Thursday, May 27, 2010

Renaissance Man

Jason received his graduation award Monday night – The Renaissance Award – for outstanding performance in the areas of Drama, Music, and the Visual Arts. It was accompanied by a long heart-felt sacred standing ovation by the room packed with high school students and parents at the Fine Arts award ceremony, honoring the memory of this talented young man and dear classmate.

I received an email Monday morning if I could be there at night to receive the award for Jason. It was a very emotional moment but it didn’t really overtake me until after the ceremony. I wasn’t surprised they picked Jason; he certainly deserves this special award, the only one presented by the director of the Fine Arts programs in the Ipswich school systems. This is what he said when he presented the award:

“The Renaissance Award is given to a student who excels in all areas, in music, in art, and in theater. As a staff we get together to try to look at what to consider; there are so many students that are involved in all these areas, and so many talented students. And we kept coming back to this one student and no matter what we tried to get around it all, we kept coming back to this one student. Unfortunately Jason is not with us, but his spirit is with us. His incredible talent musically and artistically and in the theater as a member of the techies has been just within all of us. I know that he has influenced so many students here and so many teachers. He was an extremely creative young man, one of the most creative students that we’ve run into; extremely open-minded young man that had everything going in. His art work and his music continually “funded” that openness – his openness to many styles of music and art and many cultures, and through all of that created this very special young man – we miss you. He is really with us all. This year’s Renaissance award goes to Jason Foster. We ask his mother Michelle to receive this award for Jason.”

The fine arts director had gotten to know Jason in his freshman year class on electronic music, band class, the jazz improv class, Jason’s junior year independent study course on music composition, and witnessing Jason’s percussion ensemble performances, especially the last one he did 12/08 performing his music compositions on marimba from his independent study course. He may not have been aware of Jason’s photography talents until after he died. His recognition of Jason’s talents is greatly appreciated, and his willingness to give the award to a student who wasn’t present in the school this last year is admirable. Jason was present, in a different way.

It confirms to me that Jason’s spirit is so alive, continuing to inspire many.

Message 27 - Feel the Flow

I felt the flow as Jason’s flower lifted in the wind, settled in a quiet pool of the creek, got pulled into the current, danced in some eddies, and drifted in with the tide. Drifting inward, to my heart and soul.

I’m feeling my flow.

On my morning walk down to the bridge, I saw a small white 5-petalled flower that reminded me of the days when Jason was very young, when he was obsessed with picking tiny wildflowers and marveling at them (later in life he was obsessed with photographing them). I joined him in the marveling; it was part of my life training with Jason, and it’s ongoing. As I walked to the bridge I felt Jason with me so strongly, letting me know with great certainty that I was being supported on my path in life. The tears came from overwhelm more than from sadness.

I released the flower on the bridge with the intention of letting go and surrendering to all the support that Jason is giving me, that God/Spirit is giving me. I watched the flower drift until I could no longer see it with my eyes, and felt the peace.

Peace. Just to make sure I got the message, a dove appeared on the phone line above me. The dove flew along the road ahead of me and perched again.

Peace now and peace in the future.

So much is happening to support my current transition, preparing to journey cross-country and explore my next phase of my life. Right before I picked Jason’s flower this morning I was reflecting on this. Even the challenging feelings triggered about not being embraced by so many in the conservative Ipswich community were supportive – I’m flowing in the right direction, away from Ipswich for an indefinite amount of time, and most likely permanently because I feel what Kule and I are looking is not in this physical location (New England weather, for one!)

I was reflecting on potential obstacles on my path. I no longer had any worry about Jason. What else could I be worried about? I had been concerned about moving far from my mother, but right before I found Jason’s flower I got the message so clearly and so profoundly that the tears almost stopped me in my tracks. Jason was taking care of my mother now. I didn’t have to worry about her anymore. What a gift.

I have evidence that Jason is taking care of my mother and many others. My mother shared with me recently that she has been doing a bedtime ritual of thinking of Jason very fondly, without great sadness. She feels him with her. It’s so true. She’s doing fantastic. I hope I’m doing that well at 80! I’ll book my parasailing flight in 28 yrs, the way she celebrated her 80th with us a week before Jason passed.

So there are no obstacles except the ones my mind makes up. That’s always the case anyway. We do create our own reality, or at least how we perceive it and what we choose to do with it. With no “real” obstacles, I’m left with my own resistance. I’m seeing the fog lift, to see my own resistance.

Bottom line - It’s a great time for a sabbatical.

