Not Enough Words & Too Many Words

whenbrave

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!

 

Inhale, Exhale

justbreathe2

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.

Present moment

willow

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!

I know because I have

willow

I am committed to writing a blog post everyday.  Writing fuels me and heals me and leaves me feeling like I’ve shared something of value with the world even if it’s just a small piece of one woman’s story.  The last few days I have written of things that popped up in my morning reflection time.  Today nothing is coming to the surface which allows me to share something I wrote last week (after the death of our oldest farm cat, Sammy) waiting for an opportunity to share it here. Starting my day writing here leaves me feeling like I’ve at least got 1 thing done each day.  It’s a great way to start my day.

What fuels you and heals you? How can you make that part of the start of your day?  How can you say YES to you first and foremost!

 

Loss is different now.  Each little loss of an animal at the farm used to devastate me, knock me out and to the ground for days, sometimes weeks depending upon the situation.  I used to wonder, after each death, if I could really run a large farm with a lot of older animals.  The chances for more frequent loss is higher than many other farms might experience. Each death impacted me so much. I would experience great sadness and guilt that I hadn’t done more, fear I had somehow missed something leading to the death.

That all changed, at least to some extent, with Russell’s death.  The depths of my sadness, fear, confusion, guilt and imbalance I’ve had to work through and clear out since his death has given me a far different perspective on death of others.  Other losses since then can leave me feeling sad but I’ve learned to bend like a strong willow tree much more easily now.

Once a month I get a week long reminder of how strong I really am and how far I have come.  The 13th is the anniversary date of Russell going into the hospital, the slide into Cuckoo Luckoo Land. The 20th is the anniversary date of his death. And everything in between is layers and layers of memories.

Every month the 13th – 20th is an opportunity to remember to use all of the tools in my self-care bag.  This bag is full of lots of tools that help me stay grounded, open to allowing things to flow as they will, shield myself from outside influences, be deeply grateful for all that I have and breathe, Just Breathe.  In this bag are breathing techniques, clearing tools, meditations, songs that heal, movements that keep the flow going, choices that soothe the weariness away, and so much more.  Dozens and dozens of valuable tools that I can often forget to pull out and actually use.   But this one week is a consistent reminder that I have tools that I know I can use, because I already have.

This week is a reminder to not allow outside things and people to control me.  Listening to my truest self, the wisdom of me that tells me what is best for me, this is what I remember to do.  We can never understand another’s journey, another person’s deepest needs, even if they are walking a similar path as our own.  I am reminded that I can listen to MY wisdom voice because I already have.

This week is a reminder that I can breathe, JUST BREATHE, through anything.  When all else starts to spin, no answers seem clear and the way ahead is foggy I can just breathe. I remember because I already have.

I am reminded that I am the Willow Tree  – strongly rooted, stretching my arms up to the sky, providing a shelter of branches, able to bend without breaking and so very strong. The things that I am able to withstand in life go far beyond what I every imagined for my life.  I am far, far stronger than I every knew I could be.  I know because I have already experience all of these things.

I am reminded that LOVE surrounds me and flows through me. I can choose to respond with love and light, feeling grateful for every little gift. I can choose to seek love and welcome it when it is given to me. I can choose to recognize that I am never alone.  I can choose to believe that love is the most powerful thing I will ever experience.   I know this because I already have.

loveandlight

I am reminded that letting go and trusting that all will be well is the only way for me to find healing and become whole.  If I try to have all of the answers, understand all of the whys and make sense out of everything I become more lost. When I let go, allowing myself to live in the mystery I somehow find my path.  I know because I already have.

Each death now opens another door for me, peels back another layer of my cocoon. Death is a part of life and I can dance between the light and the dark, in that glorious space where love resides, in the misty Shadowlands of Great Mystery.  I know all of this because I already have. I already have.

Place of Readiness

pond1

It is in this place at Avalon, by our pond, that I’ve just written for the past hour and a half. Writing, for the first time, of my slide into Cuckoo Luckoo land 18 months ago today and putting into words my memory of that day.

I wrote not out of a painful place but rather out of a place of readiness. Another door was opened, another layer of my cocoon peeled away this afternoon. The compulsion to write came over me so fiercely as I was driving I almost pulled off the road to write in that spot. But I knew I needed to be here, at Avalon, on land that is Sanctuary for me. So I wrote in my head and waited.

pond3

It’s not time to share the story of that day out loud yet. It was enough to write it, knowing that when I write my book the story will need to be told.

