Tag Archive | love

My daughter and the Open Road…

A mother only allows herself to feel  loss if she gifts it to herself. I find it is only for a short time that I grant myself this luxury this morning. My first born, my sweet daughter left this early morning to find new adventures in a new state, on her own, taking a road trip to explore with her courageous heart. I am so proud of her for listening to her inner voice that says to go  and find more, see more, learn and experience what this world has to offer. I envy her strength and the trust she must have in herself. She travels to a place she has never lived, no one she knows, to seek a job that is unknown and yet, she drives forward.

I lay in bed for hours thinking of the first time I saw her face and the beauty that was in her eyes. Her cries softened when I spoke to her for the first time and this morning, her tears flowed with mine. We bond as women and feel the magnitude of our love for one another. She has always been free but to wave goodbye, knowing this will be a further distance for us both, makes me want to cry out, “Stay! Stay a little longer. Let me hear your beautiful voice linger with your song, a little longer”.

My wish is that she knows how precious she is and has always been. She’s a grown woman now but I see all the years of her life through my eyes. I welcome all her years with open arms. The ones that have been and the years to come for her. I have been honored to love her every day and witness the beauty that she is. She is kind. She is loving. She is an artist. She is the smartest person I know with an intellect that defies this planet. She is a pioneer in the VR world of computers and I believe her name will be known long after she leaves this world. She continues to make her mark wherever she goes and her love has left a mark within my soul that is everlasting.

Go forward my girl! I will gather my tears and embrace them as I witness your path. I will be here and cheer you on in all your adventures. I will grieve for a little while and embrace your open road.  I will continue to love my life in all its various ways and I will always be grateful that I get to be your momma everyday!

I love you unconditionally and feel that in return. Knowing you has been and will always be my greatest treasure. Thank you for the gift of you! I love you with all of me!

C.S. Lewis and a Mountain of Faith

“The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just that time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.”
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

When I was 32 years of age, I found myself alone, dehydrated, exhausted and desperately attempting to climb down the face of a large mountain on the hottest day of the year. My water had run out, the lack of shade was everywhere and yet as I looked to the distant west, I could vaguely see the area where I knew my house was sitting, waiting for me.

That was 19 years ago and now as a 51 year old woman, I once again find myself staring at this quote that I read many years ago, after my mother passed away. She died a few years after my adventure on that mountain and C. S. Lewis’s book was the only book that I found any similarity to my grief, any resemblance to the pit of darkness that was found at my core of her loss. But this quote, hit a different nerve today. This quote was the description of my desperate heart that described my spiritual journey on that mountain that day. I had prayed over and over, hour upon hour, pleading to my god and yearning for an answer to guide me down that mountain, to inspire my mind and find the path that leads to my salvation. Over and over, I heard noises and saw patches of dirt that I thought might be my answers. I continually followed the promptings that must be from god. Each time, I was led to a dead end or a dangerous direction that led to no path, no answers, no guidance, no safety.

Where was the calming, warm  feelings that have always washed  over me in the past? Where was the inspiration of heart and mind to be guided down a safe and nearby path? Where was the loving feelings from a god that had always burst from within me, like before? This was life or death for me now! I wasn’t huddled in a warm church house praying with a congregation, or praying over food with my family. I was here, alone, exhausted with 15 hours of traversing under my belt! It was so hot, not even an animal or insect was out in these conditions. Where was god then? Where was his tender mercies then? Pleading eventually changed to hopelessness, than to giving up, than to anger and fueled by that anger  a rebuking of an absent god.  It was if I saw myself lay down on the hard, hot ground and wonder to myself….this is it? this is how I end? I felt each thought, each inquiry. What did I want? What was I waiting for? Was there no entity, no person, no divine creature to save me? A deep burning bubbled up from the center of me as I realized that there would be no one, no “thing”, no savior to rescue me. If I wanted to live, then I would take the anger, confusion and pleading energy within me and get off the ground and get myself off that mountain! No longer would I wait for anything to save me again. I traversed and traveled through thick piercing  oak and hot rocky dry land until I  heard the faint sound of a stream. I quenched my anger and replaced it with gratitude as I swallowed the cold liquid of life and eventually, a worn path and hours later,  to the arms of my loved ones.

