Category Archives: support

Inspired by Tom Prasada-Rao

Heading Back Home by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2015

For me, the past year has been a “Twilight Zone” of one medical crisis after another—a new “surprise” before I’d even healed from the last one. From heart problems, possibly related to cancer treatment 23 years ago (with talk of a pacemaker) to 6 excision biopsies and 4 subsequent surgeries for melanoma, with an extreme allergy to the hypoallergenic tape, which caused blistering of my skin. Extended vertigo. I was hit by a motorcycle (no serious injury). A kidney stone (not my first, not the usual composition) led to a sudden jump in blood pressure. The procedure blasting the stone, went awry due to an equipment malfunction, which led to a whole array of ongoing problems including, bizarrely, a strained knee, which months later, is still debilitating. Interspersed with a sprinkling of other “issues” just for spice.

Not to whine or complain, but really? As it turns out, I’m doing ok. One moment at a time, remembering to breathe. Remembering I have healing tools and support. Remembering to ask for help.

Over and over again help has come to dig me out of the depths. My loving husband stepped up big time. Very few days have we both lost our “cool” in all this mess. Family and friends and my support team kept me going. Doctors who listen. Nature to rebalance. Books to escape with. Music to uplift. And the moving stories of others going through their own big-time challenges.

Tom Prasada-Rao is a gifted musician with a healing story. He is a lovely singer/songwriter who went through major cancer surgery this past winter. He wrote about it on Facebook, showing a photo of his long scar. Normally I don’t really care for post-surgery photos, but his story and attitude about his “bad ass scar” “increasing his street cred” was potent healing medicine for me as I headed into more of my own surgeries.

These are the 3 poems inspired by Tom and his music and courageous, loving, healing presence. My heartfelt thanks, Tom Prasada-Rao!

2/4/19

“Badass Scar”

Thank you Tom Prasada-Rao
for changing my anxious mind
in one heartfelt line
about your long surgery
and re-emergence into the light

As I face another visible scar
another 2 surgeries, not nearly
as complex or dangerous as yours
my troubles lightened and lifted
a smile appeared, no lie

Each scar—of the many—
a badge of survival
And the pain that comes still
even after months of healing
is nothing to what could have been

if cancer had won.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2019

2/13/19

Wounded Healer

of T P-R

Sometimes
stay very still
in one place
quietly breathing
and listen.
It is hard and
it is your job
to receive.
Not at some point
to restore or resume
or even to refresh
but to find
the new threads to weave
and then follow them out
of persistent darkness.
Tell your honest story
invite in those needing comfort
not to rebuild what was, but
to create who you are becoming.
To trust more
to be patient more than ever before.
To befriend darkness
to release and reveal.
To fully inhabit
this body with scars
measured in miles
in tears, in fears.
To go away, to dive deep
and come back
deeper still
loving.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2019

2/23/19

Doing Healing Work

from Tom and Eric and Karla
who have never met as far as I know

The hardest
when traveling
through and past
abject darkness
it to not become
dark
soaked in it
through and through
no matter how
it may damage you
and then spraying dark all around you
unaware, even unwilling.
No
I tell you true
do not choose to
go behind that door
in this life game show
we are creating.
Even if a dark dip
choose love
choose light.
Begin with you
let dark slide off you
“like water off a duck’s back”
as my mother used to say
to her sensitive daughter.
Or let dark overtake
temporarily, feel fully
and remember to release.
Or find your own metaphor
your own goal to aim for.
No matter what has happened
is happening
let go of fear
let go of mindlessness
remember you are a wondrous healer
think of all the scrapes and bruises
you no longer have, inside and out.
You are headed somewhere.
And if this is it
this black bottomless pit
where no light escapes or enters
remember
this is not who you are
only where you are.
Find a bird singing somewhere
or a leaf falling in the flowing river.
Find a cloud of any shape or color
or a clear cloudless depth of azure sky.
Find a song that uplifts
already written or write your own
maybe from your re-formation.
Look anywhere, there is a thread
or beginning of an idea of a thread
that can be woven into
a rope to shape into a ladder
to climb back out on.
Not avoiding the rich loam of life
the shell or armor of protection
as if nothing harsh or fatal
will get out or in
but consider
allowing the possibility of
transformation and transcendence.
Without change there is no growth
without growth there is no life.
Why else did you come?

