Spring in winter

spring2     Winter – Day 66/89

Today feels so much like spring I am having a challenging time wrapping my brain around the fact that it’s February. It feels like the end of April. With flowers blooming it looks like it too.

As I wandered my property with Rue and Hinata today I was reminded of the first day we saw this place. I remembered that it was on the Spring Equinox 13 years ago. I’d seen the ad for this place for several months but never thought to go check it out. I’d looked up where it was and the fact that it’s on the same road as PT’s (a strip club) kept me from looking. Plus the thought of prepping a house to sell with 3 kids under 6 was wayyyy too daunting.

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That Spring Equinox the kids and I were returning from the zoo and I thought “what the heck, let’s just drive by and see. The price is too right to at least not check it out.” The house had little appeal for me, but I instantly fell in love with the land itself. You can’t see the house from the road and it’s like being in our own little valley. The daffodils were blooming along the walkway, the grass was green and the giant tree in the back yard (my first magic tree) was amazing. I knew we had to come back with Russell and check it out, which we did a few days later. It was a done deal after that.

I’m very thankful for these memories today of other Spring Equinoxes I have loved. With that being the anniversary date of Russell’s death now there’s a sadness in looking towards the first day of spring. I am grateful to my core for memories of joy and for the incredible blessing of having days like today in the middle of winter.

 

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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!

Halfway Point

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Winter – Day 45/89

We’ve done it folks! We’ve made it halfway through winter. Today, Imbolc, marks the halfway point between winter and spring.

Now is the time to dig deep and believe that we can make it all the way through. Holding onto the hope for spring while allowing the beauties of winter to still gift us can be a challenging thing for many of us. At least, I know it often is for me.

The first half of winter I can usually stay pretty positive with myself and with others. But then we hit February and I start to slip and slide into the more negative places of myself. Oh, I keep trying to stay positive but I find myself getting pissier and more desiring hibernation as winter progresses.

Last winter and this winter, with the added reality of grieving Russell, the pissiness is really more of a bone deep weariness and a lethargy that is very hard to shake. This morning I didn’t even want to go to archery and this has been my new found joy. We went anyway with me pushing myself to not give into the weariness. the first half of our time was okay. I didn’t feel as excited as I have but I intentionally channeled all of the sadness, weariness, angst, and powerlessness I’ve been feeling into each shot. I focused on breathing deep, standing tall and just shooting my arrows.

Then halfway through just as Demetri and I were about ready to stop shooting, I got to shoot at balloons. The first time I hit one it felt like a jolt of energy shot through me as the balloon popped. It woke me up and infused delight through my entire body. I felt the excitement for this new joy arise in me again as I shot 3 more balloons. I felt all my swirly, weary emotions drain away as I laughed each time I hit a balloon.

The rest of the day I’ve felt lighter and more ready to keep on moving forward. And I bought some balloons to use as targets at archery from here on out. If popping some balloons with arrows can create such a charge for me I think I need to go shoot arrows as often as I can.

At this halfway point in winter what might your balloons be? What can keep you moving forward this winter and give you the extra charge you need to stay energized?

We’ve got this people! WE CAN DO IT!

#embracingwinter #warriorwomanseekingjoy
#halfwaytospring #archeryrules

Lifetime Ago

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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

Dancing in the Shadowlands

avalonfog2In an attempt to embrace winter and not just wish it away as fast as possible on the way to springtime I’ve been doing a daily count with an emphasis upon something of beauty or joy from the day.  Here is today’s posting.

Winter – Day 31/89

Today was an amazing day! For the first time I spent my work day almost 100% focused on Avalon Sanctuary things. I had 3 meetings including one about doing grief/healing retreats for teens with the horses, worked on planning for our Vision Board workshop, and had my first private facilitation/coaching session with someone playing with the horses. All was done utilizing the Sanctuary room.

As we move forward with new programming a couple things are becoming clearer to me.

1) Avalon Sanctuary is the artistic, playful, healing branch of Avalon Horse Farm. Our mission is to provide a place of rest, connection and joy in the midst of a chaotic world. While this is very similar to my original mission for Avalon, we are more intentionally focusing on play, art, and healing in the new programs we are dreaming of.

2) I love the play of light and dark that creates the shadow places. When Russell got sick and died (1 year and 10 months ago today) I somehow learned how to dance in the shadow places between the light and dark of my life. I’ve forgotten some of those steps but as I move forward more strongly on this new branch of Avalon, Avalon Sanctuary, I am drawn to breathe and dance in that center place again and help others learn how to be in that place without panic.

