Labyrinth

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I stepped into the labyrinth path not sure of what I needed, wanted, or why I was walking. I started slowly. One step at a time trying to listen to my breath and the wind. I was in pain and didn’t realize it. For a while I have been floating through my days acting as if I was happy and ‘in a good place”. And maybe I was. But there was pain. Pain that had not been introduced or acknowledged. It was small, sharp and tender. I have spent many hours in reflection confronting my pain and joy in hopes of embracing it all. It wasn’t until I stepped into the labyrinth, stepped in with a yielding heart did I notice this piece of myself. I had been praying for a door to be shown to me. A door to the next path of my journey. A new career, a new life, a new something to be presented to me so I could run to it and through it.

I tried to envision myself available and ready to be presented with this opportunity. I attempted to let the Universe know I was ready to leave what I knew as my daily routine and fly to something exciting and new. (Oh Universe, you are more clever and interesting than I give you credit!) As I walked I visualized a room full of doors that could be opened and I prayed that my walk, my weekend of meditation would rescue me from my current path and light up a new door. I thought about it flashing and flying open with a beautiful flourish and glorious light and music that I would dance my way into my true self.

I had been in this mindset where I didn’t like my job and the people I work for or at least the policies that dictate my day. I could feel a dread of returning to work after a holiday and it was not the typical “not wanting to leave vacation land” dread. It felt deeper and sadder. I felt like I was willingly digging myself into a hole that I would claim I was stuck inside. I was beginning to understand that I was walking myself to my despair. I was sad.

I stopped on the path and looked around. I took in the sounds of the meadow coming alive in the afternoon sun. I prayed again “please, please, please show me what is next, what is great, what is true.” I expected to get insight from the wonderful person that was Leading my workshop. I thought she would say or do something and tell me or even command me to try something new. I thought she would save me before I buried myself. The birds flew very close to me. The bees rested on my skin and I didn’t flinch. A mothy butterfly thing fluttered on my breath causing me to walk again. As I took each new step, I felt the pain again. A tiny piercing but gentle pain was awakening deep within my body. Tears started to swell in my eyes and drip from the corners down my cheek. At first I was confused, but I let it happen. I didn’t wipe them away, I let them go where they needed to go. I began to cry without understanding of why. I brought my mind back to my little pain. It was like a whisp of light and emotion somewhere deep in my shell.

I heard a voice. Or maybe I heard myself. But the words of Rumi rang out clear and soft, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

My breath latched on something sharp like a crack and then poured out with tears and a warm, fluid light. This sounds so unreal even as I write it, but I swear this is what I felt. My mind showed me images of cracked glass, shattered Earth and then a small flower bud with small bits ripping open to bloom. At that image, I understood something with out words. I was the shattered cracking beauty ripping to bloom. I began to laugh and walk faster. I talked to myself about allowing myself to crack open and bloom. Could I do it? Could I be brave? Along my walk ,I saw many small flowers trying to open in the sun and my chest ached. ACHED so intensely I actually stumbled and cried out. I am fairly certain there were others at the Labyrinth when I entered but in that moment it was only me. Only me.

Then my walk became more steady and directed. Only me…became simply me. A glorious Me. The meadow around me seemed a few shades brighter or more vivid. I tried to clear my eyes, thinking it was the tears distorting my world into a technicolor land of OZ, but it was real. I thought back to my initial concerns. What did I hope to achieve from this weekend and meditation? I was hoping for a door, an escape into my new life. I wanted to be shown a door to the next Me that I would love. A door. I focused on this image I had been obsessed with, a door. As I neared the center of the Labyrinth a door was presented to me in my mind. It became more clear but somewhat frustrating. I kept trying to see it open up and show me the new world that would make my life better. To my confusion, it did open but not out to something. The door swung in…it lead me inward. Inside this door was that concentrated ball of light trying to escape.

I stopped in my tracks and blinked several times. I shut that inner door and took some breaths. What was happening?

The way to my true self is through me…the place I have not wanted to go. The place I have tried to transform and escape. I thought back to the flowers beginning to burst open. We never think of those places of green ripping to reveal such vibrance as glorious pain. Maybe pain is not the right word anymore. It is more like a release after a strong hold. I began to pray and walk with energy thinking about myself bursting into bloom. I wanted to embrace the idea that I too could crack and allow the light to enter and escape. That light can fill me and the world to be part of a one.

