Lonely Hearts Club Band

candles

Last year I wrote a post about how I always go within at this time of year – actually I wrote that 2 weeks ago too – hah.  Well, I guess it’s a theme for me.  But something is starting to shift and lest you think that I only write about tough things, I wanted to share a bright, beautiful light that is shining on me right now.  It’s called Embracing Loneliness.

Eleven years ago, I admitted to myself that I might be sensitive.  Don’t laugh!  Sensitive people had always made me feel uncomfortable and I had spent a lot of energy distancing myself from people that seemed “overly” sensitive.  It’s been a process of accepting that indeed, I am a very sensitive person, and finding the gifts in that – it’s my creative spark, my drive to connect from the heart with others, what makes me approachable to people.  I have a gentle nature and I try to honor that and try not to get too stressed out, because under stress, my fierce protector comes in and mows everybody down.  Balance is a good thing.  Praying for that.  And working on it.  Always.

Well, now I’m on to a new one – uncomfortable emotion, that is.  Being in a long distance marriage, having one kid live in another state, and traveling a lot myself, I have a lot of time by myself.  All my life I’ve felt lonely and it’s never been comfortable for me.  Never!  I’ve done so much on my own.  I’m an only child, had a lot of freedom as a kid, saw my dad once or twice a year, moved a lot, felt like a ‘weirdo’ because I was ‘different’ (probably being overly sensitive – hah), I’m fiercely independent, a little bit of a loner – ok, a lot of a loner, march to my own drummer, not a joiner, etc.  You can probably get the picture.  All this time, I’ve thought there was something wrong with me for feeling lonely.  I gave ‘loneliness’ a value judegment of wrong…or worse, unevolved – not spiritual enough.  If I was truly connected to God, I would “never be alone” right?  We’re all connected.  So anytime I felt lonely, I felt bad about myself and tried very hard to NOT feel lonely!  Push it down.  Call a friend.  Judge myself.  Blame somebody else (ok, Andy) for making me feel lonely!

And then…something happened…something so small and every day, but for some reason, it got in and I had an “Aha!” moment.  I was having a therapy session with someone that I respect.  He leads workshops all over the world and lives with his wife and son and they all seem to have a very loving, connected relationship with each other.  He was talking about how loneliness can overcome him during his morning meditation time and he will weep with it – even when his beloved family is in the very next room!  He shared that loneliness is universal and just a feeling – a feeling to be felt and expressed and allowed to pass through.  I really did feel like a bull, drunkenly tilting my head to one side and thinking “huh….?  Wha??”  He also went on to say, that loneliness, when felt, can be an indicator of deep love and yearning – something that I can convey and share with others and further my connectedness.

I thought about how so many people in the hospice groups for the newly bereaved are overcome with grief and afraid of how overwhelming it can feel.  What we teach is that the only way ‘out’ is really ‘through’ – feeling the grief is the only thing that lessens the grief.  I am comfortable with grief, I feel it every day.  I allow it in and really ‘go there’, knowing it will pass and my tears will dry in minutes.  What if I applied this to loneliness?

The past several days, I’ve had a lot of time alone in the house, the weather has been bitterly cold, all the animals are using me as a heating pad.

coldRuby

I’ve felt alone and have been missing my family, and have even felt some melancholy and existential angst about the passage of time as well as knowing that I am preparing to be away in India for several weeks – which always makes me feel as if I’m in outer space – as far away from familiar as I can get.

tipi

But what’s different these last few days is that I’m sitting in stillness (usually with at least one animal on top of me) and lighting candles, painting, creating beauty and warmth, and saying out loud “I’m lonely” and really feeling it.  Letting myself go there.  I’m sharing it with others without (and this is big, and new) hoping somebody (ok, Andy) will make it better.  And guess what?  Big surprise.  It’s passing!  Not only is it passing, it’s kind of welcome.  In a  poignant way.  Like shedding a tear for a beloved grandparent – so sweet to remember their face, and sad to miss their embrace, but heart-opening to connect to that loving memory.  This moment of loneliness connects me to my heart.  I long for my husband and connect to the love I have for him.  I notice the beauty of the falling snow.  I’m present and aware that this moment is fleeting.  I am grateful to be in my own good company.  I heat soup.  I feed the cats.  I walk the dog.  I feel content.  So simple.  So big.

