the day i stopped hurting myself

happy gecko 5 one half X 9 one half in ink on paper 2017

happy gecko, 5.5X9.5″ ink on paper, (c) d. ellis phelps, 2017

If you look closely, you’ll see words in this piece, as you often will of late, in my work.  The words and the colors seem to want to inhabit communal space, and so it is.  They read, “I would love to sing.”

This sentiment arose in response to a tele-seminar I attended (is that an oxymoron:  attending a tele-seminar?)  Anyway, I listened to a life-coach talking about achieving dreams.  This is not new rhetoric, but still, that day, it was attractive to me.  More attractive, let’s say, than actuating my dream by painting or writing something!

But I digress.  She talked about the roles of imagination, reason, intuition, perception, will and memory in dream making.  She talked and talked, but then she asked us to ask ourselves the pivotal questions:  1)  What would I really love…? and 2) What’s the one thing I could be doing [right now] that I know would move me closer to my dream?

Here are my visual notes:

notes from teleseminar with Rita M

When I first asked myself question one, I got some pretty ostentatious answers:  teacher of peace, healer, retreat leader.  These being ways I could earn a living, offering courses, retreats, service.

Well.  Of course.  Why wouldn’t my “Hero” archetype show up first?  This fellow ( I call him fellow because it feels like masculine energy to me) often dominates my thinking mind and frequently diverts my path causing me to make what Julia Cameron calls the “creative u-turn” in her book The Artist’s Way.

In answer to question two, I wrote:  plan a retreat; get up a half an hour earlier every day; get my LMI (Licensed Massage Instructor) certification.  These are all very reasonable and actionable, even admirable goals and in line with a certain part of me:  the hero~

Later, though, as often happens, soul showed up.  Quietly.  Always, quietly and usually after everyone else has calmed down.  She (you know why I call her she) said: paint every day; write every day.  Okay.  More in line with the part of me I want to nurture:  the creator.

Good answers.  Reasonable answers.  Actionable answers.  Hmmmm….still aligned with income, though a way better way to earn it.

It wasn’t until taking up my inks and sinking into right brain that something kin to truth arose:  i would love to sing.

sing by Kathleen Conklin via CC

Can I sing?  Yes.  I can.  But not on The Voice or even in public (though I have sung in public in shows, in choirs, but it usually results in unmentionable bodily revolt!)  But I’m not talking about singing for a living.  I am talking about S.I.N.G.I.N.G because I can.

Think about it.  How many times have you not let yourself:  dance, sing, run around inside the house naked, crack a funny joke in a meeting, sit outside and do nothing, paint….  All because there are more serious, important things to be doing or because someone once said you shouldn’t or couldn’t or maybe you are the one who judges your sound, your marks or your body so harshly.

Sadly, this is true of me sometimes.

But today is my birthday.  Really.  So let it be said that (by God’s grace) today is the day I stopped hurting myself by not singing when I want to, by eating too much sugar, by making creative u-turns or by telling myself that I am not good enough or by any other thought or action that does not feed, nurture and glorify my Highest Good.

Don’t be surprised if you see me dancing in the streets!  Will you meet me there?


For more info about Jungian archetypes, you can go here.

“sing” ar image (last on page) courtesy of Kathleen Conklin via Creative Commons.  Some rights reserved.

d. ellis phelps is the author of Making Room for George (Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, 2016) and of this blog.


Oh! My foot!

Feet 2 days old don toye via flickr

image:  (unaltered) courtesy of Don Toye via Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.

Feet are like good mothers:  always there; getting us where we need to go; rarely complaining.  And if you are like me, you hardly give them a second thought.  Until they hurt.  Even then, you might only give them a little rub, a short soak or put them up for a while and expect that they will be ready to carry on soon enough.

But what if these very same feet were intelligent communicators, maps if you will, of what might be happening throughout your body, indicators of inflammation, dysfunction, or disease.  Would you pay more attention to them then?

According to practitioners of reflexology, this is exactly the case.

Each part and function of the body is represented by a corresponding reflex point on the body’s extremities, most particularly the feet, which contain clusters of ultra-sensitive nerve endings (Gillanders, 2007).

