time, patience and choice

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.

 – Leo Tolstoy

Time…we all know what it is; how we spend it, what it means to us, and how we judge ourselves and others for the ways we measure it.

A few days ago, it became clear to me that the area I live in was going to see a storm of some kind.  Early indications were that it would likely turn north…”but we never turn our backs on a storm,” they said.

I started checking the 11:00 am and pm and 5:00 am and pm updates posted by the National Hurricane Center. What started as preparation for a windy rain storm (Category 2) turned into a plan to evacuate. That necessary shift became apparent within about 24 hours. Then the planned date of departure for evacuation was moved up one more day from what had been planned. The time seemed to be getting “shorter”.

As I had begun the process of pulling things together, I started to consider the reality that all of what is familiar may be significantly damaged or wiped away. So, in addition to the logistical challenge which was in front of me, I faced those emotions about home…what it means to have it, to not have it, to choose to leave it, and now the possibility that there may be no choice about it. It was as if the eviction notice was being served.

And…I realized what a gift I had in the midst of all of this. While preparing to leave. I wondered how people who have moments to escape a tornado, wildfire, or flood do so facing the immediacy of a life threatening situation. They have no time to do anything more than escape with their lives. They lose all of their material possessions. They have their lives, and an opportunity to begin again.

Yes, this is not easy. Yes, I was and still am in a safe place where I watched from afar as the latest storm took aim at the community I have lived in for the last two years. The furry companions are disoriented and adjusting to a new place that itself is temporary. It is clear that the damage is significant, getting back there may take a while. I know that I am also not the only one who has had or will have to face a situation like this in their lifetime. Many have faced it multiple times.

So…what’s next?

With the relative luxury of time to make choices – even quickly – one has a moment to look forward and determine what possibilities to consider in order to move on. Recognizing that many do not, did not or may not, I am grateful for even the smallest moments in which to make a choice. Living by default or stepping in? It’s always our choice to make.

So, I find that I am in that cradle – of space and time – where nothing is certain and deadlines loom and choices await.

While I wait for water to recede, roads to be re-opened, I am heartened by the acts of kindness that I hear about or receive directly, even from afar. When we remember our humanity and can offer the best of who we are to anyone at any time and in any situation, we have reconnected to our essence.

The journey of these last two weeks isn’t over and in some ways is only beginning. I am grateful for the memories which have been triggered through this process, for they have reminded me of some very important learnings and lessons and unfolded and made clearer what I have yet to do.

When we find ourselves in the midst of the storms of life – we have choices. We work through what is being presented to us; we face the memories, the terrors, the gifts and the challenges with a loving heart and grace facilitates our movement forward. Is this easy? No.

Even with what I thought I knew, about what I had healed within me, I found myself standing face to face with some of my past experiences. How do I know? The feelings…they were the same. The good news is that seeing these again, I was able to greet them, offer my gratitude for their return and let them go. Perhaps I bid them farewell for good. Only time will tell.

The times, the experiences, all are metaphors…for what? The answers lie in our discernment of the events unfolding, what we can see in them for ourselves and how we apply those, often multi-layered lessons moving forward. It is in the choices we make and in the patience with which we allow ourselves to experience the reflections of the past, that make the difference in the steps we take into the next moment.

I am reminded of a quote that I heard not too long ago that I offer here to all who have weathered the recent storm as well as any of the other storms of life, and who have much to do to heal, to clean or to rebuild.

  “Fair winds and following seas.

 

 

 

say it now

You’ve got to love social media (I do not).  The oxymoronic nature of the term, “social media” gives us a hint about how we arrived at the moment in time when distinguishing the truth from the not-so-truth is quite challenging.

But I digress…

Like many of you, perhaps, I have enjoyed Aretha Franklin’s music, her commitment to civil rights and her community over the years. As I was doing some light reading of various news outlets – and I do meant “light” reading, I came across a story about her that included the Twitter posts of many celebrities. Some of them were longtime friends and colleagues and others were, well, I’m not sure they knew her other than her name and some of her famous songs. As I continued to read through them, I started to wonder how many of them had shared their feelings, thoughts and beliefs about her accomplishments with her, when she was alive and well and could appreciate them; and why they felt so compelled to speak about her now. Hmmm…who is served by those “tweets”??

