HeloJoeBabyPoeThis is a joyous season.  It’s filled with love and laughter, cheer and joy.  

I am one of those people who like to be told or to say, “Happy Holidays”, but I like being told, “Merry Christmas”, too.  I wish people, “Happy Holidays”, certainly not because I have anything against Christmas, but because there are multiple holidays being celebrated.  Christmas and New Years are only two of them.  I want to honor everyone, their beliefs, and their celebrations.  It’s all about love and joy.

JohnStanleyI’ve looked them up and there are a lot of holidays in the month of December.  Being a non-religious Spiritual Center, we rejoice in all of them!  I wanted to share some of the holidays with you.  There are far too many for me to list them all, but I’m going to share the biggies and some that stood out to me.  

I would like to wish everyone who may celebrate any of all of the holidays a very, very:

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Winter Solstice

Happy Christmas

Happy Kwanzaa

Happy New Year

 And if that’s not enough celebrating for you, try:

Happy Rosa Parks DayTeresaBoardman
Happy National Mutt Day

Happy Special Education Day

Happy National Cookie Day 

Happy National Rhubarb Vodka Day

Happy Dewey Decimal System Day (I may be dating myself with this one)

Happy National Ambrosia Day

Happy National Cocoa Day

Happy Maple Syrup Day

SuzanneAkronHappy National Sangria Day

Happy Boxing Day

Happy National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

Please don’t be offended if I left off one of your favorite holidays.  There are just so many and my fingers are getting really tired from typing!

But we, the Great Conjunction family which includes myself, Joe Thornton, John Michael Thornton, Teresa Kinney, and Suzanne Olesko, would like to wish each and every one of you a very happy and joyous holiday season.  We are grateful for you, your participation, and your support to help us keep going and conducting our outreach programs.

From our family to yours, have a happy holiday season!  Love & Joy!

I certainly won’t even begin to speak for you and I won’t even try to speak for John, but 2020 has been one mean year and I’m glad it’s almost over!JoeBrace

I know that I have been incredibly fortunate while others have had things much worse than I, but it’s been a pretty tough year.  Still just speaking for myself, my year began with learning I’d have to have spinal surgery immediately followed by the death of a very dear friend then segued into a global pandemic in full self-quarantine mode.  I eventually had my surgery, leaving me essentially incapacitated for half a year.  

All in all, I’ve tried to rise to every challenge thrown at me and even tried to learn lessons along the way.  There have been times this year I know I succeeded, but there have been occasions where I let things get the best of me.  But I'm still here and I’m ready to begin again.  

I know we’re all, essentially, been in the same boat; time to leave all this behind and head toward a better future.  To help us do that, we’ve asked a member of the Great Conjunction family to guide us all in a two-part workshop beginning this Tuesday, December 8th.

IMG 5481Victoria Price will help us to examine and take stock of 2020 in the first part of this workshop called “A Box Full Of Darkness: Reconcile & Release 2020”.  Together in this workshop through journaling, guided visualization, and simple rituals, we’ll open our boxes full of darkness and consciously, and with commitment, prepare to move toward the light. 

Victoria, if you recall, is not only the daughter of Hollywood legend Vincent Price, but is an interspiritual/interfaith minister, author, and motivational speaker.  Victoria is the perfect person to guide us through this experience.

The second half of the workshop will take place on January 19th entitled “Everything Is Waiting For You: Welcome A New Year With Intention”.  

The entire two-part workshop is $32.  To attend the complete workshop, sign-up here:  https://greatconjunction.org/events/eventdetail/124/-/a-box-full-of-darkness-reconcile-release-2020-part-1-with-victoria-price

If you wish to attend only the second half held in January, please sign-up here:  https://greatconjunction.org/events/eventdetail/125/-/everything-is-waiting-for-you-welcome-a-new-year-with-intention-part-2-with-victoria-price

I hope you can join us for a cathartic and educational workshop.

I, for one, am ready to move forward.

It’s been one heck of a year, hasn’t it?  We’ve experienced lock-down and self-isolation, a global pandemic, an embittered presidential election campaign, had to learn new ways to stay in touch, to communicate, and even new ways to work.  And here at home, spinal surgery and a long, somewhat arduous recovery process.  It’s been an emotionally taxing and even physically exhausting year for us all.

Our presidential election process has finally come to a close.  And we have made history in two important ways.  More people voted in this election than ever before (bravo and good for you!) and we’ve elected our first woman (of color) into the vice presidency.  

JoeJohnWe need to take a moment to think and to follow the lead of our new president-elect and realize that this is now a time to heal.  We need to heal as a nation, as a brotherhood, and as a planet.  We must all do our part to be compassionate, loving, and live with open hearts.  We are all one.  Not just one nation, but one world, one people.  We need to lift each other up and realize that by doing so, we all can rise up and we can succeed.