Seven thousand nerve endings to be exact.

When a trained reflexologist stimulates these points, also found in the hands and the ears, it creates an electrochemical impluse that can release tension, soothe inflammation, and help the body remedy brewing malfunctions in tissues, cells, and organs through the nerve pathways.

woman holding feet simpleinsomnia via cc

image:  courtesy of simpleinsomnia via Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.

Reflexology can be a stand alone treatment or it can be combined with therapeutic massage quite successfully.  If you are having a stand alone reflexology session, you do not have to disrobe, but can remain comfortably reclined, only having to remove your shoes.  A therapist doing reflexology will usually also add lower leg massage to the session, so if this is your choice, wear leggings or shorts that can be pulled up over the knee.  I personally prefer to work both hands and both feet plus the lower legs during an hour long (an hour and a half is better) stand alone session, including aromatherapy and Healing Touch to round out the session.

Therapists can also do targeted treatments designed specifically to help heal an injury or malfunction such as plantar fasciitis, for example.

foot reflexology sign via cc

The theory and practice of reflexology is based on the notion that there are ten (five on each foot) longitudinal lines of energy running from toe to brain throughout the entire length of the body.  It is assumed that when there is an imbalance in one area of a zone, all other organs, tissues and cells in that zone can also be affected.

A sensitivity in any one  spot of the foot creates an imbalance throughout the entire length of that zone.  For example, a sensitivity in the right kidney could be the cause of an eye condition because the kidney and the eye are in the same zone (Gillanders, 2007).

The multitude of reflexology points on the feet are as small as the head of a pin and overlapping.  A quick  internet search of “foot reflexology maps” will reveal a plethora of maps, each somewhat different from the next.  So, you and your therapist will notice sensitivities and discuss what makes sense for you, given your history and understanding of any other symptoms that may be currently presenting.

photocapy foot sign cc

image:  courtesy of photocapy via Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.

If you haven’t tried this ancient, effective complimentary medicine therapy, please do!  Most who do are very relaxed and pleased to join the “Foot Joy Club,” returning their aching feet for more foot love time after happy time.


Gillanders, Ann (2007).  The Complete Reflexology Tutor, Octopus Publishing Group, p. 11   and p. 28.




Happy Places: collaboration a la carte


A few of my favorite entrepreneurs and sociopreneurs have joined efforts under one roof:  Keziah and Michelle Hernandez with My Tea Soul, Amos Lozano with  Famous Juice Company, Christine Sauve of Munch On & Beyond,  Fred with The Vegeria (formerly next door to Viva Books), and Kaz Sephton with the Golden Horn of Plenty thrift store benefiting rescued dogs.


Image:  (left-right) Michelle, Amos(back), Kez, & Chris making funny faces

None of these like-minded individuals could quite afford to make their dream jobs happen alone so they teamed up and the result is magical.

I visited their spot in the universe a few weeks ago to place some art for sale on the walls alongside some other fun-funky pieces and had a blast!


image:  Keziah (left) and Michelle of My Tea soul

Yes.  I had fun but I also had a BLAST of unique, energy-filled, tasty, plant-based, fresh foods and juices each vendor makes on site and serves a la carte.

When Michelle asked if I wanted to “do a shot,” my mind did a little jig.   I haven’t done that in the traditional sense of the words for thirty-plus years and thankfully not since that kind of juice makes me dance on the tables (naked).  But then I realized, she was offering freshly juiced lemon and ginger in a shot glass from the Famous Juice Company.  WHOA!  This stuff burns all the way down, but in a good, strangely addicting, satisfying way.  Plus, doing this first thing in the morning on an empty stomach then waiting thirty minutes to eat will super alkalize your system and serve as a powerful anti-inflammatory.


image:  Amos, the famous juicer

Amos, the famous juicer, has a contagious smile and an effervescent personality that is just as delicious as his juices.  Multiple juice combinations of all colors are freshly-juiced daily and available in 16 oz. glass bottles to carry out for $8.  Yes.  I said glass bottles!  If you bring the bottle back, you get a discount on your next juice purchase.  I am exceedingly impressed with the Eco-consciousness of this young business-owner and I love his business tag-line:  Eat plants, Move often.  Plus, the juice combos are satisfying and tasty.  I tried “Popeye” (kale, spinach, ginger…) and loved it!


