Recently, I noticed I kept trying to figure myself out, figure out who I am, and I couldn’t. This frustrated me. I’ve spent decades figuring myself out, and the truth is all I’ve really figured out is who I am not. I call this work, The Great Untying. It is inner work, deep self-reflective work that takes courage and conviction. In doing this work, we discover many false narratives about ourselves. In this process, I realize all of who I wasn’t was held together by false narratives AND all of who I am has been trapped within all of that.
I’ve been corrupted with false narratives from my upbringing, the American culture, specifically being “Minnesota Nice,” and systems and structures created from the false dogma of white and male supremacy.
I’ve been so hard on myself too— saying, Nikki, get your shit together. Why is it taking you so long to find yourself, to know who you are— as if I am flawed, useless and hopeless. Now, I give credit to myself for getting as far as I have in my personal evolution in spite of all the bullshit to get through.
The Great Untying (of these false narratives), for me, has taken 30+ years. Due to this work, I am in a new place now, but tried to use an old tool. I realize that the analytical tool of figuring myself out is not what this moment calls for. Although it is natural to wonder who I am now, without the false narratives, I understand I will not know who I am through contemplation. Instead, this moment calls for action, while also calling for allowing. I will begin to see my new self arise by doing and by being. I will experience my unfolding as I act and allow.
This insight shows me how interconnected my personal evolutionary journey is with the global one. I wonder, does anyone else notice the parallels within their own life and that which is playing out globally, specifically in America?
We are indeed in a global shift. The false narratives are being exposed. The truths are being revealed. The moment calls for new tools and a wider, deeper mindset. The call is for us take action toward truth and justice and to allow our higher, truer selves to emerge as we act and move forward, and upward.
In my current home, it is a wooded trail— the Mississippi backwaters on one side and a junk yard on another. I’ve worked to ignore the latter. Although I appreciate the trees and the river, this trail is my least favorite of all the ones I’ve walked. And so I found another one that goes mostly through my neighborhood to a dirt road circling an abandoned lot edged with pine trees. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken to sitting under one of the pines, the one that now has a sign that reads: No Trespassing. Also ignored.
But today I needed the backwater trail. It is a short trail, made a bit longer if I take the narrow, tree root, moss filled one along the rivers edge. I took this route. On my way back to the neighborhood I noticed another trail with fresh black dirt and took steps. To my surprise it extended beyond the trail I have known and further, extended not only my walk but my time with the trees. As it ended in a familiar place, I felt grateful for the creation of a path I had wanted since I moved here.
During COVID-19, other than moving from panic to calm, panic to calm, I’ve observed people in my life and the ones I see on my essential runs, and notice how they are responding to this pandemic. My father, for instance, finds hope in the blades of green grass sprouting in a newly dug out hole in the ground. Another laughs loudly with the gas station attendant saying, “Well you know we are all going to get it.” My mother texts daily from her assisted living facility, “Is everyone at home now?” Or today, “Prince Charles has the virus.” Sadly, others have become more self-centered, ego-centric, individualistic and shut down.
As for me—today, on my walk I found a new path that shows me the life road I am currently on. The soil is fresh. It has not been traveled yet. It comes as a surprise, and yet offers what I have been seeking for a very long time. It tells me if I venture to take a new path, even while things are falling apart and feel unstable, I will arrive in a familiar place, feeling grateful and changed.
I wish for all us to be guided and changed for the better, while knowing there is loss and unimaginable grief, known and unknown to us.
Many years ago, at a retreat, I had an intentional encounter with a horse. I timidly walked toward the horse. Within me was all the anxiety and doubt of my struggling and unprocessed traumas. I stood with the horse for a few moments and then it led me to a pile of shit. I thought: of course. Of course this horse would bring me to a pile of shit. Only me….At first, I thought it was a cruel joke. Then, it became one of my more profound lessons: it’s just shit.
Which brings me to now~ A quote that keeps running through my mind:
This is a time of divine fulfillment. The fruits of my labor and purpose of my life now unfold in a clear, harmonious way.
