Counting Blessings

My life is blessed. It is far from perfect. Just as everyone else in this world there are trials and tribulations. Things happen that rock my world. Things that hurt so deep that I wonder if I will ever recover. When I look at the larger picture though I know that my life is blessed.

I have love in my life. My family is there no matter what ups and downs I face. I have friends, real friends, the kind of friends that no matter what time night or day I need them, they are there. Bumps in the road do not deter them. They are always there and vice versa.

I have a roof over my head. I have food for my body. I have my beliefs and my path that bring me peace. I may cry and I may hurt but always I have the knowledge that when the world seems upside down it is because something great is on it’s way. I will persevere. I will survive.

There is nobody alive that has not faced hurt. There is nobody alive that has not faced trials. Our record for getting through it all is 100% thus far.

A bad day does not mean a bad life. A difficult year does not mean several difficult years. It just means that life will be a bit rocky for a while and climbing the mountains in front of you just means when you get to the top the view will be beautiful.

So as I work through the trials. As I work through the pain of loss and the lesson of letting go I grasp onto my faith and knowledge that this too shall pass. Lessons tend to repeat themselves until they are learned. All I can hope is that this lesson, the lesson of loving, losing and having to let go is done repeating itself. It is getting old and I am getting tired of the lesson. Do you ever get to that point? The point where you say “enough already I get it!?” I am there.

This time it will take me time to recover. I don’t love lightly. To give my heart is something I have yet to learn to avoid. I never want to. I can’t be anyone but who I am and because of that I grieve those I lose, whether they walk away or die, loss is loss and grieving is grieving. My time to grieve is not over. I still have more to learn. In the process I will work to deepen my connection with Spirit and move on in life with the sole focus of achieving my dreams and staying on my path.

Yes, my life is blessed. I am loved. As the losses mount up I am reminded that life is to short not to live it. Live fully, love wholly and be you always.

In Her Service,

Sage

Widow – Another Label

According to websters A “widow” is defined as “a woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not remarried.”

I really dislike this word. I mean really! There seems to be a stigma attached to the word “widow.” When someone uses the word you can see the connotation of sympathy in their eyes and yet somehow it feels more like they look at you as though you are helpless.

I am a lot of things, helpless is not one of them. I am stubborn. I am ornery. I am intelligent. I am funny. I am beautiful in ways that shock people. I am sad. I am happy. I am many things but helpless is not one of them. Not yet anyway. There are definitely things I need help with. I am a human. We all need help with something.

Our society has the weirdest ways of seeing things. We have to label everything. Single, married, divorced, widowed. All labels. All carry their own meaning. Why? Why can’t we just base things on the individual. Why do we have to define people by their marital or lack of marital status? It isn’t just your marital status you are labeled with it is your sexual orientation, color, religion, political views, the list is endless. It is how we define ourselves as well as others. Why?

I have no answers. I only know that I really dislike labels and out of all of the labels I have carried in my life “widow” is the one I dislike the most.

When Mike died I changed my status on facebook to widow. It seemed appropriate at the time. I had never been a widow and had no clue how that label would affect me. After a year of being a widow I decided that if I were going to be labeled I would prefer to be labeled as single. Why? Because I don’t like the way people look at me when they are told I am a widow. I am not helpless. I am a capable, intelligent, woman who is getting through life the best way she knows how.

There are many labels I have carried in this life. During my training the shaman I worked with explained that most of these labels are roles we choose to step into. The role/label of wife, daughter, sister, auntie, mom, grandma. The role/label of friend and foe. We label everything. We step into and out of the roles that these labels portray daily. How many of us are conscious of the choice of stepping into them and out of them? How many of us see them as ways we define ourselves as well as how others define us?

When you own your story. When you are able to take responsibility for who you are and stand in your own truth you no longer have to take the labels of the society you live within. You can create your own if you feel like it. For me I choose not to be a widow. It isn’t who I am. Yes, my husband died and no I am not remarried but ultimately that makes me a woman standing on my own two feet. Living life on my terms and being who I am. Finding my strength and weaknesses and embracing them all. I do not need another person in my life to define me yet I will choose to love someone else when it shows up. I do not need to be married to be complete but if I choose to remarry it will be because I want to be with that person for the rest of my life. They will be my best friend. I will need them in many ways but I will not need them to define me.

I will step into my roles when I choose to and today and every day after I choose to never step into the role of widow again. I am not helpless and it is alright to always just be a woman whose husband died without the label.

How many labels do you carry? Are you conscious of how they affect your life? Do you choose what labels you wear? Are you aware when you step into a role that is labeled? Do you know why you choose to wear the label? Do you know why you choose to step into the role that is given to you? All things to think about. All things to knowingly be conscious of. Are you choosing or are you allowing the world to choose for you? Are you defining yourself or are others defining you and you just go along with it? Be aware. Choose. Step into your roles with full awareness. It not only will shift your perspective it will make you more aware of the people around you and how you view them. Step into your own sovereignty and love who you are.

