You Don’t Know

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Ooh, my Muse has awoken with a suddenness that has left me kind of stunned this morning.  Usually, I get an inkling that I’m moving towards writing something.  Not today.  One moment I was getting ready to leave for my day and the next the words started writing quickly and fiercely and rawly in my head.   I  listen to that Muse and act upon her invitation to heal.

“You Don’t Know”

Unless you have walked a path similar to my own, experiencing the sudden death of a loved one you don’t know, nor should you, the steps of this twisty path I wander.

You don’t know what it is like to go from one moment to the next wondering what might trigger sudden, unstoppable tears.

You don’t know what it is like to seek to find goodness and joy in life simply to hold onto it as a beacon of light against your own inner darkness which threatens everyday to suck you into it permanently.

You don’t know what it is like to think you’re making good decisions, the best that you can in any given moment, and then days, months, years later be racked with guilt because what if they weren’t the right decisions.

You don’t know what it is like to try desperately not to play the “what if” game over and over again.

You don’t know what it is like to want to be around people then as soon as you are want to be alone.

You don’t know what it is like to pick up the phone to tell your person something great or something tragic and then stand there, with phone in hand, wondering what to do when you remember they are no longer here.

You don’t know what it is like to hug your kids because they still just can’t understand what has happened.

You don’t know what it is like to live with the memory of having been the one who had to make the final decision and sign the papers to let your loved one go.

You don’t know what it is like to want to give your kids the best gift you can, knowing deep down nothing will ever be enough because you can’t give them back what they have lost.

You don’t know what it is like to go from abundance to scarcity to abundance to scarcity over and over again as you try to figure out your life now suddenly alone.

You don’t know what it is like to have to ask people for help for things you should be able to do on your own but simply can’t right now.

You don’t know what it is like to seek new avenues of growth and healing that seem to click but then fall through as one more dead path forward.

You don’t know what it is like to feel like a failure for no clear reason but you just do.

You don’t know what it is like to want to keep your kids as close to you as possible while also cheering them on as they grow and find their own, very uniquely separate paths from you.

You don’t know what it is like to think “Hey I feel pretty good right now and I’m rocking life.” to then have the next moment feel like you’ve fallen off a cliff and you’re stuck in cuckoo luckoo land again.

You don’t know what it is like to no longer love holidays or birthdays or special celebrations no matter how much you want to.

You don’t know what it is like to think “I’m getting my new life together and things are looking good.” then just days or week later wonder how things could be so far from that.

You don’t know what it is like to have grief settle into your body like lead as your grieving heart seems to infuse every muscle, bone, and tissue.

You don’t know what it is like to want to try new things but also be afraid of getting hurt because you’re all that’s left for your kids.

You don’t know what it is like to begin the process of transformation, celebrating every aspect of new life, new dreams, new goals and feel sadness because you can’t celebrate with your love.

You don’t know what it is like to have so much that was left unspoken, unhealed, and undone and struggle to let all of it go.

You don’t know what it like to watch your kids struggle with the same.

You don’t know what it is like to want to live a life focused on gratitude, joy and light  and also have your heart remind you that darkness and grief are part of the ongoing dance of life.

You don’t know what it is like to want to work hard and create wonderful new things but you can barely get off the couch still somedays.

You just don’t know.

 

 

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!

 

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!

Flying to Wonderland

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If someone came to me inviting me to race dragons in the moonlight I would laugh with glee and race out the door ready to fly away.  I would barely stop to take a breath before jumping onto a dragon’s back.  Oh the wonder and joy at just the thought of this!

Dragons and imagining them as real is part of Wonderland for me – the place where all things of joy, hope, peace and wonder are possible.  Wonderland is the place of dreams come to life.  It is the magical place of walking, and flying, as a whole, healed person.

Wonderland is the opposite of Cuckoo Luckoo Land. Cuckoo Luckoo land is the place of dark and twisted paths. It is the place I dropped into when Russell entered the hospital and still travel into at times as I heal from his death.  In Cuckoo Luckoo Land up is down, in is out, left is right, nothing is as it should be.  There is much wisdom to be gained while traveling in this place but the drops into it are truly like stepping into a rabbit hole and sliding down a windy slide with the speed of light.

Wonderland is the place of light, open skies, peaceful winds and freedom.  Just today in reading this lovely dream of a picture I have named that place I go inside myself where I feel at peace and feel ready to fly on a dragon.  Wonderland it is; the place where I believe dragons are real and I picture myself riding one to healing. All things are possible here and I believe that I can transform my life into one of Joy. Ahhh Wonderland.

I’m going to play with creating a picture board of what Wonderland looks like to me, calling in all of the magic of that place to me.  I want to invoke the light, laughter, love, healing and joy I imagine as I picture myself flying on my dragon under the moonlight.  I may also as I play with what the wisdom of Wonderland holds for me create another board revealing what Cuckoo Luckoo Land means to me.  There is wisdom in the dark paths I travel when I am there.

I cannot, in all honesty, have one without the other.  They are both part of my dance; the light and the dark, the grieving and the healing.  For tonight, I will go to sleep dreaming of someone coming in the moonlight with my dragon.  Oh do I want to fly to Wonderland!