I’m a little teapot- Wise Project 2017 #TenaciousTuesday

Who am I anyway?

I was going to skip Tenacious Tuesday this week but I decided on a who am I poem!

I was reading a poetry book called Helium by Rudy Francisco this morning and felt inspired to tell a little bit about who I think I am. The amazing thing is every person we meet sees us as something different and I am learning that that is O.K. The important thing is who you think you are and if you realize that you never stop learning or evolving.

I was born on January 15th of 1974. That makes me a Capricorn and though I think I am way too fun and spontaneous to be born under the sign of the goat I am stubborn to a fault.

I am 5’9 and I have no idea how much I weigh but I identify as curvy and fabulous.

I think there is no medicine better than laughter.

I am a huge sucker for a guy with great eyes, I call them shipwreck eyes because that is what Ben Caplan says in my favorite song Lovers Waltz and because I can literally drown in the right eyes in the right scenario with the right story.

I have no sense of direction whatsoever but I try to make that fun. I wonder often about the people I have given directions to over the years.

I am too often loud when the occasion calls for quiet, my friends ask if I learned to whisper in a room full of chainsaws.

If you want to see me lose my cool try reading over my shoulder you filthy animal.

Until recently I was hysterically afraid of traffic circles but I am slowly becoming a road warrior.

I was born early and have spent my entire life believing if you are not early you are late, except at work where I happily prefer to make my own hours.

I value red wine, red lipstick and a sexy red dress.

I think people are fascinating. I also LOVE nerds.

I love to talk but I am learning to listen.

Listening is a superpower.

I love my mom and I sometimes snap at her unnecessarily. Her opinion means more to me than anyone else.

She thinks I am insecure. I think I am not. I do like attention though. 😉

I can write a whole book via text and I enjoy contemplative conversations with people I trust.

I think parenting is hard. We always wonder if we are getting it right and there is a delicate balance between allowing our children to spread their wings and experience all the joys of friendship and love while holding space for them during inevitible heartbreak.

I think sex is too often used as a tool and a weapon. I am comfortable talking about sex and comfortable with my sexuality. Sex is not love but it can be a beautiful expression of ourselves.

I believe that everyone crosses our path for a reason and an experience that lasts five minutes can have as much impact on our lives as one that lasts fives years.

I think dancing and general silliness are under rated. Sometimes we just need to say “fuck this shit” and dance it out!

Who are you?

Bonfire Heart – Wise Project 2018

“Your mouth is a revolver firing bullets in the sky
Your love is like a soldier, loyal till you die
And I’ve been looking at the stars for a long, long time
I’ve been putting out fires all my life
Everybody wants a flame, but they don’t want to get burnt
And today is our turn”

~ Bonfire Heart James Blunt

A little over a year ago when my husband was taken from us by the cruel hand of depression, PTSD and Mental Illness I was faced with some immediate choices about how and if I would move forward and how I would lead our children through grief.

I have been incredibly blessed to have met so many kind, loving and wise guides through Lifestyle Meditation here in Edmonton and each one of these passionate souls have reminded me that we are the healers, but they will continue to hold space for us while we heal. I have been reminded that Kirk will heal through our healing and that continues to be powerful for me. I never wanted him to sit in my pain any more than he wanted me to sit in his.

Grief is an agonizing journey and what has been unbelievably important to my emotional health is the belief that we are all spirits having a human experience. Death ends our physical life, it doesn’t end our love and it doesn’t extinguish our light. I can no longer take comfort in Kirk’s physical presence, but I am reminded quite frequently that he is still in the universe, and the universe is continually supporting us and working for our highest good. We often can’t see that because we look at life through a lens of entitlement, bitterness and fear and no matter how many inspirational memes we share on Facebook it is our actions when nobody is looking that really matter. If we are living out of resentment, fear and indignation that is exactly what we put into the world and like attracts like. We will get back what we call out for.

My physical body is 44 years old, but I know that my soul is much older. I believe when we take on our physical bodies we are given a task, something to learn in our lifetime, and no matter who we are we are also given challenges to overcome in our journey. I think our challenges and how we rise to face them present us with our greatest lessons and our most powerful invitations towards personal growth and fulfilling our divine purposes.

I have believed for a very long time that my purpose was to learn about, embody, encompass and give love despite any challenge that I am faced with. I know that the Merriam Webster dictionary of love cannot do justice to all that the word love holds and embraces. It is a weighty task indeed to face each day with love when hate stares us in the face constantly.

