What would you do?

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What would you do if you knew that today was your last day? Your last day to say what you want to say to those you love.  Your last day to do the things you’ve always dreamed of doing. Your last day to hug someone. Your last day to soak up the wonderfulness of your favorite things. Your last day to adventure. Your last day to say “I love you.”  Your last day to eat your favorite foods.  Your last day to be brave.  Your last day to be the best you that you can be.

Think about it…

What are the things you know would be the first to go; the things you would stop doing as soon as you knew you have just one more day?  What are the things you would move heaven and earth to make sure you were able to do?  What are the things on your bucket list that you are waiting until “someday” to do?   What are the things that you find yourself doing day after day after day that seem to suck the life right out of your soul?  What are the things that bring you joy just at the thought of doing it?   What are the things you dream of doing but have no idea how to make them happen so they remain only a fantasy?  What does that deepest, most authentic part of yourself start to shout out to you as you think of having just 1 more day “PLEASE do it now, speak it now, let it go now, love it now, be it NOW!”?

Over the past 2 years of my life’s journey that so radically changed when Russell went into the hospital and died just a few days later,  there are a handful of things that I return to over and over again that feed my soul to such an extent that I can hear a resounding YES vibrate throughout my body.   On days like today, when the memories are strong and I remember how powerfully I stood in the magical mystery of fully living in this time and this moment, it is easy to look again at what it is I most want to live and speak on this day which is all I really have.

My children, just being in their presence, is bar none the most wonderful thing for me.  Every single day of my life I will tell them I love them and am proud of the paths they are choosing that are uniquely authentic to them and them alone.  They are learning to follow their hearts and do what they dream of doing now, rather than waiting for that nebulous “someday” so many of us wait for. I will do all I can to support them on their journeys and trust that they are wise enough to choose their own paths.

Writing, that wonderful tool of my Inner Muse, feeds my soul in ways that leave me in awe.    I write for me, as I wrote for Russell and I 2 years ago, but I also write for those who long to speak the words in their hearts but just can’t make them come out.  One of my biggest dreams for myself is that I will create a life in which writing is the vast majority of what I do as my creative, working self.  I will blog. I will write and publish books. I will create wonderfully new, imaginary worlds for people to enjoy.  I want to continue to speak this journey of mine, the transformations of my life, with vulnerability, honesty and complete authenticity.  I long to have my journey and the gift of my Muse to write it out loud inspire others.

Helping others to dream brings me more joy than just about any other thing. To envision a life of such possibility that we can only do all we can each day to inch closer to making those dreams a reality is magical to me.  This is what I want to offer to others.  We can create a new world for ourselves if we first allow ourselves to dream of what it is we REALLY want for ourselves.

I want to become an advocate for those who grieve the loss of a loved one either through death, divorce or other forms of separation.   The world struggles to be able to listen to all of the paths that grieving can take us down  Oh the first year after a loss speaking things out loud is accepted but after that first year support can get quieter and quieter and quieter, just as the shifting changes in ourselves get louder and more unsettling.  I feel such a powerful calling to speak my journey out loud because it’s not just for me I speak it for.  I speak it for all of those who feel they have no voice.  My Muse is a gift and with that gift comes a responsibility to share the images, the insights and wisdom I am gaining from this journey. Not everyone will understand, want to hear or care what I have to say and that is okay. If I can help just 1 person feel they are not alone by sharing my story then my journey and Russell’s journey have more meaning for me.

Adventuring in big ways and little ways, finding new things to bring joy into my life and my kids’ lives has become one of the greatest tools for building a new life.  Traveling, archery, rock climbing, new books, running, Smite conventions, building Avalon Sanctuary, puppies, new diets, and so much more have been adventures for us in the last couple of years that have become stepping stones to create lives that hold meaning and purpose for us.   We are striving to live out loud what we dream of doing right now. Not everyone understands the choices we are making and that is okay. They are our choices to make for the lives we dream of living.

So I ask you all the question again, What would you do if you knew today was your last day? And then I ask us all, What are we waiting for?   All it takes is one step to fall down a rabbit hole into a land where you life has changed forever. Do not wait. Do it NOW!