This quote is a favorite of my mothers. I will forever associate these words with her and today they ring true for me. I can’t help but wonder if this was her gift to me, not just the words themselves, but to have the experience of the words.
To experience is the shift I have made, where the words I have grown up with, surrounded myself with, and those that live within me come alive— and it’s absolutely splendid.
As I write, on my vision board are these words: The rebirth of Awe. And….
Instructions for life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. (Mary Oliver)
Born to write
Join the thousands of people around the world who are opening up, digging deep, and transforming their lives!
It is very possible I have known all along what I am up to. Yet, for many years I had doubt, insecurity and practiced indecisiveness as if it were an appreciated art form.
The words, so many words, are coming alive right before my eyes!
It is also very possible, that as I earlier said to my father in conversation, that the signs and mystical experience I seek, are all around me and have been with me every step of the way.
All of this to say, and most importantly, experience the turning of an important corner where the fruits of my labor and purpose of my life now unfold and where I live in the energy of Congratulations!
This is where I am. And it does not come without some old guilt-ridden programming. The kind of guilt that needs reminding such as: Nikki, you have worked diligently for 32 years to know and understand yourself. You have opened up to your desire to get through “your shit” sooner rather than later. You have dug deep, so deep to the literal “big mother wound” of neglect and abandonment. You have been twisted and turned through many dark crevices and have come out the other side only to be taken in yet again. You, dear heart, have transformed your life AND you’ve earned every minute of celebration and awe you now experience.
Own it. Stand in it. Experience it. It’s yours. And if and when you feel ready, share it.
This is where I find myself today. It is where I have been for the past few weeks and because it was such a new experience, I did not have the words to express what it has been like. But the words come now, through my own voice, but mostly through the voice of others who have come before me. I relish in their generosity. Especially from my dear poet friend, Rumi. This, what Rumi writes, is on the other side of the shit we must all travel through. Bless you dear hearts as you journey through yours.
You have fallen in love my dear heart
You have freed yourself from all attachments
You have given up both worlds to be on your own
The whole creation praises your solitude
Your disbelief has turned into belief
Your bitterness, into sweetness
You have now entered into Love’s fire, my pure heart
Inside the Sufi’s heart there is always a feast
Dear heart, you are celebrating
My heart, I have seen how your tears turned into a sea
Now every wave keeps saying
O silent lover, seeker of the higher planes,
May the Beloved always be with you
You have struggled hard, may you grow wings and fly
I want to be admired and I also fight against it. The fight against it has mostly won. And, has come at a price. I hide. I have been stingy with sharing and passive/aggressive about it. I have silently said to readers, followers and potential ones:
look at me dammit. Pay attention to me. Admire my face and my insights. So I show off.
And then on the flip side I’ve said:
forget you. I know you won’t notice me. See I knew it- no likes. Another post of such great words (I mean I have the best words) and no one cares. So I shut down.
This has been my dance with all of you (and my nearest and dearest ones). It’s dysfunctional and toxic and not how I want to show up in the world. Therefore, I have mostly remained hidden. This is also unhealthy because the truth of me, and all that I’ve come to realize about life and myself, wants and needs to be exposed.
The truth is I’ve reacted to all of you, which is really just my own battle with myself that I’ve drafted you all in, and it comes out of a conditioning that came from my upbringing.
Essentially, I was ignored. I longed to be deeply seen. I know now it wasn’t personal. It was the impact of being raised by those who did not see themselves.
Until we see ourselves we cannot and will not see another.
If the desire to be seen, and essentially deeply known and valued, is not identified and satisfied, this desire becomes increasingly toxic. At its worst it becomes the dance I have described- on one end a compulsion to be admired, which can be as extreme and defined by a narcissistic personality disorder. And on the other end, a complete erasure of self characterized by self-neglect.
The desire to be admired is a trap, part of the psychological mindset, which creates dysfunctional and protective patterns and behaviors. In the age of social media and a particularly exaggerated version of an admiration-seeking U.S. president, we are afforded the opportunity to really look at the deep inner wound of neglect and abandonment. In doing so, we can limit the toxic interplay it does create and instead tease out the toxins and understand, and most importantly feel the hurt of not being seen.
