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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Inhale, Exhale

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To breathe – inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.  Sometimes, oftentimes, that is all I am confident I can do. It’s what got me through Russell’s traumatic illness and death. It’s what got me through the days, weeks, months of shock that followed. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale – over and over and over again. Standing still, eyes often closed to picture my breath, letting go of any and all expectations upon myself but to focus on my breath.  Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

I find myself turning to this again as I prepare myself for Kateri to move to her new job in Hampshire, IL which is about 5 hours from home. She will be working at a horse farm with a talented rider and trainer who she greatly respects.  It is a wonderfully grand adventure for her first move away from home.    Just writing those few words took longer than it normally would as I had to stop and breathe – inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

As thrilled as I am for this new opportunity for Kateri, an opportunity that fills her with confident excitement, the thought of not seeing her everyday threatens to drop me to my knees.  Being with my children everyday, being able to hug them and talk with them everyday, has been one of the key pieces of my healing journey.  To not have one of them here is almost unfathomable to me.  Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

The moving out of a child is hard for all parents I am sure. We want them to grow and fly free. But we also want them to be close by, able to be hugged at a moment’s notice. We want to see them become strong, confident adults while also wistfully longing for the days we could still hold their hand in public.  Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

I am experiencing a rawness, a view through a darker lens as I am poignantly reminded that I alone am the parent helping launch Kateri into the adult world and will be doing the same with Soren and Demetri in the next several years.  I am reminded more deeply, more singularly that as my children leave I will soon be alone. All of the dreams that Russell and I shared for “when the kids are grown” are no longer a possibility. They shattered into a million pieces when he died.  And in the preparations for Kateri’s move I am made vividly aware that all dreams are now just my own. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

Layers upon layers upon layers of emotions I’ve been feeling these past weeks have left me near mute.  I haven’t been able to write about it much less talk about it.  And I haven’t even wanted to – for my own sake as well as Kateri’s I have chosen to stay in the moment, embracing and loving every precious one as the gift that it is.  I’ve chosen to wait to share my story so as not to draw away from Kateri’s joy.  I have chosen to see the awesomeness of this new path for her and help her find her way through her own fears, worries and questions. I have chosen to love this time for all that it is – the joy and the sorrow, the looking forward and the looking back, the mystery and the known, the tears and the laughter.  All of it is part of one magical whole. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

As the words bubble up inside of me, ready to spoken, I focus again on my breath, the most powerful tool I have to stay balanced and grounded.  With tears flowing down my cheeks and a smile on my face I trust the path I am on and the one that Kateri steps onto today.  Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

Project Seeking JOY

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There is much swirling around inside of me this week and many musings that I am writing in my journal to be shared on my blog soon.  But this one that I started on Thanksgiving in the early morning hours, reflecting upon the trip to Mizzou with Walter, my daughter’s horse, the day before and all of the crashing into the dark places I went that day.    Since much of this musing is connected in with things I want to and need to reclaim for myself at Avalon I wanted to share it with all of you first.
THIS – Project Seeking JOY! This is one of the bits of wisdom that flitted into my being last night as I drove home from the farm after getting Walter settled back in. In the quiet of my truck I heard this quiet, yet very confident whisper “Your next focus is to reclaim JOY – joy of horses, joy of the land of Avalon you’ve been entrusted with, joy of play, joy of living. This will be your new fight song, your reclaiming of a power that is unique to you alone. Joy in all of the little ways it can lighten our hearts; seek this again.”
 