Early Morning Sunrise
Early Morning Sunrise

There is a loneliness more precious than life. There is a freedom more precious than the world. Infinitely more precious than life and the world is that moment when one is alone with God.  – Rumi

Chakra Series – 2nd Chakra

Beach BlissAnd forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  – Kahlil Gibran

The second chakra is about pleasure, sensuality, touch, sexuality, creativity, fire, passion, life.   Its essence is water.  When open, there is an openeess to intimacy, an ability to express oneself freely, and a level of comfort with one’s sexuality.

When I was 25, living in the Midwest, I knew I was ready for a change.  I wanted to move west and applied to several colleges in WA, OR and CA.  I flew out to Eugene for a school visit and then drove down the coast of Oregon with a friend and landed in the Bay Area.  We stayed with some friends of hers in Berkeley in a communal household that seemed like the “overground” railroad stop for dead-heads and free spirits.  Dorothy, we are not in Kansas anymore.  The beauty of the Berkeley hills, the smell of jasmine in the air, the bountiful potlucks and the constant stream of colorful people coming in and out of the house awakened my yearning for life, like a hibernating bear smelling the winds of Spring.

One day we drove to “Red Rocks”, a nude beach just south of Stinson.  It was my first nude beach. We parked on a cliff and hiked our way down.  Far below, I could make out tiny brown people playing Ultimate frisbee (naked!) in the sparkling surf.  A few hours later, I was splashing in the waves, feeling the water on my bare skin and throwing a disc, leaping and jumping with abandon.  I felt like I was “home” and free in a way I had never experienced before.  I was sold.  I flew back to Illinois, packed up my car, grabbed my cat and drove back to Berkeley to the purple house on Oregon Street to begin my new life in CA.

That was 24 years ago.

Along the way, there has been plenty of “life” to fill in those 24 years.  College, Grad School, work, lovers, marriage, children, divorce, re-marriage,  friendships, yoga teacher trainings, ceremonial arts training, Reiki training, hospice training, work, travel.  Somewhere in all of that living, I think I lost sight of that free-spirit that is my nature.  One day, sitting in a women’s circle, the facilitator asked “If you were to die today, would you feel like you had reached your fullest sexual potential?”  I was shocked at how fast my mind screamed “NO!”

It’s virtually impossible to be a woman in this society and not have experienced unwanted sexual energy/attention at best, and sexual abuse at worst.  At 13, I was my full height (5’9″) and looked much older than I was. I attracted male attention and had no idea what to do with it,  I became overwhelmed and shut down.  I also had an aura of shame about this attention, as if somehow I had done something to make these men think they could speak to me inappropirately or touch me intimately.  I was confused and scared.  A part of me – my second chakra – closed down.    “The second chakra is water ruled.  Water holds emotional memories of past hurts and sexual abuse.  Deep healing is possible through this sacred vortex.  With great love and care it is possible to reclaim one’s eternal innocence and purity.”  (from the Triple Goddess Tarot)

This year, 2014, has been the year of consciously reclaiming my “eternal innocence.”   I am rediscovering my true nature; which is a sensual, creative, free-spirited being. As I near 50, I  ask myself, “If not now, when?”  This is my one good life in this body and I want to make it memorable and potent!   On the winter solstice last year, I set an intention to do the Level 1 training at the Human Awareness Institute.  The Level 1 workshop is titled “Love is a Miracle” and focuses on opening the heart, accepting and loving your body, and experienicng love and trust with others, among other things.  When I looked at their website, all I saw was “Love, Intimacy and Sexuality Workshops” and it was an edgy step for me to sign up to do this weekend – solo!  I can’t speak highly enough of the caliber of facilitation, the sweetness of the participants and the potency of the exercises I was lead through over the course of the weekend.  The other men and women who were in the training were sweet, courageous, gorgeous souls that I connected with deeply.  It was life changing for me.  Deep bow to my husband for letting this butterfly fly free and be there to greet me upon my return.  I know he is feeling the benefits of my deeper love and kinder heart.  I’m in love with the world right now, and it feels amazing!

