Struggling to the Surface!

Grief and loss are emotions I would prefer to experience from afar. For now, it hasn’t worked that way. Sorrow has seeped into my cells and attacked my gratitude, joy, light, love, and peace. I find myself struggling to find that place inside me where optimism and hope have always lived. My friend, Pam, recently reminded me that with all my internal struggles and trying to process it all silently, instead she thought I needed to “write it down and put it on the page.”  So Pam, this post is dedicated to you for your faith in me that I have words to say while my spirit broods caustically. You reminded me that I don’t need to have it all figured out before I share it. Maybe just maybe sharing it will release me from the depths of sadness and pain. Here goes.

Losing my aunt, losing period, sucks. I’m not a dark soul so being immersed in pain and shadows disturbs me. I have found in this darkness a resting place for everything I Fear most. In the murkiness and depths of sorrow, I discovered there was a place for me. A place I have chosen to visit but fear I may have stayed far longer than I had anticipated. It’s tentacles which once comforted me in my grief, have now reached out to entangle me in its web. Like swimming underwater, sounds are muted, light is dull, sunshine is hard to find and my breath escapes in small bursts. I have tarried here too long, way too long. It’s time to swim to the surface and let the warmth of the sun remind me of all that I am grateful for and all the good things and wonderful people that have loved and supported me now and always.

I’m sure that most people would be surprised to read this as I do an amazing job of putting on a good face. Underneath it all, I can’t help but remember what I’ve lost. Loss, lost, gone, buried!! These  words reverberate in my head. Why can’t I see all that I have gained instead? When does the hurt subside?

I lost a person who truly saw me, warts and all. A person who helped me laugh at myself and to share who I am without the walls and bravado that steadied me through chaos. A person who I took for weekly, monthly, year after year, (30 or so years), of car rides to nowhere, while I worked out the person I wanted to be and not to be. We would call each other and all we had to say is, “you wanna go for a ride?” I would pick her up and we would ride for hours. No destination, no particular plan, except of course, therapy. Perhaps it was sitting side by side that allowed me to bare my soul. Perhaps because she was a therapist who know how to get under my defenses and let me know failure was a part of my learning curve, not to be deemed a weakness. Perhaps it was because she would laugh with her whole body and the world would right itself for a while. Or perhaps because she loved me and was proud of me and told me so often. She loved with her whole being and believe me, if she loved you, you knew it. Perhaps because she loved me unconditionally and I treasured that and miss it more than words could ever convey.

These are gifts I hope I repaid while she was here on earth. I know she knew how much she meant to me and that she gave me permission to share my love, worries, and hopes with her without judgement. She never judged me. She cajoled, reasoned, and occasionally would yell at me to get it together, and always with a hint of humor and grit.

A month or so after her death, I found a voicemail from her singing me happy birthday. God how I treasure that message. I pray someday I can listen to it without weeping and feeling sorry for myself. I know she’s in good hands now and her body is healed again and strong. I know that she is telling jokes in heaven and caring for all the underdogs who need a champion. I know because she was my champion.

So while I kick my way to the surface, I hear her cheering me on. I am reminded that while loss is a part of me now, so is gratitude, for I had one of the best friends anyone could ever wish for. I know she lives on in me and remains one of the brightest parts of my soul. I believe beyond any shadow of a doubt that she is telling me to get it together and to focus on all the wonderful things we did together and that someday we will ride together again. Godspeed Maureen. I love you to the moon and back again.

 

 

Transitions!

Moving from one familiar place to another unknown and unfamiliar territory causes me angst. Even if I know the change is good for me I still find myself looking longingly over my shoulder at what should or could have been, wondering if I’ve made the right decision. Should I go back or trudge blindingly forward? 

Finally with apprehension and trepidation I  slowly turn my head and my focus to the challenges ahead. I take a deep breath, square my shoulders and I plunge on. I promise not to look back. I try not to relive only the most wonderful memories and glamorize the things I’ve left behind. I remind myself that I am moving on for a reason. I remind myself that letting go of people, places and things is very difficult for me. Often it is the absolute last resort as I am a born problem solver. I try getting over a problem, through, under, around, ….exhaustion ensues and I have to admit I’ve done all that I can. Again and again. Time to let go. To go where?

Truly it’s not the flying, plummeting, free fall that I mind so much, exactly. No, it’s the terrifying white knuckle moments right before flight that is my nemesis. I cling, shredding my nails, clutching tightly until my arms cramp, making useless and futile bargains with God in a vain attempt to forestall the inevitable…. letting go, saying goodbye. Moving on. Falling into the hollowness with no flight plan and no parachute.

Finally, I slowly loosen my death-like clutch on the past…. I release myself to the fates and to the winds of change. I will attempt to be gracious, open-minded, curious and kind. I will use this time of transition to become a better version of myself with my newfound knowledge and enlightenment. I will open my arms wide and appreciate the storm of change as the past whips by with the sound of a locomotive and the silence of transition approaches , engulfs and hopefully cradles me.

It is here my work will begin. I will land in a different place and my climb will begin anew. Ascending and trusting the Godwinks I must now rely on as if my life depended on it, because surely it does. I’m in uncharted water apprehensive and uncertain. It will be here that my new purpose and my faith will collide. Trusting that while I am uncomfortable and tentative I will prevail. I will pray for guidance and strength to trust that deep in the dark abyss of transition there is a safety net that is as yet unseen.

