Book Review by: Mary Ickes
A faithful Catholic extolling crystals, yoga, Reiki, and all that other New Age spiritual stuff? Ms. Lloyd assures readers that she is not living in some la-la land separate from ordinary life. Though she disagreed with various Catholic doctrines and deeds, research taught her that there are beautiful Truths living in the teachings of other religions and cultures. Therefore, instead of dashing hither and yon searching for the perfect religion, Ms. Lloyd grounded her spiritual journey in her Catholic faith and the concept that when faith is fully expressed, it moves from a belief to a knowing. Belief is the acknowledgment that something out there exists, an intellectual exercise. Belief began in childhood when she attended Mass with her family.
At age 3 (1956) her legs collapsed one morning as she approached the breakfast table; though she displayed none of the flu symptoms common to the disease, doctors diagnosed her with lower-spine polio. She learned to walk again with orthopedic shoes, steel leg braces, and crutches. Four years later, an innovative surgeon transferred ligaments and muscles from the legs to rebuild the feet. With both legs in full casts, she spent the summer on the couch babysitting Patty, her new baby sister, and pondering her future; fears and doubts assailed her, especially the prospect of lonely spinsterhood. Even so, her faith remained strong: I saw God as a Being of love and goodness to me, and my faith carried me through many dark hours.
At age 18, she married Gary, stayed home until their two children started school, and then earned a Bachelors and Masters in Social Work. With her successful job as a social worker in a children’s hospital, Ms. Lloyd gratefully lived a more fulfilling life than she had ever imagined—until Post-Polio Syndrome attacked in the early 1990s.
Muscle deterioration is a natural part of our aging process, but Post-Polio Syndrome actuates the process earlier on weaker muscle mass.
Her doctor’s prognosis was to delay wheelchair confinement by carefully maintaining her current condition. She writes: My prayer life went into high gear. I prayed, I pleaded, I begged. I asked God to please, please, please not let me end up with total paralysis again. Ms. Lloyd switched to a counseling job that required less walking, re-arranged her home schedule, and focused solely on muscle maintenance.
Ten years later, as the manager of a mental health clinic, Ms. Lloyd hired a psychotherapist who recommended that the clinic integrate Reiki into their counseling regiment. What, exactly, was Reiki?: An ancient Japanese form of energy healing. Rather than scorning the idea as ludicrous and the new-hire as a mad woman, Ms. Lloyd replied that she needed approval from the Catholic agency’s executive director and the insurance company. Even though both complied, Ms. Lloyd writes, My emotional reaction was one of great skepticism. It sounded too off the wall to me, too non-traditional. Before long, the clinic was sending therapists for Reiki training, and her new employee suggested that Reiki would greatly improve Ms. Lloyd’s condition. Uncomfortable about revealing personal information to employees, Ms. Lloyd agreed to consult the new therapist’s Reiki trainer; to her relief, a Catholic nun. She writes: My first Reiki session was a delight. Not only did I feel more relaxed, but I also felt the tiredness from the daily busyness of my life lift out of my body. The aches and pains in my legs decreased during the session. With her first Reiki appointment, Ms. Lloyd’s spirituality began expanding from belief to knowing. Like any explorer entering a new world, she charged forth fully open to new possibilities in spiritual, emotional, and physical healing.
A neighbor invited her to yoga classes, but Ms. Lloyd was already body-conscious enough without plunking herself down in the midst of svelte contortionists. Finally, she agreed to attend one session with her husband: I let my fears and inhibitions go and truly enjoyed the class. Through yoga, she began meditation. Then, while watching a psychic medium on TV, she wondered about contacting her beloved parents, but Catholicism had taught her that only God, or the angels delivering his messages, could communicate with us. . . . And those occasions were rare and . . . reserved for special people. Nonetheless, Ms. Lloyd attended a psychic event in Pittsburgh, carefully choosing a seat that was not too obvious. She reports about the medium’s accurate readings for other people and herself: I was blown away! Immediately after their introduction, an intuitive shamanic healer asked, “You’re having issues with your left hip, aren’t you?” During her tentative appointment, Ms. Lloyd encountered further new healing methods. Other discoveries include journaling, spiritual healing, intentional living, and synchronicity.
Please don’t think, Reading Friends, that Ms. Lloyd’s journey was quick or easy because of my brief paragraph. She was so nervous about facing each discovery that she finally condensed all her fears to a mantra beginning: What do you do? What do you say? What do you wear? My head was filled with many questions and my body was filled with great anxiety. . . . She candidly shares her pain as she dug through layers of emotions, resentments, anger, and losses firmly grounded in childhood.
Ms. Lloyd makes her journey applicable to spiritual novices and seasoned travelers alike by writing within the framework of thirty-three Life Lessons. Her homework preceding each chapter’s lesson concisely comes to the point. By focusing solely on maintaining her condition after Post-Polio Syndrome attacked, she learned that We create our reality through our expectations (No. 3). After she improved with Reiki, Ms. Lloyd realized that she had inadvertently negated improving her condition because when we say “yes” to God-given opportunities, wonderful things happen (No. 4).
Of the victories she shares, the Great Shoe Event is the most delightful. Polio confined her feet to heavy, dark orthopedic shoes that she detested, until a physical therapist recommended that she replace them with an orthotic slipped into a “normal” shoe. Before long she was trying on sneakers, boat shoes, boots, sturdy sandals, pretty mary janes, and so on. May her closet overflow!
The most endearing aspect of Ms. Lloyd’s spiritual journey is that her husband Gary accompanied her. From their first meeting, He saw beyond the polio and my physical limitations. We immediately felt like old soul mates who felt a very strong connection. . . . When Ms. Lloyd stepped from belief to knowing, Gary was entirely open to her new healing possibilities. As with yoga, when Reiki proved helpful, he learned a whole new avenue of giving [her] actual physical support. They never expected him to change careers from mechanical engineering to massage therapy, but he now owns West Asheville Massage and Healing Arts. Like Ms. Lloyd’s journey, Gary’s was neither quick nor easy, but their mutual encouragement and respect teaches readers an especially crucial Life Lesson. Paraphrasing Ms. Lloyd: The very best part of [our] story is this: [we are] not done yet!!
Ms. Lloyd is a Usui and Karuna Reiki Master and a certified holistic therapy practitioner who conducts workshops and trainings in Reiki and other holistic modalities. She provides Reiki at West Asheville Massage and Healing Arts, 502-A Haywood Road, West Asheville. Her belief is that all healing practitioners must manifest their own journeys of healing to be authentic, effective healers and teachers.