I starting writing this piece on June 26, 2016. Well, not really writing it, I put the title down - I Am A Shadow Dweller. Because I was dwelling there then. And I added a photograph, not this one, but one of me. I'll include it at the end. It captures that shadow looking feeling that I am, today, going to try and capture in words. So the title and the picture and then I saved it. Because the words, they... well, they were hidden in the shadows and I could not see them clearly enough to put them out here in this bright light.
But this past weekend, I started thinking about this again. This shadow play place that I love so much. Loved so much. Because I do not love it so much anymore. I like it still. There is a familiarity in this shadowing place. A welcoming and a safeness that is provocative and inviting. So maybe love is the right word. But before there was also a beckoning and that does not happen so much anymore.
Perhaps this is why I am able to write about it now, because it is not the place I love the best.
When I loved the shadows most I loved them because I felt them the most. It was a time in my life - there were many times in my life - when I was sad. Deeply. And with that sadness came a loss of feeling most other feelings.
Yes, there were moments of joy and happiness. Moments I would see my children and love them deeply. Moments when a run in the woods with my dogs would fill my soul and still my heart. But these feelings were not ones that I was able to access at these times when sadness was my constant companion. And so I loved him. (He is a him) Sadness. I loved his darkness and his warmth. I loved his lush breath and the way that he enveloped me in a cocoon of softness.
I loved him because I felt him.
When I was sad - and was it really sad? - my days were days of deep depression, when the only feeling that I really felt was the feeling of him. And feeling him, this was so much better than feeling nothing. And so I would enter the shadows hungrily and I often did not want to leave. It felt good in here and I did not care that the light outside, she had gifts to offer me.
My shadow play was not always with me. He led me inside occasionally when I was growing up, but only held me in his arms once for any significant length of time back then. I was living in New York and dancing at Tisch at NYU. I was a dance major without the ability to dance having had surgery on a toe that was fractured and chose to disintegrate rather than heal. It was a defining moment in my journey as a dancer because I really did not want to be one anymore and so this injury, it was an opportunity to shift direction. Still it was sad - ah that sweet space of despair - and I sat in it for the entire time I lived in New York before heading back to Massachusetts to finish college.
And then there were no shadows for many years. Until postpartum nestled into my bones followed by a winter wonderland of seasonal depression that lasted fourteen long years of October-thru-April-I've-just-gotta-get-through-this-winter-and-things-will-be-fine and then two more long years of transition and introspection and self-discovering and growth that could only have happened within the shadows of my mind.
I got a lot done in this shadowy space. In this time spent in this place of darkness that is warm and knows me well. And that, coupled with the truth that the deep emotions that live in the shadows were my only emotions, well... why would I not want to sit here. In these shadows that held me gently.
And then the light crept in.
It was not like the shadow space was not still inviting. It was not like that feeling of sadness that offers an intensity of emotion was not still tempting to sit in. It was not that I did not sometimes - do not sometimes - still miss standing complete in shadow.
It is that it is lonely here. For when I stood in shadow I stood alone. For along with keeping out the light my shadow sentinel kept out all others.
And so we made an agreement.
As I write this I have this lovely image in my mind. When I was back east I took a walk on the Appalachian Trail. Not for long. Just a short bit of trail but the sunlight was strong though still low in the sky and the shadows played against the warmth of this light. It is this image that captures my shadow play now. An intermingling of light and dark. Of light and shadow. And I can play in the coolness for a moment or more but he will not be my only friend.
I think about writing about my mom. But then I don't. My first instinct is not to. I think I am not brave enough. But something is calling me now. For when I picture time having passed and writing about her later on I feel this feeling that I am missing something. That there is significance in writing now. That the vulnerability that comes with this writing of passage is important. That I cannot miss this even though I do not know what this is.
Because the feelings are hard and because my mom will read this. And my dad, too. And while these words are an honoring, they are also words of challenge and frustration and this is hard to share.
This most recent need to write about my mom comes on the heels of my visit last week. The culmination of a week with my mom ending with my reading aloud to my dad the writing my sister and I wrote about him created a lacking feeling. That my mom needed a writing, too. That this was this something I had to do.
