learn when to leave the table

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Our dinners together always had a sort of tv dinner feel. Perfectly contained portions of mashed potatoes, corn, mystery protein, and silence. A silence that never left us once the microwave was put to rest.

This silence wasn’t tender or quiet. It seemed to envelop with its sharp and loud vibrancy that radiated in the dull ache that made up the right side of my chest, screaming the word leave over and over again.

How could I leave him after all this time though? What was the point anyway — he was dependent on me, and I was dependent on being a good Christian…

Though it was never stated, I think the silence at our meals, at the intersections between the possibility of the present moment and the memory of his long-standing affair with his high school sweetheart, were mandatory.

My body would often engage in a gentle humming and swaying that my dear long-time table would join in with soft, scraping sounds that were always on beat. He stared down at his plate the entire time, which was fine with me. It saved me from having to see that same look he always seemed to have on his face in my presence — one of incredible emptiness and remorse.

It hurt deep in my soul how he could just turn it off and on, rushing silence out of the house, on the days our daughters or friends would come over to visit, sharing all the jokes he had heard on a recent sitcom, and looking at me with an intense look of love on his face.

I imagine that one day when I die young from a broken heart and go to heaven, he’ll write to our daughters shortly after I’m gone about his new girlfriend. He’ll say keep an open mind. Your mother, Celeste, and me were all best friends in high school.  The pain without your mother was just too much for me. She was my best friend, my love, for forty years. Celeste helps me to feel like I can go on. I know your mother is smiling down on us in heaven.

& since this is all made up anyway, I like to think that I am smiling down on them with a happiness that could never be too much for me, and that my dear table continues to make soft, scraping sounds on beat with their fuckery.

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Nine months & counting since her death

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photo by januprasad

***

To be exact, it’s been 267 days since she died — not exactly nine months but very close. It feels so poignant that I return to write on the blog about her. Nine months can be a moment of joy and new life for so many. For me, life continues on with and without her.

***

I wrote this poem for her on the day she died:

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I feel her presence incredibly strongly still and I feel so grateful for that.

***

Grief is such an intimate teacher. It feels like a young being, wild and vulnerable, desperate in its need for comfort, insatiably loud with its demands if ignored. In those moments, when the grief is most intense, I hold grief and myself, rocking and whispering, “I know. I know. I know, dear one. I’m here.” Somehow, someway, I seem to envelop myself in love in its purest, deepest form in those moments. It’s almost like grief leads me to love. Is grief love? The two are more interconnected than I ever realized.

I wonder how many countless other beings sit near or far by in the quiet, mourning their losses, healing in the best ways they know how? Even though it’s so hard to know sometimes, I hope they know, I hope I know, “We are not alone. We could never be alone.”


shining light into the darkness

everything’s going to be okay, I tell myself. this will pass.

I find so much peace in those simple words.

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photo by joniwoq

I have felt sadness more and more of late. It scares me sometimes. I feel it in moments where my work or social experiences are particularly challenging or unfulfilling or in a moment when I sit with an intense emotion like anger, tracing its rapid burn through my chest and belly and feeling the sadness just underneath its hot surface. The sadness comes and goes like any other emotion but it has come for a number of days in a row. I find myself worrying what if it keeps coming back? What if I fall into a deep permanent state of sadness?

There is no way to know what the future will bring but I trust in the universe. I know that if a deep sadness happens, I will still be okay. It will pass. I am not a super human. I am allowed to experience moments of sadness.

I comfort myself in practices like deep breathing, deep nourishing, deep listening to what lurks underneath the emotion that doesn’t use words — is there a need not being met, am I doing too much, am I not connected to my life’s purpose?

I comfort and release  sadness through my cycle of breath, knowing that although I may feel sadness that I am not my sadness. Breathing in, I am aware of my breath flowing in. I follow its journey through my body and feel its life and energy. I can feel my breath encounter sadness as I breathe in. I shine light into the darkness with my breath: touching sadness with my inhale, releasing it with my exhale.

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photo by llbolek

Deeply nourishing practices I like to utilize:

– I self-soothe with my hand at my chest or belly as a reminder that I am not alone and I will always be there for myself no matter what.

– Be active. Yoga, dance, walks, runs, etc.

– Cook/eat balanced, yummy meals.

– Engage in activities that draw a deep belly laugh. I invite my favorite books and comedies to help with this.

– Be around loving, welcoming people. I can allow myself alone time but it’s really important to be around others as well to avoid getting too caught up in my experience.

– Journal. Write. Express myself. Sing/chant. Be creative. Release.

– A mindfulness practice I have started to engage in is accepting each moment for what it is and bringing a gentle curiosity to each moment. I have started to realize the incredible peace and freedom in befriending each moment  — not just the ones that take my breath away with their joy but the more difficult moments where I feel lonely, scared, or not good enough. Adding a layer of compassion and acceptance to challenging feelings and experiences can make them so much easier to navigate through.

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Writing a piece like this helps tremendously. It helps dissipate my sadness, helps me to feel less isolated and more connected by sharing my experiences with others rather than keeping them a secret. If you feel intense emotions or devastating experiences that leave you weary, I want you to know that you are not alone. You never can be alone. We are all connected. We are holding the space for each other, supporting each other in our collective energy.


our loving ancestors

3-gogo-and-the-ancestors-marietjie-henningphoto by marietjie hemming

I like to think our ancestors are rooting us on through life.

There’s a mindfulness practice at Blue Cliff Monastery called touching the earth where we place our palms in front of our chests in the shape of a lotus bud and slowly lower ourselves to the ground so that our four limbs and forehead gently press against the floor. We bow deeply and return to the earth and our roots, connecting with our spiritual and blood ancestors. We know that we can never be alone as we are always surrounded by love, by divine beings who only want the best for us, by the earth. We touch the earth and reconnect with each bow to all of that life and recognize that we make up the earth and life and can never be separate. We are all connected.

Breathing in, I breathe in the earth. I breathe in connection. I breathe in life, strength, stability, love, nurturing, protection. Breathing out, I breathe out separation. I breathe out suffering. I breathe out anger, fear, shame, sorrow, grief.

I wonder if each time we engage in a healing practice like meditation or yoga, are we touching our ancestors? In engaging in the practice and connecting deeper with ourselves or transforming an area of suffering, are we also lessening the suffering in that whole ancestry chain? If we release a story steeped in limitation and inadequacy that we used to cling to, do we release suffering in our whole ancestry line? Is our growth a shining light of hope and pride to them?

 

 

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background image by carolyn doe

Believing our thoughts

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We have so many thoughts each minute, each day, each lifetime. Some believe we have 50,000 thoughts in a day so that would be over 18 million thoughts in a year — far too many thoughts to hear and remember. So what determines the thoughts we believe and cling to and the ones that never catch hold and quickly disappear? It’s more often than not a choice. I want to carefully choose the thoughts I listen to for they create my reality.

 


holding & letting go

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:)

I have a love to garden deep in my roots.
I breathe in flowers sacredly tended to by divine mothers
hoping they blossom throughout this lifetime.

I wake up unexpectedly sometimes
during that late-night, early morning space
where my dreams seem both near and far
and words that don’t speak flow within me
if I just stay awake a little longer
and press my senses gently
against my soul to hear them.

Tonight there was a melody of rain and crickets
just outside my window and I decided to stay
and listen. My hand reached outside the window
to both embrace and release the rain drops in my palm
interchangeably, and I wondered if this is what I should
be doing with each moment here:
both holding and letting go.

 


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