Knowing our darkness

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Compassion at its roots means to “suffer with”.  Not to protect or fix or heal another, but to stand in the darkness with another.  It is when we hold space by simply being with another person.   “It is only when we know our own darkness well that we can be present with the darkness of another.” It is only when we first stand in the darkness of our own being, loving ourselves in the wholeness of our experience and practice compassion with ourselves, that we can begin to truly be present with others.

As I have slipped and slid towards, and now through, the 1 year anniversary of Russell’s sudden illness and death, I have slid away from remembering that first and foremost I have to embrace my darkness and hold space for my own healing.  Somewhere around the beginning of this year I shifted inside from holding my own sacred healing space to trying to fix myself and protect others from my darkness.  I started getting very sick of hearing the thoughts in my head about death, dying, healing, grieving, etc.  It started feeling like “blah, blah, blah” to me and I began allowing my inner critic to silence me and try to lock the doors to the dark places.  I placed more and more focus upon what I felt I “should” be doing and planning, upon my kids’ journeys, and upon anything around me that wasn’t about standing in my own darkness. Or at least I tried to.  I’ve even had several temper tantrums with my counselor and a few close friends saying I just don’t want to talk about it anymore.  I want to be done with all of this grieving.

Well that hasn’t gone so well.  The  more I pushed away my own suffering and dark places the darker it got.  Nothing got better it just got muddier and muddier.  I became less aware of my own journey as I tried to fix or protect others broken, wounded hearts.  My ability to be present, truly be present with love and compassion, with them quickly slid into the abyss.  As I tried to hide myself away from my inner Kraken and instead grasp at desires to rise like a phoenix or fly like a dragon, I somehow got further and further away from the light places within myself.   Curiously just wanting to be ready to rise up transformed into a mythical creature of light and magic doesn’t make it happen.

I am starting to settle back into my belief that in order to live with compassion for the world around us we must first be willing to have compassion for, to suffer with ourselves.  We must be willing to stand in our darkness – loving ourselves – without trying to fix everything or protect ourselves from the messages that our deep, inner darkness has to share with us.  We must be open to the possibility that embracing the darkest parts of ourselves may very well be the path to transformation.  Hmmm…

I’ve been playing around with and exploring images of Krakens the last couple of days.  One of the things I am drawn to is the way in which Kraken’s tentacles can be so similar to a spider web when they are spread out wide.  Webs have long been a powerful image of healing and love for me. Webs are a thing of support with the strands reaching far and wide to include many. They are anchored on strong, supportive structures and can bear much more weight than one would think possible.  I am starting to play with the ways in which kraken’s tentacles can invoke this same feeling for me.  Tentacles as a web of underwater support hold and guide me through the dark. When I rest in their strength I will not drown in my sorrow as I fear when I resist the dark.  Letting go and trusting that the web, the tentacles will hold me up is what I most need to do.

Last year, on this day, I experienced one of the most profound things I believe I ever will.  At Russell’s funeral I felt the gathering of a web of love, healing and suffering that was more powerful than I could have ever imagined.  As we gathered together to suffer with one another, grieving the loss of Russell and celebrating his life, there was magic amongst us.  Magic in the sense of that tangible feeling of love and connection that we all long for.  Russell’s funeral was one of the hardest days of my life and also one of the greatest.  We honored him with such love and intention to celebrate a life well done that I truly believe he somehow was there with us.  Our gathering that day was what I believe ritual and ceremony can be at its very best.  In embracing our darkness we all radically stepped into the light that day.

As we continue to move forward with our lives integrating all of our dark places with our light ones I hope that we can each find the people who are willing to suffer with us. Not fix us or protect us from life, simply stand with us as equals.  Living our lives with compassion and open to receiving compassion from others ultimately makes for a richer, more loving experience of life.  May we all come to know our darkness.

In this time, in this moment I continue to be grateful for you all.  I am filled with love as I remember.