My intention has been to “retire” this year, to move into working on what feeds me and trusting I get what I need financially. I like the idea of a sabbatical; it sounds so academic (well, I do have a Ph.D…) yet really fits with my current model. I’m not “resigning”, I’m just exploring new aspects of my work. I love my work, and I love the idea of moving into new “work” that feed me in my new phase of life – that of spiritual counselor. I want the time to cultivate that career. I’ve been on overload juggling all that’s on my plate right now with 4 jobs – consulting, getting ready to move, grieving, and developing new work. It’s a bit much for the human nervous system at times, and I’m delegating more of my current consulting work to absolutely the right people who are supporting my path as well as my clients.

I’m definitely flowing.

I used to lead a process called Flow Work – finding our flow and staying in it, manifesting what we want and releasing obstacles in our path. This was influenced by Abraham Hicks (“The Law of Attraction”) the movie the Secret, and in the past 2 years the Avatar work. It’s been my recent life work to teach being in the flow, in our own flow, and now it’s time to really practice what I preach!

The key is to feel the flow. I definitely felt it this morning at the bridge, and I am grateful for Jason’s message this morning. I will recall that feeling when I slip out of the flow.

I’m still drifting with Jason’s flower. It has travelled a long way down the creek since I released it this morning. I can’t see it but I can feel it.

I felt it last night when I was driving home at 1:30 AM in the pouring rain and lightning. The fog was so thick along the Ipswich River road that I had to stop because I couldn’t see the road. I was playing Jason’s favorite rock tunes and I reminisced about our adventures in the car through eery dark roads, making up stories about what could happen to us, and laughing the whole way. I turned up the volume, rocked to the music, and laughed with Jason.

As the plane was approaching Boston last night from the west we had a 20-minute constant-bursting lightning storm that was so unreal , I wondered if it was in my imagination. I happened to be listening to Jason’s ambient music (his first CD Drinnel), and the few songs that were playing through the storm were ones in which he brought in sounds that sound like electricity and thunder. No coincidence?

It’s so awesome flowing with you, Jason.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Graduation is coming up. It used to be very painful thinking about this. Now I get that Jason already graduated.

Jason didn’t need to go to college to do what he loved to do; he already did it. The art show at Zumi’s served as a ritual to celebrate this aspect of his life. The ongoing discoveries of his music and poetry brings up emotion not only because he feels so alive in the moment and it reminds me of his absence, but also because it continues to astound me how much he produced in his short lifetime and the fraction of it that he shared. The feedback from artists and musicians that confirm his talents brings up emotion not only because I will miss seeing him continue his career, but also because this is what he wanted in life; to be acknowledged as a gifted artist. He received this acknowledgment when he was alive by many. He sometimes basked in the glow of it and he didn’t always take it in and believe it, but he definitely enjoyed sharing his work with those who appreciated it. Being one of his biggest fans wasn’t enough for him; of course, his mother would love what he did (and I offered professional critique he appreciated)!

The key point is – Jason didn’t need acknowledgment to do his art and music. He was self-driven and created so much that he didn’t need to show it all. He knew how to be in the moment and not look back or worry about the future.

I can still feel that passionate energy he exuded when he completed a work of art of music, when he lived behind his camera lens, capturing the beauty of so much that he left behind for us to enjoy. I miss so much being with his physical presence, yet I am able to feel that presence through the palpable connection with that passionate energy, with his peaceful energy, with that Buddha nature he exuded and continues to exude. I can feel it anytime, getting immersed in his art and music, like being in a StarTrek holodeck.

Seeing him get his diploma isn’t important to him or to me; he received that diploma in a different way. He wasn’t generally interested in the school traditions or rituals. He was interested in following his passion and being in an environment where others followed theirs. His aliveness in his creativity is his diploma.

Jason was a great inspiration to many. His classmates shared this in a high school tribute to him this past week. An anonymous donor set up a college scholarship in his name. Many beautiful letters and internet sharings have echoed this inspiration.

If success can be measured by the inspiration and love felt by others one touches, then Jason was highly successful, and lived a “complete” life. He moved on to his next phase of work. Jason graduated with honors, not the traditional academic-achievement kind. The kind that mattered to him and to all that know him.

It causes me to reflect on how we never feel we do “enough”…..
What’s “enough” in a lifetime?
What do any of us really need to complete before we die?
What would life be like if we celebrated graduation every day?