And so on the plane on the way home I started this. I wanted it to be a writing that was light and joyous and honored all the good that is my mom. But instead what came out was fast and raw and I knew that this early writing six days before a writing was due was necessary because I needed time to sit on this. To reread and revisit and rewrite if need be. This one. It is hard.
You see, my mom has a form of dementia that makes her lose words as the language center of her brains dies. As I write that sentence it autocorrects to worlds. Lose worlds. Appropriate as she is losing worlds, too.
For along with language comes the loss of comprehension. And the loss of knowing. Names lose their meaning. Friends become unrecognizable. Events fall away and moments drift by and often times she is not quite sure.
And this is hard. As her daughter. For along with the loss of all these things and more that I am sure I still don’t know there is an accentuation of those things that have always challenged me as her daughter.
And then, yesterday, I read this beginning of this writing to my husband. I started writing about my mom but don't really want to/am worried about sharing it/maybe I shouldn't I said to him. And then I read it to him and he said it is beautiful and you need to finish this.
So here I am.
Mother/daughter angst is hard to explain. Not in the general sense but in that intimate way where the smaller nuance of expression can turn a daughter's head around but from the outside really, what is the big deal. But as the daughter, standing in this daughter place, the challenges are there, the triggers continually happen, the actions and reactions find that familiar rhythm that is as old as I am.
This past week with my parents was a beautiful week. Being with them is necessary. And it is important. And it is filled with love and joy and fun. Lots of fun. And along with this it is filled with the hard fact that my mom is struggling. A lot. And I am, too.
I am usually a better version of myself when I am with her. I am patient. But it is a sad patience because it sits in this place of detachment. A necessary coping because without it I cannot stand in compassion and caring.
This past week the place I created to support and love my mom as she journeys through this awful disease abandoned me and I stood in the rawness of having to respond without my boundaries on full alert. And I behaved badly.
I could not disengage and I could not be kind. I heard the edge in my voice as I answered her questions and felt my body pull back as she sought to encircle me in love. And each time I saw this, in the moment that I was in this, I spoke small words to myself to step back and regroup and remember that this is not about me at all, really and so step up as the best of myself so I can be the best me for her. And then the next interaction would happen and I was deep in it again in that dark way that is so not fair to her because it is so not how I want to show up for her.
I thought I did not care. My coping of my lacking was to tell myself that this was ok. That I had closure and completeness. That the lack of an emotional connection with my mom being this elusive thing was just what it was and was ok.
But then, I as write this, I see that this is not true. That there is grief and loss in this. That the disconnect, whether in this most recent interaction of impatience and frustration or even in the more accepting dynamic of caring and nurturing, still is a detachment from my mom. And so a loss of mother.
I did not see this until just this moment.
My mother-in- law died in December and we had her memorial service in January. I wrote a piece about her and read it aloud at the service. And, as I walked up to share my words, I started to cry. This surprised me. I did not think I felt the loss of her until I was there, standing in the loss of her.
This feeling I have, right at this moment, writing this writing, this is that same surprise. That there is loss here. That I miss my mom. Even as she is still here with me.
It is important and it is good that I see this now. I hope I can hold on to this.
I'm here with my sister, the little one. Not that she is little. She is an adult. Like me. And my other sister, too, who is the older sister and so the big sister. We are all adults. But this weekend we were little again. Even while we were not.
I am here with my little sister, as the big sister went home. She left yesterday and the little sister leaves today and then I leave tomorrow. We are leaving from our parent's home in Florida. This is the first year that they have spent at their new apartment that they just bought so that they could get away from the cold and the snow and the storms of the New England winter.
So my little sister and I are writing this together. Which we do sometimes when we are together. Because it is fun. And makes us laugh while we write some pretty awesome writings. We have very similar perspectives. And the same sense of humor. We write great together.
Ok, so let's get started.