(The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown, influenced today’s writing.)

 

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Swimming in the deep

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These days I find myself swimming in the deep, dark waters of my life   Silence, caving up, and living in the dark places seems to be what I am most drawn to.  I come up for air and light in little bits and pieces.  But overall hiding away the dark places is what I am doing the most. These dark waters seem to draw me in with promises of peace and quiet.  I get lulled by the steady, silent movement of the water around me.

But these dark places aren’t really that comfortable for me.  Here in these places that are so dark there is almost no light I feel rudderless, almost incapable of movement and without words. I definitely can feel directionless as I try to see through the dark into creating a new framework for my life.   Starting new things, setting new goals, and taking action seem near impossible here.  Even as I write this though I begin to see a little bit clearly to what I need to do.

In these dark places I have been in for several months the musing words that have acted as fairy dust to magically guide me on my path have simply not wanted to come out of me.  Partly because I so desperately want to write of the light, the powerful, the strong ways in which I can move forward.  And these things haven’t been what I have been most feeling so I haven’t been writing as much.  Writing of the dark places has seemed so depressing, so defeatist that instead I just don’t write.  And I am learning that when I don’t write all of those thoughts and feelings jumble up inside of becoming like a heavy weight forcing me down into the dark.

What I have been starting to do is read back over my early blogs from last year. As cuckoo luckoo as that time was for me I allowed myself to speak it all.  And that letting go of worrying about what I was saying and what others would think was part of what gave me the power to stand so firmly in an open, breathing space in which I allowed myself to love myself and those around me so openly and completely that I could not only breathe in the dark spaces I could dance there.  I embraced the gifts of all the pieces of me.  This embracing all of myself and letting go of the twisted up expectations of myself to be something other than what I am in each time and in each moment is the true path I must step onto right now.

On this day a year ago I wrote about the Kraken and the Butterfly Dragon, both mythical creatures with wisdom to share with me.  The Butterfly Dragon is something my heart longs to fly with and I find great joy in thinking of her.  The Kraken is something I have tended to avoid or warn others of when I feel her arising inside of me.  However, it is this powerful creature of the deep who I really am swimming with these days.  Avoiding her, pretending she isn’t there, and trying to shove her away from me only causes me to sink deeper into the dark.  Instead the call from my soul is to listen to her wisdom about what the dark, deep waters of myself have to share with me.   There are things that I need to listen to that only Kraken can tell me.

Being in the darkness doesn’t mean that there is no movement.  That’s what I’ve been experiencing as I try to shove these places out of my head and heart, instead trying to shove in new things just to grasp at straws of light.  I’m slowly beginning to realize it isn’t the dark that keeps me still it is my resistance to the dark and the messages this place wants to share with me.  The more I resist the longer I will remain in this place in a state of inertia.

If I can take a breath, let go and trust my inner Kraken she can guide me through these dark places with grace and power.  She is an amazing creature capable of great speed and precision when the time is right.  She is quiet, fast, patient and very, very strong. Waiting in the dark is a way of patiently storing up her power until it is time to move.  Staying attuned to the world around with all of her senses Kraken can feel her way through the dark.  This is what I am being called to listen to, at least part of the message she has for me.

I committed early on in my grieving journey to speaking my story because it was healing for me.  I wrote because I had to or the thoughts, feelings and words would somehow eat me alive.  I didn’t worry about what others would think.  I just wrote from my heart and my soul and lovingly tossed my story into the air.  Somewhere along the way these last several months I have started worrying about what others think so much that I stopped being able to see, hear and feel my story speaking within me.  I’ve allowed worries about if others want to still hear my story to close my mouth and mistrust my writing.

