one more time…an opportunity to grieve

A good friend of mine said, “You are married to sorrow.” And I looked at him and said, “I am not married to sorrow. I just choose not to look away.”

And I think there is deep beauty in not averting our gaze.

No matter how hard it is, no matter how heartbreaking it can be. It is about presence. It is about bearing witness.

I used to think bearing witness was a passive act. I don’t believe that anymore. I think that when we are present, when we bear witness, when we do not divert our gaze, something is revealed—the very marrow of life. We change. A transformation occurs. Our consciousness shifts.

—Terry Tempest Williams

These extraordinary times are exposing many deeply held fears, while we are ALL grieving the loss of something(s). For far too long, we have looked away from what we feel when we have an experience that makes us uncomfortable. We have lived too fast, and counted on others to do what we might have done – for ourselves or others.

Grief is very much a part of what we are living in these days.

We are losing loved ones or friends.

We are losing a familiar way of life.

We are losing jobs, access to social experiences outside of our homes.

Maybe we are at home with children – of any age.

I could go on with an exhaustive list of what is lost, changing or already gone at this point. You know what you are losing or have lost.

Until and unless we slow down to see and feel our individual losses, we will not be present with the feelings that others in our space may have. We will not really listen with empathy. Whether you are sharing your living space with children or other adults, all are feeling something as we continue to collectively walk down very foggy and uncertain paths; and walking is what we are called to do now. Walk, not run.

I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us. Today she interviewed David Kessler, and expert on grief and protege of the late Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Among the many wonderful and comforting words in their discussion was this quote by David:

“The worst loss is always your loss.”

He offered this in the context of a discussion about comparing your loss to someone else’s loss. There is also deep wisdom in that statement that connects us to ourselves – one more time. If we do not acknowledge what we are losing – and go into the feelings of those losses, we will (1) not authentically be present for our loved ones as they navigate their feelings of loss; and (2) the essential energy for healing and being a part of creating the new future which is out of reach at this moment, will not be available to us.

I’ve written about grief here a few times. If you wish to dive in for more perspective on what you may be grieving – or if you’re not sure you’re grieving – feel free to search on “grief” in this site. I’ve written about grief frequently. It permeates our very existence and holds our greater opportunities for healing and seeing and feeling more clearly, the light within us  – our guide into a new future that we have an opportunity to create.

Finally, here is a link to an 8 minute video narrated by M. Scott Peck – whom some of you may know as the author of The Road Less Traveled. I used to share this video with the teams of executives that I worked with years ago, at the end of our multiple weeks of work together. My VHS copy was used so often and then in storage for three years. It didn’t survive. When I found it online, I was delighted. The Rabbi’s Gift, is a parable that I hope you will find useful.

I send my best wishes to all of you, dear readers. May you be well.

Namaste.

 

courage and it’s companion – pain

Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

 – Socrates

I watched and listened to and Demi Lovato’s performance on the Grammy Awards the day following the performance. Listening to the lyrics, the simple music accompanying her voice, and feeling the depth of the emotions as she sang, transported me back to a time in my life when I felt the isolation, desperation, and separation that she so courageously expressed in her performance. Her very survival of an overdose and the subsequent bare honesty with which she expresses her feelings in that song, written prior to that event, are worth our compassion and reflection.

I was recently talking with someone about addiction. Although I believe, as Richard Rohr has asserted and discussed in a recent series in his Daily Meditations, all are addicted to something (habits of minds, ways of doing things, substances, a job, etc.*), the conversation was about nicotine. At one point in the conversation it was asserted by the person with whom I was speaking that I couldn’t possibly understand addiction and that reading a certain book might help me better understand it. As I continued to reflect on this conversation, I recalled Ms. Lovato’s poignant performance, and my experience that many people don’t understand depression, either.

