Posted in adventure, happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, manifestation, Musings, People, random, women

The Longest Night

I have never lived in a place like this before, with this strange juxtaposition of wealth and wildness, this funny mix of such salt-of-the-earth people and streets full of empty summer homes, front steps blanketed in untouched snow. The people here are friendly but mostly quiet, and it often feels as though I am too much. Too loud and too chatty and too…other. It’s nothing new to me, but that doesn’t make it pleasant. I want very much for people to like me, and eventually they tend to come around, but…these are very strange times. With the pandemic and having just arrived here, and now winter…well; strange times, strange situation.

Still, I have the feeling that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. As uncomfortable and unsettled as I still am, I have nothing but time and space to face things that need facing. As I mentioned in my last post, there are things right on the surface now that were so easy to push down before. I am seeing things about myself that I suppose I always knew existed, but I could bury or flick away with the distractions of my busy, routine life.

And if you are bored of reading about me figuring myself out, you are more than welcome to go find a crafting blog or some TV review or something. I really don’t care. This is probably more for myself than anyone else anyway. I’m just trying to sort things out.

So here is where I’ve landed- I can’t be mad at myself for being myself. I can wish all day long that I were some other type of person, I could strive like mad to be quieter, or more of this and less of that, and maybe I could even manage it for a minute, and then beat myself up when I dropped the act again and went back to being me. I might just as well try to be a goddamn frog. I could do that for a minute, but eventually I’d be a human again, right? I am me, and if that is too much for some people, well that’s fine. They can do and think what they like. My job is to stop worrying about that so much. How in the world can I ever be okay with who I am if I’m looking to everyone else to tell me I’m okay?

And that is not to say that I can just lay back now and say “fine, fine, I’m done with myself, let’s eat popcorn and melt into the couch.” No, of course not. There is still so much I would like to untangle and resolve. But I have to work within the boundaries of who I am. I cannot become a different person, but I can become a better iteration of myself.

Maine is a really good place to get started. Because here I can see how very much I get in my own way. How desperately I cling to old routines while just as desperately I long to do other, better things. How fiercely the two halves of myself battle for control. It was much easier to keep up appearances when there were people around to keep them up for. But here, it is just me, and all my messy, strange thoughts and habits, all dumped out on the floor and needing to be picked through.

Today is the longest night of the year, and it is a deeply significant marker of time, ancient. Though winter has just begun, already the days will grow longer, a promise of spring and the rebirth of the world on the horizon. It seems fitting to me that I think about these shadowy things this morning- that I face the truths I keep hidden, and stop running from them. Because you know, it really isn’t working.

So what is the point? What can I do then, with all these bits and pieces that are becoming heavier the longer I drag them around? I think…I think I just need to accept them. To accept myself, just as I am, right where I’m at. And not grudgingly, either. But with love and tenderness. The dark parts and the awkward parts, and even the maddening parts. I need to stop wishing to be someone I will never be, and concentrate on loving who I am. I need my own love more than I’ve ever needed anyone else’s. I think we all do.

These are awfully burdensome thoughts for such a joyous time of year, but I need to release them. And I think we can all agree that this has been…such a hard year. If you haven’t come face to face with your deeply hidden self at least once or twice, I’d be surprised. But you know, I believe we deserve to have peace. I was going to say “be happy” but happiness the way I think of it isn’t something we can have all the time. It’s a feeling that comes and goes. Peace is something we can hang onto a bit more reliably.

These are the things I will be working on as I enjoy this longest night, and as I greet my first winter in New England- loving and accepting myself, facing the truth of who I am, changing as much as I am able because it will help me find peace…not because it will help others think better of me. This is my one precious life as me, I have no idea who I’ll wind up as next time around. I certainly want to make the most of it. So I am choosing to go forward as bravely as I am able, with an open mind and open eyes.

Happy Solstice to you all.