 

 

Every single day

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Every single day is a struggle for me, even on my really good days.  I struggle with doubt, insecurity, fear, anger at the goofiest things, and a lethargic unwillingness to leave my house, my cave, my safe place.  Every single day is a battle between rebuilding myself/my life and an ongoing burning down of my old self/old life.

Learning how to refit into places that used to totally be mine but  no longer feel like they are is so hard some days.  The rebuilding of me is proving to be just as hard as the deconstruction of myself and my life as I knew it for almost 20 years that happened within the first year after losing Russell.  Every single day I am torn between 3 aspects of myself: Who I was then – wife, purposeful, owner and owned by Avalon, a joint parent, confident in who I was; Who I am now – widow, single parent, broken, lost, very unsure of how I fit at Avalon and in the rest of my world; Who I want to be – healer, warrior woman seeking joy, filled with purpose and passion, capable of handling all that comes my way with ease. All of these are part of who I am and yet I find these aspects of myself can grate against each other in the most uncomfortable ways.

I want so badly to have a series of day after day after day after day that I’m not having to cheerlead myself into being a warrior, into feeling strong and healed.  I want to just feel light, free and grateful without having the coin flip in my mind leaving me feeling dark, trapped and resentful.  I want to feel like I can confidently say “THIS is my path” without second guessing every damn step “But is it really?”  I want to not feel my throat close up at least a dozen times every single day with ongoing ripples of grief and insecurity about who I am now

I don’t want to feel so  fricking lost all of the time.  I don’t want to feel like I’m walking a tightrope, in heels, over a ravine with high winds, carrying 500 lbs of extra weight.

I just want to feel happy and grateful for all of the wonderful things in my life rather than always seeing the negative now.  Where has this resentful, pissy, just want to hide from the world person come from.  I’m tired of feeling so alone even in the midst of a crowd of people who care about me.

Every single day I want to feel free to move confidently again.  I want to stop the push and pull between who I was, who I am and who I want to be.  I want to allow those aspects of myself to blend together in a more harmonious way.  I want to be patient with myself as I relearn who just Lara is after spending 21 years with Russell; surely it takes awhile to relearn how to be just me.  I must be patient and gentle with myself.

Every single day this past week I have sat in Avalon’s Sanctuary room thinking “This, this healing room I brought into being.  I fit here in this space.”  In this space, one of the very few, I feel safe, hopeful and capable  Considering a year ago at this time I had to completely tap out for the anniversary week in which Russell had gone into the hospital ending with his death, I stand hopeful that I am better, probably more than I know than I was a year ago.  `Being able to sit in this Sanctuary space to breathe, write, remember is a gift I am thankful for every single day.

So I return to where I began 2 years ago – just breathe.  Every single day, just breathe.  The rest will come in the exact moment and in the exact time that I am really ready for it.  Just breathe!

 

 

 

 

 

Not Enough Words & Too Many Words

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There is so much rambling inside of my heart and head right now that I find it near impossible to find the words I want to write, no that I need to write.  No words seem adequate and yet there is too much I want to say as well.

For the past 24 hours I’ve been in deep shock, a shock as deep as the night that Russell died.  Rocked to the very depths of my being, I have been curled up in a ball crying and shaking and reminding myself to breathe, Just Breathe!    I stepped back into another rabbit hole last night and have been traveling the twisty paths of Cuckoo Luckoo Land – that place where things just make no sense.

Last night we received word that Ayanna,  my life coach, my mentor, my most trusted confidant, and my lifeline for the past several year died on Wednesday after a battle with cancer.  From the sounds of the information from her husband it was a very brief battle of just a few months.  Considering I hadn’t seen her for about 7 weeks, knew nothing of her cancer, she was younger than me, and last time I saw her she was the epitome of health, the news is beyond shocking to me.    I felt like someone had punched me in the gut and then shoved me head first down a rabbit hole into the darkness again.  As I tumbled down the hole my entire being just kept screaming “What? Why? How? Whhyyyy?”