Yesterday, in Santa Cruz, I went to the nude beach and met up with some friends.  We played frisbee in the sparkling surf and I felt alive and embodied – sprinting across the sand, leaping in the air to catch the disc, diving in the waves.  There were moments of pure joy of movement where the appreciation for my body bubbled up within and I laughed outloud.  I felt ageless, beautiful and sexy.  I thought to myself…”If I die tomorrow, I hope my friends remember me just like this.”  This is my essence, my second chakra spinning freely, an orange disc.  Afire with Shakti, sensual goddess, my passion for life dripping off of each strand of hair, empowered with Light and Creativity.

May all things move and be moved in me and know and be known in me.  May all creation dance for joy within me.  -Chinook Psalter

 

The story doesn’t end here…

 

"The semicolon is used when a sentence could have ended, but didn't"
“The semicolon is used when a sentence could have ended, but didn’t”

This is something I’ve wanted to write about for a long time and had no idea how to start. It’s about a subject that is sensitive and personal. It’s about Suicide. I personally know a lot of people who have chosen to end their lives.

Everyone had different circumstances and methods – some had Aids related dementia, some were chronically ill, others were clinically depressed (despairing in a darkness that no light could reach), some were a complete shock and some were unfortunately hinted at and worried about before the actual deed was carried out.

When my mother’s partner Fred was experiencing a soul crushing depression three years ago, I wrote to him and asked him to live for his son and grandchildren – telling him that suicide was not a legacy he would want to leave his grandsons.  Advice I gave from personal experience.

I was 25 when my maternal grandfather hung himself.   In his goodbye note he misspelled my mother’s name. He took his life on his wedding anniversary and his body was the first thing that my grandmother saw when she came downstairs to make breakfast. Every night after that, for months, I would wake up at 4am with heart palpitations – hyperventilating, unable to breathe.  Only a trip to the emergency room assured me that yes, my heart was strong and I wasn’t dying of a heart attack.  Just suffering from an overly sensitive nervous system.  I wish I had known then about grief and how it can manifest in the body and how we can experience the phantom symptoms of our loved one’s illness or death.

I have no wise insight into why people commit suicide or how I could have prevented anyone I knew from taking their own lives.  I do know that the people I knew were in a personal hell that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I also know that I can’t force anyone to want to live. It doesn’t work that way although I wish it did.

Fred hung himself from the garage rafters and my mother found him as she pressed the garage door opener, returning from church.  In his note he asked for her forgiveness.  He ended his story.

It’s been a tough year for me and I haven’t felt able to talk about it much.  Mostly because it didn’t feel like my story to tell.  My daughter has been struggling with anxiety and depression.  At times she’s struggled with wondering what the point of it all is.  This has rocked me to my core.  She is my heart.  My moon.  My love.  My life.  I’ve been stretched to my parenting limits and stretched some more.  The gifts that have come from these several months are still unfolding but already I am grateful to experience first-hand the tenderness of strangers, the circle of tribe, the ties of blood, the howling fierceness of mother love, the tempering of my will, and the sweet grace of surreneder.

The semi-colon movement was brought to my attention by my husband.  The movement is for anyone who has ever self-harmed or has tried to commit suicide.  On April 16 they are asking people to draw a semi-colon on their body in solidarity with them.  A writer uses a semicolon to continue a sentence and uses a period to finish one.  The semicolon is a sign of hope. The sentence doesn’t end here.

PS – the picture above is my new tattoo I got today.  Whenever it started to hurt, I thought of my girl and all the pain she’s been through and put all my love for her back into the ink.  The story doesn’t end here…

 

For Bill, Joe, Ives, John, Sarah, Frank, Stephen, Tim, Mary, Fred, and everyone everywhere who just couldn’t bear one more day and all those who loved them.

 

 

 

 

 

Square Peg Round Hole

All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.  -Michael Franti

Growing up I was  considered a “weirdo”.  It was the 70’s and most parents were involved in their adult worlds – use your imagination.  I went to bed when I wanted, watched a lot of TV, forgot to shower and had really bad style.  I was unpopular and lived in my own world of books and a few friends.  I was a lonely kid.  I never felt like I fit in.  I hated school.  It wasn’t until I was an adult and moved to the open-minded West Coast that I finally felt Free.  Free in the most anonymous sense of the word.  Nobody raised an eyebrow about what I looked like or acted like.  In the Bay Area I found my soul home and cultivated friends who loved me for the quirky gal I grew up to be.

