"ANOTHER FORM OF LOVE"
On January 15th, 2017, I sat with Heather S. in her house in New Jersey to discuss life, death, love, fear and whatever else might come up. The intention was to create a piece of original artwork that would come out of this conversation. The piece itself would be a reminder of our time together and the ideas that came pouring out. I got so much more out of this project than I could ever imagine. At first, I put a lot of pressure on the piece expressing the main ideas in our talk a bit too literally. Then, remembering that Heather represents joy and living in the moment, I discarded early sketches and expressed the feeling of our conversation from the heart with no filter.
One of the main themes running through our hour long chat was the concepts of "moments" and "transformation." We are here to create moments and hopefully they are joyous ones that can effect others for the better. Heather is a strong woman. A mom, wife, actress and seller of fine wines. Music is her passion and she shares that joy with her closest friends and family. People love her and are drawn to her. And recently, she has been living with a disease that has made those things even more precious.
The transcript of our conversation was written in an interview format and bound into an 8"x8" booklet (shown below). It lives in a clear pocket attached to the back of the finished piece titled "ANOTHER FORM OF LOVE." I wasn't planning on posting the transcript of our conversation, but Heather mentioned that it could help people and that's what we are here to do. So, if you scroll down below the photos you'll be able to read the full interview that lead to the creation of "ANOTHER FORM OF LOVE."
Heather began by telling me about the film “Arrival” about extraterrestrials called "heptapods" who come to earth to have us work together so we may help their race 3000 years in the future. Time for the heptapods is not linear... and if you could understand their language you can see into the future…
RM: How has time changed for you, in terms of “linear-ness?”
H: I think it certainly slowed down. I’m trying to make it slow down.
RM: How do you do that?
H: I’m trying to live in the moment. I mean, you hear that all the time – “live in the moment” – right? “Live in the moment.” “Enjoy the moment.” “Be with your friends, your family in the moment.” So, what is that? What is that moment?
RM: Well, this is a moment. When we were in the kitchen, that was a moment.
RM: Do you feel like your time now has to be more important, that every second has to be more valuable?
H: Because of my cancer diagnosis?
H: I don’t really put any pressure on my time. I think maybe less pressure. I’m just trying to have a deeper appreciation for all the beauty that’s surrounding me. My family, my friends. Just, all the beauty that’s around me, around us… life. Just trying to be in the moment more. More loving. More understanding. People always talk about “fighting cancer.” “You’re a fighter, Heather!” From the very beginning when I was diagnosed a second time I said, “ I’m not going to fight it. I’m going to love it. It’s a choice that I made. First of all, I do plan on being around for a really long time, just so you know. (cries and laughs at the same time). Because I think that love has a greater healing capacity than fighting. The way I look at it, with any great love there’s going to be some battles, but as long as the over-arching theme is love, that’s powerful and beautiful… and healing. It’s a deep well of consciousness that we can dive into and explore. And that’s when time slows down. I want to dive deeper into that “space” of consciousness, because I’ve had some good experiences, but there’s so much more I can do.
RM: In what way?
H: Meditating. And there are so many healing modalities. I did a long-distance Reiki (a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient's body and restore physical and emotional well-being). Have you heard of long-distance healing?
RM: Being able to cure people over the phone?
H: Yeah. I did a couple of Reiki sessions with a local mom. Then as a gift my mom’s friend bought me an hour of long-distance Reiki healing – and I was like, what the hell is that? The crazy thing is, this woman is in Marin, California – and that’s where CRB lives. (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, her favorite band). How crazy is that? Look at that poster (referring to a CRB gig poster of a wizard holding a magical sphere). It doesn’t really matter where you are, there’s this energy force as long as you tap into it, right? (Laughs) So, I spoke to her on the phone a couple of times and I told her about my situation and what I wanted to gain. We talked for five minutes and set up an appointment for an hour phone session and she said to get into a comfortable place. So, I just set myself up in the attic. I have this little praying froggy, I rolled out my yoga mat, got a blanket and a pillow, burned some incense and got comfortable. She called me. It was scheduled for twelve o’clock. The kids were at school. She says, “Okay, we’re going to work for an hour, I’m going to take notes and give you feedback tomorrow.” Then she says, “Alright. Goodbye.” I’m like, whaaaat? I thought the whole thing was going to be live on the phone, on speaker so I can be hands-free and she was going to talk to me or something. But she hung up.
RM: What did you do after that?
H: I lay down on my yoga mat – and she said on the phone before, “most of my clients fall asleep.” I was like, okay. I was just going with it. I felt open, but a little cynical, like, where is she, on the toilet? She could be in the shower. What is she doing? Is this a scam? But then that thought passed. I said, okay, I’m giving myself over for this… I’m not kidding. I felt my chest area start to vibrate at some point and then my head started to vibrate and then I felt this energy vortex around me and I was on my back – I honestly felt that if somebody rang the doorbell I wouldn’t be able to get up.
RM: What did that feel like?
H: I just felt… energy. In my head area and my chest area.
RM: So you believe something happened.
H: I KNOW something totally happened. My mind was racing at first. Well, that just stopped. Something grabbed hold and then the vibration happened. So, I was actually feeling something physical, which was strange because I didn’t feel that with the woman in town and we were in the same room. So, it was wild. And then I went into this deep, deep, deep sleep.
RM: She explained that most of her clients fall asleep.
H: Yeah. But I gotta tell you that I was wide awake, it was the middle of the day and my mind was racing. I thought to myself, there was no way in hell that I’ll fall asleep. But I went into this really deep, kind of meditative state/sleep and woke up at 1:30 andfelt so refreshed. My mind was so clear. I felt like something had shifted. And, I was like… this is amazing!
RM: When was this?