We spend much of our lives trying to bestow our love unto people and we are incredibly hurt and sullen when our love is not reciprocated. We become fearful and jaded and we build walls around our hearts. We keep the love out. We keep the joy at bay, but ironically the acidic lure of acrimony seeps into those walls like rain into dry earth.

It was only a few short years ago that I learned the importance of loving myself first. If we do not love and invest in ourselves how can we expect that anyone else should find us worthy of that investment. I have also been guilty of thinking that love was rare and must only be given in the most special of circumstances. When we love ourselves, we are overflowing with love, we than put our love into the world not because we are in desperate need of love, but because we are abundant with love and we want to share it. I think the important difference is that we attract people that want to share love because they are overflowing with it too, not deplete us because they are desperate for our love because they do not have any of their own. This creates relationships that are not based on the divine truth and freedom in love. When we fail to fill ourselves up with love we have a constant need to get that love elsewhere and it can lead to unhealthy life patterns.

Our hearts are more powerful than our fear and contrary to popular belief lost love does not break them. Often our ego perspective holds us hostage and we fail to see that if we give love because we have abundant love to give instead of searching for love because we need it we will recognize an important shift in all our important relationships.

The thing that has been nipping at my heals is how love should feel like freedom yet we constantly put chains on the people we love, trying to hold unto to something that is intended to move freely. There must be a way to love ourselves and embrace our authenticity in a way that we invite others to be their true selves and any love shared between us is void of judgement or restraints.

Love should not assume, it cannot be held, it is not boastful, unkind or judgmental. True love moves like the universe and the universe cannot be restrained. The universe roots itself firmly in the present knitting its energy interminably in the here and now, never losing itself in the pain of the past or worries for the future.

“Trying to hold on to love is like trying to hold on to the ocean. An exercise in futility that leaves you a constant “failure”, even while the ocean itself beckons you at all times to come into it and be surrounded and supported by its majesty.”

~ Roberta Shepherd, HHP (Love is Freedom)

The Journey

Dylan Glynn

“Tomorrow we die, today we love” ~  Geha Gonthier

I sing out loud even though I am tone deaf.

I speak truth to bullshit.

I compliment people.

In a moment I fear everything yet there are moments that I am fearless.

I love to laugh and I am so sarcastic that sometimes I am not even sure if I am kidding or not.

I keep my circle smaller than ever, not because I am afraid of getting hurt but because I realize that my time is the most valuable currency I have and I only spend it on the right people.

I am very protective of my energy.

Superficial relationships are not for me. I like to get to know the meat and potatoes of a person so if I am intrigued by you I am all in.

Learning to say NO has been life changing for me and every time I want to say No and hesitate, thinking I need to be nice, I end up fucking myself over.

I am emotional. Sometimes I experience all of the emotions in ten minutes. I don’t hide how I feel. If you are in my orbit you know that well.

The last year without my husband has been a journey.

I remember the moment I knew he was gone realizing what a huge responsibility I had in showing our children how to move forward in love and grace.

When tragedy strikes often our instinct is to get very small and quiet. That wasn’t for me. I have learned so much from seeing fabulous people move through their struggles that I believe there is beauty and value in sharing my authentic self and being real about the darkness of grief but also the opportunities that adversity presents to us.

I have spent the last year learning to laugh again and encouraging my children to embrace life and to invest in themselves and fill themselves up with love so that when they share that love with others it is not because they need love, it is because they have so much love to give that it is overflowing.

I am growing into myself, learning to fill my space so to speak and it is not without challenges. Not everyone is interested in knowing themselves as intimately as I know me, accepting the darkness in themselves so they can safely move into the light.

People can only know you, accept you, and love you to the extent that they also know, love and accept themselves and it is not our job to fit ourselves in a box to be enough for people.

You are enough.

Just as you are.

We want to be accepted. We want to be loved. However, part of finding out who we are and expanding and growing into the person we are truly meant to be means that we will not be right for everyone and that is OK.

I truly believe that the people meant to be in our lives will always be there when they are meant to be there. Not everyone is meant to be with us forever. Not everything is permanent.

My son, who is an amazingly kind and old soul said to me that society teaches us to be careful who we love, as if we only have so much love to give but in reality love multiplies love.

