Spring – Musing #4

Written on the first day of Spring, March 20, in the morning.
Today is the day, most years, I long for for months and months.  Spring – light, newness, green, color, sweet spring air.  Today, this year is a mystery for me.  I still welcome spring’s possibilities and am hoping in a newer way for the magic that the growing season can bring.  It marks one week from our first step down a rabbit hole that led us into Cuckoo Lookoo Land (what I am calling the place we are traveling in right now).  And I am just as confused in this time, in this moment as i was last week when we – unknowingly – stepped into another world.
Later today I will try and write the story of how we came to be in this time, in this moment.  The telling of a good story – Russell’s favorite thing – is healing for me right now. While there is much in this that leaves me feeling heavy with bone deep fears and sadness right now I am consciously, deeply choosing to walk in Hope and Love.  And I know that there are others who want to undersand as much as I do right now.
I can do almost nothing else than what I am doing right now.  So many people are asking how I can stay strong.  all I return to are the following things:
1)  I have decided that I will walk my part of the journey in Cuckoo Lookoo Land, or the Shadowlands, with as much Grace and Love as I can possibly muster.  Each word I can speak out loud, each step I can take from my truest self is one way in which I can honor Russell.  It is a way I can honor the suffering of his that I can’t even comprehend at this moment.  I know that, even if he is enjoying the dreaming during this journey that he wants to return to us.  I am trying to walk in Hope and Love that he can do that. 
2)  When the monkeys in mind try to lead me down other holes of fear and “what ifs” I simply tell them to go play somewhere else for right now.  I am busy walking in the land down this hole right now.  Maybe we can set up a playground for all the monkeys running around in our brains.  🙂
3) “I have the world holding us up!” (Dana McQuade)
I can do nothing but stand in awe, love and gratitude for the Ginormous Web of Healing we are weaving with strands that stretch all around the world.  WE ARE NOT ALONE! My, his strength are coming from each and every one of you.  Just yesterday I connected with some of the men and women Russell and I knew when he was in the Dominicans.  it has been years since Russell or I had spoken to many of them as happens for all of us as life moves along and what and who are most important slips between the cracks of our busy lives. 
These folks from the Dominican chapter of his life are probably some of the ones Russell has most most missed throughout the years. To be able to connect with them in this moment makes me happy to share with him.  And these are just the people from one one chapter of his life.  I picture him smiling on his journey and even wanting to invite them into talks I hope he is having with Kierkegarrd, Eckhart, etc.  
This is not just our journey. The world is holding us up and I will NOT take that lightly.  
4)  As hard as this journey can be at times, I am alive with Hope that this is about soooo much more than Russell,myself and our family.  When I say I have heard from upwards of 500 people either personally or through others telling me of groups who are holding us up by name, I do not exaggerate.  There is something profound and magical at work.  I will drive myself crazy if I try to figure out why this is all happening I may never know. 
What I do know is that it is an amazing, rare thing to be a part of such an outpouring of this magnitude. Russell’s journey (and mine) is opening hearts and souls to being Real – living in this moment, even if some of this moment is painful for us.  I believe that my writing has become a way of opening myself (and perhaps others) up to the possibility that there is more to this world than just what can be seen.  What the mysteries of the world are for each person is different, but we all experience mystery.  I believe that I am voicing my story and I am voicing Russell’s as I know it.  I believe that through our journey there are more folks who will come to live more authentically, more true to their core. 
Living true to our core can be very messy and raw. Crying on minute as I hold Russell’s hand; then the next working on menial tasks; then the next figuring out lunch; then the next laughing hysterically with Kirsten; then the next wanting to curl up in a ball where no one can see me; then being filled with pride and love for our amazing kids – holding all of these moments in one cohesive piece can be exhausting.  Most days we all want to just get through our day and not feel rawness of being so vulnerable to all emotions.  
But I will say – I have never before felt so very real as I do right now.  Mysteriously in the surrealness of this journey I feel so true to my core that it can only be the grace of being open to LETTING the world hold me up.  It is not me alone who is strong enough to live as real as I can right now.
I cannot really say all I want to about what this journey is for me right now, even with all I write there are no adequate words to say what it is like to be able to feel:
*Russell’s presence as if he was talking to me
*Each and every one of  you hug me as if you were with me.
*As if I am part of one of the most profound, inspiring moments I will EVER experience in my life.
*myself resting in Hope and Love when each day more hard questions arise and fear wants to choke off my words.
Russell’s journey is a gift to us all.  What the gift is for you I do not know.  Only you can figure that out in time, if you want.  I do believe we are all connected into something more in a magical way as we try to LOVE Russell back to us.
I am filled with love and hope as we step forward into spring.  I am also filled with deep longing for Russell to return so he can completely see and hear and feel how deeply loved he is.
Breathing in and breathing out.
Love and peace surround us,
Lara 

Muse must speak – #3

First written on the morning of March 20.

