My time volunteering in hospice is usually the highlight of my week. I never know just who or what I might experience when I go, but I know for sure it is going to always be a great lesson. Sometimes the lesson is within me and my inner reserves of courage and grace, and other times is it a direct lesson from the teacher themselves.
Yesterday was the latter.
When I entered her room, she was standing at the window overlooking the amazing view. Her eyes were locked on the majestic mountain Pikes Peak. She stood with a giant smile on her face, and said “would you look at that?”. I offered her a seat and she kept her small eyes on the view. Her voice was weak and her skin was old and paper-thin. And yet, her spirit radiated such vibrancy and such light. She told me she was 90 years old and had lived here her whole life. She shared that she had two daughters who have died and that her wishes was that she will be buried near her father. As she looked out the window, it was evident that her mind was flooded with time on the trails. She explained to me certain hidden trails that veered off the common Barr Trail. She looked me in the eyes and told me “those trees have my memories…..my soul lives on that mountain…..when I am on the mountain, I am free…..the trees speak to me…..” My breath became shallow and I fought back tears. I listened as she guided me as to the best places on the trail to see the world and the rocks that were best to stop and just be. She shared that her wish was to take one more drive into the canyons and see the trees. When I got ready to leave, she held my hands and told me, “you get out there okay?”. I paused before I left her room. I hoped that I was looking at my older self. Though she was facing the end of her journey, she was so appreciative of life—all forms of life. It was so inspiring.
The next patient I saw was a man who seemed anxious and tense. He had never had a hand massage and was unsure if it was something he would enjoy, but decided to go ahead with it. I sensed as his energy shifted to an ease and he became relaxed through the touch. After about fifteen minutes, he asked me if there was something more than the oils that caused the sense of well-being. I told him that to me, it is energy. An exchange of energy and a lot of love. He closed his eyes and smiled. A few minutes later he shared with me that he has a book that is about to be published about his observations while spending time at a pond on his property. He said he watched as the cycles of birds would come and go each season. He said he wrote about the sacredness of the birds and the messages that they offer. As I finished up, he asked “how can it be that one day you are living your dream, and the next you are here”.
Words cannot be expressed easily about the genuine presence that I experienced. The vulnerability and grace. The truth.
The greatest teachers come to me in Divine timing. I learned to live with appreciation for all that is. I learned to observe and be present. I learned that life is fragile and should be never taken for granted. And for that I am eternally grateful.
Surrounded my the familiarness of my childhood home, I find myself stopping to marvel at the trees, the squirrels, and even the long ago walked on sidewalk with the exact same cracks and uplifted slabs from roots of massive trees.
Just like that it hits me. A moment where I stop in my tracks and smell the familiar smell of my childhood. I am not certain what the scent is but I know it well. It is so familiar that even my cells even tremble. It is like being transported 40 years into the past and I am now sitting beneath her giant tree waiting patiently for her to call me for her world-class home cooked dinner. The smells of her cooking mixed with the aroma of old, old trees fill my senses. I look to see that the old homes have changed just so slightly. I recall with great fondness of our walks down to the Woolworth store past the homes that then looked so daunting.
I watch with awe at the silver-haired elders across the street as they toil in their yard; soft gloves on and old pails for water, straw brooms and yard shoes. I remember her gloves, her shovels and the way she would daintily pick at her posies.
I see the squirrels run up and down the trees and remember the famous squirrel named Peggy who she faithfully laid peanuts out for. Each morning peeking through her back door hoping to catch of glimpse of this mysterious yet beloved critter. I hear bird song again today that I used to wake me on summer mornings to begin another adventure with her.
She is with me every single day. I never realized just how much I missed her until I have been inundated with her energy and her presence. Each day I feel her. I sense her. And I miss her.
An amazing elder in my life came to my home and performed a Native American Medicine Wheel Blessing on my me and my space. She brought a rock from her medicine wheel where I walked with her beautiful horse years ago. She honored me and my space.
After the Native ritual, she offered me a Celtic blessing. She asked that I open the front door to allow the spirit in to grace the space as she read a blessing.
