autumn days

Monday, May 25, 2015

Silver Lining in Death

My partner's beloved aunt died last week.  One of his uncles is now fighting to keep his body alive.  While many in our circle are pregnant, we also look forward to the arrival of our third baby in a few months.  Life and death surround us in this grand human theater.  I love my people so deeply.  I stopped watching television news and violent movies a decade ago because I empathically felt each sad and frightening story was about my own family.  (I regulate my sensory needs by understanding violent non-fiction stories through books.)  I love my friends as if they are my brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, grandparents, and parents.  I am moving into understanding our connection as one big human family, into knowing I am capable of feeling and doing most things experienced by fellow humans.

When my loved ones pass, as my partner's aunt did last week, I know the loss and sadness and suffering surrounding death.  I hang on for the swirl of emotions felt around me, as if in a storm.  I know not all loved ones are easy to love, as each life journey provides unique lessons and struggles.

I also do my best to focus on the silver lining.  I feel myself and others surrounded and supported by waves of love, grace, and appreciation for sharing such love with the departed one.  I see the gathering of family and friends.  I see younger people playing together, older people catching up on the years apart.  I see hugs, connecting, and relationships.  Most of all, I see the love.  The sad beauty of love shared with another.

I comfort myself by finding my own silver lining.  I find solace in spending time with loved ones, sharing in the stories and swirl of emotions, and revisiting meaningful songs and sources that soothe my soul.  (A few of my favorites are below.)  I release some tears, hold hands, breathe, and look find the jems of appreciations in this amazing journey we share with one another.

All You Need is Love by the Beatles

Existential Bummer, Shots of Awe by Jason Silva

Fall in Love or Die Trying, Shots of Awe by Jason Silva
"Life should be lived to the point of tears, so fall in love or die trying."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Faith in Dying

The elders in my family are very actively aging and dying.  I appreciate such beauty and sadness within this process.  I see great beauty in the love we feel for each other and great sadness in how we mourn the loss of beloved ones.

While my 88-year-old grandmother was staying with us for two weeks, she talked of her faith in going to Heaven to be with her departed beloved ones when she dies.  In contrast, my 91-year-old neighbor is terrified of death, having no idea of what awaits her after this life.  I ask her if she can imagine a reunion with her beloved husband, though she shakes her head and holds tightly to her fight to live forever.

My partner's uncle is now fighting for his survival.  I am comforted in knowing he has likely had conversations with his spiritual wife about an afterlife.  Another of my partner's beloved aunts passed a few days ago.  Both she and her husband have a comforting faith in an afterlife.  Her husband calmly shared "She's already on to her next life."

One need not attend a weekly service or practice to fully immerse yourself in an afterlife faith, though it seems to make a spiritual belief more comforting and concrete when surrounded by active spiritual practice and like-minded believers.  Dying is not easy.  Some say it is the biggest thing we will ever do with our lives, or at least the grand finale for which all of our lives prepare us.  We have invested so much energy and faith into living.  Death is indeed difficult on those left behind without their loved one.

I find such peace personally in having gone through training as a shamanic practitioner to discuss afterlife possibilities with others.  It naturally works into heartfelt conversation.  My training allows me to see we choose our own adventure after our body expires.  We can call upon God, Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus, or others who have created a path into a specific afterlife.  When we call upon that entity, we are taken directly to the afterlife described by them.  Each path is valid and real to the believer.  There's also the choice to be indecisive and terrified and to roam around trying to stay human.  We then attach to living people, fragmenting and polluting humanity.  (Shamans heal this toxic relationship with "compassionate soul release".)  Another option is to rest in the dark void, to sit and meditate, to see the infinite possibilities for our own souls before choosing one.

I've had the privilege of seeing my possible death journey in my courses.  I saw my soul split into three pieces upon my physical death, as do many ancient cultures.  After saying goodbye to my loved ones, one part of my soul went back into the earth as a steward, one part moved into being a Guardian Angel for my loved ones, and another went to sit in the dark void to ponder possibilities.  My death journey is ever evolving, though my faith comforts me.  I take comfort in talking with others about their thoughts of afterlife.