When founding Great Conjunction Spiritual Center, we decided to make it part of our mission to try and raise the vibrational level and help everyone to grow.  To achieve that goal, we offer a variety of avenues to learn and expand our personal horizons.  We have three such events coming up that we’re really excited about and each of them are lead by returning members of our Great Conjunction family.  

Sara SachsFirst, this month on Tuesday, November 17th we have Psychic Medium Sara Sachs of Pittsburgh for the fourth year in a row.  Everyone is invited to join us for this online evening of messages from Spirit.  Those who join us may receive special messages from departed loved ones.  Those of you who have attended Sara’s Victorian Flower Seances in previous years know just how gifted Sara is and how amazing the experience can be.  You can sign-up using this link:  https://greatconjunction.org/events/eventdetail/126/-/gallery-readings-online

Our next event is especially unique and is a two-part workshop being facilitated by our friend Victoria Price.  The first part of the workshop entitled “A Box Full of Darkness: Reconcile & Release 2020 (Part 1)”.  The goal of the first part of this workshop is to help us better understand and reconcile our feelings and attitudes about the epic year of 2020.  The second part of Victoria’s workshop, “Everything Is Waiting For You: Welcome A New Year with Intention (Part 2)” is about taking a new approach to a new year by affirming our intentions and learning simple daily practices that will allow us to continue moving toward the light and living wholly and with love.

JohnVictoriaJoeThe dates for this two-part workshop are Tuesday, December 7th from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm and Tuesday, January 19th also from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.  Sign-up for both of Victoria Price’s workshops for only $32.  https://greatconjunction.org/events/eventdetail/124/-/a-box-full-of-darkness-reconcile-release-2020-part-1

Let’s plan to make 2021 just what our new president-elect suggests, a time to heal.  Let’s begin to heal each other, our nation, and our planet.  And I’ll continue to heal my spine.  Together we can live in hope and in love.

Please remember to stay safe and wear your masks.  I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!  

Namaste

Joe

Wow!  September’s here already!  Fall is about to begin and all the beautiful colors and cool, crisp days with it. It’s my favorite time of year, can you tell?

I hope you’ve all had a safe, yet enjoyable, summer.  We have.  But because of that surgery I had in June, our lives are still in a slightly more extreme state than many.  We’re still at the same level of quarantine as when the pandemic began in earnest last March.  Other than for follow-up appointments with my surgeon, I’m still house-bound.  While I recover, I’m still at a higher risk level.  But it’s not just for my health, but we’re still taking extra precautions because of my (soon to be) 82 year-old smoking, diabetic, wheelchair-bound father, who, as his doctor put it, if he becomes infected with Covid-19, that’s the end.

John Michael Thornton with a home made maskJohn is still the only member of our household who goes out semi-regularly and that’s just to do the shopping.  He’s our protector and hero.  And to try to help our hero, one day I jumped online and found out how to make masks.  So I cut up some old bed sheets and went to town.  Now’s he’s got quite a stylin’ look every time he goes someplace.  If you should run into him at the market, you won’t see his face, but you’ll know those kind and loving eyes.

Joe Thornton in a neck braceYou’ve all basically been with me on my surgical journey, so let me give you an idea of what’s going on and where we are now.  In case anyone needs it, here’s a recap.  I was diagnosed with a rare condition in my neck, which caused my spinal cord to be bent almost in half.  If untreated, I would most likely become paralyzed.  In June I had spinal surgery to correct the issues and they inserted two cadaver bones, a plate and six screws to fuse my vertebrae together.  Since then, I have been wearing a brace 24 x 7 (except when showering) and using an electro-magnetic bone growth stimulator four-hours every day.  However, in a couple of weeks I meet with the surgeon again for a status check.

So where are we now?  Right where we were when we started; still locked into this contraption and staying as immobilized as possible.  Still no bending, twisting, lifting, driving, etc.  

This kind of restricted movement, I believe, is difficult for everyone who’s had to experience it.  But before the surgery, I was told that this restriction of movement and the brace were only going to be for four-weeks.  I knew I could get through that… with some help from John and with some patience on my part.  However, we’re now approaching three-months of this.  I’m incredibly frustrated that I have to be this way so much longer than expected.  Personally, I believe setting realistic expectations is a good thing.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t done with me.  And while I’m being as patient as I can be, I don’t know if I’m patient enough.

In every situation and experience, we should learn something.  I know that what I’m meant to learn is this:

  • It’s okay to ask for help (which is really tough for me to do)
  • It’s okay that you’re not able to lend a hand and feel like you’re carrying your own weight (rather than feeling guilty that others have to do your share of the work… and believe me, it’s easy for me to feel guilty about things like that)
  • Patience.I need to learn to be more patient.

Three foundling pups lounging on the sofaSo, how am I doing with my lessons?  To be quite honest, I’m getting much, much better at asking for help.  I still apologize, but I am better at asking.  Besides, in a lot of situations, if I don’t ask for help, I’m stuck!

As for as letting other’s do your share of the work, well, that’s probably been the easiest since I’m just physically unable to do so many things.  I don’t like the fact that John has to do the chores that I normally do, but I simply have to accept it and be sure to show extra appreciation to John.  And I am truly grateful.