It’s easy to look at someone like her and think that perhaps she “has it all” and wonder how could she possibly find herself in such a dark place. I’m quite certain there are many who knew me during the period in my life and might have had similar thoughts, had they known of my condition at the time. Even those closest to me didn’t understand. I was quite adept at being the person I thought I had to be to remain successful in performing my job responsibilities and parenting my children.

I write today to remind everyone that we have no idea what is going on in someone – anyone – else’s life. Even those we may live with or are closest to day-to-day may be struggling within themselves with thoughts, feelings and forces unknown to those of us who are “on the outside”.  Can’t we begin to extend that kind of awareness to everyone we see, pass on the street when we are walking, or observe doing something seemingly unconscious behind the wheel of a vehicle?  A practice of compassion and acceptance can go a very long way in our very divided world. In fact it can, quite literally, change it!

We tend to judge, often harshly, those who are different or behave in ways that we don’t understand or necessarily appreciate. And yet, if we were watching ourselves in those moments of judging others, I wonder how we might feel about the person we are watching.  I feel it is so very important to remember that we are all walking the same ground on this planet at this time.

The complexities of living in this world – different places and societies  – cannot be understated. Addiction and depression have their roots in our attempts to “fit in” to what we have been shown or taught is the “way to be” if we are to survive or get ahead. Living up to what becomes our individual expectations of ourselves can be, and often are, impossible. This, by itself, is a sad commentary on who we are collectively, isn’t it?

The courage to be the beautiful individual that each of us is, is something that some of us seem to have more of than others. And then again…do they really? Or are they trying to make it appear that they do…as I did and so many of us try to do. Often it takes a crisis for us to wake up to our true and authentic selves and begin living fully into who we are, without fear.

May we practice a deeper approach to offering kindness to every single person we encounter in our journey of each day. May we also remember that each of us has impact – with every word, and in our behavior – on the whole of our experience. Choose to be negative, judgmental – that is a contribution. Choose to be positive, kind – that is a contribution.

If you didn’t see Demi Lovato’s performance at the Grammy Awards Sunday evening or online since, see if you can sit quietly and listen deeply and then check in with yourself to see how you feel. You can also see the video embedded in a well written piece on the performance in an article published at The Atlantic.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

 – Chief Seattle

*these represent my interpretations of what Fr. Rohr intimated in his series on addictions.

the tendrils of grief

The collective denial of our underlying emotional life has contributed to an array of troubles and symptoms. What is often diagnosed as depression is actually low-grade chronic grief locked into the psyche, complete with the ancillary ingredients of shame and despair.

 – Francis Weller

 

A week ago, I lost a small furry companion who had been a part of my life for the last 15 years. I have so many memories of his always being close, wherever I lived, always snuggling and seeming to know of the comfort I needed, even if I wasn’t fully aware of the need, myself. His comfort was in his sweet, soft presence. He was a male, polydactyl, tuxedo who suckled the inside of his right front paw (think of a baby). There was something about him that softened the moments of my most edgy internal feelings. Although he had been ill for a while, his passing was extremely difficult for me. I am still getting used to not having him around in his furry little body; and I know he will always be near.

As I have been moving through the days, I am aware of the many layers of grief that are still there…deep within. I’ve written several times in this space about grief. Grief is a very familiar place for me and I have found so many ways to process the multiple layers and experiences that still surface from time to time. Even with the passing of this sweet little companion, I have been taken back to the losses of other furry ones in my past. It is as if they all decided to return to help me remember that this isn’t a new experience and there is much for which to be grateful, even as I am deep in my grief.

In those moments of raw grief, I was reminded of the gifts of the presence of each one in my life. So losing my dear little Cooper served to remind me of the many gifts of his presence, while also helping me see  – one more time – that even when we think we’re alone, we are not alone – ever.

The tendrils of grief are like some plants. Consider grapes, melons and other such plants whose tendrils are long and curly and twisting in their structure. Some tendrils are soft and pliable and others are tougher, and a bit like bark on a tree. All of this serves to remind me that some feelings are soft and easier to acknowledge; and still others are more challenging to allow to surface from their deeply buried places within us. The old adage that “feel to heal” as a way forward is easy to say and not always easy to navigate. As with most challenging experiences in life, some of our processing work is our own to do. And…not to be minimized is the importance of also having a trusted other to listen, acknowledge and support us as we work through these sometimes curious and often painful experiences.

