Where Intuition Leads..a short story

“There is within each one of us a potential for goodness beyond our imagining; for giving which seeks no reward; for listening without judgment; for loving unconditionally.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
These past 2 years, I have been reconnecting with friends that I’ve been out of touch with for a long, long time. And I’ve totally disconnected from some people who I once thought of as very close friends. And then I’ve made new friends. It’s been a confusing time where so often I followed my intuition only to feel that nothing was making any sense……it’s been a time of struggle, of challenges, of praying for a sign.
And I know that I write about pain and suffering a lot because death, loss, grief..they have been my teachers in this lifetime. I’ve never been a pretender-I have to write and speak what is true for me…but maybe this time of suffering is ending… and I’ve learned a lot.


In 1967, I married a medical student, following my parents’ dreams and expectations. My husband Larry and I lived in Galveston while he completed medical school at The University of Texas Medical Branch. We lived on the top floor of a very old Victorian house,

victorian house_galves

This was not our house but one that looks very similar and on the same street

paying $55.00 a month rent and though the feeling didn’t last, it was maybe the only time in my life when I felt safe, protected from the world that had brought me so much pain. I remember a large and sunny front room where I painted and restored antique furniture that I bought at the salvation Army …it was a short lived time of peace: “Wake up in the morning with the sunshine in your eyes and the smell of flowers blooming fills the air” ~Mercy

Larry was in a medical fraternity ….phi kiand only a few of his friends were married but those who were, naturally gravitated toward each other.
Our first friends back then were Doug and Irene Rutherford. Many of the medical students were struggling financially and if they were married, their wives had to work. Not long before I got married, I  inherited some money from my grandparents so I didn’t have to work. Irene did..she was a nurse.Irene
 In July of Larry’s  junior year, our son Andy was born and Doug and Irene’s daughter, Teresa was born just a few months later.

 Sometimes  Irene and I took our babies to the beach….galveston beach and then Doug and Larry graduated. Overnight they went from Mr. to Dr…. Both of them had chosen to do their internships in Houston. Doug was going into Radiology, Larry into Surgery.

Houston was a big change in every way. The time of peace ended for me replaced by a time of abject misery. [You can’t ever escape your unfinished business by using marriage or relationships, money or anything else as a distraction..it will come back and demand to be dealt with]
I didn’t see Irene during those first years in Houston though we lived not far from each other. I think she was playing bridge with other doctor’s wives and I was a lost soul. File_01 hippie family copy I was VERY unhappy, drifting, drinking A LOT…I had no purpose, no goals. I felt ashamed of who I was [don’t ever try to live someone else’s dream] and my only reason for continuing to live was my son but I was too young and emotionally unstable to be a good mother.little andy:bear
The  years passed. I got divorced and Irene did also.
I was taking photography at Rice University and we had an assignment to take a meaningful portrait of someone. I took a photo of Irene sitting in her bentwood rocker with a look of grim determination on her face. A look that said she would make it through these very difficult times where life had not turned out the way she hoped it would. She would raise her 2 girls by herself and she was going back to nursing which was really her calling anyway….. and my photography professor really liked that photo!
Irene and I began spending time with another divorced friend who had also been married to a doctor and I think at some point, all of us were in counseling with the much loved addictions/codependency counselor, John Bradshaw… as we tried to find our way.
Then Irene remarried….Jack Townsend, a really nice guy and a tax attorneyjack and irene And I moved with my son to Austin, worked for hospice, and then started my own hospice type organization. I was not often in touch with her during those years though she helped me at times and  I knew she was supportive of the work I was doing.
Years and years passed…15 probably and one day I saw she was on Facebook. We briefly reconnected and sent each other Christmas cards. She was still happily married and moving to Virginia. I was living in a small, very humble Hispanic community in northeastern New Mexico. My partner is Hispanic, is uneducated by most people’s standards and has spent time in prison. [he’s also an angel most of the time, a very talented artist and he knows how to survive and live off the land–way more important than any college degree..out here where we live!]jody:gate 2:prison photos How would she or almost anyone I grew up with understand my lifestyle. The family I grew up with would judge me harshly, disown me [actually they already have]. Horrors! I can hear my stepmother say.

Though Irene and I were back in touch, it seemed to me that our lives, our lifestyles were now way too far apart to be able to communicate at all. [I was forgetting that Irene was brought up in a Hispanic family and also that she had spent years in Peru, providing medical care and holistic aid to the indigent and under-served people of Peru.]


christmas treeChristmas is often kind of a sad time for me and this past year was sadder than usual because for the first time ever, I didn’t have money to buy gifts for my grandchildren.

But I had a little altar that Jody, my partner had made and I thought I would like to send it to Irene. I had no idea whether she would like it and even thought she might be offended by it….I think people sometimes connect altars with Catholicism and Irene is not Catholic though she was raised that way.

Nevertheless I had a feeling to send it and so Jody and I carefully wrapped it up and I took it to the post office and sent it off. It was very fragile with lots of clay roses and I kept tracking it but it wasn’t getting to its destination. Back and forth it went from Albuquerque to Denver. Well I thought to myself, this just shows how stupid and wrong I was to send it. So much for my intuition.

Finally after 3 weeks, after I had totally given up on it, it arrived..not broken in pieces but in perfect shape and Irene loved it. She called me and even ordered one for a friend and later she wrote: “ I meditate at it daily. The altar is in a place where I walk by and stop numerous times a day and send positive thoughts.”

I liked this thought and resolved to make more of an effort to do the same with my own altar.


MOTHER OF ROSES ALTAR   Artist: Jody Armijo

And with my faith and  trust coming back, I decided to make a slideshow showing the creation of the altar that Irene had ordered. I had only made a slideshow once before but it came back to me and people seemed to love it.

And then this past week, a particularly difficult and frightening week for both me and Jody, I wrote to Irene and asked if she would please keep us in her thoughts.

She wrote back: “You and Jody stay in the altar along w the girls & their families, mom, dad, Bobby. I also have immigrants of all stripes and the White Helmets, a group in Syria that rescue people/children after bombings there. The list grows”

irene's fab altar

IRENE’S ALTAR     Artist: Jody Armijo

HOW AMAZING!  Almost 50 years have passed since the medical school days and we reconnected through this little altar, this little altar that I almost didn’t send.

And I got the sign I was looking for, some of my dwindling faith has been restored, Jody and I felt cared for and appreciated and Irene was showing us how an altar is really meant to be used: for connecting with friends, family, those who have gone before us.

Just as in this quote from Taos Artist, Anita Rodriguez :

The altar….brings out the stories, the memories, the history, the continuity of life and the family. It unites”

I am in the process of starting a store on Etsy for Jody’s altars and I will be adding more all the time as well as other sacred art pieces that he creates. I named the store LA CASA DE ROSAS because of a vision and because almost everything Jody creates has roses..lots of them usually.

Below is Love Can Make You Happy, a song from the 60s, the song that takes me back to those early days when I was first married and lived in Galveston…. And as always:

I write these blog posts from my heart..about my work with the First Nations People, about my teachers such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, about my time spent with terminally ill patients, about life off the grid in northern New Mexico. Though in some ways, I write for myself, I try always to share information and experiences that may be helpful to others, that are universal.

 If you would like to contribute to to the continuation of these posts, there are 2 ways: the donate button on the side of this post or my gofund me page

*Thank you to all my friends who have contributed and donated, kept me in their thoughts and meditations and made it possible for me to get through these past couple of years


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