All of this reminded me of a few things:

  • Tomorrow is not promised;
  • We don’t always share our feelings with those we love or appreciate;
  • We are often afraid to speak our loving truth to someone who has made a difference in our lives;
  • The megaphone of “social” media seems an inappropriate place to “scream” our love and appreciation to or about anyone.

Our love, appreciation, compassion are best given directly to the recipient while they are here…now…to receive it. The circle of love is completed in the sharing of our feelings with another.

If a loved, appreciated or revered one has passed, we can offer our love, appreciation and gratitude via a silent prayer or loving thought, soul to soul.

Megaphones are not necessarily.

If you love someone, tell them now.

If you appreciate someone for what they have done – and especially if they are not aware of it – offer that appreciation, now.

If you are grateful for anything that you have, have learned or seen which resulted in opening your heart to another deep truth within you, and you can attribute it to another living, breathing human, tell them, now. If social media is all you have to offer that gratitude, try offering the loving energy of the prayer or silent thought. They will feel that blessing, too.

Say it, offer it, now.

 

 

tribute to one of my companions and the fragility of life

“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.”

– Albert Schweitzer

I have been fortunate to love, appreciate and rely upon cats and music to add a softer quality to my life; especially at times when so much of what I see each day seems so harsh, loud and at odds with what feels natural to me.

A couple of weeks ago one of my precious companions received her wings of freedom from a body which seemed to rapidly betray her for little more than a week. My sweet Piper had been a part of my life for twelve years.

 

Truly the precious gift of life is something that we take for granted every day. Every day. I spent many hours sitting with my little girl in the last days of her life. I did not run errands; I did not busy myself so I didn’t have to be upset or stressed about what was happening. I chose to be present to what was happening and to the sweet little girl who had been a close companion for so long. I was reminded in those moments of the fragility and temporary nature of life in these bodies. We forget this every day. Every day.

We allow ourselves to be pulled into the milieu and we forget who we are. Remembering who we are, why we are here, whom we love, how we love and whether we are even present to those we care deeply about are among the most important reasons why we have air in our lungs, and heartbeats to keep us alive. We forget this every day. Every day.

Life can be softer when we remember and choose to live it that way. We forget this every day. Every day.

We allow stress to rob us of our very being every day. Every day.

We become so busy with thoughts that take us away from our presence to the people who are in our midst and who love us that we miss the very essence of our lives, our most important relationships every day. Every day.

Today, I am thinking of those who are in the process of letting go of loved ones who have been in their lives for many years.

Let us remember the fragility and temporary nature of life. We are here for a short time. Create time to soften…to breathe…to walk in nature…to remember to listen deeply…to love presently.

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There ain’t nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to
The top of the hill
But since we’re on our way down
We might as well enjoy the rideThe secret of love is in opening up your heart
It’s okay to feel afraid
But don’t let that stand in your way
’cause anyone knows that love is the only road
And since we’re only here for a while
Might as well show some style
Give us a smile

Isn’t it a lovely ride
Sliding down
Gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It’s just a lovely ride

Now the thing about time is that time
Isn’t really real
It’s just your point of view
How does it feel for you
Einstein said he could never understand it all
Planets spinning through space
The smile upon your face
Welcome to the human race

Some kind of lovely ride
I’ll be sliding down
I’ll be gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It’s just a lovely ride

Isn’t it a lovely ride
Sliding down
Gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It’s just a lovely ride

Now the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time

– James Taylor

on being…in between

In the last few days, I have been in conversation with several friends who, like me, are in a space in time that seems to defy a definitive word or phrase to describe it.

Many of us seem to be in a transition of sorts. Leaving what has been and not able to see what is ahead, we feel…well…even that is hard to define!

Perhaps we are meeting places in our bodies which heretofore had been quiet. Maybe we were very physically active. Maybe we suffered great losses of many different kinds which were never fully seen, embraced and grieved. And now these unexpressed, unfelt hurts and painful places are calling to us from deep within our bodies.

