Loving my kids

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“One of the best things about being a parent – when your kids are happy you are happy.”  Modern Family

The kids and I love watching the show Modern Family.  It has long been a favorite of ours.  Nowadays it is a lovely escape to watch past seasons and laugh at all the hysterical antics of the characters.  And it is an example of how wisdom can come from all places if we just open ourselves up to listening more closely.

The kids and I are standing united in our attempts to find joy in new experiences.  We take opportunities to do the things we find interesting and grab our attention.  Anything to fill us with energy, lightness and smiles.  I find myself saying yes to a whole lot of possibilities just to see them smile and laugh.  I am changing plans, being spontaneous, looking for festivals, and trying to be silly.

We have an obvious thread of sadness that weaves through all that we do.  Sometimes we can’t speak to others gathered around us very well.  We can’t even talk to each other very well.  There just aren’t words and so we simply flow through our day seeking simple pleasures.  We are trying to remain open to finding a little bit of happiness and joy, and we find it very quietly.

We hug each other a lot.  We text when we are apart.  We talk about what we can.  We play and laugh and plan and dream.

The last couple of days I had the wonderful opportunity to take a quick trip to Lexington with Kateri.  We left Friday afternoon and returned last night, spending just a day at Rolex (3 day horse event) in Kentucky Horse Park.  The cold rain kind of dampened our desire to watch much of the cross country riding standing outside.  But we were in sync in our decision to watch it on the big screen from inside the large trade fair building.   No we weren’t up close to any of the jumps, but we were dry and we had a great time.  We shopped. We watched the riding.We stayed dry (neither of us like getting wet and cold very much). We saw lots of Avalon friends also at Rolex. We laughed at Ru’s antics and smiled at every person who just had to pet her in all her cuteness.  We shopped a lot.  We enjoyed simply being with each other in a horsey world that we both love.   I loved spending time with my daughter who I want to see have all of her dreams – horse focused and other – come true.

Today I get to spend the day with all my kids at the Earth Day Festival in Forest Park.  Each of us is going into the day with much anticipation and a little bit of trepidation.  We have done this festival as an entire family for many years.  It was one of the special days that Russell would take off work for each year so that we could go and be inspired to become more green and earth conscious.  We love the food, the music, the booths, the inspiration and the energy of the entire gathering.  Demetri was born on Earth Day, so we have a strong, personal connection to this day.  Each of us find many, many things that excite us every time we go to this festival.

We will miss Russell today and no doubt will have many moments of wishing he was there to show him something.  But I also know we will have an amazing time and love all the wonderful things we will see, hear and eat today (we love the eclectic food!).  We are taking Ru and I think I am going to pick up Willow to take as well.  The sun is shining which always makes it so much better.

I am excited to spend the day with the 3 people who I love more than anything in this world.  Let the fun begin!

Who am I these days? I don’t really know.

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“Who am I?” is a question I ask myself several times every single day.  My entire life I have leaned towards being very introspective. These days it is a near obsession at times to be trying to figure out who I am.  Because the person I was before Russell died is no longer the person I am today.  The things I believed to be true for myself a few weeks ago don’t all ring true anymore.  There is a thread of truth still but it’s all shifted so much that I am not quite sure who I am. And that is quite disconcerting at times, well actually most of the time!

Here are some of the things that I am experiencing as not quite me anymore.

*Time awareness – being aware of the passage of time, both mechanical and natural/seasonal time, has always come as easily to me as breathing.  I’ve actually worked hard over the past few years to become less aware of time as it can sometimes get in the way of me simply enjoying the natural flow of an event.  I can easily lean towards becoming so aware of a start time (to the minute) that I don’t allow things to happen with ease as they will.  I have lived a life being almost always aware of what time it is.

The last several weeks have left me with a much foggier, shaky sense of time passage.  Everything feels like it just happened and also that it happened ages ago.  I find myself unable to guess at what time or even what day it is.  things sneak up on me because I just can’t track time very well anymore.

The funny thing is that this is how Russell often explained how he experienced his own time awareness.  I have a much better understanding of how challenging this might have been for him.  Especially in contrast to him living with someone who leaned towards time obsession.  Most odd to be viewing the world through a lens that he often wore.