In doing this I have created a cage around myself that I dropped down into the darkest places within.   Kraken is swimming around this cage wanting to release me from it.  She wants to open that cage and teach me to swim again in my own knowing.  She wants me to glide through the dark, deep places of myself with ease and trust that these places are as much of my story as the places of light that I fly in with Butterfly Dragon.  I need to listen to and honor it all to truly live an authentic life.  She wants me to learn that being in the dark doesn’t necessarily mean I have to stay motionless or speechless.  Being in the dark simply means I have to learn to move and speak in a different way.  She wants me to learn that there is beauty and love and hope in the dark places too.

So I open my cage, the one I have locked myself in, and I rest there opening myself to listening to Kraken.  I take a deep breath, open my eyes and prepare myself to fully trust and love myself again.  In this time, in this moment this is my story.  I share it for me, to heal my heart and to honor me.

 

 

 

 

Web of Love

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Today has been a day of resting and remembering.  Last night’s bonfire and celebration of Russell at our home, our first little farm, was very healing for me as I watched everyone laugh, tell stories, play soccer, and enjoy the fire.  Russell would have loved it with every fiber of his being.  It was a magical night of celebrating the love for him that we all have. 
I share here what I wrote the morning he died a year ago.  I wrote this from a place of deep hope and love.  As I reread it this morning I knew that I wanted to share it again for so much of it remains true for me today as I continue to walk my path with hope, love and a profound awareness that Russell’s story, my story, the story of US is still about so much more than just us.  It is OUR story – all who read it and remember; all of us who seek to live a brave and authentic life;  all of us who try to understand the mysteries of life; all of us who love and hope and dream; ALL OF US!
I believe Russell’s life and journey continue to inspire us.  I believe that the world continues to hold me up.  I believe we are not alone. I believe in love and hope.  I believe in, day after day, being brave and living out loud.
In this time, in this moment I continue to breathe in and out with love!
Originally written on the first day of Spring, March 20,2015 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

This time, this moment

 

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One year ago today I settled into the phrase that would become my mantra for the year “This time, this moment”.  I say settled into because what I wrote on March 19, 2015 remains true for me today.  Staying in this time, this moment is one of the best things I can continue to do for myself and my kids.  Little could I have known that those words would become so very important to me.  These words truly settled deep into my being and have in many ways tethered me to this world in a most healing way as I have journeyed this past year.

I don’t want to share all of that writing here but there are a few things that bear repeating as I reflect upon what this year has meant and what this current weekend means to me.

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 sit in the quiet of my house this morning, smiling at the sun beginning to shine and the birds singing outside my window, I revel in the fact that finding gratitude in the littlest of things is still one of my greatest blessings.   Living in this time, this moment is all any of us really can guarantee.  Embracing all that life has to offer us can be such a gift.  Learning to move with the waves rather than fight against them is really the only way to come out the other side in one piece.

Tonight we will celebrate Russell with  a bonfire at our house.  It is the first bonfire and large family gathering we have had at this house, our first farm, in at least 6 years ago.  We’ve had a few smaller gatherings for the kids’ birthdays but tonight will be more.  For tonight we’ve invited our family and the closest friends to our family to celebrate Russell and to remember him on the eve of the one year anniversary of his death.   I feel a sense of tonight being a point of ending one thing and beginning a new one.   We will celebrate surviving the first year without Russell.  We will celebrate Russell and his life, sharing stories that can make us both cry and laugh.  We will, hopefully, burn away some of the shock and initial pain of trying to learn to live a life without him in it.  We will, again hopefully, begin to open up new doors to more healing and transforming.  We will continue to weave the threads of connection and love.

Though I have dozens and dozens of different thoughts and feelings racing around inside of today what I am most feeling right now is gratitude, deep gratitude for so very many things.