Posted in adventure, faith, family, happiness, Holidays, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random

Monday Musings

After a fabulous Thanksgiving of my favorite sort- the kind where I have to do absolutely nothing besides show up and eat- where I miraculously avoided thinking mournfully about my family even once, and then a slow Friday after, where I may have done a tad too much online shopping, and then ventured over to Ogunquit to poke around, I was worried I’d used up all my luck. My happy luck, you know? Because I’ve been a bit of a mess since I’ve gotten here, struggling to right myself.

But Saturday was really good, too. My friend and I and our daughters drove up to Durham, Maine to a little craft fair at a farm and yoga center in the middle of the woods. Because pretty much everything is in the middle of the woods out here. The drive there and back took longer than our time at the market, but then that’s half the fun, really. I never get tired of looking at the houses here.

Yesterday dawned sunny and crisp, and Camryn and I took a nice long walk along our road which happens to be the same road that winds along the beach. On the way back, we stopped at the beach near our house, and for the first time in forever, my heart felt light and happy. I threw the ball for Lucy and played on the swings with Camryn. It was her idea to finally head home, and honestly, I don’t remember that ever happening before. For a brief moment there, I was content to let the moment unfold, to be where I was, to let myself not take the lead for once.

The thing about Maine is that it takes a long while to get anywhere, no matter where you are going. Sometimes this is a pain. But on a beautiful November day, when the sun is shining and everything looks like pictures from a calendar or a glossy magazine, it’s no trouble at all. We drove slowly into New Hampshire, listening to podcasts and pointing out sights to each other. We visited Aldi’s and picked up lunch from Chipotle, and overall had a lovely day. So many cars had Christmas trees strapped to the top, and every time you drive down a road you’ve been down before, it has changed a little bit. I love that.

Sometimes, when I am feeling happy I become aware of it, and I become nervous that it will end. I try to hang onto it, push too hard up against it, and inevitably ruin it with my grasping. But these last few days…I have been willing to allow the feelings to come or go, just enjoying whatever shows up.

I think part of it is that I’ve settled on the idea that this move is not meant to be forever. I’m keeping an open mind, of course, but believing that there is an expiration on this leg of the adventure makes it feel so much more enjoyable. And that’s really all I wanted, was to enjoy myself. To have these moments where I can hang, suspended in the wonder that surrounds me, existing right where I am for a while.

The holidays can be rough for people. They have been rough for me in the past, even when things were normal and going well. This year, I hope to fill the season with all the joy and wonder it deserves, because…no matter where I am, I’ll never get this time back again. And where I am right now is pretty extraordinary.

Posted in faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, manifestation, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

No Complaints Here

When I first moved into this house over five and a half years ago, one of the first things I noticed was the birds. Because I get up so much earlier than most people, I am privy to the quietest parts of the day, when all of the birds are in charge of the world. I am not a bird watcher in the technical sense. I don’t know much about them at all, really, though I can tell the difference between a crow, a gull, and a hummingbird- those are the ones that hang out with me the most. I was just sitting outside, listening to the crows cawing and watching my hummingbirds at the feeder, thinking…I will miss this part. My porch and the birds, and the view from right here.

But it’s time. If everything continues to go smoothly (as smoothly as a move of this magnitude can go, anyway) and I do, indeed, find myself sitting on another porch, overlooking another view, a month from today…then I am at peace with that. And you know what? If everything falls through (though I truly hope it doesn’t) and for some reason I am sitting on the same porch, looking at the same view, a month from today…well, I will be at peace with that, too. Okay, that feels like a lie a little bit, but the point is- my life is really blessed, any way you crack it.

I’ve wasted my time on two long posts that were nothing but stories about stress and worry and complaints, and…you’ll never see them. You know why? None of that shit even matters. All the things I am worried about will fall into place. All of my stress will be for nothing. Complaining doesn’t help at all.

Everything is going to be okay. And when I get caught up in worries, stress, and complaining, I cut myself off from my intuition. Self-doubt garbles the message and makes me second guess myself. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to keep going, step by step, and have faith in myself and faith in the universe.

