Courage, dear heart

I feel like a butterfly that is figuring out how the heck to get untangled from its cocoon. It’s been such a long journey to get here. It can’t be rushed and yet I have an urgency or is it impatience? Or fear that maybe it won’t really happen? Regardless, I needed to create bravery where none existed.

I needed Courage, dear heart.

Art my own; joyfulhummingbirdart.etsy.com

Sending virtual courage to anyone who needs it right now. We got this!

Dear mom

It’s been five years since we said goodbye, but even that phrase “goodbye” doesn’t seem exactly right. We talk all the time. You flood my YouTube feed with Mormon Tabernacle Choir music, and when I ignore you, you up the ante by sending a Mormon tabernacle choir rendition of ABBA’s Dancing Queen. Yeah you knew I’d click it and I did and about died of laughter watching it. Why am I not surprised you’d be pulling off goofy antics even from heaven?

I mean seriously a bell choir is performing ABBA. It’s amazing 😂

You’d be thrilled I took the day off work to grieve/celebrate YOU…and to make some art while rocking out to music. (Don’t worry, I’m not only listening to new wave. I’ll throw some Linda Ronstandt and Streisand in rotation too.)

Mom and me.

We’ll be having a slice of chocolate cake tonight to celebrate your life. Zoey says you get some too, and she’s pretty sure you can eat as much as you want in heaven without getting a belly ache! I bet she’s right. We love you. Keep a listen for the sound of bells….we might put on some tabernacle jams in your honor.

Love,

Sarah Joy

Pursuing joy

At some point this past year I decided I wanted my life to be about pursuit of joy rather than reduction of suffering. And to paraphrase Frost, it has made all the difference.

For me it looks like embracing my inner artist. I was born an artist but along the way morphed, conformed, forgot. It’s all good. The journey back to myself has been so sweet! I’m leaping into fear, taking an undergrad art class with students who are literally half my age. Fear and joy! Fear and joy! Even the smell of art supplies makes my heart sing.

Are there any small ways you can increase joy? Share you victories below!! I’m so happy to give virtual high fives to you brave souls.

The heart wants what it wants

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.

Where the rubber meets the road

Can we talk about how hard April has been? Really hard. You would think I’d be prepared, knowing it’s the cruellest month and all. But nope.

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There has been an endless onslaught of bad news for people I care about. Tragedy, loss, injustice. One after another. (I need to close my FB feed for real.) It’s all knocked me down more than I expected. I’ve been feeling old grief wounds surface. I’ve been emotional-eating chocolate. And if I’m totally honest, I have to admit I’ve been wallowing in it a bit.

It is ok, we all need to wallow sometimes. But I decided this morning that I was done wallowing. I am not powerless (though I often feel powerless). I am not a victim of life. (Though I sometimes want to pout and believe I am.)  I am a co-creator of life. I am a participant and I don’t believe bad things happen because we are bad. I believe that nature has its rhythms and cycles and we are not immune to them. The baby tree that is knocked over in a hurricane doesn’t take it personally. The exploding ant that blows itself up to save its village doesn’t take it personally. (Um, maybe he should though??)

This is not to minimize the grief and despair we go through with major losses, pain or hurt. But the difference is that for me this past month, I wasn’t the actual victim of all the horrible stuff that went down. That doesn’t mean I don’t have empathy. (Oh Lord I do.) BUT pointing to the parade of tragedies as proof that life is awful and I’m doomed probably isn’t helpful either.

On this blog I like to talk a lot about how surrender, grace, gratitude and art/writing has helped me to release and transmute pain. Now the rubber is meeting the road, so to speak. I need to walk my walk and not just talk my talk.

For me it means I had to get outside into nature. (It always, always heals me.) I took a long walk, like many of the walks I took when I was deep in grief, and I started talking out loud to the oaks (and my beagles), asking for help to release and also recounting all I’m grateful for. Wouldn’t you know it but about a minute into this a mourning dove flew and landed about ten feet away. And then a mockingbird (another bird of meaning for me) landed on a branch and stared deeply into my eyes. Well, then I lost it, crying/laughing because yes. Ask and you will receive. Ask for help and you will be met with love. I walked for a while longer and felt so much better. I also started hearing the words I had to write today — a sure sign that I needed to sit down and write as well.

So here I am. The crazy-lady-who-talks-to-trees-and-birds-and-writes-about-it. And feels infinitely better. I’m going to keep showing up when it is hard and doing what I need to do. I’m going to be the best beacon of light I can when others are having hard times, (but I know that requires me to take care of my own baggage when needed). I’m going to go gentle with myself. I’m going to go gentle with others.

