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!

 

Project Seeking JOY

 karolyjoy
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.

I Stand in Love

lovematters

I miss Russell.  To the depths of my inner core, I am missing him these last few days.  Yesterday I walked around in a state of shock as close to the shock I experienced right after he died.  It took  me 15 minutes to get out of my truck at the end of my day because the racking tears I was shedding were too much for me to even get my seat belt off.  I just sat there crying and wishing I could talk to him.

Thankfully all 3 of my children were home and able to reach out to me as I stumbled out of the truck and into the house. Hugs, conversation and some m&ms helped take the edge off.  Naming my truth that I wanted Russell there to talk about the election and all its potential ramifications was what helped the most.  Russell would have had words of wisdom throughout this entire election process that I dearly would have loved to hear.  Russell loved history and governmental things to a degree I just couldn’t understand often, but I had great respect for.  Listening to him talk about current affairs with passion and knowledge was something many of us who knew him enjoyed.  My kids all were wishing they could have talked with him yesterday and I am sure there are many of our friends who were wishing the same.

Michelle Steinke, the One Fit Widow, nailed it last night when she wrote the following:

Yesterday was a big day and regardless of who you voted for, if you are grieving, you may struggle with significant shifts happening in the world, and you endure a kind of grief that is hard to understand and often unrecognized. It’s the idea that major things are happening around you and YOUR person is not there to talk about it with, to commiserate pain, to help you make sense of it all, and an added sense of loneliness in a big and often scary world.

Tonight, I want to validate and recognize that pain because it’s real, it’s daunting, and it’s frankly pretty awful.

There is much that has baffled me and set me on edge throughout this entire election process.  The depths of discontent with the state of affairs in our country crosses all boundaries; it’s one of the most common threads I’ve recognized.  There is much work ahead of all of us as a country to continue to grow and live with grace, respect, understanding, and love.  I remain hopeful that we can continue to find light in the midst of the darkness and that together we can heal and prosper.  I have to believe this or the despair would eat me alive.

For awhile I may need to steer clear of watching the news and minimizing my social media viewing.  My heart just hurts too much that I can’t talk with Russell.   Even in the midst of the loving circles of friends and family around me, I  feel too alone right now as I look around to ask Russell what his take is on things happening and then remember he’s not here.  This sharp pain will ease back into a dull ache with time, but for now I need to acknowledge that I just need some healing, quiet space.

Today I feel stronger and more ready to function again. Maybe the fact that I allowed myself to simply collapse into sleep before 8 pm is helping. Smile. Or the fact that I reached out to several people last night just to reassure myself I am not alone.  Also the fact that my muse is awakening and I am finding my words again; I have missed her!  And definitely because I deeply believe in the power of love to overcome hate even if it is ways that don’t seem very clear right away.

All I can do is MY part – share MY story; live MY purpose; make MY choices to live a life of love, purpose, respect for ALL people; offer Sanctuary space for those needing a safe place to breathe and be; and always, ALWAYS choose a powerful path of love and peace.  In this time, in this moment, in every time, in every moment I STAND IN LOVE!

I know because I have

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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.

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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.

Today’s Gratitudes

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My heart is filled to overflowing with love, joy and gratitude for an amazing weekend of celebrating people’s love stories.  I had the great honor of being part of two love celebrations over the span of two days.  The preparing for these two events, playing at each party and the days following these celebrations have left me with much to be grateful for.

On Saturday night my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in their magical back yard with close to 100 family and friends surrounding them.  Together we got to stand witness as Mom and Dad renewed their wedding vows in a ceremony filled with deep emotion.  As Neil Diamond’s song “Story of My Life” played, I watched my parents stare deeply into each others eyes as if the rest of the world no longer existed.  The world seemed to dissolve around them as I could feel their love wrapping visibly around them.  It was truly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I know much of their story and I know how much it means to them to have been able to recommit themselves to one another as they were surrounded by many who love them.

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Then, on Sunday afternoon and evening, I was able to be part of the first wedding to be held at Avalon.  The magic that I feel pulse throughout Avalon all of the time seemed to broaden and unfold like a blooming flower as Amanda and Matthew claimed their love to the world for the first time.  Their wedding was like something out a fairytale – horses, flowers, joyous guests, music, playfulness, flickering lights, and a bride and groom glowing with their love and joy for one another.  One couldn’t help but smile watching them float through their day and night together.

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As I moved throughout my very full weekend – preparing pretty party spaces, dancing, laughing with family and friends, working hard to make sure things went smoothly, conversing with hundreds of people, taking moments of quiet rest and reflection – I thought often of Russell.  It’s in moments like these that I sense both his presence and his absence the most.  He loved gathering with friends and family more than just about anything in the world.  Well he probably loved his silent retreats just as much, but parties were a joy to him.  I had several moments throughout both celebrations that I could feel my breath catch as I swore I had just seen him in the crowd talking to this person or that person.  A lot, and I mean A LOT, of emotions ran through me this weekend.