This post is part of my own teasing, a confession in a way to make the dysfunctional dynamics known and to state I want to now come to all of you, readers and followers, and to my family and friends, in a more authentic and whole way. To share only to be admired comes from the smallest of self and truly not worthy of any of us. This way of showing up is also not sustainable and will eventually come back to haunt us us in one form or another.
We may never be able to be truly seen by another or by our primary caregivers. But we always have the opportunity to heal the wound and to fully see ourselves. The more of us that do this, the more we will see each other. Only this will bring the kind of shift so many of us desire in the world.
For some, this month may make us feel we are in a strange time. This strangeness is not new, however. It’s just becoming more visible.
Strange is defined as “unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand.” This is why the best guidance for this strange time is for us to be acutely attuned, present and aware as much as we possibly can. Further, not so much about what’s going on outside (we know that’s strange), but what is going on inside.
There are many subtle and not so subtle happenings occurring during this time. June holds the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The season is in full bloom, awakening from its winter sleep. We use our primary senses to notice this: trees are green, the sun is hot, the smell of flowers and fresh cut grass, the sound of birds and insects and children playing. These are the obvious signs a change of season has occurred. But what about the the less obvious signs that brought this change?
For example, the other day, after pulling some pretty intense weeds, I took a rest on my lawn chair under a tree. Ready to rest, read my book and soak in the sun, swarms of gnats from all directions came at my forehead, lips, hair, and glasses. They were relentless, and it was irritating. It was all too easy to get caught up in it all and just complain, which I did by sending my husband a text about it. But, there was another, deeper occurrence within me— I wondered why. I knew it was unusual to have so many gnats. I’d never noticed it quite like this before. There must be a reason. I thought about the winter, all the snow and all the months of it. Then the spring and all the flooding. I thought about how the river, which is near where I live, is still flooded. I googled “increase in gnats” and found some clues. And finally, I just opened my book and let the gnats do what they do.
There are reasons why things occur. We have a choice to pay attention or not. If we do not like the changes, we can choose to complain or dig deeper. We can choose to be a victim or be curious. And, we can always open to acceptance of what is.
Humanity is having a growth spurt, and it’s intense. When children have growth spurts, the rapid changes in their physical body can make them clumsy and awkward. If it’s a hormonal growth spurt, like puberty, then things can get really interesting. Shall we say, strange…..?
When humanity is having a growth spurt, life can look much like it has: chaotic, scary, and often shocking—having many of us shaking our damn heads or constantly rolling our eyes. Many of us are also complaining about what’s happening, and choosing to be victims and feeling hopeless, even apathetic. During this time we are also noticing constructive and creative happenings that make us say wow, bring a tear to our eye and give us hope. This is a time where it is all too easy to keep our primary senses engaged in the chaos and the construction. But, from what I am gathering, June needs to be a time to bring our attention within, on ourselves. To be engaged within, to be curious and dig deeper.
So much has happened “out there” lately. But what is happening “in here”, in us. How are we doing? How are we feeling? What have we gathered over these past few intense months, and maybe years, that needs to processed and metabolized. What of all of this can be used for growth and healing and what can be let go? Beyond this process, what is occurring right now, in the present moment, that needs our attention? Essentially, why are we where we are? And the answers are often subtle.
There are forces that create everything. We are a force and so I am asking us to get clear about what we are creating.
You see we cannot continue to get caught up in the outer chaos because we are at risk of losing our way in it and then find ourselves somewhere we really do not want to be, and strangely, if this occurred, ask ourselves what the hell happened— how’d we get here? LET US NOT GET TO THIS POINT. WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT.
Instead, let us use this opportunity of June to slow it all down, stretch it all out and use our curiosity to check in with our selves, our souls, our bodies. Let us wonder: how did we get here….what are the subtle and often unconscious forces that brought us here….and what are the subtle forces bringing us forward….? Let our inner wisdom provide us with guidance. Because we cannot afford to live unconsciously right now.
As June moves on and I open to more subtleties of the energy of this time, I will share them. But for now, stay attuned, awake and aware to what is just below the chaotic surface of our existence. This is where we can fully sense what is occurring and not only be a part of the shift, but create our own for the betterment of humanity and our planet.
These are the obvious people and the not so obvious. They are the ones who give you medicine or herbs when you’re off balance and the ones who cut your hair. They are the ones who provide you a place to sleep or food to share. Helpers are everywhere. And, we are all helpers.
My present helpers
The helpers coming into my life right now are what I’ll call energy companions. They have shown up after a good twenty-seven years of countless dark nights of the soul. They arrive to restore my soul, replenish my mind and body, and repair what has been unhealthy relationship dynamics. I’m so excited about these helpers that I am going to list a few of them:
Energy Worker Ed: I met with Ed in December 2018 after an intense time that began in mid-October. After our session, I was grounded and my aura was attached again. Although this may sound woo-woo to some, it has made a tremendous impact. Irregular behavioral and thought patterns, along with codependent relationship dynamics, ones I’ve been struggling with for many years, have totally untangled. There is now space within myself where I experience discernment and wisdom. Also, I am more attuned to energy that I pick up from people and environment. Plus, my intution is coming back after being buried in internal conflict and stress.
Social Work Supervisor & Friend: Had it not been for this special person in my life, I would not have met Ed or read this book (which I highly recommend as it sheds light on our deep, unconscious patterns): Astrology for the Soul. Not only has she been a light toward much needed resources on my reparative journey, she has provided an experience of relational repair. In my past I’ve had dissatisfying friendships and a lack of a supportive people. She calls herself my cheerleader, and I feel it and grow to accept this from her more and more everyday.
My job and co-workers: Now out of grad school, and no longer a social work temp, I’ve a permanent position as a school social worker. This job is unique and offers a kind of flexibility and space I’ve not had before. The needs are great among students, and because of its structure, there are opportunities to create student curriculum, groups and psychoeducation topics. The environment is nearly stress free and the staff are friendly, supportive and fun. It’s a gift.
And, tomorrow I meet with an Ayruvedic practitioner whom I trust will provide me with even more pathways toward restoration and re-balance. M
Prior to these companions were energy vampires. These people are helpers, but that is not their intention. These people are often the most wounded and lost among us and need the energy of others to feel whole and secure.
In our current “live your best life” phenomenon, we are told by “the experts” to remove these toxic people from our lives. To some extent, I do agree. However, they have a lot to teach us. They teach us how to set boundaries. They encourage us to dig deeper within ourselves and ask: what in me has attracted this person right now?
In this new year, I sense more integration and unity and less compartmentalizing and separating. I hope for more clarity and thoughtfulness, and a slowing down of what has become a high paced and distracting reaction for many of us. For example, if we want to rid ourselves of a person, place or thing- before we toss what does not bring joy, let us slow down and check-in: have we learned what we need to learn?Have we allowed this person/place/thing to make us a wiser person?
We often rush to our joy, but we miss the process that will actually and eventually bring us to it.
Before I close, since I’ve mentioned energy- we are energy beings. We are more than flesh, blood and bone. We are more than our thoughts. In order to fully grow, evolve and change we have to move beyond our thoughts. To think (intellectualize) through change is not enough. I have learned we must also feel our way to change, and then move into our energy body where energetic shifts (you know like being grounded and having your aura attached ;)) occur. These many layers, which make us a human being, must all be integrated for true change to occur. And gratefully, look at all our helpers!
At middle-age, which is where I am, I have been at the edge of the unknown a few times. I have taken myself there deliberately, and I have been mysteriously taken there without warning. I am at the edge of the unknown again. I am going through the shift of no longer being a woman who can conceive. I am going through the shift of no longer being a mother whose duties are nearly every minute of my existence. I am going through the shift of who I am as a wife, and realizing I want to be a partner, not a role. I am going through the shift of being full-time mom, to full-time student, to do-I-want-to-be-a-full-time-employee when really all I want to do is go-deeper-into-my-authentic-nature-and-immerse-in-whatever-is-my-soul’s-intent.