As I was driven home, I remember the shock of experiencing something I had not experienced before. Not only did I become lost, confused and endure a test of my strength and endurance but  I had begged and pleaded with god and got nothing in return. Not a goose bump, not a tingle, not anything from within to ease my pleading soul and comfort my asking heart. I had always felt “something”. I couldn’t understand that when I needed my god the most, to guide me, to save me, to help me…I got nothing in return…nothing. What did I do wrong? Why did god abandon me? Here is when I could have inserted C. S. Lewis’s pattern of thought and choose to pick the “fill in the blanks” with how unworthy or too desperate I was to hear god’s promptings and peaceful spirit. I could once again give god the benefit of my  doubt and my questioning, like I had done previously, over and over again with issues where I questioned my faith.

As I returned into my house of safety, I found myself once again on my knees. I started to pray once again and almost immediately I felt the familiar warm sweeping peaceful waves flow over me. I realized at that moment, that god had not abandoned me, that he had not refused to save me. He wasn’t an unloving god that abandons his children when they need him the most. I wasn’t an undeserving sinner that wasn’t worthy of his love or guidance. No, not at all! I realized at that moment, that those peaceful, warm flowing feelings were not from god but generated by ME, by my own BODY and the chemicals that make up my bodily system!! I had produced them when I felt safe and watched over. I had produced them when I knew I was taken care of and my safe heart could welcome god’s love. I could produce them when I heard a beautiful song or a touching speech. I could replicate peace, warmth, tingles and goose bumps over and over ONLY when I knew I was safe, warm and loved. That’s how the body works! That’s how MINE works and many millions just like me. Only,  I had been taught by my religion, what those feelings were. I was taught to define “IT” as coming from god, something good, something “out there” watching over me, some divine, unique gift of the spirit, the holy ghost.

Sure, I could choose to follow C.S. Lewis and make up multiple reasons of why my answers to my prayers were not given on that mountain. I could tell myself that my answers were given, just not in the way I was accustomed.  I could give god another “out” for my denied expectations and once again blame myself for not being an open vessel for god to communicate efficiently within.

OR, I could realize that  our bodies secrete different hormones and chemicals that are based on our emotional and stressful states. When we are at rest, the pituitary secretes a parasympathetic response and when we are stressed, our bodies respond in a sympathetic way. One leads to peace, calming hearts, joy, feelings of euphoria and love, the other leads to restriction, fear, anger, stress and narrow focus.

The Holy Ghost didn’t abandon me! I defined the holy ghost by the perfectly natural feelings that happen when we are at peace and feel safe. Based on our chemical, genetic make up, these feelings are in everyone, generated by everyone and defined by everyone in unique  ways. How we define the reasons for these feelings are included and readily accepted as we grow up in our environments and are  taught by our teachers that surround our existence, either literally or by example within our communities.  I had attributed them to a god, a holy spirit, to basically  something external all my life! I hadn’t questioned the definition of those feelings until I experienced the extreme absence and the easily replicated feelings, once home safe and sound.

The totality of this revelation wasn’t fully embraced by me for years but this day marked the beginning of that path.  Now, when I see that C. S. Lewis quote, I’m reminded of how far I have come. I learned to get myself off that mountain. I learned that no one or thing that was external from myself  was going to save me and that I had all I needed within myself to get down that mountain. I saved myself and I am no longer a victim in my life, spiritually or physically.  I take full responsibility for the choices and decisions I make. I can fully embrace others as they are without the mesh of a mystic  god to blur my view. I have never felt more peace and authenticity since that day. That day,  I refused to offer up one more excuse for an absent god. I refused to pick up another self-created beating stick to hurt myself for not being  “good enough” for god to answer my prayers and  save my life.

