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.

 

 

 

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!

Time Outs

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Sometimes there can be no words. Or at least no adequate words to say to someone when a curve ball of life has been thrown at them.  Especially if it is someone who’s black and blue already from trying to dodge a lot. In those times when yet one more thing has happened all we can do is be there, give them a hug, and walk alongside them.

I’m also learning that during these times of dodging and weaving I need to step away for a while to regroup and re-center myself before I try to engage too much with people around.  Take a quick time out isn’t just for little kids who’ve done something they weren’t supposed to do.  Time outs give us a chance to say to the world “I just can’t right now. Give me a few minutes to reset my brain, my heart, and my body.”

As adults we often think we need to just suck it up and keep moving.  Allowing ourselves to take a time out can leave some of us (me for sure sometimes) feeling weak and ineffective.  However I’m coming to realize that time outs are one of the easiest, best ways for us to put our self-care and our health first.  It is 100% okay to say we need to focus on our own needs first.  If we don’t do it, no one else will for us.

I’m doing a bit of dodging and weaving this weekend as is Kateri and a few others within our Avalon community. I’m betting there are a lot of folks out there dodging and weaving things being thrown at them quickly and out of nowhere.  I am encouraging us all to take time outs when we feel our inner stress level rising.  Stop, go to a quiet place, take some deep cleansing breaths, and let go.  As we allow ourselves to just settle into the moment, not trying to figure out the future in any way shape or form, perhaps we can settle into a calmer, more grounded space,  At least that is my hope my myself and all of us.

All will be well and all is well!

Dive on in

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“Hold it in. Don’t let them see you cry.  Just let it go. Move on with your life.  Get over it already.  Push through. You’ve got to do your job.  People don’t want to hear it anymore. Don’t wallow in things.  Get on with it.”

These messages come through from somewhere. I don’t recall directly hearing these but these can run like ticker tapes through my head.  I honestly have no one in my life who is saying these things directly to me.  But somehow these “suck it up” messages are part of my thought process because I can hear them play in my head if I’m having a rough time that I just can’t seem to shake.  The longer I try to hold it in, not cry and just keep pushing through the more of a mess I become.   Each day that I try to ignore the depths of emotion welling up inside of me the less I am able to get much of anything done.  As I shove things away, trying to stay focused on getting tasks done, it’s as if an internal top starts spinning faster and faster and faster.

Instead I’m learning to dive into the emotion, especially when it flares up inside me with the fierceness and quickness of a summer storm.  When things finally come to a point that I must stop all I am doing and face whatever storm has arisen inside of me I am finding it is much healthier for myself and those around me if I completely tap out for a day and dive deep into the sadness and confusion before me.   I am learning to stop listening to the ticker tape messages in my head replacing them with ones of self-love, care, and allowing myself to dive deep into the exact place I need to be in each moment.

Some would see my dives as wallowing in sadness, and some days I judge myself that way. There seems to be a time limit that is placed upon feeling deep emotions and the further out from the initial event the less time we should spend thinking about it or feeling the aftershocks of it.  If you’ve got to cry again do it quick and get back to the task at hand. However my experience of allowing myself to dive into the emotion, feeling it as deeply and as long as I truly need to is that I am then able to be in a clearer space, a more healed place upon my return.

What amazes me is that each time I finally give myself permission to tap out of expectations to “suck it up and just keep moving” and dive into all that I am feeling, I come back out feeling more whole and truly ready to move again.  It’s as if the dive into the murky, darker places of intense emotion shake things up to the point that I  no longer feel clogged and stuck.  I can almost feel my whole body shift as I cry, scream, feel and dive on in. I can hear that deep, inner self say “thank you for listening to me and honoring me.” I can feel love wrap around me as I say yes to me and what I most need.

