This book documents my personal journey before, during, and after I had a mastectomy on September 4, 2009. This account is t meant to be a How-to-Turn-Negative-into-Positive-in-Nine-Easy-Steps kind of book. Rather, it is a how-to book only in that it demonstrates how to, while on a difficult journey and in life in general, cultivate an attitude of receptivity and openness to guidance from both the seen and unseen and to involve community. I can only speak to the first steps, that of receptivity and community. The next steps must be discovered/unveiled by each person on such a journey, only after the first are taken, t just once but before every step. I began the book so that I could publish a series of e-mails that I sent out to my community and the responses I received back from them. A strong theme in the book is how crucial community was to me all along the way. The community brought with it a larger lens, changing the focus of my attention from what was me and mine to a wider awareness of peace-making and healing, t just in my life, but in my communities and beyond. I compare this change of focus to a film I once saw called Cosmic Voyage where the lens of the camera looked at reality from different distances. First, it zoomed in to the microscopic level, and then it zoomed out in stages all the way to outer space. At the microscopic level, atoms looked chaotic until the camera zoomed out a little, and the pattern became clear. Then it zoomed a little further out and everything looked chaotic for a while until it zoomed far eugh out to allow one to once again recognize patterns. You will see that at one point in the story I was asked if I could be the vehicle for a miracle for the community, and I answered, yes. To me, a miracle occurs when we can let go of judgment, cause and effect, reward and punishment-in fact, all dualisms-and keep the focus spacious, allowing for a glimpse into a different level of reality where miracles happen. With this different focus, events and what seem like isolated incidents and individuals show themselves to be deeply connected, forming a new sort of pattern. Seeing or sensing that other level of reality required that I disengage from the details of my daily life long eugh to experience chaos, t kwing, and n-judging. Events happened on this journey that are unexplainable in this day-to-day reality but which made intuitive sense when I zoomed out. These glimpses into a larger reality came in the form of synchronicities, dreams, messages from ancestors or animals, lessons from unlikely sources, and intuitions that I could t attribute to any likely source. Neither good r bad, this journey, but a reminder to us all of the possibilities of climbing beyond a one-dimensional life, to dwell more fully in the healing field, alive in its myriad dimensions, seen and unseen, still and full of vibration, always and forever connected to each other and to all creation.
Elise Peeples, a writer, philosopher and practitioner of healing arts, authored Strands, a novel (Eshu House Publishing: Berkeley, CA, 2010); The Emperor Has a Body: Body Politics in the Between (Javelina Books: Tucson, AZ, 1998) and co-authored The Spiral: A Workbook (Minding the Body, Inc. Berkeley, CA, 2000). She is the founder of Sound Rivers (www.SoundRivers.net) where she plays and teaches didgeridoo for healing purposes; is Executive Director of Art Between Us, Inc. (www.ArtBetweenUs.org) whose mission is to teach and produce collaborative art in order to stimulate the creativity in all people and to dissolve isolation in our human family; and partner in Heart Passages which uses collaboration to design unique rituals for all occasions. She lives in Berkeley, California with her poet/writer husband, Adam David Miller (www.adamdavidmillerpoet.com) and her cat Tito. Her degrees are as follows: BA in psychology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (1978); a Paralegal Certificate from the Institute for Paralegal Studies in Philadelphia (1980); an MA in Philosophy with a Certificate for Teaching Critical Thinking from San Francisco State University (1992); and a Certificate in Sound, Voice and Music Healing from the California Institute for Integral Studies (2010).