Purpose

Let me tell you a story:

To set the stage: It was 1997. I was exhausted after surgery to remove two breast tumors, followed by chemotherapy. Weeks of extensive radiation left my neck and torso badly burned. The radiologist suggested I take a short break to heal. I struggled with the decision of whether to permanently stop treatment. How could I make a balanced, potentially life-altering decision when I was so off balance? I talked, I wrote, I read, I mulled, and I listened. I cried out to the Universe for help. And I paid attention. Here was an immediate response:

2/10/97

A Messenger

A man came to my house today
to fix a sump pump
and replace the battery.

He was heavy-set, wearing
smoke-filled work clothes,
spoke kindly and worked well.

He talked of a sister who had died
of breast cancer and of her last year,
“Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.”

How clearly
I can occasionally
see;

so fearful of death,
I start to believe in
limited view and limited options,

and lose hope
and lose heart.
I deserve better.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 1997

From As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation.

Sometimes the most ordinary people in our lives can help us, if we pay attention. His comment, “Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease,” unintentionally supported my decision to stop radiation. Three years later, I mentioned the poem to him and gave him a copy, since he seemed open to it.

Years went by. When he came again to replace the sump pump battery, I mentioned that “A Messenger” was in my book. This is what he told me: Three years ago, when he read the poem I gave him, he saw himself differently and was inspired to stop smoking! He had been a heavy smoker and had not had a cigarette in two and a half years. Three more years passed and when he came again, he said that he had been thinking about that poem and had recently given a copy to a friend who smoked. Amazing!

So this is what I want to say to you: Doing art, in whatever form, from that deep, honest, heartfelt place, can heal, inspire and move—you and others—in ways you do not control or even intend. I suspect there are many people like me who grew up feeling cut off from creative expression. As my story shows, that rift can be mended with awesome results. Hang in there!

And tell me your healing stories…

Adapted from an article in 2004 in WomanMade News, the newsletter of the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, IL.

Evolution

OK, it’s President’s Day and here’s the link. The 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln and also Charles Darwin was last week, Feb 12. Apparently, they were born within minutes of each other. I chose Darwin to focus on today.

“Mr. G,” my former chemistry teacher and mentor in the late 1960’s at Bishop Gallagher High School in Harper Woods, Michigan, noted scientific references in my poem, “Meltdown.” My science background weaves into my poetry in unexpected ways sometimes. A few years ago, I read some articles about pre-historic findings in Illinois and ancient art in France. Just after that, out of the blue, my friend, Brigitte, asked if I knew of any poems about evolution. I thought about it and decided to write one myself (and then another). Here is the result.

6/23/06

Poem of Evolution

A poem on evolution—
do I know of one?
Maybe yet to be written.

Not advocacy,
just the facts, ma’am.

How two cells merged into one
out of mutual admiration
in primordial soup under conditions

considered inhospitable today.
First, molecule joined molecule,
or arrived on a comet some say.

Not a process for seven days,
except…metaphorically.

And the cells that were formed—
drawn to nourishment,
protectively repelled by toxins—

some survived, some perished.
Survivors passed on genes to progeny,
mutations occurred, mostly disadvantageous.

Again and again survivors passed on genes.
Some advantages in multi-cellular organisms,
what worked persisted.

Climate change, comets splash into solid earth,
glaciers carve out lakes and oceans,
land masses move across molten layers,

earthquakes, volcanoes, mountains erupt
from tumultuous land.
Gases, ash, ice, sun, newly formed oxygen

play their sequential, essential roles—
timing is everything.
And I do not mention the mystery
about what is not known—only the when,
but not the how, the why, and the who,

if anyone.
Why such beauty and symmetry
arose from chaos

and continues to arise,
a constant, magnanimous unfolding.
But the facts—written in rock:

a hunted herd of bison trapped in the muck,
and carcasses left long ago by a river in Illinois,
a pre-historic bee frozen in amber,
a full skeleton of a new dinosaur,

an ancient woman unexpectedly buried as a warrior,
vivid, realistic paintings tens of thousands of years old
newly discovered in caves in France.

Time trapped in stone
to be later uncovered.

The facts are plain,
the interpretations complex
and open to varied belief.

A poem about evolution
to take in the whole of it,

the flow of time over billions of years,
flowing right past this tiny,
but crucial moment in the middle.

A poem of wooly mammoths and elephants,
Neanderthals, gorillas, chimps, and humans,
the intelligence of dolphins and whales,

a tale of bacteria, some friendly, some pathogens,
of predators and prey and neighbors.
A poem of insects, the cockroaches

that would survive a
nuclear holocaust.

Yes, this poem of evolution,
of holograms, the widest view
and the most narrow—

a bite of an apple looking the same
as the whole apple.
Honoring the role of the moon as
mother of the seasons.

