Present Tense

Time for the grief to go

I made a conscious intention a couple of days ago to let go of my grief.

There has been so much over the last 3 years, culminating in my mom’s death in December.  When we suffer profound loss, we tend to revisit it for a period of time afterwards.  Sometimes, for the rest of our lives.

I started wondering why?  Why do I keep bringing back these feelings of pain and sadness, not only in my mind, but in my body.  I can feel the pain as if it were happening all over again.  It’s like picking at a wound that has scabbed over, only to make it bleed again and again and again.

How can it heal, when it is re-opened?

I realized that part of it was guilt. Guilt that if I don’t keep thinking about these deaths, that I’m not properly honoring them.  A belief that I need to remind myself of their loss and their absence on this physical plane.  That I can’t talk to them or hug them or apologize or encourage.  And I feel guilty that their absence also gives me a certain freedom. Especially from parental and family expectations and obligations.

Another part was fear. Fear that if I don’t revisit and remember, that they will fade from my memory as if they were never here.  Fear that I will forget how profoundly they affected me and how fiercely I loved them and they loved me.  Especially with the dogs, since I have other dogs now.  It becomes difficult to keep the dead ones in my consciousness; they all start to meld together.

So, I’ve been picking the scab; often in the quiet of  middle of the night.  I would wake up and remember.  They are gone.  Then move on to the day they died and the circumstances of their deaths and then I felt it all over again.  Almost as if it were happening in that moment.  And it felt terrible, but I rationalized it by telling myself that I have to keep their memory alive.  I have to feel that pain.

No more.  That scab has to heal. No more picking.  No more bleeding.  It will most certainly leave a scar.  But, scars don’t bleed and we often display them with the stories of how we got them. Usually, with a smile because we know that we survived and no matter how awful the wound, we did heal to a certain extent.  We healed enough to tell the tale of that scar.

I’ve shifted over to positive memories.  Funny, joyful, instructive, emotional, happy, silly and yes, sometimes sad or challenging memories.  A well-rounded remembrance of our lives.

So, that’s where I am.  Healing.  Isn’t that where we all are?  Everyday?  One wound may still be fresh, while others have scabbed over and many are well earned scars.  This is our life on planet earth. It hurts, but we get another day to make a life…and then another and another and another.

Allowing my grief to move into a new stage involved a release and an emptying that leaves me open and ready to what is coming.  It’s been a long process, with so many losses piled on top of one another in a fairly short time.  I’d never really had to deal with death in such an intimate way until 3 years ago and I was ill prepared.  A very steep learning curve that culminated in the honor of seeing, hearing and feeling my mom’s last breath.

But, it’s okay.  Lives end. They begin.  And what we do in between is what matters to humanity.  Make a decision to heal your wounds.  Ask for help, seek out tools and practices.  Don’t keep making yourself bleed over and over.  We have an innate ability to heal physically that is so apparent.  What may not be as apparent is our innate ability to heal our spirits as well.  The first step is intention.

I wish you well.  Feel free to reach out.

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Equinox. On balance

Early tomorrow morning is the spring equinox.  The place where the earth stands upright.  A perfect balance between light and dark, half in and half out, half dressed and half naked; the fulcrum.

The tipping point toward spring, rebirth and climbing out of the underworld, but still with one foot in. It is also the day when the sun moves into Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. In astrological terms, it is New Year’s Day.

Balance. How do we balance our lives? Over the past few months, I’ve been torn between escape and reality. Between wanting to float up into the stars or bob around in the middle of the ocean vs. grounding myself into my human life. How to stay at a higher vibration, while remaining completely human and functional in this body.

Sometime back in the fall, I felt a strong urge to ‘get back into my body’. I didn’t feel strong or healthy. I was living so entirely in my head that I had literally lost touch with my body. The meat suit that houses my spirit.

I’ve begun to creep back in, but I still struggle. Not with being overcome by spirit, but more often, with being overcome by intellect; thinking, analyzing, worrying, fretting.

Losing my mom at the end of the year was such a profound event. I was operating at a much higher vibration leading up to her death. It was almost an out of body experience, where I was so tuned into the higher realms, that once she died, I felt let down. I was back among the mess of the living.

I missed that plane that I was inhabiting. That place where the day to day drudgery of life and current events and ‘being me’ was shoved to the background; where all that mattered was making sure she was comfortable and allowed to leave this earthly plane to commune with the ancestors.

I rejoiced in her transition; the birth of a spirit is how I saw it. Knowing that she was free.

The death of my mother was a transformative event and I’m still allowing that process to unfold. I’ve been steadily working on releasing so much of the ‘old’ me, much of which was locked into being a daughter and member of a family. Losing both parents permanently alters that whole story.

I am now allowed to be fully me. The sun that our family solar system revolved around is gone; the gravitational pull of our parents has ceased. I’m allowed to create my own orbit.