The possibilities of this time of life seem endless. The freedom of this new space sometimes takes my breath away. It’s a time of great unknown and seemingly instability where I don’t know how or where my next steps will unfold. It is also a time I know and trust myself more than ever before— and that is proving to be everything.
Hello September! It is the time of the In-Between. Have you noticed where you are in your life often aligns with the seasons of the year, and the transitions between them? Do you pay attention to the signs in nature that a season change is coming? What about you— what are your signs that change is coming? What’s your expression of change?
Signs of the In-Between
Yesterday, I planted mums while my hibiscus still bloomed. I hung the fall wreath on the door, added the fall lawn ornaments outside, and decorated the inside with ceramic pumpkins. I did this while the air outside was hot and muggy. This is the time of the In-Between.
Here, in the Midwest, where the signs of the new season peak through and life continues to exist in the season that is leaving, can be quite vivid. The first sign I notice are the sounds during the day of the Cicada, the Locust and the Cricket. It occurs to me this is their final chorus before the air turns cold. In the In-Between, there are days that require a sweater or a light jacket and then back in shorts and a tank top. When the heat returns, there is an abundance of bugs: bees, boxelder and lady bugs— their final jaunt before the cold is here to stay.
It is the time when the deep, green leaves fade. Some begin to turn to their autumn color, and others dry up and fall to the ground. The grass does not grow as quickly, the sun does not shine as brightly, yet still brings warmth on one side of the body while the wind feels cool on the other. The days grow shorter, which initiates a sadness of the summer that is ending and the dread of a long winter. But before this happens, there is the excitement of fall and all that it brings: back to school, pumpkin spice lattes, walks in the woods— stopping to take pictures of the colorful leaves, taking a tag off a sweater that was too warm to wear in the summer, a trip to the apple orchard and making apple crisp, and the anticipation of the holidays that follow.
I am in the In-Between in my life. I am middle-aged. I am transitioning from a life of homemaking to a life of working outside my home. I graduated from college. After 3 months, I did find a job, but it is a temporary job. I am working, but also not for long. I am married, but I have changed. He has changed. We have changed. We find ourselves in the same bed at night, but little else is shared. It’s enough to still be welcomed to our in-laws, and enough to have a short fight. But it’s not enough to feel as in love, or as connected and fully together as we once did. We are in the In-Between.
The In-Between is difficult, and full of possibility. The In-Between means change. The activity of the squirrels, who run through the grass and up the trees, remind me it is also the time to prepare for the changes ahead. The squirrels understand the necessity of storing their food in various places to be retrieved in the winter. The In-Between cannot last, but sometimes it can feel like it will never end. Sooner or later, new life does unfold. The changes we desire and the ones we fear do occur. Our body and soul know this. They also know if we are prepared for the changes or not.
If you feel like your life mimics the time of the In-Between we are in, take a moment to tune in to your body, to your self, your soul, your life. Are there changes you want for yourself? Are there changes you fear coming? What does this feel like in your body? Do the changes, the unknown of this time in the In-Between, make you feel anxious? Excited? Calm? Do you feel you are prepared? If not, how might you prepare?
My Expression of Change
I have been anxious during this time. I feel the anxiety in my belly. I experience myself gripping and clinging, as if I’m trying to stop the changes from happening. I notice my thoughts, which try to control and analyze what is occurring. I also know these patterns. I have been here before. I know change is coming, and it’s coming fast. I know letting go and allowing is the antidote to the clinging and gripping, the controlling and analyzing. I know the transition is happening as it should and soon I will be in new territory. I take deep breaths, get still and consider some of my anxiety could be an indicator more preparation is needed, that I must gather my nourishment for the winter to come. I then begin to seek and gather this nourishment to prepare.
Soon the sounds of the Cicada and Locust and Cricket will fade. The landscape will be less green, and instead flourish with gold, brown, red and orange. Fall will be here. I will gain knowledge and new understanding. I will find resources through relationship and experience that will awaken and strengthen me in this new space. The nourishment I gather will be plenty. Eventually, I will thrive. Just as the snow will accumulate in January, so will my confidence. And in the Spring, change will come again.