In Her Service,

Sage

Spiritual Disconnect

Turtle

 

Recently this picture was posted in a group I am in.  As a response a member asked (paraphrased) if the reason that people in the U.S. are emotionally and spiritually bereft due to what our Ancestors did to the Native Americans.  This got me thinking on why people in the U.S. are so disconnected from Spirit.  I am not discounting the history of our Ancestors.  There is a lot of hurt and pain in their actions that we have to live with but ultimately I feel that there are several reasons that we are disconnected and here I will address a few of them.

1) We live and walk on concrete and asphalt.  We wear rubber soles on our feet.  We are surrounded by buildings and artificial light.  We very seldom feel Pachamama (Earth) under our feet.  We do not feel Her rhythm or heartbeat.  We do not see the sun rise or set.  We are disconnected from the very planet we live on.

2) We are always trying to obtain “more,” we are very seldom just satisfied with what we have and even less grateful.

3) We have no rituals from our homelands.  We are disconnected from any ritualistic ways that our Ancestors may have had.  The rituals we now have focus on work and obtainment not on the land and appeasing the Gods.  Any rituals that our Ancestors had were destroyed by religions that did not want us to know about them.  We find through archaeology some of the things that our Ancestors did by piecing the artifacts together but very few true rituals exist today unless we had a grandparent that carried them forward and few did!

4) We have no ceremonies.  We celebrate holidays with an abundance of food and family but most ceremonies to honor are gone.  The current ceremony is watching the game of whichever sporting event is on during the family get together.  There is little honoring going on and most have forgotten what the meaning of the holiday is.  If you are not a Christian then most of the holidays celebrated in the U.S. are not significant to you as the majority are based on the happenings of Jesus.

If you are pagan you know that the majority of these holidays were taken and changed to fit the story that is told by the church.  There are many similarities but things have been changed enough that the ceremonies once practiced are no longer in full form so we recreate to honor our beliefs.  As honorable as this is and as necessary as it is for those of us walking alternative paths we still miss the connection with our Ancestors because it was not their ways.  We can only continue to work at the connection and follow their lead when we are creating ceremony to ensure that they are included.

5) Lack of prayer!  Most people pray for things, for miracles, for money, for whatever item they feel they can’t live without today.  Prayer has turned into a pleading rather than a conversation with Spirit. Any thankfulness is an after thought rather than a forethought.

The majority of people do not walk in prayer.  Prayer is there to fulfill a need not to communicate with the Gods/Spirit.

I believe that our Ancestors walked in prayer.  They believed they were at the mercy of the Gods and made offerings to stay in their good graces.  They made offerings to the dead knowing that the dead were still available in their realm. They made offerings in thankfulness and in hopes that they would be blessed. They were blessed because they were thankful.  Their offerings were given from the heart.  Things that meant something to them.  Not things that they ran to the store and bought!

Now, most bury their dead and forget about them.  They don’t feel the connection to them because they do not honor them in anyway.

6) The disconnection of the land is profound.  We no longer know where our food comes from let alone what is in it or how it is made.

Microwaves have replaced cooking.

Televisions have replaced dinner tables where families sat and shared their days.

Our Ancestors cooked their meals, they planted their food and killed their animals for meat, clothing, utensils and many other items they would use throughout the year.

7)  We live in a disposable society.  Nothing is made to last.  We have significant waste.  Something breaks and we buy a new one.  We want for nothing.  We buy food and don’t eat it so we throw it away.  We are not invested in the production so we have no qualms in the tossing out of things.

8) Our survival is not dependent on others.  We no longer depend on a tribe of people to survive or do their part.  The majority feel that their survival depends on how much money they make and what they can afford.  No longer do we have to depend on others to help us get through a rough winter or stock the cabinet with food to get us through the dark months of the year.  Now we can go to the grocery store and buy what we need whenever we need it.  Sick?  You don’t need a Shaman and the Spirits to heal you, instead you go see a doctor.

9)  We no longer see the person sitting next to us as connected to us.  There is hatred and discrimination based on religion, color, sex – anything “different” than what we view as “us.”

We hate over politics.

We hate over religion.

We hate over social classes.

We hate over skin color.

We hate over what we call foreigners.

We hate over sexual preference.

We look at others as being “less than” and hate when someone is “needy.”

Hatred begets anger, anger begets hatred, it is a vicious cycle and all of it stems from judgment and a perspective of self against the world.  If someone isn’t like us we hate, we judge, we don’t understand their ways so they have to be wrong.

10) Lack of communication – We live in an age of technology where we have the opportunity to reach millions yet we don’t know how to communicate.

We start with our own judgments and we voice our opinions based on our perspective at that moment in time.  The problem comes in when someone disagrees with us.  We do not keep an open heart and approach differing opinions with love and listening.  Instead we take offense and immediately find that person offensive.  We become angry and divisive.  We have lost the ability to listen to others because the world revolves around “me” and “my opinion.”

We no longer lead with our hearts.  We do not walk in compassion.  Everything is based on logic and the brain and what we “think” we know.  In turn no matter what the other is saying we can twist it to what we believe it to be.  Our media does this daily and we follow suit.