There is no anger, no issue to deal with here. I am not full of resentment or have feelings of being abandoned by some unloving god, only enlightenment that I can and do define the experiences I have! That is the beauty of choice. When emotions are attached to my experiences, I have the freedom to define them, however they serve me and I have found that embracing science with its evidence and replicated results bring me a joy beyond I’ve ever experienced. There is a certainty there and yet there is still room for doubt, exploration and continued openness to new evidence and new discoveries to be found.

I have found a new sense of gratitude for my ancestors who have evolved so that I may experience my slice of consciousness in this life.  I am in awe of the beauty that surrounds me instead of wishing and hoping for something greater. This is great and it’s here now, with each breath. My heart and mind no longer hunger for the balm of Gilead. I find no comfort in believing that there may be something more after this life or that I will be reunited with loved ones that have gone on before. I can’t possibly know what happens after, it anything, but what I do know is that I have now, I have breath now. I see the faces of my children and my lover and I live in this moment, fully embracing them as they are… now. This life is all I have been given and I will embrace it for all it’s worth. Today is my eternity. There is nothing more promised. It is enough.

Some people may read this and become sad. They may think I’ve lost my faith and that I have refused to no longer reclaim it and in a way, they would be right. There is nothing revering to me when one claims they have faith without the realization that they have bought into the concepts that define that faith.  I have found that facts, research of evidence and an open mind to explore other explanations to be beautiful companions instead of faith.  In a way, I have a new faith. One where I need not look to be saved but to savor each breath as I walk, whether upon mountains or anywhere else this slice of consciousness takes me.

 

 

 

 

Death, a master teacher

When my mom passed away, it was a profound loss. As I felt the pain and the abyss of not having her here, I realized something that I had not before. I not only longed to see her, hold  her, kiss her and experience her but I felt the loss of having her see me as she had always done. No longer would someone look at me with unconditional loving eyes as hers. No more would I feel the warmth of her gaze and the way she saw me.

When we witness another, we are given the gift of expression. We can bring to life the emotions, desires and actions that drive us to express ourselves to the other.  It can be a hurtful and painful mirror of ourselves or a beautiful symphony of devotion and love. That was the mirror she reflected upon me, a mixture of a loving history, pure acceptance and joy. No one was like her. We are all unique. The realization is that, without her here, there is a loss that cannot be replaced. I do not get to witness her expression of love. I do not get to witness her anymore. Her face does not grow any older in my mind. She is eternally in my past. No new memories include her today. Friends I make today and my children’s  lives continue on without new memories of her. That is the reality of a death. That is the sting of the present moment.

So, we go on. We live our lives and create new memories and as we go along, we can reflect on the beautiful time when our expression could be received and witnessed by our loved one and we could actively embrace the gift of their presence. That is the beauty of life. That is why living now, in the present moment, aware and awake, that is our greatest gift to ourselves and to those around us who are our witnesses. For there will come a time, for us all, where our ability to witness and receive will end, for good.

There is a time for sadness, grief and darkness but out of the darkness of a loss comes the beautiful gratitude of having the opportunity to have witnessed one as beautiful as she. To have felt her love, even for a moment, stays with me for always. My heart delights that I was granted life and experienced the mirror she gifted to me. My hope is that those around me can see that reflection from me as well.

It seems our society doesn’t handle death very well. We look to chemicals to numb the pain or believe in fairy tales that life doesn’t end. To me this is dishonoring to those who are gone. The reality of loss, even though painful, can be embraced and infused into the experience of our existence. Coming through the darkness, into the light of gratitude is one of courage, acceptance and honoring for the beautiful one that once  took breaths with me.

Profound Interest

When I was getting my undergraduate degree in Psychology a few years back, I took an interpersonal relationships class taught by a powerful teacher. His name was Dr. Gardiner.  He spoke of an intimate relationship in which each person has a “profound interest” in the other. I had not heard that term before within a context of a relationship and over the years, this term has appeared over and over in my life as a guiding light for me. I see this term now as a tool for me in finding security within my most intimate relationship.