We were going to talk about this door thing. We were going to name the writing A Door Metaphor, which is a really nifty rhyme and talk about why the wrong way is often the easier way. Like it's easier to eat badly, it's easier to not to exercise, it's easier to not work hard.
We started thinking about this when the sliding doors in my parents porch kinda place that looks out over the water got all twisted up. Now, these are not the kind of sliding doors you are thinking of. These are three panels on each side sliding door kinda things. And each door is on it's own track and each door can move. And so they can get all tangled even though they shouldn't because if you push to hard they easily move too far passed each other - which is the wrong way - and it's really hard to get them back.
So we asked.. why is it easier to move them the wrong way and have it be so hard to move them back the right way?
So let's talk about food and the fact that we had key lime pie every night. But we don't want to say that key lime pie is bad or that eating it every night is bad. It's not good to say that things are bad, it's just when you pair this with six baskets of bread and full meals, and some snacks during the day, let's just say we are feeling a bit sluggish this morning.
Ok, being little.
It was just the original five, the nuclear family that our parents created. I was coming down for my birthday and invited my sisters to come with me as my birthday present. So we could all be together without the focus veering off to our children or husbands or any other distractions that happen when the rest of life comes along, too.
It was nice like this.
We went to the beach like we did when we were little and our dad woke us up early - like 6Am early - to get to Jones Beach before the crowds and then we would leave at around noon to head back home and go to the local, community pool.
He did not wake us up that early this time. He wanted too but, though we were little, we are really still adults and we said no.
We sang in the car like we did when we were little. We sang show tunes. Fiddler on the Roof and Godspell. And listened to Hamilton because no-one but my little sister knew the words.
We played ball in the street like we did when we were little. With a Spalding. We don't like this spelling because we call the ball a spaldine, or spaldeen and so we think it should be spelled like this. We played catch and we played this game where we have to bounce the ball one more bounce each time we send it to the other person. So one bounce, then two, then three....
We hung out on beds - one on the floor because this place doesn't sleep more than four. So my little sister slept on this foam mattress thing that my dad's dog loved because he got to sleep on it, too.
We held hands as we walked around this really cool, old Florida neighborhood rather than the built up and mall-like stores and restaurants that line the highways now. We held hands as we walked and talked.
We went out for every meal (hence the key lime pie) and shared plates of food.
And we took lots of pictures of the five of us as we squeezed in for a selfie while we walked along the path outside my parent's home or jostled for space on the bed.
So last Monday I was going to write about our reactions to our reactions. But then I changed my mind. I wasn't in the mood. I didn't have the focus or - honestly - the interest at just that moment when I was writing my writing to delve deep into something that demands a necessary introspection that I was so not up for. And so I skipped the writing of it and wrote about other stuff instead.
But then, all this week, this concept kept coming up for me.
Like I had this amazing conversation with my dad. I have an amazing dad. I wrote (with my sister) about him here if you ever feel the need to read up on him. I think you should. He's pretty friggin' awesome.
So, I had this conversation with him. On the phone two days ago. He was talking about mindfulness and how he is practicing this practice, this mindfulness practice, and one of the things he is doing is noticing his reaction to things. And then, instead of reacting to how he reacted in that moment and letting his mind do all that self-talk that is often filled with negativity - because we often react to something in a way that we wish we did not and so we shame ourselves and berate ourselves and tell ourselves that we did it wrong - instead of doing any of that he is just sitting in noticing what his reaction was in that moment. And then letting it go.
Like this is what he is telling me over the phone and I was like did you read my writing on Monday? because this was what I avoided writing about because I was not in the mood to work that hard.
The best thing was he had not read my blog yet. And so the fact that he brought this up, and I had been thinking of this, well really, the serendipitousness of this is just too good. (and yes, I know that I should use "serendipity" but it just doesn't capture the bigness of this coincidence enough)
And then it came up again. This reaction to our reaction idea. It came up again. And again still. In conversations that I had with other people. All week. And so I knew that it was time, in this Monday's writing, as in today's writing, to delve on in and explores this more.
