Begin the Beguine: Excerpt from "Mirror, Mirror"
Enjoy this excerpt (Chapter 1: Begin the Beguine) from my book, Mirror, Mirror.
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I had everything I ever thought I could want. But on a cold, snowy night in Milwaukee, the Universe showed me how wrong I was…and knocked me right out of my comfort zone.
It was two o’clock in the morning and snow stuck to the street signs, blocking the lettering. I peered through the blustering snow as I searched for the entrance ramp to the Expressway. I was driving slowly along the winding streets in the Washington Highlands, known for its large houses and beautiful parks, at least in the summer, where I had attended a dinner party of someone I had just met a few days before. I was wearing an exquisite teal blue suede suit with knee-high black boots, not exactly winter garb should I need to walk anywhere or ask directions.
Not at all familiar with this section of the city, I had a strange feeling that I was not in the right place. When I suddenly looked up and saw that the street sign read 28th Street, a cold shiver passed through my already tense body as I recalled a very recent dream: a vision of myself in a car accident.
The morning after the dream, I awoke in a sweat, my heart beating in panic mode, with total recall of exactly how, when and at which corner the accident would happen. It would happen at the corner of 27th and Vliet. To calm down, I reassured myself that I would never be in that part of the city at that time of night, because in addition to its already bad reputation, two o’clock in the morning was when the bars closed, making it an even less desirable place to be. For the next several days, the dream kept coming up in my mind, troubling me, but I pushed it away.
Little did I know that the winding boulevard I had been following would land me there. I stiffened, filled with the intense memory of the dream, and quickly took my foot off the accelerator. I looked through the blizzard as I approached the intersection, telling myself in as firm a voice as I could muster, “You have the right of way. You have the right of way.” A car was stopped at the red light on the left and two cars stood behind the red light on the right. As my own car coasted forward, I saw the sign that said “Vliet Street” in the glare of the blue-haloed street lamps. I took a deep breath. How could I be here? How did this happen?
Something slammed into the right side of my car with enormous force. My dream replayed in my mind, frame by frame, instant by instant. All the car’s windows shattered from the tremendous impact. I pulled my head down as far as it could go, but still felt the shards of glass pierce the scalp at the crown of my head. The Oscar de la Renta leather outfit I was wearing, the one I had saved months to buy, literally saved my life, for it protected the rest of my body from the flying glass.
I felt, rather than saw, my car swerving toward the left. As I opened my eyes to peer through the broken windshield, I saw the sharp corner of a brick building only ten feet away from my front bumper. My foot hit the brake. Nothing! The road below was coated in ice and the car plowed on. When it hit the building, the engine of my solid four-door Oldsmobile 98 was rammed back, mashing the steering wheel into my chest.
Everything happened exactly as I had seen it in my dream. It had only taken seconds. As I sat there, I was engulfed by the sensations of twilight sleep. I felt myself drift up above my car in a feeling of complete peace and safety. It was a familiar feeling, one I had often experienced as a child when I was sick or in my dreams. There was no fear here.
In my head, I heard a very clear, deep voice tell me that what I was doing in my life was too limiting and that I would be shown how to help people find their own souls’ purposes. This sounded like a very lofty and worthwhile calling, and I asked how someone like me could do that kind of profound work. Again, the voice responded and told me that all I had to do was make a decision if I wanted to go back into my body or leave the planet, and that I would be shown the way. I looked down at my crumpled body in the car and mentioned that it looked like it would hurt. The voice reassured me that I already knew how to heal myself, that I had gifts I didn’t even know how to use yet and that I would be guided along the way. I agreed to come back into my body and stay on the planet. Thump. I felt myself re-enter my body, the cold air and the crush of the steering wheel against my chest, and surprisingly, experienced no pain whatsoever.
I still needed to assess the extent of the damage, both to my car and myself. All of the windows had crumbled into small pebbles of glass that now pooled around me. Not one window was intact. Frigid wind and snow blew through the car. As well as I could, I maneuvered myself upward to look into the rear view mirror, terrified that the flying glass had cut my face. Thank God! Not a scratch. I started to cry in thanksgiving. Then I continued my survey. I was pinned behind the steering wheel and the doors had buckled so I couldn’t get them open. Remembering about carbon monoxide poisoning, I turned off the ignition and then I must have passed out.
I felt someone shaking my arm and could smell the liquor on his breath as he murmured. “Don’t worry, lady. I’ll get help. We called 911.” I relaxed back against the seat, afraid to move because my back or neck might have been damaged. I actually felt very peaceful and quiet. Some time later, a parka was thrown over me for warmth. A tall man with very dark, almost blue-black skin and a lovely, calm face, wearing an orange parka with its hood lightly resting on his huge afro, reached in the window. He gently took my hand and told me I was going to be OK. I felt very comforted by his message, his energy and the warmth of his touch. I vaguely remembered a picture I had once seen of a man dressed in orange robes, a yogi from India named Babaji. How strange that he would come to me at this time. I had never followed Babaji’s teachings, yet this parka-wearing man looked just like him, I thought as I drifted off again, feeling very peaceful in the knowledge that I would be taken care of.