None of these things happened over night.  They have been years in the making. We are the only ones that can change our perspectives.  We are the only ones that can create the change we are seeking.  We start with our connection to Spirit/God/Goddess and we slowly build upon it.  These are just a few things off of the top of my head that seem very obvious to me so I tend to find it surprising that so many don’t see them.  Hopefully, something here struck a cord and your perspective has changed a bit by reading this.

Can you think of other ways we have become disconnected? I would love to hear your thoughts!

In Her Service,

Sage

Hugs

Do you ever have a day where something shifts? Where you know that your heart just took a giant leap and your perspective has changed, forever?

A couple of weeks ago I was meeting my friend Raven in the parking lot at the post office. I had my son, Jeremy and soul son Kity with me. As usual we all stood in the parking lot talking. I had packages to mail and things to drop off for Raven so once business was taken care of and we had finished our visit we were all hugging each other good-bye.

Hugs, I am one of those touchy, feely, huggy, type of people. I am a believer that there is nothing more healing than the touch of someone who cares for you. A hug can make a lot of pain just disappear. A hug can change the whole energy of one’s day. Hugs, they should be what makes the world go around.

So back to our hugging each other good-bye. We had completed our hugs and were headed to our perspective vehicles when this woman spoke up. She said “Are those hugs for anyone?” I said, “Of course!” and immediately I turned around and headed straight to her. I gave her a huge hug and before you knew it there stood Raven, Jeremy and Kity standing in line to share their hugs with her too. You could tell that it meant a lot to her. She proceeded to tell me that she had been a widow for 30 years and that her kids and grandkids were not huggers. She missed having hugs. I gave her another hug and said good bye. Wished her well and got into my car.

Today, I met Raven for lunch, next to the post office. As I was pulling out of the parking lot I thought of that lady. I had just spent several minutes hugging my friend and telling her how much I am going to miss her. For me, hugging is a part of who I am. I can’t imagine my life without hugs. Seriously, I meet someone and I hug them. Obviously, if I am doing business and a hug is not appropriate I will shake a hand but hugs are the ticket for this girl when at all possible.

I was thinking of this lady in the parking lot. I understand how hard it is to have your spouse die. I understand how empty one feels inside when you roll over in bed and there is nobody there to hold. I understand how awkward it is to reach for a hand that is no longer there. I understand. Life changes. In ways that until you have lived through it you just don’t understand. You miss the knowing looks, smiles, the slight touch of a hand, and hugs.

This lady made me realize how blessed I am. I have a lot of people in my life that are huggers. I can’t imagine not hugging those that I love but more importantly I can’t imagine feeling like my family and friends didn’t want to hug me. I can’t imagine how lonely one must feel that you feel the need to ask a complete stranger for a hug. I can’t imagine. To me the thought is heartbreaking.

This whole thought process has taken me weeks to digest. I see so much ugliness and bitterness in the world we live in but alongside of that I see a lot of love too. This whole thing made me once again realize that I never know what another’s story is and how their path has led them to the place they are today.

So in closing I thought I would share my thoughts on all of this. There is a lot of sadness, bitterness and loneliness in this world. Some people have closed themselves off to experiencing the beauty in the world we live in. What is needed more than anything is for us to meet people exactly where they are in this moment in time.

We do not need them to be the people we want them to be, we need them to be them. We need to accept others right where they are. They have their stories, their pains, their own horrors just like we do and yet they, too, are still standing.

Maybe a bit more bent. Maybe they have built walls around themselves so they can hide from others (I am a firm believer that we humans build walls without realizing that we are not keeping others out but rather barricading ourselves in), maybe they are afraid to open up because they don’t want to be hurt again, maybe they are filled with fear, there are a million maybe’s but ultimately what matters is that we love and accept them just as they are in this moment in time. No expectations. No desires to change them. Just meet them where they are.

Next thing you know they will be greeting you with a hug. Why? Because hugs should be making the world go around and by loving them just as they are you are showing them that they are perfect just as they are in this moment in time.

In Her Service,

Sage

Within The Cauldron

At the bottom of Cerridwen’s Cauldron it is dark. There is no light. Transformation happens within Her cauldron. It is never easy. It is never a walk in the park and it takes determination to peel the layers away so when you emerge from the darkness you are no longer the person who entered.

I have been within this Cauldron many times over the years but never like I have been in the last year and a half. It has been the darkest, most treacherous, heart wrenching, earth shattering trip within the Cauldron I have ever experienced and I am thankful.

Cerridwen is my patron Goddess. Many fear Her. I adore Her. She has guided me, taught me, loved me, knocked me on my ass, held my hand and always made sure that I knew that no matter what She is here. To many She is the Hag, to me She is the beauty that resides within this world. Not the beauty that we think of when we see a pretty picture, no, the beauty that lies deep within each of us. The beauty we are afraid to share because we carry so much pain and are afraid to love.

Fear is a nasty beast. We all have it. Most of us are afraid to open ourselves up to others for fear that we will once again be hurt. I have been dealing with this on a very personal level for a while now. It is hard to trust others with your heart. It is hard to trust yourself. The emotion of love is hard because so many times there is loss attached to it. Love itself is not painful. In fact, it is one of the purest, most amazing energies in the world but the emotion we attach to it can and does hurt. Usually because we attach expectations to it and when those expectations are not met we incur hurt.

