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!

Warrior Woman Seeking Joy

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2017 is the year of this Warrior Woman Seeking Joy!  This focus, this intent, the idea of what this could look like for me is the only thing that is waking me up and causing me to actually want to leave the warm safe shell that has formed around myself in the past year or so.  And for the first time in weeks something has excited me enough to want to write again.  The relief of that is huge!

This second year of living without Russell has kicked my ass.  That really is the most honest way to put it.  The first year was hard but this second year has been so subtly challenging that it’s only been in the past month and a half or so that I’ve been able to get a handle on what all has been happening for me.  I’ve tried many, many times to write about it either as a blog post or even just in my journal but the words just keep flitting away from me like those no-see-um gnats in the summer. You know there is something there annoying you but you just can’t see it to get rid of it.  So there is a constant irritation that you can’t get away from.

One of the most challenging things of this second year has been that some of the things I used to love the most – horses, dancing, teaching, spending time just talking with people – no longer energize or even interest me enough to want me to actually leave my house.    It’s made living the life I have chosen seem empty and rudderless. My go-to things that used to leave me feeling happy and confident just don’t anymore; more often I just feel “meh” or very sad missing the joy I used to feel. Not a very fun thing to feel everyday.

Someday soon, I think, I will write more about this second year and the insights about it I am growing into.  But today is about what it means to me to become a Warrior Woman Seeking Joy.    It means finding those things that grab my interest and hold it for longer than a few seconds.  It means seeking the things that leave me excited enough to readily say yes to leaving my house.  It means doing things that leave me feeling powerful, strong and capable of anything.  It means breaking out of my “always done and loved” into “now I do and love” activities. It means digging deep, listening to my inner self, and trying new things or sometimes old things in a new way.  It means saying yes to breaking out of my shell and living deeply again.

This morning I tried something brand new. Soren, Demetri and I started archery classes.  They have both been wanting to take archery for a few years but we just never quite pulled it together with a time that works.  I got hooked on the idea a few months ago when I saw video of a woman who does archery from horseback.  The horse looks like Karoly and I could immediately envision myself someday doing that.  It began the awakening thought of becoming this wild, free Warrior Woman.

The glee that I had during archery this morning was amazing.  I was so excited I kept rambling about my excitement to our instructor, Jack. He just smiled, along with Soren and Demetri, and would tell me a few more stories.  When Jack told all 3 of us that we were doing much better than the average beginners I felt like a kid who had just gotten a gold star.  And the two times I got a bulls-eye I whooped so loudly I startled everyone.

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My inner Warrior Woman Seeking Joy gave a resounding YES today. Archery will definitely be one of the regular things I add into my schedule.  All day I have felt lighter, stronger, more awake and those are glorious things for me to feel again.  Demetri and Soren expressed similar feelings which simply adds to my joy that all 3 of us have found something fun and new to share.

While I hope to find renewed joy for the things that I’ve always loved, I am most hopeful that I will continue to seek new, interesting things to continue my awakening, my emergence from my protective shell.  Already other ideas are popping into my head of things to try. I am committed to listening to what feels right for me, doing it even if I must do it alone. I want to feel strong, purposeful, brave, and able to handle anything.  I want to let go of the lethargic, sad, rudderless feelings that have wrapped around me for far too long.

Most of all,  I want to become a joy-filled woman who is a warrior for healing herself and the world.  I want to be a wild woman who brings wonder and happiness to those around her.  I want to free my muse to write with power and vulnerability again. I want to live as a Warrior Woman Seeking Joy who lets nothing and no one stop her from living a powerfully authentic, joy-filled life.

2017 here I come!

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One of those days and I still won!

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Today was one of those days on top of several of those days on top of several of those weeks.  You know what “those” are right? The days that you just seem to be a swirling ball of emotional chaos.  The days that no matter how much you use your special, self care tools you just can’t seem to get yourself balanced. The days that feel like one land mine of challenges pops up and explodes every other step you make. The days that  you really want to hide under your covers and have someone bring you hot chocolate and soup throughout the day.  The days that you should probably wear a large, flashing sign around you neck that loudly warns people to steer clear or risk being drawn into the cesspool of emotions.  Yeah, one of those days.

I’ve been struggling with insomnia again for the past couple of weeks.  I’m awake from around 2:00am to 5:00 or 5:30 am every night.  It makes waking up at 6:30 for the day a real struggle.  This morning was even more challenging.  My dreams right before waking, of which I remember none, left me crying, full on bawling as I awoke.  Not a great motivator to want to get up to face the day when I am already sleep deprived and can’t stop crying.

I somehow forced myself to get up, get dressed, have some tea and toast, and get myself out of the house to go to work.  A little voice inside kept whispering – don’t give in and quit today; at least get yourself to Avalon even if it means working with tears streaming down your face all day.  So I listened to that quiet little voice and made it to Avalon.

The day was a roller coaster of a day with lots of conversations (many of which I cried through just because), silliness with the young people, snuggling with my pups, trying to figure out winter layering (coats on and off and on and off), horses being spazzes, vet visits, and on and on.  The hour I spent quietly enjoying Avalon’s new Sanctuary room with the sunlight streaming in helped start some rebalancing.  Hugs from several folks has helped too. Laughing about the goofiness of life and dreaming of running away to warm places helped too.

I feel tons better tonight than I did this morning and am also ready to just curl up under my lovely covers and go to sleep soon. Yes I know it’s still early in the evening, but hey sleep is a good, good thing for me.