The death of my husband taught me so many lessons but there is a quote that I said at his service that will resonate with me forever.

“The only remedy for love is to love more” ~Henry David Thoreau

The only way to have that type of true and unencumbered love is to first give it to yourself. Find you, be you, love you.

People will move in and out of your life, but you will always be there. Spend less time trying to be the person everyone needs and be the person you need. Everything else will eventually fall into place.

Louie Schwartzberg, a nature photographer says “beauty and seduction are nature’s tools for survival, because we will protect what we fall in love with.” Why wouldn’t we fall in love with ourselves first?

 

Doing All Right – Wise project 2018- #TenaciousTuesday

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I want you to know something important. I don’t always have my shit together. I am winging it at the best of times, life, eyeliner, finances…all of it.

My decision making consists of a slight pause, a deep breath and the phrase “fuck it” before diving head first into most situations.

I am not shy and some of my friends describe me as extroverted but the truth is I have this insane need to just be myself. Now granted I have a select friend or two that gets to see the full on crazy that I tuck in periodically to be acceptable for the rest of the world but generally speaking I am an open book and that is important to me because the people that belong in my life are there for the right reasons; for me, not for a version of myself that I present to the world.

We are constantly looking to the right thinking that everyone else has it all together and the truth is that most of us are really just winging it.

The bigger truth is I feel pretty damn good about it.

There was a time when I was trying to juggle all of the balls at once, motherhood, marriage, work, finances, volunteerism and I constantly had the feeling that one wrong move and everything would come tumbling down. The truth is I wasn’t doing any of those jobs particularly well because I neglected in all of that to take care of me.

When I started truly investing in myself it seemed that everything else seemed to fall gently into place, there was no more guilt or juggling. There is great deal of freedom in letting go and trusting that you are fully supported at all times by something larger than you. For me that is the universe; science, energy, spirit and guides. I believe that when we take care of ourselves we are better in tune to see the way that these things work together to constantly support us for our greatest good.

I try to make good healthy choices for myself, I limit my time with people who suck my energy and seek out opportunities for wellness and growth. The more I do this, the more things, ideas and people cross my path that I know for certain were placed there at the right time to support me and to fill my journey with light.

I don’t have all the answers but what I am trying to accomplish is to let go of the fear that sometimes goes hand in hand with not knowing what comes next.

Sometimes it is scary not knowing all of the answers but we cannot live our lives for tomorrow when today is all we are promised.

For me meditation has been a wonderful gift to keep me grounded and connects me to the present and quite frankly to my inner self, the witness, not the judge. Even in the midst of chaos I have the tools to access calm in me that for a long time I never knew existed.

Just for today take a little time to recognize where you are, look around, breath. Don’t worry that the neighbor has a backyard oasis and you have a giant toilet for your dog, don’t worry that your friend is making her family a recipe from Chrissy Tiegan’s new cookbook and your kids are getting Lucky charms with chocolate milk after practice. Take a moment to remember that you have all this under control, take that five minutes you thought you couldn’t afford, even if you are just sitting in the bathroom playing Spiderman solitaire with the door locked. You matter. The moment you realize that everything else is gravy.

You got this.

 

 

 

 

Lost Together -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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They say butterflies don’t know they are beautiful because they cannot see their wings and that often people are the same, that others see in them things they cannot see. If you are beautiful on the inside that will always show on the outside, to the people that matter anyway. I dedicate this post to my old friend Tanya who is in the throes of one of life’s most difficult journey’s. At the moment she is in a protective cocoon but man when she emerges, I foresee beautiful things for her.

 

A song on the radio snapped me to attention the other day, I had one of those moments as the song opened to the familiar crooning of the talented Mr. Jim Cuddy, “strange and beautiful are the stars tonight…” from Blue Rodeo’s Lost Together; that you never forget.

I was flooded with intense emotion as I imagined Kirk walking across the garage to give me his hand and when I took it he would pull me into his arms to dance. It never much mattered whether it was just the two of us or twenty people were in the garage, there are certain songs that no matter what the circumstance was, we would dance. The moment left me a bit shook, one moment I was laughing and feeling as light as air and the next second there were hot tears springing from my eyes but before the tears reached the middle of my cheek a box of screws fell, seemingly from midair, sailed across the counter and landed in front of me. My friend chuckled and said “He is here”

They say we are lost till we are found, (whoever they are anyway), and in the span of a moment in time, I was both lost and found again. There are constant reminders for me that death has not ended the love I share with Kirk, and reminders that feel like permission and encouragement to find my wings, to take that breath, and like the phoenix; rise.

