Attraction – Cracking Open a New Door

door This time, this moment: Living out loud in every moment.  That is my goal, my mission so to speak, for my blog.  From the very beginning of this current life path I am on that started with Russell’s entry into the hospital I have done my best to live this mission everyday.  The path has been raw, vulnerable, and hard to speak at times.  But in walking it I have found a profound new realness to living life.

When I stay committed to this mission of living my life out loud in every moment I find the path before me to be very clear.  As I honestly state what I am feeling, thinking and dreaming it’s as if the fog lifts and the sun brightly shines my way forward.  It’s in the times that I hide away my truth or hold back from speaking the musings that float up inside of me wanting to come out that I feel like the path and my life become foggy again and almost impassable.

Interestingly much of my journey forward through Russell’s sudden illness and death and then the grieving since has been fairly easy to live out loud.  Oh I can’t always speak it but I’ve been able to write it.  My inner muse awoke with passion when I dropped into Cuckoo Luckoo Land 17 months ago.  She remains awake when I slow down my racing mind, take a deep breath and listen from my heart about what she wants to say.  I like it when she is awake as there is such a sense of rightness, of “yes this is what I most want to do,” when I listen and allow myself to drop everything to write.

This past week I’ve had several shout outs from my muse about things to make note of. None of them have been so compelling as what she kept nudging me with this morning.  The entire time I was at the airport dropping my sons off for their flight to camp in Oregon I could hear her whispering to me, inviting me into a new place of pondering.   A story is what she wanted me to tell about the door that was opened just a crack on own flights home from Asheville last weekend.  I kept trying to tell her to hush thinking nope I don’t need to or want to tell that story.  It’s not important.  Blah, blah, blah.

My muse was persistent though as I thought back to last weekend and realized that it is about a significant shift I need to speak and share.  The story isn’t that big of a deal but the door it has cracked open is an important tiny, bitty step in a new direction on my grieving/healing journey.    The story is a bit of a ramble so I hope you bear with me to the end.  Smile!

In a long, way too long to tell the whole thing here, adventure at Chicago O’Hare airport last weekend there were hundreds of people who spent the night in the airport.  Several of us from the same flight temporarily bonded together as we encouraged each other to find new flights or other means of transportation to St. Louis after our flight was cancelled at 11:30 at night.  We rallied together to talk, laugh, hug a few who were crying and basically shake our heads at the surrealness of hours of delays, followed by a late night cancellation and getting stuck in an airport.

One of the people in this little cluster of folks who connected was a man about my age with a great laugh, super positive energy and a willingness to help.  He and I chatted at various stages from the cancelled flight’s gate to the United Airlines service desk to the point of heading to our new goals of getting to St. Louis.  We both offered support to a young woman who came almost completely unglued when the flight was cancelled.  We helped her figure out a new plan before heading in different directions – me to the American airlines area for the night and him towards the rental cars as he tried to get a car to just drive home.  It was a nice reminder that there are others in the world who can find humor and the positive, while also supporting others, in the crazy situations that pop up in life.  No other thought beyond that.

After an exhausting night sleeping on the floor of O’Hare’s airport, I got on my flight back to St. Louis where I promptly fell asleep for the entire way.   After we landed in St. Louis and we were waiting to disembark I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I thought maybe I had dropped something and I looked around. Well, there was the guy from the night before smiling and thanking me for the tip about switching airlines to get home sooner.  It was funny as we chatted like long-lost friends about the goofiness of the night before.  I told him about losing my new boarding pass and trying to find blankets. He told me about trying to rent a car and deciding not to when he found out it would cost $750 for a one way drive to St. Louis.  We laughed and shook our heads.

As we got off we said goodbye and good luck. Again, I didn’t think much beyond that.   Then, we saw each other again at United’s baggage claim as we tried to find our bags.   Several others from our original, cancelled flight were there and we all got talking about our adventures.  This guy and I got laughing about what had happened.  Part of the silliness was being so tired but it was good to be laughing rather than crying.  Others joined in as we all talked in general about where we were from and what we did, desperately all hoping our bags had somehow made it to St. Louis already.  I finally got my bag, said goodbye and good luck, and headed for home.