We are single, married, divorced, never married, had children, didn’t have children, raised siblings, nieces or nephews, cared for family members for many years. If we have children, perhaps they are preparing to leave the nest, or have married and had children of their own. Perhaps we have recently retired. Maybe we retired, started a second career and are ready to walk away from it…but to what?

Maybe we have ALWAYS been busy, active, making choices without giving full consideration to the consequences and now we are simply unsure of how to “undo” or “unwind” a particular web we have woven which rather than supporting us is now holding us down or back.

Maybe we were busy with baseball games, soccer games, extremely demanding full-time jobs and were somewhat oblivious to what was going on in the world outside of our families, our communities, our routines, our jobs.

Perhaps we are restless and cannot get comfortable with sitting quietly, doing nothing. Maybe we over-caffeinate so that we don’t have to slow down. We are impatient…with this process, this part of our life.

We are close enough to see clearly, a past filled with so much activity, and far enough away from a future that has no definition, no structure and no form.

We find pictures, cards from well wishers, messages we received or sent and we wonder where that person is.

Today…

– we see children standing up for their rights to be safe..and we wonder.

– we see so many things changing in the world around us…and we wonder.

The weight of this life – our life…feels heavy.

What is happening? What have we missed? What are we supposed to DO…

NOW?

Grief is perhaps an unknown territory for you. You might feel both helpless and hopeless without a sense of a ‘map’ for the journey. Confusion is the hallmark of a transition. To rebuild both your inner and outer world is a major project.

 – Anne Grant

We are in between. We may be grieving and we don’t even know it. Grieving what has been and can no longer be, we are afraid of what may await us. Grieving the loss of family, friends, places that we loved or enjoyed, a body that was flexible, supple and moved with such ease; we are tired, scared and unsure.

Our world is not soft for, with or on behalf of us when it comes to the delicate process of grieving. Rather, we are not even gently coaxed…we are often told to “get over it”, whatever “it” may be. So we unconsciously bury what hurts, stand up and start running while “it” is still in there…waiting for us.

We are certainly not taught that our grief may be deep…containing unfamiliar feelings of painful resonance…that we have no idea of how to hold, and what to believe about anything.

The only way out is through.

And just how exactly, do we get out? By going through…what?

Grief and love are sisters, woven together from the beginning. Their kinship reminds us that there is no love that does not contain loss and no loss that is not a reminder of the love we carry for what we once held close.

 – Francis Weller

Acknowledge.

There are so many ways to unearth that which is buried…and now IS the time.

Acknowledge.

Write. Journal. Inquire within.

Acknowledge.

Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply.

Acknowledge.

Walk slowly, thoughtfully, intentionally. Find a labyrinth. Walk.

Acknowledge.

Read or re-read a book which is not a distraction (fiction). Rather, find a book which contains a journey, a process, a way of working through what is buried (non-fiction).

Acknowledge…YOU.

You are worthy. You have lived well. You have given. You have taught many – by the very example of your being – how to be a good person; to love, to lose; to be grateful; to smile; to uplift.

You are life. You are love. You are grace.

It may feel like you are here right now…

Foggy trees. By Loco’s Photos

Sitting in the fire of our discomfort, our discontent, our concern about what lies ahead…the way forward will become clearer. And soon you will feel like you are here:

Morning sun peeks through the trees. By Loco’s Photos

 

Sending love and peace to all.

 

Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
It matters that you don’t just give up.

– Stephen Hawking

 

For more on grief, see my previous posts on “the gifts of grief” and “grief and the power of healing” , the latter of which includes references to several books on grief and healing.

things I’ve noticed

The last couple of weeks have certainly been filled with many tragedies and triumphs, as is more and more the case in our current milieu. When I find myself wandering into the darker places of despair, hopelessness, with sprinkles of “giving up”, I remind myself to widen the lens on the view I am taking of all of it. By taking a moment to look at the bigger picture – the one within which all of this is occurring – I reclaim my inner peace and acceptance of what is unfolding. I remember that I am responsible for doing what I can do – right here, right now. Consciously choosing to maintain perspective is one of my contributions to the shift that is underway.

Here are some things I have noticed.