The next thing I heard were the sirens and the ambulance medics discussing how to get me out of the car. I passed out again but heard later that they had to use the Jaws of Life to get the crushed doors open. There is also a memory of warm, steady hands fastening the brace around my neck as I was gently taken out of the car and strapped under blankets onto a stiff board. The next thing I recall is opening my eyes in the X-ray room at the hospital and hearing a voice say, “I could have been dead and I’ve never been to Europe.” What an odd thing to say at a moment like that! With a start, I realized that it had been my voice! I hadn’t consciously known that I even wanted to go to Europe.
I had been raised on a farm and had never in my life been on a city bus or a train, and had only flown once in my life. The thought of going to Europe was terrifying. Sensing my agitation, the technician touched my arm and told me to lie still because they still had to take more X-rays. I just let myself be quiet and peaceful and wondered why I would say such a thing. It was almost as if something or someone else had made me blurt out those words.
Through the doorway, I heard a great commotion. There had been another severe accident and they needed to bring other victims into the room. The tech and his assistant hurriedly rolled me out into the brightly-lit hospital hallway and told me to lie still. The X-rays indicated that I had some back injuries and no beds were available at the moment. I should just lie there, waiting for a doctor to come and explain what was to be done next.
Flat on my back on that hard gurney in that sterile hallway, I had a good long talk with myself. Or maybe someone higher was having a talk with me. I floated in a twilight zone. All I know is that I was given the challenge of healing myself, and then heard the words resonating through my head and my body: “At the illusion of disaster is the greatest opportunity for miracles.”
For years I had been studying healing modalities. I had been one of the first Reiki students in the United States and had become a Reiki Master, able to pull in the healing powers of the Universe for positive uses. I completely believed in the power of the mind to heal the body. I had read many books by Louise Hay and other powerful healers. There I was, immobilized, with medical authorities telling me that I had serious back injuries, that I could be paralyzed for life, and that I shouldn’t move. They were going to keep me in the hospital, probably suggest back surgery, and end up charging all sorts of money.
One fleeting thought that ran through my head was that I would sue whomever had hit me and live on Easy Street from the insurance money for the rest of my life. From somewhere, I heard a great cosmic chuckle that told me the guy who hit me was a derelict without money or insurance of any kind. Some time later, I learned that he had been drunk and had flown through his windshield when he hit me at sixty miles an hour. I had not seen him coming because his headlights had not been turned on as he sped past the two cars stopped for the red light to my right at the intersection. To this day, I do not know if he survived.
Lying there on that gurney, I knew I was being tested. Did I really trust the power to heal my own body by praying for and allowing myself to receive the healing energy? At that point, I had everything to gain and nothing to lose by giving Reiki my best shot. My body itself was as fit as it had ever been from the dancing I had been doing almost every night for the past eight years. If the Reiki worked, it would indeed be a miracle; if it didn’t, the doctors would have their opportunity.
I have no idea how many minutes or hours I continued to pull in the energy to heal me. Over and over, I repeated, “Divine power flows through my bones and mends and knits every part of me back into Divine perfection. I am having a miraculous healing. The Force is with me.” I flooded my body and my cuts and my neck with loving, healing energy. My surroundings disappeared as my sole focus became myself and healing.
Much later, they wheeled me into a room and very carefully transferred me into a cool, clammy bed, telling me that I should not move or get up for any reason. The doctor would come to see me in the morning and advise me of the conditions shown on the X-rays. Immediately, a question rose up inside: “Was I going to believe an external authority or the authority of God, the Divine Source, that I had called into my body to heal me right then and there?”
I took the chance. I was scared, very scared, but I gently inched myself out of the bed. Yes, I could stand. I was weak because I had been “out of my body” for a very long time, suspended between two worlds. I took a few steps. Once again, I called in the Light of God to go straight down my spine and strengthen me. I commanded my feet and legs to walk.
Then I slowly, gently, moved toward the bathroom, where, for the first time since the accident, I was able to look into a mirror and assess any external damage. To my utter amazement, there was not a cut or even a scratch on my face. Thank you Mother/Father God. I could feel the shards of glass in my scalp and there was a cut on the side of my neck, a scratch, not deep enough to have cut my jugular vein. I looked intently into the mirror, expressing total thanksgiving for my healing. I also saw an amazing difference in my eyes; my whole life had suddenly changed and nothing from my past was important to me anymore. As I stood on shaky legs on that cold tile floor in front of the sink, I said in a clear, steady voice: “Mirror, Mirror... Divine Source ... show me the life that I’ll adore.”