In our society we tend to affiliate love with sex, passion, relationships. In reality love is an energy that flows throughout the Universe on a continuous basis. We feel it flowing every time we sit in nature. We walk away filled with a sense of wonder and peace, to me this is love. It is abundant and it is beautiful. We just misuse the word and we have redefined it’s meaning in a way that we now believe that love hurts.

As I have been working on emerging out of the Cauldron it has been a long, arduous trip. I have struggled with being without my husband, my best friend. I have struggled to find what makes me happy. It is funny how so many times you find happiness within another and when they are no longer here you no longer know what makes you happy. It is a journey of rediscovering yourself. Somehow you lost yourself in the love and the relationship with another. I have struggled with finding my footing, with my inner and outer beauty, to open my heart again, with trusting others, with letting go. I have struggled with life itself. I have searched for the blessings in life and I have found many. I continue to stay focused on the blessings all while struggling with my inner self.

I am not good with compliments. I can give them and mean them with all of my heart but receiving them is something I have struggled with for a long while. When someone tells me that I am awesome my first thought is that I am nothing special. When someone tells me I am beautiful it creates a reaction within that makes me cry. I don’t see it. I know that within I am a good person. I always strive to do the right thing. I always give all of myself but I have never considered myself to be anything but a normal person just trying to get through life. I can be a pretty sarcastic person (I know this is a defense mechanism) and when someone tells me I am beautiful my first reaction is “here let me loan you my glasses.”

I am learning. I am working on accepting the view that others have of me. In the process I am finding me again. I am finding that person that has been within for so long, the woman who knows what love is and is willing to give her all. I am finding me again. It isn’t easy. It is a daily struggle. Not because I don’t feel worthy but rather because I have to find my boundaries and not give up on myself.

Over the last four months I have started to dream again. There is great pain, at times, in dreaming. You see things you want and you strive to make them happen and when they fail you feel as though you are back in the bottom of the cauldron. It is dark, you fight to catch your breath, you scratch your way out and you emerge once again, changed. It has been a daily happening for me. At some point in every day I find myself thrown into the Cauldron again. I can hear Cerridwen cackling through the whole process and yet somehow when I emerge She is standing there telling me “Girl you got this and I am holding you up.” Transformation is painful.

Today, the Cauldron is deep and dark. Today, I struggle with letting go of another dream. Today, I let go. Today, I stand in the knowledge that I have done my best and my best was not good enough. Today, I realized that if you have to fight to make something happen that should happen easily then it just isn’t what it should be and you have to let go. Today, I am changed once again. Today, I let the love of the Goddess, the love of Spirit flow through me and show me the beauty of this world. It brings me strength. It gives me hope and ultimately it helps me emerge a new person. I am falling in love with this person I am becoming.

Shedding the old is not easy. It is our comfort zone. It is how we know to be. Yet, many times if we really look, those old ways bring pain, old comfortable pain. Letting it all go and stepping out of our comfort zone is not an easy way of being. You find yourself in awkward situations, you find yourself searching for how you feel about someone or something and the answers aren’t always clear at first. The world seems murky. With time though clarity comes and you see everything in a different light, your perspective has shifted and life is new and fresh again.

I know that each day I find something new within. I find that I can do all of the things I dream of doing. I can have the life I see in my visions. I can and I will. The Cauldron is dark and deep but Emergence is bright and beautiful. Soon Resolution will be here and the cycle will begin again, but for today, my trip to the bottom of the Cauldron has brought me into an emergence that is new, scary and exhilarating all at the same time. Letting go and becoming is a journey and my journey has really just begun. I see it, feel it and know it. I am embracing it and allowing the love to flow. Cerridwen is holding me up and showing me a beautiful new world, flawed and beautiful, just like me.

In Her Service,

Sage

Dreaming Again

When hope dies.  When your dreams are destroyed.  What do you do?

A year ago today I saw all of my hopes and dreams die a painful death in a matter of moments.  “No, you are not strong enough to continue chemo.  There is no other treatment.”

Those simple words set me on a journey that literally changed my life.  They weren’t spoken to me, although I was in the room when they were spoken, ultimately they turned my world upside down.

There were dreams to travel.  There were dreams to grow old together.  There were hopes of healing.  The fight was not so long but it felt like an eternity.

The future was no longer “together.”  There would be no future.  We were now living for “moments.”  We were no longer planning for next week, month or year. Instead we were living and dying in each moment of now.

Over the years I have become very familiar with death.  In an up close and personal way.  So many of my friends have left this earth way to soon.  Joey, Grant, John, Reggie, Tony, all to young to die, all gone.  Then there is family, Marvin, Lonnie, Doris, Jesse, Rick, my Dad.  All gone in just a few years.  Death came and they were gone, forever.

All of them hold a special place in my heart.  All of them touched my life in a beautiful, positive way.  Whether they were a part of my life for a short time or years on end, they made a difference by being here.

This time though it was up close and very personal.  This was affecting every little detail of my life.

I thought the world would end when my dad, my hero, died.  The closest I can come to describing the devastation I felt was to compare it to losing my only daughter.  Both of these deaths changed me.  Both tore my heart into pieces that would take years to pick up and heal.  Honestly, I am not sure all of the pieces have been picked up and healed yet.

This time was different.  This time I was losing my best friend, my love, the father to my son, my everything.  I found strength in places I never expected but there were moments when I was not sure I would survive this.

Not only was I losing the man I loved I was losing my way of life.  Nothing would ever be the same.  The hopes and dreams we had together were gone forever.

It is said that everyone grieves differently.  Maybe because the death of someone we love affects us all in different ways.  It is, many times, dependent on who that person was to you and how deeply they touched your life.

My belief is that when you are dealing with a long term illness you begin grieving when the diagnosis is given.  I know I did.  Every day from that moment to the very end, I grieved.

At first we held hope that surgery could be done.  That hope was lost quickly. Then we hoped that chemo would heal – all while it killed – that hope was lost after 2 months.  Then we hoped that alternative treatments would help.  They did in many ways, but unless you are willing to cut the ugliness out of your life there is only so much that can be healed.  He wasn’t willing and ultimately it cost him his life.

At first it was a matter of grieving the things we could no longer do.  We couldn’t just pick up and go anymore.  No more little day trips to our favorite places that we loved so much.  He was to weak and just didn’t have the energy to just go.

Then it was a matter of grieving the man I loved changing.  The man who sighed and rolled his eyes when something annoyed him.  The man who was quick witted and always had a smart ass retort to just about everything.  The man who laughed and smiled at the little, silly things in life.  The man who joked.  The man who loved music and sang.  That man was gone.  Oh, he had his moments until the very end but every day became more of a struggle and every day these attributes slipped away further and further into the ethers.

Towards the end it was a matter of grieving the things he was losing.  His ability to do things for himself.  His ability to have clear thoughts.  His ability to fight for his life.

Watching someone who prided themselves on the way they were able to help others need 24/7 help is difficult.  You can see them die inside every time you have to do the simple things for them.  They are no longer the helper but rather one receiving help and it is a role they have no time to adjust to.  It is humbling.

I grieved for all of the things he was going through. Dying robs you of any pride or dignity you might have while fully living.  Dying with grace is a feat many do not accomplish during a long term illness.  He did.  Each day he would lose the ability to do something else yet he handled it with grace.  That is not to say there was no frustration, there was, but ultimately, he would just let it go.  What beauty it is to watch surrender in motion.  It is a life lesson I intend to never forget.

Grieving is a long, tedious process.  In my world it began over a year ago.  Much has been healed and there is still much to heal.

Dancing with Death so up close and personal is yet another story to tell at a later date.

So what happens when all of your hopes and dreams are destroyed?  You keep breathing. You take time to heal. You trust your God/Goddess/Spirit, whatever you choose to call what you believe in, to lay a new path in front of you.  You do everything within your power to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  You keep your heart open. You learn. You hurt. You let go of the old and embrace the new. You love.  Before you realize it new hopes and dreams begin to come forward. You embrace them. You follow them. You live.

In Her Service,

Sage

The Past – What Does It Offer?

What seeds are you planting? How do you see your future playing out?  What is your heart’s deepest desires?  What steps do you need to take to make those desires come to fruition?  Is your past holding you back?

On any given day you can sit and talk to someone and if you really listen you will hear their dreams.  Dreams of the past:  “When I was younger I wanted to be ____.” Dreams of the future: “One day I want to ______.” Dreams of the present: “If only I had the resources I would _____.” But they are just dreams, right? Things our hearts desire but we never truly expect to have because we believe we have no way of accomplishing them.

Many times we dream a dream, something we really want, and we take steps to accomplish them.  The road is long and difficult.  We give up, believing that we will never get what we really wanted, just before it was going to happen.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times in my life I have done this.  I look back on my life and often wonder “what if.”

“What if I had pursued a career as a Forest Ranger instead of getting married?”

“What if I had stayed in Wisconsin and married that man I loved so very much?”

“What if I had pursued my passion for healing sooner?”

I could go on and on with the “what if’s.” They never end.  We use these lost or postponed dreams to beat ourselves up on a pretty regular basis.  Don’t we?

We can’t change the past.  We can learn from it but we can’t change it.  We can look at all of the things we have lived through, survived, and we can yearn for the “could have’s,” but when it comes right down to it we can’t go back and change a damned thing.  What can we do?

We can begin by looking into the past and finding the lessons that are there. What did you learn by not accomplishing what we “could have” done?

As an example, my first “What if” was “What if I had pursued a career as a Forest Ranger instead of getting married?”

Looking back my marriage brought me 3 remarkable sons and from those sons I have 7 amazing grandchildren, let’s put that aside for a moment though.  I think we can all agree that these are gift’s and not lessons.

What did I take away from the marriage?  The marriage ended in divorce.  The marriage was rife with turmoil.  The marriage was ugly and something that caused all of us extreme pain.  Myself, I endured physical and emotional pain. Yet, I walked away a new person.  I learned that I have strength I didn’t know I had.  I learned that I can stand on my own two feet and not just survive but thrive.  I learned that my heart can be broken, no, not broken, rather shattered, into a million pieces and I can heal it, one piece at a time.  I learned that I can stand in my own truth and although fear may engulf me, Spirit will always protect me.  I learned to love myself and that I am worthy.

I could go through each one of my “what if’s” and tell you what I learned by them. The bottom line, for me, is for every “what if” or “could have” that lays in my past I can see and find lessons, some difficult, some easier. They have shaped and formed the woman I am today.

I could choose to hold onto my past and all of the “what if’s,” let them define me, make me feel as though I have failed in life.  I can choose to beat myself up over and over again by just focusing on the past and the dreams I didn’t accomplish. We all know someone who does this daily.  Instead, I choose to look at the lessons, learn from them and let the past go.

The path I walk says to shed our past as a snake sheds it’s skin.  All at once.  Leave it there.  Write a new past.  The belief is that our bodies can’t tell the difference from things that happened in the past and what is happening now. When you sit and think about the pain of the past your body feels it as though it is happening at this very moment. Your body reacts to the memories you choose to remember.  It doesn’t know that it is a memory, it believes it is happening now. This, for me is one of the greatest reasons to leave the past in the past. Once you have identified all of your lessons is there a reason to relive all that has happened over and over again?  I, personally, would prefer not to relive all of that pain. I choose to leave the past where it belongs, in the past.  I have learned and those memories don’t need to be rehashed over and over.

I cannot move into the future, nor can I live in the NOW if my focus is always mired in the past.

The past has helped form the person I am today.  The now will be the past in a few moments. Standing in the now, at this very second, allows me to make wiser decisions for my future.  When I look in the past, tomorrow, I will know that holding onto what has happened may offer me lessons to learn from but there is nothing else of value to hold onto.  Living there only impedes my now and prevents my dreaming of the future.  You can’t move forward to the future if you are still reliving everything in the past.  It just can’t happen.

Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? I am not sure that I do.  I do, however, believe that Spirit brings us to things we have agreed to learn in this life and how many times that lesson has to be relived depends on how well we learn it.  I also believe that if we are brought to it, we will be brought through it.  Tattered, scarred, yes, but we came here to learn and live.  We can only do so if we are aware enough to look, learn, listen and let go.

Back to my original questions.  Are you planting seeds for the future or are you letting your past stop you? Do you see a future or are you to busy looking at the past to allow a future to unfold?

Find your deepest heart desires, embrace them..  Let the past go.  Live in the now. Dream your future into being! You will be amazed at how beautiful our world can be when you let the hurts, mistakes, lessons of the past go and step into the now.  Go find your beauty!

 

 

 

It’s all about the chili spaghetti!

My life has been going through a vast amount of transitions over the last year and a half.  I have lost my spouse, moved, and now I am deconstructing my life to get into my car and leave.  Changes are both within and flowing through my life significantly.

The last couple of weeks everything has felt as though it is upside down, but in a good way.  I made a trip to Florida (a gift given to me from my son and his friends) to meet my grandchildren.  It was absolutely fabulous.  As any grandmother will tell you their grandchildren are the best in the world.  Mine are no exception!  They are kind, caring, funny, adorable and everything I could have ever dreamed for.  It was a new beginning and a beautiful way to start this journey that I am preparing to embark on.  My heart is full.

While going through all of these changes I noticed that I have been craving the same food, every day, for over a month.  I couldn’t figure out why.  It isn’t really like it is my favorite food.  I mean I love spaghetti just about anyway it can be made but the combination of chili and spaghetti hasn’t been something I have eaten a lot of over the last 40 years.  Until now.  I just can’t get enough of it.  It hasn’t gotten old in anyway.  It is really the only thing that I want (except chocolate of course).  It has literally driven my son, Jeremy, up a wall.  He has given me all kinds of headaches over it.  He isn’t into eating it every single day and doesn’t understand why that is all I really want. Honestly, I didn’t quite understand it either.  Until today.  I was having a conversation with my son’s best friend, Kity, while I was making this morning’s helping of chili spaghetti when he pointed out that when your life is going through so many changes you seek comfort (wisdom out of the mouth’s of babes).  In this case comfort foods or food at this point.

I knew as soon as the word’s came out of his mouth that truth had been spoken.  I have been so wrapped up in the thoughts and feelings about where my life is going and trying to live in the here and now, enjoying every moment.  I have been working diligently to let go of so many things, both materially and emotionally, that I didn’t think about the comfort level of life.  It has been a long while since I have been “alone” and not had someone to share my deepest thoughts and feelings with that everything just stays inside of me now, unless I am writing.  Normally, my comfort would have been voicing my thoughts, fears and dreams with Mike.  That doesn’t happen anymore and now there is nobody.  It is an adjustment and apparently one that I am working through, with chili spaghetti.  There is humor there, somewhere.

What this all means is that when we find ourselves going through life and so many things start to happen all at once we seek comfort.  Some seek it in alcohol. Some seek it in drugs.  Some seek it in food or sex.  Apparently I seek it in chili spaghetti.  Why is that?  Why do we turn to outer comforts to work through the things life throws at us?  Why don’t we see it when we do?  I didn’t see it.  Really I just thought it was an insatiable craving.  Instead it is a way to seek comfort.  Why are we blind to our own needs but can fulfill the needs of others and see them quite easily?

I have walked a path of self discovery and healing, one that has enabled me to get through a lot of things in my life for over 20 years now. Even now I still find that many times I am blind to my own needs. I continue to discover new and exciting things about myself daily.  I have found that I like different types of music, some of my son’s music is pretty cool (which is amazing to me). I like conversations with 20 something kids because their perspective is so enlightening. Somehow I think we as parents of these kids have created amazing creatures that see the world in a way that we never could because of our conditioning, they teach us so much if we are willing to listen. I find myself attracted to several types of men (this one is really surprising to me). I find that one of the things I find most attractive is intelligence and open mindedness, more so than how someone looks. I find myself surprised at some of the discoveries about myself but I also find that I am still blind to many things.

One of the things that I did after my first marriage, a time when I needed to find out who I was and what I wanted, was to try something new each day and write down what I liked and didn’t like.  Broccoli?  Do I like it or hate it?  Styx? Do I like their music or do I hate it?  I honestly didn’t know who I was nor what I liked.  I had been told for so long what I liked and didn’t like, what I could do and couldn’t do that I didn’t know who I was.

Looking back I see that this was the beginning of my journey of self discovery but at the time I was just trying to figure out what I liked.  I find myself going through this again only in a different way.  I am not walking away from an abusive marriage but rather learning to live after losing the one person I thought would always be by my side. I am learning to live again and in the process I am re-discovering who I am.  I am picking the pieces of my life up and putting myself back together, only in a new way.  It is scary as hell and exciting all at the same time.  I am finding that I have a very low tolerance for stupidity and loud noises.  Just things that before I would have just dealt with.  Now I remove myself from it.  Time is to damned short to tolerate things that annoy, bother or hurt you.

I suppose my point in writing all of this is that no matter what you are going through, no matter how bleak or bright things look at the moment, you will seek comfort.  Will you be aware that you are doing so?  Will you be blind to it? Will it really matter?  I think knowing that a particular food, act or need is providing you comfort shifts your perspective and when you shift your perspective even just a tiny bit the world changes.  Your world changes because you are now aware of the why’s and how’s.  In closing, I ask, where do you find your comfort? How does it fill your heart? How does knowing that tiny bit of information make your view of the world different?  Try figuring it out, you might be surprised at your own answers, I know I am.

 

Letting it all go

Most of the time, somewhere in my writing, you will hear about my deceased husband, Mike.  We were blessed in spending the rest of his days together.  I was left behind to continue living.  There are days where this feels like an impossible task.  As I was washing my dishes today I was told that it is time to let it all go.  One way to do that is to honor the man I knew.  So this blog post is all about Mike, our life together and his death.  This is my way of letting him go.  He keeps sending messages through others that I need to quit the crying and move on.  Believe me I am trying.  Some days are easier than others. I am sure he will show up in my writing, there is no way that he couldn’t, but it won’t be more than a way to explain an example.  Our time has ended and now life moves on.  This is our story as I lived it and his love will live on through those that knew and loved him.  I am letting go so I can love again, live again and once again start over.

This video is the video I made for Mike when he died.  This shows you who the man was and how he loved life.

goregous

Mike’s video

Mike was a man of great insight.  He just had this ability to see people for who and what they were.  He loved them regardless but he never went into anything without that full “knowing.” He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh.  He knew how to put a smile on just about everyone’s face.  He wasn’t an angry person.  In all the years I knew him I only saw him angry one time.  I mean really, really angry.  The type of angry that made him raise his voice, angry.  He just didn’t do that, ever.

I met Mike in 1991.  We were married that year.  We were expecting our first child.  Elizabeth Cassandra was born March 7, 1992.  She was a full term stillborn.  Her death affected both of us deeply.  We eventually got to the point where we quit talking to each other and quit turning to each other.  In February of 1993 we had our son Jeremy.  He has truly been a gift that both of us have adored.  Because we quit talking and leaning on each other we ended up divorced.  We were divorced for 11 years.  In 2006, we were remarried and the last 9 years were the best either of us had ever had.  The key to all of this is after our divorce we stayed friends.  I knew that no matter what time, night or day, if I needed him he would come running.  It made no difference who was in our lives we were just there and we just cared.  I didn’t always like him but I always loved him.

The foundation for our marriage the second time around was a deep, abiding friendship.  I preach this to my kids all the time.  Be friends first.  When life gets rough and the world is falling apart at your feet that friendship will get you through it all.  I believe that wholly and completely.  Mike was my best friend. He knew all of my secrets.  He knew my heart.  He knew me.  I knew his secrets. I knew his heart and I knew him.  Most often a word did not even need to be spoken and the other would just do what was necessary.

He liked his beer, wine and Bombay gin with tonic. He loved a good cigar.  He loved to have a good time. He loved to play pool. He didn’t make close and endearing friendships easily but once you were his friend he was always there and always willing to do whatever you needed.