I felt my body breathe a sigh of relief as I imagined just sitting with the horses again, grooming them, breathing in their smell that I love so much, remembering the joyfulness of horses not just the heartaches, taking Karoly or Magic for walks to the pond, walking with my Tara, Willow, and Hinata through the woods, sitting under our Magic tree to just be (and now in the Sanctuary room), playing with the kids and teens in my life in all the silly ways I used to do; and profoundly playing my way back to a joy for life that I miss.  Choosing ways to play first!
I can feel the YESNESS of this welling up inside of me as I write.  The picture I shared here is one of those wonderful moments of JOY – barefoot, bareheaded, riding bareback on Karoly with one of my wonderful dogs by my side.  Ah yes and the sun is shining, and I had just finished swimming with Karoly in the pond.   JOY!
I’ve become so very bogged down in the tasks of my life – chores, work, business planning, helping the kids find their way forward on new paths – that it’s become easy for me to forget the great JOY available to me everyday. This is especially true at Avalon.  As has always been and always will be true there is way more to do each day than any of could ever possibly get done. Projects, events, coordinating lessons, teaching, farm work, problem solving, on and on and on.   Yes all of these things are important things but it is easy to lose the joy, the pure, unadulterated JOY for the horses I’ve known all my life in this.
So I am taking steps forward to SEEK JOY.  All of the extra horsey things at Avalon – sunrise rides, parades, full moon rides, drill team, just hanging with my horses, finger painting Karoly, brushing a horse – these are the things that bring that sweet, innocent, playful joy of horses to me.  I think this is probably true for most of us and that each of us could stand to remember that doing the playful things together and with our horses helps us remember why we want to do what we do.
Saturday we will ride at sunrise. Yes it will be EARLY and it will probably feel cold too.  But it is one of the most magical things to ride a horse as the sun comes up, feeling the heat of their bodies warming your legs.  And wow does the hot chocolate taste even better after we’re done.
I will be seeking many, many ways to play more paying attention to the kids in my life to help remind me of what I want to bring forth into my life.  I will be inviting anyone and everyone to come along with me as I seek ways to play again and experience joy in my life.  I will be seeking ways at Avalon and outside of it to just be silly and have fun.  It sure can make all of the work a whole lot easier to deal with if I play first.
So if you’re ready to play more, to lighten your heart and breathe a little easier join me in Project Seeking JOY!  It might make winter a whole lot more fun.

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.

 

 

 

Gratitude will win!

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Despite my intense desire still to curse every other word gratitude will win today. Because overall I’ve had some great things happen throughout my day. I just can’t end a day in which I made several, more positive choices end with me blankity blanking all over the place. 🙂

*My cleaned and deluttered room is a source of great peace and rest for me again.  I sat at my desk writing and reflecting for well over an hour today. I love the special feeling of my room again.Bliss!

*Not once today did I settle into my favorite,  living room chair watching silly sitcoms. The inner sloth didn’t win today.

* Demetri and I had a lovely time  together this afternoon at lunch. we had wonderful conversations .

*I continued with the plan to do baking for Thansgiving tonight. Demetri and I  made vegan/gluten free pumpkin pies as well as vegan/gluten free banana, chocolate cheesecake. Oh I also made vegan gravy. Yumminess!

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*I found dozens of things to laugh at today. There really is a lot of humor to ne found in chaos.

*I got to snuggle with my pyrenees pups tonight when we did a final check of Walter. They’re just such sweet pups.

*I have family and friends who love me.

*My house is warm, my truck runs, and I have  work I  believe in.

*My muse has awoken and is ready to write again.

I get ready to head into sleep with a quieter heart and deep gratitude for the many gifts of the day. I am sighing with relief for that quieting. Gratitude can still win!

Why oh why?

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Why oh why do we not do the things that bring us the most joy more often?  Why do we put off the things that energize us, that inspire us, and that make us smile?  Why do we spend our days longing to spend even just a little time following our bliss? Why do we insist on filling our days with only the things we have to do, leaving no time for the things we most want to do?  Why do we not love ourselves enough to say yes to seeking joy?

I’m pretty sure if I could come up with the answers to all of these questions I could radically change my life.  Or at least get closer to clearing out the things that block me from saying yes to me.  And as I get clearer I could spend more time each day seeking joy.

