“In Celtic Spiritual tradition, it is believed that the soul radiates all about the physical body, what some refer to as an aura. When you connect with another person and become completely open and trusting with that individual, your two souls begin to flow together. Should such a deep bond be formed, it is said you have found your Anam Cara. Your Anam Cara always accepts you as you truly are, holding you in beauty and light. In order to appreciate this relationship, you must first recognize your own inner light and beauty. This is not always easy to do. The Celts believed that forming an Anam Cara friendship would help you to awaken your awareness of your own nature and experience the joys of others. You are joined in an ancient and eternal union with humanity that cuts across all barriers of time, convention, philosophy and definition. When you are blessed with an Anam Cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home.” John O’Donohue Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
In this lifetime, I have been blessed to have many who fall into this category. There has been an instantaneous recognition, as sense of “Oh, there you are again, how long has it been?” So called chance encounters have occurred in supermarket check out lines, in classes, in cyberspace and even in bathrooms while standing in line or washing my hands at the sink.
Although mentioning each of them would take all day and well into the night, I am tapping a few who have been especially supportive yaysayers who remind me that I am capable of living my dreams full out.
* My cousin Jody Rosenblum would have been a friend, even had we not been related by blood. Her mother and my father were brother and sister. We share social conscience and silliness that is in the DNA.
* I met my longtime friend Barbara Cohen when we were 14 and sitting on the bench at a swim meet. We joke that we ‘swam on different teams together.’ She was my maid of honor at my wedding and I was her matron of honor. I am the Godmother of her daughter Cady and although we have vastly different lifestyles, she is an anchor who ‘knew me when’ and has loved me through losses and leaps of faith.
*Jewelee Landis was a flight attendant on the plane that ferried me to Ft. Lauderdale when my mother died. Her care and compassion and dragonfly tattoo on her thigh, helped to bond us. Last year at this time, we were letting the good times roll in NOLA at Jazz Fest.
* Ruth Anne Wood came into my life when she was 14 and I was in my 30’s. Her mother and my husband were friends. She is now part of my creative Muse team who encourages me to ‘script my success’.
* Peggy Tileston, who is my teacher of self compassion and humor and I came together when we were the ‘token woo woo people’ at the acute care psychiatric hospital where I was employed as a social worker and she as an allied therapist. I like to say that we kept each other ‘sane and vertical’ in the midst of a highly stress filled environment.
*Jaz showed up via cyberspace into my heart and bestowed the name ‘Bliss Mistress’ on me, after I taught a workshop based on Joseph Campbell’s legendary invocation to ‘follow your bliss.’ He reminded me that if I was going to call myself that, I’d better be living it. And so I do.
* Ondreah Johnson and I are part of a tribe of folks, mostly who hail from the Maryland, Virginia, DC area and have a Yahoo group as a way of staying in touch. One day, one of us was wistfully commenting that we wished folks lived closer, when someone piped up…”Edie and Ondreah live near each other in Pennsylvania.” It turned out that there was a relatively short drive (40 minutes) that separated us, rather than the 3 + hours that it took to traverse Route 95 to visit our below the Mason Dixon Line cohorts. She and I are on call 24/7 for each other and have often taken each other up on the invitation to avail ourselves.
* Courtney A. Walsh who penned the social media viral meme called Dear Human, was initially a fascinating name on my computer screen, until she became a hug to to hug friend who I visited when she lived in Providence, RI and I attended my niece’s graduation from Johnson and Wales.
* Likewise with Jenny Perry, who calls herself the sexpot with stretch marks whose work focuses on self esteem and body image. We have become each other’s cheerleaders for living out loud, all sparkly and whatnot.
* Gary Schoenberg showed up when my husband died, as part of a committee called Friends from the Heart, from our interfaith community. He has indeed been that kind of friend.
* Lisa Bustamante and I also connected via that community and we do our weekly ‘walkie talkies’ as we muse about all manner of life puzzles and riddles, attempting to make sense of them.
* Dan Poor and I were peripheral friends in High School and since then, have reconnected. He amazes with me with his flights of fancy and leaps from tall towers into pools of water, sometimes set aflame. We muse about the intricacies of relationships and how ‘unconscious competence’ allows him to do what he does.
*Shayne Traviss, who is my radio producer for It’s All About Relationships, ‘adopted’ me after seeing my writing on line. We share a quirky sense of humor and a desire to use our creativity to be of service.
* Beth Nolan and I connected and bonded instantly via a mutual friend named Greg Petitti who also arrived in my life special delivery. He claims that by our teaching together, Beth and I are “plotting world domination through love.” One of his roles is to be a mirror for my strengths and vulnerabilities.
*Paul Dengler is, among other things, a Forrest Gump impersonator. We met a few years ago at a music festival when he was ‘Gumping’. I was immediately drawn to him, since he was garbed in a white suit, Nikes, carrying a suitcase and umbrella. We struck up a conversation and became fast friends…maybe like ‘peas and carrots’.
*Yvonne Kaye has been my mentor for more than a quarter of a century and lovingly ‘kicked my butt’ into recovery from co-dependence. An octogenarian, she just got her first tattoos. She is an example of from the heart resilience in the face of trauma.
*Kim Krause Berg is my whimsical and wonderful web designer who introduced me to one of my greatest joys; offering Reiki to horses at an equine rescue farm.
*Lisa Gercie is another professional therapeutic colleague turned dear friend. Her intuitive sensibilities that are tapped in to both the mainstream and metaphysical have led her to ask me to co-author a book that bridges both worlds.
* Tom Ziemann has a grounded sense of spirituality that guided him to pen The Department of Zenitation. He swooped in unexpectedly and has become a wind- beneath-my -wings angel. We will be meeting in August in Oregon. I already feel welcome in his tribe to whom he has been introducing me, in anticipation.
Tonight, I will be sitting at the Seder table, celebrating Passover with Phil Garber and Janet Berkowitz who are not just ‘like family,’ rather, they ARE family. Janet and I met in the early 1980’s via a mutual friend named Alan Cohen (also a soul friend) who created a one year intentional community studying the concepts of A Course in Miracles. Phil followed a few years later. He became my son Adam’s unofficial Big Brother when my now 29 year old (today is his birthday) was 14. Phil is a surrogate father and go to guy for Adam. I officiated at Phil and Janet’s wedding several years ago. When Adam marries next year, we will both walk him down the aisle to await his beautiful bride, Lauren.
A few years ago, I was meeting with a client in the outpatient recovery program where I worked. He was bemoaning his feeling, “Everyone I loved is gone.” I asked him if he truly believed that. Sadly, he nodded. I reminded him that there was an entire world of people, waiting to be loved. If he was willing to open his eyes, heart and arms, he could welcome a whole new tribe who would be by his side. I added that everyone we now know and love was once a stranger.
When I gaze back through the glass of time, I am filled with a sense of warmth and gratitude that these people have graced my life so magically and enrich it immeasurably. I treasure them.