I am grateful that the sun is coming out to dry the wood.  I am grateful for the help we have had getting things ready.  I am grateful to be reclaiming our home as a place to gather and play.  I am grateful for the love and support of family and friends near and wide who continue to embrace and love my family as we walk paths of newness trying to figure out who we are and what we most need for our lives.  I am grateful for children who I adore more than words will ever be able to express. I am grateful that writing is such a healing thing for me.   I am grateful for the space and the strength to reimagine my life.  I am grateful for a deep knowing that I am loved.  I am grateful for the fact that what I wrote a year ago today about some of the tools in my self care belt still help me each and every day.  I am grateful for my belief that the journey I take and the one my kids take is the most important thing in the world for us to focus upon.  I am grateful for silly days and also for a willingness to cry and let go.  I am grateful that I am not alone. I am grateful for all of the things that I have had the courage to say yes to and the things I have said no to, keeping ever in front of us self care as the #1 priority.  I am grateful that we have made it through our first year something I didn’t always know was possible.

Most importantly, I am grateful for the ways that Russell continues to be part of my life and the knowing that will always be true.  I am grateful for the love we shared.  I am grateful that I continue to want his story, our story to inspire and heal others.  I am grateful that I loved him and that he loved me.

What I shared in conclusion of last year’s writing is just as true in this time, this moment…

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.

 

 

Guilty pleasures – loving ourselves

 

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Guilty pleasures are something we all have.  In fact, I am quite sure all of you had several things immediately pop into your minds upon reading the title of today’s musing.  We all have books, movies, activities, foods, etc. that we call guilty pleasures, when we are willing to talk about them out loud to people at all.  Smile!

My musing tonight started during a conversation with my good friend, Karen, a few days ago.  Karen and I have known each other for over half of our lives at this point.  We know more stories about each other than any other person in my life.  As we shared stories and caught up about what is going on for us right now we started talking about movies and books.  As I mentioned some of the book series I am reading and some of the tv series I’m a little obsessed with at the moment I used the phrase “guilty pleasure”.  Immediately something felt off in speaking that phrase.  I said it again to Karen rather quizzically.  I voiced my bafflement at the phrase.  She added how she thinks of reading fiction as being an escape, realizing as she said it that yes that is true and it’s okay to escape.

Then it struck me.  Why do we call the things that bring us joy, contentment, and amusement guilty pleasures?  What is it about taking time for ourselves by taking a bath, reading a fictional novel, eating chocolate, watching a silly sitcom, taking a nap, etc., etc., etc., that should make us feel guilty?  Why can we not simply claim that we find these things pleasing without also somehow justifying it?  Why do we feel a need to rush through these things to get back to doing something productive and worthwhile?  Is our joy and loving ourselves not also very worth our time?

Karen and I had a lovely conversation around this talking about the value of self-care, the things that we find great enjoyment in,  and what we most want to do with those moments that are just for us.  We briefly delved into our own inner critic voices that tell us we shouldn’t do certain things or if we do we might not want to talk about it too much.  It was wonderful to name some of our guilty pleasures truthfully as the some of the things in our lives that can bring us the most joy and peacefulness.

As I’ve continued to reflect upon our conversation I have settled into the conviction that saying yes to things that bring us pleasure and joy is a profound way of loving ourselves.  It is the way that we say yes to us. Each time we allow ourselves to do something just because we want to, not because we have to, we are taking care of ourselves. This is how we begin to wrap ourselves in love.

So in the name of loving myself and claiming my pleasures as things that I will no longer feel guilty for enjoying here are some of my favorite things.

*Bubble baths while having a glass of wine and reading my current book – candles are an added bonus!

*Science fiction/fantasy novels especially if they include dragons or people who can talk with animals

*Nora Roberts novels

*Lots of milk chocolate

*Naps every single day if I can

*Walking barefoot at the farm

*Reading the same fiction series over and over again. I’ve read the following series at least a half dozen times (some more than that), loving them all just as much each time.  Harry Potter, Clan of the Cave Bear, Twilight, Outlander, All of Anne Bishops’ series.