  • The name of the high school where the most recent mass shooting of innocents took place is Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The sign on the grounds of the school show its name as “Stoneman Douglas”. The letters on their baseball case, as worn by major league baseball players last week in their first Spring training game of the season, were “SD”.  Although many media outlets are properly referring to the school by its full name, it is apparent that the school system does not. Stoneman Douglas by itself removes immediate attribution to the very powerful woman for who it is named.
  • Our societal penchant for shaming and blaming is on display nearly every day, somewhere, in some situation where unexpected and tragic or difficult events take place.
  • A focus on mental illness seems to be a rallying cry by many who seem to believe the reasons for mass killings is mental illness…not the guns. Sad truth is that it is both.

And here is what I feel is at the core of the above:

  • The patriarchy has been at work in subtle and not so subtle ways for many, many years. Taking away or changing names is a dehumanizing practice which has been in place for many tragic chapters in the history of human experience. From the victims of the Nazi’s to the Native Americans and slaves, this has been done over and over again. So removing the first name of the woman for whom the school is named, and choosing to use the names which are masculine seems yet one more example of this dehumanizing or, perhaps in this case, removing the feminine (and powerful) reference, changes something.
  • Brene Brown said, following the August 12, 2017 white supremacy rally which resulted in the death of one protestor in Charlottesville, Virginia, that “We use shame when accountability isn’t working.” I believe that we use shame to distract from taking responsibility for our beliefs and resulting actions – whether in speaking, arguing or not listening to others who may see things from a different perspective than we do.
  • Mental illness seems to be the scapegoat of many a blaming individual or group for what is deemed by them to be “wrong” in any given tragedy or situation which doesn’t have the outcome they believe is the “right” one. Yet, if we take the even broader view of mental illness while considering what may be at the deepest roots of this tragic epidemic in our society, we will see a group of people who will not rest until the middle class in the US is gone, their health benefits completely inaccessible, while costs of living survival continue to skyrocket. And we wonder why we are where we are.

 

I have faith. Our world is changing and people  and even some governments are waking up in many places on our planet. I feel it.

The young people in this country, led by those who most recently were witness to the tragic loss of friends and yet one more layer of their innocence, have courageously stepped up to channel their sadness and grief into a powerful effort to be heard. They are not going away.

And…

More importantly, they will be eligible to vote in the next Presidential election in 2020.

Finally, I am reaching back once more to Brene Brown’s perspective following the events in Charlottesville last August, for inspiration and hope for our future. She reminded us of these:

  • Privilege is NOT how hard you work.
  • Perspective taking through the lenses of age, race, etc. is essential to coming together – listening and beginning to understand.
  • Power is infinite; “power to” and “power with” will move us forward, “Power over” is seeing its last stand.

She reminds us, “…the stories we own, we get to write the ending. If we don’t own our story, it owns us.” I feel this is true for us as individuals and, by definition, as a collective of humans on this planet.

I leave you with a quote from the late Stephen Covey, from his wonderful book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People; Habit number 5:

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

What a wonderful world it would be…if we all practiced this habit.

we are the roots of the banyan tree

Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.

 – E. Y. Harburg

Every single day, it seems, our nation is plunging into a deeper and deeper darkness which seeks to honor no one. Legalizing mistreatment of anyone who is non-white, lost lives of innocents at the hands of mad men with weapons of war, arrogant leaders believing that the US brand of democracy is the only answer for peace, while it stirs the pot of war elsewhere, and it just goes on and on.

It’s enough to plunge one into a deep depression.

Were it not for my beliefs that these happenings are no more than the desperate grip of the patriarchy, holding on to its money and perceived power for as long as it can, and that the shift to peace is happening within many of us and in parts of the world we will never hear about, I might very well lose my mind. This being human…ugh. Sometimes.

I remind myself that I have my heart. I will be guided by my heart. I will love people where they are…even if it is not where I choose to be.

When I find myself in theses dark places, I seek meaningful, deep, heart-resonant music. Tina Malia is one of my “go to” artists. Whether she is singing beautiful mantras or songs she has written, she offers soothing music for a sometimes weary heart.

I heard this one earlier today, as I was driving home from an acupuncture treatment.