I wonder what would happen if I gave myself permission faster to tap out and dive on into the emotions swirling inside of me. I wonder if I would be able to quiet those negative, ticker tapes running through my thoughts if I said yes to the quiet voice inside of me saying “taking the day off and dive in”.   I wonder if I would feel better sooner and have less days that felt like I was trying to move through quicksand.  Probably.  It’s worth trying.  I’m worth trying!

 

 

 

I’m learning

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Grief is a long, twisty, bizarre journey .  I’ve been feeling good overall, feeling as if my heart has healed a lot and I’m ready to move forward with life in ways I hadn’t been previously.  I’ve felt ready for something.  But I’ve  not really known what that something might be.  I’ve tried this and that, wondered this and that, moved forward on this and that.  But there is no this or that catching my attention past the point of taking the first steps forward on a path.  I am living in the hope that something, anything will just grab me and scream to me “Yes, this can feed your soul enough to carry you through the rough days.”  I keep moving forward, one tiny step at a time.

I’m realizing today that this second year of grieving the death of Russell is even more treacherous to journey than the first.  The path is so much more foggy.  Life has taken over and I spend most of my days dealing with work, helping my children figure out their journeys, and spending time with family and friends.  I don’t as much as I want to.  I am caught up in living a life.  I am trying to just live.  I go for weeks feeling stable, whole, and able to handle life. And then something triggers me and I find myself in the midst of one of those darker places again.

I think of Russell. I miss him everyday.  The kids and I talk about him more now than we could a year ago.  We dream of adventures.  I pay my bills.  I line up doctor’s appointments.  I try to eat healthy.  I cook more.  I laugh some everyday.  I talk to Russell in my head of how proud of our children I am.

I am also finding that my heart is hurting so much the past few weeks.  And little things can pop up that leave me feeling as if I’m unraveling all over again.  I know that I am strong but I am feeling weaker as time goes along rather than stronger.  And than I realize that this second year, this year of rebuilding and integrating the shock of last year, has so many lessons to learn.

I’m learning to tap out again, just like I did much of last year.  There are just some days, some moments that I just need to be away from the world.  In those moments I collapse into myself, sob a lot, and hide under the covers for at least a few hours.

I’m learning to not feel guilty about continuing to place great emphasis upon my self-care and encouraging my kids to do the same.  There is a part of me that believes I need to suck it all up and just get the job done, no matter what my emotional state might be.  I do work hard most days on many, many things. But other days I give into the need to focus primarily on self-care.

I’m learning to find the one or two things that I can do each day that always make me smile.  Usually these involve my children or my pups.

I’m learning that the unraveling I experience is needed so that I can start to weave a new life web. I’m strengthening the strands of my web, spinning new ones, and dreaming.

I’m learning that I need to write everyday, and not just in my journal.  Blogging feeds my soul in ways I can’t quite understand.  There is something about writing and sharing my journey – the good, the bad, the challenging, the easy – that heals me and gives me purpose.  Even if the writing is short I think I need to start blogging everyday, no matter what.  Considering I have the topics for at least 15-20 blog posts already written down it should be fairly easy to do.

I’m learning that not knowing what I want to change in my life is okay.  I’ve got to settle into this unknowing place as a good, normal place for me right now.

I’m learning that part of what makes me strong is being able to say I’m not strong all of the time.

I’m learning that grieving impacts us on such a deep and broad level that it can take a very long time to rebuild our lives and learn to still be able to move even when those little things try to pull the rug out from under us again.

I’m learning that just when I think I’ve got this grieving thing under my belt, it is really that a new layer of learning is being reached.  Just because I have bad days or rough weeks it doesn’t mean that I’m not healing or that I’m not strong.

I just need to be sharing my story, not worrying if others get it or if they are even listening or how rambling my writing seems to be to me.  My path doesn’t have to be a linear one, it just has to be my path. I don’t know why it feels so important to share my story. Maybe because it’s one of the few things that seems to come easily to me.   There is so much in my life that seems hard to do or figure out still.  Writing, sharing my life journey, loving my children, listening to other people’s stories, these are the things that seem real to me. These things feed my soul.

I’m learning!