and inspired me, and I sang it often when I would first arrive home from a journey.
A prolific singer and songwriter, Dory Previn was queen of the seventies confessional songwriters and her honest words and music struck a clear chord that resonated deep within as I searched for meaning in personal relationships and the absurdity of the world around me. My life seemed calm compared to Previn’s troubled one but I found her irony in dealing with religion (she was raised in a strict Catholic upbringing) and psychology most refreshing. Seems she was rediscovering herself as well. I read once about her live performance at Carnegie Hall and how a whole row of nuns got up and walked out when she sang her song, “Did Baby Jesus Have A Baby Sister.” I laughed out loud. Seems the audience did as well.
As I wandered up and down the stairs of my life in Germany and learned to release losses and embrace new horizons, I felt grateful to Dory Previn for her pure and profound poetry encouraging me to dive to the bottom and go “down, down, down where the Iguanas play.”
Thank you Dory Previn for teaching and reaching me.
As early as I can remember, I’ve felt a presence of protection around me, someone assigned to assist and guide me during my journey on earth. A helping hand. My very own heavenly representative. Mine never appeared as a chubby cherub but she did have wings, a long flowing robe, and moved like a graceful dancer.
One time, she appeared as a playful dog scampering through the woods with me one late night in Germany. I had just missed the last tram home and decided to walk a short-cut through the woods to my apartment. The dog joined me as soon as I entered the forest path, licked my hand, and stayed by my side until I arrived at my apartment. I turned to pat her head and say thanks but she had disappeared into the night. I never saw her again, but I was aware of the protection she provided. It felt like the same energy I had known as a child with my all-knowing, winged spirit guide.
Shortly before my first art exhibit in Frankfurt, Germany, I received a telephone call from a woman who collected art. I asked her how she knew about my upcoming exhibit. She said she saw a poster plastered around a column in a local U-Bahn station and found herself drawn to it. She found my name and telephone number in the local telephone directory. She asked if she could view the paintings before the show’s opening night. I agreed and she came to my studio immediately to see my work. Exotic looking, she arrived in a beautiful pink Indian sari, I noticed she also had a red dot painted on her forehead. After viewing the paintings, she asked if she could purchase the one titled, “Helping Hand.” I, of course, was delighted and told her it was my guardian angel’s hand. She nodded and insisted on paying me before the opening. She agreed to send a check and promised to collect the piece after the exhibit was over. She smiled and said, “It’s good to have a ‘SOLD’ or ‘ON LOAN from a private collector’ sign on a work on opening night. Helps sell art.”
Knowing I was down to my last pfennigs, and wondering where the next money was coming from, I agreed. The entire time she visited me, she seemed familiar. As though I knew her from another place or time. Perhaps it was déjà vu.
That night, I dreamed of my guardian angel from childhood, the one with the long flowing robe, sort of sari-like. When I was little, she was much bigger and better at everything than me and always got me out of tight spots and often helped steer me to safety over an old swinging, rickety bridge. As a storm stirred overhead, dark shapes lurked in the raging river below. This time I realized that I was crossing the bridge alone. When I turned my head to look behind, I saw myself as a child and the guardian angel of my youth fading away. I heard a voice say, “You’re almost there. Follow the moonlight.”
Just as I reached the other side and landed firmly on solid ground, I watched the bridge collapse and crash into the river below. By heeding her advice, I had saved myself. I awoke the next morning feeling grateful to all who helped me in life. I had a long list of helpers.
A check arrived in my mailbox three days later, to pay for the painting, I was elated and invited a friend to lunch to celebrate.
My first art exhibit was a great success. By evening’s end, every painting had a red dot on it showing it was sold. My eyes searched the crowd for the red dot on the Indian woman’s forehead but she wasn’t there. A man collected the painting a month later, after the show closed.