Recently, I have been wrestling with feelings of insecurity and jealousy. I have been an expert within my own mind for so long, I know that underneath all those feelings lie a blanket of fear that I seem to want to put on with frequency lately. This morning was no different.  After having an emotional laden dream about my love, I awoke with feelings of heavy dread and accompanied tightness within my gut as I recalled my detailed dream. I went through in my mind all the scenarios that cause me to feel that tightened grip on my soul. I thought of past stories and imagined future stories that would cause me to feel this way. It amazes me how the mind works…I am in awe of it and at the same time, frustrated with moments like these 😦   I recalled in my past how open, free and secure I had once felt concerning my love and felt perplexed again of how I can feel this depth of insecurity after having felt such a beautiful cocoon wrapped around me of security and confidence. I recalled no scenario where I would feel jealous, insecure or lacking. I remember having the feeling of, “Oh well, if those things happen, they were meant to happen. Nothing I could do but be all of me and trust all will work out in the end because in the end, the authentic truth of the relationship is honored above all fear.”  It seemed I had such confidence knowing the value of who I am and what my love offered. Yet, here I am, years later, struggling with that concept.

Suddenly, I heard the words, “profound interest” and I knew that above all else, I had a profound interest in my love like no other! Sure, there were others who were interested in him, to get a little taste of his charm, to feel his unabashed attention occasionally, or to check in with him when they were in need of a little guidance and wisdom.  But are they profoundly interested? I think about him during the day, wonder how his day is going, believe in his journey, desire for his goals and dreams to come true and desire that I am a part of that every day. I cherish the nights we get to be together, laughing, eating and exchanging wisecracks or serious discussions on relationships and freedom. He comes home to me every night and some of those nights are filled with passion and ectasy beyond any other experience of my life. I desire to grow old with this man, to be by his side, holding his hand down the path of twilight. It’s his lips I want on mine as I take my last breath. I am in love with his soul, who he is beyond the made up definitions we use to define ourselves and our place in the world.

My security does not lie in the external world or even in any external relationship. It is not determined by the actions or feelings of others.  My profound interest is the gift of security I give myself. It is mine, I own it, I feel it and when I fully embrace it, I  fully express it. If he finds some joy in this gift that is expressed, my fullness expands. It’s possible that another will show up in his life and experience profound interest as well and he for them. If it shows up in a deeper way for him, how beautiful for him. As painful as It would be for me, I trust his journey, with or without me.

Profound interest in another is rare and a gift that deserves to be cherished and celebrated. I celebrate my profound interest and I am forever grateful for this experience to love another in such a deep, authentic way.  Thank you my love, for the gift of your profound interest as well 🙂  and thank you Dr. Gardiner, wherever you are. Your words still guide me today. I am forever grateful!

The Mask

I found out yesterday that an acquaintance of mine has come to a place in her life where she has taken off her “garments”. She has done so not as an act of anger, rebellion or offensiveness but as a symbol of her progress to be authentic. When I heard the news, I immediately had chills and celebrated in my own mind. Yet, I know that when others hear the news, their hearts may feel the pangs of sadness, disappointment and grief.

It is so funny to me to have finally realized, late in life, that no matter the choices I make or actions I perform, there will always be someone who celebrates and one who mourns. I have found it liberating to finally stop trying to please any of those outside voices, even the voices I had created as speaking for God, and instead, turn to my own voice and ask, “What pleases you?”. My answers come through the balance of my mind, body and spirit. That is the voice I have come to trust.

It wasn’t an easy road to trust that voice. There are so many conflicting beliefs, philosophies and modes of thought that would lead me to question my voice. Questioning is good for me and as I find the courage to dig deeper into the questioning, I usually find that the premise of my confusion is layered in fear instead of love. As I choose love, acceptance is embraced and I am able to let go of any illusion to be “right”, “enough” or “in control”. Instead, I allow the acceptance of love and compassion for myself to guide me and I find that it spills onto those around me as well. What a fun discovery for me 🙂

I applaud my friend’s decision to step into the authenticity of herself and to finally attempt to lay down the mask that has been her life-long companion. I used to think that I was the mask I wore but I have come to realize that that was the mask I thought I had to wear to be loved, accepted, included, bonded and safe with those around me in my world and even to God. It never occurred to me that I was ripping everybody off, especially me, from my authentic self as i wore my mask. It didn’t dawn on me that as I wore the mask, the view from within was obscuring the vision of myself as well as others.