Welcome spring!

It was at this time last week that Russell Peterson first told me he “might” need to go to the doctor. Our first, unknowing, step down the rabbit hole.

I’ve been awake for 2 hours but the compulsion to write came upon me so strongly today that I needed to do that first. Later today I will share my musing. I also hope to share a longer story of whst happened last Friday with current update.

I know I am pretty much “blowing” up my link to Facebook this week. What rises in me to write comes boiling to the surface and I feel compelled to share.

For years I’ve considered starting a blog for just these boiling up moments. Perhaps I will finally (anyone want to help me get page set up?). For now, I write and I share everywhere I can so that I csn link as many people as possible to Russell ‘ s Healing Web.

If this is all too much for you I understand. Hide my page, don’t read, do what you need to for you. Live in your truth of what us best and most true for you as I am living in mine. All my writings -updates, stories, musings- are for me and Russell. I hope they help you but I do it for us.

May we all today follow our hearts and not put off what we most want for our lives. We are proof that your life csn change in one step.

Love and peace surround us all.

This time, this moment – Muse #2

Here is the second of my writings from my time in the hospital with Russell. It was during writing this one that I realized my muse/my voice had awoken and I was entering a new time of sharing my story from my deepest, most authentic, most trusting self.  It was written on March 19, 6 days into my journey with Russell in Cuckoo Lukoo Land.

At times like this insomnia is a gift.  I have been at the hospital (wrote farm at first – smile) since 3:30.  Gives me nice quiet time with Russell and also a chance to write and release the musings that ramble in my head all night.  
“Everything I have been doing to become more authentic, more real, more present in the moment, more me over the last few years has strengthened me for this very moment in time.  Every breathing practice; every crisis I have walked through; every opportunity to learn let go of control and trust; every time I’ve swallowed my pride and asked for/accepted help; every problem I’ve puzzled over and solved; every time I’ve collapsed or spun out then found just a little more strength to step forward; every time I’ve closed a circle to create safe space – ALL of these have been practice for this moment in time.  
Over the past several years, and more intentionally in the last few months I have practiced becoming stronger.  I have learned to breathe deeply and exhale long.  I have practiced grounding and centering myself so much that it takes little more than closing my eyes and picturing Avalon’s ‘magic” tree to feel the roots of my soul connecting to both earth and the Divine.  I have practiced closing a circle of safety around myself so often that it’s become almost second nature to imagine a shield of protection and love around myself and those I love.  Daily I have been practicing little ways to let go of an obsessive, deep instinct to be in control and understand everything.  In life, especially  on a farm, it is wise to learn that much we face will remain a mystery and out of our control.  The best laid plans can still fall completely apart and you find yourself like Alice falling down a rabbit hole into an unknown land.  
I have been learning how to stay in every single moment finding gratitude for the littlest of things.  As I reflect on my life, I now think my decision last December to not start a spring countdown which always left me looking ahead to something better, rather than embracing the gifts and beauties of winter, was a direct step to being ready for where I am right now.  It’s given me 3 months of practicing staying here, right now, in this present moment, and I am grateful for the strength those months of practice have given to me. 
It is much easier to abide in Hope if I stay right here, right now, being simply happy for the little achievements of Russell’s day.  It’s not an avoiding scary possibilities or avoiding learning more, it is simply not letting those scarier things take hostage of my brain and soul.
One of the greatest gifts of this part our journey is that way in which people from every chapter of Russell’s life is reaching out to him, me and his whole family.  Not only do they add their thread of hope to our Healing Web, their stories are a joy of remembering for me.  Each story makes me smile and cry as I read it to Russell.  He has touched so, so many lives.
The last couple of months Russell and I have been working very consciously to strengthen US.  For a few years now we have both been walking through places in ourselves of deep soul searching and trying to figure out on a deeper level who we are.  These individual journeys have at times left us “hidden” from one another and it’s been challenging to find our way back to the best US.
The work and play we’ve been doing with each other in 2015 has left me feeling hopeful and excited that we are close to getting back to US – the us that is completely connected and able to change our world.  During our last counseling session just this past Thursday it was amazing how many things were on both of our lists of what we desired for US.  A balm to both of us that YES we are close to being wrapped in joy for one another again.  
Just this past week we had our first joint effort in years at paying it forward doing something simply for the joy of smiles on people’s faces.  Having the African Children’s Choir that performed at Immaculate Conception come to Avalon for riding and playing was a perfect 1st step towards Russell and I combining our passions, our talents and our ministries.  I left that night filled filled with such joy and hope of more opportunities for Russell and I to minister together.
To the depth of my being: 
I remain hopeful for healing.
I remain grateful for so many reasons and people. 
I remain filled with love.