*Observational skills – One of the reasons that things run so smoothly at Avalon most of the time is that I have  highly developed observational skills.  I can notice almost everything all of the time.  I can drive into the farm after being gone for a few days and immediately see everything – things, people, animals, etc –  that are out of place or different.  While this can be a both a blessing and a curse, it always means that I am aware of changes very early on in the process.  This is extremely helpful, often life saving, when paying attention to subtle changes in the horses that might be early detectors of injury or illness. It’s also helpful in being able to quickly determine what changes need to be made to make things run more smoothly for the entire farm.

This heightened awareness of all within my universe is is getting kind of lost in the fogginess of my reality right now.  I find myself missing a whole lot, even things going on right in front of me.  This leaves me feeling very uneasy and more than a little incompetent.  I fear missing something that is vital for either a human or an animal in my life.  I long to get back to working more at the farm but am so scared that I won’t see something that must be done to keep all safe and healthy.  I am thankful for the ongoing commitment and work of Avalon’s Co-op team and all who are stepping into fill the void I have left.  I am trusting their eyes and their instincts to keep us all in a sheltered space as I struggle to make my way back to myself.  As much as I try to figure out a way to return to work on a consistent basis, I fear taking the reins back of running the farm on my own again.  I do not trust my eyes to see all I need to nor my brain to be able to connect pieces that must be connected to run the farm smoothly and safely.  Everyday I speak my gratitude for the Avalon community and I speak my hope that I will be able to see it all clearly again someday.

*Finding hope and joy in all situations – I am still doing this in most situations and times.  However, I have lots of moments right now that all I can or want to feel is anger, confusion, utter lethargy, sadness and despair.  I don’t move forward with hope or glimpses of joy simply because I don’t want to.  In many time, in many moments I don’t want to feel better than I do in that time, in that moment.  I want to wallow in the ickiness because it is real and the most authentic thread within me right now.

Though even as I write this and believe that staying in the rawness of my reality right now, I am realizing that it isn’t about not finding hope and joy.  It is about staying in the Now, no matter what the Now is at this time, in this moment.  The very fact that I am doing anything right now besides crying and screaming and hiding from the world is the thread of hope and simple joy.  So it is probably more accurate to say that I am experiencing a lot more darkness and stiffling thoughts than is part of the me I have always known.  I am sitting in the Now feelings no matter what they are or how long they last without feeling a need to always be speaking of something positive and light.  Hmmm, sitting with all of this a little bit more.  🙂

*Taking action towards wellness – Over the last couple of years I have been making more choices to focus upon my personal wellness – emotional, mental, physical.  I’ve become fairly good at making choices each day that help me feel better and get a little healthier.  I know the things that are good for me and help me feel better about myself – gardening, riding, cooking healthy meals, walking with my dogs or kids, dancing.  These days it is much more challenging to do the things that will raise my energy.  It’s the floopiness of this time that the very things that will get me moving take too much energy to even get started.

*Staying calm through the little things – In this time, in this moment it is the little things that can set me spinning faster than blinking.  It’s very odd to have something that I may have barely noticed occurring a few weeks ago now cause me to spin almost out of control.  I chalk this all up to underlying unsettledness I experience much of the time.  I try to just take a deep breath and move through the spin out.

*Understanding what others think and having others understand me – For those who know me well, it will come as no surprise to hear me say that understanding (and communicating this understanding) is one of my highest needs.  I long to learn all I can about a situation, about people, about the world around so that I can understand all the ins and outs as much as is humanly possible.  I long for others to understand why I do what I do.  This leads me to communicate A LOT.  I often believe that if I just explain myself well enough and I understand others well enough I can avoid a bunch of conflict.  PFFTT – so not true.  Nothing can be controlled that much (yes this one is tied to a need to be in control as well – smile).

Every December I set my intentions for the upcoming year. Not really resolutions, but more areas in which I am going to focus some energy to see what change I can bring about in myself.  Interestingly one of the areas I set forth last December was around this notion of understanding.  I wrote in my journal about my desire to remain radically open to walking my life without the need for clear understanding of everything and everyone.  I wrote about my desire to let go and trust that, even if I didn’t understand something, all would be well.

The early work I did this year around remain open and letting go of my need to understand and control is serving me well right now.  I cannot understand so much of what is happening right now, nor how it’s possible that it even started when Russell entered the hospital.  That whole first day of testing is still such a confusing – how the hell did we get here? – blur.  And I am trying to live into having this be okay.