Gratitude holds many gifts for us when we open to acknowledging and expressing it, even when our hearts are aching. The beauty of memories is the potential to see, feel and acknowledge gratitude in those moments as we reflect on them. Not all are wonderful; some are challenging; and all have something for us. Therein lies the gifts of the experiences for which we can be grateful.

We must couple grief and gratitude in a way that encourages us to stay open to life.

 – Francis Weller

 

an invitation in the new year

What a man takes in by contemplation, that he pours out in love.

 – Meister Eckhart

As I watch the first snow of the season fall from the sky, I cannot help reflecting on the beauty of it and what it compels us to do, if we will allow it – to slow down, breathe, observe and reflect/contemplate.

The snow is quiet. It falls ever so softly from the clouds above. And yet, the planet it falls upon is anything but soft and quiet. This juxtaposition gives me pause…as I seek to stay out of despair. Compassion for the worst behaviors among our fellow humans is, at times, extremely tough to dig for and offer. Yet, these are the moments and places that call to me from the wounds within – the places which are still hurting; the places where perhaps traces of grief, unprocessed, still exist.

As I continue to cultivate my inner observer, I’ve begun to notice a few things that I wish to offer here…with an invitation for you to consider their meaning, from your perspective or experience. Comments are always welcome, and I believe that the more we explore together – which this medium allows us to do without being in the same room – the more we learn with the possibility of evolving our perspectives on long held thoughts or beliefs.

These words  – without definitions – have been floating around in my mind as I consider the state of the country I live in at this moment.

Authenticity
Conformity
Projection
Responsibility
Fear
Love

I could write so much more about each of these, to offer my perspectives on and my observations and feelings about them. However, I wish to leave the door between us for conversation to be open without my perspectives to filter them.

I do wish to offer that fear keeps us from engaging with others in a variety of ways. So I hope you will trust yourself and me enough to offer your thoughtful perspectives on any or all of these. I feel that if we hold hands as we cross the deep chasm that seems to divide us from ourselves and us from each other, we will make it to the other side – more fully ourselves – open hearts, open arms and open minds.

Thank you for being here.

Sending my love to each of you, wherever you may be, in this new year.

Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.

 – Paramahansa Yogananda

 

the sacred…

…experience of my depression is on my mind as the season is about to change from Summer to Autumn. The Autumnal Equinox arrives on Monday, September 23, at 3:50 AM, EDT.

This used to be a time of darkness for me. Yes, the days get shorter and I used to find this to be a nearly unbearable experience. It is the season of my birth – my arrival on the planet – and it was not a favorite time in my life for most of my life. When I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, after having been in therapy for most of my adult life, I thought I had found the answer to why I felt as I did – for as long I had. What I realized at some point down the road, as I was told by a psychiatrist I respected, I would have to be medicated for the rest of my life. What was interesting as I reflect on it today, was the voice in my head that said after the pronouncement of life-time medication –  “No, no. I am NOT going there.”

Little did I know that hearing a message inside my head – I believe it was the voice of my soul – would be my path to healing. Having heard that message, I can honestly say that I was not committed on a daily basis to doing anything except simply getting through the day. Did the medications help? I guess you could say that they did. I didn’t commit suicide. I use the term medications (plural) because I was taking more than one at the time. The drugs also took my emotions and made a straight line out of them (no up or down feelings), and took my tears completely away. Straight lines and tears just didn’t exist together in my world. Even in the midst of all of this, I managed my multiple roles quite well.

The Autumns and Winters were very difficult. The short days (of sunlight) and the long days of work were at times a rough slog – as if I were trudging through mud with concrete shoes. Januarys were the hardest. I used to drive to South Carolina in February/March because Spring blooming generally started then. I went for the main purpose of seeing and experience some early Spring as a way of taking in some hope that the long Winter season would be ending soon.