It is a comfort and a relief to know that I am not alone. At the very least I hope to find that I am braver than I know. 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost and Found…

I have to admit that I lost my creativity.. Yup, it’s true. It just up and left me and at first, I didn’t even notice. I just thought I was doing the usual procrastination thing that I do when I don’t want to write. The one where I stall and decide that I need to reorganize the kitchen cabinets, do laundry, or (and this truly reveals the depth of my decline), clean the bathroom, rather than write or take a another photograph.

I stopped carrying my camera and that might have been a moment for reflection or pause, but I missed the warning signs, once again. Soon guilt tripped into the drama and I realized something was, indeed, off kilter. What could it be? Um, right, I haven’t had the urge, the passion, or the slightest interest in indulging in the one aspect of my life, that has saved my life, my art. Instead I invited the shadow dwellers of negativity to stop by and visit and I guess they never left and I never really noticed they’d taken up permanent residence.

Still, a small part of me kept encouraging myself to take a picture, sit at my computer and find my curiosity, wonder, and inspiration. It had to be out there, right?  I used to know just where to look for it. I didn’t ever have to look so far to find it. I didn’t recognize the signs of depletion and exhaustion that ate systematically through my joy and replaced it with a grainy, facsimile of my life. My priorities were all screwed up. It’s no wonder that I had lost my way. I was looking and walking down a totally different path than I had intended. It was time to get back to my world, my life, my spirit and let go of the things that are weighing my soul down. How?

I invited the shadow dwellers of fear and worry to leave and welcomed the bright light of restoration, reaffirmation, and reflection home in their stead. The veil of worry seems to linger longer than the rest, I guess that’s an improvement over my insolent indifference. I found myself walking along the road looking at life passing by and suddenly I stopped and looked back to see what had drawn my eye. It was nothing spectacular, a bumble bee, but the fact was, I saw it. I stopped to observe it and found myself enjoying the wonders of pollination and I realized, I found my creative muse right where I left it, outside, in this very moment. Turns out it wasn’t as far away as I had imagined. 

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Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

I think sometimes I am so caught up in my day to day grind that I forget what is happening around me. I complain because a class is cancelled or a check didn’t arrive on time or the damn squirrels are eating all the food out of my bird feeder…and then I am sharply reminded about real pain and suffering.

When someone I love is in unbearable pain, suffering in some way, my hear shatters with and for them. Recently a friend of mine was caught in the quagmire of grief and angst and there was nothing to be done about it. It was not pain of her own choosing but someone she loves more than anything. Her sorrow and palpable grief tore my soul asunder. I could do nothing to assuage her heartbreak, nothing but sit in the shadow of her hurt and to be present and bear witness.

Like falling down the rabbit hole, everyone who loves her is swept away in the torrent of her unspeakable, unshakable, unbearable agony. Down, down we all fall, tethered to her as she tumbles further into the abyss. All that can be done, is to fall silently, supportively, and soulfully into the darkness with her so that she isn’t left alone.

I know that I can’t heal or spare her this wrenching horror. I also know that by sitting in the stillness, the injustice, and sadness, I pray I am helping. It works against my nature to not be able to offer some solace or a game plan to ease her pain. Instead it is in the steadiness and assuredness, and the uncomfortableness, that I can show her my love, my loyalty, and my faith.

I try to remember and to focus on, all I can do is show up and pray that the waters will calm and she will commence sailing on smooth waters once again. Until then, I will weep, hug, laugh, and pray with every fiber of my being that she be free from this immense misery and that there will be a profound and magically lesson learned, after this tragic storm.

#friendship #sorrow

Cabin Fever

Usually I write when things are crazy. It’s how I cope but with the endless snow and the kids being home more than in school for the month of February, I’m exhausted. As if the snow days weren’t enough, we are coming to the end of February vacation and though I love my sons and would rather spend time with them more than anyone else on the planet, I can’t wait for them to go back to school. To get back to some sort of routine; theirs, and mine.

The snow is higher than my windows and I admit, I may be suffering from cabin fever. Oh sure, I’ve been out and about and working super hard but the white, whiteness of the snow is getting to me. Everywhere my eyes can see, there are mounds and mounds of snow too tall to throw snow on top anymore. Shards of ice dangle precariously from everyone’s house, and businesses, and the lakes and oceans are coated with huge chunks of floating, frozen, frigid white ice, far and wide.

I crave colors, green grass, the smell of fresh flowers, the warmth of the sun, and the water cascading over my head as I wade out to swim in the ocean. This is beginning to sound more like a plea for help or a message in a bottle from some foreign land. I’d laugh but I’m afraid it might sound a bit maniacal.

So hopefully, March will roar in like a lion and I know everyone here on the east coast will dance with fevered merriment and joy when the temperatures hit 50 and the only sounds we hear are the drip drop of snow melting, melting, melting. And our lives return to some semblance of order. I will end by sending the final snow photos for 2015 and hope that the next thing I write will be more optimistic and this winter will be something I talk about with nostalgia and not while gritting my teeth, my white teeth. I know, I’ve gone too far.

The freezing ocean
The freezing ocean
Dock frosting
Dock frosting

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#endless snow #cabin fever