Releasing the Kraken

kraken

“The Kraken is a legendary sea monster of large proportions that is said to dwell off the coasts ofNorway and Greenland. The legend may have originated from sightings of giant squid that are estimated to grow to 12–15 m (40–50 ft) in length, including the tentacles.[2][3] The sheer size and fearsome appearance attributed to the kraken have made it a common ocean-dwelling monster in various fictional works.”

In our house, we watch a lot of Big Bang Theory.  It is one of our go to shows when we need to laugh.  As for many folks, Sheldon is one of the funniest characters for us. In one episode (not sure which one), Sheldon shouts out “Release the Kraken.”  For the life of me I can’t remember anything else about the episode except that line.

When we shout out “release the Kraken” in our family it is often connected to our dog, Alkina, when she is going grumpy, which actually happens a lot.  We are quite convinced that Alkina, our Kraken, would eat anyone who tried to break in or harm one of us.  Unfortunately she can’t always keep her grumpiness stored away for others.  And so, at times, it feels like the Kraken in her may turn on her loved ones.

This is how I feel more and more this week.  As if I have Kraken lying dormant inside of me who is coming close to awakening and taking out everything in her wake.  Overall, I know I am holding it together pretty well and somehow I am still staying fairly grounded and centered.  I breathe in and I breathe out and I walk away when I just can’t handle a space any longer.

While I am a little concerned about releasing my Kraken upon family and friends, my bigger concern is taking out unknowing strangers.  As we have shopped for necessary items this week I find myself wanting to start screaming “How can the world continue when I am crumbling?”  I come close, all the time, to telling random strangers I lost my husband and my kids lost their dad a few days ago.  When salespeople ask what they can help me with I almost bite my tongue off trying to stop from asking them if they can explain how I got to where I am right now.  Poor Kateri and I almost ran from Dress Barn last night when reality came crashing down hard and the walls felt like they were closing in.  At those times I fear shoving folks out of my way as fast as I can to get out of the room.  I picture myself as a Kraken with multiple arms just flinging things and people every which way.

In these moments, I allow myself to feel the pain, the anger, the confusion and just get myself to a safe place.  A safe place for me to just give in and allow it all to wash over me for awhile.

So, if I am in your presence and I all of a sudden shout out “release the Kraken” or I start flinging things you might want to run.  Or hug me.  The Kraken inside quiets with hugs – both physical and energy hugs sent from miles away.

Love and peace,

Lara

The Hero’s Journey – #1

One day very soon I will write the story of how I came to start this blog.  It has been in my thoughts for years. But the story of what pushed me into finally doing it is the story of how my husband, Russell, came to be in the hospital for reasons unknown to this day.  Never would I have thought I would be where I am now, without him physically walking at my side.  I am not ready to write that story yet.  I told it often to dozens of people as we tried to figure out how to heal him.  But in this moment, and in this time, I am not ready to write the story.  It will come, just not right now.
Instead I will post the musings that boiled up inside of me as I walked the journey with him.  These musings are what pushed and gently pulled me into finally starting a blog.  I am very grateful for this avenue to healing.
THE HERO’S JOURNEY:
The writer in me seems to find times of great challenge – winter always being one – to be the best places/times for the muse to awaken.  There are so many thoughts and insights and “hmms what about this” that arise when I am in the midst of some kind of struggling time.  And as this is probably by far the most challenging times I have yet faced in my life.
I believe that Russell has gone deep into himself to retreat and heal whatever needs healing at this time.   Sometimes in life the answers we need to walk in the light can only be found by walking into the shadowlands or into the dark night.  It is in these darker, shadowy places that we can find allies and slay the demons that threaten our souls.  Every hero’s journey has long, dark, solitary paths that can only be walked alone.
For Russell, who is connected to so many people and feels such a high responsibility to everyone in his life, maybe this is a way for him to take a path alone for a time.  Personally I would have preferred him going off on retreat for weeks or even months, but it isn’t my journey, it is his.
My hope is that he is spending this silent time of his healing journey walking and talking with his favorite mystics and philosophers – Meister Eckhart, Thomas Merton, Thomas Aquinas.  These are his allies.  And I hope that his shadowland journey is more about learning than slaying dragons or demons.  He would be much more happy to be having long conversations than fighting the terrors of the night.
As for us, while we wait for him to return,  we are creating a bright, energetic light for him to follow as he finds his way out.  The prayer shawl he has received is like a cloak arming him with strength and healing peace.  We pray, we sing, we cry, we laugh, we read, we touch, we sit in quiet solidarity, we hug each other – all of these are the threads we are weaving in a massive web of healing.  Every word you speak, text, email, facebook he is hearing in some way.  We can help him find his way home to us.
Each and everyone of you are vital in strengthening the web of hope and healing we are weaving around him.  We ARE his light through the shadowlands when he is ready to return.  So I ask you all continue to sing, speak/write words of healing and love, share stories with each other about Russell (you know he loves a great story), pray, chant, hug, breathe do what you love with intention.
I am saving all my texts, emails and messages to share with Russell when he returns so he can experience the Love/Healing Web I can feel for him and us.  Part of what I most love about the electronic world is the digital diary it leaves.  All this will become part of Russell’s healing book, along with the cards and pictures he is receiving. It’s been amazing the way in which facebook has allowed us to reach literally 1000s of people around the world who are hoping for Russell’s return.  Everyday I am amazed by one more group (up to 27 various communities that I am aware of) who is being added to the web. It is one of the reasons that I do love facebook.
Thank you all for your support and love.  Russell and his entire family are deeply grateful!
With peace and love,
Lara