As I talked and laughed with this guy I had a sense that I was kind looking at myself from the outside in because I knew something felt different. But I was wayyy too tired to figure out what and why it felt different.  I just knew it was and left it at that.

Throughout the past week I’ve had moments of pondering the niggling sense that something had shifted during that 15 hours or so at O’Hare and then finishing up at Lambert.   I now know what it was and my muse insists that I write about it as part of my commitment to living my life out loud.  I had personal interest and an attraction to the guy I kept meeting along my journey home.  There was something about him that piqued my curiosity and my interest beyond just this is a nice guy.  There was something about him, about the energy of who he is that I felt drawn to and that prompted thoughts of “I wonder what his name is? I wonder where he lives? ”  The fact that he shared he with me he had the young woman in distress the night before “Just close your eyes and take a deep breath. Everything will be okay.” was enough for me to think “Hmmm, who is this guy? I’d like to know more.”

For the first time I felt enough of an attraction to a man who I was willing to contemplate, to consider the possibility that someday I might want to date.  Ack, there I said it!  Truly some of the most terrifying words I’ve written on this whole long journey.  Writing about the rawness of my grief has felt far easier than writing that I felt attracted to someone.   If my muse hadn’t been so persistent I am quite confident I would never have written this story.  But if I am truly going to commit to living my life out loud than this is part of my journey right now and I feel compelled to share it all.

There are so many layers to the opening of this door that I am barely aware of them all.   Question after question has arisen for me as my awareness of how this guy opened a door for me has grown.   Questions like…

“How could I be ready for this? I can barely doing anything besides work, be with my kids, watch silly sitcoms and occasionally see friends.”

“What would I have said if this guy had asked me out?”

“How does one date in their late 40s, almost 50?”

“Do I have to start wearing makeup?” Followed by “Why would I think that?”

“Should I take my ring off? But wouldn’t that be disloyal to Russell?”

“When will my kids be ready? and How will I know?”

“How does a widow date?”

“What could I possibly talk about?”

And on, and on, and on the questions go.

I don’t know any of the answers to these or the other questions that pop up around this.  I do know that I am not ready right now for dating nor do I think that I will be anytime soon. There is so much I am still sorting out and that I am trying to put into place for myself and my kids.   I do think I am ready to be curious about the possibility of someday wanting to date again. I am willing to leave the door cracked opened at least a little bit.

Who knew a cancelled flight and a floopy night in an airport could lead to such a long rambling story?   And who knew a nice, friendly guy could open up a new door for me?  I guess, maybe, the story and the telling of it was a big deal.  Most interesting!

Breaking down, awakening, or both

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Every time a wave of grief crashes over me I feel as if there is a part of me that is breaking down inside.  I tremble, I cry, I shake my fists at the sky, I rant, I rave and dive deep down into the dark.  During those times I feel all the pain, confusion, guilt, anger, and more that the darkness can speak to me.  It’s tumultuous there in the dark waters of my deepest self.

I become the Kraken during these times – sliding through the dark, wary of the world, on the edge of lashing out, and hiding away in dark, deep caves.   Being the Kraken can be scary for me as I fear I will lash out those I most love.   And I know it can be scary for others for the same fear that I might grab someone and suck them into the deep right along with me.  I am learning how to be the Kraken and not lash out, simply gliding stealthily through the dark waters of myself.   When I willingly dive into the deep and embrace the wisdom Kraken has to reveal to me all is good. It is when I battle the dark with lots of resistance that things can turn.

Then after swimming in the dark for awhile,  I feel compelled to write it all out and share my story with anyone who wants to hear it.    This compulsion comes over me almost as quickly and as fiercely as the initial wave of darkness hits.  And when I listen to this compulsion, this calling to share my story, I almost immediately start to shoot back up out of the dark transforming from my Kraken into my Butterfly Dragon as I go.  The dark just slides past me as I shoot up into the light.   As soon as I hit the light of the sky, singing my song of darkness and light to the world, I am strong and more steady again.