I’ve texted some with Ayanna’s husband but it has all been supportive messages between us. I’ve withheld from asking the hundreds of questions running through my mind.  He doesn’t need to answer anyone’s questions right now. There will be a celebration of life ceremony for Ayanna sometime soon and perhaps then I will find some answers. Most likely I will never know all of the story.  But then again, I know that none of us ever can really know what the whole story is anyway.  Even if we are there for the acting out of the story there is always some shadow piece, some part of the puzzle that remains unknown to us.

As I have followed the twists and turns of this new journey in Cuckoo Luckoo Land I have slept and eaten very little.  The pain is too raw, both physical and emotional.  Ayanna has known more of my story – every little nuanced piece of it – for 5 years that I cannot imagine her not being part of my ongoing healing and transformation.  With her I was always able to say anything and everything that I needed to say. Plus she could hear the things even I couldn’t speak out loud. She had this amazing ability to read the unspoken words of my heart and heal me in more ways than I can even name.  The tools that she helped me to learn are more valuable to me than anything I ever learned from a book or in a school.

Just being in her presence could provide peace and healing for me.  She would walk into a room like a radiant, light and love filled Amazon Warrior Queen.  When I was with her I believe anything was possible, even the seemingly impossible.  More than any other person she was an advocate for me to write my story – my story of Cuckoo Luckoo Land with Russell and the healing steps I have taken since.  She was going to help me write that book and also a book about healing through grieving. We talked about creating a program to help those who support people who have lost a loved one. She was going to do programs at Avalon Sanctuary – a space she believed was infused with light and love and that is truly a magical space.  When she was there at our anniversary bonfire she said she could feel the room pulsing with healing energy.  There were so many more things I hoped to journey through together.

Part of the powerful light throughout this 24 hour journey has been Ayanna herself, smiling to me and speaking clearly to me. “Dive into the pain Lara. Dive deeper. Keep diving. I am here in the light. Breathe and dive into all. Feel it; scream it; know it.  I’m still here. You can do this. You will do this. You’re not alone.  Love and Light and Peace is all around you. Trust the journey.  You are a warrior of love and it is your time to step forward and stand on your own. You are ready. Dance in the shadow place. Write your story. Heal your heart.”  Throughout all of my crazy dreaming as I’ve tried to sleep she has been in them, smiling and speaking to me.  What a gift that has been.

I honestly do not know what I will do without the presence of this unique, powerful, love filled, healing woman in my life.  Never have I met anyone else like her and never have I entrusted anyone else with as much of my full story as I have with her.  Her presence in my life over these last 5 years has brought me to more understanding about myself and the world than I ever could have imagined. She has helped me transform myself and my relationships in profound ways. And I do not believe I would be anywhere near as far along my healing path since Russell’s death as I am today.     I have a long way to go in many aspects but I credit her with helping me get to where I am today.

Tonight I watch The Matrix, a movie Ayanna and I often talked about as we explored the ways in which we can rethink what reality is.  It’s a favorite movie for both of us. “You are faster (or stronger) than you think. Don’t think you are. Know you are.”  “I’m trying to free your mind Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it.  You have to let it all go. Fear. Doubt. Disbelief. FREE YOUR MIND!”    Morpheus just spoke these words to Neo as I was writing.  THIS is what Ayanna wanted me to believe.  That I could free my mind. That I am powerful and magical and full of infinite possibility.  She believed in me and this is what I will choose to take with me as I now make my way out of Cuckoo Luckoo Land back into my world.

Ayanna has reminded me again that there is no time but the one we are in.  I must live my life as authentically, as powerfully, as fully in the moment as I possibly can.  I must live my life out loud, telling people that I love and believe in them.  I must follow my dreams now.  I must do what I can to help heal the world and provide a place of breathing sanctuary because I believe this is part of my life’s purpose.  I must write my stories and share these with the world; it is for my healing and for those who need to hear only the story that I can tell.  I must be the warrior woman of love and light that I want to be. I must seek joy and believe it is okay to do so.

In this time, in this moment I breathe and I am thankful for the light that Ayanna has been for me.  May I continue to share that light with those around me who need it.  As I step out of the dark and back into the light I promise you Ayanna, I won’t forget the journey we’ve had.  Thank you!

 

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

I wrote this a year ago and I find it to be just as important for me to remember right now. The woulda, coulda, shouldas can still freeze me into a place of non-movement. The ones that wake me in the middle of the night now are different from the ones last year.