Tonight I rode one of my horses, Karoly, for the first time in 6 to 8 weeks.  Now the silliness of it is that I own/manage the horse boarding farm where I keep him. I see him at least 5 days a week.   I could be riding for even a little while everyday I am there. But I don’t.

My heart filled with this singing kind of peaceful joy as I rode him bareback tonight. I felt the stress I’ve been feeling melt away a little bit more with every step he took.  My breath slowed and deepened as I allowed myself to drop into sync with him. I laughed and chatted with my student as she rode alongside of me.  I allowed myself to just simply and very profoundly be in the moment for a good hour.

What if I did this everyday?  Would I be able to flow better through the rest of my life by giving myself permission to ride everyday? Would I maybe get more done by fueling myself first?  I’m betting I would experience a great deal more peace and joy if I spent more time on the back of a horse.

I am feeling very grateful that I had this gift of time with Karoly tonight.  I begin my settling into sleep with a smile on my face thinking of this lovely time.  Oh what a gift!

Present moment

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Here I am at Day 7 of my commitment to myself to write on my blog every day.   And I find that I am stuck.   What to write about?   Why did I want to do this?  Do I really want to do this everyday?  How do I write if I don’t feel inspired, compelled to write as most of my blog posts have been?  What’s the point of it all anyway?  Would it really matter if I didn’t write everyday?

Today I find myself tired, unmotivated to do much of anything and simply wondering what my real purpose in life is, beyond being there for my kids.  I’ve thought of starting several different things today – creating flyers for some workshops I want to offer this fall; returning a good dozen emails; reading my new choices of self-reflection books; planning for a couple of upcoming events at Avalon; lining up some lunches with friends; and a bunch of other ideas.  None of those things happened.    Instead I’ve spun my wheels most of the day just flitting from thing to thing.

I can end up on days like this feeling very rudderless and get super down on myself.  I start over thinking everything, wondering if I will ever just be able to get my shit together and stay motivated.  It’s like moving through quicksand on these days. The more I try to move with any speed the deeper I sink.  It’s kind of crazy making as I try to rebuild myself and my life, finding meaning and passion for life again.  I know the things that will make me feel better – movement, being outside, writing, etc. – but on days like today I just can’t get myself going.   I know just taking baby steps forward towards some goal I’ve set will be good, but I can’t settle my mind on just one thing to throw myself into.  Crazy making!

Then, as I was scrolling through articles I’ve saved to read, trying to find something to spark my interest enough to at least write a little bit today these words jumped out at me.  Written by Carolyn Moor the founder of the Modern Widows Club, these words named a truth for me that rang with a clear “Ah Yes” in my head.           “I may change my opinion a thousand times before next week because my mind never (never) shuts down. I think about my past, present and future constantly. I’m trying my very best to learn the gift of being in the present moment (I wish I knew why this was so hard?)”

I spin my wheels, making myself feel rudderless and stuck , because I am over thinking things way too much.  Too much thinking and not enough action.   Over and over again, every single day, I need to call myself back to staying in this time, in this moment.  When I do that my entire being clears and I find myself able to move forward. Even if some days it is just tiny baby steps forward that is progress!

Writing here is one of those small, consistent steps I can take that pushes me out of just spinning thoughts.  It is doing something. Walking outside barefoot in my front yard is doing something.  Reading a few paragraphs in my current book is doing something.  Reaching out to just 1 person is doing something.  Celebrating each of these little successes is doing something.  They don’t have to be big, long steps forward.  All of them are important.

I may keep changing my mind 1000x each week about what I want to do or not do or be or not be and that is okay.  I have no doubt I will keep feeling both rudderless and stuck at times.  I also know that I will keep calling myself back day after day, minute after minute to living in this time, this moment. When I stay in the here and now I am good because I trust that I can handle it.

I’m feeling very grateful for others sharing their wisdom along their own journeys.  I love how other people’s stories can help me along my own path.

Happy to be feeling settled in this time, this moment!