What I’ve realized in my most recent dive into the dark and then making my back up to the light at the surface is that my breakdowns really provide me with an opportunity to awaken some thing new inside – some new insight, understanding, or stepping stone forward.  Yes it is as if something breaks inside of me at this time, but perhaps it is more like the cracking of an egg that needs to happen for the living thing inside to emerge.    it is not that I am breaking down into nothing, it is that I am awakening even more into something glorious and new.

The love and support of everyone as I journey this fascinating path I am on holds me up as I dive into the deep, fly into the air, and speak it all out loud.  As soon as I have reached that point of being able to speak please know that I am already in a far better place than when I first dove into the dark.  As soon as I writing and speaking out loud  I am ready to handle life. This is how I know that I am healing and I am stronger; I am able to still function through life’s tasks whether I am in the dark or in the light.  That is a glorious thing.

Thank you for loving me through my breakdowns and through my awakenings. Thank you for holding me whether I be Kraken or Butterfly Dragon.   Together we are able to heal one another if we are simply willing to open our hearts in love and hope.

It is time

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This morning I opened a door, a very thick steel, doubly locked door that I’ve kept locked up inside of myself ever since Russell was in the hospital.   As that door unlocked and then flew open a flood as fierce as a tsunami wave crashed over me.  I was left sputtering as I felt battered about by waves of grief, guilt, and questions flooding over and over me.  All I could do was sit and cry as memories of the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life flashed back into my heart and mind.

I dropped temporarily (okay for most of the day) back into Cuckoo Luckoo Land – the place in which up is down, in is out, black is purple, and absolutely everything is turned inside out.  It’s been months since I traveled even a little in that land.  As my healing has continued I’ve been walking new paths of joy, staying in the moment, gratitude and celebrating what is right in my world rather than focusing on what no longer is.   But today my breath caught in my chest as I tried to not panic with the waves inside tossing me around.  I actually almost thought of running out of the house at one point before I just sat down, dove into the dark places and allowed myself to remember and feel it all.

Behind that steel door that I’ve kept carefully locked was the memory of having to make the decision to let Russell go.     But today there was nothing that was going to keep that door from opening.    As it opened I pictured it all: the rooms I sat in, the people there, the feelings of being both hot and cold at the same time, the mri scans, the papers explaining the process, and finally the paperwork that I had to sign.   While I had several people who were part of all the conversations and second opinions and asking questions and more conversations,  it was I who had to be the one to say the words and sign my name stating “It is time.”    There has never been anything harder that I have had to do.   And I pray that I never, ever have to be the one who has to make such a decision again in my life.

Tonight I sat with a dear friend as she sought guidance and information about making the decision to let go of her horse who has gone blind and we believe has tumors that are causing a steady decline in his overall health.  Thinking this morning about how I could best walk with her during this difficult time was the key that I somehow placed into that carefully locked steel door allowing the door to a secret, dark place in my heart to come into the light.

It is not the first time since Russell died that I’ve walked with others as a loved one was dying, but it is the first time since he died that I’ve chosen to walk the whole way there from the decision “It is time” until the end which will happen in a few weeks.   It is the first time that I’ve realized I still have guilt and worries around the decisions that were made 16 months ago.  I realize now there is a new area ready for my focused attention and healing.

I also realized throughout the course of my day riding the waves and trying to not drown in them, that while I still am not sure I will ever feel competent as a manager of a horse farm again (or at least not anytime soon), I do feel a very deep calling to walk with people as they seek to understand their own lives.  As I held space for my friend, talking with her about what she most needed on this final journey with her horse, I knew to the depths of my being that this is part of what I am meant to do, walk along with people through their joys, their sorrows and their own explorations of the dark places inside themselves.    Somehow in those moments I am able to let go of my own ego, my own baggage, my own fears and simply breathe with love as I hold sacred space for their journey.    This grieving, healing, loving work is what I seek to create as we build a sanctuary room at Avalon.   I think I am meant to find more ways to help people walk with both the light and the dark.