More than anything I am just glad I pushed through today. I didn’t say anything to anyone that was awful. I didn’t quit anything. I was able to work and puzzle solve and tell stories and plan new things and laugh and cry and just be me today.  I’m feeling pretty good about that right now.  It’s nice to end my day feeling like it’s been far better than I imagined it would be when I started.

 

 

 

Embrace the Shitty

 

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It is time!

It is time!

It is time!

I wrote this in my journal first thing this morning.  I went onto have this be a thread throughout my day as I reflected upon what this means for me.  After conversations with a couple of friends, my life coach and lots of reflecting I’ve come to a few ideas.

What “it” is I don’t really know but I feel something rising within me, just about ready to be born.   Something is wanting to be created NOW.   But what?

Start something, anything – JUST START!  It’s time to stop trying to have everything figured out ahead of time, have the outcome clearly in my mind’s eye, and just do something already.  In order to crack open my heart I’ve got to just do it, do anything, just start!

As a perfectionist, who does try not to embrace becoming obsessed with getting things just right before acting, I get myself stuck all of the time.  I want to have all the pieces of the puzzle in place before I share it with everyone.  I have a vision of what things can or should look like and that vision can keep from taking simple steps forward.  Until I see the how I can stop myself from doing anything at all.  So I keep picturing possibilities without acting on any of them.  Stuck!

Writing increases my mindfulness so that I no longer feel numb or asleep as I move through life.  Writing daily helps me to pay attention to what is happening in the here and now as I become curious about what will grab my attention enough for my Muse to awaken and begin to speak.

So I need to just do “it” whatever the it is that calls to me each day.  Even if that means doing something I haven’t completely envisioned how it will turn out.  A friend said to me today as we were talking about all of the retreats/workshops I could lead but I stop myself because I worry I don’t known enough yet (not perfect), “Just embrace the shitty. Just do it even if it’s shitty the first few times out. Focus on what’s simple and fun and don’t worry about the outcome.”  Only by doing it can I get any better and actually figure out what most brings me joy.  It’s okay to not have it be perfect before I present it.  Gasp!

Well isn’t that a fun new mantra for a perfectionist to try out “Embrace the shitty”?  What a freeing thought it is to let go of any obsessive commitment to the outcome (life coach addition to the day long conversation with myself). Embrace where I am and let go of the rest.   It would mean digging deep and not allowing my desire to have it all be perfect before presenting it to others be what is my highest truth.   It means believing wisdom can come to others even if I don’t have all of the answers.

It’s definitely worth trying if it can help me just do it and start to take new action with something, with anything.   It won’t hurt anything to simply start trying out all of the dozens of ideas rambling around inside of my head.  And it may actually be a lot of fun to play with possibility rather than getting stuck in perfection.

It is time!

It is time!

It is time!

 

 

Driving – I did it!

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We don’t really know what we are capable of doing until there is no other choice before us.  Well, even as I write that first sentence I realize there is always, ALWAYS  a choice.  But when the choice is between doing it ourselves or not getting to do it at all it is amazing what can happen.

Russell was the one who loved long drives.  I like driving but don’t love it.  I like road trips and loved the trips that we would all take down to Sarasota, FL every year.  Mainly though I liked the driving part because I love napping in cars.  It drops me back into childhood when we would drive to Wisconsin as a family. Those trips were times for reading, playing the alphabet game, and napping.  Our family trips that Russell and I shared for decades were the same with lots of fun music added in – especially Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley.

Last year when we drove to Florida for our beach vacation in July it was a shorter trip – only 12 hours compared to the 16 or 17 it takes to get to Sarasota.  It was a trip broken up by Kateri and Soren both sharing in the driving duties and us making lots of stops to keep me awake enough to keep driving.  When we traveled to Sarasota in December we flew down because the thought of making that very long drive made me want to curl up and hide under my covers, no matter how much the lure of the beach was calling to me. No way could I handle making a drive that is technically 16 hours but would surely take us 20 with all the stops I would need.

Not only have we made it to Orlando with me driving all but 2 of the hours, I actually really enjoyed the driving this time.  We stopped in Atlanta last night which was a good break splitting the drive into a 9 hour day and a 7 hour day (stopping for lunch always adds time).  I’m tired tonight but actually much, much less than I thought I would be. Instead I feel energized and excited for our adventures at Disney to start tomorrow.

My kids slept much of the way, as I always used to do.  I would drive maybe 10% of our trips with Russell driving 90%. I never understood how he would say he actually liked the driving and wanted to do it. I never understood until this trip.

As the kids slept I listened to my favorite songs; started listening to a Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly which I am loving; let my mind wander through the opportunities currently before me for my life; allowed myself to be filled with gratitude for my children, my family and this trip; and smiled as memory after memory flooded through me of the dozens of trips Russell and I took on the very roads I drove mile after mile.  My heart rode wave after wave of memory simultaneously missing Russell and smiling at the joy of remembering.

What I couldn’t fathom ever being able to do a year ago has been a joyful experience in this time, in these moments.   The very thought of being strong enough to handle all that driving last year made me want to throw up.  Instead by saying yes I will and can do this drive has left me with filled with gratitude, renewed confidence in my strength and lots of new ideas.  I have at least 5 blogs posts that started writing themselves as  I drove, this one being just the first. I had some good conversations with my kids and lots of fun, silly moments that I treasure deeply.   And I feel that I am rocking my life right now.

Not too shabby for someone who believes car rides are really just moving nap time.  🙂