Dimes have been literally appearing out of nowhere at a rate that seems almost uncanny. My daughter was making a sandwich tonight and one fell out of midair and landed at her feet.

Whether you are religious or not the serenity prayer which says, “Lord grant me the strength to change the things I can, the courage to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.” is a critical reminder that accepting that which we cannot change, is the only way to move forward.

There are times in our lives that we will all feel a little lost and I think it is essential to know that sometimes we all are. Nobody has it all figured out, nobody is untouched by struggle and nobody is up all the time.

I had a couple situations in the last several weeks where I allowed people to get the better of me, making me question myself and my worthiness and whether I was enough. I found myself in the anguish of wondering how people see me and why someone would treat me as if I was less than them. Those are sad moments indeed when we find ourselves standing on the outside of a situation, hustling for our worthiness when we know damn well that nobody has the power to determine our worth. A person eager to stand in judgment of another already questions their own worthiness so we should never give them control of ours.

We need to stop spending so much time giving a fuck what people think of us. Every single person that we meet will have a different view of us and they can only see us and know us and love us to the level that they also see and know and love themselves. The magic happens when we love ourselves so much that other people’s opinions do not hold power over us. In times of fear, shame, and inadequacy we need to select our thoughts the way we select our clothes in the morning. Don’t pick the self-depreciating, judgemental thoughts and follow them down into the perpetual abyss.

We are all born whole and worthy. We are born enough.

Let people evaluate and undervalue you, let them speak untruths about you, their opinions are not your problem. You be you. Be kind, bound to love and committed to your beautiful authenticity. Speak out, speak up, be vulnerable, but never live in fear of shining too bright or doubting your worthiness.

I read a quote today that went something like this

 “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

 Life is a journey, not a destination. Your journey is your journey and your struggles and challenges have the power to bring out your true potential if you allow and if you have the guts to say firmly to anyone who dares tell you how to travel your path,

“This is my journey. I’ll do it my way”

We will all find ourselves at that intersection in life where everything is literally falling apart around us, but, if we pay close attention we can see that at the same time things are coming together, life is funny like that.

We need to stop subscribing to the idea that we will be enough when we lose ten pounds, get a promotion, get a partner and get our proverbial shit together.

WE ARE ENOUGH NOW.

Sometimes I find myself spiraling in fear and feeling all alone and I am always reminded of a story my mom told me about one time after my dad passed away she was in town paying bills and decided to have dinner at her favorite Chinese restaurant. She said there was a little girl with her mother at the next table and the little girl pointed at her and asked her mother why the lady was all alone. I remember how terrible that story made me feel but how badass I thought my mom was because goddammit she just wanted some Chinese food and she was worth it. She didn’t need anyone to accompany her to make her worthy of eating a meal.

People spend years in relationships that make them miserable and lonely but somehow we have been led to believe that on our own we are just not enough. We spend way to much time looking to others to validate us and make us feel worthy.

I have been thinking about this a lot and this weekend I took myself to the theatre. I had an extra ticket and my plans changed a couple of times and I decided that I needed to go by myself. I felt like it was something that I wanted to do. I strolled down the street in these amazing high heels and a fabulous wine-colored dress that matched my knockout lipstick and I felt every bit as badass as I thought my mom was for eating her Chinese food and enjoying her own company. I even had the audacity to throw my arms up in the air and feel the sunshine on my face and love myself, my tenacity and my vibrant city.

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I sat in the Cabaret section of the theatre which was swarming with couples and there wasn’t a second that I felt alone or like I didn’t belong. The show was fabulous, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I strolled out of the theatre and down the sidewalk of my incredible city in my sexy stiletto heels feeling phenomenal. I stopped at the Art Gallery and as I was sitting on the steps I took a couple selfies which I thought captured exactly how I was feeling in that moment and thought how we are all just magical, unique works of art, no two of us exactly the same and yet so remarkable in our differences.

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I awoke to Mothers day and probably one of the hardest days I have faced since my husband has been gone. I felt none of the previous nights fierce independence and in it’s place I felt immense sadness and I felt alone and afraid. The woman that strolled down the street with her head high the night before was buried in blackness. Those feelings plagued my thoughts and attacked all of my insecurities and I felt myself following those down the dark rabbit hole.