Things have a way of working out, this much I do know.

I really will miss my hummingbirds, though. Maybe I’ll send the new tenants a feeder and ask them to please look after them. I think I will do that.

Posted in adventure, faith, family, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Life, magic, manifestation, Mental Health, Musings, People, random, travel

Where Do I Even Begin…?

You can’t see me, I know, but after I wrote the title, I sat here wide-eyed with my hands out, palms up, in the classic “WTF?” pose. For two days, I have been ignoring my desperate need to get this all out, commit it to the screen and perhaps untangle even a small corner of the mess that is spreading into every corner of my brain. Even my sleep isn’t safe anymore, my dreams just one more running commentary (albeit, a very abstract commentary) of the chaos within and around me.

But where do I start? Should I dive right in? The last time I posted was like July, I’m pretty sure, on a day where I felt peaceful and was yammering on about acceptance. Then I went quiet for a while. Stuck in the weird global pandemic time-warp where every day blends into the next and you’re just treading water, waiting for something to change. The only thing that changed was things looked like they were going to get better for a minute, so I went into the office for the first time since March a total of two times, and then…the shit hit the fan in a big way here in California, and they told us to stay home again. Thank God. Then the entire west coast caught on fire for months- pretty sure there’s a bunch of it still on fire, though I’ve honestly stopped keeping track- and the pervasive feeling of doom just crept closer.

In August, during the two minutes when things appeared to be returning to a more normal routine, I had booked a flight and Airbnb in Maine. By the time my trip rolled around, I wasn’t sure if I should go or not. And maybe it was selfish and stupid of me to follow through with it, but my mental state demanded that I feed it some type of happiness before it fell into a pit of despair, so…off I went for a Covid swab and a plane ride across the country.

There were 72 people on our flight, including the crew. Rows of empty seats following the fastest TSA check in line I’ve ever experienced- and that includes me having to go back through the detector thingy three times AND get patted down (Still no idea what the hell was setting the thing off). Everyone wore masks and gave each other as much space as they could. Mostly, I tried not to think about it.

Maine, once again, exceeded my expectations. I was in Mid-coast Maine this time, in Bristol, near Pemaquid Point. Trust me when I tell you, if you are looking for a socially distant vacation, this is the place to be. The cottage looked directly out onto the water- I could throw a rock and hit the inlet if I’d wanted to. But mostly, I just wanted to look at it, the old Atlantic ocean…it really does feel older to me than the Pacific, for some reason. Older, more serious, more magical. At night, you can see the milky way with your eyes, and more stars than you even believe can exist. There is no light pollution, no sound to interrupt the wind in the trees and the rhythmic pulse of the water on the shore. For the first time in months, I could breathe again. The worries of the world- the pandemic, politics, distance learning, tragedy and mayhem…they faded into the background, where they belong.

And while I was there, something pretty incredible happened…but I’m out of time, so dammit! You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear the rest of the story. My apologies, I really want to tell this the right way!

Posted in Dreams, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mindfulness, Musings, People, random

Acceptance

So, I have been writing on this blog since 2012- that’s eight whole years. In that time, I have written close to 600 posts. That’s a lot! That’s so many posts that, even when I don’t write for a very long time, I get visitors to this site every single day. I don’t really pay attention to which posts they are viewing. About once a week, someone new will discover this place and go crazy, reading thirty or forty posts in a row. I like it when that happens, I’m not gonna lie. There’s some validating feelings that emerge when I see that go down.

But I have changed a lot in that time. So much, in fact, that sometimes I think about going back and getting rid of some of my older posts. Although I can’t recall everything I’ve written here, I know some of it would be embarrassing to me now. I know I have overshared and said things that no longer represent the woman I am today. But…you know, I’m not gonna do that. If you read through my posts from start to finish, I think…I hope, anyway, that you would see the slow evolution of a human being who is trying to find her way. I think you would see a lot of growth, even if it was painful and awkward sometimes. Even if there were lots of “one step forward, two steps back” situations. Slowly and steadily, I have progressed.