I vote for celebrating graduation on an ongoing basis. I’m experiencing my transition to a new phase in my life in a mix of emotions – mostly exciting, a bit scary, and often overwhelming. Seems to fit with what most seniors might be feeling, getting ready to leave the nest to start a new life. Jason wishes each of his classmates a great future, and I know he is also wishing that for me.

Pausing to celebrate this as a graduation feels pretty awesome.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thank You for Honoring Jason

I feel continuous gratitude. That was my renewed intention last week, that shifted me into a place of seeing and feeling beauty everywhere. I feel the loss of Jason with some occasional tears, and mostly with the eternal gratitude of having had him in my life. I’ve expressed gratitude to so many for all the support I’ve received. This message is a thank you to Jason’s classmates and teachers.

Thank you, Jason’s classmates and dear friends for keeping Jason alive in your hearts with your Facebook and other messages to him and to his parents. He is with you always.

Thank you, Class of 2010, for honoring Jason with your senior year T-shirts with “Follow Your Passion- JF” on the back. I know you hold Jason with you as you prepare for graduation. Think of Jason when you are moving forward in life, with all of its gifts and challenges, and know he is cheering you on. Always remember the Jason hug.

Thank you, classmates, friends, and teachers who came to Jason’s ceremony 4 days after he died, and sent cards, emails, and messages. It was an extremely tender time for all of us, and your presence, writings, tears, and sharings helped me tremendously in my own grieving. I was amazed at how uplifted I felt, and many others felt, at the ceremony - a tribute to how I want to remember Jason and feel his love and inspiration throughout my life.

Thank you, Evan Petto and yearbook staff and friends of Jason for writing a beautiful article about Jason soon after school started, during peak grieving time. Thank you also for sharing his poetry and photography with the school in the Tiger Transcript articles.

Thank you, Ipswich High School players, for dedicating the first play of the year, Camelot (a very good one), to Jason and dedicating a chair in the “PAC” (Performing Arts Center) with “In Memory of Jason A Foster; Remembering His Passion for Music, Arts, and Drama.”. Hanging with the tecchies was the biggest area of his social life in high school, and I would love to hear more stories about the fun things you would do together. I heard about Jason playing with a bow and arrow and accidentally shooting it into the high wall above the sound booth. The pierced wall is a memorial to your good times together.

Thank you, team captain Eli Hayward and the lacrosse team for dedicating this season’s games to Jason by wearing JF on your helmets and getting the Ipswich Chronicle to write a wonderful article about this. You recognized that something more was needed to be done by the school to honor your classmate, and you bridged the cultural gap between jocks and artists in this simple act. You made the school the team. Your team cheer “Go Jason” was more moving than I could have imagined; it captured the energy of an entire school grieving for their lost classmate, and honoring his memory in a special way.

Thank you to Zumi’s for hosting Jason’s photography show and to everyone who came out to see Jason’s art hanging in celebration of his art career at this cultural center of Ipswich, and for the wonderful comments. I wanted this to be shown right before graduation, so his classmates could be with Jason in this way. This was Jason’s graduation. I got to be the proud mother, and to sit with other art enthusiasts pointing out what they saw and felt in Jason’s art. Jason was appreciating all the comments, as he always had!

Thank you, Ipswich art department, for choosing Jason’s piece called “Three Benches” (shown attached) for the permanent senior art gallery. The plaque will show Jason’s quote “I see beauty in all things, may it be a landscape or rust on a building.” Thank you, art teachers Brian Carman and Gail Peppe for coming to Jason’s art show and inspiring him and his classmates with your art clubs. Brian, your pinhole photography and New York city tours made great impressions on Jason, and you know how much pinhole experimenting he did after that!

Thank you to the music department and Gerry Dolan for giving Jason the opportunity to learn electronic music at school. Thank you to the music groups that Jason belonged to and was inspired by – Ipswich high school percussion ensemble (with Jeff Teitz and Steve Monroe), The Pine Island Music ensemble (with E.J. Ouelette), and the jazz improv class band. I hear Jason is continuing to inspire the school musicians, and he is pleased about that! I also heard that several classmates wanted to perform Jason’s compositions and found it too hard to do (they were composed electronically, and the rhythms and pace are quite challenging) – please know how touched I was that you even thought of doing this.

Thank you, Ipswich middle school and high school and IMADA (Ipswich Music Arts and Drama Association), for creating the arts-oriented school environment that helped Jason to thrive in his passions for photography and music. We moved here 5 yrs ago to get into the right school system. Even though he did most of his art and music in his home studio, the environment and his classmates inspired him to create so much. We are still finding pieces in his archives, as if he were alive today showing us his latest works!