*Sitcoms – my current favorite is New Girl which I can watch episode after episode laughing hysterically through them all

*Movies with Channing Tatum or Patrick Swazye in them – love those sexy dancing men

*Outlander – the books and the series

*Double stuff oreo cookies, especially the centers

*Eating an entire carton of raspberries all by myself

*My first cup of coffee every morning

*Glitter, lots of glitter

*Coloring

*Watching the same you tube music videos over and over again

*Trail riding lessons just so I can ride Karoly bareback

*Staying in my pajamas all day long

I hereby declare that I will live my life taking pleasure in the things that bring me joy or peace.  I will not feel guilty about these simple, lovely things any longer. I will give myself permission to take care of myself by allowing pleasure into my life as often as I can.

What brings you simple joy?   Embrace it, love yourself,  and know you are worth feeling pleasure guilty free!

 

 

The Healing Ground of Grief

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“We must restore the healing ground of grief. We must find the courage, once again, to walk its wild edge.” (Francis Weller, The Wild Edge of Sorrow)   Grief can, most definitely, be a wild and crazy ride.  There is a wildness about healing through grief that can both scare and excite us.  We cannot know all that may open up before us when we lose someone we love.  It is as unknown and as unpredictable as the wildness of nature is to our human selves.  And there is great healing that can come when we decide to walk that wild edge between fear and hope.

Over these winter months I have shut down my openness, shut out the world around me, and shut myself away into a reclusive hole in the ground.  I have found myself in dark, silent spaces much of the time since Christmas.  It’s as if I have carved out a deep, dark cave and crawled into it like a hibernating bear.

Oh wanting to hibernate like a bear in winter is nothing new for me.  For many, many years winter has been a time of being quieter, more reclusive, lots less activity and a great time of waiting for the sun to return.  I can often be snarly, snappy, and ready to strike out at whatever or whoever tries to call me out of this cave of hibernation.  There can be lots and lots of red hat days during the winter as I try to give myself the space I need and protect others from the slash outs I can do to keep the shield around me intact.

This year I am also seeing how my natural inclination towards hibernation in winter is moving from caving up to dropping down into rabbit holes of despair.  Caving up to recuperate from long periods of productivity and interaction are a good and healthy thing for me, as I believe it can be for most of us.  Stepping down into a rabbit hole where all I can think of is absence, loss, grieving, the ways I feel stuck, and wanting to hide from the world is not such a good thing.

When grieving, hiding away for weeks and weeks on end with minimal activity and pulling away from others is a very natural inclination. Such a deep desire to simply not deal with life rises up in me often.  Everything takes too much energy.  Finding ways to numb the pain – watching season after season of various sitcoms is my numbing drug of choice – is much more appealing than just about anything else.

The very things that have helped me feel strong and alive along my journey this past year – writing; seeking ways to dance between the dark and the light; focusing more on Russell’s continued presence than on his absence; dancing; riding; reading books of healing and possibility; stepping into new adventures and learning – are the things that I have been locking away from myself as I journey in the twisted up paths down the rabbit hole of sadness and loss I’ve been traveling.   Oh, I know it would help if I did these things but it’s like looking down a never ending tunnel to reach into doing these.  I know when I spend time just hanging out with people it helps.  I know physical activity helps. I know writing helps me a great deal.  I know, I know, I know what helps. And yet, I haven’t cared enough to do it. Hiding away inside my cave, even if many days I fall into a rabbit hole of twisted up grief, guilt and sadness, is a much easier option.

As we step closer to the year anniversary of Russell’s hospitalization and death I find myself torn between wanting to succumb to the miserable feelings in grieving, wallowing in the missing of him and wanting to radically step forward into focusing on feeling and acting alive, shaking things up and reclaiming my life. The last several months I have consistently chosen to simply sit in the grieving, my mind spinning deeper and deeper in feelings of misery and lethargy.   The wanting to act alive, living my life out loud, wildly embracing life is slowly starting to glow more strongly.  I feel my mind and my intention slowly shifting towards seeking movement and interaction again. I am realizing, again, that avoiding and numbing the grieving simply makes it harder in the long run.  Allowing myself to live it out loud in every moment is much more healing and freeing.