I am also trying to live into the fact that I do not need others to understand why I do what I do for myself or for my children.  It is really no one else’s business but mine.   Just as how others choose to live their lives is not my business.  Each of us is walking a path no one but ourselves can see.  To believe that we can truly understand another’s journey is a great fallacy.  We can walk with others and reach out to them as we see them struggling or we see them wanting to celebrate, but we cannot every truly understand another’s personal journey.  There is too much that remains hidden no matter how much we try to share with each other.  Not always easy to live in this belief.  But when I do, oh is life sooooo much easier.

*Having a clear language –  I am, quite obviously, a verbal person.  I use words to express, to create, to communicate.  What I find one of the weirdest parts of this journey right now is the fact that language I have understood to mean one thing most of my life no longer makes sense.  The words/phrases “Okay” and “I’m fine” are the strangest to say.  Even when I am having a fairly settled day, saying either of these things is just weird.  Even when I am “okay” I am not really okay.  That underlying thread of being off balance all the time makes many of words make little sense.

*Thinking of others and being faithful to my responsibilities – I am a huge caretaker – sometimes in how I physically care for others; always in how I energetically create space and care for others.  I naturally, without thinking do things all the time to care for the creatures and humans around me. Even if I am not physically providing something, I often find myself breathing more deeply and slowly when I know others are in distress.  I have learned how to hold sacred space around me and do this as naturally as breathing most of the time.

I am still doing this but am also finding myself consciously saying “No, can’t do this right now. I must take care of only me and my kids.”  As much as I then long to be at the farm working, teaching, being, I find that it can’t always happen right now.  I have to say no and cancel things at the farm and in my broader life because I want to being a radical YES to myself and my kids when opportunities arise for us to be together.  I love the work I do at Avalon.  I love being with my family and friends.  I love being active in springtime – hiking, riding, gardening.  I love teaching.  I love dreaming of new opportunities to provide for healing and learning.

Most importantly right now, I am trying to say YES to doing things with my kids that we most want to do, even if that means saying no to other responsibilities that I have.  I am trying to say YES when people ask me our for coffee or lunch or a walk, even if that means not getting through all my tasks for the day.  Opportunities for travel, connecting with others. playing or simply being are my highest priorities right now.

Who am I?

I am lost and I am radically found.

I am wife and I am widow.

I am Kraken and I am Dragon.

I am alone and I am being held up by the world.

I am lethargic and I am jazzed with dreaming energy.

I am the burnt up old phoenix and I am the newborn phoenix growing in the ashes.

In this time, in this moment I am me and not me and the me I will be.  Some days this is okay to experience and other days I just want to scream at the frustration of not knowing how to sort my way through. Everyday, in every time and in every moment I keep taking at least one step forward.

Only way through it is through it

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Standing in the center, holding the space of my grieving, is a very , very challenging space for me to be right now.   The dark thread of grieving is strong and oh so present each day. This center place is in between so many contrasting experiences and feelings that most days I just feel muddled and confused.  I stand in between:

*Cuckoo Luckoo Land and an Imagined World of Dreams and Possibility

*Acceptance and Denial

*Sadness and Hope

*Confusion and Clarity

*Activity and Lethargy

*Clutching and Letting Go

*Light and Darkness

*Silent, closed throat and Non stop Vocalization

*Needing people desperately and Needing complete aloneness

*Crying and Laughing

*Anger and Acceptance

As I am standing in this In Between Place most of the time I feel so edgy, scattered and unsure of myself I find I can barely see straight much less take any kind of action.   I feel the inner Kraken awake and waiting right below the surface, waiting for the opportunity to simply drag someone down into the darkness with me.  Even as I continue to practice all my meditative, releasing skills my ability to slide quickly into feeling intense anger and wanting to lash out at anyone around me is very heightened.  I want to release the Kraken and almost look for opportunities to scream for a little while, at least inside my head. Simple questions and requests from folks stir up such intense internal reactions within me that I am finding myself steering clear of being around anyone besides my kids.  Only with them do I feel it is safe for me to be around people.  With them I walk with gentleness and deep love. Any others walk an unknown path with me that might lead to them being sucked into the dark places of my mind.