Yes, this would be a poem
of epic proportion
and universal dimension
and Divine (and personal) implication.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2006

6/23/06

Addendum to Poem on Evolution

What is it makes a human?
At one time it was thought to be use of tools,
until it was observed that chimps, for example,

fashion a twig as a tool to get ants.
So then, it must be language.
But recently it was uncovered

that some male songbirds
learn new songs and phrases
to communicate—like language.

So it must be the large number of genes
it would take to run this complex
organism called human.

But no, the number of genes,
when counted (and sequenced)
was smaller than some much more primitive organisms

and had much in common with yeast cells even.
True, human genes are regulated in
imaginative and complex ways.

So what is it makes a human?
Perhaps not even the most intelligent species here.
You don’t see dolphins and whales

fouling their habitats,
and destroying the homes of others.
To my knowledge they do not attack their own kind.

No, that describes the human condition.
I do not mean to be a cynic,
but some facts are incontrovertible.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2006

Long-Time Love Poems for Valentine’s

A few poems I wrote for my husband, my long-time love and inspiration. We met the first day of an English class at the University of Michigan on January 17, 1972. I was nineteen and he was twenty. I was a zoology major and he was an economics major, both of us stepping out. Who knew what lay ahead?

6/18/96

I Come Back

to your waiting arms
and put my ear
to your heart
and breathe
and feel safe.

From that supported space
I can explore
and risk
and grow,
knowing I can always go
back to your waiting arms.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 1996

3/22/99

To Stephen

(approaching our twenty-fifth married year)

I used to have
all the time
in the world
to lay in your arms
and listen
to your heart beating.

Life went on,
but nothing more important
has come along.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 1999

2/13/08

Mutually Lucky

When I told a bit of our story,
a 36 year long story,
Rich said you were lucky to have me,
and I felt we were mutually lucky.

When one would have left
the other held on
and when conflict arose
both worked toward resolution.

And when Alex asked me today
if we were getting special presents
I said “not to be corny—
for us every day is Valentines Day.”

And it’s true.
Thank you for going through
what we’ve been through.
I’m lucky to have you.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2008

3/22/08

A Summing Up

You are my weakness and strength,
my ballast in time of storm,
the wind that blows through
my occasionally stale room,

my love.

My joy, my delight,
and if we sometimes fight,
my joy again in rapprochement.
To be held and consoled,

to laugh with and discuss
the news of the day, with wit if
not always agreement.
To be myself as much as

I would reveal, yet not
feel exposed and vulnerable.
With you I am safe,
supported and protected,

held in the strong arms
of love, my love. How long
has this gone on?
Years and years and years,

my love.

You want me to have what I long for
and I want you to have what you desire,
and together, hand in hand, we find
the path through and to Love,

my love.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2008

5/29/08

New Mexico Vacation

What began with a coyote
walking across the high desert road
illuminated by our headlights
and ended with a gift box

of chocolate truffles given
at the last for our anniversary,
was filled to the top
with all manner of experience,

all forms of weather,
all levels of elevation.
One day easily melted into the next
with minimum of planning.

Love encircled us
and drew to us
beauty, peace, contentment, healing.
What was needed arrived…

with no fuss
and was embraced by us
with joy and ease
and awareness.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2008

7/26/08

Far Away, My Love

You feel so far away my love,
though you’ve only gone to Michigan

and I stayed here to rest.
I reach over to pat your head

though you are sleeping in another bed.
Your presence is here strong

and real as anything.
And though I long for touch or smile

I feel you across the miles
thinking, loving, being with family,

and I charge you, dear one
to also represent me.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2008

10/27/08

For You, Yet Again

(for my husband)

Some day you and I
will no longer exist in this form,
not just metamorphosis of aging:

wrinkles, gray hair, spots
where was pristine skin,
not raspy voice instead of mellow song,

but truly gone,
no hugs, no sparkle eyes, or smiles,
no encouragement or discussion of days events,

a photo as reminder two-dimensional,
what we loved as memento
of life well-lived.

Whatever we do next
the molecules of our bodies
will scatter in ultimate recycling.

What impressions our feet
have made on the earth
is all that will remain.

Yet I will talk to you
not needing words
and we will do as was agreed,

and if we stay together
or go our separate ways then
is no matter

for what was love
is always love
and that is that.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2008

“I Come Back” is found in my book, As Easy as Breathing, in my Life Support Cards ™ and on my CD, Full Blooming: Selections from a Poetic Journal (2007).

So Much Is Better, But…

Over the years, I’ve healed from a lot of medical stuff including eczema, MS, depression, breast cancer, heart arrhythmia, etc. I am now dealing with an umbilical (belly button) hernia. Twice it was repaired surgically. The repairs held, but then another area weakened with a hole larger than the previous one. Not good.