That has created a space to start releasing those old stories and that’s where I am.

Standing with my palms up and open to the universe to release that which needs to go and to receive my new marching orders; shedding old skin, layer after layer. Putting aside and leaving behind old burdens and stories that no longer serve me. Lightening my load. Making room for the new that has been patiently waiting for me to prepare a vessel to hold it.

Happy New Year to me….

March 19, 2017 Posted by | Musings | 4 Comments

On chaos…

eye-1My husband Dee just came into my office and shared a quote with me: “Life and chaos go hand in hand; that is life.”

This is indisputable isn’t it?  Life is chaos, but it’s all in how we perceive it.  Is it chaos or is it actually very orderly?

If we were were to look inside of our bodies, we would see a billion processes going on. Cells rushing here and there, manufacturing this and processing that. Digesting, making blood, building bones, moving oxygen molecules and that doesn’t even take into account the immensity of what is happening in our brains.

Under a microscope, it looks like complete and utter chaos. But, in reality, it’s not.  Everything has order and a job and a purpose.  It would appear to be a lot of rushing around, but it isn’t random, so it isn’t really ‘chaos’, is it?

Chaos is a human construct or definition.  It’s our perception of actions and events and yes, even thoughts, that we label as chaotic.  Watch a video of people in Grand Central Station in New York City or just look at kids changing classes in a school.  Bustling, confusing, busy, but they are all going someplace.  It is actually orderly.

So, if we change our perception of chaos or as we like to call the current events that are happening now, a shit storm, we may see that underneath all of this seeming random craziness, there is order; a purpose.

I’m reading a couple of interesting books about the historical cycles on earth.  In a nutshell, the premise is that we go through various cycles with each generation. Those of us born within the same rough time frame, say 15 years, experience and react quite differently from those who are older or younger than we are.  Their formative years, were not our formative years.  Events and energies were altered.

But like the stars in the sky, these cycles repeat roughly every 80 years and we can predict or at least be aware of the human ‘energy’ of these periods.

It’s really fascinating and I know there is an astrological component, but that’s not what I want to talk about. My point is that there are catalyst events within these cycles that change us and our world.  They have to happen.  Disruption must occur.  By the way, I prefer disruption over the term chaos because chaos has such a negative connotation and without disruption, life cannot evolve.

For instance, the American Revolution birthed a nation like the world had never seen before, predicated on self-determination, rather than birthright. Yes, I know, we aren’t perfect, but ‘chaos’ created something amazing.

The Civil War was another disruptive event.  Quite horrible at the time ( a true understatement, forgive me), but it resulted in the end of slavery.

We can look at many, many events and some of them didn’t have good outcomes. For instance 9/11 seems to have ushered in an era of suspicion, overreaction and a rise of government invasion of our privacy.  We can argue that, but it’s kind of inarguable if you’ve traveled by plane lately.  However, when we look back in 50 years, we may see the true effects. History needs time to unfold.

It was a cyclical catalyst. And they will ALWAYS happen.  In order to build and evolve, we have to have destruction.  We have to have disruption.  It is life.

We see it in nature, every single year.  In the fall, everything dies and goes dormant.  It lays there all winter and in the spring, rebirth.  Summer is luscious and abundant and lavish.  Then, autumn comes and we slowly wind down to begin the next cycle. This happens without fail.

Our reactions and perceptions are key in these events.  If we were to begin to understand and embrace these disruptions, we could save ourselves a lot of pain and anguish. I know that’s very hard to do.

This is the core purpose of a spiritual practice.  To be the eye of this constant storm of disruption that is life.  It’s always a swirling, spinning, living, dying, exploding, building, crazy, scary and beautiful process.

A spiritual practice grounds and centers us to be comfortable in the eye of this storm of life. To sit and allow this to spin around us, seeing the disruption for what it is: life and the development and evolution of our species.

Yes, it can be overwhelming and sad and shocking, but that is what is it is to be human.  And it has always been and will always be.

Imagine what would happen if let’s say, a billion of us just stepped out of the chaos and into the center of the storm.  We just take ourselves out of the swirling mess via meditation and putting our faith in a higher power or however you choose to practice.

What would happen?  The storm would lessen.  We could begin to see a little more clearly what is really happening.  We would hold space for the necessary disruptions to occur without adding to it in a negative way.  This does not mean ‘giving up’.  It means taking time to gain some clarity and focus.  A gathering of our strength.

So many people have asked me how I managed to navigate my mother’s recent death with a calmness and serenity and acceptance.  Truly, people have reached out and asked me this.

I didn’t do anything that people haven’t done for thousands and thousands of years. But, for me, a spiritual component was the most important aspect of embracing her birth into spirit.  I used ritual, ceremony, meditation and faith.

These practices are available to all of us; this is ancient wisdom from all cultures that will help us cope and thrive.  It’s not woo woo or airy fairy or superstitious.  This is part of our humanity. We need help dealing with the world and with being human. It’s hard.  And we don’t get that help from man made institutions, most of which are now crumbling before our eyes.