I found my tears again at a four-week residential executive leadership program. They came, unexpectedly, during a plenary session on wellness and the speaker read a quote on mindfulness. It was as if my heart cracked open to all that had been held back, behind an emotional dam for more than five years.

Four years later, I started down the road of weaning myself off of the medications.

Having found Parker J. Palmer, who writes so honestly and eloquently about his experience with his depression, I’ve found deeper healing, appreciation for the gift of depression and a full embrace of my life.

“Depression was, indeed, the hand of a friend trying to press me down to ground on which it was safe to stand—the ground of my own truth, my own nature, with its complex mix of limits and gifts, liabilities and assets, darkness and light.”

 – Parker J. Palmer

Because I have embraced the deeper and darker parts of myself – the ongoing journey into my healing – in a place where the seasons are fully expressed and visible in all of nature, I now look forward to the Autumn and Winter with the shorter days, longer nights and opportunities to go inward and be still. This is my true nature. Time for rest, reflection, meditation, writing, creating – all of these – could not occur in those years of busy “doingness”. That is not to say that serving others – my children as a parent and my co-workers as a partner and leader – were not rewarding or “soulful filling.”  Indeed they were! What was missing was the essential balance of what I truly needed for me, from deep within me. I used to say that I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. I defined creativity so narrowly – reserved for those who painted, played instruments or wrote beautiful words in poetry, prose or song – as if what I did every day wasn’t creative. Today, I know differently, and most importantly, I feel differently about all of it.

I do regard my depression as sacred. Finding myself as close to darkness and an unknowable (at the time) end, I found my way to my light. I am clear today that my out of balance Libra nature contributed significantly to this condition of life. By allowing myself to have the time and space necessary to care for myself – all aspects of my life experience – without concern for what anyone else thought or said about it, I learned to create boundaries. My healing answers were there all of the time in the nature which surrounded me and in which I existed then and now.

“Our inward winters take many forms-failure, betrayal, depression, death. But every one of them, in my experience, yields to the same advice: “The winters will drive you crazy
until you learn to get out into them.” Until we enter boldly into the fears we most want to avoid, those fears will dominate our lives. But when we walk directly into them-protected from frostbite by the warm garb of friendship or inner discipline or spiritual guidance-we can learn what they have to teach us. Then we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life-giving, even in the most dismaying season of all.”

– Parker J. Palmer

Welcome Autumn!

 

cause and effect…and then reaction

Awareness is the greatest agent for change

 – Eckhart Tolle

Another Sunday morning…and more avoidable effects, followed by multiple reactions. Where one sits determines what one sees and no doubt, has impact on what they say, and how they react. The sadness of such senseless loss of life to such senseless violence is hard to take. If you have never lost a loved one to violence, perhaps you observe these events differently. Losing a loved one to violence – gun violence – brings up familiar feelings of loss; questions of what, why, how and when. If you have lost someone to gun violence, your what’s, why’s, how’s and when’s may be similar or different than mine. However, as I see the pain and anguish on the faces adults, themselves parents, siblings, or children and imagine the younger children whose parents are gone, the result of an unexpected and violent end to a necessary shopping trip or a fun night out, I imagine our questions are very much the same.

The fear in our collective is everywhere and is palpable. So much so, that even those who hold elective office or are seeking such a thing find it impossible to speak about what we all know deep inside is painful, horrific and somewhat preventable. Words have power. Surely we know that. There is cause; there is effect. There is reaction…and there is response.

The above quote by Eckhart Tolle was in my email inbox Sunday morning. Reading it and reflecting deeply on awareness in our collective helped me gain perspective on what I am observing rather than getting lost in the overwhelming sadness at the senseless loss of life. I am reminded that our unconscious reactions to events like these follows the effect of the cause. We often do not stop to consider the cause. Are we so busy that we cannot consider that the cause(s) which are the root of these devastating effects are where the true solutions lie; awaiting our opening to a deeper awareness?  Indeed the response we await is there…deep in the wound(s).