Leonard Cohen says, “There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in.” I have spent so much time trying to fill the cracks. Now perhaps I can focus on being the shattered, cracking, beauty ripping to bloom.

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Love Letters

I didn’t know I had a really good idea about connecting families, stories, and souls until I charmed my way into Tanglewood for free one evening with a couple of new friends. I was on a little weekend getaway by myself. This is a very new experience for me and I must say it is wonderful. I met some ladies staying at the same place as me and we were just down the road from Tanglewood, the Summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. On a glorious Saturday evening, we decided to hike down the road and sit in the parking lot to have a listen. Instead, I calmly marched us right up to gate and explained we would really like to come in. As if I was Obi Wan waving my hand in a Jedi mind trick, the security guards produced tickets and opened the gate. Voila. My new gal pals were giddy and convinced I am a witch. I am not a witch. Not in the least.

Our evening was delightful and as we laughed our way into the night, we began to swap stories and anecdotes of our personal lives. During the show I had been writing in a journal and one of the ladies asked me about it. I told her it’s my daughter’s book and she looked perplexed. I began to tell her the method to my madness. I found myself revealing a passionate writing process taken up by my family. I hadn’t set out to boast, expose, or instruct. However, we spend a short while walking and discussing the beautiful gift our family has created. One of the ladies asked me if I would mind if she shared my idea with some new moms she knows. She said it was something she wished she had for herself…I told her to share it with everyone. It was then I knew I should write this down and give it to you.

When my doctor told us we were pregnant with my oldest child, I began writing in a journal. This was a bit different than a personal journal because it was written to my baby. I just let myself stream of conscious work out whatever was happening for me. I knew enough of myself to not create any harsh deadlines or rules. When I wanted or needed to say something I wrote it down. When I was worried, I wrote it down. When I went to the doctor or had a discussion with my husband, I wrote it down. Not every day. I have several journals filled now and my daughter is currently five. I tell her anything. I talk about stuff that might be hard to say or I don’t want to forget. Sometimes I tell her things that are trivial. I just write. Someday I will give her these books, they are for her.

Much to our delight and surprise, when my daughter was two and a half, we found out we were pregnant with a little boy. I wrote about it in his sister’s journal. I felt sad I wasn’t making one for him. I gave it a lot of thought and knew what I am honestly capable of and two emotionally raw and real journals is NOT practical. I decided to write him a letter on the day he was born, March 17. Then I made a deal with myself that I will write him a letter on the 17th of every month until I can’t. He has 30 letters tucked in a box so far waiting patiently for his reading pleasure. They are not all long and some are written on cards or even postcards. They are my monthly check ins with him, with me, with us. It fills me with joy simply thinking of it.

The third part of this ritual came from my request but is not carried out by me. Right before my daughter was born, I was filled with the hormonal charged nesting and sentimental swirl that many mamas experience. I began to become nostalgic for my own grandmothers who both died many years before this. I had questions and requests for stories that could not be satiated. I came up with something I longed for, something I can’t have for myself, but wanted so dearly for my kids. I asked my parents and my husband’s parents if they would be interested in writing a letter to their new grandchild. I let them know it wasn’t mandatory but would be greatly appreciated. I asked them to consider for my daughter’s birthday every year they are alive to include a letter, a year in review from their perspective. I let them know I am not going to read these letters but shall have them kept for my kids. They will have a letter for every year they share this Earth with their grandparents. To my surprise, they now also do it for my son. My mom has included recipes and pictures I think. The letters come with their birthday presents specially marked and someday they will be able to reconnect regardless of distance or existence as I say. I was really touched when my husband decided that he would write a yearly letter to the kids on their birthdays as well. He gets pictures printed and includes them with his “Year in Review”. They must be the luckiest kids I know. Just imagine having letters marking your journey along with your grandmother’s journey from her perspective.

That’s all it is. A writing commitment of love. Now, I have heard many a mom rant that they don’t have time to scrapbook or lament how  they kept baby books for the first few months until chaos of life took over. Trust me, I am not super-pintrest-coupon-hacking mom. I made a commitment that was honest with what I could do and it has become so rewarding and magical. Think about it, can you take 10 minutes to write a card one time a month? Or perhaps spending a little longer on a letter but once a year is more suited to your lifestyle. We are caught up in the memes, tweets, and insta-gratification of our digital lives. How nice would it be to cosy up and read a letter to you from someone you love that you have missed for oh so long?