I’m taking a tele-class called “Relationship as a Path” taught by Jayson Gaddis – that meets weekly by phone.  Seems kind of ironic that my relationship group is virtual – perfect for an oddball extroverted introvert like me.  Last week Jayson brought up a concept that stopped me in my tracks.  I’ve heard it before, but this time, I really sat with it.  He suggested that our children are the disowned parts of ourselves.  Think about that one for a minute.  Even if you would like to debunk that, don’t.  Just for a few minutes.  It’s a trip.

Times have been tender lately at our house.  My sweet, smart, sensitive 6th grader has been struggling socially.  He isn’t seeming to “fit in” at school.  I’ve always prided myself in allowing both of my children to express themselves as individuals.  But I’m realizing that I have my limits.  “Be yourself, but don’t be too weird, ok honey?” is the message I think I’ve really been putting out there.  I see that my EGO has been so proud of both of my children’s accomplishments and their bright beauty.  I’ve marveled at their seeming ease in life to be kind to others, to have people like them, to do well in school.  All things that were murky and elusive to me.  Now, with my son’s struggles, I’ve been in panic mode.  “He needs to be home-schooled!” I delcare to his dad.  “Stop posting those pictures on Instagram” I hiss at my son – “you know the ones…that make you look like a girl.”  Who is this person speaking?  What has happened to my open mind?  Where has my appreciation and celebration of difference gone?  I’ll tell you. It went out the window the day my son came home and said some kid called him “gay” after school and that he was worried about getting beaten up because he has purple streaks in his hair.  I panicked.  I wussed out.  I don’t want him to feel lonely or ostracized (like I did.)  The fact is, if I could prevent either one of my kids from ever feeling pain, I would.  And I can’t.  And that’s probably a good thing because pain can be a catalyst for growth.  I would not be the woman I am today if I hadn’t had the life experiences I had as a child.  That’s right…as I type this, I mean every word.  I am who I am today – somebody I am proud of – because of every experience I had in my life leading up to this moment.  So thank you MOM and DAD and STEP-DAD and LIFE for every teaching that came my way.  Alle-fucking-lujah!

I asked sonny boy if he would like to transfer to a different school – the one for creative types – the one that is more accepting of diversity.  In the meantime, I actually suggested he “tone it down” on being different.  His reply…”I like being different.”  I confess that I wasn’t happy with this answer.  Now he’s testing the waters of his own individuality in a small white town in a traditional middle school.  “What child do you know that likes middle school?” my wise husband asked me.  “Yeah!” my high-schooler chimes in.  “I hated middle school – especially 6th grade.”  She did?  Oh yeah…

So back to Jayson and my virtual class.  The part of me that I have rejected – the painful loner part of my Self that I have disowned – is now surfacing in my kid and making me verrry uncomfortable.  Thank you life.  Thank you for this opportunity to breathe, to love myself and all the sharp edges, to re-integrate the shadow aspects I would rather not be reminded of.  Thank you for letting me love and appreciate the unique and quirky being that is my son.  On Christmas day we went to the movies and he wore his mullet wig and his “sipping specs” (glasses that  are a large crazy straw where one end goes in the drink and the liquid goes around the glasses and into the mouth) and I didn’t even flinch.  Once.  Neither did his sister (who actually gave him props for staying “in character” the whole time) or his step-dad.  I love my family.  The kid has an inner strength, a platform to push off of and I want my butterfly to be FREE.  Teach me my beautiful children.  Break up the calcification of my judgement and release my shackles of fear.  I bow to you.

butterflygirl.jpg

When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness.  They wanted her to change back into what she always had been.

But she had wings.

-Dean Jackson

 

 

hOMe is where the heart is

hOMe sweet hOMe
hOMe sweet hOMe

I once heard a woman say that as soon as she sat on her yoga mat, she was home.  I will go one step further and say, when I sit and connect to my heart, I am home.  There’s a lot going on right now for me around the concept of  ‘home.’  For years I have prayed to be a “Citizen of the World” living the life of a gypsy, meeting people from different countries and learning about their cultures.  I imagined I would have a home base somewhere (Colorado?  California?) but most of the time I would be off having adventures – sometimes by myself, sometimes with Andy and sometimes with the kids.  As I write this, I think it sounds like the musings of a young girl and perhaps sounds immature.  Yet, these “adventures” I’m referring to stem from a deep desire to be of service, to connect from the heart with humanity, to experience the “oneness” in all things and to show this world to my kids.  To expand my boundaries into the unfamiliar, because in doing so, I get out of my ‘self’ with a small ‘s’ and see that I am a drop of water in a vast beautiful ocean.

vast

I once went to a homeopathist for a consultation.  After several hours of questions, she gave me my personal remedy – not for an ailment, but for who I am:  Falco peregrinus.