I am aware that this edginess is all a part of the grieving.  I actually think it is a strong thread that weaves through all the steps of grieving.  The funny thing about these 7 steps – 1) shock and denial; 2) pain and guilt; 3) anger and bargaining; 4) depression, reflection and loneliness; 5) slight upward turn; 6) reconstruction and working through; 7) acceptance, hope and looking forward – is that they are not just steps to be moved through 1 at a time.  I don’t get to just finish one and be done with it moving onto the next.  Every single day I move through this entire process to some extent.  And every single day I think, hmmm I am doing a little better. Whew.  But then some odd thing will sideswipe me like an underwater submarine strike and I find myself flipped upside down and treading water again, feeling so utterly lost.

While I know that the only way through my grieving process is by going through it, I do fear that I may never get all the way through it.  In my head I get that it can take a lot of time.  But this edginess combined with an almost mind numbing rawness leaves me fearing that I may never be able to function anywhere near the level at which I previously could.  I have such positive thoughts each morning thinking about my goals for the day.  I feel confident and hopeful that maybe this is the day I can make it through my list.  Maybe this is the day I can work more than an hour without feeling like I then need a 3 hour nap.  Maybe this will be the day I feel more peaceful than edgy.  And maybe someday these things can happen, but probably not yet today.

Grief “drops us directly into the deepest waters of sadness.  It demands that we stop completely and ask ‘what must be mourned?’  In grief, we are completely immersed in the river of the soul.”   So very, very true!  This immersion into a river of questioning and searching our souls is complete while we grieve.  The waters are deep that I travel and only rarely do I feel like I am at a point of resting and stillness – in a boat, on a rock in the middle of the river, clinging to a branch floating down the river.  Answering the question “what must be mourned” is not an easy task.  The quick answer of “I mourn the death of Russell” is really too simple.  True but nowhere near speaking enough to the myriad of answers that pop into my head as I ponder this question.  Because the loss of Russell has led to so many things that I mourn now and will mourn in the future.  I must mourn the daily missing of Russell. I mourn the loss of security my children had in having both parents with them everyday. I mourn the future possibilities of family trips and experiences. I mourn the dream of growing old with Russell.  I mourn the loss of being able to work for long hours and feel energized by my work. I mourn being able to have thoughts that just light and hopeful without a thread of sadness throughout it all.  I mourn the dreams Russell and I had for our future.  All of these things and many more I can’t even imagine right now I mourn.

But because I am who I am I also see the threads of hope and rejuvenation that can/will someday come as I move through my grieving.  There are new family trips and experiences being discussed.  There are new dreams for my future and the kids future being explored.  There are new ways that I am weaving security around our family.  There are new stories I will tell. There are new and renewed connections I am making with people.  There are many, many new choices set before me leading to opportunities I may never have imagined before.

Sadness is obviously linked to loss, but “rejuvenation is also a radical part of the letting go process. Sadness removes the logjams inside of us so that we can flow and live again.”  Sadness and deep grieving leads us to take a new look at ourselves and our lives.  We re-evaluate our lives as things are turned upside down and inside out.  We make choices based on what is most important to us.  We see the world anew even through the fogginess of grief.  We cannot choose to go back to the status quo as everything is different now.  As we move through our grief, allowing ourselves all the time we need no matter what others think our time frame should be, we let go of more than our sadness.  If we are faithful to our authentic journey, we also let go of the things that have been blocking us from truly living.  We free things up to let the inner river of our soul flow wildly and passionately.

For now I try to be patient with myself as I daily float through pain, anger, reflection and loneliness.  I am thankful for the slight upward turns I experience each day providing me some hope and more positive energy flow.  I am thankful that I have surrounded myself with folks who affirm that my path right now must be just going through it all.  I am thankful for the glimpses into the mystery that I am tapping into something bigger at work than just my own story.  I am thankful for all the feelings I have – the sadness, the fear, the anger, the confusion, the hopefulness, the simple joy – as these experience of these feelings means I am living in the real, in the now. I am thankful for my kids smiles, hugs, tears, connection to me, and our ability to laugh together as a family.  I am thankful for my belief that life is a process and we just need to stay true to our own journey.

And I am hopeful that maybe today can be a day I get through most of the things on my daily list. It would be nice to have at least one of those.  Smile!