So that is my great idea. Take what you want, change it, make it fit you, and give a bit of yourself.

Winds that Change…again

Yesterday I wrote. I wrote a sentence in the morning that went like this:

Today I was greeted by cold blasts that felt good, really good.

And then I had to go. But I returned to my sentence a couple of hours later and wrote for 40 minutes straight. I felt proud and “back” in my groove. I hit publish. A few moments later while rereading, I wanted to adjust some syntax..I hit edit and BLAM…everything disappeared but that first sentence fragment…not even the whole sentence. I panicked. I tried to get it back.

Finally I resolved my self to the winds of change and let it go. I deleted my “Winds of Change” post. I closed the laptop and shrugged. It had been six months since my last post.

Then, this morning, I got an email from a friend. She is reading my blogs…could even be reading right now. I thought of her and her unwavering support. I opened my laptop and here we are…it is that simple in life. Choices surround us every second. I may not like what is being blown at me but I can change my reaction.

Yes. It feels good, really good.

Secure Your Mask Before Assisting Others

We were returning home from a holiday. I have never been very fearful of flying until I gave birth to my daughter. We travel quite a bit with her. She has been on at least 15 flights in her first 20 months of life. She has a passport and has flown internationally a few times. We love to travel and make every moment as fun as possible. Until the eve of my latest flight, I have kept the fear I harbor silent even from my husband.

Since her arrival, I have been a secret wreck inside the day before and morning of every flight. I pray. I believe in God, a universal force of spiritual wonder, connection and love. I give thanks and ask for safety. I board every flight with my prayer beads given to me by a Tibetan Buddhist Monk, say an our father, sing some Marley, bargain a bit and breathe thank you with every breath.

Recently my daughter and I were visiting my parents and my husband was not traveling with us. The day before our homecoming I was on edge. I was having difficulty processing information, feeling at ease and being centered. I was very cross with my husband earlier in the evening over the phone. I do have to say that he was a wee bit out of line but I can acknowledge that I reacted in a way that made things more tense. Before I went to sleep, I called him back not to say good night but to say, I am scared. I just said ” I am terrified to fly with my baby. I began to cry but as soon as I said it I felt released. Quite quickly my perspective shifted to include the fact that it is perfectly reasonable to be a little nervous flying but I was exacerbating it by holding that fear in and letting it fester and project elsewhere.

I felt so vulnerable in the seconds that ticked between my confession and his response. By saying it out loud I was making my fear real to someone other than me. This was scary in itself. I began to reveal to him that I every single flight we have taken I have been almost paralyzed with fear; afraid we will crash or die.

He didn’t tell me it was silly (which is what I expected). He didn’t tell me I was being crazy and he didn’t give into it and fuel my anxiety. He let me know that I will be alright and he is excited to see me. He let me know I am loved and our little girl is magical. He let me have my emotions but gave me a solid hand to hold.Getting that admission out made me feel better. Even when I prayed I felt empowered. I didnt feel desperate or secretive. I felt giddy in my fear. Strength comes from love.

On all of our flights taken with my daughter, she is usually sleeping or playing. She says “Weeeeeee” and giggles when we hit turbulence. She makes friends with those around her and says please and thank you to the attendants. She has absolute faith in her safety, her love and her Mummy. I am humbled by her spirit. I am motivated to move forward in life and live every moment in love.

A dear friend of mine was so insightful many months ago. We were having a really deep chat about God, Life, Love, Parenting and success vs. failure. Heavy stuff for a lunch break. I was in a moment of floundering doubt. He all of a sudden said, “Have you ever been on a plane? The attendants give you the safety instructions and they are very clear when they say that your mask will drop down. Secure your mask before assisting others. Even your baby must come second in that moment or you as a team don’t succeed.” He paused and held my hand and said again “Secure your mask before assisting others.”

Being honest with myself and my family about where I am emotionally is another way of validating my importance to our team. I became stronger in allowing myself to feel weak. Because of this I do feel more prepared to guide this little blessing, my daughter.