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2019

One more bit of inspiration by Tom:
Although I’ve often read my poems to groups of people, it took years for me to record my first poem-video—just after my birthday in 2014. I was painfully shy about it. My willingness to make that first recording was inspired in part by Tom Prasada-Rao and his deeply heartfelt songs that he posted on Facebook. (I now have almost 70 poem-videos on my YouTube channel.)
Here is the blog post with my reading of that first poem, “I Know That.”

Or is you prefer, you can go directly to YouTube:
“I Know That”—on YouTube

Our Future, Still Being Written

6/20/18

Listening to Amelia Curran
After Hours of Reading

If this is all there is
and you have forgotten the rest
and if you cannot keep from
the seduction of despair
I understand
and
hold out a hand.
Rest a while
in the shade of favorite music
or vacation in a favorite book.
No shame in resting,
I understand
and
give permission
as for you
as for me.
And if in the barrage of news
every bit worse than the last
and tears well up and head hangs
still, I would urge you to remember
what is real,
who you are, have always been,
the long perspective.
A marathon requires pacing
replenishment, an eye on the far-off goal
as you put one foot in front of the other
as your heart beats and muscles ache
as you breathe
and breathe
and
remember.
You have trained for this:
Every challenge, hard time, tragedy, trauma
you found strength to heal and endure
and now you are called on for more.
Those faltering for now
are aided by others
who will in turn
need help.
Like geese in a “V”
stronger together, each leader in turn
falls back, resumes.
Yes, this is not what you sought
but this is what was sown,
the past playing out
but not necessarily
our future, still being written.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2018

Note: Amelia Curran is a Canadian singer-songwriter I heard of from Peter Mulvey (an incredible American singer-songwriter). Listening to music and reading is how I have been getting through some personally dark days and high anxiety.

I found this recent poem while looking for something else. Although written this past June, it was as if I had written it to encourage and support myself — and others– right now, the week of the midterm election. A reminder to breathe, to rest when needed, to help each other, to take the long view, to vote. I offer this to you in kindness, as my way of holding out a hand. Hang in there, dear ones.

November Sunset, M D Mikus, Copyright 2017

“Absolution” from Full Blooming CD

I was going through my computer files to track down a poem from the past and I stumbled across this poem I recorded on my CD, Full Blooming: Selections from a Poetic Journal. It seemed to speak to me today. Perhaps you too.

11/3/04

Absolution

Am I absolved
because I knew
about these things,
but could do nothing?

Nothing except feel
and write,
nothing except speak
with passion,
nothing except send
healing energy,
nothing except vote
my conscience,
nothing except to be
in the world a woman of peace.

But I could not stop
atrocities, I could not
heal wounds deep,
inflicted by leaders
blind to the consequences
of their actions.

No, I could not do these things…
and yet I continue walking
from one day to the next,
I continue breathing,
and if I am still living
it must be for some reason.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2004

Listen to track 52 on my Full Blooming CD

Two Poems of Comfort

Egret in St. Pete’s by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2008

I posted the following comment on Facebook in response to Tiffany’s request for stories upon Bill Farber’s birthday, 3/24/17, (He passed away a year ago):

“Twenty years ago Bill Farber was my Reiki teacher. He said something surprising that I still remember: that getting a Ph.D. in microbiology was the perfect training for becoming a poet.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 months later, he offered to do Reiki sessions for me before each chemotherapy, for no charge. I thought of it as making sure my energy batteries were fully charged and it made a big difference to how I handled chemo and how quickly I healed. Although we lost track of each other over the years, I continued to think of him as my teacher and was shocked and unexpectedly bereft when he died last year.