I am breathing deeply and freely in awe of the Muse gift that comes to me. I am smiling as I stand barefoot upon the grass I just laid upon writing of Russell and our story. As I write this story I feel him cheering me on, believing in me as he always did.

pond2

In this time, this moment I am filled with love and light as I continue my journey through the shadowlands. I know I am not alone.

 

pond4

Attraction – Cracking Open a New Door

door This time, this moment: Living out loud in every moment.  That is my goal, my mission so to speak, for my blog.  From the very beginning of this current life path I am on that started with Russell’s entry into the hospital I have done my best to live this mission everyday.  The path has been raw, vulnerable, and hard to speak at times.  But in walking it I have found a profound new realness to living life.

When I stay committed to this mission of living my life out loud in every moment I find the path before me to be very clear.  As I honestly state what I am feeling, thinking and dreaming it’s as if the fog lifts and the sun brightly shines my way forward.  It’s in the times that I hide away my truth or hold back from speaking the musings that float up inside of me wanting to come out that I feel like the path and my life become foggy again and almost impassable.

Interestingly much of my journey forward through Russell’s sudden illness and death and then the grieving since has been fairly easy to live out loud.  Oh I can’t always speak it but I’ve been able to write it.  My inner muse awoke with passion when I dropped into Cuckoo Luckoo Land 17 months ago.  She remains awake when I slow down my racing mind, take a deep breath and listen from my heart about what she wants to say.  I like it when she is awake as there is such a sense of rightness, of “yes this is what I most want to do,” when I listen and allow myself to drop everything to write.

This past week I’ve had several shout outs from my muse about things to make note of. None of them have been so compelling as what she kept nudging me with this morning.  The entire time I was at the airport dropping my sons off for their flight to camp in Oregon I could hear her whispering to me, inviting me into a new place of pondering.   A story is what she wanted me to tell about the door that was opened just a crack on own flights home from Asheville last weekend.  I kept trying to tell her to hush thinking nope I don’t need to or want to tell that story.  It’s not important.  Blah, blah, blah.

My muse was persistent though as I thought back to last weekend and realized that it is about a significant shift I need to speak and share.  The story isn’t that big of a deal but the door it has cracked open is an important tiny, bitty step in a new direction on my grieving/healing journey.    The story is a bit of a ramble so I hope you bear with me to the end.  Smile!

In a long, way too long to tell the whole thing here, adventure at Chicago O’Hare airport last weekend there were hundreds of people who spent the night in the airport.  Several of us from the same flight temporarily bonded together as we encouraged each other to find new flights or other means of transportation to St. Louis after our flight was cancelled at 11:30 at night.  We rallied together to talk, laugh, hug a few who were crying and basically shake our heads at the surrealness of hours of delays, followed by a late night cancellation and getting stuck in an airport.

One of the people in this little cluster of folks who connected was a man about my age with a great laugh, super positive energy and a willingness to help.  He and I chatted at various stages from the cancelled flight’s gate to the United Airlines service desk to the point of heading to our new goals of getting to St. Louis.  We both offered support to a young woman who came almost completely unglued when the flight was cancelled.  We helped her figure out a new plan before heading in different directions – me to the American airlines area for the night and him towards the rental cars as he tried to get a car to just drive home.  It was a nice reminder that there are others in the world who can find humor and the positive, while also supporting others, in the crazy situations that pop up in life.  No other thought beyond that.

After an exhausting night sleeping on the floor of O’Hare’s airport, I got on my flight back to St. Louis where I promptly fell asleep for the entire way.   After we landed in St. Louis and we were waiting to disembark I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I thought maybe I had dropped something and I looked around. Well, there was the guy from the night before smiling and thanking me for the tip about switching airlines to get home sooner.  It was funny as we chatted like long-lost friends about the goofiness of the night before.  I told him about losing my new boarding pass and trying to find blankets. He told me about trying to rent a car and deciding not to when he found out it would cost $750 for a one way drive to St. Louis.  We laughed and shook our heads.