I am naturally thinking often of what it was like when Russell was in the hospital and the weeks following his death.  Much is a blur and talking about that time and rereading all I wrote is helping me get a better grasp on it all again.  The thing that most vividly is coming through in my remembering – both in head and heart – is that I radically lived it all.  I had moments of caving away but overall, the power of me being able to walk that journey last year the way I did is that I stood in the center space between the dark and the light of all that was happening and embraced the powerful love I felt all around me.  Somehow I simply breathed and danced in that center space.  That space, that loving powerful space is where I seek to step back into again.

I’m the one who is making it hard to move forward. I’m the one who is stepping over and over again into rabbit holes of confusion and pain. I’m the one who is wallowing in thoughts of despair and helplessness.  And I am the one who can decide the step into living my life out loud with a focus on love and light and joy is just a step from here to there. It doesn’t have to be the long, arduous journey back out of the dark, twisted holes.  It really can, profoundly, be taking a courageous step to walk the wild edge and believe in the healing ground that grief can be.  I feel myself in this time, in this moment about ready to make that step back into the healing center space inside myself that I breathe in and through love.  Actually, I think I just did!

 

 

 

 

Just for today

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Just for today (Kyo Dake Wa)

Do not be angry (Ikaruna)

Do not worry (Shin Pai Suna)

Be grateful (Kan Sha Shite)

Do your duties fully (Gyo o Hagame)

Be kind to others (Hito ni Shinsetsu ni)

 

This is the Gokai, the five Reiki principles, devised by Usui sensei as an integral part of Reiki. Students are advised to say them every morning and every night.  Reiki is a Japanese word representing Universal life Energy, the energy which is all around us.  My introduction to this natural healing art a couple of weekends ago was a strong step into a new, powerful tool for my healing and the healing of others.  It has served me well the past  few weeks as I’ve experienced life like being on a roller coaster.

I share here part of what the journey into Reiki was for me a couple weekends ago. I experienced emotions all along the spectrum during my training time at The Healing Arts Center with Tom Tessereau, Reiki Master/Teacher.  As I have reflected back upon those emotions and the ways in which becoming attuned to Reiki energy have opened things up inside of me, I am fascinated by this new understanding of energy and healing.   This will probably be an even longer musing than I usually write as I explore all of what I experienced during my training.

On Saturday, our first day of training, I entered the Healing Arts Center a little wobbly.  I felt excited to finally be at a training to learn about the first level of Reiki.  I’ve wanted to do this training for a long time and yet things never quite lined up for it to work.  So I felt excited to be able to learn.  I also felt very introverted wanting to hide away under a blanket fort for the day. The mere thought of talking with folks I didn’t know closed up my throat.  New crowds of people make me a little nervous anyway but this was more than that. It took a lot of self talk for me to walk into the room and say hello to people around me.  I did it though!

I also had gone into this training in a low spot on my grieving/healing journey.  I was physically feeling the absence of Russell as I have been for the past month or so.  I felt nauseous, headachy, and off kilter the majority of the first day.  Lots of focus on simply breathing deeply was needed as thoughts of Russell kept flitting into my thoughts all day long.

We spent the first several hours learning about the history or Reiki and the basic principles.  It was all very fascinating and I loved the grounding mats the Healing Center provided for us to sit on.  I love learning about different kinds of energy work and I could feel my interest growing as the day progressed.

Also during this time, as we discussed the benefits of Reiki and the need to practice with ourselves first I found my way wandering towards the ways that stress is taking a toll on my body and on how it took a drastic, life threatening toll on Russell’s.  We discussed the reality that when a system experiences too much stress over too long a period of time it can start to shut down. Our bodies either learn how to heal, cope or shut down completely.  When coping become a lifestyle this too can become a real problem.  Prolonged stressors experienced during times of just coping can lead to less sleep, less ability to breathe well, and less than optimal health.  Learning how to take care of ourselves first is critical.  If we are not receiving enough oxygen, enough fuel for our own beings it becomes harder to heal and harder to give to others.  Just like in an airplane crisis, our oxygen masks must go on first.