I wish you wisdom and serenity during the changes in your life and in your self.
If you feel a need to have assistance and guidance during your time of transition, please contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we will create a space of support and a plan toward greater awareness and understanding. For a list of services, visit here.
I’ve been going strong for some time. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Grad school will be over in May. I’ve been doing yoga and meditation since February. And for one solid year I didn’t bleed irregularly.
Unfortunately, the bleeding from a women’s uterus is still a taboo subject. But I am going to talk about it. In fact, yesterday I talked about it with a man who I’ve only known a short while. He showed more compassion than the woman I told who had a hysterectomy- “Oh, I went through that. Got a hysterectomy. Glad that’s over.” Thanks, oh compassionate fellow woman……
Anyway, in July I skipped a period. In June I felt a change, almost as if I were drying up. I knew the time of bearing children was over. In August I bled for 10 days and my doctor prescribed Progesterone. I’ve been through this before. Two years ago I had a D & C for heavy bleeding, diagnosed with hyperplasia. Got an IUD, my body rejected it. Went on the pill, my blood pressure rose. Left it alone. One year, totally regular.
But now it’s September and I’ve been bleeding for 7 days. This isn’t just regular bleeding. This is insane bleeding where I can feel the hemoglobin dropping, where I actually thought I lost my uterus in the toilet yesterday. And now, I will now stop talking about my bleeding. Because actually my bleeding, at least the physical part of it, is not the point of this post.
After a hellish weekend of bleeding and cramping (okay, I promise I am now done with the bleeding part) on Monday I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was depressed. Anemic. Wondered what the use was to school and the future I thought I had. I was mad I was dealing with this issue again, especially now. All I asked was for a year to just focus on getting out of school. My uterus, apparently didn’t care.
I got out of bed eventually. But before I did, I decided I would take it slow. I wouldn’t cram in homework. I wouldn’t even go into my internship. I would putz around the house, slowly. No pressure. This helped. I went for a slow walk in the sun. I thought about my uterus and its connection to Mother Earth. I thought about how our Mother is erupting right now: hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods. I thought about my uterus erupting. Both are doing this to create balance. Both are doing this because they are wounded, and begging for US to change.
I became sad. I then imagined digging my hands deep, deep in to the earth. There it was cool and dark. The coolness soothed me. I understood that our Mother is warm, too warm. She is overheated. I understood that my uterus was also warm, overheated. Both carrying too much of the hurt, of the burden. But in the depths, she is cool and will always be.
How could this translate into the healing of my uterus? How can I cool it down? Take more walks. Breathe more deeply. Eat real foods. Drink water. Smile. Relax. Keep doing yoga and meditation. When I got back home, I pulled out Dr. Northrup’s book, The Wisdom of Menopause. For irregular bleeding she asks, where are you leaking energy? Funny, I was asking myself something similar already. My question was: What’s being neglected in my life, in my self?
Northrup also discusses that menopause is the time for us to give birth to ourselves. For me, this is a self less tied up in serving the needs of my family, as they are growing and learning how to serve their own, and more about moving into the world and serving there. It is about creativity also. The part of me I have neglected is the part that has deep passions and desires to be more creative, expansive and use the wisdom I have gained to help. I have a part that wants to write, learn music and draw. This part has been neglected through motherhood, and now through school, which really only utilizes the left side of my brain.
I do not regret my choice for school. I love what I am learning (most of it) and I understand that once I graduate I can actually go out and serve the world in a way that I may not have had the focus or energy for prior to school.
I put Northrup’s book away to get ready for an appointment. I had on my black sweats, which I wore for 3 days. Black is the color when I’m in the red. But I decided it was time to take them off and put them in the laundry basket. I also decided I would curl my gray, thinning hair and put on a little blush and mascara. I would make an effort even though the energy leaking from my body was trying to take me down. It was trying to bring me to a place where I am all too familiar. A place where I hide, where I give up. Where I think giving up is easier then putting on a little lipstick and a pair of jeans (still black) and making myself move in the direction of my dreams.