In gratitude,
Michelle Herrera Foster
Jason Foster’s mom

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother Eternal

Mother’s day has been the hardest holiday since Jason’s passing. Being a mother has been the greatest joy in my life. Being a mother to Jason has brought me some of the greatest challenges, perhaps most of my spiritual growth, and the greatest honor. Knowing what I do now, if someone had asked me if I wanted to take this journey as a mother to Jason, I would still do it, in a heartbeat. The (my) truth is, that Jason is not gone, he will be here forever, and I will be his mother forever. Nothing’s changed in that department. I believe I will continue to receive the benefits of being Jason’s mother in a bigger way that I would never have expected.

I allowed myself to submerge into the sadness and self-pity of not having my precious child with me on mother’s day, allowing the grief waves to superimpose to a mega tsunami, releasing more and more. I’m a world-class grief-wave surfer, I think to myself, and of course I’ll ride this one out. Jason holds me through it. He knows now that I have to feel it fully to release it, so he didn’t tell me to lighten up the way he used to.

I watched my mind dig up a ton of salt to throw on the wounds. All the work I did raising him, all the emotional and financial sacrifice, not being able to see him get his music and art out into the world, moving to Ipswich for him and not being embraced by the town during my loss…. and the salt kept stinging. I’m so grateful I could process these thoughts away (thank God for Avatar and dear friends), to leave me with the tenderness of a loving mom who is so grateful to have had Jason as my child in this lifetime. All of those painful thoughts are reflections of what I needed to learn in this lifetime.
Any painful thought is.

I’m in a peaceful place now, on Mother’s Day morning. I’m feeling the Divine Feminine energy, the energy I get in touch with every mother’s day. To me, mother’s day is a connection with the Great Mother who takes care of us all. We pass that on to others, as parents, as friends, as caregivers, as nurturing men and women. I am reminded of our incredible connection with Mother Earth.

Two days ago I sent an email out to several friends asking them to think of me and send me happy mother’s day wishes, as I guessed it would be a challenging time for me. Many people feel awkward about death, especially that of a child, and I wanted to clarify that I am still a mother, and would like to receive mother’s day wishes. I’m so glad I asked for what I want and need, because I received some precious gifts. I received beautiful messages from friends, and a few unexpected presents from Jason.

I received a new song from Jason. Chuck found it yesterday on the computer he inherited from Jason; we didn’t notice it when we backed it up. It may have been one of his last compositions, probably a work in progress (1 ½ minutes long) called Silent Deconstruction. It was so special to receive this, with his beautiful voice singing to his unique style of music composition, use of sound, and creative lyrics.

Jason’s mother’s day cards from several years ago resurfaced yesterday as I was cleaning out my files:

One card was from his Pokemon days (probably 8 yrs old) where he wrote “I love you so much!!! Happy Mother’s Day… Your son, Jason” and drew original animated characters called Spikler, Chenakirlie, Skratchy, Dion, and Curly Fred.

Another card was from when he was about 13, where he enclosed one of his first digitally enhanced photographs:
“Thankies for birthenerationaptizing me!!! You also birthenerationaptized the objectos and substances I needed for avoiding nonexistence. I love you too much to be a plastic cup or a flower with unnatural suicidal tendancies!
P.S. your head just blew up “
The envelope had his Spanish random humor: “Para mi madre, de su higo Jacisin. Su unas coches grandes males verdes esta en mis ojo. (Yay, bad grammar momento!)”

He continues to give me the present of laughter. I learned to laugh from him more than from any other teacher.

I received another mother’s day present that needs to be shared, by permission from the author Kerry Zagarella of Ipswich. Not only is Kerry a gifted writer, but her son Gus and Jason grew up together and inspired each other with their creative talents (Gus’s play just got performed at the high school). We had each others’ sons over our homes continuously for years in countless sleepovers. We have several home movies of Gus, Dustin, Katie, and others that will keep me entertained for years. It was very special to have Gus there spreading the ashes with us in Gloucester, swimming through the floating rose petals with us as we connected with Jason’s spirit together. Gus and Jason have a special bond. I used to take them to Carl’s mystical movie night, and they impressed all of us with their comments about the movies. They thought the mystical movies were really awesome. I could write so much about Jason and his friends. Jason spent a lot of time at Gus’s and Kerry’s home. We had a sweet time reflecting on the memories as mothers of these precious children yesterday.

Kerry’s poem was delivered to me with the words “for Michelle with much love and admiration, peace, kerry”. She explained how she used imagery from several of Jason’s photographs.