You already know what it is as I so succinctly explained it above in the paragraph about my dad. So what I really want to talk about is those beautiful lessons that come out of being able to notice our reactions to our reactions.
Do we berate ourselves? Do we tell ourselves that we should have done it better? Do we then think about it over and over and over again because we are disappointed or angry at ourselves? And why do we do this?
These are the big questions. And this is where the lessons live.
I do this. A lot actually. Much more than I thought I did until I started to notice. And not only do I self-talk myself into a really lousy mood by reacting negatively to my reaction but I do it for a really long time. Ten, fifteen, could be twenty minutes that my not so nice voice in my head goes on and on about how I really fucked it up and didn't do it good enough. She is persistent, I'll give her that.
But now, now I am aware of this and noticing my extremely obstinate and tenacious, negative voice in my head.
Wait, that is not exactly true.
I have always been aware of her. But until recently I engaged with her. I interacted and listened and responded back sometimes in conversations in my mind that took over my spirit and prevented me from moving on from an incident that happened so many moments ago and was over long before my conversation with my self-talk was.
But now, now I don't engage. I notice. And then I reflect.
What pain happened way back in my life that she grabs onto to try and keep me from growing forward? What pain and how do I heal from it?
What pain and what shame?
What stories does she keep repeating to me because she wants to keep her footing in the door to my soul?
What stories does she find and then retell and why do they work so well?
I notice all of this. I notice and explore what she is saying without feeding her my attention which is fuel for her fire of negativity and blame. It is interesting to notice what she says. And, because I can see her from this distance now and hear her without taking in her chatter and making it mine, I can reflect on her words and her stories and her blaming and think back to where she may have found them in the first place.
For you see, they came from inside me, those parts of me that I still need to nurture and forgive, to accept and to love. She sees them as opportunity for pain. But now I see them as the opportunity to grow.
And this is what is happening now: when she shows up I take her in my arms in my minds eye and I tell her that it really is ok. That I know that she hurts and that I know that its hard but really its all good. And she quiets down. Not completely silent yet but not as loud and not as long. The lessons are being learned and the hurt is being healed and soon she'll get to rest.
Ok, so I was going to write about our reactions to our reactions and... credit where credit is due: I first heard about this concept - paying as much if not more attention to your reactions to your reactions than to that first reaction you have to a situation - from Kelly Schwegel. You can check her out here.
It's an interesting concept to explore. That self talk we do after we have reacted to a situation is where so many of the lessons really live. Think about it.
But not now.
Because as I sat down to write about this I realized that I really didn't want to write about this. I kinda wanted to write about lighter things. Like my walk this morning with my dog (what a surprise) and the personal satisfaction I am feeling having drafted new By-Laws for the theater that I am the Board Chair of (I love writing documents like this).
I want to write about the anthology that I am creating with a becoming-a-new-friend woman that I met over social media. It is book about the Thomas Fire that circled our valley - we are a valley surrounded by fire - and then swept north becoming that biggest wildfire in California history. This book is a collection of photographs, artwork, poetry and prose from our Ojai community. We are still in the submission phase and are receiving such amazing images and writings. This book is going to be beautiful as it honors the loss and grief and strength and possibility of our community.
So this is really cool.
I want to talk about the fact that I have had to restart my computer like three times in the space of writing this writing because it is old and slow and freezes up and I need to buy a new one but this stresses me out. All my stuff is on here. All my documents and passwords and pictures and stuff. And I know, I know, I know all about backing things up and I am doing this. I have a OneDrive account with everything in it. I have Carbonite on my computer which backs up things automatically. And I also email myself the things that are really important (yes, the old fashion back-up system). But still, technology stresses me out. Like A LOT! And so this is tough.
But the new computer will be fast and speedy and I can write my writings and draft my documents and sign into sites and not have to wait like four minutes for something to load.
So this is really cool, too.
And finally, I want to talk about where this picture above was taken. Take a guess. You'll never get it!
I missed my Monday writing. And now it's Wednesday. This picture was taken on Tuesday. When I was lying here, in my warm and cozy bed, I had to pee really, really badly. But I couldn't get up because look how sweet they both are and how could I disturb them!?
