Friday, November 18, 2016

Lizards on the ceiling and other tales - By Lorraine Glowczak

It is said that everyone has a story. For some, the most profound and life changing story begins with a quiet knowing from the moment they are born. But then, “life happens” and before they know it, midlife is upon them and existence becomes meaningless. They can no longer ignore that silent knock that beats with every pulse of their heart. It’s at that point they finally jump and take a wild and crazy leap into the unknown. Windham resident Jeri Mullin did just that 25 years ago at the age of 45. It changed her life. 

“I knew from a very early age, as far back as I can remember, that I must visit and live in Nepal and be on my own,” Mullin stated. However, it took a while before Nepal became her home for two years. First, Mullin married and had a precious daughter at the age of 19, eventually becoming a mother of a beautiful son, too. Her days were filled with home and community activities in her Belgrade Lakes region home. Although she was happy with her life, the calling to go to Nepal never subsided and left an emptiness she could not describe or satisfy. As she approached mid-life, it was imperative for her to fill the abyss created by a dream not met. With children now grown, she left her comfortable home and life in Maine, traveling to another land alone to follow her heart’s wish. In doing so, she retrieved a part of herself she had pushed aside for many years. Mullin shares her adventures as if they happened yesterday.“I did not know what to expect,” Mullin reflected upon that first day she arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal in April, 1991. “All I knew was that I was starting a life alone, with a freedom that I had never experience before. For the first time in my life no one was guiding me, no one was giving me advice and no one was there to love me.” 

It is often in these moments when both fear and freedom are yours that an awakening begins to develop and we discover that we are the author of our own story, writing it not alone, but in conjunction with that unknown force that some refer to as God. Diving into unknown territory was both frightening and liberating for Jeri, as she meandered through many “mystical and enchanting” and sometimes challenging adventures that began the moment she arrived. These adventures where pilgrimages to her, learning lessons with each and every tale.

Her first adventure began when she arrived. The little bungalow she had rented upon her arrival was not ready when she landed that early spring day. She was welcomed and invited to stay at the home of a guide from a previous visit to Nepal. Niru and his family embraced Mullin into their lives offering a place of refuge until her bungalow was ready. She accepted the offer with apprehension as Niru’s home was a one room building with no bathroom and only one bed for a family of six. Niru’s wife and Jeri got to share the small, hard bed while Niru and the children slept on the floor.
Mullin describes her first night. “Tossing and turning to find a comfortable position became my priority as I began to finally shut out the unusual sounds of the night. I lay facing the gray stained green wall, my eyes blinking, adjusting to the dimness. Finally, my eyes began to close and I started to relax. As I was drifting off to sleep, a movement caught my eye and I spotted something enormous slithering along the wall.” It wasn’t long before other large slithering creatures began crawling along the wall and scurrying directly in front of Mullin. Unable to contain her fear, she pressed closely against Niru’s wife and told her about the crawling creatures. 

“It’s okay – they are only lizards”, she said and promptly fell back to sleep. Unable to calm herself, Mullin leaned over the bed to wake up Niru, only to discover that the biggest cockroach she had ever seen was crawling on his face. She screamed, waking her guide. Niru simply brushed the big insect off his face and spoke to Mullin in a reassuring voice, “Jeri Darling, do not be alarmed. They are only lizards and cockroaches. Try to get some sleep.” It was not until her last night spent in the welcoming home of Niru and his family that Mullin realized her Western perception of life and the way things “should” be is what caused her the most turmoil.“Respect and accept the God in everything” was the lesson discovered as Mullin fell asleep peacefully that third night – lizards and all.

Of course, two years in a foreign land produce many stories with built in life lessons. A few worth mentioning include the story about the homeless woman who sat at the gate in Mullin’s front yard begging for money every day. Mullin discovered the woman was once an important Nepali dancer who performed for many high ranking officials, including Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. She was kidnapped by a local drug dealer who abused her and gave her heroin. She became addicted and thrown back to society to fend for herself without support. (Lesson: everyone has an unknown story, so don’t be quick to judge.)  Or the day Mullin and her two guides climbed the Himalayan Mountains to visit a female monastery. While there, she collapsed and had to be carried down. Once home, she laid in bed, passed out for three days. (Lesson: “It’s helpful to get checked for worms in a third world country.”). Or the time she fell in love (Lesson: She learned how to love back.)  

However, it was the exploration and becoming a part of the culture that provided the most profound lesson. Raised a Northern Baptist, an unfulfilling spiritual path for Mullin, she began meditating with Buddhist monks. The first practice opened the flood gates of pain, releasing the burdens she had experienced all of her life. After continued involvement, Mullin realized she was becoming happier, more peaceful and the emptiness she once felt began to cease. Recognizing that meditation was a beneficial and life changing experience, she made it a part of her everyday life practice and became a follower of the Dali Lama. She is now a meditation leader/instructor. (Lesson: “The Buddha was asked what he gained from meditation. He answered, “Nothing. I have lost stress, anxiety, insecurity, depression, anger and fear of death.”)

Mullin teaches meditation classes to area businesses in the greater lakes region. If you or your business is interested in a morning, noon, or evening meditation group, please inquire by contacting Mullin at

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