(And I’m also going to remind myself that April is thankfully over in EIGHT SHORT DAYS!)

 

 

I’d like to thank all the Sarahs . . .

I think it’s time to forgive all the Sarahs. Heck, not just forgive them — thank them!

They were doing the best they could. They had lessons to learn! I couldn’t be who I am today without them. Wait, this is sounding like an acceptance speech . . .

“I’d like to thank the academy, my husband, my agent, and I’d especially like to thank all the Sarahs who helped me get to where I am today:

“Law-school-Sarah, thank you for showing me what is possible when all my focus is channeled to one task. You showed me that if I stand squarely in my masculine I can achieve pretty much anything I set my mind to. (Never mind if most of it is a pointless exercise in competition, winner-take-all gamesmanship, and distorted-masculinity. But I digress.) You also showed me that there is a cost to be paid when it means shutting down my feminine energy that is the source of vitality, joy and creativity. Law school Sarah, I look at photos of you and I think, damn, that girl just needs a break. Your hair is dry, your face is puffy and you don’t really exude happiness do you? You showed me the costs of polarity within myself. Thanks for that very big lesson, girl. Now go get a facial!

“I’d also like to thank grieving, collapsed on the sofa new-mom-Sarah for showing me the gifts of surrender. Girl, you had a tough time of it too. Your mom died, your cat died, and you could have probably used a facial as well. But wow you learned that there are times to surrender and throw your arms up. To proclaim to the universe, I don’t have any answers so some help here would be appreciated. You learned to be still and receive. You gave so much of yourself that you were due for a long period of rest and renewal. You found your way back to your heart and lit the spark of the divine feminine within. You transmuted pain with your writing and art. That is kind of a big deal! I’m so thankful for you for showing the way back to the things that make my heart sing. What a gift!

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“And lastly–this is the hardest one because it is so raw–I’d like to thank infertility Sarah. I didn’t want to see your gifts because not fair! But alas, you had them too. If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have demanded my own vitality. Imagine that. It took a representative of the patriarchy–a male in a white lab coat, discussing my body like it was a machine to be fixed and tweaked–for me to realize that this was not okay. It was not okay that my body was dried up, spent, and lacking in feminine life force itself! It was a confirmation of something I knew and had ignored: that I had given too much and my cup was empty, that there had to be a better way of living than depending on another cup of coffee. You showed me, dear heartbroken Sarah, that you matter.  You matter beyond comprehension. You matter more than your ability  to create new life. Imagine if you had waited to learn this lesson from staring at a different clinical diagnosis? What a gift that you were shaken awake.

“What’s that? You cut to commercial five minutes ago? But there are so many other Sarahs to thank! Fine, but I won’t leave this stage without a fight. Oprah for president! Impeach Trump! You will not silence me!!” [Mic cut.]

For real though, there are other Sarahs to thank. But for today this will do.

What past selves do you think you might be able to forgive? It’s okay if it doesn’t come easily or quickly. This post is the end product of more sad, self-indulgent journal entries than I care to admit!

The Heroine’s Journey

The Wasteland burns us up and burns us out. Instead of following your own instincts, instead of discovering what it is that gives us joy, what makes our heart sing, we spend most of our lives trying to make other people happy…living from our head rather than our instinct for what is good and healthy.

[…]

The Heroine’s Journey for these times is a journey out of the Wasteland. Each of us has our own unique set of stories to tell: the story of the years we spent in the Wasteland, the story of our awakening, and the story of the path we took out of it.

~Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted

“Trust the process”

At least, that is what my wise-woman self tells me.

Trust the process.

artwork my own.

The process is not linear.

The process will not be understood by your monkey mind (which undoubtedly will want to dictate the process and will fail miserably).  

The process may be met with all your defenses. The sudden need to sleep. The sudden need to hide into a book. The sudden need to shove mouthfuls of popcorn into your mouth while reading said book.

If your body says rest, rest. If you body says dig in, dig in. If your body says, “you are putting up your defenses” then stay curious. 

Allow your partner to call you out (they always will). Allow your dreams to speak to you (make sure you’re listening).

Move. Shake. Walk. Dance. Tickle. Flail. Kick. Conga. [really wise self? Conga?]

Walk, relax, meditate in savasana.

Self-care, self-care, self-care. And then some more.

The sun will rise again. It didn’t disappear, it was just out of view. Relax into the orbit of your life.