I was on telephone with my sister at the time and said just this, and we remembered together when our babies were babies and not these big people that they are now and we would sit to nurse or because they were sleeping and so perfect in our arms and we would sit ourselves down and get all comfy and the phone and tv remote and our cup of tea or glass of water was over on the table, or even on the couch but all the way over on the other side and there we were. We could not move. How could we move?
That is just like what this was yesterday with my cat and my dog. And I was so happy to be between them that it was worth it not to move. Just like with my sleeping babies all those years ago.
But this writing is not about this. It is about the fact that I missed Monday's writing. Fuck.
I have been late for writings before. There was a time that my Monday morning writing was actually a Sunday morning writing and then a Sunday night writing before becoming it's Monday thing. Because I had too much going on, on Sundays, to write in a timely way. And so we moved to Mondays and, though there were times that it was a Monday afternoon (sometimes late afternoon) writing it still was a Monday and I still remembered. For this past Monday, I have nothing. I just missed it. Fuck.
And then I got an email from a dear friend and he said: There was no Monday writing, working on something else, or too busy? And I emailed him back: Oh shit. Fuck Fuck. I didn't write :-( And then I signed onto Weebly to write this.
So. there is a lot going on. And so this writing is about giving myself a break. Because I have gone from retirement, and really having my days be my days only with me and my perfect dog and walks and ball playing and more walks and naps most days and maybe I'll read a book or have lunch with a friend or watch the entire series of The Secret Life Of The American Teenager because my daughter was watching it and so I watched it, too and got sucked in and so for like two straight weeks all I did was watch this show. Which wasn't even that great. It was good. I digress.
So, I had that, that simple life and then I started up my mediation practice again, and I started working again on a TV show I had written with a writing partner that is now garnering some interest, and I am the board chair of an amazing theater in Los Angeles called the Echo Theater which, if you live in LA, you must check out and you must come to our shows because we are the best theater in town. And so yeah, I have a lot going on. I am sure there is more, I cannot remember.
Oh yes, I am editing another book for a dear friend and have a second editing job as well with a beautiful writer who's work I really love and so that is something more, too. Did you know I was an editor. Here is my site, just in case, you know, you need me :-)
And so that is why this is now Wednesday and here is my Monday morning writing. And I am going to take a deep breath now. Because I have not since I heard from my friend that I forgot until I got to this place of almost finishing this piece.
And I am going to take a moment and reflect on the beautiful walk I had this morning with my sweet and perfect dog. We walked very quickly along the edge of the grove and then got in the car and went to the dog park which was open early and we played ball and then we walked along the horse trail that runs along the park, in the mud, behind the fence. And that was lovely, too.
Thank you for reading my Monday on a Wednesday which happens to be Valentine's Day writing today!
We went to the beach both mornings this past weekend. My husband and I. It was sunny. And warm. I wore light pants and a shirt without a sweater and Garth wore shorts. Our feet were bare to the sand and the water felt cool against our toes as it rushed up against the cluttered beach, the remnants of the Montecito mudslides still coming up onto the shores of the neighboring beaches.
We went both mornings without our dog. Just us, with warm drinks in hand and the opportunity to walk slowly and talk deeply. To take our time and take the morning in. And take each other in, too.
This photo above is not from either of these last two mornings. The photo is from an early winter morning - of which there are many - when Nava wakes me up close to 6:00 each day and I dress quickly in layers of winter leggings and sweatpants, three shirts, a fleece jacket, a hat and mittens and my hiking boots. Garth comes with me when he can. When his mornings are not full with calls to India or consulting meetings in Australia or Canada. Then he too dresses in his layers against the cold, before the sun rises, and we take our alert and ready to play Doberman and walk the barren beach.
I love the beach on mornings like this. We are the only ones. Either Garth and Nave and me, or just me and my dog. Sometimes there are fishermen there, perched up above the sand when the tide is so high that there is no place to walk without the ocean covering my shoes with salty water. Sometimes the fishermen settled closer to the sea, in low tide then, spaced apart as if they measured their distance to each other though I know they did not.