Tiffany, I don’t know if you remember meeting me when I was at the house one time, and you read me a poem you had written. It was very powerful and moving (and felt quite real, though I found out it was fiction). It inspired my poem, “To Tiffany (This came out of your poem),” which is very different from my usual style of writing. I included it in my book, As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation. As often happens, the death of your Dad also prompted me to write a poem, “The Passing of Bill Farber.”

I think I emailed both of them to your Mom. If you’d like to have them, let me know. Hang in there on this day of remembrance. <3<3”

So here they are, two very different poems of comfort, written 20 years apart.

The first is from my book, As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation. I wrote this at the beginning of chemotherapy, a time I very much needed comfort. (And yes, I had an actual stuffed bunny like this one.)

To Tiffany:

(This came out of your poem)

I snuggle deep
in my pink nest
with the bunny
I love the best.

He is comfort
and fuzzy forgiving,
always reflecting
loving and living.

His ears have
the softest fur,
white and warm
and so secure.

I hug him close
before I sleep
then put him up
on my pillow to keep

watch over me
as I sink to the deep
dark depths or float
or fly or weep.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 1996

And the second is from my poetic journal, my personal response to yet another loss:

3/7/16

The Passing of Bill Farber

Death lesson
like a toddler
learning object
permanence:

When the object
becomes unseen
does not mean it is gone
it can come back
or come back in another form.

And death is like that
they say: not gone altogether
but gone away and yet
he or she is still somewhere
still existing…somewhere

perhaps to return
or reunite with
perhaps slipped out the door
to other dimensions
parallel or infinite

waiting with the others
speaking if spoken to
aware yet somehow distant
listening to the big picture
expanded from who they were here.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2016

55–Experiment and “Stronger than You Think” from “Frazzle”

Moon Over Water, Egg Harbor by M D Mikus, Copyright 2010

“…In the dark
the seed of light

a path to follow out….”

From “Stronger than You Think,” in my book, Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here: https://youtu.be/riXeccP3MMA

For today’s video I am doing an experiment: Before my poetry readings and healing workshops I used to do some easy exercises levels with the group to reduce stress, including for me. Why not try it here?

Begin with three deep “letting go” breaths—in through the nose, out through the mouth, noticing how we felt before and after. Such a simple thing, easy to forget: conscious breathing.

Then let’s do one of the exercises from the sheet, Energetic Life Balancing Waker’s Dozen. These are 13 gentle movements to balance energy levels as a daily practice. They were devised in 1989 (drawn from many disciplines) by Robert Waldon, Ph.D., N.D. and Betty Lou Lieber, Ph.D., M.F.C.C. and used with their permission.

On the video I demonstrate #7, called “Emotional Stress Release.” (My family calls it the “head hug.”) It’s the first one I learned and I’ve been doing it twice a day for 20 years. At that time I still had multiple sclerosis and I was working with several complementary medical practitioners to cope better. Doing this was a homework assignment to do for 15 minutes twice a day. MS is a very stressful disease and episodes can also be triggered by stress, so this was a good skill to focus on.

Lay one hand gently on the forehead and one on the back of the neck (in contact with the skin). You can do this standing, sitting, or lying down. You can visualize it. You can switch hands. You can do it for someone else (ask first, please). (Mothers intuitively know that it is calming for stressed out children to put your hand on their forehead.) You can do it for however long you have—less than a minute or 15 minutes or more. You can add some affirmations to say while you do the “head hug,” or hum a single tone (not singing). I do it in the morning before getting out of bed and last thing at night. If needed I also do it in the middle of the day as a recharge or power nap (even without sleeping). If I forget, I can feel the difference.

When we are less stressed we have more energy to do what we need to do. And that is very important in these chaotic times. We also have more functional immune systems and are nicer to be around, which benefits everyone.

And that brings us full circle back to our poem: “You Are Stronger than You Think.” Listen here: https://youtu.be/riXeccP3MMA

Seagulls, Door County by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Copyright 2010

For more poem videos in the series

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing