Keep asking

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Into my third month of grieving the death of my husband, Russell, I find the ebb and flow of the grieving process to continue to be tumultuous at best.  I have days that I am rocking and rolling – getting things done, moving through my day with a fairly clear head, able to have conversations and remember them at the end of the day.  On these days I breathe deeply; I smile more than I sigh with sadness; I reach out to friends and family; I feel hope infusing my being.  But these days still remain fairly fleeting and it is a challenge to figure out to stay in these moments for more than one day at at time.

One rocking and rolling day is often followed by 1-3 days of a muddied, foggy mind and body.  This week  my entire body decided it just needed to shut down.  A migraine started early Wednesday morning and only completely released its’ grip a few hours ago.  I have no doubt that the fact that I’ve been alone in my house since Tuesday evening played much into my mind and body taking control and saying “No more.  You will let go of the tight grip of control you’ve been maintaining and just feel it all – the pain, the sadness, the loss, the deep and ever prevalent missing of Russell.  This is your chance, in the quiet solitude of being alone for the first time since his death, to remember, to just experience your grief as mourning wife.  It is time to let it go a little bit more.”  A wave I had to practice riding so I wouldn’t be towed under.

I’ve listened to that.  I’ve opened myself up to feel it a little bit deeper, a little more rawly.  I’ve cried a lot.  I’ve intentionally watched sad movies to help release the flood gates.  I’ve read from parts of my half dozen grief books gifted to me by folks.  I’ve looked at pictures and read over some of the cards I’ve received in the last few months.  I’ve talked to Russell about what I miss, about what our kids are doing right now, about how proud I am of them, about things we dreamed of doing that I still hope to pursue, about how absolutely cuckoo this whole thing still remains to me.  I’ve walked barefoot in our yard smiling at how green it all is, knowing Russell would be very pleased with our land.

I’ve also tried to slowly start responding to folks who have been reaching out to me to spend time with me.  It is a slow attempt on my part, as so much of my actions are these days.  There are many who I wish to see and yet planning anything these days seems so very, very hard.  I long to be with folks as it helps me not feel so lost and rudderless.  But I also deeply crave to be alone, because in the solitude is where I allow myself to go deep within and speak to Russell, who I am greatly missing more and more everyday.

As time moves along and I think I am getting stronger, things happen and I realize I really am not.  I am just getting better at coping.  But my lethargy, or more accurately an almost complete inability to follow completely through on anything, remains strong.  My good moments are really good.  My bad moments are really bad.  Imagining a newer future is possible, but acting towards that future is a giant mountain I still need to climb.

Speaking on the phone is the hardest thing for me to.  Dialing seems to take so much effort.  So there are calls I need to return both for business and for pleasure.  But I just can’t quite do it most days.  I feel a great sense of accomplishment with every little call I make.

So please, everyone, keep asking!  Keep asking how I am doing even if I can’t adequately answer you and I stare at you like a deer in the headlights or I mutter words that make no sense.  Keep asking me if I need anything though I seriously can’t answer that aloud as the only answer in my head is “give him back to us.”  Please keep asking if I want to go to lunch, or dinner and just sit somewhere quietly for coffee or a glass of wine.  I may say no a lot (especially as I get super busy with summer camps starting next week) but know that I want to say yes to all of those requests.  Keep asking even if I don’t respond for days or weeks.  I see the requests; I write down on my to do list to return the calls or emails and that’s about how far I can get right now.  Please keep asking!

I only want to be with people – sharing stories from the past and the present and dream for the future.  I find committing to work is hard but simply being at my farm is fairly easy to do if I can get out of the house.  Sunny days are easier.  Rainy days leave me wanting to curl up under the covers, order things from Amazon (I am finding you can get just about anything delivered to your door), sip tea and read my books.

But I want to feel strong and competent and able to get through an entire week accomplishing all I hope to do with relative ease.  The only way I will get to this place of strength is baby stepping one step at a time, feeling it all and just going through all of the emotions that well up within me.  I don’t know when it will come, that magical day of being able to walk in strength without feeling drained to my core at the end of it.  But I do know it will come.

Until that day comes please keep asking me whatever it is you feel called to ask. The threads of hope that you all create in continuing to ask are what keep me afloat.  So please KEEP ASKING!  Love and hugs and peace to us all!

The Future

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My email intended as a simple update to my farm community came out more as a musing this morning.  So I decided to share it here.  Enjoy! 🙂

Good morning everyone,
As I sit in the quiet of my morning, listening to the birds singing, watching the sun start to shine (ahh!) and try to breathe deeply thinking of putting Kateri and Soren on a plane to Italy for 17 days there is much that is running through my being.  Unbelievably it was 2 months yesterday that Russell died.  In many ways it feels so much longer and in other ways as if it happened just yesterday.  I am getting stronger and the kids are as well.  Our lows aren’t quite as low anymore or at least not for as long.  We don’t have very high moments yet but are finding simple pleasures again and even experiencing joy.  More than anything we are close to each other and put time with each other above almost everything else.   For that I am very thankful.
I also continue to be very thankful for the community of people gathered around us.  So many folks who continue to hold us up and keep us strong.  So much kindness continues to be poured out over and through us and my heart fills with love for all who are standing with us through this most fascinating and bizarre time.
Slowly we are all taking glimpses into the future and beginning to baby step our ways into exploring new paths to follow.  Lots of new possibilities await us when we are ready.  Kateri’s and Soren’s trip to Italy is just one big step for them into a future they are claiming as their own.  We are taking a 10 day trip at the end of July to Florida with a bunch of my family to a lovely beach home where we will sit on a beach and allow the soaking in of the sun to further heal our aching hearts.  All of the kids have smaller trips and plans with their friends throughout the summer.  We are healing and hoping.
Avalon and all that it encompasses for me is one of the greatest gifts at this time and in this moment.  I continue to have not adequate enough words to express all of the gratitude and love I have for this farm, these people, these animals, the land itself which embraces me in all of who I am – my joy, my fogginess, my sadness, my frustration, my despair, my hope, my dreams.  It is such an amazing gift that I have been given to be able to come and go as I can over the last 2 months.  I believe my healing is going much deeper because of the time and space you all continue to give me to grieve, to be there, to not be there, to laugh, to cry, to just sit in silence.  Thank you!
There is much that has shifted over the last few months in how things are running at Avalon.  The strong core thread of my dream, my vision, my plans for Avalon remain.  But as I let others deeper into the daily workings of the farm, camps, lessons, etc. I find I am needing to shift some of the web threads I have spun for Avalon.  Some no longer apply and so are being gently detached from the web.  Other threads need to be added and so I spin new threads adding them to our Avalon Web.
I am also realizing that I will continue to need other web weavers to maintain and build the Avalon web for now and in the future.  There are many possibilities for new learning, new dreaming that I am doing right now.  I have taken baby steps forward to start somethings and others I am waiting until I am stronger before I step forward.  All of these learnings and dreamings still very much keep me connected to Avalon which is in many ways my heart’s hope.  There is just so much more that I dream of for Avalon and I cannot do all of it alone.  Nor do I want to do it alone. And so I invite others in to add their threads to the Dream Web we are all weaving for Our Avalon.
Logistically, the Co-Op Team that was formed when Russell first entered the ICU to temporarily keep things going remains in place.  I am slowly handling a few more things each week.  And I will be doing even more as we enter into summer and camp seasons.  However, the Co-Op Team will remain actively working with me as we step into a new future for Avalon.  Denise is going to be taking over many of the communications with work crews and instructors for me – maintaining schedules, reminding folks of tasks to be done, in taking requests for equipment, etc.  We are calling her the CC – the Communications Coordinator because she’s always wanted to be one. 🙂  Nikki continues to handle much of the extra horse care needs for the farm – hay and grain purchases, medical care, feed changes, etc.  She’s come up with some great new notification systems that are making it easier for all of us.  John and Kenny keep handling much of the extra building of things and all the tractor work.  Emily, Carrie and Vicky are doing extra projects and behind the scenes planning with me.   All of these team members keep me in the loop and come to me for everything that might need to shift or be done at Avalon.  But they are providing the energy and the follow through to make things happen.
I am thankful for these folks who have said YES to maintaining my vision and my dream.  And for adding their own ideas to make Avalon even stronger.  I am also thankful for all of you who have offered support, ideas, dreams of your own, offers to help in anyway I need it, and just being there.  I am thankful for all of my friends and family who support and love and keep me strong to follow my path. I will keep myself at the core of Avalon and be its main web weaver, but I am oh so happy to be opening myself up to allowing others ideas and dreams become a part of our web.
I am very, very excited about what the next 6 months to a year will bring for Avalon.  the dreaming and scheming going on is all wonderful things for all of us.  Together we can make this place even more magical than it already is.
With deep love and gratitude for you all,
Lara

I am Here

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“I am Here.”  This is the answer I most often give when anyone asks me “How are you doing?”  Stating I am here is the best, most accurate, most real answer I can give in this time and in this moment.  It is also the easiest answer to give as it is the clearest thing that I can think to say.  I am here means I am present right here, in this time, in this moment.

Other answers such as “I’m okay”; or “Awful”; or “sad” or “feeling good”; or “Meh” (a common response right now) or really anything else just can’t quite encompass what I experience most of the time right now.  It is rare that any one response can sum up all of the swirling, foggy, complex, simple, multifaceted things I experience each and every moment of my days.  I most often feel as if I am in an ocean with lots of waves. Sometimes they are gentle waves I can simply float on and breathe deeply while staring up at a blue sky.  Other times the waves are forceful with fierce undertows that I can barely stay above water as I try to ride them out.  Simple answers no longer seem adequate as I travel in this ocean.

I also find that the language I have understood all of my life no longer seems adequate or even really makes sense.  To say I am okay most often leaves me flustered and laughing.  Because being okay now is nothing like what it meant to be okay before Russell took ill and died.  I find that word has so little meaning or perhaps too much meaning that I can’t really use it very often anymore.  Even the moments when I feel “okay” – not spinning, emotionally calm, breathing deep – I am so very aware of the kraken at the bottom of the ocean that I float upon waiting to wrap tentacles of grief, anger, depression and utter frustration around me.  So I will sometime just say “I am okay, but not okay, but okay.” Clear as mud huh? 🙂

When people ask me “How are you?” I appreciate their concern and honest willingness to really know how I am.  This question, though, can often leave my brain locking up completely or scrambling around in at attempt to figure out how I am before answering.  There is an almost manic energy that overtakes me when folks ask this.  Or a deep frustration as I can’t answer the question.  Being foggy brained and unclear in how to move forward in some things remains a fairly dominant experience for me.

The kids and I continue to be gentle and patient with ourselves, encouraging each other to stay in the present moment and be very honest about what we need in each time, in each moment.  We are healing.  We still have moments and sometimes whole days that we simply can’t face more of the world than each other.  We hide away in our house or we spend the day with just each other.  But even these hide away moments are shorter and fewer between.  And they don’t seem to grab a hold of us causing an inability to talk like they used to.  We do all have many, many times that we simply hit a wall and have to leave a space.

Staying in the moment is by far the safest and smartest thing for all of us to do in this time and in this moment.  All we can really handle is the here and now.  Looking too far into the future causes way too much anxiety and none of us is 100% sure what we want to be doing months from now.  Looking into the past, especially since our journey in Cuckoo Luckoo Land began is way too crazy making. We still glimpse both forwards and backwards, but most often strive to stay in the here and now.

We are having more moments of finding simple joys in life.  There is excitement around Kateri’s and Soren’s upcoming trip (they leave Thursday) to meet my parents in Italy for 17 days. While there is significant anxiety around aspects of this trip for all of us we strive to name those anxieties, take a deep breath (or 20) and move onto the next step of the journey. Demetri and I are planning some special meals out and fun activities for just us while they are gone.  Demetri and Soren have discovered a game (DC deck building) that they find great pleasure in playing together.  Kateri and I are loving doing NIA with Carrie Magill. I find myself during these times at NIA dancing my way back to myself in many ways and pouring all of my emotions – grief, confusion, anger, hope, love and more – into my dance.  Soren most enjoys dong tumbling and gymnastics with Xander at the Vlastos’ barn. He also talks anyone and everyone into playing with him at whatever park is close by. Kateri and her horse, Walter, are closer than ever and there are new things she hopes to do with him this summer.  Our puppy, Rue, is 100% the best decision we’ve made in the past 2 month. She is an absolute delight.  I am finding great moments of peace in sitting under the magic tree at Avalon with whoever wants to sit with me.  I also feel healing coming up from the earth itself as I weed and plant and dig in Avalon’s memorial garden that I have now claimed as my own, slowly making it into my butterfly dragon garden.  Threads of light and love and hope in the midst of the darkness twine into our web of healing.

I had so much more I had thought to say but the words seem to have floated away out of my brain.  So for now I will just say I continue to feel love and gratitude for all who hold us up.