Chiron comes to mind to me today as well. “Chiron embodies the spirit of compassion and selfless service that all good physicians must have to master and practice the medical art. Through his supreme sacrifice, willingly given, Chiron gave mankind the art of healing. Chiron’s agonizing wound symbolizes the transformative power of illness and affliction. Through pain and suffering, our personal wounds, both psychic and physical, can transform themselves into sources of great moral and spiritual strength.” (From the website, greekmedicine.net; Greek Mythology: CHIRON: Father of Medical Art.)

So today, I wonder. Do we have the courage to look deeply at the causes, all of them over a long period of time, to heal these wounds? Can we step fully into the process of looking deeply at our own individual wounds, with the intention of healing them? Until and unless we take that first and most important step, we will not be effective at offering healing to the larger collective which has so many simmering wounds that burst forth in so many different ways.

Cause and effect are two sides of one fact.

 – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cause and effect; reaction rather than response; these are related. If we keep moving, allowing our pain to fester, it will grow. How it will manifest is unknown even to us – within us or in those we observe. Is this the cause of so many violent events, our unhealed pain? Is the manifestation – the violent acts –  the effect? Do we then react in a variety of ways without knowing or considering the true cause in the first place? I believe the answers to all of these questions is a resounding “YES”.  When feelings are ignored, or we talk ourselves out of what we feel, we contribute to the wound(s). When we embrace our feelings, especially the difficult ones, we begin the important process of healing.

I made multiple investments in my healing when I lost a loved one to gun violence. I joined a grief support group; I continued psychotherapy and over the years I deepened my studies of universal truths. I sought various modalities for healing the mind/body and two years later, wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper in the locality where the loss occurred with some of my what’s, why’s, how’s and when’s related to the lack of action following the violent end of this loved one’s life.

Today, I ask that we all pause to consider the wounds we have which are awaiting our awareness. What are you feeling today? Why are you feeling this way? How can you take a first step to dive into the feelings to discover the root cause(s)? When will you give yourself the gift of peace within?

The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.
 – Brene Brown
I wish you peace.
I wish reconciliation for all peoples.
I wish you love.

facing the days

 

I’ve missed being here…writing and sharing quotes, perspectives, thoughts and feelings. It’s been a desert of late. These times can be challenging to navigate when one enjoys writing as much as I do and have in the past. Even my journal had become a drought-ridden area that I simply could not walk through or even attempt to nourish.

There are many reasons for this, as my life these last few months has seen quite a few challenges. Navigating our interior spaces when the challenges outside of us seem to be never-ending can often keep us separated from the best of who we are. I did find myself listening more intently to my higher self, or God, or whatever you call that which is in everything. That alone probably kept me from taking a deep dive into dark places within that I have committed to not return to again. I am human, after all.

More than once during this period, Rumi’s poem, The Guest House, popped into my head. I thought on several occasions to go find it to read and re-familiarize myself with its words and inherent intentions and meaning. I finally did this last evening. Slowly reading through it, I was reminded that indeed, being human can have some challenges; and for some of us, these can come quite regularly at various periods in our lives. I was further reminded that the ways in which we greet these “arrivals”; the choices we make about how to receive and experience them makes the difference…all of the differences. How we feel, how we see other things in the day, the week, others in our lives and many times the places we visit or otherwise inhabit are all affected by who we are and how we feeling within ourselves.

I leave it here for you to read and interpret or intuit its meaning for yourself.

Namaste.

The Guest House

JELALUDDIN RUMI, TRANSLATION BY COLEMAN BARKS

 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 

With gratitude to Loco’s Photo’s for her willingness to allow me to include her photos in my blog posts. You can learn more as well as see some of her latest photographs on the Images page on this site.

plumbing the depths

Gratitude is the capacity to stare doubt, loss, chaos and despair right in the eye and say, ‘I am still here.’