What I am left with today, after a full day of rest yesterday and beginning the clean up of spaces today, is a long list of things to be grateful for.  While my body, mind and heart are saturated and a little achy, they are also smiling with gratitude for all of the many blessings in my life.  There is no way I can name all of them here but I am definitely going to try to name as many as I can that have popped into my thoughts over and over again this last week.

*I am grateful for parents who have traveled a long road together filled with many joys and sorrows.  To watch them recommit to one another with deep love after 50 years of marriage is a wonderful gift.

*I am grateful for children who I love more deeply every single day.  Watching Kateri be part of the wedding at Avalon glowing as the beautiful young woman she filled me great love.  Watching my sons, Demetri and Soren, snazzily dressed up and helping in whatever way possible over the weekend made me feel so proud of the wonderful young men they have become.   The very best thing Russell and I did together was bring these 3 amazing people into the world.

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*I am grateful for the opportunity to work and dream at Avalon Horse Farm – a magical place filled with possibility for love, joy and healing.  The farm literally glowed this weekend and I could feel the very land pulse with magical dreams.

*I am grateful for family – near and far – that I love spending time with.   To be friends with my family is a wondrous thing.  They are talented, compassionate, giving, fun people. I am grateful I got to be with them this weekend, even if the time was way too short.

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*I am grateful for friends who know me so well I don’t even need to speak for them to step in with a hug, a smile, a “you’ve got this”, a hug, whatever I seem to need in the moment.  Even in those times when I slip into feeling alone I know I am not truly alone ever!

*I am grateful for being in place that I can miss Russell, even to the point of overflowing tears, but not be dropped to my knees or feel like I have to run from a situation.  Integration is happening slowly and steadily.  Love is the strongest thing I feel.

*I am grateful for feeling and being super strong, capable of spending long days working.  Seriously, I feel like I kicked some real booty the past couple of weeks prepping the farm and my parents (at least a little) house for several big events.  I couldn’t be prouder of how the farm is looking right now and I am grateful for the work I do to make that happen.

*I am grateful for the incredible Avalon Community that is in place right now.  Leading this community to help our dreams unfold is joy, with something new happening all of the time.  Yes I am proud of my work but even more so I am proud of the work that I coordinate to make it shine.  I feel a little like Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek with his – “Make it so” leadership.   To be part of an authentic community that works hard to make our shared love of Avalon shine is wonderful. So many folks have shown up in the last few weeks to help out wherever they can. And many of them have shown up just when my own energy was flagging.  Together we are so amazingly strong and mighty!

*I am grateful for my core Avalon team.  There is absolutely no way that I could pull off any of the things we dream of without them.  Over and over and over again, these folks show up asking “what more can I do to help?”   John, Denise, Nikki, Kenny, Lynette, Mike – all of these folks have spent dozens of hours every single week in the past few months helping make Avalon better and bigger.  Without me asking they have helped into the night-time hours to make the farm sparkle.  I would probably be a weeping puddle of a mess without the work they do.  There are many, many others who help keep me strong and sane helping out in so many ways, but these folks always seem to pop up just when there’s one more project to get done.

*I am grateful for my pups, especially Miss Tara right now.  Dogs have that amazing way of making you feel like you are the center of the universe. Tara especially does that with me, following me around and wanting to just be near me. Plus her sweetness just makes me smile everyday.

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*I am grateful that my life is filled with opportunities for growth, love, joy, connection, and walking my authentic path.  There is much I am still figuring out but then that is life isn’t it?  That everyday I am able to walk in nature, be with my children, learn something new, laugh or cry with friends, rest my weary self, and dream of new possibilities fills me with such gratitude I feel ready to burst sometimes.

In this time, in this moment life is good, very good!

 

“Here’s where you belong. Right here.”

Ahh, NIA tonight was a wonderful, celebratory time! My sister, Becca Caplan, joined us for the first time and I loved having time with her. We danced to some of my favorite songs, including “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing. Lots of playful silliness and joy!

Our final song of the night was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” As I laid on the floor for our final, restorative stretches I thought of the many mornings I played this song for Russell over and over again while he was in the hospital. I wasn’t sad thinking about it, simply aware of this special time I had each morning with him. As I relaxed deeper into the floor, softly singing along, I had the amazing and rare experience of actually hearing Russell’s voice in my head. I imagined him smiling, saying very gently and also with complete surety “Here Lara is where you belong. Here in your body, in this time and in this moment, is where you belong. The rest of where you are meant to be and what you are meant to do next will come when it is time. For now here, RIGHT HERE, is where you belong and where you need to stay. Belong to yourself, for now that is enough, more than enough.”

I nearly gasped out loud as it is rare that I feel his presence so strongly. I am aware of him much of the time, more often with smiles these days. But hearing his voice so vividly in my head, ah that is an amazing gift of a moment.

Once again I am stunned at what dancing at NIA and opening my heart to feeling what the music and movement pulls forth from me.

Feeling deeply grateful and a little bemused at finding both Russell and another piece of my self in the rainbow!

(Written May 31)