The afternoon on Saturday was spent receiving the 4 attunements to open, expand, clear, and help us tap into the healing energies.  Bringing through Reiki, letting go of things safely, clearing my cup and allowing other healing things to enter was amazing. My ability to explain this process is still growing so for now I want to simply share what I was feeling in my mind, body and spirit during each of these attunements.  This is what  I found to be most healing, powerful and positive about the entire weekend for me. I will share in a kind of stream of consciousness the words, physical experiences, thoughts, etc that I felt during each attunement.

Attunement #1:  Key word for me was Breath.  In the beginning fear and tightness.  Living out loud, healing heart, MY breath, MY heart. Felt energy expanding as I was approached by the Reiki master (all of this is done with eyes closed so it was a sense of energy without visual awareness). Deepening of myself, heart, love. Images of Russell and Kirsten kept flitting in and out of my mind.  Felt hungry, dizzy, wobbly.  Breath, love, live – from the heart. All will be well; all is well.

Attunement #2: Key word for me was Rising.  Could feel self rising like a baby phoenix from the ashes. Felt a crinkling in my body, especially in  my neck as I stretched.  Felt impatient after my own attunement waiting for others.  Had thoughts of let’s get it (my grieving) done already.  Lots of aches in my body as waiting. Waiting – so heavy and achy (back, head, shoulder, hips, left shoulder and chest, throat, back of head)  Wanted to throw up or jump up and really move.  Questions – rising to what? for what?  Saw lots of red and fire.        Had lots of thoughts of Russell during this one. Kept thinking – what if I had taken Reiki 4 years ago when I first wanted to?  Could I have healed him? Felt extremely sick to stomach and wobbly thinking of the what ifs? Could radically feel how much in my self needs to be cleansed and cleared.  Can I do this? So much healing to do. Felt a little hopeless.

Attunement #3:  This was a group attunement with 1 person acting as a surrogate for us all.    Key words – forgiveness and love, pulsing love.   Experienced deep sorrow and grief. Tears flowed down my face, sobs rising up inside of me.  Sorrow, guilt, “so sorry Russell that I missed the signs. (whatever those were).  Then, I heard and saw Russell and felt forgiveness, love as I stood in the center of a pulsing heart of love. Tears flowed. Not as aware of aches and pains in my body.  Felt myself connect to my higher self, connect to Russell. Love is all that matters. Body felt lighter, tired as if it is clearing out toxins trapped inside.  Clean my cup of sadness, grief, anger, guilt.

Attunement #4:  Key words – nurtured and buoyant.  I felt content, peaceful, embraced. Saw clear white sky and bright blue ocean.  I felt myself parasailing – just joy of floating above the ocean. As I waited and during my attunement rested in that buoyant place of flying free in the air.  Felt detoxed. Body free and clear, less achy. Loose and flowly. Calmer, more at peace. Released, stillness, mind slowed and stopped racing around in monkey mind. Felt radically recharged.

I can easily say that throughout these attunements from the 1st to the last that I experienced myself moving from a lower, blocked, stuck part of myself to a higher, clearer, open part of myself.  It was one of the most extremely powerful experiences of feeling myself heal that I have ever felt.  This first day of clearing and cleansing and tuning myself in opened the way for me to be able to thoroughly enter into the rest of the training.  Giving and receiving full reiki body work on the second day was a joyful experience.

I am filled with gratitude for the things that I am saying yes to  learning how to heal myself and others.  There are so many paths opening before me filled with light, love and healing.  Having this new knowledge of Reiki energy has already helped me through many wobbly times.  I’m thankful I said yes and went to the Healing Arts Center.  Learning from Tom and tapping into this new wisdom center is a gift that will unfold for a long time to come.