After exploring my own possible death process, I talked with my mother about it.  As a life-long Christian woman, she was stunned to think she had a choice.  She fairly yelled at me, "We have a choice?!"  So we talked and talked and continue to talk about our personal journeys in preparing for our own transitions.  When so much of our culture revolves around staying young and never dying, it feels wonderful to me to discuss the inevitability of death, our wildest desires of what we choose to do with our last act within these human bodies, and the adventures beyond.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Simple Self-Care in the Garden

I appreciate the leg cramps that awoke me at 4:30 this morning.  I appreciate the cool air, jungle of bird calls, meditation, and sunrise that followed.  Waking in a room packed with my sleeping family, I see clearly my need for solitude.  My beloved grandmother has been with us for one week, halfway through her time with us.  She accompanies us on all our daily tasks and tidbits so she won't miss a moment of our lives.  My days are filled with preparing three nourishing, filling meals a day, to stuff my grandma "like a Thanksgiving turkey", as I tell her.  When she gains enough weight, her doctor will give her permission to exercise and visit friends more than once each week.  Between meals, laundry, and other details, we sit down to play her favorite card game.

Last night I stepped outside, following my grandmother and children.  I saw the wilting strawberry patch I'd transplanted just before her arrival.  My dry, weedy garden sat in wait.  I saw the berry and rose bushes that may have passed in the last warm week.  I saw the pile of sticks I've been meaning to cut.  So I gently stepped into tending my plot of earth.  And that felt so good.  As my grandmother contentedly watched my children swing and me cut tree trimmings, I thought of how simple it can be to tend to myself while others' needs are met.  Nature allows us to feel such abundance as we step out into simplicity.  My relationship with my grandmother is so much simpler than with my mother.  I take note of this thought and move back into my love for my garden.  In some ways, this garden reflects my own self-care.  It has been a while since I've taken the time to tend this garden.  The bees have been loving all my neglected, flowering vegetables.

So now rising out of bed as the sun peaks over the mountain feels really good.  There is sacred solitude in this moment.  There is simplicity in taking a moment (or several of them) to connect with myself, to step back in appreciation of the fullness of this life, and to seize this moment in time for my own solitude.  I see that this fullness in life will shift and I will have more moments of balance and solitude.  I appreciate waking early, breathing, reflecting, and stepping out of this busy routine and into the simplicity of the garden.

Monday, May 11, 2015


I am enough.  Regardless of flaws that may appear obvious to me, I am enough, I do enough, I have enough.  I am so grateful for this time with my partner, children, friends, and extended family.  My life is so blessed.  I hear mainstream cultural messages reflected in the voices of others.  This message demands I understand my obligation to tirelessly strive to be/do/have enough.  We live in a culture of deficit: not enough money, time, or love.

What if I just step out of that smothering thought cloud and into my personal life?  I choose to be/see/live enoughness.  I see enough money to feed, shelter, and educate my family.  I see enough time to do the things that really matter, to rest, to be productive.  I see enough love to care for myself and all those in our lives, in ways large and small.

I could accept the deficits of not being able to fit in or pay for everything I desire.  Or I can choose to see myself surrounded by an abundance of everything I need to be healthy and happy.  As with many practices, this sounds simple and yet is not.  I choose to see the silver lining in the ability to choose what I do and for whom, instead of being everything to everyone.

One simple practice I love is to breath into my heart.  With each breath, I see my heart filled with energy.  As I release my breath, I see and feel the energy move to where it is most needed in my body.  This helps me center throughout the day and to know the abundance in my life.  With this simple breath, I intimately know my enoughness.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Quilt Time

My beloved son finally has his colorful quilt after two years of anticipation.  This two-sided delight is assembled of squares he carefully selected.  With this project taking its sweet time, we have already begun our next baby's quilt.  While waiting for the last few squares from friends before beginning this new quilt, I begin transforming old t-shirts into quilts for my partner and myself.  A room full of quilts feels very satisfying.  My children and I find such joy in bringing these colorful projects to life and filling them with love.

our newest quilt

our next quilt project

Grandmother Time

My beloved grandmother will be arriving soon to stay with my family for two weeks.  In anticipation of her visit, we have organized her room, emptied surfaces and drawers and shelves, and borrowed a walker and wheelchair.  Grandma looks forward to our active schedules and playing with our friends.  We have planned day trips, swim sessions, park days, baking extravaganzas, reiki night, and a treasured massage appointment.  Despite not knowing the details of her aging, we are ready for treasured time together.  My heart overflows with the love I feel when I think of connecting with my mother's mother.  I know the depth of this rare blessing in my life.  This is a gift and opportunity offered to our family.  Time with my grandmother, my children's great-grandmother, is such a gift.