Cracking Open

newborn phoenix.jpg
Today is just a little, tiny bit better.  The minimal/menial tasks don’t feel as if they are monumental today.  At least so far.  Getting out of bed, making coffee, letting the dogs out were all done fairly easily.  Bizarre how accomplished I feel just doing those routine things.  Yesterday was a rough and poignant day.  I am deeply grateful for time with my family in various settings and their quiet space making of peace and love for me.  The hardest part for me and our kids was waiting for Russell to walk in and join the conversations.  The best (if their can be a best) was being allowed, in every place I was yesterday, to cry if I needed to, to sit quietly if I needed to, to laugh over the craziest of things, to simply be.
Every year, usually sometime in December, I set my intentions for myself for the next year.Not really claiming New Year’s resolutions but rather setting the ideas, goals, paths I want to open up my consciousness to hear the wisdom within.  I usually pick an animal to explore, a chakra to open up to, a prayer or thought I want to chant daily, and a few ideas to kind of let flow through my entire year.  Little did I know when setting my intentions last December how very meaningful they would be for me in this time and in this moment.
The animal I chose, or actually feels a little like it chose me is the Butterfly.  Butterfly images and items have been popping up all over the place for months.  The image of a butterfly is one that Russell also felt very drawn to as a symbol of transformation and new life.  In just the past month we had had a few conversations about the process of becoming butterflies and finding new life in ourselves and in one another.
For a butterfly to come to be there is a time of going inside one’s self (as a caterpillar) that must occur. There is no other way to allow the necessary changes to work their magic.  And there is a complete cracking open of our outer, protective shell that MUST happen.  If the cracking open isn’t complete the butterfly cannot come out and it will die.  If the cracking open is complete, what emerges is beautiful and delicate and able to soar upon the winds of the world.
We/I can only become something new and able to soar if we allow ourselves to go into that dark, solitary space and then, when the time is right, crack open and release ourselves from the shell that protects us from the outside world.  I knew this biological process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.  I am now experiencing this as my heart if breaking open to become something new.  What that will all be, what butterfly I am becoming I do not know at this time and in this moment.  I simply know that I am cracking open and working my way delicately out of my protective shell.
Interestingly the chakra that I chose to reflect upon this year (and I chose this in December) is the throat chakra. “The throat chakra is the energetic center that gives us the power to express ourselves in every level of experience. To honor this gift fully, we are asked to consciously commit to expressing our truth and sing the song of individuality clearly and with integrity. To do so serves our spirit.”   I guess I chose well as the muse has awoken inside and is singing out all the songs of my soul – the joyful, the rageful, the powerful, and the sorrowful.  The sharing of my story with all of you each day has become so necessary for me.  I can’t tell Russell of all the powerful experiences I am having right now.   And he would so have loved to share in this part of my journey.  So instead my voice rises through my writing to share it with any who want to read/listen.  It is one of the ways that I deeply believe I am honoring Russell and honoring US.
One of my intentions/goals for the year is to Let Go and simply trust the process.  I have the words let it go written all over journals I’ve created, all over a special intention/let it go box I created 2 months ago, and on lots of “to do lists”.  I have been working to realize that no matter how much I try to control a situation, no matter how much I plan, no matter how much I worry over the future, no matter how much I ponder over past ways I have hurt folks – ultimately living in this time and in this moment is the only thing that I can really have much say over.  I cannot change everything that is happening to or around me.  But I can choose how to respond to it and live through it.    Letting go of my high need to control and organize and plan and simply be is not always easy for me.  But I find that when I can do that taking my next, often difficult step is a little bit easier.