Nava pays no attention to them. She is more interested in the smells that wash up from the beach each night waiting for her gifted nose to track them down. And always, as in every time, she finds a tennis ball which I quickly hide in my pocket. Our walk comes first, then we play ball.
So in this photograph above, which looks cold not just by my bundled up husband but by the colors of the sky and sea, it is a before the ball playing part of our morning walk together. I wanted a photograph of my husband by the ocean as I wrote about our weekend together. But I did not bring my phone with me to the beach this weekend to capture him there.
So here you have this one instead.
This was a special weekend for us. We had those kinds of conversations that are sweet and honest. It started with an acknowledgement that we were in our thirtieth year of marriage. That this July 3d, this would be thirty years since I wore a dress that I picked out because it reminded me of what someone would wear during the civil war and that was the look I was going for. Thirty years since I looked out the window from the big house as I was getting ready to walk down the aisle, only to see my husband-to-be swimming in the ocean. Thirty years filled with the gift of three miraculous children and infinite adventure and challenging times and poignant moments and so much laughter. And lots of dancing.
But this is not what I spoke about when we spoke this last two days on our walk in the warmth of the mid morning beach sun. I spoke about our last year and a half.
Marriage is funny. We mark each year and honor that date that started it all and fall into our cultures boundary of how we celebrate. And so the counting of the years is a big thing. A milestone that we reach each year and that we then check off our calendars, whether real ones or the one that keeps track in our minds. And we hold significance to that which the world holds significance, too.
But that did not resonate with me this last two days on our walks and talks as the sun warmed our hearts to each other. Yes, being married thirty years is very cool. A long time, a lot of compromise, an awful lot of growing that wasn't always at the same time or in the same direction or sometimes something neither of us liked very much about the other, and still we were right here, walking this beach. And so to notice the length of time together, I am not saying that this is not something special to do. But what really makes me proud, and what I spoke about aloud and shared with this man that I love more today than any day before, is who we have become this last year and a half.
We became our own people this past year and a half. We learned that we were not merged. That those images and words that are used to connote the success of a couple - the "you complete me's" and the "we are one" and the "I can't live without you's" are not the images and do not capture the essence of who we are or who we want to be with each other.
This year and a half was an amazing year for us because we held space and allowed each other to grow in our own ways, with no expectation from each other. There was no judgement. There were no shoulds. We just were. And we shared the journey with each other. We shared how we felt. We tried out new things and explored when the other got triggered. We took self-care and spent a lot of time alone. And we sat together, practicing breath work so that the taking in and letting go of air matched the intention of our hearts and the merging of our souls' song.
We learned vulnerability. He is better at it than me. But I am getting there, too. Especially when my heart is open and I have the time to just let it stand there, beating without worry and warmed by the sun.
And so it was this weekend on these two beach walks. My open heart met his as we talked the length of the sandy tide, and found a rock that was a bench and held our backs just right as we held the sun on our faces and his knees burned because his skin is too fair for sun of any kind.
We walked and talked and sat and our hearts held gently the beating of the other. And we honored this last year and a half. A small part of the length of the entirety of our thirty year marriage and the biggest part of all.
A repeat/copy/repost/redo about my perfect Doberman puppy for no other reason really than I couldn't quite get it together to write something new and when I set about looking back to what I had written a year ago at this time it was this. And how could I possibly pass up a writing about my perfect dog.
I've Just Gotta Say...
Can My Dog Be Any More Gorgeous!?!!! But Really This Writing Is About Much More
I wasn't planning to write about Nava today. My gorgeous-and-perfect-and-oh-so-high-energy-ball-obsessed-but-it's-ok-because-I love-her-so-much dog was not what was in my mind when I sat down to write this writing. I was actually very reflective as first thoughts whirled through my head. And I was thinking to look back to what was going on a year ago and do a sort of a scan of the year and my state of being and the state of affairs in general - mine and the global affairs of this great earth and all of us in it as we navigate through the human experience that we call our lives.