Grief is a strange and ferocious beast.

I didn’t want to feel any of it and the intensity frightened me and left me exhausted. I curled up in a ball and wanted desperately to surrender to all of it and just lay there and let the hours of Mother’s Day tick tick away.

I kept hearing this nagging voice, louder than the other ones that mocked me and told me shitty stuff. It sounded like Kirk’s and it kept saying “Get up, you are a warrior.”

I am happy to say I did get up. I shook it off. I cried and then I cooked a big dinner and ate too many whipped potatoes and too much bread.

This morning when I picked out my clothes for the day I was also careful to pick out my thoughts and they all said, “Hey badass, you are a warrior, you got this, go kick the ass off this day.”

 

Something more than free -Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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Several months after Kirk died I was catching up with an old friend and I found myself describing this fleeting feeling that I had been having, this feeling of freedom, this feeling like I could spread my wings and fly and live a big bold life in amazing technicolor. Saying it out loud to someone for the first time felt kind of liberating, as did being in the company of someone that I felt certain at that moment wouldn’t judge me. Typing that feels rather silly but death can bring out the worst in people and rumors were rampant in my small hometown and I faced a lot of judgment for every decision I made after Kirk died, even imaginary ones. I was only choosing to live while I was alive, something that Kirk wanted desperately for me, so it seems outlandish that anyone could find fault in that, but unhappy people can find fault in the best of intentions.

We think we can never face the hard things, and often when we are onlookers to the pain or suffering of another we wonder how they are able to endure it. The truth is we either do or we don’t. They are our only two choices. No matter what tragedies and challenges we face in our lives we all have the same opportunity to move through or get stuck. Most of what we go through, we grow through.

In the past several years I have been doing some work on relationship studies. Robert Waldinger’s Ted Talk and Harvard studies on what makes a good life led me to want to improve the most important relationships in my own life and as I dug deeper into relationships I was introduced to the concept of attachment and the strain it can put on our relationships, whether they are friendships or intimate’s ones.

While studying attachment it came up time and time again our attachment to material things as well. I thought I had mastered that years ago when I sold my house in Nova Scotia, the house that Kirk and I got married at, the house we brought our children home from the hospital to, the home where learned to love each other, even during the times that we struggled to like one another. What I learned the day I stood all by myself in that empty house will never leave me, once you took the people out of the house it was just four walls. It really wasn’t that important. The memories got to come with us on our new journey and they were the most important thing.

The lesson of attachment as it pertains to relationships is a tough lesson, one that I couldn’t completely grasp or understand the relevance of. What I was about to find out is that experience would bring me wisdom that I would never find in a book. The significance and truth in attachments I would discover through my own volition.

Your identity, your self-worth, and survival should never be bound by people or things.

Attachment and fear-based love can put a lot of pressure on our relationships and the people that we love and support. When there is jealousy and possessiveness in our friendships or relationships we are not acting from a place of love, we are acting from a place of attachment. Attachment is needy, insecure and repressive. Attachment is a terrible substitute for love, but in the end, some people want security more than they want freedom.

Don’t you lock up something
That you wanted to see fly
Hands are for shaking
No, not tying, no, not tying

~ from Fell on Black Days by Soundgarden

A defining moment in my life is when a boyfriend that I had once been madly in love with and thought I would spend the rest of my life with told me that he wanted to own and control me. I had a new job and new friends and I was happy and growing as an individual and his fear at me finding my wings and his reluctance to love and support me in my growth destroyed our relationship.

Love is spacious, it should never make us feel caged. Love and friendship is an incredible thing if we can love and be loved in such a way that makes us feel free.

I have not mastered this intelligent free flow in all my relationships, but I have a good realization that not everyone is supposed to be with us for the duration of our lives. Some people come into our lives to teach us or to challenge us for a very short time and others though they may come and go are meant to be in our lives in some way; always. There is an ebb and flow to these things that will most often manage itself if we give up our need to control every little thing.

After Kirk passed away people said and did the strangest things. I felt like a lot of people tried to take a weird ownership of him, as if their connection or experiences with him diminished all his other relationships. I also saw a very beautiful thing, I saw people who genuinely loved him forging friendships with others that loved him in a very simple, loving and honest way.