It was only after slowly taking off bits and pieces of the mask and not crumbling, as I thought my world would, that I experienced sunshine on my face, real sunshine, for the first time. I could allow in, the fullness of a love that I had always hoped existed but that the mask had prevented me to feel. I knew now, that if someone was angry, disappointed, embracing, loving, accepting or rejecting, at least they were genuinely feeling those things toward my authentic self and not some paper mache rendition of me. I could accept that truth. It felt free to let it all in, the darkness as well as the light.

As I put my mask down for the last time, there was a time for mourning, for forgiveness and for sorrow. The mask had served me well, had been my companion for so long and had been my vision of myself and what I thought others needed to see. As I lovingly put down my mask, tears rolled down my cheeks. I would miss the mask but I knew I couldn’t go back for it could no longer contain the contours of my face. As I walked away from a path well worn and stepped into the unknown, I kept a grateful heart and with my chin upturned, I faced the sun and smiled.

The Power of Beliefs, A Choice & The LDS Church

My nephew came to me today regarding a very serious matter that brought up so much of my own conflict regarding my self-created belief system, the LDS Church and my path in life as a young adult. He confided in me the conflict of his girlfriend in regards to their relationship, that is getting more serious by the day, and her beliefs in the LDS Church. She has put her beliefs in the dream vision of a temple marriage and activity in a church that warmly embraces all those who believe in the same view. Yet she is conflicted because of her love and passion for a young man who does not share these same beliefs. I believe it is a crossroads for her at this time in her life.

I feel her conflict for I shared strongly in a belief system that I found no longer coincided with my behavior and passions. I had to come to some type of resolution and in psychology, I learned that I can either stop the behavior that is in conflict with my chosen belief or change my beliefs. My belief in the truthfulness of a church that in my eyes, reflected God’s will, I had to change my behaviors and I  attempted to do so, over and over and over again. I had to see myself as “weak”, “being tested”, and “unworthy”, so that I felt the motivation that is required  towards repentance and change within the system.

With this type of belief system set in place and chosen freely of myself, I painted the picture of acceptance that only included a temple marriage, activity in the church, a forever family and a path that relies on the church to be my “parent” and dictate my self-worth, self-esteem, worthiness, and the exclusion/inclusion of people and behaviors in my life. This is a very serious position to allow in my life and dictated the most important decisions of my life. I gave the power of my beliefs to a church that I regarded as God. It never occurred to me to accept my beliefs as different from those of my parent (LDS Church). For to do  would be blasphemous, “giving in” to the sins of pride, disobeying God, or relying on the Self or the unclean “world” for my truth. I couldn’t accept that.

Instead I chose to accept a belief system that continued to bring me conflict for many years to come. It wasn’t until I was 35 years old that so many conflicts arose. After many years of trying to “squeeze myself into a box” that I believed the church supported and help create with me,  I finally came to accept, as quickly as a thought, my full Self, as I am. I chose LOVE. I chose to love myself, without judgement, without right or wrong, without good or bad, without redemption or hopes of the reward of an obscure afterlife.

In that moment, my vision expanded into a feeling of joy, love and abundance. I laughed with a giddiness like never before. I realized that all along I had a choice to believe in whatever way I chose. That I was the Creator of my life experience. I could choose the small boxes that others around me believed in, even a God that others professed to know or I could throw my hands up in full acceptance of UN-knowing. I didn’t NEED to be right anymore. I didn’t NEED to know truth anymore. I stood alone with my acceptance of Myself and conflict dissolved before me.