I AM HERE!

Opportunities and Choices

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“Opportunities and Choices… Every day, every person makes a hundred small choices.  Most of them are not so clear-cut as choosing between Light and Dark.  There is so much room in the gray spaces of the world.  But when weighed at the end of the day, that heart leans a little more toward the Light or the Dark – and then resonates a little closer with the Light or the Dark. Make enough choices, one way or the other, and the day comes you have grown beyond who you were and it’s time to take the next step in your life’s journey.” – Glorianna from the book “Belladonna” by Anne Bishop

For the past several weeks I have re-reading the Ephemera series by Anne Bishop, one of my favorite authors.  Anne creates worlds of mystery, magic, light and dark, love, power, the earth, fascinating worlds that draw me in and leave me pondering my own.  Anne has a magical way of weaving a story that entertains and inspires all at the same time.  For me, her writings are very mystical and influence my own approaches to life.

There is much that leaves me thinking “Hmmm” as I read this particular series again. My journal is filled with passages and notes about what I am reading.  I find myself throughout my day thinking of things a little differently and adding just a little more intention to all that I do.  I have no doubt that more of my musings will be prompted by what I am reading right now.

My life and my kids’ lives are filled right now with opportunities and choices.  Every single day we are faced with opportunities to either stay where we are, thinking of the past; standing in the deep confusion of all that has happened; hiding away from the world that seems a little darker and less unsafe; living in anger, fear and sadness; OR taking baby steps forward into a new, unknown life, imagining new possibilities and adventures; opening our arms and hearts to those who would love and support us; saying yes to being with folks even if we are quieter than normal; going outside and doing things; living in hope, trust and simple joys for each other and the little pleasures in life.

Each day we are making choices about the paths we will walk that day.  Some days we choose the darker paths. On the darker days we give ourselves permission to “tap out” of others’ expectations of what we should be doing.  We listen to our own deep needs for quiet attention to our sadness. Those are usually the days that the threads of grieving wrap around us with memories that only bring tears to our eyes.  Those days we cocoon inside our house with one another watching silly shows, playing games, snuggling with puppies and each other, being very quiet, sit in one place for as long as possible, eat a lot of comfort foods (not all very healthy), take naps, write in our journals, and stay in our pajamas and keep the curtains closed.

Other days we choose lighter paths.  On these brighter days the sun can pour in and through us lightening our hearts and our minds enough that our bodies awaken and feel ready to move.  Lighter days mean “tapping into” the wellspring of love that surrounds us from all of you and the world as a whole.  The light often means tapping into something more than just ourselves and so we can feel less alone in the world. The lighter days find us outside more, able to get dishes and laundry done, excitedly talking about new things to do, dancing, working out, breathing deeply, riding, gardening, eating more healthy, drumming, walking, working, being with other people, and basically just move a whole lot more.

Most of the time, we have moments of both throughout our days.  I find that most often right now I am standing in the center holding two threads of light and dark, sadness and joy, wonder and confusion, anger and acceptance, hope and despair together.  Within the light I can see the threads of darkness and within the dark I can the threads of light.  It is standing in this center that keeps me sane and helps me continue to step forward on whatever path I choose in each moment.  Standing in the center is the place where I can breathe and think and that is less foggy than any other place.  Opportunities and choices for both the light and the dark can be seen from the center.  In the center I can see the ways the dark and the light weave together into a necessary, cohesive whole.  If I stand in the center I can see the glimmers of hope in even my darkest of times.

It is slowly feeling easier to make more choices to step onto a light path.  For weeks the darkness was so comforting, so safe, so all consuming that the very thought of getting out of my robe each morning was too much. Leaving the house to do anything even fun, joy infused things was almost impossible.  Somehow things got done but the exhaustion after even minimal movement was kind of mind boggling.  But now, in this time and in this moment, it’s easier to fathom getting ready and doing things.  Each of us have added in new things for ourselves this past week – healthier food choices, reading a new book, NIA, yoga, having more than one extra event scheduled in a day and working more days/hours are just a few of the choices we have made.  The kids even handled me going out with friends on Saturday night until after 10 pm. Opportunities and choices.