I believe, when I started all of this, that there was some part of my subconscious mind that thought I would eventually “arrive” at a place where I would be complete. I would know it when I got there, right? It would be a place where I was generally happy and joyful, my relationships would be easy and healthy, I would be mature and confident, and all of my laundry would be done. My mismatched sock basket would be empty, my bathroom counters would be wiped down at all times. I would know what we were having for dinner for the entire week ahead. Basically, I thought I would be perfect.

Not only was that vague idea incredibly far off the mark, but…it was harmful. Harmful because I didn’t realize I was reaching for perfection, a thing that doesn’t exist, and trying to get there was making me feel like a failure. I have been in so much pain because I couldn’t manifest perfection. I have resented my beautiful life because it didn’t match up to my idealistic daydream.

The chaos and tumult of the world since the beginning of this pandemic has thrown me headfirst into the chasm where my shadow dwells. Already halfway submerged when all of this started, I found myself very quickly sucked under. For a good while, I was afraid that I would drown. I didn’t know what that would look like, exactly, but I won’t pretend I wasn’t afraid. “I shouldn’t be feeling this way!” I kept telling myself, “Look how good I have it, I should be- (enter whatever shiny adjective caught my eye at the moment)” As my old sponsor would say, I was “shoulding all over myself”.

A few things transpired in the past few days that have opened my eyes. One was the word “acceptance” which kept popping into my head. I am not sure, but I’d be willing to guess, that I’ve written on this topic before. Smart as I am, it takes me a while to understand things, though. Sometimes I think I get it, and I will keep thinking that until I REALLY get it. Sometimes your understanding just deepens over time.

Here’s the thing- I’ve been wanting to do all this stuff! Move across the country, maybe for a year, maybe forever. Buy a house- maybe in Maine, but also maybe somewhere closer, for just a while, until I can work out how to get to Maine. But I also want to keep my job, and finish a book, and make money from that, while I work on my mental health, my spiritual life, getting my house together. I was flopping around like a fish on a line. Then the pandemic hit. All my tentative “plans” got blown away, who knows how far. No travel, no freedom, no reprieve, even, from my beloved daughter. Just her and I, this house and work, day in and day out, at this computer. My need to bolt became frantic, the shedding of tears became a daily event, and every single one of my worst qualities came raging to the forefront.

That’s when “acceptance” showed up. Not the act, the word, in my head, over and over, until I decided to examine it. Here is what I discovered: My desire to be different than I was, to have a life I couldn’t have right now, to be someone I am not, was the root of the problem. This is who I am. This is where I am. This is how it is. Be here, embody it, feel it, accept it.

Yesterday, Camryn and I walked the whole length of a long beach at low tide early in the morning. There was only us and a few surfers, a couple, and a dog or two running around. Camryn didn’t want to be there, but she had no choice. By the time we made it to the tide pools, she was the happiest she’d been in weeks. We saw starfish and countless sea anemones, pelicans, sandpipers and one very excited sparrow. Camryn, in that moment, was a perfect example of acceptance. She rode the figurative wave, and, after a moment of resistance, she stopped fighting what she couldn’t control, and guess what? She enjoyed the moment. So did I, a reminder that no one is forcing me to stay inside my house. There are still things I can do, places I can go to escape and to breathe. It’s not really my life that is giving me trouble, it’s my attitude about my life. It’s my fear and my grasping.

And finally, sometimes…there’s this weird thing that happens. Someone will ask a question and when you answer it, you realize it was an answer you’d been trying to come up with for yourself. A truth you didn’t know you knew. Someone asked why she used to be so happy in her twenties, but now, in her thirties, she just didn’t feel so joyful all the time. I explained to her that as you get older and wiser, you view life through different eyes. The rose colored glasses come off, and you see more truth and nuance, more depth. Fighting to return to a place in time that is gone, and a person who has evolved, is futile and painful. That’s what I told her. And then it hit me. That also applied to me! I can’t go back. I can’t jump ahead. All I can do is be here, where I am.