Outside my window, it was still dark, not yet seven a.m., when the doctors would be making their rounds. Something was telling me to leave the hospital before someone revealed to me everything that was wrong and took away my confidence in self-healing. Gingerly, I walked over to the hospital-beige phone on the bed-side table and called a friend of mine who also believed in healing energy. She lived only a few blocks away and immediately came to pick me up. I did not call my family, for they would tell me to stay and do what the doctors recommended. Then, leaning on my friend’s arm, I walked out of the hospital.
The newly-risen sun glistened on the crystal snow. I was glad to be alive and filled with anticipation about my new direction.
Over the next few weeks, it became more and more evident that I was daily being told that I had to change everything about my life and go to Europe. Things that had once seemed important to me had no meaning. Even though I had created a great degree of success on every level of my life, I was now to release it all: a wonderful career that I loved and had proven it would support me well. Ten years with Tom, the most supportive and loving ones I had ever experienced, had peacefully and gracefully broken up a few months before. There were four closets full of lovely clothing, which I gave to a dear friend who had just lost a lot of weight and needed a whole new wardrobe. My dream house had been up for sale and had sold just before the accident; all the furniture had sold in record time, and I was scheduled to move out ten days after the accident happened. Some force was pulling me away from all the comforts of the life I had created. I kept being told that I was to give up everything and go to Europe. It was a trust walk.
There was a constant battle: my conscious mind would say, “What a stupid idea. You can’t just leave everything and everyone and go to Europe.” The other side of me, my higher self, would respond: “You have to go. There is nothing more for you here.”
The thought of moving while still battered and bruised from the car accident was overwhelming. Friends showed up to help; Wan offered to bring boxes, pack and help me move. On a dreadful, sub-zero day, one of my dance partners, Ray, and his son, so very kindly moved most of my belongings to a small three-room apartment; the rest went into storage. I had released nearly everything from my life: a 2,700-square-foot dream home on two acres of gorgeous green countryside, three sets of bedroom furniture, dining room furniture, couches, closets full of clothes, and a plethora of other things I had deemed treasures over the years. Nothing was necessary anymore, except the time it took to heal my body and build up the courage to make a leap of faith. It was just me and my higher self and the road ahead.
The apartment, part of a 100-year-old house, would be my home until I was ready to make my final move to Europe. It would take some effort and time to stop wishing for my old life. Milwaukee in winter isn’t exactly inspiring and I found myself sinking into depression. But step by step, I moved forward…to wherever it was I was destined to go. A day after the move, while placing the mirror over the dresser in my bedroom, I asked “Mirror,Mirror……show me the life that I’ll adore. Show me how to create beauty anywhere. Show me how I can be happy even in this dismal place.” Over the next few weeks, I began to repeat a constant mantra:
“I CAN CREATE BEAUTY ANYWHERE.”
It took hardly any time at all until my apartment looked amazing and elegant. Once comfortably situated in my lovely new, albeit temporary, home, I replayed the previous few weeks. The accident had forced me out of my complacency, had made me examine my true beliefs, and had taught me that I could indeed heal myself. That faith kept me on track. I was thankful for my life, for my friends, for the many resources still available to me. Now I needed to let those same forces guide me on my journey to places unknown. What did I want for my future? What was I really looking for? What were my heart’s desires? For the first time in my life I was living my life for me, not just working to pay bills or to take care of someone else. It was my time to create the life I wanted. I had to learn how to ask myself what I wanted, and to act on it. Talking to the mirror became my way of verbalizing what I wanted, what I needed, and then turning it over to the Universe to manifest.
Fear did have a way of sneaking up on me at all moments of the day and night. My next task was to attract the right people who could help dissolve those fears. My guidance had told me to do something quiet and peaceful for a few months to help my body heal and to give me time to sort out my life before I left. So I decided to open a small beauty salon on the ground floor of the same building in which my apartment was located; the space “just happened” to be available. Then I signed up for beauty school to learn how to do nails. Another friend of mine, already a very talented hair stylist, had a manager’s license and was happy to participate in my new venture.
The wise words of many before me reverberated in my life: What you think about, you create. What you believe you deserve, comes about in the most magical ways. What you need to learn can happen quickly; when you get the lesson, the crisis dissolves. What you fear shows up so that you can conquer that fear—it’s just a test. When you believe in miracles, they happen every day. I sat back to watch in amazement as all the right people and situations simply drifted into my life at the perfect time for the perfect next lesson.
So started the journey that taught me that the Laws of Manifestation really worked.
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