I honor (and help my kids honor)  the gifts – the opportunities and choices – I am being presented with every single day.  I am striving to acknowledge and respect all that I am feeling on this journey of mine.  I allow myself to feel and think whatever comes pouring over and into me.  I listen to the truths that these feelings are pointing the way to for me.  I know that even the darkest of feelings and thoughts resonating through me must be honored and acknowledged.  The darkness helps me reflect and regroup and go deeper into myself. And in some times and in some moments the darkness wants to swallow me whole. In these moments I cry, I scream, I stomp around, I close my ears to hearing anything from anyone. And then I stop, I listen, I say yes to the right to feel it all, I ground myself deep into the earth, and I take a deep breath, imagining  the wind flow through me as I let it all go.  Opportunities and choices.

As I have stated many times before, I am verbalizing for the kids and I that the 6 month period we are in (and will last until mid September) is one of honoring both the dark and the light threads as we experience them.  This is not a time for us to make decisions about what we will do next.  It is profoundly a time to feel and think and be as authentic to what we are experiencing in every moment of every day.  It is a time to allow our inner selves to speak what is most needed in any given moment and to say yes to our inner selves first.  If things don’t feel right and just feel off kilter I am saying no without expecting myself to explain my actions to anyone.  I know what is right for myself and I know what is right to help my kids move forward as authentic to their own true selves.  We are opening ourselves to all the opportunities before us and making choices based on feeling, not on logic.  When it feels true and right and resonates with our inner voice we say yes.  When it feels off kilter and somehow wrong and is in dissonance with our inner voice we say yes.  We give ourselves permission to say yes to things that make us happy and feel lighter and we give ourselves permission to say no the things that leave us feeling sad and trapped.  We are making choices for what we need and not what others need or expect from us.  There is a great opportunity for freedom within this and when we can stay true to ourselves that freedom is a lovely, lovely thing to feel.

Opportunities and choices – what will you see today?

Quiet

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“Blessed Beltane to everyone. A time of fertility and new beginnings. A time for letting go of the past so you can be open to new beginnings.”

One of my friends shared this today and it seems perfect for me at this time, in this moment.  I feel much of this moving within me.  And I feel myself slowly coming out of the ashes, the cocoon, the egg I have been resting in for the last 7 weeks.  Things are shifting and growing and moving inside of me – new growth, new beginnings, shedding the old, turning compost into fertile soil.  Blessings in it all.

I am quieter these days.  Quieter in speaking. Quieter in writing. Quieter in my being. Just quieter.  Partly it still takes too much effort to speak or write.  Things rattle around through my head I want to say or write.  But they get jumbled in my throat when I try to share.  And the thought of unjumbling them first is too much.

I find myself not trusting that how I speak or write will come out calm and wise and mostly kind.  Dragon is quite near the surface for me these days.  The Kraken has moved deep and seems to be resting quietly, not feeling it necessary to drag the world down into the dark abyss.  But Dragon hovers close by, waiting to blast fire out at anyone and anything that might feel threatening.  And what feels threatening isn’t always big things these days.  I even hesitate to teach my riding stuents right now, as this edginess within me can bubble up quickly and sharply, just like a flames shooting from a Dragon’s mouth.  Fast, furious, all encompassing and harmful.

So I try to stay quiet – breathing in and breathing out slowly and steadily.  It’s easier to be around other people when I stay in the quiet places within.  Sitting with people quietly, allowing conversations to flow around me – this I can do.  And I find peace for myself and for others in doing this.

The quiet is a good, good thing at this time, in this moment. In the quiet I can…

Sleep

Read

Write

Dream without fear

Feel the love of the world flowing around us

Hear others’ hearts

Listen to others’ stories

Walk in the gifts of spring

Rest and renew

Imagine a future of opportunities and choices

Strengthen my heart and my soul

Renew my body

Gently clear away the fog and cobwebs around my mind

Twine back together the threads of my shattered mind

Think of Russell with smiles, not just tears

Cry

Dream

Breathe deeply

Our house, and especially my room, have become a sanctuary space of quiet for me (and I think for our kids).  We are clearing away the clutter bit by bit.  We are adding new, fun, creative touches that brighten our space. We are letting go of unused things to make way for the new, or simply to create space, glorious space.

We are filling the house with all of our dreams, our hopes, our letting go, our remembering, our sadness, our joy, our silliness – and holding it all in the quiet sunshine that pours inside.  The kids and I can speak to each other as we need to or want to.  And the great blessing is we are all comfortable and even crave the gift of simply being in the quiet together.  With each other we can rest and simply be – without question and without explanations.  Quietly, fiercely, joyously loving each other.