The heart wants what it wants. If the heart wants something that triggers intense pain or strong reactions, resist the urge to shut it down. The goal is not to repress what the heart is stirred to express (hopes, losses, despairs, longings) but rather to hold it all in love….and then release. Staying in the flow of life means feeling what needs to be felt. This alone does not make you a victim of life–it’s the story you tell about the feelings that create liberation or victimization.art by Lori Portka.
I’ve had a huge amount of
crap healing work surface this past week. The kind of stuff that a year from now I will look back on and muse, that was so powerful and worth every painful moment. But when you are living it? Total and utter bologna.
In fact, I have decided 2016 has largely been a very difficult year and I’m quite ready to ring in 2017 thankyouverymuch.
Let me list the reasons why 2016 royally sucked:
- Miscarriage (for a pregnancy due on the day my mom died….ouch.)
- Continued grief for loss of my mother and ripple effects from that loss
- Gawker went under (this was a big one)
- Trump was elected president
- and, saving the best for last, a ton of unexpected childhood trauma healing work. (Ok, maybe not totally unexpected. I decided to break my silence and share my story publicly for the first time, which meant that ten people who read my blog saw it, but trust me even that was a huge huge deal for me. So let’s just say the gates had cracked open a bit.)
Now, since I’m an optimist and someone who makes an effort to choose hope, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that I could easily list all the beautiful transformations that occurred this past year. A list that is longer than that craptastic list. But for today, I want to wallow a little.
So wallow I will. Stomp my foot and raise a fist to injustices. Grrrr!!
Oh, but the point of this post (other than a little bit of poor me) was to tell you about my dreams I had this past week. They are little sign posts keeping me going.
The first dream was about a week ago. In the dream I was giving birth and up until this point in the dream the whole process had been so effortless–dare I say easy and painless? (clearly this is a dream)–but suddenly in the dream I felt stalled, and I knew that I was going to have to make one final push, and endure some pain, to give birth.
WELL I’M PUSHING NOW AND IT DEFINITELY HURTS.
And then last night, a dream where I am in a high school type of science classroom. We were all at seats with a microscope. Our instructions were to inject ourselves with some type of shot and then we were to examine the wound under the microscope.
I was reluctant to do the shot to the arm because I was afraid it would hurt, but it didn’t! And then I examined the wound up close. It was fascinating.
So hear we are. Enduring some pain, examining old wounds. Fun times.
But boy, (metaphorical) birth is close, I can feel it.
I was going to write about grief but even I am tired of writing about grief. I know, you probably didn’t think it was possible. I gotta say you all are pretty awesome for hanging with me. I often astound myself by how much I can write about it. (I mean hello it is why I started this blog so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but yet, I am surprised sometimes. I really am). Occasionally I think, what is wrong with me, and then I visit my “Dead Parent’s Club” facebook group (yes that’s the real name, and they are as awesome as they sound) and everyone else is struggling with an anniversary or milestone just like me and I go, okay. This is normal.
And then I was going to write about meditation and how yesterday after just sitting with my emotions for ten minutes (using the Insight Timer which I highly recommend!), I was there, just sitting and giving presence to what is (why is that so hard? and yet we resist don’t we), and no joke, about ten minutes after meditating I suddenly just…cried. A release. It was good and needed. Sunday will be three years since my mom died. Oh, and was supposed to be the due-date of the pregnancy that I lost. I KNOW, YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS UP. Well I’d sensed my body had been holding in. (Ha! Imagine that.) And then, meditation and release. Huh. Amazing. Works so much better than endless scrolling on Facebook or eating my daughter’s extra-cheesy goldfish crackers. Which are delicious but should not be used for emotion-eating.
But I am not writing about that. I am too tired. My child keeps waking up at 5am (FIVE FREAKING A.M.) and last night I went to bed too late which means I am running on way too little sleep. So here I am with my Cuban coffee (one perk of living in south Florida is the abudance of amazing cuban coffees….a perk…did you catch that–ha!) and my kid wants to PLAY instead of watch Calliou (as if!) (of course I don’t blame her, I can’t stand that little dude). And I’m a huge fan of play except when I’m not, which is right now because momma wants to write!
So instead I won’t write. I will pickup the myriad of messes that my child created in less than ten minutes. The “caterpillar” which is twenty plates laid out in a line on the floor…the watercolors which I will say are a lovely mix of purples, blues and greens (she has an eye for color). And alllll the other messes. But don’t worry, I don’t plan to dust.