Mother Eternal

Mother Eternal
for Michelle with much love and admiration
~peace, kerry

You are mother eternal
Recognize your son’s soul in the far off mist lifting over the marsh
to become once again, present, filling puddles with song
tangled damp beach hair pony tail gone to the touch
creates celestial soundtrack on roof tops
It nourishes roots, grows trees tall
keeps us alive

He is in the calmness of Fire, a sky lit up hosting a bird made of water
You have taught us mother eternal
to accept the invitation to an underwater forest where two benches welcome his story and ours
being all part of the same story
He is in the flow of the river, the ebb of the tide

And like the ripple hidden beneath a bouncing raindrop
there is no beginning or end

there are only moments
when a mother eternal speaks
and the universe is revealed

-Kerry Zagarella, Ipswich, MA

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


It’s been nine months since Jason’s passing. I carried him for 9 months and I’ve been releasing him for 9 months.

It’s so interesting to me that reflecting on this at this time does not bring up intense sadness. I’m feeling inspired. I’m inspired by the memory of Jason. I’m inspired by what we can create in our lives. Life is a continual gestation.

I’m preparing for a birthing of new-ness in my life. This time I don’t have to worry if it’s a boy or a girl, or what name I should choose. I’m taking care of myself and putting my attention on what I want to create in my life, not on what I’ve lost. That’s powerful.

I’m finding I’m not sleeping well lately, similar to the way I didn’t sleep those last few weeks of physical pregnancy. I wake up in the middle of the night buzzing. I’ve processed out most of the anxiety and overwhelm of upcoming changes in my life, thinking of the 100s of things I have to do to get ready for my new clients, upcoming travel, explorations, renting out our home, whittling down our stuff, making my office mobile, etc. I’m noticing now that the energy that’s left is something that is working on me at deeper levels. When my dear healer friend Marie-Anne experiences this kind of energy, she calls it “uploads”. Something is coming in, some new energy, getting me ready for deeper work on this earth plane. Jason’s there, on the other side, helping me with my gestation and midwifery.

I’m a spiritual counselor. That’s my new mantra. That’s an identity that I’m starting to fully embody.

This baby is not separate from me, but I’ll be caring for her as if she were a tender newborn, recognizing her wise soul, allowing the unfoldment. I learned the first time around with Jason not to take the parental role so seriously, not to feel like I have to control everything, not to figure out everything with my mind. Nursing is a meditation; it is grounding and nurturing to the mother as well as the baby. We’ll learn naturally how to crawl together, to walk together, to play together, to just be together.

What should I do to prepare? I’m feeling into it. I’m embracing the role of spiritual counselor. I’m making this role a priority, just like I made mothering a priority when Jason needed me most. I’ve been so busy trying to make everything work, to whittle down my list of to-dos, and I wasn’t paying attention to my priority. Everything else falls into place when I embody who I truly am.

I have been asking for ease, and I’m getting it with the simple act of trusting. I trust that Jason’s passing is teaching me so much that is also beneficial to others. I’m still grieving and healing, and with time I will be taking a more and more active role to bring this healing out into the world. I’m sharing it with my friends and family, with strangers that become dear friends in minutes, with work associates who are seeking more meaning in their lives.

I’m a spiritual counselor, a transition guide, a freedom guide. I’m getting clear about the energy and the role, and the naming of it isn’t as important to me.

I’m enjoying the birthing of new energy, as overwhelming as it feels at times. At least this time I haven’t gained 40 pounds!

Happy Mother’s day to me.

Here’s Jason’s last mother’s day card:
You are such an awesome mom that even in my teenage years I still love you and talk to you. I even like spending time with you! But really, I do. And I’m glad I can be a son you look after and feed as well as a friend. It’s great sharing a house with you and it always makes me happy.
Te amo mucho y yo me espero que tu vas a vivir hasta tu mueres. (Translated: I love you very much and I hope that you will live until you die.)
La ensalada blanca no puede caminar mientras tu duermes (Translated: The white salad can’t walk while you sleep.)
Cuando los dientes estan negros, tienes que cepillarlos. (Translated: While the teeth are black, you have to brush them.)
Es porque los peces viven en las piernas. (Translated: That’s why the fish live in the legs.)
El piel de los gatos se respira quando tu hablas. (Translated: The fur of the cats breathe when you speak.)
Como siempre, te encanto. (Translated: As always, charmed.)
Love, Juan

Note: Jason had his relatives in Argentina in stitches with his Spanish