Know what that is?  Falcon.  Peregrin Falcon.  I looked it up.  Falco Peregrinus is Latin for Falcon Wanderer.  Yup.  Sounds about right.  I’ve lived in 2 countries and 11 states, and moved over 23 times.  In some Native American culture, Falcon is referred to as “The Stranger.”  I can relate.

Andy and I drove out to California this summer on our 3rd annual road trip.  Just us.  No cell phone service, no computers.  Just the two of us, a great playlist and a lot of sky.

Big Sky (somewhere in Utah)
Big Sky (somewhere in Utah)

Want to know what’s living for your partner?  Sit in a car with them for 2 days.  And listen, really listen, to what they have to say.  Turns out, sweetie has been phoning it in on our daily life.  (I knew it!)  I’ve been extra busy with kids, India, death work while he’s been busy with work but with a growing dissatisfaction with his time off.  This is a guy who is feeling his mortality, a man who loves the ocean and has never lived near one.  A man nearing retirement who has never had the luxury of time to himself.  I’m all about freedom (falcon, remember?) I never want to feel trapped and sure as hell don’t want my partner to feel trapped.

For the next hour, somewhere in Utah, under the vast expanse of sky, I listened to my husband talk about how unhappy he was in his daily life.  How he longs to live near the ocean before he gets too old to appreciate it.  How he’s lived in Boulder for the past 28 years and how he’s ready to leave.  A life lived for others…wives, companies, children – and now maybe it’s his turn…

The blessing of this talk was that I heard – really heard – him.  I took it seriously.  I love him and want him to be happy.  I want us to both feel free, never trapped.  Andy’s conclusion was that he could never live in CA because I wasn’t ready to make a permanent move – yet.  And so, he was trapped.  Stuck.  Grounded.

Long story short…we signed a year lease on a beach cottage in Santa Cruz.  Over the next year, Andy will live there two thirds time.  I’ll be there at least a third of the year.  This means we will be spending some time apart.  This means that sometimes I will be living in Boulder without Andy.   As much as I consider myself a free spirit, I have been surprisingly challenged by this new arrangement.  My beliefs around home, marriage and parenting are crumbling and there is no manual for this!  Where is my manual!!!  (shaking fist!)  Once again, I am pioneering a different vision of what is “normal” (I don’t think there is a normal per se) and I can’t find the “how to” manual.

Home Sweet Home in Santa Cruz
Home Sweet Home in Santa Cruz

When I am in Santa Cruz, I feel suspended in amber – like I have stepped out of my “real” life into a fantasy life I have dreamed up for myself.   I have a beautiufl yoga practice in Santa Cruz with an amazing community that has welcomed me.  I ride my bike everywhere.  I have a beach house where every thing in it has been carefully chosen by Andy and me.   I sit at the harbor and watch dolphins (yes, dolphins) play in the surf.  I surf!  I paddleboard.  I am going to learn the ukelele and paddle the outrigger canoe with other women on Thursday mornings.

When I’m in Santa Cruz, on a long weekend with Andy, I miss my kids.  half of my heart longs to be with them.  When Andy and I are apart, I am loving that he is filling up at the beach, giving himself the gift of being near the ocean and I am missing him and looking forward to the time we will be back together.  When I am in India, skyping from outer space, nothing could be more poignant that calling my children and getting the answering machine.  It’s rare that we are ALL together and when it happens, I cherish it.  Heart overflowing.

“There is nothing from outside. Try to understand that. All is in you. You are the storehouse of your totality.”

