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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

elevating the conversation

I’ve been listening to a few podcasts this week. I’ve enjoyed listening again to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah discussing Tolle’s book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. These podcasts are taken from their 2008 series of webinars in which they discussed each of the ten chapters in the book. The podcasts have served as a powerful review of this profound, timeless material.

I also listened to a podcast conversation between Oprah and Charles Eisenstein which I believe was originally recorded in late 2016 from a Super Soul Sunday show. Eisenstein is the author of several books, including The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. As I returned to his website after not having perused it in a while, I came across a stunning video, A New Story of the People. I encourage you to consider taking seven minutes of your day to view it.

Finally, I saw that Marianne Williamson declared her candidacy for President earlier this week. She is a non-traditional candidate…and we’ve been there before, yes? By all that I have observed thus far, particularly the comments on some websites which are quite nasty, I am reminded that we are not yet at the tipping point in our awakening as a nation or as citizens of this planet. Many agree that we are nearly at a point of “breaking open”. We are not there yet, apparently.

I am not advocating for or supporting a party or a candidate. I AM calling us to consider elevating the conversation about our collective human condition at the causal level. We have many symptoms. We are not having a broader discussion of the causes. To solve the many symptoms which have the capacity to undo democracies, or destroy life altogether, we need to step back and become observers rather than “reactors”. Becoming more objective will allow us to enter into service to the whole from a very different place. More conscious, we can take small steps toward healing and righting our collective ship of dreams of “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.”

May we seek to listen to each other without judgment so that we thoughtfully engage from our hearts.

 

silence and stillness

In silence, I hear. 

 

With gratitude to those whose words have inspired me to find my way into the silence that is always there awaiting my listening…with heart. Finding this silence in meditation, in nature or in some of the otherwise mundane tasks of the day, I hear…deeply…what is for me to know and feel in my heart.

 

In stillness, I find, remember and further develop my strength.

 

With gratitude to the yoga instructors, many of whom are spiritual teachers; for their guidance, tuition and wisdom. Developing greater strength within my body, I find strength of heart, mind and connection to Spirit. Pranayama serves to deepen as well as facilitate stillness in the integration of body, mind, spirit.

 

 

anger, rage and healing

I really believe that all of us have a lot of darkness in our souls. Anger, rage, fear, sadness. I don’t think that’s only reserved for people who have horrible upbringings. I think it really exists and is part of the human condition. I think in the course of your life you figure out ways to deal with that.

 – Kevin Bacon

In the course of our lives, we hope that we figure out ways to deal with the “anger, rage, fear, sadness” that we all feel.

I have written previously about grief. In some ways, I feel as if some of our fear, anger, and rage is rooted in the sadness of the unfelt, inexperienced grief. It is also worth mentioning here, that anger and rage also have connections to, if not deeper roots, in fear.

Many of us were taught to be “good”; to behave, to not say a “cross word” or to “keep our thoughts to ourselves.” When we are not in nurturing environments, where we are invited to talk about our feelings – whatever they may be – we generally put them away. We essentially bury them. We sure don’t believe rage is good….or that we are capable of feeling anything as intense and ugly in its display as that. Right?

Did you know that these buried feelings leak out? Did you know they find their way to the surface of our experiences – to the light of day, through the words we speak, the sharp judgment of others or the actions we take? Oh, how we wish they would remain buried…deeply buried in the dark recesses of the past. No one wants to dredge up all that stuff, right?

 

It would be impossible to estimate how much time and energy we invest in trying to fix, change and deny our emotions – especially the ones that shake us at our very core, like hurt, jealousy, loneliness, shame, rage and grief.

 – Debbie Ford

There are many ways in which the unexpressed, the unfelt or unspoken feelings manifest within. Depression. Chronic headaches. Hives or other breakouts. Stomach ulcers. Excessive weight gain.

How do we unleash this dark monster that lies so deep within us? How do we acknowledge all of these feelings, express all of this anger and process all of our grief?

There are so many ways to do the extremely important work of healing ourselves. And for each individual, what will ultimately facilitate the effective and successful reclaiming of oneself, is different. It’s also important to remember that it is a process, and not a one time fix.

Meditating, guided meditations, extensive journaling, screaming into pillows, beating our fists into pillows, talk therapy, crying all of those tears which have been held back for so very long, and the list goes on. There are many ways to embark upon this path. Taking responsibility for our healing is one of the greatest gifts we give ourselves…and others. When the breakthrough begins, we may notice that we have found more energy. We may find a part of ourselves that we didn’t even know we were missing. We find that compassion toward and acceptance of others where THEY are is so much easier.

How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.

 – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This is the work of our lives. May you be blessed as you take those first sacred steps into the beauty that the darkness will unveil.

Love is always a heartbeat away…literally.

Breathe.

words of comfort

I have been a fan of Brene’s Brown’s research and findings since I first heard about her and her work on vulnerability and courage. Lately I have found great comfort in at least two things she has written. First a quote that just showed up in my email box today:

 

“Vulnerability — the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is the only path to more love, belonging and joy. The downside? You’re going to stumble, fall and get your ass kicked.

Worth it? Yes.”

It’s a challenge to remember  the power of vulnerability when you are down yet one more time. And…this is a powerful, yet gentle reminder of the reward of being real and authentic.

I also came upon her Manifesto of the Brokenhearted while watching a live stream of a conversation she had with Oprah a year or so ago. Oprah read the last two lines of it and  it brought tears to my eyes.  I offer it here, as a gift to you in this season of healing, gratitude and love.

 

Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted

There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fear mongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise.

With skinned knees and bruised hearts; we choose owning our stories of struggle, over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.

When we deny our stories, they define us.

When we run from struggle, we are never free.

So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.

We will not be characters in our stories. Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.

We are the author of our lives.

We write our own daring endings.

We craft love from heartbreak, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure.

Showing up is our power.

Story is our way home. Truth is our song.

We are the brave and brokenhearted.

We are rising strong.

Yes, indeed.

We are the authors of our lives and will write our own endings.

We are rising strong.