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

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.

avalonfog

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.

archerybullseye

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

9year

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!

Gifts

Ahhh, this popped up on my Facebook memory feed this morning. AS I read it I could remember how challenging last year was to feel joy and not just feel bone deep weary with grief. I felt wrapped in a wet, heavy blanket for most of the Christmas season. Everything felt off and challenging to do.

I am very, very grateful that I am no longer stuck under that heavy, wet blanket this year. Oh don’t get me wrong, I am aware everyday of Russell’s absence. But I don’t feel trapped by grief infused throughout my body. And I am enjoying the preparations for Christmas with much more ease and happiness this year. I find myself saying yes to a little bit more and am confident that the gifts I have found for the people in my life.

I share this today for those I know who are in their first year of grieving as a way to say “You are not alone. And you will, baby step by baby step, make it through.”

Even more deeply I am seeking to live in this time, this moment embracing the simple joys of this magical time.

This time, this moment

gift

I love getting gifts for people, especially at Christmas.  I love trying to find just the right gift, something I know each person will love.  I love the shopping for them, wrapping them, and putting them under the tree.  I love watching them open it.  It’s all just a wonderful part of the holiday season for me.

This year things are off.  Oh I’ve had fun shopping for gifts and wrapping them.  I think I’ve found some gifts that are ones people will like.  A few are even ones that I know will be huge hits.  But it is all just off.

As I check in with myself each day I notice the following thoughts running through my mind several times a day:

*What if I got all the wrong gifts?

*I can’t possibly have gotten enough yet.

*Maybe I should start over.

*What was it they really wanted?

*What…

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Inhale, Exhale

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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.

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.