The Silent Awakening

The lyrics are easy to discern as you listen, and are powerful to consider. This part of the song really called to me.

We are only a dream of a dream

This world is not what it seems

We are the wind

That carries the seeds

We are the roots of the banyan tree

 

We are love offered on the wing

That stretches across eternity

We are a chord in

Life’s symphony

We are the silent

Awakening

Although I knew about banyan trees, it has been a long time since I had seen a picture of one and experienced the beauty of the metaphor in Tina’s song. Indeed, as we continue to awaken, we may well see ourselves as the roots of the banyan tree. This link provides ten things for you to  know about the banyan tree.

Together we are amazing. We can rise up and lift others with us. Our individual contributions together affect the entire tree.

Namaste.

“the voice of beauty speaks softly; it creeps only into the most fully awakened souls”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

guest post – ten things that should never be said to a grieving parent

Dear readers…

I am honored to offer you the powerful words of a friend who suffered one of the most challenging losses in a lifetime…the loss of a child.

I have known Kathy for a number of years and have come to deeply honor and respect her wisdom and experiences. Recently, we were discussing transitions in our lives and our common interest in words and writing. She shared the following with me and I responded to her with this: The beauty – the raw truth – of what you have here is among the most emotionally engaging pieces I have read in a very, very long time. 

The timing and poignancy of this post is certainly not lost on me. The events in Parkland, Florida, just this week, are yet one more example of how quickly change happens when unexpected tragedies directly touch our lives.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There are ten things that should never be said to a grieving parent.

Or six things.

They are too much for the bereaved mind to handle. But the truth of the matter is that these ten or six or four hundred things will be said. They will be said and worse things will be said and you don’t so much want to shrivel up and die as you do want to be able to live with yourself and keep a claim on your sanity.

When I was a newly bereaved parent, I couldn’t believe what people said to me. And continued to say to me even after I said something forthright like: Please don’t say that to me or anyone else ever again. I became aware of people who wanted to pull me aside to have a private word with me. And that, I learned, was a 100% bad idea. Nothing positive was ever said. Confessions were made, god was exalted, god was bad mouthed. I had questions for them—like, why would you pull me away from a sunny day to say something awful to me? It was as awful as anything you might imagine.

What did people say? Oh, plenty. One of my brother’s sang this song: Oh, your father is dead and your brother is dead, and your sister is dead…then said, kath, remember that song by the dead kennedys? He’s my brother, and he knew we were suffering and he shouldn’t have said it to my daughter and me. But he did. A friend told me the week after my son died that I didn’t have the flu and maybe getting out of bed would make me feel better. But I did have the flu. Let’s assume I didn’t, I couldn’t lie in bed a few hours a day while I wrapped my brain around this? A woman wrote and told me that when her only child died, she felt like killing herself. And many days she still felt like killing herself. And that I probably would too. A friend of my mother’s called to tell me that no one cared about my troubles, I should just get over it, and I would be boring to my friends if I grieved much longer. A woman left a message on our phone saying, “You know the way these kids drive around they deserve…” but I pressed save right there every single time. I eventually erased it without listening to it all the way through. A reporter from the local newspaper called to ask me what I thought of the family whose son was in the car with ours. The boy who was killed in the car along with our son. Him and their family. What I thought. Imagine.

?

I was stunned. I was shocked. I could barely sleep for rethinking those phone calls. I could barely get through the day after chance meetings with acquaintances who said we needed to talk about the elephant in the room. I got a letter in the mail from a friend who that said they were so happy to have their intact family and our family’s tragedy had made them grateful every day for their healthy, robust children. Still. I jogged around the block every day. I was vertical. I helped my other children continue with their lives. I thought I was doing well. Yet I couldn’t believe how misunderstood I felt and how undone I must have appeared to so many others.

How was there not a language reserved for this situation? How is it that we all have to stumble along still using the same words the same language. How could salt still be salt? How could it be that there is not a second more tender language that everyone, everyone begins speaking after a tragedy of such proportion?