Life is good. Grief is okay. Meditating helps. Caillou however does not help.
Sending love to you all.
Anyone else out there sometimes just think, really more grief? Really? REALLY? Just me? 🙂
I don’t want to brag or anything but yesterday I vacuumed my floor and I thought about dusting a few surfaces. And I bathed my child. But then she put brown marker all over her legs because she apparently wants “faces of her daddy” on her upper thigh. Which would be sweet but shit now it looks like I didn’t bathe my kid! I want credit for this people.
I think yesterday was the first time since my child was born that I actually entertained the idea of dusting my house. Not because I am a monster or anything–I like clean surfaces as much as the next gal–but who on Goddess’s green earth has time to dust when they work full-time and have a young child? And still have time to watch Mr. Robot? (WHICH IS AMAZING AND IS MY NEW ADDICTION BECAUSE I FINISHED ALL SEASONS OF VEEP, WHICH I ALSO LOVE.)
I am reveling in this new stage of parenthood, this stage that allows me to have the time to consider dusting. I was thinking about this yesterday, how it feels like everything is less chaotic. I thought about how different it would be if I were still pregnant and giving birth in a week or two.
Yes, that is roughly when my pregnancy would have come to term if I hadn’t miscarried.
This is very strange to consider because so much has changed since February.
Let’s review it shall we?
I found a spiritual community.
I began doing ink and watercolor again after decades of not doing it.
I started singing again.
I committed to writing nearly daily and taking scary (good scary) vulnerable steps to share my story and define the ending.
I started swimming and doing yoga regularly.
I committed to a regular meditation practice.
And most importantly, I considered taking up dusting again.
Hot damn! Those are a lot of gifts born from a period of darkness.
This has me thinking about seasons again. How we all have them. And even when it appears you don’t you do. Like lizard season.
What the hell am I talking about you ask.
I live in southwest Florida and I am finally to the point where I have figured out that a) there are lizard seasons and b) what those lizards seasons look like.
You know I am going to break it down right? Here we go:
Winter does not have very many lizards. One day you will walk out onto your lanai and there is a cool breeze and your air conditioning isn’t running 23 hours of the day and you go, huh, where are all the lizards?? They just…vanish all of a sudden.
But not for long, because before you know it spring brings baby lizard season. Baby lizards the size of your fingernail come out of the wood work. Not the literal wood work because that would be creepy. No, they hide in the grass and then when you take a step a zillion little lizards go scattering.
And then finally, summer brings huge, fat, slow lizard season. Even your three-year-old doesn’t scare these old dudes. They sit and stare and wait for a giant hawk to just end it all.
The moral of this story is that even in places that appear not to have seasons (like Southwest Florida), or appear to have only two seasons (wet and dry) are more nuanced than they seem. There is a season to every thing. Even lizards.
I may not be having a baby this September. This is hard and still makes me sad. But I’m realizing that there is no rigging of the system: you cannot rig it in your favor–and it is also is not rigged against you. The seasons change and turn. You might even find yourself in the remarkable and unthinkable place of finding time for dusting.
Are you witnessing the changing of seasons? Literal, or figurative, or lizard? Thanks for reading. You rock. Have a great day.
This is a story about muffin tops, intentions, art, and rainbows.
Yes, those muffin tops. The kind you jiggle in front of the mirror and make scrunched up faces at. I had a conversation with mine recently. I said, what gives little muffin top? I am doing yoga and swimming almost daily — which is wonderful in and of itself, don’t get me wrong — but why is it that I am shedding weight everywhere except RIGHT HERE IN THE OL’ MID-SECTION?
The answer surprised me: I don’t want to let go.
This weight, after all, was from a pregnancy that I lost at nine weeks.
The more I sat with this the more I knew deep down that I hadn’t released all the pain. That a bit of loss remained.
I did what I often do in cases like this. I ran and hid. Just kidding! No, I decided I’d start small. I added an intention that I would remind myself of when I prayer or meditated. I would like to honor this baby that was not meant to be, and shed what no longer serves me.
If there is one thing I have learned from years of therapy it is this: intentions are powerful. If you yell, “Hey universe! I am ready for some HEALING!! Bring it on!” oh my goodness you must be prepared for ALL the sh*t to fall upon you.
sh*t grief came like I knew it would. My old friend grief.
