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!

 

Lifetime Ago

ortho

Winter – Day 38/89

Today is the day!  My son, Demetri, is getting his braces off, almost 2 years to the day that he got them put on. Amazing!

Demetri’s appointment to get his braces on 2 years ago was one of the last things that Russell and I did together as parents. At least one of the last extra things, outside of everyday life. I remember us all coming together for Demetri’s appointment and Russell and I talking in the waiting room while Demetri got his braces on. It seems like just yesterday and also a lifetime ago.

Well I guess in some ways it was a lifetime ago as I feel like I am living a new, different life now. It is a life of walking more in the shadows, of being aware of the power of both the light and dark to transform us. It is a life of being deeply aware of the possibility of everything changing in a second so embracing the now is that much more important. It is a life of seeking new passions and new purpose that somehow also weave into life-long held passions and purposes. It is life of being aware of things on a much deeper level than I’ve ever been.

I’m very happy for Demetri today and extremely proud of the ways he has followed his orthodontist’s instructions enabling him to get his braces off months ahead of schedule. What an awesome human being Demetri is and I am thrilled to be his mom.

#embracingwinter
#thistimethismoment

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.

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!

Out Loud

speakup

I’ve learned a valuable lesson in the past several weeks. Well let’s just say it’s a lesson that has sunk into my head a little bit deeper.  It’s something I’ve known for a long time but I’ve been given lots of opportunities recently to practice putting it into action.

The lesson is this – People can’t read my mind and if they can’t ready my mind then they can’t possibly help me do the things I need help with.  Just because it maybe screaming inside my head “I can’t do this alone. I need help.” it doesn’t mean anyone but me can hear that screaming.  I know that I am surrounded by lots of people who are more than willing to help me; I just have to ask OUT LOUD.

Another level of this learning is that just saying I need help without clear times, tasks outlined, and tools that are needed isn’t enough for many folks.  Without all of the information requests can feel vague and borderless.  People’s hesitation to say yes isn’t necessarily because they don’t want to it can be they just need more info.

I am learning I need to live my whole life out loud, not just my grieving/healing journey.  Why do I stop the words from tumbling out of my mouth?  Maybe because they can be so jumbled in my mind.  I worry it will come out in such an incoherent way that no one will understand me.  Or I worry that if I start the tumble I won’t be able to stop it.

I (we?) so often feel overwhelmed by all that we need to do. That to-do list gets longer and longer and longer feeling more daunting as it grows.  I wish other would help me. I can even feel resentful as I run around like chickens with my head cut off, wishing others around me would just help me. But the busier I get, the quieter I can become and then no one knows that I need help.

I have to ask for help in specific ways.  When I do it’s amazing the response that I usually get.  Every time I have asked for a specific need for help at specific times with specific parameters, I have received lots of replies of “Yes I can do that.”   Or, I’ve received replies of “No I can’t help with that. Would this help?”

 

My commitment to living out loud in every time, every moment is a habit I am working to entrench deep within my entire being.  When I do I least give myself a fighting chance to get all the help I need. And I give others a chance to be there for me as they can.  It seems so simple when I write it out.

Vague request = Vague or no response

Specific request = Specific answer

Pretty simple equation isn’t it. Then, why is it so hard?

 

Today’s Gratitudes

avalonsunset2

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.

momdad

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.

amandawedding

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.

mykids.jpg

 

*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.

siblings

*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.

tara

*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!

 

Saying yes to this time, this moment

butterflywoman     How many of us really live in the here and now, not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future, just living in this time, this moment?   All of us get caught up in stress, in worry, in imagining all of the hundreds and thousands of things that have either happened to us or might happen someday.  That stress and that worry can drive us crazy and lead us down paths of very unhealthy and unhappy living.

I know I can easily fall into the “whys?” and the “what ifs?” of life.  Why did this or that have to happen to me?  What if something awful happens in the future?  Why did I make that stupid decision years ago?  What if I can’t make things work out in a year or two or three?  And on and on the list of obsessive negative thoughts can go.