This was the plan anyway.
I even pulled up the writing I did from last year at the end of January. It is a good one - Balance, Boundaries And Bone Broth - and my thought was to start with those things in this last year's post and then integrate in with where I am now. Put it all in alignment. Make it all make sense.
But then, ah, I got stuck on my pup. As I went through the photos on my phone, to find the best one to top this writing with that would inspire readership, I came across the one of my beautiful and smart and always perfect Doberman when she was small.
How friggin' cute is she!!!
And I just couldn't resist. I had to share this picture with you. And then I thought hey, why not put a now pic alongside the then pic.
I was still, at this point while I was posting the puppy then and now, thinking that I had kinda abandoned the introspective and more mindful piece and had truly moved on to some serious puppy prose but then I saw it. For, in keeping with my original thought theme of reflecting back and integrating in, the image of my before and after puppy so captures not just my perfect pup as we all know she is, but also so perfectly captures my original theme: the before and after of things. The scanning and reflecting and seeing where the changes lie.
The funny thing about photographs that capture the changing of things is that this is not really as accurate as we want to believe. While the outward manifestation of change certainly shows over time and is capture in stillness as the photos we keep, the true movement and moments of change are internal. We can't see them but we feel them and often times they do not line up with the physical changes that we see when we look at our form.
Things don't always match up.
Often the outward change we see so clearly do not mirror the internal beings we are. Think of our grandparents, the old and wise woman we maybe aspire to become someday, the elder of the tribe and the teachers from our youth, and how they say - time and time again - that they still feel like their twenty year old self even while their body is old and perhaps ready for sleep.
I feel this. My sixteen year old me is this me still in so many ways. And though certainly I have grown in maturity and wisdom and mindful intention, the essence of me is the same as I was then.
Like my perfect pup. She looks totally different in her before and after shots. But her spirit, her essence, her drive and her focus and her soulful connection to me is the same. She, in so many ways, is that pup even while she is this dog. And though she has grown and matured and is so fully herself now, the self that she is was there all the time.
She, like our younger selves that are ourselves still, is the same in her spirit even as her body as grown big and strong.
But then other times the change that happens is the exact reverse of this.
Especially now I feel this. Not just within me but within us all. Just as the shifting that is happening in the universe is hard to see but we feel it in our bones and our heart, the changes that are happening within us come fast and sure and don't show up on our faces even while they sit solidly in our souls.
And so we look in the mirror and see ourselves looking just as we did yesterday as our eyes shine back at us from a new place. We are collectively coming alive in new ways. We are connecting in as we create community. Women's circles and New Moon dancing. Men's collaborative and mindful meditation. Common causes and constant conversation. We are shifting and changing and adapting to the world fast and true. And so what doesn't match up is the reverse. Because we look the same. But we are totally different now.
I love the balance of this.
That sometimes it is the soul's turn to shift and the stability is in the constant of our bodies as the familiar place we live in. And other times, the change is physical and the constant that we hold as the place that we land is our internal knowing that we are still ourselves.
I planned to write about my beautiful and perfect and sweet and smart and so high drive puppy who is really no longer a puppy but still acts in that puppy way when she plays or runs or cuddles in, because she turned three this past weekend. On Saturday. January 20th.
I was not with her on this day. I was in Massachusetts at the memorial service for my mother-in-law who died a few weeks ago. Right before her own birthday. And so, when I started writing about my puppy, and acknowledged that I was not with her for her birthday, my writing quickly became a reflection of this weekend. That is the beauty of this writing that I do. So often it becomes the thing that it is supposed to be, not necessarily the thing that I thought it was when I sit down to write each week.
This writing today, inspired by my dog, is about my heart.
My heart was very opened on this day, January 20, 2018. Funerals do this. We come to them opened up to welcome in the connections we all have with each other through the connection we all have with this person that is with us in spirit in the most literal way.
My dearest friends were there. Friends that my husband and I spent so many, as in almost every, weekend with for many years. They were here to mark this day with us. To sit in this connection. They filled my heart.