Diana Butler Bass

Our lives are filled with challenges – great and small – every day. The ways we accept or reject the opportunity that challenges bring us informs who we believe we are. Finding our way forward through these challenges can seem very difficult and being grateful for them? Well, that’s another thing altogether – especially when we are walking through an emotional minefield.

~~~~~

Nearly three years ago, The house I had lived in for nearly 11 years sold, after being on and off the market for about twenty months. When it finally sold, it was a cash sale and I had thirty days to vacate. You might think I was ready for such an event, since I had waited so long for the house to sell, all the while donating, selling and generally thinning out thirty plus years of many things – from clothes to furniture and decorative items of all kinds. Well, thirty days notice isn’t enough time to do much of anything except pack what was still out and in use, have it put into storage, and find a place to stay for what I had planned would be about three months. I packed up my two furry companions, my computers and suitcases of summer clothes and drove six hours to a coastal area for a relatively brief stay.

I was reminded that having plans doesn’t always guarantee that all will work out the way you think it will or want it to.

Two years and twenty months later, I moved into a new home. Evacuating for the hurricane last September provided an opportunity to look at the area I was moving back to with new eyes. Having a home built without being there every week to check the progress was an exercise in trust and faith.

Has it been an easy transition? No. I have met very nice, caring people who have worked tirelessly to see that things which were not as they should be or otherwise went awry were put into the condition they should have been in or to correct problems and deficiencies. And…we receive what we give. Kindness begets kindness. And of course, it goes even deeper than that. That is for another post, however.

Then there are all of those boxes. All of those boxes….many of which were packed four years ago and others nearly three years ago. Watching the endless stream of boxes and other furnishings come off of the trucks, I could feel my energy plummeting. Wishing I could be excited, I could only feel the feelings that I can describe today as overwhelming. I started asking those question of myself that are rooted in self judgment…and I know better. The good news is that I turned those questions into acknowledgement. I started to embrace the fact that all of those boxes and furnishings represented thirty or more years of my life – with all of the experiences of that period – contained in what I watched come into the house. The bulk of those boxes went to the basement.

I am far from being finished with the sorting. I even had a number of days when I couldn’t even go to the basement to look at any box, even if I thought it contained something I was looking for and wished to have out to use. It seemed to be unbearable at times. Some of the boxes I had previously opened took me to places within that I was unprepared for. The house that had been sold was larger than the one I live in now. That house had been filled with lots of love and wonderful memories and I was truly ready to leave it when I did. For a long time it felt as if it held me comfortably as I entered a new phase of life at the time. It had become so much for me to maintain that I knew I had to let it go. What had once held me, was then holding me down.

My spiritual director helped me find some perspective about my discomfort with going down to the basement to open those boxes. In many ways, the placement of those boxes and the process of going through them is metaphoric…as I plumb the depths of feelings that arise about each item that I remove from a box and consider its placement or disposition.

I know as humans, we either embrace of resist discomfort of many kinds. When we are busy and moving fast each day with so much on our “to-do” lists, we eschew discomfort, pain, grief and other feelings that might potentially slow us down or take us to what I often refer to as, “dark places”. And yet, our freedom, our bliss, our joy can only be found and authentically experienced when we allow the light into those dark places, by embracing the discomfort, pain, and grief. We fear that experience. We feel we are not equipped. We numb those feeling with lots of busy-ness, over-doing, over-committing to others and turning to substances which keep it all at bay. There is always someone who is willing to hold our hands as we walk through these experiences. Plumbing the depths of ourselves is the journey.

There are no obstacles to the path. The obstacles are the path.

 – Zen saying

As I continue this journey, I continue to process many memories; seeing what I may not have seen before and taking perspectives that I wasn’t sure I was capable of. This deep dive will keep me occupied for a while. The days are a mixture of lightness and darkness. Over time, I am confident the balance will return and perspective will be easier to take than it has been these last few weeks.

Back to the boxes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

be your wild self