I was a god girl before and after the accident, but here’s a question that was really on my mind—why had god left me alone to fend for myself in the world of aggressively silly comments. I could only conclude that god had not left me alone. There was evidence all around. The friends who said nothing but showed up. The sister-in-law who could only cry and not offer one piece of advice. The acquaintance who waved and stayed on his side of the street. My running shoes pointing out the door every morning. The hey baby, hey darlin’ that are the priceless endearments earned by doing nothing in the south. One day I was in the produce section of a local grocery store, the only one I could bear to go into, when I caught the sympathetic eye of a woman who bestowed a look on me and said nothing.There was god, all right. I could see that. But my question every night—why didn’t god intervene in more of these situations I found myself in? I could only further conclude that it’s our job not god’s or anyone else’s to get it all straight.

Of course, here’s the problem.

What we saw and heard and did so transformed our atoms that we were immediately changed by it forever. Everyone else got to wake up every day without the knowledge we now had. Maybe other people stood by their bedroom windows that next morning, the first morning after our son and his friend died, and did as I did in noting that the sun had indeed come up. That the world was going on. I stood and noted that with my newly rearranged atoms and wondered complex thoughts about the beginning of time and what this time would be called. And wondered about my boy.

Here’s what we saw that seared our brains: the crash site with our son and his friend trapped in the twisted metal of the single car accident.

Here’s what we heard: nothing. Because when everyone at a crash site is dead there are no sirens.

Here’s what we did: my husband said I’m going over there, I held onto his arm and said do not look in that car, you will never, ever be able to live with what you see. We hugged our friends, the other parents, who had also driven to the crash site. We said words that are now lost, the fathers walked closer to the car, the mothers stood in the dark and held onto each other.

And other things: We went home and woke up our other children, we called our jobs, we called friends, we did not weep.

Not then. Not yet.

This is just to say that there’s no limit to the number of things that should not be said to a parent in grief.

But they will be said.

And, here’s the worst and best of it — you’re not above making the same kind of mistake. Three or four years after we lost our son, my husband and I walked to the house of a friend whose husband had just died. She had spent many, many hours on our couch talking about her husband, crying about her loss, her children. So much so that I felt intimate with her pain. And so when we walked to her house to express our sadness, I was instead struck stupid, smiling, asking people how they were. Smiling. Stupidly abstractly and without thought.

So what are you going to do? Do not hang on to bad thoughts, erase that damn voice message sooner, laugh at your brother’s stupidity for surely you will be stupid in much the same way in a second or two. And infuse that brain with new images—you’re not going to replace the image of the car or your son’s dead body for a while. It’s going to be years. But give your brain a fighting chance by exposing it to beauty. And then you have to forgive yourself for wishing stupid people more pain. Then forgive them. Then you have to stupidly love people again. That’s when your brain begins to see beauty.

Sometimes the slant of sunlight coming in a window at the close of day is enough. I swear, sometimes that alone it is enough.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you, Kathy.

 

“People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within” 

-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

being helpful…and interfering

After a very important conversation a couple of days ago, I’ve continued to reflect on the choices we all make to care for ourselves and the choices we make about how we care for or express our loving concern for others.  I remembered a quote from a book I read more than ten years ago.  I wrote down so that I could reference it again and again.

Sometimes the best way to love someone and the most important help you can give, is to leave them alone or empower them to help themselves.

 – Neale Donald Walsch

I remember being a pit puzzled by the message, because I have always (over) cared for others. My giving and concern was somewhat misplaced, for many reasons. I either had too many things on my plate…and always made room for them, even when I needed rest; or I was sure I knew what was best for them (I always did my research). What I didn’t know during that period of time in my life is that my caring for some others in my life was overdone. I realized many years later that the frustration and anger I felt when choices were made that didn’t reflect what I knew to be best, that I was the only one suffering in that entire scenario. The emotional charge that we carry when we feel we have been betrayed or when we believe another person is not making the best choice for themselves, can make us sick, too.

There are some lines between assistance, presence, enabling and interference that we can only know about when we have created the time to consider these first for ourselves. Questions we can ask ourselves may include:

  • Would I want someone checking everything I’m doing and then making judgements about my choices? They think I’m not aware of their feelings, even when I say nothing…I can feel their judgment. I can see it in their eyes. It’s on their face.
  • Would I want someone to tell me what to do in any situation? I really wish to make my own choices. I don’t want someone else making choices for me. I really do not want to give my power to others who think they know better. I know ME better than anyone.
  • What would I really want if I were facing a situation like he/she is? I would like to be able to make my own choices, and to be lovingly supported and accepted regardless of what I am choosing.