In a world outside a blog, it is not often that I am vulnerable or that I share my inner most thoughts and feelings easily. It is even more rare that I ask for support or even consider anything shy of badass-independence. I knew however that I would love to welcome and take in the love of women that love me unconditionally as part of a special ritual.
I selected a few special women in my life to help me celebrate my new life and my new space. I wanted to have a special ritual that would honor me and also the connection to the Elements of Earth and how they are such great influences in my life.
When I invited these special ladies, I asked that each one bring one small rock to place in my space as a reminder of Mother Earth’s (earth) ability to ground me. The stories of where the rocks came from and the special thought that was put into finding each one filled my heart with gratitude. Each woman carefully placed the rock on my Buddha who watches over my space. We then each lit a candle as a way to bring (fire) into my space and remind me of my constant inner flame and that karma is capable of being burnt up. Next,we shared a toast of wine to honor the blessing that (water) brings to us as part of life’s precious cycles. Finally, together we created a Prayer Flag that will hang outside with each woman writing a prayer on a flag of fabric that I will tie to a cord —the wind (air) brings the opportunity to move the Prayer Flags and take the prayers into action.
As we gathered into a circle, one sweet friend read a poem by Mary Oliver:
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
So grateful for the richness of the love that was shared and the presence of Earth and Life. Much gratitude.
A summer day full of color everywhere; rocks, trees, flowers, sweet dogs, happy girl and fresh pico.
The last seven days I have experienced countless moments of deeply rooted memories. My senses have been flooded with timeless encounters from my childhood into early adulthood.
My feet touch the sidewalk in which my sweet grandmother and I used to walk along. My nose takes in the smell of the trees and the old homes. I hear the different songs of the birds and the quiet sounds of a street called ‘Pleasant’. I see with my eyes my first husband’s home where years of memories lay within the walls. I stand on the bridge in which I once walked over to begin a new life. I listened at he sounds of trash trucks in the alley. I stand in awe a the vision of the mountains nearly close enough to touch where my feet have walked miles and my eyes have shed many tears. My hands brush across trees that are decades old. I drive by the sight of the park in which my fear of difference was unlocked. And I experience the steady knowing that the house I lived in when I was born is just two blocks away.
Like paving stones on my path I see that each one has a pivotal role in my life today. Without them all laid out as they are, I would not have been able to circle around to this experience. A completeness about my life. Going back to my roots, my beginnings.
Each day, I take this in. And I am incredibly grateful to look back at the ribbon of my life and see all the magnificence that has helped me to arrive here today.
Courage and strength.
That is where I have been residing in the last few months. Courage to speak out and strength to act. As someone who likes to practice what I preach, I have strived to live a life of authentic nature—the last few months no different. Tapping into my courage and then the resourceful strength within to push through the pain has been one of my greatest accomplishments.
Not only did I tap into my inner reserves, I found places in myself that I did not know existed. I delved into my inner being and said, “you are worth it”. I moved away from the security and safety of middle class into a life of simplicity and peace. I cultivated a life of happiness and self, rather than one of diminishment and sorrow. I said yes to me.
Because I am worth it.
It has been said that the process of any major life change is similar to that of birthing a baby.
The impending months of worry, anticipation, questioning, and learning. Then as the days get closer, the pain and discomfort get more real. The pressure inside becomes unbearable and the reality of what is happening becomes startling. The labor pains may take weeks, or even months, when in a major life change and the pain comes and goes just like a contraction. At the moment you feel like you are about to emerge from this womb, there is an intense and insufferable pain that nearly takes you to your knees.
The first breath. The first look around. Whatever it is that was seeking to be birthed in you has come. You see the new space, the job, the new home, the new outlook, the new life.
And you move on, hopefully with grace and gratitude.
Dhamma: the Law of Nature. What begins will end. What goes up will come down. What opens will close. What rises will set.
It is our work to lean into the suffering versus resist it as within the leaning in, we trust in the Law and know all things are temporary.