Another intention for my year, closely tied to the first, is connected to understanding things.  I have an almost obsessive drive to understand situations and people.  My brain often goes into overdrive trying to puzzle things out so I can understand it better.  I do think this is closely linked to my belief that if I understand things enough I can then control the situation and keep everything and everyone safe (which is an even higher obsessive drive in me).  The problem with this is there are so many other factors involved in every situation that there is realistically no way I can understand it all.  This week has taught me that there will be hundreds of things I will NEVER be able to understand.  And I am fairly sure I will go mad if I spend all my time trying to understand why this has all happened.  I desperately want answers of how we came to be in the hospital and how it is I now walk my journey without Russell physically at my side. But in my deepest places in my being, I know that I will never know. And this is a hard, hard pill to swallow.
Closely linked to my need to understand, is my need to help others understand why I do what I do.  I send out tons of emails to the boarders about most transitions at the farm – both big and small.  Part of me believes that if folks just understood why I do what I do, most conflict could be avoided.  Sometimes this is true, but often it isn’t.  So I’ve been baby stepping into realizing that what is most important is that I understand why I do what I do.  Others can agree or not, read my musings or not, participate or not – that is their business.  Mine is to do mine and be true to myself and the vision for my own life.
My last two intentions – to love passionately and to Just do It – are intimately linked for me in this moment and in this time.  I do not understand,nor never will understand how I stepped into the rabbit hole I did which led to me walking without the man I believed I would spend the rest of my life with.  I have no comprehension of going from him being sick with something (but not thinking it was anything major) to where I am now.  Trying to figure that out is part of what leaves me shaking, crying, and unable to step forward.  So I don’t stay in thoughts often or long if possible.
What I have been radically gifted with this week and the clearest of messages that “Life is too short and we MUST live in the moment.”  It truly can change in the tiny blink of an eye.  We must tell those we love that we love them NOW.  We must do the things we’ve always wanted to do NOW.  We must live our lives with passion and purpose NOW.  We must trust our instincts and follow the voice of our heart in every moment NOW.  Hear me folks and let my story teach you true – there may not be another moment than the one you are living in RIGHT NOW.
Kelvin Ringold, a friend of mine from my years in the Philippines (during high school) once said to me “Lara if you ever realize the full capacity you have to love passionately and release that power you can change the world.”  For almost 30 years I have pondered that, come back to, strived to each day love the folks around me and have them know they are loved.  I don’t always succeed as I get tired, I get caught up, I get cranky, I live life in the mundane as we all do.
This past week, I allowed myself to crack open completely to Russell, stand fiercely with him during his journey,  and 100% be open to the love pouring in upon us and through us.  I allowed myself (and am trying to continue to do so) to stand grounded in the rawness of this unfathomable journey and simply keep chanting to myself LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  There was nothing more I could do for Russell, my children, myself, our friends and family, than say I love you. Deeply and completely and openly and rawly I LOVE YOU!  The pulsing light of standing in LOVE above all else has been the greatest gift Russell and his journey could have given to me.  I am sorrowful that I cannot in this place and time share that with him.  But I radically feel his love for me and our children and all he held dear pouring in and through and around me.
I believe that Russell’s final journey on this earth has had far reaching impacts around the world.  As you each share your story with me, your own confusion over how this happened, your own sorrow, your love for me, Russell, and our children I feel that love pulse into me and then through me back out into the world.  I believe that through our shared sorrow and our shared love for Russell, healing and hope for many is pulsing through the world.  I believe that this part of Russell’s journey has rocked many of us to our core and my hope is that when we become steady again, we can do our part to heal the world as Russell wanted to do.
I feel deeply honored and humbled that I have been gifted with this rare and radical experience of feeling such deep, deep LOVE pouring around me.  I believe it was his final gift to me so that I wouldn’t feel so desperately alone right now. I believe it is Russell’s way of linking his voice and his passion for the mysterious to me so that I can somehow be an instrument to change the world.  Russell most wanted to know that at the end of his life he had made an impact.  Well, my love, you have.  And I firmly believe that you are part of the LIGHT and LOVE and HOPE surrounding us all.  I will continue to honor Russell by simply and profoundly bringing myself back to LOVE and allowing it flow into and through me, in this moment and in this time.
So I encourage us all to say and show – I love you – to all who cross our paths.  We need to JUST DO IT already!  
With peace and love,
Lara