It’s been a rough week. I’m back visiting and working in the Twin Cities where I have lived much of the past 35 years. When I am in Ashland, where I currently live, I can pretty well stay focused on the here and now. But when I come back to the place where so much has happened in my life grief is triggered.
During a recent yoga & soul art workshop Guidance came through my painting and said loud and clear that the grief I have been holding so dear is really fear. It took me a couple of days to understand that on more than an intellectual level. I really heard the message and wanted to honor the wisdom within so I made a commitment to let my grief go. I ended up with a migraine for two days following that decision. I had no idea that the grief I had been carrying was so toxic.
The more I let go the more I realize that my grief is keeping me connected to a relationship that is long gone. Laying in wait for me under all that grief was a deep loneliness. Now that I am face to face with that loneliness the trick is to not run. In the past I would distract myself with social media or binge watching my favorite shows or my particular favorite, eating my self into oblivion.
What I’ve never done before is look loneliness straight in the eye and ask for its wisdom. I am afraid it will consume me if I stand and face it. Yet, running is no longer an option. I don’t have the strength any more to avoid what is coming. If I had faith in God this probably wouldn’t frighten me so. But my faith died many years ago. What I do believe in is Nature and its infinite beauty. It’s this Force that I call on now as my trial awaits me.
I feel like Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games with her bow and arrows strapped to her back waiting to jump into the fray. . . I will survive this.
I’ve been writing. Every day. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time (can you say years!) but haven’t been able to stick with for more than a few days.
I was listening to a podcast recently and the guest said she writes 500 words a day before she gets onto social media. For some reason that really resonated and I thought I would give it a try.
I am finding this to be easy. My only “rule” is that I write 500 words. I tried for a few days to get it done before I hopped onto Facebook but that didn’t last long. I found that just the fact that it only had to be 500 words is all that really mattered.
500 words is nothing. It is only a few paragraphs. I open up a blank document and turn the word count on and begin to write. Some days I have an idea for a blog and others its just words for my journal which, once I am finished, I copy and paste the words in to. This has been a very satisfying experiment that I plan to keep doing.
Knowing myself very well I tend to need some psychological trigger to either get me to do or quit a behavior. The magic word this time was 500. I could wrap my mind around that. There is an end goal in sight. It is fun to see the word count go up and up. The last few days I have finished my 500 words without even struggling.
If you are a writer and you want to consistently get words out of your head and onto the paper, tablet, etc. find that magic thing that works for you. I have tried many different ways over the years to get me to write every day. I have bought fancy journals that remain half filled. And, then of course, I have to buy another one to start over again. I have hand painted journal covers thinking that putting all that energy into the cover would get me to write. I have created special photo journals on my computer thinking that would do the trick. None of it worked until now. It is the simplicity of 500 words that was my magic bullet. I hope you find yours.
On the rare morning that I don’t do yoga it’s because my whole being is called to the tub. I nice hot bath, for me, is another form of meditation. The warm water surrounds me and I feel encased as if in the womb.
I use to feel guilty when the tub’s call was louder than my yoga mat. It wasn’t until recently that I recognized the value of the deep silence that soaking in the bath brings. This silence is what I seek to attain through my more formal meditation practice.
I believe that whatever or where ever you can find the silence thats meditation. Whether that be a walk in the woods, a hammock by the sea or a nice warm bath. No yoga mat required.
As many of you know, I recently moved to Ashland, Wi. I left my life in the Twin Cities and began anew. One of the ways I have been settling into this new life is through nature photography. I have always found peace in nature. From the moment I step into the woods my energy shifts and my soul lightens. Well, usually that’s what happens.
Yesterday, my hike took a different turn. As I pulled up to the trail head I immediately noticed there wasn’t a bathroom in sight. It took me over a half hour to drive there so I already had to pee when I arrived. I knew I would have to find a friendly tree to squat behind as soon as I could find one.
Once I finished my potty break I started down the trail. I was excited as I had never been to this spot before. Right away I could see that there wasn’t many flowers, which are my usual choice to take photos of. As I continued on my journey the wee little gnats began to gnaw on me. In my haste to go on my adventure I forgot one of the most essential things to bring on a north woods hike, bug spray! In my case, a bug deterring essential oil.
The trail was muddy, windy and gnarled. Needless to say I could barely look up from the path or I could have easily tripped on a tree root. By the time I made it to my destination, a waterfall, I was a bit disappointed. There were people down there who were smoking cigarettes and generally killing my nature vibe. I did get a few shots of the waterfall but the bugs were keeping me from spending any more time there than necessary.
As I walked back to my car I was reflecting on how not all nature hikes are sublime. As miserable as this hike was, it wasn’t a total bust. I got a great aerobic work out and it was a lovely drive there and back.
P.S. – The photo above of the snowman in the moss was early on in my hike. I looked down and there it was just hanging out. I have no idea why it was there or how it had arrived in the first place. I think it was a foreshadowing of my entire adventure. Not every thing happens as expected.