Acceptance does not mean I am giving up my dreams. It just means I can stop trying to force a change that isn’t ready to occur. I can relax and quit flopping around at the end of the line I am caught on, wearing myself out. I can stop pulling so hard at the hook in my cheek, stop making the pain so much worse. I can rest. I can gather my thoughts and my strength, so that when the time is right, I will be ready to set myself free. Today, right now, is not the time for me to move forward.

That is acceptance. That’s my take on it, anyway. This time around. Stay tuned, who knows what my take on it will be next time. Hahaha! Happy Sunday. Stay well.

Posted in Addiction, adventure, faith, happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, Mental Health, Musings, People, recovery, spirituality, women

1,825 Days

On this day, five years ago, I woke up and chose to stop putting drugs into my body. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it both is and isn’t a simple thing. You have to understand, and I know it’s hard if you haven’t lived it, but…when you are deep in the throes of addiction your brain tells you stories, and, because it’s your own brain talking to you in your own voice, and because you are very sick and things aren’t right inside of you, you no longer have the discretion to discern the truth from the lies. Your brain tells you that you can’t just stop on a dime- you have to plan ahead, you need to wait for the weekend, you just need to finish off the rest of the dope you have. You’ll have to call in sick, you need someone to help with the kids, tomorrow would be better, next month would be better. It’s going to be so hard. It’s going to feel so bad.

The truth is, you only need to be ready. Before you are ready, nothing will make it work. And nothing can force you to be ready until you arrive there on your own. That place looks different for everyone.

I want to share a part of my story that I’ve been reluctant to speak about for a couple of reasons; I am not in recovery, not in the traditional sense, anymore. One year ago in February, I made the decision to leave the 12 Step world and live life as a free agent. I was terrified, honestly. I had found myself thinking, for quite some time, that I wasn’t comfortable with defining myself by my addiction anymore. I was tired of rehashing the sordid details of my former life in order to identify with the newcomer. Healing from something while reliving it constantly began to feel counter-intuitive. I had done everything that was asked of me, all of it. Service work, step work, meeting attendance, and I felt I was at a crossroads- it was time for me to start sponsoring women or time to move on. I agonized over this decision. I worried that my brain was lying to me again, that I would leave and somehow, though it seemed impossible to me, wind up on drugs, right back where I’d started. But I knew that in order to sponsor women in their most vulnerable time, I had to be committed. I had to buy what I was selling 100%. Lives were at stake. And that made my choice pretty easy. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell someone there was only this one way to live for the rest of their lives because I no longer believed it was true. So, I left.

At first, it was really weird. But, once I found my footing, I realized this choice was the right one for me. I thought I was endangering myself by walking away, but what I did was…I set myself free, and gave myself permission to live my life the way I chose. I trusted myself to make good decisions. And it was the most loving thing I have ever done for me.

The reasons I have been hesitant to share this are not far-fetched at all. I would never, ever want to encourage another person to follow me out of recovery. Every one of us is different, and I think that, scared as I was of breaking from the norm, I knew in my heart that I was done with dope. I knew I wasn’t going back to that life. So, I don’t talk about it because I don’t want to give people the wrong idea, you know?

The second reason is…I don’t want to take away from the fact that I have accomplished something fucking marvelous. I know what my friends in recovery are going to think about this, because I thought the same exact way- pretty sure I even wrote a rude blog about it here somewhere: It only counts if you do it THIS WAY. Well, I’m sorry, but that just isn’t true for me. You know what is true? That my life is not ruled by substances of any kind anymore. That I don’t have to hide or lie or feel ashamed of myself because of the way I am living. That, in the past five years, I have made fundamental changes to my life that have allowed me to become the woman I had wanted so badly to become. The woman I was afraid I had lost all chance of ever being.