Our faith must be put back into each of us, as humans.  Not the government or the military or the police or the banks or the corporations or sadly, the church.

It’s time to awaken to the mysteries of your own soul.  To use these practices and rituals and strategies to cope with what seems to be chaos, but is really an evolution of humanity that seems confusing and frightening and unstable.

Yes, it is all of those things, but history is full of similar circumstances. The difference is that we have modern technology to shove it in our faces and into our minds and bodies, 24/7.

Find your practice.  Find your tribe.  Embrace the quiet and the ancient wisdom that is available to you. You have the world at your fingertips now.  Read, contemplate, join, support, ask for support, get quiet and remove yourself from the storm.  Step into the eye.

Embrace the chaos, for it is life.

January 19, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

2016: On completion…

mom-and-dad2016. A year that lived up to its destiny.  In numerology, this was a ‘9’ year.  9 represents completion and that is exactly what this year has been for me.  Endings, goodbyes, letting go of all that no longer serves me.  Closing the circle on a journey that began several years ago.

On December 28th around 3:45 p.m. my mother took her last breath, as I sat on her bed with my hand on her chest.  It was peaceful and sacred and felt completely natural as I sat with her through her transition into spirit.

I won’t go into all of the particulars, other than to say that hospice is such a fantastic resource and I predict that our next big national discussion will be how we die.  Hospice plays such an integral part in the process and providing help and dignity, to not only the sick and dying, but the families who are often overwhelmed.  The hospice folks seemed to magically appear, exactly when we needed them.  It was almost mystical.

Five years ago, I would NEVER have even entertained the notion of sitting with my mother as she died.  I would have found excuses and justifications for staying as far away as possible.  It seems like that would be hard to admit, but I know myself and I can honestly say that I couldn’t handle it.  I wasn’t mature enough.

But, we change.  We evolve, particularly if we are open to it and often, the universe conspires to change us and open us up via shocking events and losses.

Until October 2013, when I was almost 54 years old, I had not really had to deal with death.  I feared it and dreaded losing my parents in particular, but in a compressed period, death has come and forced me to look at it.

Two dogs, a parent and a dear friend all passed in fairly quick succession before my mom began to fail.  I can see now that every one of these losses served a purpose. I suffered and felt grief that I never thought I could bear.  Each successive death brought back the pain of the others.

But, with each loss, I learned to cope and I also allowed my heart to crack open and my fear to dissipate.  I delved into death and dove into death.  As I survived the deaths of those I loved, I began to understand that death isn’t to be feared.  It is to be celebrated. It’s a change of address for their spirits.  And we all make that move one day.  Death begins at birth.

My mother always said she hoped that she would die peacefully in her sleep, but rarely do we get to choose our mode of passing.

With the help of hospice, she did get her wish for the most part. Unfortunately, some painful and violent falls preceded that peaceful transition, but I believe that was her soul’s way of telling us she was ready.

I was the youngest child.  Her last born and my siblings are all older; 15, 13 and 11 years my senior.  It felt fitting that as the last born, I should be with her as she died.  I was the last one whose heart beat with hers and I was there to feel her last heartbeats.

As I felt those last beats and watched her final breaths, I felt curiosity and relief and yes, beauty.  I did not feel fear or revulsion or panic.  The circle was closed.  Her life was complete, as was my role in helping her die.

We moved back to Michigan in the summer of 2013.  When people asked me what brought me back to my home state after being gone for 27 years, I couldn’t answer them. I honestly didn’t know.  It happened quickly and with some invisible guidance that I just didn’t question.

I loved Colorado and I miss it desperately, but for some reason, we needed to be here.  Now, I can clearly see the plan and the unfolding.  I moved back to help my mom die.  In the process, I lost others who prepared me for this mission. The other deaths forced me to come to terms with the impermanence of everything.

I also think that it’s no coincidence that our northern Michigan farm sits behind a cemetery.  I’ve spent hours wandering through it, feeling the energy, pondering the notion that all of its residents used to walk the earth, just as I am now.  Some died relatively young, but many lived into their 8th, 9th and even 10th decades and now they are a memory.  As we all will be. And that’s okay.  It’s not scary, it is the human condition and better to embrace it, than deny it.

And so, 2016 and I fulfilled our destiny.  This was a year of completion.  My obligation and commitment to my mother is finished; we watched over her, protected her and ultimately, fulfilled her wishes.  She and my dad’s ashes will be combined and buried together sometime in the early summer.  They are back together in the ether, surely dancing and laughing and holding hands.

RIP Mama. RIP Ember.  Thank you 2016; you have been a gift.

If you feel moved to make a donation in my mother’s memory, I would love to suggest Great Lakes Hospice Foundation .  Thank you.

January 1, 2017 Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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