H: Early November. I wrote about it in my journal. I’m not sure how she does what she does. She sent me her notes in a long email. She thought the session went pretty well. She said that she got a sense of how loving I am and how sweet I am to all my friends and family, but that I sometimes need to, maybe, be more selfish with my time and give more love to myself. I give so much love to others that, as part of my healing process, she thought I needed to give more love to myself. That was pretty right on. It was just one of the things that resonated with me. She thinks that in our culture… she’s not saying that I’m going to die, but she did say that I need to accept death.
RM: What are you scared of most?
H: (Crying) I’m scared of leaving my girls. I just don’t want to leave them. I don’t. I just want to be here for them, you know? I want to be here for Izzy and Abby. I don’t want Bill to have to raise them by himself. I haven’t accepted the fact that that might happen. I don’t know if that means that I can’t accept death or my own death. I’m learning how I can live each day and love them and be here for them in the time that I have. Because life is precious. That’s what I’m learning. Just not the way I wanted to learn it. Sometimes you get to learn that life is life, you know? I feel like I’ve had a blessed life. But now, this is really a dark time. At the same time, it’s a wonderful time. I’m actually having a great 2017 so far and I’m making a lot of plans. I’m going to see CRB in New Mexico with a girlfriend, buying airline tickets tonight. Bill and I are going to Paris in April. I had a great Christmas with my brother, my niece and nephew and Laura. I feel like I’m really enjoying life again. Not that I wasn’t enjoying it, but I kind of, maybe, was starting to take things for granted. So maybe this is a lesson. I don’t know. I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t want to blame myself – because, with the cancer diagnosis, a lot of times people want to blame themselves. And that’s what this Reiki person in California said. And ultimately that’s not the best road to go down.
RM: Blaming yourself? Of course not.
RM: And with Bill and the girls, you don’t want them to hurt. You don’t want to be responsible for their pain in any way. You want to make sure they’re pain-free and happy their whole lives.
H: (Cries) I love them so much, you know. I’ll wake up crying in the middle of the night and I’ll have a total freak out and I’ll just cry. And Bill, you know, he’s been amazing. And he’ll be there for me. And he’ll listen. But I’m sure this whole thing is wearing on him.
RM: It’s got to be unbelievably tough on him. He’s an amazing man. And each new moment with you has to be more meaningful to him. Are there things you want to do together? Are there things you want to experience on your own?
H: I’ve never been a “bucket list” person. I live a little more spontaneously. I want to go to Paris, I’m going to go to Paris. I feel like I’m more open to experiencing life now in a richer way and that’s a gift that’s come out of this – whole shitty thing. But I guess the shittiness is part of it all. You know… shittiness.
RM: Are you more surrounded by people than ever?
H: Yeah. I mean look at you here. I’m so grateful for this conversation. And for you. And for meeting you in Italy. The consciousness, whatever you want to call it – God, or whatever, putting people in your path…
(Abby comes up)
ABBY: I love you.... H: I love you more.
H: I remember you sketching in Lago De Como. Then in Venice on the on the Grand Canal we saw you sketching outside the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and we thought, we love this guy, he’s a total freak! There you were, just sketching and talking to people. You know, in another country, sitting down, totally free, totally artistic. That’s burned in my mind. That was powerful. This human is really free with their art, with their spirit.
RM: Thank you. I remember so vividly the first time I saw you guys walking into that bar in Lake Como. And I was beyond drunk.
H: We were drunk too. We were walking up the cobblestone path, stumbling back to the hotel room and we heard this piano playing. And we said, let’s go follow the music. Let’s go THERE, where the music is. And it was you!
RM: And the only reason I went in there was because there was a piano. All the other places were closed, and they were putting chairs up and I asked if I could play. And they nodded yes. I love that music bought us together. That piano brought us together.
H: I love when you play the piano.
RM: Thank you. What makes you happiest now?
H: Being around people I love. That’s always made me happy. That hasn’t changed. I’m enjoying taking care of myself. Dancing, I always loved to dance. Music always feeds my soul. Just laughing, being here, breathing. If have a strong enough will to just keep breathing, I’ll be around for a long time.
RM: Do you have any strong beliefs in God or angels, and has the cancer changed any of your beliefs?
H: I think God is just love and energy and consciousness. I’ve been thinking about it. It’s not some man in the sky. Fuck that. I think it’s energy.
RM: I believe God is a web of energy and connections. Karma. If I hurt you, I’m hurting myself. Maybe not directly, but it will start a chain reaction that will hurt the whole organism, which is all of us, and everything.
H: It’s all one big atom.
RM: And, for it to continue to exist there has to be a balance of good and bad, happy and sad, cold and hot, light and dark…
H: Yin and yang... You know my father was an atheist.
RM: He can acknowledge the existence of this connection between everybody or not. Doesn’t mean it’s not there.
H: I know what you mean. We’re all in this together.
RM: So, I’m going to listen to the conversation we’ve just had… put on some CRB… do some drawings and I’m going to create a piece for you. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, but I want to make something that makes you feel positive, reflective, loving… something that reminds you of this moment. What three feelings would you like to have when you see it?
H: Warmth... love... transformation. I feel like I am transforming right now. I’d like to believe that when I die I will be transforming.
RM: Into what?
H: I don’t know. Just another form of love… in a place where I’m happiest. A beautiful place where I’m surrounded by music, nature, love and warmth. All that good stuff. Nature has always eased my soul. Surrounded by nature you get this loving feeling like your being... protected. Transformation into that kind of space. And that could be here, while I’m alive. It doesn’t have to be in death. I guess we’re always changing.
RM: Life is change. It has to be.
H: Every day, right?
RM: I love that you said that you’d like to transform into “another form of love.” Which means you consider yourself a form of love right now.
H: I love you. That was great.
RM: It was.