I am a better person for loving Kirk and I am richer from being consumed by the depths of his love. Death has surprisingly taught me more about love than I could ever conceive of. Death ends a physical life, it does not end love. Kirk’s love lives inside of me, in my limbs, guiding me and helping me to see and experience things in ways I could never even imagine. Our love is not dependent on bonds and it knows no bounds. It is how earthly love should be.

Have you ever hiked to the top of a mountain and when you got to the top your legs were like jello and your lungs were on fire but the view from the top was incredibly breathtaking and you stood in the freedom pose with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair and you just felt so astonishingly free you wished that feeling could last forever? Imagine if our love could make someone feel like that? Wouldn’t that be powerful?

“The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage.” – Thucydides (460 BC – 395 BC), Greek Historian

XXX. Wise Project 2018 #TenaciousTuesday

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The last several weeks I felt myself falling into blackness. Grief is an unpredictable bastard and this time it surprised me by attacking me slowly and manifesting physically in my bones. I have always said that I hate what it takes from me, my comfort, my sense of certainty, my joy; but I have never considered what it gives to me. Grief is a clearing out, a creation of space, a planting of seeds, a guide, and an assurance of something new. It is the fear that grief evokes in me that knocks me off balance and threatens the delicate stability of my life, if at this point there is even such a thing. It is the resistance that promotes my suffering and robs me of the pleasures of my life. It’s like wasting all of your energy pulling and pulling on a locked door only to find out that it was not your door, and your door opens with ease.

As unsettling as grief can be it is an opportunity for healing and growth. Just as my memories of Kirk will never leave me, he will never return to me physically. I feel like I have accepted that and deep in my heart I believe I have accepted all the reasons why he had to go. A death by suicide adds another layer of tragedy over death that I am not sure if I can properly explain, but as difficult as it has been to accept and begin to heal his passing, it is all that he lost to his illness while he was here that haunts me if I allow. I know for certain there is nothing to gain but heartache from that and it takes an effort not to dwell in that dismal place.

I know that grief is a visitor and though the time between visits is always unpredictable it is my reluctance to open the door and let it in that wreaks havoc in my life. It doesn’t go anywhere until it teaches me what it came for and if I barricade the door it will lie in wait while impatience and fear build in me like a fire that has just been doused by gasoline.

Rumi likened being human to a guesthouse, and joy, meanness and depression as unexpected visitors. Rumi urges us to welcome them in and to be grateful for whatever comes as it is a guide from beyond.

The past three weeks I have been wrought with physical pain, sporadic sleep, and general heaviness in my heart and soul. It always takes me a bit to realize that my hesitancy to accept and deal with the grief when it comes knocking creates a whole other set of problems. I retreat from my life, I barely sleep or meditate, I don’t eat well, and I am unable to focus on anything or express gratitude. I lose so much of myself in fear that I am barely living. My connections with people suffer and I don’t notice the beauty of the sunrise or the wonder of the moon. I don’t hold open doors, smile at strangers or extend random kindnesses. In trying to protect myself I actually lose myself.

At a meditation the other day, our guide Mandy talked a bit about grief and how it seems to come in waves, she said the best we can do is dip our toes in the water and enjoy our ass in the sand when all is calm and brace for the fierce waves as they come but allow them to bring wisdom, grace and healing and wash away any old resentments, pain and fear that no longer serves us. It requires a great deal of trust to believe that when the aggressive waves hit that they will not leave us as they found us, in fact if we let go of the fear and the need to hold unto what is familiar the waves will take away the rubble and leave us with love, joy and compassion.

Fear keeps us small, fear hold us back, fear dims our light. Living in fear is not living. The minute I am willing to admit that fear is guiding me, I can readjust my perspective and I feel an immediate emotional release. Last week this came in the form of tears wildly flying out of my eyes at the most inopportune times but also the heaviness that had wrapped itself around my heart and settled in my bones began to subside.

I opened the door, I welcomed the discomfort, I cried, and I found the amazing grace that grief leaves behind as it backs out the door, at least for now.

I went to an Indigenous Sweat Lodge recently and immediately afterwards I felt like I had been released from thousands of year’s worth of chains. It is such a powerful feeling that you want to hold unto it as long as possible but eventually plaques of doubt rip into our lives and we allow ourselves to get tangled up in the chains that keep us from experiencing the true autonomy of life. At the Sweat Lodge ceremony you are told not to wipe away your tears, tears are sacred and cleansing. It is our need to suppress, to be strong, to hold back our honest emotions that can quickly deplete us.