And my sister came. With my brother-in-law and niece and nephew. Taking the drive down to the South Shore to be with us in this moment celebration and mourning, of remembering and letting go.
And I had my children there. God, I love being with my children. My son and daughter-in-law (I just realized only recently that daughter-in-law means daughter by law, as in by marriage, that the words mean exactly what they represent. I love this). And my daughters by blood who flew across the country with us on a too long flight but thank goodness the hotel let us into our rooms early so we could sleep for a few hours before the memorial began.
And the room was filled with family - brothers-in-law (that phrase again) and a sister-in-law and niece from that side, too. And family cousins who we only get to see at funerals where we mark the moment saying how much we love to see each other even though we only get to see each other at funerals.
And caretakers. The many that were in her life and helped her son and her most trusted friend fill her many years with joy and love and and health even as her mind drifted away.
I spoke at this memorial service. I read this piece that I wrote a few weeks ago. And was surprised when I first walked up to speak, and then again while my words were shared, that my eyes held tears and my throat was full not just with these words.
I was sad this weekend. As I write this today, I am no longer surprised that I was. But in that moment it was unexpected. This happened before. My feelings these feelings and being surprised. It was right before we moved to California, back in August four years ago. We went down to Hingham, to my brother-in-law's home to see my mother-in-law. And when it was time to go, I remember leaning in to hug her good-bye. And my eyes held tears and my throat was full.
I did not think that I held this emotion for her by this point. Just as I did not think I held it still when I spoke two days ago in her honor.
And this not knowing that I would feel this way, I am holding on to this. I have marked it as a remembering that needs to be kept in the light. This knowing that I felt a connection that I thought I had already reached closure on, this is an important lesson.
It is not wrong that I thought my relationship with Mardi was complete. Because for a time it was. And then, in these last moments of reflection and connection, it wasn't again. For just a time, I know.
We think we can wrap things up. Work through our feelings and put it all neatly together in a way that allows us to move on or move forward. But then something new happens and we often will realize that those feelings are not gone, but merely at rest for a bit, waiting for the time when we are ready to walk through them again.
There is this feeling of being in alignment with who we are/who we are meant to be. Of following our path where the world feels in harmony because the intention is in balance with our deepest essence and our purest purpose.
We all know what this feels like. Where we channel our words and deeds. Where we glide through our projects and our preparation is smooth and unfolds with ease. Where we don't have to think about being because we just are.
We find these moments in many moments. In excelling in a sport that we do or an art form that we love. In dancing and singing. In our work where we are doing exactly what is right for us at this time in our lives. In being with others in synchronicity. In creating community that nurtures and honors all of us. We know we are in it when it does not feel that time is part of the place that we are. When the actions and motions and movements and words and emotions are all interconnected in that way where the moments are effortless.
It is a place of grace.
And it is the place we strive for, for it is a place of peacefulness and it is the place that we search for in this journey through the human experience. We are here to stand in our truest self. To capture our greatest potential and to harness our wondrous gifts. We are here to discover ourselves, to remember who we are, to know that we are love and to stand in the perfect balance of connection to ourselves and to each other.
I wrote about this once before. I realized that I did when I started this writing today and the words were familiar. My writing is a remembering, too. Sharing both this new writing today, and then one that came before.
Thank you for reading my writing today.
The Practice Of Speaking Our Truth
The practice of speaking our truth is not just the outward manifestation of what we say but the inner workings of our souls breath. The alignment of our spirit with our minds and our hearts. It is not the words we speak out loud that carry the fullest weight and move us forward but the gentle mantra of our knowing when we feel it ripe in our bellies.
When the way we journey on our path is right and good and full with the truth of us the tension that often will seep into ourselves shifts away. Sometimes for just moments, often times an instant that we stand in true form as one with that cosmic energy we call knowing. It is here that our power reigns free. Here that we call forth our wisdom and our teachings. Here that our essence, the one that we truly are, shines fully.
It is here we must honor and nurture so we can return to this place until it is the only place we are.
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Dog and Cat lover.