As we got off we said goodbye and good luck. Again, I didn’t think much beyond that.   Then, we saw each other again at United’s baggage claim as we tried to find our bags.   Several others from our original, cancelled flight were there and we all got talking about our adventures.  This guy and I got laughing about what had happened.  Part of the silliness was being so tired but it was good to be laughing rather than crying.  Others joined in as we all talked in general about where we were from and what we did, desperately all hoping our bags had somehow made it to St. Louis already.  I finally got my bag, said goodbye and good luck, and headed for home.

As I talked and laughed with this guy I had a sense that I was kind looking at myself from the outside in because I knew something felt different. But I was wayyy too tired to figure out what and why it felt different.  I just knew it was and left it at that.

Throughout the past week I’ve had moments of pondering the niggling sense that something had shifted during that 15 hours or so at O’Hare and then finishing up at Lambert.   I now know what it was and my muse insists that I write about it as part of my commitment to living my life out loud.  I had personal interest and an attraction to the guy I kept meeting along my journey home.  There was something about him that piqued my curiosity and my interest beyond just this is a nice guy.  There was something about him, about the energy of who he is that I felt drawn to and that prompted thoughts of “I wonder what his name is? I wonder where he lives? ”  The fact that he shared he with me he had the young woman in distress the night before “Just close your eyes and take a deep breath. Everything will be okay.” was enough for me to think “Hmmm, who is this guy? I’d like to know more.”

For the first time I felt enough of an attraction to a man who I was willing to contemplate, to consider the possibility that someday I might want to date.  Ack, there I said it!  Truly some of the most terrifying words I’ve written on this whole long journey.  Writing about the rawness of my grief has felt far easier than writing that I felt attracted to someone.   If my muse hadn’t been so persistent I am quite confident I would never have written this story.  But if I am truly going to commit to living my life out loud than this is part of my journey right now and I feel compelled to share it all.

There are so many layers to the opening of this door that I am barely aware of them all.   Question after question has arisen for me as my awareness of how this guy opened a door for me has grown.   Questions like…

“How could I be ready for this? I can barely doing anything besides work, be with my kids, watch silly sitcoms and occasionally see friends.”

“What would I have said if this guy had asked me out?”

“How does one date in their late 40s, almost 50?”

“Do I have to start wearing makeup?” Followed by “Why would I think that?”

“Should I take my ring off? But wouldn’t that be disloyal to Russell?”

“When will my kids be ready? and How will I know?”

“How does a widow date?”

“What could I possibly talk about?”

And on, and on, and on the questions go.

I don’t know any of the answers to these or the other questions that pop up around this.  I do know that I am not ready right now for dating nor do I think that I will be anytime soon. There is so much I am still sorting out and that I am trying to put into place for myself and my kids.   I do think I am ready to be curious about the possibility of someday wanting to date again. I am willing to leave the door cracked opened at least a little bit.

Who knew a cancelled flight and a floopy night in an airport could lead to such a long rambling story?   And who knew a nice, friendly guy could open up a new door for me?  I guess, maybe, the story and the telling of it was a big deal.  Most interesting!

Healing and trusting: Re-framing my brokenness and fear

Ah and here is the follow up blog to “Broken and Afraid” I wrote last year. This was right after I learned about the “Dive”, a tool I still use when I feel waves of darkness threatening to crash over me. As I dive into the dark rather than fight against it I am able to listen from my heart to all I need to learn in that time, that moment.

The wisdom I learned in that first Dive Session with my guide, Ayanna, is valuable wisdom still today. Speak what I need. Set aside time for quiet and reflection. I must write everyday. Grieving and other darker, heavier emotions hold powerful wisdom for me if I trust myself to go into it.

Once again filled with gratitude to the depths of my being for this journey I am on and the wisdom I am gaining.

This time, this moment

hardtobeself

Synchronicity is one of my greatest allies right now.  Over and over again, I am surprised by the ways in which things happen in my life at just the right time and moment.  My final dive down into the depths of my darkness yesterday, after a good 10 days or so of swimming deeper and deeper into murky waters, came at just the right moment.  For just a few hours after my dive, I was able to spend time with my life coach/counselor/guide who helped me swim through the deep and start making my way back up and out.  Through some new, very cool guided meditations she helped me start re-framing some of my fears and my brokenness.  And she 100% affirmed that I am exactly where I need to be in this time and in this moment.

Here is some of what I trusted myself (and her) to do…

View original post 1,154 more words