So no, I am not in recovery anymore. But that doesn’t change the fact that this morning, when I woke up and thought about what that number meant- One thousand eight hundred and twenty five days- I wasn’t overwhelmed with gratitude. I thanked God profusely and sobbed because my life is so incredibly beautiful. The freedom, the healing, the changes…they are so precious to me. The difference between who I am right now and who I was on this very day five years ago is profound.

When I shared that I didn’t go to meetings anymore with a friend of mine a while back, she said to me “Oh, so you’re cured?” in that “tone” one can get when they think they know something you don’t. Today, I would like to say this- I might not ever be cured completely, but I’m closer than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m free. I’m not afraid of myself anymore. I trust me. I’m so proud of myself. And nothing anyone else thinks about the way I move through life can change that.

So, happy anniversary to me.

Posted in advice, faith, family, health, home, inner peace, kids, Life, living, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, social media

Strange Times

It’s been a while, I know…possibly the longest I’ve gone without posting in over a year! I didn’t plan on this long hiatus, it just sort of happened. I got off of Facebook, and the silence and space that created in my life felt so good that it just sort of rolled over into everything else. I suppose you could say I was practicing “social distancing” in a pretty hardcore way before it was even cool.

Seriously, though- I had planned on resuming my posts while I was on vacation this week in Maine. As you can guess, those plans fell to the wayside in the face of the current SciFi movie that is reality right now. I was very conflicted all last week about whether to stay home or go ahead and go. Looks like I made the correct decision. It would suck to be trapped in a hotel room on the other side of the country right now, and that is probably exactly what it would have ended up being. There’s nowhere we can go to escape this thing right now, unfortunately.

That being the case, what we can do, though limited, is pretty simple. We can follow the instructions being given to us by our local officials. And if you feel like your local governing body isn’t quite up to speed, you can certainly take it upon yourself to do your part- stay home, limit contact to those living in your household, limit trips outside the house to necessities. Stop complaining- we all are well aware that the stores are out of toilet paper and pretty much everything else. Suck it up. Freaking out isn’t helping anyone. Be responsible about what you post and put some thought into what you believe- in other words, don’t incite panic in others and check the facts before you assume something is true.

This is a scary time right now! There is no arguing that fact. For sure this is the strangest event I have ever witnessed unfolding in my lifetime. It sure does change things, doesn’t it? I can’t speak for you, but for me…it’s made me realize a few things. One of them is the crazy amount of things I take for granted on a daily basis. I have never not been able to easily get whatever I needed from the store. I have never been told to stay inside, or had to be afraid to run into the grocery store. I have zero experience with being anything less than absolutely free to do as I please, and I promise you, when this is over with, I will view that freedom with a lot more appreciation.

Another thing I’ve realized is…I really want to live. I don’t mean just survive this thing, either, which of course is also true. I mean…holy shit, you guys! Life is finite. Of course we all know this on a certain level, but it seems like I just assume that I have all this time to do whatever, you know? But now…now I just want to gobble up all the experiences the same way I am gobbling up all the food in this house- with rash abandon.

I think we are all getting a very good lesson in living in the moment. None of us know what tomorrow holds- this has always been true, but now the point is really being driven home. So enjoy this day. Enjoy your children’s sweet faces, enjoy your good health, enjoy the quiet world. Take care of yourself, and take nothing for granted. We’ll get through this, one way or another.

Wishing you all safety and good health. Make wise decisions, for yourself and for all of us. Hang in there.

Posted in adventure, advice, Blogging, friendship, fun, Goals, happiness, inner peace, Learning, Life, manifestation, meditation, Musings, People, spirituality

Hi There!

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Me, excited to share my new endeavor with you all.

I just wanted to pop in here real quick and let you guys know that I am in the process of setting up a whole new WordPress blog! I am still trying to iron out all the kinks- the set up has changed a whole lot since I started this blog a million years ago, and it is making me feel like a goddamn dinosaur…maybe I should enlist the help of my 8 year old? She’s basically a part-time coding expert, thanks to countless hours of Roblox and freaking…what’s it called? That other one all the kids are gaga over? Anyway, whatever.