The greatest challenge in these situations is truly within us – deep within us. When we believe that our way is the best way, we can find ourselves in a situation where the people we are trying to help are doing things and making choices that we would never make for ourselves! We love them and want the very best for them. What we don’t consider is that they, too, have the power of choice. The choice to learn; to do their own research; to decide for themselves what they wish to do, be or have for themselves.

This is hardest to accept when we observe those choices to be unhealthy and potentially life threatening over time. And yet, it may be the challenge of a lifetime for us to step back, and allow another to make his or her own choices; and even more challenging, to support them in the choice they have made. I am not speaking about engaging in the enabling behavior that can lead us into co-dependence. By honoring the choices made, and supporting them where they are, we are simply honoring the other person, period.

We are here to help and support others. We are here to be of service in the highest and best way possible. We cannot do this from the very best part of ourselves, if we have not first done our own work to look within and get to know our triggers, our pain points and as Eckhart Tolle says, to recognize our pain body.

Caring for ourselves first, allows our loving support to emanate from the deepest, best part of ourselves – our hearts.

 

grief and the power of healing

“To be human is to know loss in its many forms. Rather than hearing this as a depressing truth, our ability to acknowledge this reality enables us to find our way into the grace that lies hidden in sorrow. We are most alive at the threshold between loss and revelation; every loss ultimately opens the way for a new encounter…”

 – Francis Weller

 

A few months ago, I wrote about grief in this space, specifically in reference to a book I had read by Francis Weller. Since that time, I see and feel how much we have collectively lost –  creative artists, people we loved who were very close to us, losses associated with natural disasters, and proposed policy changes which create much fear for so many. Many of us feel, very deeply, a connection to what is happening on our planet even as we are coming to grips with all of the losses we are personally facing.

Grief and loss are a part of our human experience and we seem to be seeing and feeling it more and more…unless we are not. So many of us have spent a good part of our lives burying the pain of many losses from early in our lives through our adulthood.  I became very good at burying mine…and I know that efforts to heal all of the traumas of past losses is essential to living a more full and open, loving life. Until or unless we successfully begin to mine the depths of our sadness, the very roots of our traumas, we will not get to the core of who we are…to our truth, our joy. I am also confident that we have many experiences which we may not necessarily see as a loss which needs our attention to fully feel and grieve. A change in life circumstances – the loss of a job, a geographical move, the ending of a relationship, estrangement from one(s) that we love, etc., all remind us that we have feelings…and these feelings need our loving attention.

I didn’t realize that the journey I’ve been on these last months has been one of deep healing. As much work as I thought I had done on myself, I truly had not plumbed the depths of my grief. In fact, I wasn’t fully aware that I was carrying so much grief.

What started as a referral for Francis Weller’s book by dear friend, has become an unexpected unfolding of books showing up that I either stumbled upon or found myself seeking. It’s as if bread crumbs were dropped for me to follow a path. Today, I am deeply grateful for the amazing and wonderful resources which have found their way to me. Each one has offered a beautiful gift of the very power of diving into our pain and sadness and embracing the grief that we feel as a step forward into the deep peace within that is and always has been always waiting for us.

Below is a list of the books which have found their way to me. I am fortunate to know two of the authors; one of them is a former colleague and friend, and the other is a fellow blogger. I’m grateful that these authors have shared their experiences with grief so that there are options for so many of us to find our way forward.