I didn’t really even know I had such a strong door locked away inside of me, but I think it was time to be opened so that I can heal and clear the next layer that needs healing.   I’m going to keep walking my path, living it out loud, and hope that I do more good than harm to those I meet along the way.  As always – in this time, this moment I try to just breathe and love.

 

I know

Iknow

For the last hour or so since I found it I have been repeating this over and over and over and over again.  It’s exactly what I most needed to read today and what I most need to hear myself tell myself.  I’ve been riding some crazy, out of nowhere tsunami like, waves today.  I know I am getting closer to some new shifts as things pop up around me providing opportunities for reflection, more clearing, more learning, and more accepting.  And those shifts are unsettling at times to say the least.

Lately I have had a number of experiences that have left me doubting my own perception of reality.   I think that I am making steps forward to being stronger, more balanced, more healed, more capable of handling work and my personal life. However my mind has been getting twisted up in wondering if others are seeing any of these changes or if they are just in my imagination.   I worry about what others think far too much sometimes and that can leave me doubting myself, my story, my truth.

As these doubts and worries twist around inside of me I start feeling very, very alone.   That niggling sense I can get of not belonging in my life anymore becomes stronger as I wonder whether I will ever be able to trust myself and my sense of the world again.   I feel in these moments that people find it easier to just not have me around because my very presence is a reminder to some that loss can happen to anyone.

Today I am reminded that I know my own truth and the truth is that I am figuring things out; I am stepping forward onto new paths; I am handling more and more everyday; I am competent and strong.  I am choosing love and peace everyday even on the days that all I want to do is lash out; by the end of the day I am resting in love and trust that all will be well. I am turning dreams into reality one baby step at a time.  I am healing my heart and daily choosing to open it up a little bit more.  I reading, learning, and trying new things.

My heart does know what is right for me.  Every time I stop, breathe from my heart and listen to what it is saying I feel myself moving forward with ease and peace.  My mind can play crazy ass tricks on me and when I listen to it alone I can get very twisted up inside.  But believing my heart and what it is whispering to me always leads me to the right path for me.

Trusting my voice and speaking my mind is the greatest way that I can live a wholehearted life of healing, love, and joy.    I may not always see all there is to see or know the best way to share what I most want to share but wow, I do try.   My truth, my heart, my eyes, my mind, my voice – these are what I must trust and follow even if others can’t understand them.  It’s only really important that I understand the path I am on.  This is what I must know above all else.

 

Healing and trusting: Re-framing my brokenness and fear

Ah and here is the follow up blog to “Broken and Afraid” I wrote last year. This was right after I learned about the “Dive”, a tool I still use when I feel waves of darkness threatening to crash over me. As I dive into the dark rather than fight against it I am able to listen from my heart to all I need to learn in that time, that moment.

The wisdom I learned in that first Dive Session with my guide, Ayanna, is valuable wisdom still today. Speak what I need. Set aside time for quiet and reflection. I must write everyday. Grieving and other darker, heavier emotions hold powerful wisdom for me if I trust myself to go into it.

Once again filled with gratitude to the depths of my being for this journey I am on and the wisdom I am gaining.

This time, this moment

hardtobeself

Synchronicity is one of my greatest allies right now.  Over and over again, I am surprised by the ways in which things happen in my life at just the right time and moment.  My final dive down into the depths of my darkness yesterday, after a good 10 days or so of swimming deeper and deeper into murky waters, came at just the right moment.  For just a few hours after my dive, I was able to spend time with my life coach/counselor/guide who helped me swim through the deep and start making my way back up and out.  Through some new, very cool guided meditations she helped me start re-framing some of my fears and my brokenness.  And she 100% affirmed that I am exactly where I need to be in this time and in this moment.