There are very few certainties in life except that we all experience birth and we all experience death, but we are very much responsible for the “in between”, the living moments. We inevitably all face our share of challenges and struggles but we are also bestowed with many gifts. Sometimes we find our gifts as we emerge from the dark of night into the dawn of a new day; a beginning.

I was watching Songs and Stories with Jann Arden last night and she said “If you are not thinking of dying you are not thinking of living” It is a subject we avoid out of fear but it is going to happen for all of us, the very best we can do is to learn to live, not prepare to die. Jann is one of my favorite people and celebrities, she is not immune to struggle and is very honest about the things she has faced and how they have shaped her into the person she is today. She has been living with her mothers Alzheimer’s which she refers to as the long goodbye. The mom who raised her is gone and she is not coming back and Jann speaks of learning to be OK with that and learning to communicate and love her mother as she is and where she is. It required a huge amount of letting go and trusting that that was the right thing for right now and it has made all the difference for Jann and her mother as they navigate a terrible illness that robs you of yourself. Her words resonate with me because I too felt like with Kirk there was a long goodbye. As sudden and tragic as his death was for most, his illness had been stealing him away from us for years, robbing him of all his comfort and familiarity. I too had to learn to love him as he was and where he was and when I was able to achieve that there was a freedom for both of us in the love we shared. It was boundless.

Recently I was told the story of Kris Gautumi whose son fell ill and died at just one year of age. Kris was unimaginably distraught and refusing to accept her son’s death she carried him around, wrapped in a blanket begging neighbors and friends to help her find a way to bring her son back to life. Weeping and filled with dreadful pain, she was saddened to find that nobody was able to help her but she refused to give up. A Buddhist advised her to go see Buddha himself. She carried her dead child to Buddha and he listened to her with grace and compassion. He told Kris that there was only one way to solve the problem and sent her back to the village to obtain a few mustard seeds from any family that had never been touched by death. Filled with a renewed sense of hope Kris set off to the village but after a weary day and not finding a single home that had not been touched by death she discovered the Buddhas message, suffering is a part of life, and death comes to us all.

Only when we truly accept the inevitability of death can we truly begin to live.

As much as we all suffer and share in our challenges and our struggles, we all have the same capacity for joy and love if we allow. For me it requires the courage to focus way beyond my comfort zone and breath and trust that the universe always has my back.

Moments of darkness are imminent, essential, if we let go and trust the process we can rest in assurance that there is always light on the way. So whatever you are facing don’t brace for struggle, if you are feeling like you are being pulled down do not fight it, your joy will come in the rhythm of the dance between the darkness and the light, and if you are willing to let go you will not be dragged down or held down, you will in fact rise.

We are all given the same invitation amid struggle, the invitation to lay aside our doubts and fears and put our trust in something larger than us, even if we do not quite understand it. It is our ego that believes that we need to know everything and that we need to dissect every fine detail of our lives. There will always be a bit of a battle between our hearts and our minds but I have found that it is my mind that summons fear and judgement and my heart that summons freedom and love.

As crazy as it may sound to some of you I have always felt that my soul has lived for thousands of years. Since I was a child I have had fleeting memories that belong to me but are not mine and I believe that on my current soul journey I am here to learn about unconditional love. A wise woman recently had mentioned to me how as our soul is preparing for a new journey, we drink from the river of forgetfulness and we choose what we want to learn on earth. We are void of fear or ego at that point and I think of Helen Keller choosing to learn about kindness and love and then being handed the challenges of deafness and blindness. In all her fierce badassery she did not throw in the towel.

I believe I am here to learn about unconditional love, be it the love that a person has for themselves that makes it entirely possible for them to love in a way that feels like freedom and to put that abundant love and lightness back into the world. I have been challenged by death, loss, heartbreak and fear but I am really just beginning to learn to dance.

“You are being asked to dance rather than understand, to lay the thoughts to rest and come alive. It is the bravest, most trusting soul that dares put the mind to one side and say “Tonight we dance, my heart and I, in the great rousing music of the beloved’s beating heart- and I will not miss one step” And to awaken the next day and do it all over again-and again, and again.

~ Alana Fairchild

 

XXX.

Michelle