I find myself most wanting to transform my coulda, shoulda wouldas into I CAN, I CHOOSE TO, AND I WILL. I want to next year look back and see all the things I did do rather than be anxiously aware of what I haven’t. I want to make my life one of purpose, passion and power as a peaceful warrior woman.

I can! I choose to! I will!

This time, this moment

ifonlywand     The coulda, woulda, shouldas; the if onlys; the what ifs; these are the creepy, crawly monsters that worm their way into our hearts and minds.  These are the thoughts that slide into us, making their way into the dark places within, waiting for just the right moment to come creeping back out with whispers of guilt that threaten to strangle us with their words.  These are the things that keep us constantly questioning every decision we make or have ever made.

Creeping into my dreams, these messages twist my memories of what has happened in my life into crazy ass nightmares.  Dreams – both sleeping and awake ones – that can leave me so muddled I find it hard to just get through a day. Seriously it is challenging enough to simply walk through grieving into a more whole, healed place.  When shadowy messages with themes of coulda, woulda, shoulda…

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Spring in winter

spring2     Winter – Day 66/89

Today feels so much like spring I am having a challenging time wrapping my brain around the fact that it’s February. It feels like the end of April. With flowers blooming it looks like it too.

As I wandered my property with Rue and Hinata today I was reminded of the first day we saw this place. I remembered that it was on the Spring Equinox 13 years ago. I’d seen the ad for this place for several months but never thought to go check it out. I’d looked up where it was and the fact that it’s on the same road as PT’s (a strip club) kept me from looking. Plus the thought of prepping a house to sell with 3 kids under 6 was wayyyy too daunting.

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That Spring Equinox the kids and I were returning from the zoo and I thought “what the heck, let’s just drive by and see. The price is too right to at least not check it out.” The house had little appeal for me, but I instantly fell in love with the land itself. You can’t see the house from the road and it’s like being in our own little valley. The daffodils were blooming along the walkway, the grass was green and the giant tree in the back yard (my first magic tree) was amazing. I knew we had to come back with Russell and check it out, which we did a few days later. It was a done deal after that.

I’m very thankful for these memories today of other Spring Equinoxes I have loved. With that being the anniversary date of Russell’s death now there’s a sadness in looking towards the first day of spring. I am grateful to my core for memories of joy and for the incredible blessing of having days like today in the middle of winter.

 

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Warrior Lara Standing Outrageously Open

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The Christmas a few months before Russell died was a low spot in my life.  Honestly, up until Russell’s entry into the hospital which ended in his death a week later it was probably the lowest spot of my life. It was definitely the lowest spot in our relationship.  We were struggling to find any joy in one another and had determined that after the holidays we would have to have some very hard conversations about how to move forward in ways that were healthy for each of us and for our family.  It was a dark time with very little glimmers of hope sustaining us.

That Christmas my mom gave me the book Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver.  In it she inscribed the words pictured here naming me, I think for the first time, Warrior Lara.  I remember how much that naming rang with truth and rightness as I read it.   It felt like a mantle of strength and power was laid upon my shoulders with all the love that a mother can bestow upon her children.  Warrior Lara – yes that is who is needed for the dark journeys into the soul.  A warrior infused with light, love, knowing all she needs to know, a protectress, a woman capable of bending with the winds of chaotic life changes.

Little did we know at that time that in fact my heroine’s journey would indeed call upon me to become a Warrior of light and love for Russell, myself and my family a few short months later as we dropped down into Cuckoo Luckoo Land – the dark, twisty, mysterious path of his sudden illness, death and my healing journey moving forward.  But warrior I became as I somehow found the ability to stand in the shadow lands between life and death; sorrow and joy; despair and hope.  I found the unbelievable gift to breathe through it all, stopping myself from spinning into despair with a quick grab of my tree necklace, closing my eyes and focusing upon my breath.  I look back on that time and still wonder how I did all I did with grace, hope, and a love for those around that seemed to pulse from the center of my being.  I think because I became that Warrior Lara my mom named me.