“The self that appeals to me is the self that has not been conditioned solely by culture, whether family, religion, education, or economics, but rather the one found under these systems of domestication –the wild self, the self at once sovereign and entwined with the living world. It is this self that can extend its reach into the surrounding rings of connection–with vacant lots, watersheds, returning salmon, with children and struggling communities–and sense its intimate bond with all of them. This self is co-mingled with all the others that share this shining planet. When we can step into this wider and wilder state of identity, our isolation falls away and we return to a state of participation and belonging.”

 – Francis Weller, author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals for Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief*

There are so many things in our world today that are sad, disturbing, scary; beautiful, happy, and hopeful. Our challenge is to find our center so we do not lose perspective on what is real. No, I’m not referring to news.

I am referring to what is real within each of us – that only we can know and feel for ourselves.

It is apparent as we look around that many among us rely upon messages from many sources to shape what we believe about ourselves and therefore about others. We have all been affected by the constancy and consistency of these messages over many years. It is up to us, individually, to challenge our assumptions, our beliefs and therefore our words and actions.

If we read closely, slowly, and perhaps more than once, the quote above from Francis Weller, we may feel a little something unfamiliar, or even a bit odd. His words remind us of just how disconnected we are…from the real essence of ourselves – our wild self.

Could it be that questioning and shedding beliefs that we cannot substantiate as real or resonant within as being true for our wild selves, will bring us home to ourselves and to each other?

Is it possible that the simple act of inquiring within can begin to bring us back from the pervasive tribalism to the connection of community that is life-sustaining?

I am also reminded of just how deep our unacknowledged and unhealed grief goes and how it impacts our feelings, thoughts and actions. In a previous post on grief I shared the five gates of grief that Francis Weller explains in-depth in his book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals for Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief.

If we allow ourselves to “go there” into that dark well of sorrow and sadness, much light and freedom await. With freedom and light dawns an acceptance of life with all of its beauty and darkness. With light we see beyond the fear that often causes us to behave in ways that are not honoring of who we really are (our wild self) or those upon whom we project that unacknowledged fear, the resulting anger and the unhealed grief.

Reclaiming ourselves is the work of our lives. Growing in that reclamation process, we make powerful contributions to the collective of humanity, and our individual evolution.

Is it easy to do? No.

Is it easier to keep doing what we are doing and living and believing as we do? Yes.

Is it in our best interest (individually or collectively) to keep doing what we do and expect a different result to somehow occur, show up, or otherwise fix what needs to be fixed? Actually, I think this concept is named insanity and is widely attributed to Albert Einstein.

Will we experience surprises in our lives even if we do nothing? Yes…and the surprises may not be the ones we would prefer if we otherwise step into and take responsibility for the wholeness (holiness) of our lives.

Get to know who is …”under these systems of domestication…” 

Be your wild self.

Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground.

Oscar Wilde

 

 

 

 

 

* From “The Alchemy of Identity or Who Are We When Everything Falls Away 03/08/13” on the “Writings” page of francisweller.net; retrieved 10/08/18.

on being…ourselves

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

 – Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Who are we?

Who are you?

What do you believe?

How do you live (or act on) your beliefs?

Are you living your beliefs or someone else’s?

 

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

– Brene Brown

 

It seems that nearly every day, we are provided even more opportunities to meet ourselves, to better know ourselves and to make choices that either support our growth while facilitating our evolution (and that of the planet) or we look away, afraid. We fear that allowing ourselves to feel what we feel, or to see through the eyes of our hearts what we are seeing unfold before us, that somehow we are weak or are not living up to what others expect of us.

Whose life are you living anyway?

 

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

 – Steve Jobs

 

I honor the courage of the many who have spoken up about their abuse – men and women – and in so doing have paved the way forward for others to find within themselves the courage to step up, to speak up. These are the leaders of their lives who, by their actions, advocate for those who have not yet found their own voice.