A few years ago, after recovering from a family trauma event, I coerced myself to believe that I had a second act. Ever since, I’ve been taking steps so really it wasn’t even an option to quit the other day. I am already in motion in the second half of my life. There is no going back to the part of me that gets so depressed and scared, she hides. But, she was triggered- triggered to come out because she felt defeated by the obstacle her uterus brought to her. The energy leaking depleted my mind and body and made me vulnerable to her. It happens. It will probably happen again. But, with each step forward I proclaim what it is I really want. And what I really want is to feel alive. To be free. To express my passions and share what I’ve gathered.
Once, many years ago, while going through a particularly difficult time I got this idea in my head I would die on September 16 (0f that particular year). I was reminded of this today, September 16, on my walk. Suddenly, I smelled something foul. I looked to my right and there was a dead racoon in the grass. Several steps later, once I arrived in the woods near my house, a dead squirrel on the path. The bodies were still fresh. Was this a sign?
I thought: death is all around us. I remembered all the death that has surrounded my family and myself since December. On December 11, just as my kids and I were about to watch A Christmas Story, my dad called. He was not himself. He said, Mary Lou died. Mary Lou was my step-mother. Then, in January my husband’s last grandmother passed away. It snowed in April when Price died alone in his elevator. June took Uncle Mel and then, his wife, my beloved Aunt on September 6.
September 6 is now shared with September 24, my father’s birthday, when my best friend from Kindergarten died in a car accident when she was only 27 years old. Along with September 11 and September 29. On September 29th, 2011 I was driving my white Toyota Matrix on a Los Angeles freeway. My mother and 11-year old daughter were in the backseat, my 19-year old daughter in the front seat with me. We were listening to Enya and playing the alphabet game. Suddenly, a large truck with glaring headlights was in my rear view mirror. Before I could finish my sentence about what I saw, that large truck hit my car. The car flew and flipped through the air several times until it finally landed on its side. I remember wondering, am I going to die?
The Toyota Matrix
I have told and written this story many times, and this year, five years later, I notice the story no longer holds the emotions and trauma it once had. Now, what seems to be unfolding are the lessons and awakenings from that day that changed everything. Death is all around us.
But, what does this mean exactly? And, is it death or just change? Here’s what is becoming clear for me— life. I think I have been so afraid of death and that impending shoe drop (in my case a tow truck that comes out of nowhere) that life has been cumbersome. I noticed this heaviness after I returned from my aunt’s funeral. Prior to her funeral, I sat with her for four days while she went through the process of death, of change. I had never been this close to the death of another human being or for so long.
Me and Aunt Flo
Before I entered her home, I was afraid of what I might see. But, all my fear went away when she opened her eyes and smiled at me (and my dad and daughter). All I felt was love. I knew I loved her, but those four days I felt my love for her. I was able to tell her she mattered. This experience is invaluable to me now. But there is a physical, mental and emotional price, at least for me, when going through something like this. That price felt heavy. It felt exhausted. It felt sad.
After the car accident, I carried heavy, exhausted and sad for nearly 5 years.
I feel lighter now. Life is becoming more clear, but not because I have figured anything out. But because I’m not taking it all so seriously and maybe because the desire to live life finally outweighs the fear of living life. I am moving, once again, toward curiosity, beauty, wonder and listening. Listening, as I did on my walk today, that I needed to get grounded. This looked like me stopping in the middle of the forest doing tree pose and volcano breath. This means committing to creating a life that will match my desire to stay in harmony with my higher self and nature, and not the day-to-day grind of this current culture.
I also intend to move more toward what my aunt taught me—love. And, believe me, I am a newbie to love. It’s always been inside of me, but it’s the emotion or state of being that I resist the most. At the least, it makes me feel awkward. At the most, it frightens me as if I might be swallowed by it. But, while my aunt was in hospice I had a new experience with love. As I stroked her hair, held her hand and kissed her forehead as I said goodbye and I love you, love comforted me.
Love is a comfort, not a burden I need to protect myself from. So yes, death, the unexpected, change surrounds us—not to stop us or scare us or burden us, although it can, but to notice it, wonder about it, learn from it and let it guide us to more clarity of life, comfort of love and truth of being.