Imagine

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One month ago today I made the hardest decision of my life.  With the loving support of my family and friends, I somehow found the strength to speak words stating it was time to let Russell go and begin to accept that his journey on this earth was at an end.  Never could I have imagined before that time, that moment that I would have been able to speak all I had to speak that day.  And yet somehow I did.

There are many things I’ve had to do and say since that day a month I could have never imagined.   I continue to walk my path forward with a body and spirit that doesn’t quite know the way.  I am becoming stronger and more open than I could have imagine just a few short weeks ago.  And I am also more lost and unsure some days than I thought were possible.  Standing in the middle of light and darkness, understanding and confusion, dreams and reality, sadness and joy continues to be the truth of my every day.    It all just remains so very unreal feeling most of the time.

The entire experience of Russell’s quick illness, his death and the weeks since are by far the most profound of my life.  While I move into finding what a new “normal” is for myself and our kids, I am still most struck by the awesomeness of the outpouring of love and support for our family.  When Russell so quickly and shockingly got sick and died, we all tapped into something very raw, vulnerable, loving and real.  The shock of such a quick loss pushed many of us into dropping the multiple ways we hide our real selves from the world.  We took chances to open up.  We dropped our tasks and spent all our time sharing stories with and being with one another.  Being together became the highest priority over getting our lists done.  We all allowed ourselves to be our most authentic, open selves.

As “real life” has once again taken over and we all get back to daily tasks of living our lives, it’s become easier to step away from living from a place of radical openness to one another.  It’s not that we don’t want to remain deeply connected to one another on a daily basis.  It’s simply easier to focus on our tasks instead of focusing on our emotional connections.  Focusing on tasks is much less messy most of the time.  It’s concrete, it’s tangible, we can clearly see what we have “done” each day.  Focusing on emotional connections to each other and ourselves is more messy and definitely not as clear what one may have accomplished in a day.  But I still find myself trying to stay focused on the messiness of living in the moment and choosing people over tasks at this time, in this moment.

The daily tasks of working, keeping the house cleaned, planning for the future are necessary ones for me right now.  But I move through them with little enjoyment or or sense of realness.  It is getting a little easier each day to make a list and actually accomplish many of my tasks.  But the power I used to give to my to-do list is gone.  I no longer give my list so much power that I am not living my life with passion and realness.  I find that I am giving much greater power to dreaming and imagining a life for myself and my kids that is one of opportunities for becoming the most authentic selves we can be.

Finishing tasks, tracking my thoughts, getting to work – all of these just can’t happen every day.  But imagining – that I can do even in my darkest of moments.  Even in the moments that I feel as if I can’t breathe deeply nor figure out how to walk this world without Russell, there is a little part of myself that can imagine a day in which I am not struck 100s of times at the unrealness of my life right now.  I can imagine a day, far into the future, that I walk with a light heart and a light step on a path that isn’t covered with rocks and holes and slick spots threatening to drop me to my knees.  I can imagine a day, in some other time and some other moment, that isn’t so deeply confusing as many of the days are right now.  I can imagine a day that the kids and I wake up with energy and ready to leave our house with joy, looking forward to all the day can bring.  I can imagine a time in which working for more than 5 hours doesn’t wear me out the point that I need to rest for double that time.  I imagine myself continuing to live vulnerably, open to saying yes to people and opportunities, dreaming as much as I plan, letting go of fears to trust that all will be well no matter what is happening in my life, saying yes to LOVE.

I hold onto these imaginings.  I hold onto the imaginings the kids and are doing of places we want to visit this year and people we want to see.  I hold onto all I can imagine that is hopeful and joyful and full of light.  These dreams get me through the dark times that rise up inside of me, blindsiding me in odd moments everyday.  I hold onto the fact that as hard as it still feels, today is easier than the day Russell died a month ago.  At that time, I couldn’t have imagined that it would ever be easier to function, to do things, to simply breathe.  But it is.  So I know that a month from now, it will be even a little more easy.

One day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time we are moving forward.  We – my kids and I –  embrace as fully as we can the moments that are filled with joy and celebrating. And we honor the moments that are filled with sadness and grieving.  All of these moments are part of our authentic journey.  We will continue to be as honest in walking our individual journeys as we possibly can, for as long as we need to.  While others have walked their own journeys of grieving and loss, our journeys are our own.  And only we can walk our own journeys, being honest and true to what we each need individually. In our own time, in our own way we will walk forward into a future we can only imagine right now.