Though I am an omnivore, I found plenty to eat for lunch by grazing through the interesting choices available from the several vendors.  From Munch On and Beyond, I sampled the jalapeño/cilantro hummus and the mango/pineapple fruit roll-ups.  From My Tea Soul, I chose a quinoa salad and Oh! My Brownies.


image:  me eating the OTHER two of three OH! MY Brownies at home the afternoon I bought them…YUM!!

Everything was exquisitely delicious, especially the moist, flavorful brownies, as you can see.  And this is no small feat, since everything made by each vendor is plant-based and gluten, dairy, & egg free.  I know this because, having been GF since 2000 and for the past year now practicing a Paleo lifestyle, I’ve baked my share of brick-heavy lumps that I had to trash.


image:  trail mix from Munch On:  almonds, walnuts, pumpkin & sunflower seeds with raisins

This restaurant is not exactly sit-down with service though there are two tables and chairs for eating-in and a sofa and chairs on which nibblers can settle comfortably should they so choose.  The vendors do offer catering for events and parties, especially for the Paleo/Vegan/GF communities and grab-and-go munchies for the work-a-day folks including cupcakes, tarts, pies, trail mixes, salads, tamales, teas, juices, and so much more.  There is no coffee for sale at this time and neither is there a microwave in-house, as some object to microwaves.


Eating my quinoa and loving the vibe of this cool enterprise, I overheard someone say, “This is a happy place!”   I must say, “I agree!”  And besides that it is good.  Yes.  The food is good, but beyond that, the intentions and actions of these individuals is good, socially and environmentally pro-active and positive!  These are #formidablePeople and I am pleased to tell my audiences about them.

Please do visit them at  13469 Wetmore Rd,San Antonio, TX 78247 in the Wetmore Shopping Center (on Wetmore Rd. near Thousand Oaks).  Or give them a call (210) 592-8366 to know more.

Have some tea.  See some art. Buy something fun from the thrift store.  Eat. I promise.  Once you’ve found this place, you’ll be as happy as I am!

d. ellis phelps is the author of Making Room for George, Moon Shadow Sanctuary Press, 2016.

mourning: lost & found

mourning mother flickr image attributionimage:  “mourning mother” by Jinterwas.  Used with permission of Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Yesterday, I met a young woman whose only child died last year.

Through tears, she told me that those close to her want her to “just get over it already.”

If you are one who feels uncomfortable when in the presence of pain being experienced by another and so you tell them to buck up and move on, please know that in an emotionally healthy individual, the grieving process takes time.  Lots and lots of time.  What is lost, is lost forever.  And mourning is never “over.”

The pain comes in waves, unexpectedly, profoundly.  And sometimes, for years.

As for me and my own experience of grieving, most recently the loss of both of my parents, and within that context, the perceived permanent loss of any possible reconciliation with them, the process has been ongoing since I first realized they were both in the process of leaving their bodies, until this very day.  It has been more than five years.

The pain has subsided.  It is distant now and thoughts of my loss do not always cause me to dissolve into tears, but I do still mourn for them, for myself, and for this planet full of others mourning.

I continue to allow myself whatever form of process-release I need:  wailing, talking out loud to the deceased (believing they “hear”  and respond to me),  furious dancing, receiving bodywork and energetic intervention, talking with a trusted friend, writing and making art.

Hard-Times-Require-Furious-Dancing-Alice-Walkerimage:  Walker, Alice.  Hard Times Call for Furious Dancing, (New World Library, 2010), book cover.  Illustrations by Shiloh McCloud with Michelle Noe

I am clear on this point:  relationships do not end when one “dies,”  but they do become more difficult to navigate because the other now lives on another plane of existence, communicating in non-linear dream-time, thought waves and forms, scents, signs, nudges, and yes, even visions.