Yesterday I woke up cranky and sad. I tried to write. Nothing. I decided to clean (not my typical coping technique but hey, why not). I folded and sorted laundry. This felt good. (Unusual, but good.) Then something happened. As I was putting away clean clothes (again: AMAZING), I realized I had a bunch of shirts and pants I never wore. A-HA!They were clothes that reminded me of the miscarriage. The dress I wore for Easter. The shirt I bought knowing it would look good on me pregnant. The pants purchased right after the miscarriage.
It was time to let these go. I packed it all up and donated it to Good Will. It felt really good.
Grief, however, was still lurking around. I knew this would require something different. I needed to do art. And not pretty art…no. I needed to just paint whatever popped in my head and put it on paper. Doodles, colors, you name it. I painted for a bit and started to feel the grief cloud lifting.
What happened next was this: my dog whined to be let out. It is rainy season in Florida (picture any episode of Bloodline with rain), and my dog won’t do his business in the rain. Well, lucky for him the rain had subsided. I took him out onto the front lawn and stared into space.
Suddenly something caught my eye. The downpour had created a huge puddle in our driveway and I saw…what was it, a rainbow in the reflection? I thought at first it must be from oil in the water. But this rainbow was so crisp and clear.
I looked up. No rainbow. I looked behind me. No rainbow.
Then up through the oak trees I saw this:
My heart soared.
I felt a rush of love–my mother’s love.
Rainbows are a sign I associate with my mom. When she was first diagnosed with cancer we kept seeing rainbows at just the right time. Riding to the hospital with my dad and sister to see my mom after a surgery. We saw a rainbow. When she was leaving to go to Cleveland Clinic for a stem cell transplant. We saw a rainbow.
Rainbows were the sign that she was going to be okay. (And she was for a long while.)
I will let you draw your own conclusions. If you believe the universe is conspiring in our favor then you might believe that my mother sent me this rainbow. If you think it is merely a beautiful coincidence, well, that is quite lovely too, isn’t it?
I went back inside. I knew my painting needed one final touch.
I added a rainbow. And a quote: love is the bridge between you and everything.
Have you had rainbows appear at just the right time? Or other sorts of magic? Feel free to share.
A few months ago my friend gave me a plumeria cutting. Even if you have never heard of Plumeria I guarantee you have seen their blossoms: they produce the beautiful flowers that are used in making Hawaiian leis.
When my friend offered me a Plumeria tree cutting I jumped at the chance to grow one. Until I saw what I had to work with:
That photo isn’t of my actual stick but I can promise you it looked just like that photo. I didn’t think to take a picture of it, likely because I did not think it would grow. I mean it is a stick. A stick that is supposed to grow into an exotic tropical flower plant. I have never grown a plant from cutting, let alone a fancy pants tropical tree.
Well, I love a good challenge. I decided what the heck, I would try to grow it. I bought root hormone (who knew such a thing existed), followed some youtube videos on the topic, placed it in a semi-sunny and not too wet region of my lanai, and I left it alone. This is very important according to the horticulturist from Hawaii who is on YouTube. He grows hundreds of these
sticks cuttings. Leave it alone! he told me. Do not pull or tug or mess with it! (How did he know that is exactly what I would have done??) The fragile roots need lots of time to grow and grow and grow.
I left it alone. It was so hard but I did not poke or tug or anything.
About a month or two later a leaf appeared. I went bananas bonkers. Oh my goodness it was growing!!
Again, I didn’t take any photos because I think I was still in disbelief, but it looked basically just like this:
Now, several months after that first sign of growth, I am very excited to share a photo of what it looks like today:
View this post on Instagram
My #plumeria #fromcutting has taken root and is growing beautifully. Like in my #life, seeds I've been feeding and tending to are at long last taking root. Fed with #love and #hope, #healing after #loss. #keepthefaith. Full post: tinyurl/plumeriagrows ❤️🌿🌸🌺#motherhood #loveafterloss #miscarriage #grief
Wow right? Look at all those huge tropically leaves! It is amazing.
I hope that the next post I show are of blossoms. (Inner and outer both.)
(And just as beautiful: my husband can no longer joke about my black thumb. Yeah that’s right hubs, you are looking at a wife who grew a plant from a literal stick placed into soil*. Bow down sir. Bow down.)