When the menial becomes monumental

treemiracleThings are not really getting any easier.  At least not overall they are not.  The kids and I all have a periods of time, usually the span of several hours, that are fairly smooth.  During those periods we can get tasks done, or talk with people, or simply function in a close to clear headed way.  But then the fog comes crashing back down and we are left more stunned than ever.

It is the menial, everyday, simple tasks that seem to get us.  Washing dishes and doing laundry are ginormous tasks now, not just simple things that just need to get done.  Truly mountains of dishes and clothes build up before we take the piles down a few notches.  It would be so much smarter to do them all along. But functioning “smarter” just isn’t possible right now. And the inability to perform things that were once just part of a daily routine is so very frustrating and exhausting right now.

As I write this though I am realizing that the menial tasks become monumental because the monumental feelings are more a part of our daily “routine” than anything else right now.  The monumental feelings of loss are not fading away.  In fact, that all is deepening and broadening and weaving its threads into everything.  Which, in turn, makes everything feel monumental and daunting.

This past week we celebrated Kateri’s 18th birthday.  She had several groupings of folks – friends, family, barn community – that reached out to her and did something special with her.  All of these celebratings were good times for her.  And in those times, in those moments, she and the rest of us were “okay”.  But it was in the moments of not being surrounded by folks that the crashes came in for all of us.  The recognizing in the moment, then processing afterwards, that Russell wasn’t there was devastating.  Just mind and body crushing.

The menial tasks of a daily routine became almost impossible as the feelings of loss and confusion washed over us all.  Which then makes being around anyone but each other very hard.  Curling up together is about all we want to do when the grief washes over.  It’s just too hard to be around others.  We want to be around others for the positive energy, the distraction, the connection. But being around others and not being able to talk or function is hard, just so very hard.

Watching Kateri walk through her birthday celebrating with moments of joy and all of it with grace; witnessing Soren have his prom night blow up into a million pieces last night because it’s all just too much; knowing that tomorrow I start Demetri’s rounds of celebrating his 13th birthday which is next week; all of these are leaving me exhausted beyond words.  I want to do all I can to create and support great opportunities for them in these weeks and months that we need to celebrate the monumental.  My frustration is coming in the fact that I can handle the bigger, more monumental tasks of creating parties to celebrate my kids and help handle all of our crashes.  But I don’t seem to be able to handle things that used to be non-thinking, easy tasks.  I worry that I may never be able to function with all cylinders again.  And I worry that I am running out of words for myself and my children and that I just can’t figure out how to be a functioning human being.

Day after day, we are reminded of all of the ways in which we are missing Russell in our lives. We can’t just call to ask a question, or share stories with him at the end of the day, or celebrate new accomplishments, or ask a question that only he would know the answer to.  All the little ways and times of connecting with him throughout the day are shining as glaring reminders that he isn’t here.  And that just keeps getting harder to bear.

While I know that, in time, it will slowly become easier again in this time, in this moment we are finding things just as hard to do, if not more so, than they were when he first died.  And that fact is leaving us all very, very frustrated.  We want to be able to say yes to work and play.  We want to be able to follow through on things we’ve said we can do.  We want to leave gatherings with people feeling energized.   The fact that we simply can’t do many of those things is hard to deal with.

So we keep baby stepping forward in our journeys and hold onto one another for dear life.  We talk to each other because talking with others is too mind numbing to handle most days.  We do what we can and tap out when we simply can’t handle it anymore.  And we hope for a day when the daily tasks of life are easy again.

Rainbow Web

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Today, at least right now, is a rough one.  I think the adrenaline from Friday night’s amazing fundraiser for our family has worn off and I am tired.  I easily could have stayed curled up under covers for the entire day.  Just so much running through my mind that is weighing heavily upon me.  As things ebb and flow there are definitely moments that are much darker than others and today is one of those days that has more darker moments.

The picture I have included is one I drew yesterday as it was becoming clearer what my ongoing experience is of your presence in my life in this time, this moment.  From the very beginning of this journey I have been weaving a web of light, love and healing – first for Russell and then for all of us grieving the loss of him.  As I have woven this web I have sensed myself standing in the center of the web, in the midst of a pulsing light of love and support that helps me be able to breathe deeply and stay grounded even on the shaky parts of the path.  It’s been challenging to explain to folks how I can stay positive, strong, stepping forward, speaking, not collapsing every single moment of every single day.