For me, writing and making art are the most significant way I move forward–toward the Light.  The point is movement, not resistance to apparent darkness.  Seeking new insight and understanding regarding what is lost and moving gently toward integration of the new understanding into my life-view and way of being in the world, in relationship, transmutes all negative energy into positive, allowing all experiences to be used for the Highest Good.

When I can truly assimilate and put into practice what I have learned from a relationship and from purposeful, deep reflection on its relational qualities and nuances, studying and accepting which is my part and which is the part of the other and how we became who we are (were) together, then the essence of the relationship is not lost but found because the essential life of it lives in me and, indeed, in all whose lives I touch.

touching water by Augustine Ruiz flicker creative commons attributionimage:  “espejo” (mirror) by Augustin Ruiz.  Used with permission of Creative Commons.  Some rights reserved.

This process work is a profoundly spiritual experience.  My most recent series of art,” the surprising” and my full length book of poetry, what holds her (under submission) are both examples of living this process

Further, when this kind of profound interaction between the worlds takes place, each of us heals and can then, and only then, organically move forward with living our lives as they are now, resurrected in this new form, moving more freely within and between the realms and planes of existence toward Harmony and Love–the Highest Vibrational Frequency.

Om symbol creative commons attributionimage:  “OM” symbol by Karen.  Used with permission of Creative Commons.  Some rights reserved.

Book Review: Percolate, Let Your Best Self Filter Through by Elizabeth Hamilton Guarino

Percolate: Let Your Best Self Filter ThroughPercolate: Let Your Best Self Filter Through by Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you need a cheer-leader in your clan, this author is the one for you!

If you think you have endured life circumstances that entitle you to an eternal pity-party, this author will talk you out of that nonsense lickety-split.

If you suffer from self-doubt this author’s authenticity and experiences will give you confidence.

If you are at the intersection of down and out and have no idea which way is up, this author’s nine point plan will give you a leg up.

This book is not fast food, it is instead a serving of slow-cooked pot-roast with hearty vegetables that will continue to nourish you well long after you’ve left the table.

Get a blank journal. Find a comfy chair. Get ready to consider some tough questions and viable suggestions for becoming the “Best Brew of You.”

View all my reviews

The Choice for Love

 sadness_149 from

photo courtesy of

The day I saw my reflection in the microwave glass, standing in the kitchen of my posh, suburban home, drinking Jack Daniels straight from the bottle, I decided to leave alcohol alone. But it was later, much later, and with careful counseling; active listening in recovery groups; abstinence from alcohol and mind-altering, prescription drugs; and prayerful surrender that I made the life-changing choice for self-love and acceptance.

Sunday mornings in Central Texas where I grew up, were for going to church and Sunday school. Sunday afternoons were for being with family, eating fried chicken, mashed potatoes made from scratch with brown gravy, canned English peas soaked in butter, white bread (also spread thick with butter); drinking sweet iced tea; and watching the Cowboys on television: my dad’s regular nap time. We attended the First (Southern) Baptist Church as did all our kin except for my grandmother who swore we would all go to hell because we didn’t attend The Church of Christ. Early on, as you might guess, I got confused about religion.

There were volatile arguments between my grandmother and my dad over religious choices.  Of course, these might have fallen on deaf ears for most eight-year-olds, but not on mine. I practiced deep thinking, said my prayers fervently, and read the scripture in the King James Version of the Bible (a gift from my father bound in black leather with my name inscribed on the front cover in gold), and I listened. I was looking for answers to questions I could barely formulate as yet.

My reasoning probably went something like this: maybe if I listen hard enough, I will understand who’s telling the truth and then I can settle this thing once and for all or, at the very least, keep myself out of hell. Or maybe I thought: if I go to church, read my lessons, sing in the choir, invite Jesus into my heart, and behave really, really, really well, my dad will stop throwing my mother’s head against the wall and shoving her down all the time.

Yes. I lived with family violence regardless of church, regardless of prayer.

Violence is a learned behavior. My father learned how to treat a woman from witnessing the way his father treated my grandmother and he learned how to treat a child from the way his father treated him: beatings with a horse whip; tongue-lashings; harsh, unforgiving judgmental attitudes. And from birth, I began to learn this destructive pattern as well. Of course, I had no idea how it would eventually surface in my adult behaviors or even that it would. In fact, I swore it would never happen to me nor would I ever perpetrate such unhappiness and wrongdoing upon myself or others. How little I knew.