So, this will be something different for me! You know, my life has changed so very much over the past five years. I’ve grown up, finally, in so many ways. I will always still come here, to After The Party, to share parts of my life. But I am wanting to try something new, and I thought “Why not?”

For the longest time, every morning, before I would pray and meditate, I would read a…well I guess you could call it a devotional? Those short little daily readings to sort of set the tone for your day? I had trouble, eventually, finding ones that resonated with me. Too Christian, too cheesy, too out there. So I just stopped looking.

Well, lately, I have been keeping this running Word document where I would write (for myself) a little nugget of inspiration that sort of filtered into my brain from the ether. Sometimes it happened during or right after my prayer and meditation, sometimes it just popped into my head randomly out of nowhere, but whenever it happened, I knew that was the one- that was my idea for the day.

So, I’d run over to my desktop and pull up the document, and flesh out the little sliver I’d been given. I found that I was suddenly able to keep things relatively short and sweet (which you all know, if you read anything I write here, can be a bit challenging for me) and get to the point pretty easily. I’ve been collecting them for a while now.

They aren’t doing me any good just sitting in my computer. Well, they might be doing me some good, but I’m all about sharing. Plus, what a great way to make sure I write something daily, right?

So PLEASE, keep your eyeballs peeled for the updates, and follow my new blog when I post a link, if you feel like you might get something out of it…even if it is just a laugh. Look for “Notes From Elsewhere”. Coming soon to a WordPress site near you. 🙂

Posted in faith, inner peace, Life, meditation, Musings, People, spirituality

Redefining Holy

Holy

Holy: adjective; Exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness or righteousness.

When I think of the word holy, I can’t help but think of churches. Churches and bibles and the feeling of a big, scary God that I neither long for nor understand. A punishing God with rules I can’t reconcile, who speaks in a language that must be explained to me by someone deemed more worthy. The book they say he left for us is one of the only ones I have picked up countless times, only to put it right back down again. The God I think of when I first hear the word “holy” is a God that leaves me empty and cold. This is a God made by men, in their image, a God of religion, control, fear, money. A God corrupt.

There is another God for me, and he has been with me all my life. I say “he” only because that is how I’ve always thought to call him, but it’s meaningless. The God I know is neither female nor male, he has no face that I have ever seen. This God has filled me with comfort in moments of great despair. He carried me through the battles I fought against myself for all those years. He never left me, never turned his back. If ever he was out of reach, it was because I was closed off, because I had pulled away.

Most of September and some of October were hard for me. Looking back, I see that it was me who caused the shift. I stopped my morning ritual of prayer, I stopped meditating. I got caught up in other things- new relationships, vanity, concentrating on the way things look and not the way things feel. I held steady for a while, coasting on the fumes of all the months of work that I’d put in before. But soon enough, I was empty. Nothing left to give, aimless and unhappy.

I’ve come back down to earth again. Sat on my cushion, day after day, lighting the candles and saying my prayers until the words stopped sounding forced, until I felt like I was being heard again. Eventually, the conversation seemed to flow both ways, although it was only I who spoke. My God speaks directly to my spirit. I may not hear him, but the message gets through, loud and clear. Meditation stopped feeling like a task to be accomplished and became, once more, a slow fall into peace. I often sit long after the bell sounds, reluctant to let go of the soft ebb and flow of my breath.

And just like that, all the things began to fall into place. The pace of my world slowed, leaving time to linger over sunsets, time to gaze at the sky and the moon. Just like that, peace returned and I felt like myself again.

I think I will change what I think of as holy. There is nothing more holy to me than the sacred hours before sunrise, as I light my candles and sit on my cushion, in communion with the God I know. The God who loves me just as I am, no matter who that might be today. The God who reminds me that it is not he who must forgive me, but I who must forgive myself. My God does not recognize sin, does not judge my mistakes, does not leave anyone out. The God I know asks me to be gentle with myself when I have been hard on others, helps me to soften my edges, reminds me who I am- no worse and no better than anyone else.

