It never fails to amaze me – the redemptive quality of families – of forgiveness, love, laughter – the messiness and imperfection, the prayers for patience and tolerance, the unexpected kindnesses, the tears as we go around the table saying what we’re thankful for. I started the day out with a “raisin” heart – all small and shriveled, feeling protective and prickly and ended the day with a large, spongy heart = like those little pills you drop into water and they expand 10 xs their size into a giant snowman or pine tree. That’s me.
Things that touched me yesterday: my mom home with the flu, alone. Making the best of her day, knowing someone would deliver some delicious food to her later in the evening. FaceTiming with my daughter and son and their father and laughing over the airwaves with them. Spending the day at the beach with my husband, playing volleyball in the sunshine. Sitting with my step-daughter at the dinner table and feeling how thankful I am for her in my life. Ruby, my heart companion of a dog, almost drifting off to sea, as a wave came in – she doesn’t float! Grateful that the wave subsided and she ran to shore (I would have saved her.)
Dear family & friends texting, messaging me, facebooking me, from all over the world = global village. People posting on Facebook and inviting others to their table, recognizing that people can feel alone and sad on holidays. Another friend, alone on Thanksgiving and feeling the freedom of that! Skating at Rockefeller center, watching the parade and enjoying New York’s first snow fall of the season. Light and dark. Vulnerable and tenacious. Hearts beating. Breath catching. Eyes watering. Lips curling. I felt it all yesterday. It was beautiful. Thank you.
If you only say one prayer in a day, make it “Thank You.” -Rumi
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
I am in heavy Family Time right now. Me/Him/Mine/His (no “Ours” – I guess that would be the cats…and they’re not here with us right now.) We’re on a Family Vacation. I’m learning A LOT. The first thing I have learned is that I suck (sometimes.) I really do. I am mean. I am childish. I am petty. Wow. No sugar coating this part. It’s humbling. The other thing about this is that when you are on a Family Vacation, and you Suck, your whole family sees…there’s no hiding it. And…some of members of this family are made up of teenagers. And guess what? Teenagers notice this stuff. No getting around it.
There is a certain terrible rhythm amidst all 5 of us. At any given point, at least one of us is feeling fed up, sad, hurt or angry. We’re being called to stretch ourselves and make room for all that we are – not just the nice persona we show the public. I happen to be blessed by a family that forgives and truly wants to be in good relationship with each other, even if we are not always sure how to do that. There’s a lot to be said for the power of apologizing and the grace of forgiveness. I’ve been doing both. A lot.
The other thing I am learning – and this is Monumental with a capital ‘M’ – is that LOVE is limitless. It comes from source, so it never runs out. I run out of patience and get frustrated, but when I am running on empty, I can remember to ask for help. For Grace. For some “more love please”. And guess what? It’s working. I’ve never been so consciously aware of this before in my life. It feels miraculous, truly.
A dear friend gave me a ring a few weeks ago. It has the letters ‘LIMI‘ on it. They stand for Love Is My Intention. They were created to promote more love on the planet. Normally, my goal is to love more and to fear less (thank you Lance), but to have this reminder to breathe, to love, to recommit to my intention, on my finger helps me come back to this mantra again and again throughout the day.
On my own, I am a human being with a finite set of resources. Sometimes I have a “raisin heart” – which means a little, dried up, Grinchy heart. When I’m in this mode, nobody is happy, including myself. Sometimes I indulge in shitty behavior, and like any addiction or bad habit, I don’t feel better afterwards. Source (or Love, or God, or…) is Limitless and I can change from the “Me” channel to “Source” channel and that is magical. mmmm. Love. Healing. Grace.
To err, to apologize, to ask forgiveness, to love, to forgive…it’s one wild merry-go-round here and I am learning…growing…loving. Grateful.