One of the magically wonderful things that happened for me when I first dropped into Cuckoo Luckoo Land 17 months ago, and for most of my steps forward since then, is that I made the choice to pretty radically live in this time, this moment.  The personal knowledge that life truly and completely can change in the blink of an eye led me to commit to living a Year of Yes.    How could I focus just on thinking about the past or the future when I learned to the depths of my being that I can’t control the past and I definitely don’t know how much of a future any of us really has.

I wrote the day before Russell died of my desire and commitment to living in the now. I have been learning how to stay in every single moment finding gratitude for the littlest of things. It is much easier to abide in Hope if I stay right here, right now, being simply happy for the little achievements.  It’s not an avoiding scary possibilities or avoiding learning more, it is simply not letting those scarier things take hostage of my brain and soul

That commitment has extended beyond the first year of living without Russell.  I have set new habits for myself and find it easier than every before to move myself back into a Now Focus, even if I find myself spinning out about the whys? and what ifs?  I anticipate that this new habit of Living in a Yes to Now will continue in some way, shape, or form for the rest of my life.  There is profound joy and peace that can be found in staying in this time, this moment.

At the beginning time of this commitment to the now I made choices to invest in things out of pure need for myself and for my kids.   Saying yes to things that made us feel some joy, some hope, some peace has been fairly easy to do.  As I begin to experience a new awakening, an unfurling of my wings, and an unfolding of my dreams it becomes clearer how these early investment choices have been so critical to my healing.

First and foremost,  I made the choice to make my number one priority self-care for myself and my children.  Anything that is a potential path to healing our wounded hearts gets a quick and forceful yes.  Counseling, massages, chiropractor, yoga, YMCA membership, spending time with family and friends, good food, and anything else that feeds our souls and our bodies we say yes to.  We are learning to listen carefully to the quiet workings of our inner self, saying yes to the things that feel right to us.  Healing our hearts, while caring for bodies and spirits has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Second,   I have encouraged us all to say Yes to a variety of adventures.  There have been camps, trips with friends, trips with family, new classes, horse shows, new instruments, my mentorship, and so much more we have said yes to.  As we explore new dreams, new ideas, new hopes for our lives I see each of us become a little more strong, a little more balanced and a little more at peace.  We’ve each done more traveling and said yes to more new things in our lives than in many previous years combined.  Adventuring with each other, with friends and with family has brought great joy to our lives. There’s a surrealness in not being able to share our adventures with Russell.  More importantly I feel immense gratitude for the new things we’ve all experienced and the people we’ve been to share them with.

Third, I chose very early on to say Yes to new things at Avalon.  Only in the last few days as deeper unfolding of my dreams for the farm and completion of projects is occurring have I realized why I’ve made some of the decisions to invest (both my time and  my personal money) in the ways that I have in the past year and a half.   There are so many dreams, from early childhood through all of my life up to the present, that are twined in and around themselves in connection to Avalon.  I know I have much more to write about this web of dreaming.  For now, in this time and in this moment, I simply, finally know why I’ve made the decisions I have made for the farm.  I couldn’t bear the thought of one more thing so intimately connected to my heart and to my core self dying.  The Magic of all that Avalon is and all that it can still become has had to survive with me.  I’ve needed it to survive for me and for the community who have been part of my healing web.

As much as I sometimes wonder if I should have, could have done many things in the past differently, I am 100% confident that the choices for healing, for adventuring, for dreaming that I have made this past year were all the best things I could have done for myself and my kids.  I will continue striving to say Yes to Now, to living in this time and in this moment.  I will continue to encourage my children, as well as all who cross my path, to make similar choices.  If all we can really be sure of is this very moment we are in don’t we all want to have that moment be one filled with joy, love, gratitude and the awareness that we are listening to what our hearts are saying yes to?

I end this writing with the same mantra I did almost 17 months ago. It is just as true for me today as it was back then.

To the depth of my being: 
I remain hopeful for healing (and living a life of joy).
I remain grateful for so many reasons and people. 
I remain filled with love.