Here is some of what I trusted myself (and her) to do…

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Healing and Brave – An invitation

dragonflight2

Wow, what a difference one year can make in our journeys!  A year ago I shared one of the most raw musings I wrote in my healing journey. It popped up this morning on my Facebook memory feed and I’ve been reflecting upon it all day.

I wrote of being broken and afraid of many, many things.  The dark places of loss, confusion, grief, anger, etc. where my Kraken swims was the landscape I swam through at this time last year.  The deep, dark places of those waters often left me feeling very alone and so very lost.   Everything in my life felt like it was hovering on a precipice ready to vanish forever.

I wrote…”In the end it doesn’t really matter when the breaking began. What matters is the here and now.  And in this time, in this moment I feel broken and afraid. I feel as if all of the pieces of myself – my heart, my soul, my physical body, my gifts, my strengths, my weaknesses – all that I am is laying jumbled around my feet in a million tiny pieces.  All of it is scattered around me waiting for me to reassemble it all into some kind of cohesive whole again.”

Today I live most often in the light places, filled with hope and curiosity about what comes next.  Oh the dark places still thread throughout my being and rise up at odd moments as I think of missing Russell and the life we shared.  But each day I am making more and more choices to become stronger, more joyful, filled with gratitude and possibility.  I find that even on the darker days I don’t fall into the depths quite as far or as long.  And I am able to soar with my butterfly dragon more and more often.

Healing is possible.  Holding the pieces of my being – light and dark, hope and sadness, loss and connection – together in one magical piece has become a part of my daily dance.  I no longer fear the things I shared in last year’s writing.  I am doing the best that I can to live my life wholeheartedly and trust that all will be well.  I have come far in reassembling the pieces of myself into a cohesive whole.  No longer do they lay jumbled at my feet. Instead I can actually feel the pieces fitting back together piece by piece by piece.

As I become stronger I find myself wanting to walk with others on their own healing journeys. I find myself wanting to share the wisdom and the tools that have helped me along my healing journey. I wish to share the healing power of the horses, the community and the land at Avalon that has held me in sacred space all along the way.

The next steps on my journey include creating opportunities for people to come to Avalon and hear what wisdom the horses have to share with them.  I am creating Equine Facilitated Learning workshops that will open the new possibilities for people to heal, hope and live more authentic lives.  If all goes as planned the first of these workshops will begin in the fall.  If you are interested in receiving more information I invite you to send me a note in the comment section and I will include you on our mailing list.

In this time, in this moment I am filled with gratitude for all of the ways I have healed in this past year.  I am ready to see what the future holds!

 

If you are interested in reading last year’s blog to see how far I have come click here. Thanks for sharing in my journey.  https://larapeterson.com/2015/06/30/broken-and-afraid/

 

 

 

 

Magical Day

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Living life out loud means being mindful of the ebb and flow of emotions that we all experience as we travel our own unique paths.  It means listening to what our hearts are trying to tell us.  It means paying attention to the things that trigger sharp emotions for this is something important our inner self is trying to teach us.  Living life out loud means speaking our own truth as it relates to our story and our lens that we look at the world through.  It means being authentic, claiming our joys and our sorrows.  It means being real!

I am continuously amazed at how the mere act of writing about my sorrows releases the strange hold these deep emotions can try to have over me.  When I write and share of the waves of sadness, grief, anger, etc. that can wash over me I feel my deepest self say “Yes, thank you for listening. Thank you for acknowledging the darker side and not simply hiding it away.  Thank you for speaking it out loud.”  When I do this I find myself much more able to ride the waves rather than drown under them.  Speaking all of my story out loud allows me to move through life in all of its’ glory – dark and light, sadness and happiness, grief and hope.  And then, in the journey, I find the wonderful joy of light and love.

Thank you my Web of Love for holding space and loving me through the entire journey.  Know that I stand ready to do the same for all of you.    Have a magical day!