-Yogi Bhajan

Holy Water

The rains last month were nothing short of epic. It might not have been 40 days, but 4 straight days of rain in Boulder felt biblical. I’ve never seen the ground so saturated. More than 2 weeks after the flooding happened here, there’s still standing water on my street:

just one home's damage
typical site on Sumac

Although we were more fortunate than many, we still flooded, our basement is gutted, furniture got ruined and our lives were majorly shaken up by the sirens, reverse 911 calls saying “Get to higher ground”, seeing our backyard turn into a brown raging river and hearing about a possible 30 foot wall of water headed our way, containing boulders, cars and sure disaster. And did I mention, everything happened after dark?  It’s been hard to wrap my head around the events that happened.  Andy and I look back and realize we were in shock the first few days. “Why didn’t we move those drawers off the carpet?” I ask myself out loud. It was because I never dreamed the rain would continue and we would get flooded a second time on the second night, this time with raw sewage and higher water lines on the dry wall. “Why didn’t we start cutting the dry wall away immediately?” I wonder. It’s because I couldn’t deal with the basement anymore, so I shut the door to the downstairs, compartmentallizing what I could deal with. Until the smell of mildew started to creep in. It’s been humbling to see how vulnerable we are compared to Mother Nature and to see how easily I can be cracked by disturbances in my “normal.” I want to be like grass, bending under the water weight, graceful and strong.

If you want to read a fantastic write-up on the collective trauma this region went through, read this woman’s account. Here’s one quote from her piece: “Humans have a biological need to “orient” in the face of threat. To assess for danger, and when the danger no longer looms, to create safety. We need to find our ground again. Especially when there are cracks and rivers where the roads used to be.” Amen.

We do need to find our ground again…here at home. Or at least, that’s my impulse. To take comfort in the familiar.  I’m attached to ritual and routine.  I feel untethered right now, I’m tired and my immune system feels compromised.  Everything here is topsy turvy. Our furniture is out on the street, or in the garage.  Andy’s office has now moved into my space.  I feel squeezed.  Physically, emotionally and spiritually, and it makes me cranky and brittle.  “Let me be like grass…” is my mantra these days.

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.
– Lao-Tzu

the power of water
the power of water in Rishikesh, India

I am leaving for India in 3 days.  India, the queen of unfamiliar and untethered. The place that knocks me off my feet and pins me down until I surrender: powerless and open.  The best advice I can give anyone who is about to travel in India is to let go of all expectations and need for control. When I’m there, I am devoted to the present moment with a fierceness that knows this is my salvation in a completely foreign world.  In India, I “Let go and let God” and I love it.   The rains last month have given me a head start for India by exposing my rigidity and reminding me that control is always an illusion.   I pray to keep supple, so that I may bend, not break.  I pray I may keep opening my heart and my hands so that I may release my death grip on what I think I need or must have.  I pray for all those affected by this flood and all floods everywhere.  I pray for the group of women that are about to embark on the India trip – for safe travels, the warmth of community, and heart-openings.  I give thanks for the gifts I have received from the heavy rains – the literal washing away of things that no longer serve.  The cleansing and purifying of my home and land.  The heart-healing from mending severed ties through offering helping hands.  For the trees that look more refreshed than they have in a decade.  For my home in Boulder and my home in India and my home in Santa Cruz.  Home is truly where the heart is.

hOMe
hOMe

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of an Era

Oh boy,  this week is going to be tough.  It’s taking me by surprise…Andy’s not surprised though.  He called it when Lili went to Kindergarten 9 years ago (!)

Lili's first day of school
Lili’s first day of school

I was complaining about how institutionalized the school seemed and how it was nothing like our awesome, Buddhist inspired preschool Alaya.   Andy said that I would become just as active in this school as I had been at Alaya, that I would make friends, and that I would be boo-hooing when my time at Crest View was over.  (A time which felt about one million years away, by the way.)  I vehemently denied all of his predictions.

Fast forward to now.  Lili is “graduating” from 8th grade and Baby Boy is completing 5th grade, and the time has come…one million years have passed, and it is the end of an era.  For almost a decade I have been walking, biking and driving to Crest View. I have volunteered.  I have fund-raised.  I have combed hair for picture day.   I’ve been a room mom.  I’ve stuffed Friday Folders.  I have made good friends.  And last week, when I rode my bike over to Crest View before school to put a ‘thank you’ card in the office for Harlan’s teacher, and the principal was cranking Pink Floyd (who knew?) and the office ladies smiled at me and Lili’s kindergarten teacher from 9 years ago waved to me, I realized I was the world’s biggest liar.  I am a wreck!  I’m not ready for this!