My approach to healing body-mind-emotions-spirit (all as one) is multi-faceted and practical. I have successfully done this kind of healing work for 15 years. In this case, I used healing energy (Reiki), acupressure, and affirmations from Louise Hay (Heal Your Body). For hernia: “My mind is gentle and harmonious. I love and approve of myself. I am free to be me.” Lovely and calming to say out loud, don’t you think?

I looked back to examine possible contributing factors, to root out the source of the problem, not just eliminate symptoms. As usual, I researched, meditated, consulted my inner wisdom, read, and found healing partners to help me. I consulted with Renee B., a digestive specialist recommended by three different people in one week. The Universe was speaking and finally I paid attention. Under the guidance of the very talented Dr. Lisa, (recommended by a friend) I took herbal and homeopathic supplements. I made changes in food, exercise, breathing, and attitude. I listened to guided imagery CDs by Belleruth Naparstek for heart and digestion. I monitored my blood pressure and worked on getting to bed earlier, my special bugaboo.

This was a lot to do; I was highly motivated. But a few days ago, an “Ah ha” moment. All this healing work is good. And now I need to be where I am, and stop looking backwards. To find the answer and the healing I seek, I need to flow with “The River.” In other words, let go and go forward.

In some sense, what this hernia feels like to me is being pregnant. So here is the poem (and the hope) that came out of that image.

2/11/09

Expecting

What am I pregnant with,
what is gestating obviously,
awaiting delivery or expression?

What metaphor allows the body
to be released from the bump,
the half bowling ball,

stuck out from my middle?
I refuse to believe
or even to entertain the possibility

that there is no meaning,
that peeling the onion layers
results in tears and release

but not healing.
All things are possible even if
not reasonable, not probable.

Over and over darkness
has come to and through me,
not like inevitable night follows day,

but dark like an eclipse of the sun,
dark like ash from a volcano
obliterating summer from the planet,

dark like an expanding black hole
that sucks in all light.
And to even remember sunrise

takes extreme effort of will
or patience or trust or faith.
And yet…every time

darkness lifts when
mysteriously the time is right,
and this miracle, this golden

egg is laid at my feet.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2009

I Am Willing

Sometimes I get discouraged; I work hard and don’t see any progress. What is success, anyway? A few years ago, I did a Google search of my full name (which is unique). I found that big parts of my work-life were online, unbeknownst to me a lot was happening. An article I wrote for The Reiki News on Reiki and breast cancer was at www.Reiki.org and had also been translated into Spanish. A Massachusetts man I did not know listed me as a poetry mentor. My graduate research paper in the journal, Genetics, was online and had been cited recently, and my book, As Easy as Breathing, was in a library in Oregon, etc.

A woman looking for a Lenten reflection, searched online for “I am willing” and picked up my poem, “I Am Willing” from my website. She resonated with it and put it on her spiritual blog. Amazing! Since that time the poem has traveled all over the world, including blogs in Germany, Italy, UK and USA. Another woman used each of the lines of the poem as writing prompts—an exercise to enhance self-awareness and personal growth. How cool is that! I can write something that helps people I never even meet.

Sometimes changes have been introduced into the poem. One version repeats lines from the beginning right before the closing line. Sometimes the original order of lines is preserved, but with fewer line breaks. Here is the original form of the poem, from my book, As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation—Poems, Letters and Inner Listening (revised in 2005).

I got an email from a woman in Hong Kong whose husband had MS asking if I had any advice for them. She had read about me in The South China Morning Post, a major Hong Kong newspaper! She sent me the article (which is now on www.FullBlooming.com). It turned out that I was the lead portion of an article on alternative healing! I have no idea how that came about. But it is another sweet reminder that things are happening even if I don’t know about them. And to keep on…

For me, the poem is most potent if read aloud. Try it and let me know.

6/26/96

I Am Willing

I am willing
to change what doesn’t work
for me in my life.

I am willing to listen
with an open heart,
without judging.

I am willing to plant seeds
that take a long time,
if ever, to grow.

I am willing to feel
and let go.

I am willing to make mistakes
and learn from them.

I am willing
to live in the present.

I am willing to forgive
and forget in my heart.

I am willing to love as much
as my endless spirit will allow.

I am willing to be seen
in all my radiance.

I am willing to be fearless.

I am willing to be powerful.

I am willing to be peaceful.

I am willing to stand tall
and walk gracefully.

I am willing to sing with my stunning, full voice.

I am willing to allow.

I am willing to let go.

I am willing to change.

I am willing to see
and be seen.

I am willing to hear
and be heard.

I am willing to feel
and be felt.

I am willing to heal
and be healed.

I am willing to love
and be loved.

I am willing
to be fully human.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 1996

This poem was also included in Layers of Possibility: Healing Poetry from National Association for Poetry Therapy Members (2007), edited by Margot Van Sluytman.