This new path wasn’t the easy path that some in the Church would profess. There was no “easy step by step plan” to adhere to, no “follow these things and we will call you worthy, chosen and righteous” plan.  There was no path set before me except for the steps I took with each breath. It was all new to me and each day I found myself looking within as the world seemed to shout at me, “ARE YOU SURE?”.  Since that moment, I have had no conflict arise again within myself. I refuse to demean, judge harshly, hate myself, or view myself with condemning eyes. I refuse to live another dishonest day within myself or towards others about who I am and what I am about. If a God somewhere at sometime does view me with judgement, I am ready. I stand naked before that God and utter, “Here I AM! Do with me what you will, for I followed my loving eyes and chose acceptance without judgement.” I would do it again and shout it from the rooftops over and over again, despite the consequences.

There were some around me who felt the pain from my decisions, who experienced a depth of loss that is beyond words. For that, I will sorrow with them but I sorrow for their choice of beliefs that caused them to feel what they experienced. It was never my intention to hurt anyone, EVER! I had to follow my path and I have continued to feel a sense of peace and spiritual connection like never before. I feel myself as a part of a divine Universe that needs no definition. I delight in the beauty of a spring day or a thunderous night. I see God in the eyes of my neighbor and I celebrate in loving arms that choose to hold me. I gave up on fear and guilt, shame and condemnation. In doing so, my eyes were opened to all paths and a never-ending exploration of a life that, for me, has no end.

I wish I could make my nephew’s  beautiful girlfriend see that she is the creator of her beliefs and that she doesn’t have to believe in theologies that stop her from experiencing a beautiful, loving relationship with a beloved young man, who loves her unconditionally and with tenderness. Nevertheless, her journey is her own and all that she feels, chooses and believes will be a step taken that is perfect and from which she will be able to look back on with full responsibility and gratitude for a life well chosen for herself and her journey.

Gained a Mountain Bike & Perspective

 

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I met an older woman yesterday in her home to buy a mountain bike of her daughter’s. It was a quick exchange but immediately saw that she was somewhat flustered because the power was out and she was trying to clean up her house and get ready. She somewhat reminded me of my mother. She mentioned that her daughter would be there soon and didn’t live with her anymore. She was in the process of cleaning carpets and getting rid of old toys and things from her basement. I could tell that having a clean house was very important to her.

Her grown daughter arrived and the mother hovered somewhat over us. I could tell that the daughter was quickly irritated by her mom’s behavior. The mother started to complain to her daughter about keeping the carpets cleaned and if we took the bike outside to test drive it, she couldn’t bring it back inside because the carpets would get messy. Exasperation exhaled out of the daughter’s mouth as we headed for the basement door. I mentioned that one day, she might miss that about her mom. She quickly responded that she’s been out of the house for quite some time now and doesn’t miss it at all. It struck me that some mother/daughter relationships were not the kind that I had with my mother. It made my heart hurt a little to hear them irritate each other and I knew that there must be layers of issues underneath all that frustration and irritation. On the outside, this family’s house looked nice and tidy with an initial church presence of the dominant religion but as I listened and observed the energy between these two women, I knew that there was so much more not being said.

It doesn’t have to be this way between them. I’m sure that they have lived this dynamic with each other for so long that they expect and believe that their relationship is typical and acceptable. I wonder how many other families go through life accepting resentment, frustration and feelings of annoyance with each other, not ever realizing that it could be, oh so different. I immediately saw that kindness and respect were not present between these women.  I wonder that if they took the time to take a breath, remove themselves from the game playing and instead infuse some patience with kindness, a shift may occur that they never experienced before. The moment of choice of something kinder or compassionate could be the “little something” that causes a shift, an interruption to their usual banter.

I wish all relationships could remember that at that moment of contention, tightness in the chest and tension felt in the air, that instead one would, in their heart, take a step back and choose kindness instead of defensiveness, and understanding instead of judgement before hurtful words come tumbling out of a heart of pain. This world would be a better place, not just for everyone, but for the Self as well.