Harlan's first day of Kindergarten (with his best buddy Cade.)
Harlan’s first day of Kindergarten (with his best buddy Cade.)

I already know when I’m sitting at the 8th Grade Award Ceremony (that’s right, she’s getting an award) I will be making that awkward half smile face that signals to my kids that “Mom is trying not to cry but it’s not working because oh Geez, now she’s making these tortured half laugh/half cry sounds…look away and pretend you are not related because now she’s full on crying.”  What can I say?  I’m a cryer.

Then on Thursday, I will bike over to Lili’s 8th grade graduation and see a lot of kids that I’ve watched grow up since kindergarten walking across the stage looking like young men and women.  I will remember the Halloween parties and the play dates and the class field trips when they were so much smaller.  And I will cry.  And I will be proud of the young lady that Lili has become, even if she is ignoring me because I am crying.

bigWee
ready to fly

After the graduation, I will head directly over to Crest View for my final ever class party (how could this possibly be?) For 9 years I’ve been doing this.  I’ll scoop ice cream and congratulate kiddos.  Some of the other parents are in my shoes, this is their final year at this neighborhood school, and I’m guessing there will be tears…

growing up
growing up

I know the only constant is change. I also know that my kids are each ready for their new, bigger frontiers;  I trust them and their journeys.  Right now, I’m just saying goodbye to an era that I remember fondly and won’t happen again.  There is something poignant and beautiful in being present to a moment you know is impermanent…a stage in life you will never get to do over.  I loved living so close to school and being welcomed into the classroom, even if it was just to say ‘hello’ and give a hug.  I loved that the teachers knew my kids and kept a close eye out for them.  I loved being a mom to an elementary school kid.  I already know that Middle School is the dark void re. parental involvement.  I’m sure High School is even more so.  I am feeling this milestone with a mixture of heavy heart and gratitude for getting this far.  Grateful for the teachers and families that have been part of the ride.  Thank you.

True Confessions – Part 1

Every day I make a ‘to do’ list and I write: “blog post about India.”

'to do' lists
‘to do’ lists

I usually get everything done on my list, except the blog post.  Why?  Well…I have a secret to share.  I am sharing this with the hope that it will help others and set me free at the same time.

When I first decided that I wanted to plan a trip to India, a part of me felt that I needed a “draw” – like, I needed a big name or talent to get people to sign up.  I knew I could handle the details and organize the trip, but I didn’t think that I could get people to sign up just because I was leading it.  So I set out to get a well known teacher to co-lead with me.  Only problem was, for different reasons, the teachers weren’t able to do the trip.  This was not working out how I planned.  I kept giving God a squinty-eyed look that said “I am not doing this trip myself God!”  I didn’t want to.  But here’s the dirty little secret…it wasn’t because I didn’t think I could do it – that wasn’t the scary part for me at all – it was because…because…if I couldn’t get enough people to sign up for the trip, and had to cancel, then I would be a FAILURE.  And not only that, but I would fail PUBLICLY.  Everyone would know that I failed.

I wrestled with this for awhile.  I suffered.  During a BARS energy work session with Kate Spear’s gentle questioning, I started to unravel my beliefs around the trip.  What would it take for me to put both feet in regarding the trip?  What would it look like if I partnered with God?  What would it feel like if I let India be the “draw”?  What if I planned a beautiful trip and trusted that the participants would have their own experiences?  I could feel my chest expanding with each question Kate asked.  The true freedom of letting go of any attachment to the outcome…the relief of stepping back and trusting that India, and India alone, would be the bell calling out to each soul.  Partnering with God filled me with trust.  I felt humble and unafraid.  I was committed, both feet in, to follow this journey towards India and see where it would lead me.  There was no failure in trying, only learning.  I made a commitment to move forward.

The very next day, Nancy West McGuire sent me a freind request on Facebook.  I knew her peripherally but I had always been too shy insecure to reach out.  I accepted her freind request and shared my secret that I had always wanted to be her friend but had been holding back.  She responded instantly and warmly, saying “Hello new friend!  Life is too short to be shy!”  and we set up a date to meet and have tea.  Two days later, we met at one of my favorite cafes in Boulder and talked for hours – discovering many common themes, one of which was a shared passion for India.

In Part 2  I’ll write about how a Facebook request, and a truth shared with vulnerability from the heart led me to be co-leading a trip to India with Nancy.  See you tomorrow!