 

  • This Too Shall Pass: A Journey Through Grief to the Other Side by Cathy Bamji – This is a book and a journal replete with stories, prompts, poetry and quotes. This peaceful journey into processing grief, soft and beautiful, is a personal journal for your own journey through the loss of a loved one. Cathy is a former colleague and trusted friend and I am so very happy that she published this lovely gift to share with us all. Cathy’s website is filled with resources!
  • Courage: My Journey Through Grief After the Death of Our Child by Karen Lang  – This book was written by a fellow blogger who blogs at “Healing Your Grief – How to Walk Through Grief After Losing a Child”. Karen’s book chronicles her journey through grief which began with the loss of her dear son, Nathan. Her journey of reclamation of her true self is inspiring. She offers strategies, practices, meditation guides, journal exercises, in this beautifully written book. Her blog is another gift to her readers that I enjoy very much.
  • The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller – This book introduces the Five Gates of Grief. Powerful, profound, educational. Warning…it will cause introspection…and I encourage you to go there. You can read my blog post in which I expand a bit more on the five gates.
  • The Threshold Between Loss and Revelation by Rashani Rea and Francis Weller  – This book is a beautiful work of art. The art of Rashani Rea along with some beautiful words by Francis Weller inspires, opens and soothes.

I’m sure that many of you have found the resources you need when you have experienced great loss. As I become more and more comfortable with the blurred lines between life in body and that which continues when we leave these bodies, I find these writings to be soothing…healing…comforting…and life affirming. Yes….Life Affirming.

I bow in gratitude to these authors and artists for their gifts. I hope you will consider checking each one out, if not making the choice to purchase one or more of them.

 

“When a great heart breaks, as it must, we gather the pieces into ourselves and are made whole thereby.”

-Deena Metzger

 

who we are…or who are we?

We must be careful that we do not become that which we find so unacceptable in others. We are currently deeply divided…and yet we ALL come from the same Source…lest we forget. Wake up from the slumber of fear and darkness.

I have been asking myself as I have read many articles, posts and followed the continuing unfolding events in Charlottesville, all weekend – WHO ARE WE? Who are we that this can happen? What are we not getting about the current conditions in our world, which have allowed this kind of darkness to surface? Who are we, indeed.

WE have created this ourselves…each and every one of us. We may not wish to see or believe that we have anything to do with it. The shadows within us that we choose to not acknowledge are calling us to see them.

Both love and fear, joy and rage are in us. Our wounds empower our fear (expressed as anger and often acted out as victimhood). The best of us (empowered by the love in our hearts) often gets covered with the constant pushing aside and our unconscious burying of the feelings we have about those deeply buried wounds.

Until or unless we meet and acknowledge the rage that is within us – however well buried it is and it really is in there – we will find it more and more difficult to truly see the good in anyone…including those who show us their worst selves. We MUST do our own work to heal ourselves so that we can truly make and hold peaceful healing space for others.
None of us knows everything. We must open to the possibility that we can learn something from everyone, including those whose hearts are so darkened with hate.

We cannot acknowledge the feelings that others have if we are not acquainted with our own.

I have cried and despaired over the events in my beloved Charlottesville this weekend. I have held space with love for friends in the community who marched and for the men and women in blue, who themselves, have to bury their own feelings in order to remain objective in the context of the law. Lives were lost in both of those communities…and we mourn.

I found some peace knowing they were all safe, and deeper calm as I listened to Marianne Williamson speak live via Facebook in Charlottesville yesterday.

Let us remember who we truly are at the core of our hearts. Let us hold space for those who think, speak and act differently than we do.

We are a nation of immigrants. The ONLY people who were here before all of us were the indigenous people, and they have suffered mightily at the hands of the white man. And this continues to this day. Our incessant need to label any one or any thing that is different from ourselves is indeed a part of the problem underlying all of the division and hatred that we see.

WE ARE ALL THE SAME. Our uniforms are different. Our gender expression, our color, our beliefs, our choices…all may be different. WE ALL come from the same God, Source, Allah, Universe…whatever you choose to call it. What we do to another, we do to ourselves. Think about that for a moment. We reap what we sow, yes?

At the end of this journey, our current life on this planet, we will return to dust. We return to the place in the cosmos that we see glimpses of in telescopes. WE ARE ALL THE SAME. That is who we are.

We must all open our hearts to the love that is within and offer peace from that place.

Truly…a conversation is needed.

We can bring our open hearts and open minds to the table.

We can break bread together.

We can create holy space together.

We can listen together.

We can create peace…together.

Sending L❤️​VE to all.