Chinking the Cabin (Nov 1997)

After the 'Big Move' from Alpena, Michigan to Rosswood, BC in 1959 my parents found an old house to rent. To be more correct, it was an old telegrapher's cabin, owned by the government. During the war it had been used to relay messages to and from Europe across the Arctic Ocean but when we arrived it had fallen into disrepair and was inhabited by rodents. My parents were delighted to find a cabin already built, right in the middle of nowhere, so fixing it up was going to be quite a joy. Rent was twenty dollars a month. While they were tearing down one of the bookshelves to use as floor planking, twenty dollars fell to the floor so the first month's rent was free. This seemed to add to their excitement and enthusiasm for fixing up that old cabin.

Grandad took over chinking the walls. The wind blew through the cracks because the moss had been pulled out by the birds and rodents to make their nests. Grandad and a few of us kids went out and collected sphagnum moss that he pushed into the cracks (chinking), and then he nailed small poles in front of the moss so the animals wouldn't be able to pull it out. The bucket of smoke burning in the forefront of this month's photograph shows Grandad's version of a mosquito coil. The smoke helped to keep the mosquitos away while he was busy chinking the walls.

Building a screen door was the next task. Living in the woods, we often got bit by insects and for the first few weeks, we reacted to the itching and the swelling. But after a time, we didn't notice it any more. Then the black fly season came, but as pesky as the blackflies were, it was nothing compared to the no-see-em's. They were so small and deadly that if they bit you near the eye you couldn't see for a week.

Grandad loved keeping the cabin warm and chinking the walls was just part of his getting things ready for winter. He was usually the first one up in the morning and would get the fire blazing. When it got real cold, he would wake up at regular intervals all night and stoke the fire so the house wouldn't freeze. I can still remember a few mornings when the water bucket had frozen over.

I still have either cold fingers or feet most mornings. They tend to get warmer in the evening or if I am doing physical work. I tend to get chilled very easily so I still wear Grandad's long johns under my turtlenecks, winter dresses or jumpsuits and Grandma's mucklucs (Eskimo boots). The clothes and boots I wear reflect my need to conserve heat. Chinese medicine teaches me that this is because my internal fire is not strong which is due partly to having a weak digestion system. To burn food efficiently the stomach and pancreatic acid need to be strong. If they are not, then the food is like wet logs and causes smoke and gas. Learning to rebuild strength in my internal organs so that the chi or energy can flow is teaching me lots about energy, for I have come to realize that to have wellness I need to lots of energy or chi circulating.

During an emotional release session I can sometimes feel a block of energy dissolve. Sometimes it feels like steam hissing or an explosion going off, and there are many different sensations in between. Usually afterwards I can feel heat going into my fingers or toes. It has been a long slow process but improvement is happening as I feel stronger. Even with the business of moving and organizing the Holistic Health Centre and putting in long days with little quiet or down time, my strength keeps improving and digestion is getting better.

I feel honoured to be able to go through the process of changing myself... and I'm getting a lot of help from my friends. I do believe that my body is a reflection of my mind and of the way I think. As I am able to bring to the surface old programming and release it from my body, I have more energy to heal myself. Good organic food cooked with love, a satisfying job and a nourishing relationship are all helping my body to receive more energy and get it circulating so that the repair work can get done. Still, it does take a great deal of energy to open up the chi channels and flush the system, and I am learning that I can only do so much clearing in one month. Then it's time to rest, rebuild and be patient with myself.

Several weeks after my session with Ken, the one I described in the my last Musings, I had another ah-ha. I came upstairs after a long day of being very busy expecting to find dinner cooking on the stove. Gerry was busy fixing up things in the apartment and hadn't thought of cooking dinner. As I picked up the knife to cut some veggies for a quick stir fry I could feel my blood boil. I started slamming the knife on the cutting board. As I tried to express my frustration to Gerry, who was dumb-founded by my outburst, I could feel the need to throw something .

I have done enough release work to know that this was on old block coming to the surface and that it had nothing to do with Gerry, so I said " I need to go for a walk." I held onto my anger long enough to get out the door and twenty feet past the building before I started swearing and cursing. I screamed as I threw rocks into the creek as hard as I could for about fifteen minutes. By then my throat and fingertips were raw and I felt like crying. So I switched to feeling sorry for myself as I talked and cried myself through some unexpressed emotions from long ago. That evening I felt exhausted but so much lighter and brighter. I remember at one point thinking of my brother Phillip, the one in the family who expresses his anger the most. I thought to myself... "There is no difference between him and me ... our anger is the same ... I am just better at hiding it with my Pollyanna attitude... which is more socially acceptable."

Coming to terms with this anger and being able to express it appropriately is part of my healing journey. I have noticed since that episode that my eyes feel better; they are not as dry and they do not burn as much. Anger that is not expressed is stored in the liver according to Chinese medicine and the liver governs the amount of gall being produced by the gall bladder which helps to digest food. They also say the eyes are the companion organ of the liver.

The pancreas has to do with clarity: it sorts things out. My child self felt very confused trying to understand the mixed messages that my parents gave me. Being good meant not expressing my anger and I needed their love and approval, so I learned to stuff it. It feels so good to have the anger come up knowing that I can now deal with it. As the anger releases from my body, it opens up the chi channels and allows my body to heal itself. Staying present and healing the past is a juggling act for me as I learn to be human.