I’m cognitively unsure about my eight-year-old-reasoning, but I can say that I listened well, to everything, like a dog on point. And I tried to be good at everything. I did my chores. I did my homework. I made straight A’s and I never, ever talked back.

Until I did.

When I left home for The University of Texas in the fall of 1970, I was determined to leave all that chaos at home. But guess what? I’d learned what I’d lived. Rebellion had been rumbling in me like a stampede about to happen and when I added alcohol to the mix, wild abandon broke down the gates of any inhibition that lingered in this small town Baptist girl.

As was the prevalent mind-set on campus, “I loved the one I was with,” and I was with many. I took up smoking, cigarettes and pot. I perfected the art of cursing; peppering every phrase with a well-placed explicative. I went to class, but slept through the early ones. I played Spades in the dormitory hallway passed midnight and studied just enough to get by. I drove drunk, bought and sold dope, and blacked out, forgetting my way home more than once.

Most of these mild diversions may sound typical of college life to many, and really they were typical. I was never arrested (only by luck), after all. I functioned well, albeit often hung over. I landed a role as a dancer in the chorus line of the UT production of Cabaret after my first audition, winning the role over many dance majors with whom I competed. I served as a dormitory advisor and a resident assistant during my sophomore and junior years, both honorary positions. I excelled as a student-teacher during my senior year. And I got my degree.

I was educated and ready to live life, but emotionally miserable.

“So,” you ask. “What does any miserable, twenty-something-year-old woman do to get happy?” Get married and have a child. Right? Wrong.

I did get married and have a child I wanted very much to have, but I was still miserable.

“So what was the problem?” you asked. The problem was deep-seated rage and self-hatred—fear in disguise.

By the time the day came that I saw my reflection in the microwave glass, my five-foot-four frame supported a mere one-hundred and five pounds; I was drinking close to a fifth of straight whiskey daily but could not get drunk no matter how I tried; I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. I carried at least three prescription drugs in my purse at all times (for nervousness, headaches, and chronic bowel distress); and I was depressed, misguided, and suicidal.

As you may have guessed by now, I’d stopped attending church as soon as I left home, abandoning virtually all of its teachings in return for agnosticism. I’d seen my first of many shrinks; had multiple affairs; and found that I had no idea how to be happy. My marriage failed, ending with an affair that broke up two families, creating painful waves of dysfunction to this day.

My second marriage and my drug and alcohol free lifestyle have survived, however, for thirty-three years. Why? Not because I am holy now. I am far from it. Not because I have returned to church. I haven’t, though I did time and again, but found no match for my version of spirituality in organized religion. Not because now I am finally married to the right man. This relationship has been tumultuous at best. Not because my life is trouble-free. It hasn’t been. We’ve faced years of federal investigations by the IRS, the SEC, and the FBI for alleged misbehavior and received subsequent judgments that took our life savings. We’ve raised a potpourri family. We’ve been through surgeries, illnesses, counseling and treatment and we’ve watched our parents age, move in with us, and die. Sometimes we thrived and sometimes we just survived and sometimes we nearly killed each other, but here we are. Here I am.

Here I am, healthy as I am, and able to be as authentic and as honest as I am with you because of choice. Not a once-in-a-life-time choice, but a consistent, committed, daily choice to love and to accept myself with all my strengths and weakness no matter what rather than to self-destruct and in the process also destroy others and any chance of life-giving relationship.

Here I am because I choose to look at myself honestly and with great reverence for the path I’ve walked. I choose to acknowledge the grace that has accompanied me on this path. I choose to forgive myself and others completely and quickly. And I choose to hold my head up high.

Here I am because I choose to let go of fear and live in the present not the past.

Here I am because I choose to live and learn without regret. And because I choose to live this way, I know how to let you make your own choices, understanding deeply that church or no church, there is wholeness in all of us that seeks its own level that will rise above all apparent unhappiness and create new life—given half a chance.