This naming of me as Warrior Lara and the inhaling way that I read the book Outrageous Openness are two of the things that I credit as key factors for how I made it through Cuckoo Luckoo Land with Russell.  Those and the unbelievable web of love, support and healing that surrounded us then and still does to this day.  But this book impacted me in ways I am just now able to start remembering. (It’s funny to me how much is lost in the first months and years after losing someone.)  I read it at least 3 times between Christmas and the day Russell entered the hospital.  I wrote quote after quote in my journals and I practiced everything, allowing Tosha’s wisdom to sink deep into bones.  Because of that I believe I was able to keep my heart and mind open to the world around me and move through things with deeper ease.

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I wrote the following quote in my journal just days before that first step into the rabbit hole “I’ll move as if there’s a Force of Love waiting to aid me in every area of my life, big or small.”  I not only wrote this down I repeated it to myself every morning and every night.  I allowed the words to burrow into my core, infusing me with hope and light.  As I read them I could feel Warrior Lara stand a little taller and hope a little stronger.  I could believe that Russell and I were on the right path towards healing our relationship and I trusted that all would be well.

It didn’t end how I had hoped, nowhere near that.  And the journey since has been a tumultuous ride through both the dark and light places of myself.  For the past 6 months it’s been a dark, shadowy, confusing journey. I’ve lost a great deal of my ability to trust, love and just breathe.  Fears I never, ever, ever used to experience have crept into my heart and wrapped vines of panic around it.  Guilt about all the things I didn’t do with or say to Russell, as well as guilt that I’m not doing enough for my kids. I have barely felt like I could move or speak much less breathe with trust and love.

But I feel myself moving into a deeper openness again.  I am naming myself Warrior Lara again and approaching life with a renewed determination to allow life to unfold again – breathing; standing tall; trusting that Love surrounds me; not trying to figure everything out all at once but simply staying in the Now;  seeking wisdom sources that speak to me; and finding joy where I can.  I am naming my fears and then letting them go.

I’ve started reading Outrageous Openness again and last night I began looking back through my journals of past 3-4 years.  I’m following the seeds of wisdom I planted there as I seek to open myself back up to living an amazing life again.  I am trying things that terrify me knowing that each little step of bravery builds upon each other to create a brave, magical new world for myself.

I am Warrior Lara standing outrageously open to life!

Halfway Point

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Winter – Day 45/89

We’ve done it folks! We’ve made it halfway through winter. Today, Imbolc, marks the halfway point between winter and spring.

Now is the time to dig deep and believe that we can make it all the way through. Holding onto the hope for spring while allowing the beauties of winter to still gift us can be a challenging thing for many of us. At least, I know it often is for me.

The first half of winter I can usually stay pretty positive with myself and with others. But then we hit February and I start to slip and slide into the more negative places of myself. Oh, I keep trying to stay positive but I find myself getting pissier and more desiring hibernation as winter progresses.

Last winter and this winter, with the added reality of grieving Russell, the pissiness is really more of a bone deep weariness and a lethargy that is very hard to shake. This morning I didn’t even want to go to archery and this has been my new found joy. We went anyway with me pushing myself to not give into the weariness. the first half of our time was okay. I didn’t feel as excited as I have but I intentionally channeled all of the sadness, weariness, angst, and powerlessness I’ve been feeling into each shot. I focused on breathing deep, standing tall and just shooting my arrows.

Then halfway through just as Demetri and I were about ready to stop shooting, I got to shoot at balloons. The first time I hit one it felt like a jolt of energy shot through me as the balloon popped. It woke me up and infused delight through my entire body. I felt the excitement for this new joy arise in me again as I shot 3 more balloons. I felt all my swirly, weary emotions drain away as I laughed each time I hit a balloon.

The rest of the day I’ve felt lighter and more ready to keep on moving forward. And I bought some balloons to use as targets at archery from here on out. If popping some balloons with arrows can create such a charge for me I think I need to go shoot arrows as often as I can.

At this halfway point in winter what might your balloons be? What can keep you moving forward this winter and give you the extra charge you need to stay energized?

We’ve got this people! WE CAN DO IT!

#embracingwinter #warriorwomanseekingjoy
#halfwaytospring #archeryrules