Escape to Reality

“Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.”
— Rumi

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Sometimes when a dream dies, it can feel like a death. A death of the self – an idea, a belief, or an identity…or all of the above.

Our family has had a series of big hits lately. To protect everyone’s privacy I won’t go into details, but I can share that there were a lot of surprises – the kind that make your mouth make a silent ‘o’ as you stop to catch your breath. The kind that make you wonder if you ever really knew a person like you thought you did. The kind that make you take a step back and wonder who you are. Heavy stuff.

Miraculously, Andy and I happened to have a trip to Mexico scheduled in April. One week in paradise at an all-inclusive. Nothing to do but lie in the sun, float in the bath water Caribbean, eat a ridiculous amount of food, make love, and share our broken and gentle hearts with each other.

When we arrived last Sunday, we brought only the hope that time would restore us. Neither of us are strangers to reinvention and we both know from experience that when one door closes, another opens. But this time, I will admit we were going on blind faith.

The lunar eclipse this week signified the end of an old way and new beginnings. On the day of the eclipse, Andy and I sat on the beach and took stock of our life – the cast of characters, our finances, our work goals for the year, our deepest desires.

I love this man for his ability to look at the big picture and stay in the field of possibilities with me. What emerged was a beautiful plan (I love a plan) that is based on reality – not fantasy – and it is quite amazing and enlivening. I won’t spoil it by detailing it, but let’s just say it involves a lot of travel and more beaches…feeding the soul while still actively parenting two teenagers and an 11 year old. Of course, more hospice work as well. Appreciating what IS vs. what we wish could be.

Thank you to the ocean for restoring me. Thank you to my sweet friends for loving me. Thank you to my children for grounding me. Thank you to my husband for your truth and vulnerability. Thank you life for all your gifts. I’m committed to staying present to all of it.

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This Aint No Dress Rehearsal!

Pure Joy
Pure Joy

This picture makes me happy – I’ve got my sparkly, Free People dress on.  My favorite color is turquoise and my scarf makes me look like I’m flying, and it’s 4th of July (one of my most favorite days*)  and I’m at the beach!

In Santa Cruz!

So I don’t usually use the word ‘aint’ but it just fits.  I was looking through my journal from the past year.  I am noticing that my journal is a much better resource than it used to be.  I am more discerning about what I write.  I write down my dreams and prayers more than the daily minutiae.  It’s satisfying when I see progress (forward movement) on some of my desires.  For example, last year, I hadn’t completed any hospice training and this year, I volunteer for two local hospice organizations.

In a journal entry from last February, 2012, I wrote:  “At Lili’s School of Rock show there was a little girl who was singing the lead in one of the songs.  She seemed wooden and stone faced.  The little girl in me was dying to grab her mic and belt it out.  I wanted to be the rock star!  All my life!  And I heard a voice in my head saying “This isn’t a dress rehearsal.”  And I got it.  I want to LIVE as if THIS is my LIFE and I’m the STAR and we’re rolling film right NOW!  What would look different?”

Ok, it’s a little embarrassing to share my journal, and yes, I did write all of that and use CAPS for emphasis and all those exclamation points!!!  And I do want to qualify that I don’t really want to be a rock star, I just want to star in my own life.  I want to show up and live each day like it’s not a dress rehearsal.  I know that could sound corny…but here’s the thing…

When you are around people who are dying, especially young people in their 40’s who have lovers and young children, and exciting career possibilities, you start to think about life and the impermanence of it.  The preciousness of it.  When Lance died, one of the messages I got was that I never, ever wanted the people in my life to wonder if I loved them.  I wanted to live each day loving my people and letting them know it.  I also want to celebrate life and hold the knowledge that it doesn’t last forever.  I asked myself in my journal “What would look different?” which is a really juicy question to ask oneself.  What would look different?  The things I can think of right now are I would live by the ocean, I would have a BLUE BUS all tricked out to explore the Golden State of California, I would swim with dolphins more, I would travel in a gypsy caravan of women and children all over the world, dancing, singing, drumming, praying, laughing, loving.  What about you?

My Blue Bus...the Blue Pearl
My Blue Bus…the Blue Pearl

*I always spent it with my grandparents in Narrangansett, Rhode Island, at the beach, with no alcoholic parents to mess it up.