If you are anything like me when you look in the mirror you don’t take in the whole image. It’s hard to do, actually. The eyes tend to gravitate to what we perceive as flaws instead of seeing the beauty that is undoubtedly there.
A friend of mine recently took some photos of me out in nature. For the first time in a very long time, I could see the whole me. I could see the strength and power in my body.
This photo shows that I am a woman with curves. My programming (media, advertising, etc.) says that people with this many curves are not attractive. I’ve recently begun a practice of self-love and it is helping me, along with this photo, to be more comfortable in my body, more accepting.
I like that I am beginning to inhabit my skin instead of disparaging it. Drawing on the strength that years of yoga and meditation have built I can be a light that shines through the social constructs of what “they” say beauty is. I am creating a new program of self-love and self-care that is dissolving the old messages of “not good enough”. This is my mission and I choose to accept it. Would you care to join me?
Since my boyfriend and I broke up a year ago my self-esteem has been in the crapper. Unconsciously I had decided my worth was based on whether or not he loved me. Yes, I know this doesn’t make much sense and many people wiser than myself would tell me not to think this way. Yet, I believe this is a very human condition. We eartlhy creatures are constantly looking to others to tell us we are o.k.
This past week I went back for a visit to the city where he and I spent so much of our time together. Every where I went I could feel him in the memories that we shared. I realized that it wasn’t him that I was missing but the feeling of being in love. When I was in love with him I felt beautiful, sexy and wanted. I think that is the reason that it was so hard to let the relationship go. I simply didn’t want to give up those powerful feelings.
During my stay in the Cities my friend Elizabeth Fritz, who is a Soul Art Facilitator, brought me through a process that helped me find myself again. The journey we took that day with art and meditation made me realize that the most important relationship I have is the one to myself.
The image that you see above is part of the painting that I made during the Soul Art process. The eye is my eye, looking at me with the eyes of love. It is a reminder that it’s time to fall in love with me again. And, that my worth can not be determined by someone else’s actions or opinions of me.
This painting is actually a meditation mat. I use it every day during my yoga and meditation practice. It reminds me that I am my own beloved. In the image below you can see that there is a crown in the upper left hand corner. That is so I remember that I am a noble woman and to carry myself as such. My name Della means noble.
The image on the right represents all the many spiritual paths I have been on that have always led me back to center.
My take away from this journey is that the greatest gift to Self is Self Love. And, the surest way to lose my way, is by expecting another to validate me. I am on the road to falling in love again. . . and its with me.
Check out the playshop Elizabeth and I will be offering in June. You too can make your own mediation mat through the process of yoga and soul art.
In the past week I have been unpacking and organizing my new home in Ashland, Wi. Yet, I haven’t been able to feel completely settled because half of my stuff is still sitting in my old apartment in the cities.
Yesterday, my housemate and I drove down to pick up the rest of my stuff. Only, things didn’t work out exactly as I’d planned. We had picked up a ladder for a friend first, not realizing just how much space it would take up. I had a melt down once I understood that I wouldn’t be able to get all of my belongings in to the truck.
I surprised myself with my level of reaction to the situation. I have always prided myself on my minimalist nature and my emotional response to the situation blew me away. I was able to express my disappointment and frustration to my friend and that helped to calm me down. Once I settled down I realized a couple of things were going on. One, I didn’t trust that all was going to work out in the end and two I hold a belief that owning things makes me feel safe.
“A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.”
― Byron Katie
I have been telling myself this past week that once I get all my stuff around me I can finally settle in and all will be well. I know the truth has little to do with my possessions holding any kind of security for me. I am glad I will be able to pick up the rest of my belongings (emphasis on longings) next week. I really want to have my stuff around me and there is nothing wrong with that. But I do understand that my pain around this came from attachment to those things.
Last night I dreamed I was riding on a bus with my boyfriend Hugh Jackman. I felt the need to go for a run so I jumped off the bus and careened down this hill onto a path that led into the woods. Once on the path it went from daylight to darkness. These woods were very creepy looking. I had been here many times before and I remember how frightened I had been each time I arrived at this place.
This time it was different. I wasn’t afraid. I leaned down to pick up a small stuffed animal that was laying on the ground and my surroundings immediately became illuminated. I could see that the forest was still very scary looking but I had no fear. I knew I had been here before and that I always made it through to the daylight again.
On the other side of the forest was a room filled with homeless people. They were listless and stared off into space. I offered them rice crispy treats and they perked up and seemed happy.
When I awoke I immediately knew this dream was a message from my subconscious that “I’ve got this”. I have been here before and I can do this. “This” being the major move I have just made. Yesterday I moved from the Twin Cities where I have lived for the past 30 years to Ashland, WI. In many way’s I’m entering the unknown (dark scary forest). But I have the light within me to see me through to the other side.
I feel the homeless people represent how many of us seem lost right now. The work I do offers sustenance (rice crispy treat) and reminds us of the sweetness of life.
I would love to hear any insights you may have to this dream. Please feel free to share your interpretation with me here.