Jeremy and I were his number one priority, nothing came before the two of us, ever.  He loved my brother, sister, sister in laws and brother in law as though they were his own.  He adored my parents and would have given his life for any of us.  I would be remiss in not mentioning my nieces, nephews and granddaughters.  He absolutely, positively adored each and every one of them.  They could do no wrong in his eyes.  We spent many hours watching baseball, softball, and football games just so we could see them and spend time with them.  Some of his favorite moments were spent with my (our) granddaughters.  He loved every second of every moment that he spent with them.  He referred to them and their mom as “his girls.”

There was absolutely nothing in this world that he would not have given me if I wanted it and he could.  Most importantly though he gave us his time and his love.  He was never to busy to sit and listen.  He always gave great advice.  He was never to busy to offer a hug or just hold you when you felt your world falling apart.

Some of my fondest memories are with him cooking on his bar-b-q. I don’t think there is anything he loved more than to bar-b-q a good rib-eye.  He loved to fish and it didn’t matter what kind of fishing it was.  He was ready to go whenever or wherever as long as he could take his rod and reel and a cooler full of cold beer. The last few years of his life he didn’t do much fishing but he talked about it all the time.  In fact a week or so before he died he insisted we go buy supplies so he could adjust his wheel chair to hold his pole and he could go fishing.

Another of his passions was music.  He loved music.  He loved to listen to it, sing it and dance to it.  He loved his music.  He had his favorite songs and he would play them on his phone all the time.  He use to run the karaoke at the Yucaipa Eagles and I bet you could ask anyone who joined in on a Friday night what the funniest thing he ever did was and you would get a resounding answer of when he sang “My guy!” I am telling you he would get up there and put on a show.  The crowd would go wild and we would all be laughing so hard that it hurt.

He would sing with one of his best friends, Kevin and their mutual friend Reggie.  It was always a Pink Floyd song and it was always long.  He always sang his Pirate looking at 40 and a few others.  He would sing with anyone that wanted to sing and didn’t want to do it alone.  Him and Jackie always did Sonny and Cher’s “I got you babe.”  They were good times and there are memories there that will never die.  He left so much love with so many people.

Mike would do ANYTHING to raise money for charity.  If you watched the video you saw him with a wig, make up and a hula outfit on.  That was to raise money for one of his all time favorite charities “Garden of Angels.”  If it was about helping someone, anyone, in any way, he was ready to do whatever it took.  You saw the pictures of him as Santa?  That was a yearly thing.  He would do it for friends and he would do it for under- privileged children.  He would dress up and deliver gifts to their homes.  I remember one year one little boy was so excited that he asked Santa if he could go home with him to the North Pole.

He drove me absolutely crazy because he always had to look meticulously good.  His clothes had to be just right.  His hair had to be just right.  He didn’t just throw on a shirt and pants and walk out the door.  Everything had to be “just right.”  He even ironed!  I teased him unmercifully that he was worse than any woman I had ever met. It was oh so true.  He would just laugh at me and say he couldn’t help it, it was just who he was.

He worked at Kaiser Steel for 20 years and then went to work for S.B. County. Over time he worked himself up to a Supervisory position.  This is where he stayed until he retired.  He retired early because so many of the guys he worked with were dying and he said he wasn’t going to work until he died.  He wanted to enjoy life.  While he was working though he did everything he could to treat the people who worked with him with dignity.  He tried to teach them and he would come home and talk about the things going on.  He would always tell me what a great bunch of guys he had and how blessed he was.  I have heard from a couple of the guys that worked for Mike and it seems to me that it was a mutual admiration society.  I have yet to have one say a bad word about him as a boss.  I think that in and of itself speaks of his character as a man.

Seriously, I could sit here for days and share my memories.  I could sit and just write about him non-stop.  He gave so much to so many throughout his life and that includes me.  At this point though I think it is time to find an ending.  So in closing I will finish with saying I was loved, truly loved in ways that many yearn for all of their lives.  I had the best of best friends as did our son.  He was unique and one of a kind and my life was blessed because I had the joy of sharing my life with him for a short time.  With that said I know that I will have this love again.  I know that I will have another best friend somewhere along the way and when I do I will cherish every single moment because I know how beautifully special that gift is.

Sometimes losing the love and beauty in your life makes you appreciate it all the more when it comes around again.  I am assured it will come again.  I am open and I am moving forward and know that someday, somewhere it will show up again. It will be different and it will be beautiful and that is a good thing.  I promised Mike I would love again.  I promised him I would keep living.  I promised  him I would move on.  I am keeping my promises.  New memories are on the horizon.  Old memories will abide within my heart and spirit until I take my last breath.  No comparison’s needed just loving acceptance that this is life and in life we face death and in death we find new beginnings.  That is how we live and that is how we love.  No endings just new beginnings.  Life is a sweet, precious gift and it is time to live it to it’s fullest.  Letting the past go and turning all that love to myself and out into the world.  What more could a woman ask for? It’s all about the love. It lives on no matter how it shows up.