            That leads us back to the biggest lesson I’m learning:  Patience.  We all know patience is a virtue.  But I’m not so sure I’m doing as well as I’d like in the virtue department.  Don’t get me wrong, I am truly trying and trying hard every day!  But this is a tough lesson for me.  I love instant results.  Having patience means that you’re the tortoise not the hare.  It means you can wait and all in its time.  

I can be patient and calm, or I can be impatient and frustrated.  Patient, impatient.  Calm, frustrated.  To be or not to be.  

Some days I’m feeling rather virtuously patient.  Some days I’m not feeling all that virtuous.  

I find some days to be very frustrating.  I get frustrated with the situation, frustrated I can’t do the things I want to do and mostly frustrated with myself for getting frustrated.

I’d like to be able to sleep in my own bed, but the brace and the angle at which I need to sleep plus the fact that I sleep very little while being all trussed up like this, I would keep the dogs but John awake all night with me.  Not good. Instead, for the past three-months I’ve moved into our living room full-time.

Puppy Leia is looking at you quizzically I miss the little things in life, too.  Things like getting down on the floor and playing with our three puppies.  Even just feeding them.  I miss being able to help carry groceries into the house.  But alas, they are too heavy and I’m not allowed to lift them.  I would like to vacuum the living room, but that’s on the “too strenuous” list.  I would love to be able to mow the grass.  I actually love doing that; I find it soothing, very Zen.  

I know that everything will get back to normal.  It will.  But that’s where the whole patience thing comes into play.  

            My biggest lesson is patience.  

I can be patient and calm, or I can be impatient and frustrated.  

Patient, impatient.  

Calm, frustrated.  

To be virtuous or not to be virtuous.  

Happy be-lated Fourth of July!

            I hope you had a nice holiday and were able to safely celebrate.

JoeHospitalBed            I want to thank you all for being so kind and keeping me in your thoughts while I’ve been going through the “challenge” I wrote about last month.

            In case you either forgot or didn’t read the June newsletter, I had spinal surgery and a fusion of three vertebrae in my neck.  And basically I was anxiety ridden, so I vented in writing to you about it.

            As anticipated, my surgery went very well; the doctor was quite pleased.  And I was only in the hospital for 31-hours!  (Not that I was counting or anything.)  My surgery was scheduled for first of the day so we got to the hospital at 5:00 a.m. and within 40-minutes I was taken back for prep.  

Joe Neck BraceI’m not ashamed to tell you that my inner child I wrote about last month was really scared.  Actually he was freaking out.  Naturally I unsuccessfully hid my anxiety by overcompensating and being a blithering idiot talking my head off to the nurse.  Luckily for me she didn’t mind and we actually had a really nice conversation.  And that was actually what I was hoping for.  My little plan worked.  Make the nurse like me so she’d be as gentle as possible when putting the IV into me.  And she was very gentle. 

Once I was prepped for surgery they allowed John to come back and sit with me.  So his was the last face I remember seeing before I went to sleep.

Three PupsI’ll tell you a little secret.  After watching who knows how many TV shows that showed operations and such, I’ve always been really curious about surgeries and operating rooms in real life.  So when they were wheeling me to the operating room, I was a little excited.  But the last thing I remember is staring at the ceiling as we went into a room and asking the nurse where we were.  She said it was the operating room and then there was nothing.  No sound.  No light.  Not a single thought.  I was unconscious that fast.  So I never got to see the equipment, the doctors and nurses in scrubs or anything.  I got gypped!

My next memory was being told I was in the recovery room then more of nothing.  Next I was being wheeled to my room and John was walking along with us.  Soon after, they gave me morphine and not much mattered after that.

HeloAfganSo now I’m three-weeks out from the surgery and, generally speaking, I’m doing okay.  I have to wear a hard brace on my neck that I can only remove for showers.  Plus for four-hours each day I have to wear a harness-like contraption that stimulates bone growth.  I look like I’m wearing a Star Wars Stormtrooper starter set!  

Stanley CatThe pain is still pretty intense at times.  Luckily the incision has never been a problem.  The pain is in the bones in my neck and because my spine is beginning to heal, the nerves in my right arm are working overtime.  The slightest touch or even just the weight of an afghan is so painful I think I see God.

Since I’m so restricted in my movement, these days I’m living on the couch.  I have the best caregiver.  John is there for anything and everything I need and appropriately gives me an earful when I do something I’m not allowed to be doing… like bending down to pick something up.  Plus I have four adorable dogs and a couple of cats surrounding me constantly.   

Now we just have  to be patient as I continue to heal.  And it’s going to take some time to heal and to grow new bone, too.  In hindsight, being patient is more difficult than getting through the surgery.

As for that inner child of mine that was so scared to be stuck with needles and cut open, well, as expected, he did pretty well, too.  He’s just still disappointed he didn’t get to see the cool operating room and all the neat stuff.