When I think of what is holy now, I will think of the orange sky and the blazing yellow sun as it sinks into the blue-black sea. I will think of the cold, salty air on my skin and the sight of my daughter picking her way across the rocks back to me. I will think of leaving the sunset behind me and turning a bend in the road to find an impossibly perfect moon hanging before me in the sky. Holy is the warm light of the lamp in my dark living room, the scent of incense, the alter on my shelf of stones and feathers, sage and shells. Above all else, holy is the depth of the peace in my heart as I write this, the certainty that I have returned to myself.

Posted in aging, faith, happiness, inner peace, Life, love, Musings, People, relationships, women

Love

love

August 28th, 2017 was the worst day of my life so far. It was the day I found out that the man who stole my heart 22 years earlier had been killed in a motorcycle crash the night before. I took the next two days off of work, and cried harder and longer than I have ever cried before in my life.

Now, lest you get the wrong idea, I want to be very clear here- he and I hadn’t been together for 22 years. If you strung together all of the days we spent together, through the years, it might equal two years, maybe three. But I feel like I thought about him every day. Whether or not that is actually true, I can’t say for sure. But it feels like it is true.

I have a peculiar glitch in my system, I think. When I let someone into my heart for real, there is no backing out. Once I love you, I love you always. It doesn’t matter what transpires, or how our paths might diverge. My heart is loyal to a fault, even when my actions and words are not.

But when I was 20, I fell in love with this man, and I loved him exactly the way a 20 year old girl would- in a crazy, hopeless way. And I am so glad I did. I am so glad I got to experience that kind of love. Over the years, I learned from those feelings the way love can evolve and become something else. Friendship and deep, deep affection. It wasn’t the same at the end, but in some ways it was better, you know? I got to experience this whole spectrum of love with him, and it has never stopped. I love him, still. He might not be here in person to tell it to, but I haven’t stopped talking to him, I haven’t stopped the conversation. Death is no barrier to love, I know that now.

In my last relationship, I learned even more about love- things I didn’t necessarily want to know, but have been valuable lessons just the same. I learned that love is not, in fact, all you need. You need other things, too- things like trust, respect, communication. Without those things, all the love in the world cannot save you. I learned that you can love someone with all your heart and hate the things they have done, and it is a struggle to grasp how this person could be capable of these things. I learned that heartbreak can change you, perhaps for good, and at the very least for a long time. Most importantly, I learned to be careful who I gave my heart to, because I do, indeed, have a particular glitch that makes my love permanent, and the repercussions of that are many.

And now, here I am, doing it again. Right now it’s little baby love, or maybe a precursor to love, and it is…lots of things. Thrilling. Scary. Awesome. Beautiful. Exciting. Worrisome. All of the things. I haven’t talked about it yet. I am old enough to know that time will tell, and that there is no harm in seeing how things unfold. But I love being fully present for all of the unfolding. I love the changes in me that allow me to be grateful and aware of the good things that are being dropped, one by one, like little gifts, into my life. I love having someone to turn to who is also turning towards me. I am on this new, unexpected journey, and I am just along for the ride. I have never done things this way before. It is good.

The thing I love most of all, though, is learning once again of my heart’s capacity to love. No matter how broken or battered it has been, eventually, it is ready to try again. It has room for one more. I can let someone else in, and never lose the ones that are already there. My heart is amazing. My ability to love is amazing. I may not be an expert, but I know a thing or two. And I am learning new things all the time.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that love is the reason we are on this earth. Learning how to love one another, how to treat one another, how to exist in a loving way with all the souls we travel with. I see how my ability to love and be loved has evolved, and I think I am getting better at it. I hope I am. Only time will tell. For now, I am content to continue figuring it out, knowing, as I do now, that I can survive whatever comes. If I survived through August 28th, 2017…I can can make it through anything.

I miss you, Joe. Can’t wait to see you again someday.