I received a big “NO!” slap from life many years ago when my husband informed me he wanted a divorce on grounds that I didn’t produce a child for him. After many miscarriages and the loss of a baby in childbirth, I was shaken by his insensitivity, his drastic move to end our marriage of 13 years. I tried to convince him, and myself, that we could adopt a child if this was the problem. Of course it wasn’t.
I cried and cried, feeling pitifully sad and abandoned. Worthless! I had given him my heart. What did I get in return? Rejection. I looked at my fearful face in the bathroom mirror, and with a little bit of surprise, asked myself, “What are you afraid of?”
The unknown, being alone? A voice questioned.
I searched deep into my eyes and let the conversation flow.
You’re not alone. You have yourself.
Love yourself. Trust yourself.
The best is yet to come.
Hours later, as a calm settled over me and the city of Frankfurt (where I was living at the time), a piercing cry interrupted my serene thoughts. Through thin walls, from the apartment next door, came squeals of laughter and shrill erotic screams. My thoughts scattered while my heart skipped several uncomfortable beats. Damn. Two guys. Having sex. Loudly! Initially horrified, I reacted: cranked up Billy Joel’s album, The Stranger, to the max. Singing along and dancing wildly, I no longer heard the ruckus from my horny neighbors.
Long after the album had finished, I got ready for bed. Cleaning my teeth and face, I observed light and love in my eyes. I smiled. Getting to know you.
That night I dreamed …
My husband broke into my apartment, rushed into my bedroom and pulled me from the bed. I tried to scream, but my voice didn’t work. He reached for my heart and tried to tear it out of my chest. Frantic, I waved my hands motioning for him to stop. When I screamed “NO!” … his grip loosened and his image faded to black. He vanished.
The next morning sunshine splashed across my eyes, My heart thumped a steady beat. I took a deep breath and smiled. I still have my heart. No one can take that away from me.
Transformed while dreaming, I felt grateful to be alive and thankful for the gifts rejection brought me—forcing me to explore my fears and encouraging me to love and trust myself.
On 11 August 1965, a 21-year-old black man, was arrested for drunk driving near the Los Angeles’ Watts neighborhood. The ensuing and violent struggle during his arrest sparked off 6 days of rioting, resulting in over 1,000 injuries, nearly 4,000 arrests, 34 deaths, and the destruction of property valued at $40 million.
One morning, during the riots, on my way to downtown LA for a meeting the police stopped my car. Two other telephone company business representatives were riding with me–a white woman (married to a black man) and a young black woman. The police yanked the black passenger from my car, pinned her against it, handcuffed her, and repeatedly banged her head against the rooftop. I screamed at them to stop. Continue reading “Born To Be Me”
New book details the harrowing personal journey of a young
American woman facing seemingly insurmountable situations while living in the Middle East and Europe. After many miscarriages and the loss of a child in childbirth on the island of Cyprus, Susan seeks solace by creating art and recording her vivid dreams. Through difficult life changes—Cyprus’s bloody coup and war in 1974, a rescue from a sinking ship in the Indian Ocean, learning
of her husband’s secret life, and surviving his deadly assault in Belgium, she discovers her “ticking clock” is not the child she fails to produce, but rather her creative potential.
Following her vivid dreams and intuition, she successfully reinvents herself as an artist and writer. From beginning to end, Susan Joyce reminds us of the stream of awareness that flows through all of us.
Early reader reviews show it resonates universally with men and women:
A hell of a tale…
— Mark Mercer, Writer
Amid the gripping account of her final days living in Cyprus as war broke out and bullets flew past, what moved me most was Susan’s spirit through the difficulties life throws at her. This true story gives honest insight into the complex emotional turmoil we all experience for various reasons, and shows how it is always possible to see the positive and build our life afresh exactly as we choose to live; not to long for what might have been. An uplifting, inspiring and triumphant story.
— Jennifer Barclay, Author, Falling in Honey
…like riding the roller coaster of life, exciting and engrossing, funny and sad. A real page turner. I was sorry to read “The End.”