Backgrounder

Women as Healers: Voices of Vibrancyby Tami Briggs, Therapeutic Harpist

Excerpted from the Women as Healers introduction—

December 13, 2008

It was an unseasonably warm, sunny day when I drove 1½ hours from my home to speak and play the harp at a “Morning of Christmas Peace” in New Richmond, Wisconsin.  Every now and then, I get a feeling that “today will be very special.”  I had this feeling as I walked into the room where I would be speaking.  It was already beautifully set up – the organizers had placed a tea cup and saucer at everyone’s place setting.  They had gone to estate sales, garage sales, flea markets, and rummage sales to locate 200 different cups – no two were alike, and they ranged from china cups to ceramic mugs.  After I got set up, I had an opportunity to find my favorite cup – it wasn’t “for the taking,” but it was fun to see all of them and locate the one that appealed to me most.  I made a mental note and wondered who would take that seat?

As the women started arriving, I mingled and exchanged friendly greetings. This helps me connect with my audience and, frankly, helps me to relax and relieve my nerves.  When I noticed someone sitting at my favorite cup, I approached her and said, “It’s so nice to meet you and guess what?!  You are sitting by the best cup!”  She said, “Hi! My name is Kian and I agree. I love this cup and that’s why I chose to sit here.” I told her seeing Mt. Fuji and women dressed in kimonos delicately painted on the cup reminded me of living in Japan in 1987.

Just before I was about to speak, the organizer came up to me and said, “There’s someone who is here today who can hardly wait to meet you! Your music saved her husband’s life.”  I was taken aback and quickly thought of a woman named Eleanor whom I had talked with on the phone back in March.  She had called and wanted to order “Calm as the Night” (one of my 13 CDs).  After she placed her order, she said, “I need to tell you that this CD saved my husband’s life!”  Well, I don’t usually have people say this to me, so I asked her to tell me the story.  She shared very little – her husband was a patient at St. Joseph Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was not expected to live.  After he listened to this CD, he lived.  This is really all she told me …

The organizer asked me if we could take a break about halfway through my presentation. She had received permission from Eleanor to tell the story to the group.  When the organizer shared Eleanor’s story with the group, she had more details … Eleanor’s husband’s doctor had told the family that they had better start preparing for his funeral, that he would not make it through the night.  Eleanor and her daughters were very upset and when they went back into his room, they were sitting with him when a nurse came in and said, “I am aware of your situation.  Here’s a CD player and a CD called ‘Calm as the Night’ that might help right now.”

They began playing the CD immediately, and about halfway through, Eleanor’s husband squeezed her hand.  When the music stopped, he opened his eyes and said, “Please turn that music back on.”  Needless to say, he lived through the night and Eleanor said they played the CD non-stop for two weeks!

When she finished sharing this story, I looked out at the audience with tears in my eyes; the whole group was crying.  I still had an hour to speak/play; somehow, I pulled it together to finish.

After the presentation, I was standing at my exhibit table, helping those who were interested in purchasing my CDs.  As the crowd was thinning, Kian appeared right in front of me and said, “I so enjoyed your stories and your music.  My gift back to you – for all you gave me this morning – is this beautiful tea cup!”  It was the one I had seen and admired at her place setting. I was overwhelmed with her gesture of kindness.  After she purchased several CDs, she requested our picture be taken together and asked if we could meet for tea sometime.

After Kian and I had talked, the last two women to approach my table were Eleanor and her daughter. It was an emotional meeting.

As we were cleaning up, I mentioned to the organizer that Kian had given me her tea cup and I told her how touched I was.  She said, “Kian has an amazing story, and I hope you have a chance to meet her.”  I kept the tea cup on my kitchen counter for several days and e-mailed Kian asking her when we could meet.  I wanted to hear her story. We met on a bitter cold Minnesota day in early February 2009. After sharing much of her story, I asked if she had told this to many people. She said she had written a few sentences, but not the complete story, in her recently published book called, “Living Your Chosen Eulogy: Live Today How You Want to be Remembered.”

For several years, I had had an idea to write a book about women as healers. I have met so many wonderful women from all over the world who are doing extraordinary work and have remarkable stories to share. As I drove home from meeting Kian, I knew I needed to share her story, as well as many others. This was a project that had to be manifested in the Year 2009! (Kian’s story is the final story in the book.)

I “noodled” on the idea of this book for another six months and on July 12 – a beautiful summer Sunday morning – I went to my favorite coffee shop. I had planned to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather. Instead, I felt “directed” to hurry home and get going on the book!  At 10 a.m., I began writing the invitation letter, two sample stories, and a letter explaining the details of the project for those who “accepted” the invitation. I finished at 11:30 p.m. with breaks for two meals. The words just poured out of me … it was obviously time to embark on this most special project!

The next day, I sent out more than 50 invitations with a tight timeline so the book would be complete in time for the 2009 holiday season. This meant the stories would have to be returned by August 19th – my 50th birthday!  The responses from 31 women were overwhelmingly positive … what a fabulous birthday present to be gifted with all of their wonderful, heart-warming, touching stories on the milestone of 50!  Women as Healers is part of my legacy and perhaps it is only natural for the stories to “arrive” at my half-century mark.

The 31 women featured in this new book are also leaving their legacies of teaching women to connect – to our own hearts and to each other. They are the epitome of community and a support network. It is a privilege and an honor to share their stories with you. My hope is that they touch your hearts, and that you benefit from their healing, too.

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