The fog from this morning, with the sun playing through the darker clouds was a perfect image for me of this growing sense of my life’s purpose right now. It’s not about doing horse farm work (i.e. stalls, fixing fence, etc.) It is about inviting people to breathe deeply and try to dance with both the light and dark of their lives – finding joy within both.

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Wow, oh wow, has it been a powerful day. An emotional warrior woman kind of day. Feeling very, very grateful tonight.

#embracingwinter#thistimethismoment
#shadowlands#warriorwomanseekingjoy

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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Completion and creation

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I do not know very much about numerology but I do know that this notion of 2016 having been a 9 year with a feeling of endings and completion has rung very, very true for me all year.  The entire year has been one in which I’ve felt like I am shifting ground, walking through minefields or across land in which quick sand pits may pop up at any moment.  There has been much that has risen into consciousness within me that is calling for me to let go of in order to step forward into a new way of thinking, being and living my life.  I don’t think I even know what all has been released inside of me this year.

Basically a 9 year can be explained as follows:   “2016 is a 9 Universal Year, if we reduce the year into a single digit (2+0+1+6=9). The nine represents the end of a cycle. Therefore 2016 is a year of completion, rest and forgiveness. Everything in numerology drives in a 9 year cycle, we have come full circle. It is now the time to finish with the old, and complete the old projects and goals. The year 2016 is the best time to rethink what does not work in our lives, and to begin things differently.”   (excerpt from http://www.thepsychicsforum.com/2016-9-universal-year/)

This rings so amazingly true for me.  I’ve spent the entire year rethinking my life and myself to such an extensive degree that I have needed massive amounts of rest to just process it all.  As I’ve written before, I believe that one of the aspects of grieving is that it lays our entire wide open.  As we grieve we are challenged to deeply explore what matters most to us in the world.  Everything takes on new meaning as we search for any meaning to our lives again.  Some days we hide away from this vulnerability of being opened wide. Others we explore the things within us that no longer remain hidden away behind the stuff of life.  Bottom line for all of us, we are never, ever the same again.

I have experienced 2016 as one of lots of chaos – both for myself and for those around me.  There’s been a spinny, swirly, kind of energy all year.  It’s felt kind of like being the ball in a pin ball machine, being bounced from one loud, bright area of the game to another.  Following a straight line forward hasn’t happened very much.  Just when I’ve thought “okay now it might settle down” I’ve been shot forward to the next flashing, fast-moving event with little sense of being able to direct where I am going.  Putting one step in front of the other, trusting that all will make sense in time has been my most basic hope for each day.

“It is said that life is a balance of holding on and letting go, and this has never been as true as it is right now in the 9 global year of 2016. If we try to move forward and hold on to the past at the same time, all we achieve is stagnation. In order to move forward, we have to release our grip and LET GO of what is holding us back. It is fear of the unknown – fear of the ‘different’ – that keeps us locked inside this cruel self-destructive system. One of the many functions of 9 is to give us a jolt – to wake us up and make us look at what we have been unable or unwilling to see.” (Christine DeLorey, Creativenumerology.com) 

I started 2016 with reading Christine DeLorey’s article about the Universal 9 year.  And all year her writings have inspired me to look more deeply at the things that I am holding onto from the past that are holding me back from moving forward.  The jolts of the year within my own personal life and from the broader world have given me many opportunities to let go and find better balance.  I’m facing fears of the unknown, of being alone, of a vastly different future than I’d been picturing for the past few decades, of figuring out what matters the absolute most to me, and the areas of myself that I still need to wake up. I’ve been invited time and time and time again in 2016 to look deeper and clear away the stagnant parts of myself.

On this final day of 2016 I reflect some more about this 9 year cycle ending and realize that I am not quite sure what all I have learned this year.  I feel like there are things I have let go of and completed,  or that I am very close to doing.  But naming those in a concrete way seems to be just outside of my mental grasp.  Perhaps that alone is one of my new beginnings to thinking differently.  The answers don’t have to always be crystal clear before I start to move in a new direction.  Hmmm!

What I do know for sure is that I feel I am on the very edge of moving forward in brave, bold, new ways.  The beginning of a brand new cycle sounds exciting and inviting.  I want to move forward. I want to have new adventures. I want to try lots of new things.  I want to face the unknown with courage and an openness to new lessons.  I want to create a new life for myself.

I am just about ready. I can feel it rising up inside like a warrior woman’s cry.  Here I come 2017. Here I come!