In the darker moments it’s been especially hard to explain it. Finally yesterday during WOW, my Women of Wisdom circle, this image came to me that is very much what I picture in my head and feel in my heart.  The dark thread at the center of all the web threads is the thread of my grieving, aching, confused self.  That thread runs through everything right now.  It is central to the awakening I have had that leads me to write and dream of new things.  When I am experiencing darker moments this dark thread seems to constrict around me making everything feel tighter and less able to flow easily.  These times I want to just hide, sleep, read, watch silly shows, not talk to anyone.

Around every part of this dark thread are lighter, more colorful threads, including circling around the very center where I stand.  These lighter, more colorful, rainbow threads are all of you.  Your light, your energy, your support, your prayers, your LOVE surrounds me and keeps the dark thread of grieving from consuming me and dragging me down like a kraken dragging a ship down to the depths of the sea.  Your rainbow threads hold me up, pulsing all around and through me, connecting us to one another.

It is this Rainbow Web of Light and Love that is keeping me whole and keeps me grounded to the earth.  Your Rainbow Web helps me keep breathing and walking through the dark times.  Knowing that at ANY moment all I have to do is say “I need love and light sent to me right now, in this time and in this moment.” and it will immediately come is powerful stuff!   This Rainbow Web is the best answer to the question posed often to me “How are you doing this?”   While much of what I am doing is because it just has to be done, the power behind being able to keep walking this path without falling every step of the way is Your Rainbow Web holding me up.

Russell continues to be part of this entire web for me.  He is part of the dark thread and also part of the rainbow threads as well.  I very powerfully and profoundly felt his presence during the Trivia Night to celebrate him on Friday night.  In our relationship, I was the one who would sit at parties or gatherings talking with a few folks.  Russell would walk the whole room for the entire event.  We often joked that I was a sitter and he was a stander.  On Friday night I did both; but definitely more standing and walking than sitting.  With each conversation I had at all the tables I felt his presence and could even sense him smiling that I was the one standing and working the room.  🙂   And I very clearly could sense him communicating to me, through all of your generous support, that he was taking care of the kids and I so that all would be well.  Very, very powerful gift given to me that night by all of you and by him.  I am so very thankful that I could and can sense him still.  Makes me sad and glad all at the same time; all part of the Rainbow Web.

There will be many moments in the next few weeks (and months and years) that I will continue to rest into the threads of this Rainbow Web.  Today we celebrate with all the family the fact that Kateri is turning 18 on Tuesday.  I am thankful for the amazing gift she is to me and the world; and so very proud of the woman she has become.  I feel sad that Russell is not here for her and for us.  And I am going to do all that I can to shoot lots of rainbow threads around her so that her own dark thread doesn’t become too tight around her.  I will do the same for Demetri when he turns 13 next week, and for Soren when he turns 17 in August.  Such amazing children Russell and I have raised, just amazing!

I continue to stand in the center of my being with threads of all colors swirling around me through a bright light filled with love.  You all continue to be the light and love that calls me back to myself.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Butterfly Dragon and gratitude

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4 weeks ago today, at this exact time, we were being told that Russell needed to be moved to ICU.  It is so hard to believe that it has been 4 weeks.  It feels like a lot longer and yet there are moments it feels like it has been just a short time.  I sense myself getting closer to being ready to write the story of how we came to be on the path which has led me to this time, this moment.  But it is not today that I write that story.

Today I write simply of the things that I am grateful for in this time and in this moment.  There is much to fill my heart with gratitude and feel a desire to share that with all of you.  First and foremost today, I am grateful for the gorgeous sun, light spring breeze and warmer temperatures.  For years I have spent so much time outside that my body and mind are very tuned into the seasons.  Rainy days like we’ve had many of this week do have a draining impact on my energy. Sunny days have a lightening impact on my energy.  So today I am deeply grateful for the warm sunshine!

