Looking Back

Do you ever stop and think back over your life? Remember what your dreams were when you were young? Do you ever just sit and wonder how much different your life would have been if you had followed those dreams? Or did you follow a different dream and are happy with where you are in this moment in time?

If you follow astrology at all you know that we have several planets in retrograde which for me seems to be a time for reflection and letting go. Although, the last 2 years have been about nothing but letting go. This year though, it has been about facing my past and feeling the deep disappointment I feel in myself and then letting go of all of it. This last week it has been about looking back on what my dreams were and letting them go. After all you can’t make room for new if you are holding onto the old. Even when you don’t realize you are holding on.

I was in the middle of a conversation this week when it hit me. The conversation was about having a 25th wedding anniversary. Something I don’t ever see myself having. It hit me in that moment that all of my life I wanted two things. I wanted to be married and I wanted children. Well I was married, to many times. I never wanted to be married more than once but apparently that wasn’t in my cards. Then when I actually found love and happiness, he died. Now, well now, I am in a new relationship. I am in love, something I never thought possible again, but lets face it, I am 53 and the chances of having a 25th wedding anniversary is pretty much slipping away. There are no wedding plans and honestly I don’t really believe marriage will ever happen again for me.

This made me cry. It was a dream. It was something I always looked forward to and now I am looking back and working on letting it go. It is hard to let something you wanted all of your life go. It is hard to face the realization that your dream is dying day by day and will never come true. It is hard. Yet, the only thing you can do is shed your tears, feel your pain and work on letting that dream go. What is ahead of me is beautiful so why so much sadness over a number? A question I have yet to answer.

Going through the process of looking at my dreams when I was young I realized that there were many dreams that I never achieved. I didn’t go to college to become a forest ranger. I didn’t marry and have the happily ever after. I didn’t travel. One of the things that I always thought would happen in my life is to have life long friends. Yet, I don’t. Really when it comes down to it most of my life has been lived alone. Yes, I was married, yes I had children (that is a whole other story filled with immense pain) yet, I didn’t have many friends. I still don’t. I love the few that I have. I have one best girlfriend. She is 2,900 miles away and I miss her every day. Here, the women I thought I was building friendships with well as so many others, they have disappeared. I am alright with it though. It isn’t that I don’t care about them but honestly they were friends before I came along and when you have an issue with one you apparently lose them both.

My whole thing with friendship is that it is a two way street. I have learned that I only have so much to give and once I feel that I have been used or taken advantage of I walk away. So, here I am, 2,900 miles away from my family, my best girlfriend and I am working on letting go of my dreams.

It has been a long, arduous journey, this life of mine, and each day I find more of me and let those parts that I pushed away go to make room for new. I refuse to give up. I refuse to believe that my life doesn’t serve a purpose. I refuse to believe that in some small way I don’t make a difference. I refuse to waste this thing called life with living in the past and not embracing the future. So I move forward. I feel my pain. I embrace the woman that I am becoming each day and I know that it is time to start dreaming new dreams all while looking back and letting go of what was and what never will be.

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!