The attached pictures are of the brand new t-shirts I have had created using the awesome Butterfly Dragon image my brother, Jeremy, found for me.  This image is on the back of a golden partially tie dyed t-shirt.  On the front left pocket are the words “this time/this moment” which has become a mantra for me to stay in the Now, because that is really all that we have.  This image and these words have great power for me right now as I rest and recuperate in the ashes/growing soil/egg/cocoon in which I find myself.  I feel a great awakening stirring within me, some of which has already occurred.  This Butterfly Dragon is the me I hope to become when I am ready to fly into the world.  It maybe awhile before I can take full flight but I do feel myself coming out of the Butterfly Dragon egg and starting to stretch my wings into the sun.  So, so much power in this image and these words for me, so much!

So I am thankful for my brother who listened to my heart and my words and found this image for me.  Little could he know how much I would latch onto it and claim it as my own.  Thank you Jeremy.

For the rest of my family, I am also deeply grateful.  All of them have reached out to us in countless ways – changing plans, sending notes, sharing stories, allowing us to set the course for many family plans right now.  My time with them is very precious and I am thankful for their quiet presence, their silliness, their hugs, their love.  I am thankful that Kirsten and I continue to walk similar paths of grieving side by side.  While our paths are different we continue to try and walk our way forward, one baby step at a time, together.  The rest of our family gather around us to give us as much love and strength as they can.

Tonight we will be attending the Trivia Night set up by Silver Spring Pony Club (Kateri is a member) and Immaculate Conception parish to celebrate Russell’s life and act a fundraiser for us to cover all the medical expenses.  Words are not adequate for the gratitude I have for all of the people who have been working tirelessly to pull this together in a very short amount of time.  I have been looking at this night with much trepidation for the last couple of weeks.  One more thing that Russell won’t be attending that we will be looking for him at.  However, today, in this time and in this moment, I am filled with excitement to see everyone and gratitude for all who are attending.  I am pleasantly stunned that as of the last count there were 37 tables signed up.  With 10 people per table we are looking at close to 400 people who will be in attendance tonight. Wow, just wow!  Thank you all for your love.

In every time and in every moment right now I am grateful for my Avalon community who continues to freely give the kids and I ALL the time and space we need to heal.  I know how very rare it is to have a community 100% rally around for weeks on end to not only maintain a space but to help that space grow and flourish.  The amazing Co-op team of Denise, Nikki, John, Kenny, Carrie and Emily have provided consistent leadership, energy and direction for Avalon to be better than ever.  Boarders, lessons students, friends and family continue to offer their time and energy to provide loving care of the horses, dogs, cats and property.  My heart fills with joy at the thought of all of them.

I am thankful for the myriad of tasks that I was able to accomplish in the last few days.  I’ve been able to mark lots of things off my ginormous list and get closer to marking even more off of it.  And each day this week has been a little bit easier to accomplish things.  Easier moving through basic tasks is a very good thing!

I am thankful for all of the abundant financial  outpouring that has come over us through fundraisers, individual cards and donations, and Russell’s and my foresight to obtain life insurance years ago.  To not have to worry right now about finances is an unbelievable gift.

I am incredibly thankful for my life coach/guide, Ayanna, who helped each one of this week clear a few things and get a little more grounded and centered.  Just being in her presence, breathing deeper, and talking through some of the foggy muddleness inside of me is helpful.  Seeing the kids and I be a little bit lighter at the end of the week than we all were at the beginning of the week is oh so good!

Which leads me to a deep gratitude I have every single day – my amazing children.  I stand in awe of their beauty, their wisdom, their kindness, their love, their intelligence, their willingness to share their stories with me, everything about them. They are my heart’s breath and I am so thankful that I am their mother.

I am thankful that for today I am able to walk through the day feeling all the love and light being sent to me.  I physically can feel the presence of those who continue to hold us up and hold us close.  I am grateful that today my heart can feel the lightness and love surrounding us, and that it isn’t just trapped in darkness and confusion.  I am grateful for all of you.  The Web of Healing and Love continues to be spun, day after day, thread by thread by all of you.

Deeply and profoundly and with much love flowing through me, I am thankful for this time, this moment and for the Butterfly Dragon I am becoming.

Peace and love to you all,

Lara

P.S.  If you are interested, I am taking orders for the Butterfly Dragon shirts.  They come in small-2X.  They run a little small. Cost is $15 with no delivery cost if you pick them up at Avalon.  Not sure what the cost would be to ship but could do that.  🙂