7 years of silence.

7 years of silence.

I am grateful for the long, life changing 7 years where I did not talk to an ex-boyfriend. The heartbreak was intense, my first major one. After a year and half of long distance relationship, he choose to move even father away. To the wrong coast. The wrong choice, in my heart broken eyes.

This was also compounded by the fact that my mother had just been given a diagnosis we all suspected- Alzheimer’s. It certainly was a time for loss and upheaval in my life.

 

 

But what those 7 years brought me? Today’s moment. One, in which I shared so much with someone I used to deeply know, and in doing so, realize how much I have changed.

 

I thanked him for the time- even though I may have needed less. I learned to let it go, to forgive, to sit with it and push past the hurt, the old narrative of that story- and honestly I’m not sure if I could have rushed this.

 

By reconnecting so many years later, I was able to see myself differently. He had last known me as a free, passionate 20 something. Now, at the verge of mid-thirties,  I am so different. I’m learning to let go of perfection and expectations. To go against what feels like my own grain- of excessive planning and plotting so that life turns out ‘perfectly’. I know I am actually coming back to my true & deeper self, but I have spent years operating in a way that once “worked”- be good, be as close to perfect as possible, be successful, be productive, because this is your worth. (It’s hard to change.)

 

So after sharing how I have taken a year off, and that I’m trying these new mindsets on for size, his shock was palpable! “Who are you?!?” he cried as we laughed about it. Who were once were.  And it was uplifting for me.

 

Wow. How I have changed. I love myself more, am more comfortable with myself, even as I still seek to know more. I see that certain ways of living no longer serve me. I’m peeling those old layers off, finding the tender center.

 

But I also missed the dreaming that he and I used to do. Of where we would live, what our futures would hold – where life would take us, maybe we’d be lay missioners in a foreign country with our kids!

 

I didn’t realize that I don’t dream as much. Or without expectation that it will actually happen. Just to envision it.  There is something dead in my soul that doesn’t always see life as exciting, or interesting to live. But talking to him about being missioners- that reminded me that life can indeed be incredible and fascinating.

I’m not sure why I have lost that part of me. Something tells me it is in death. The death of so many loved ones in a short time. My dreams stopped being in the forefront when I was preparing for the dying days of my parents.

 

There is no blame in this. Again, I don’t think I could have survived those years any other way. But I want to get back my light. My life. My zest & zeal- my belief that life can be unbelievable and adventurous. Right now. It doesn’t feel that way.

 

So that will be what I want for this year- to feel energized and enthusiastic about my life.  This might….this will mean taking risks. Not resting on my laurels, or past successes, or my worn brown couch. It will mean reflection, and action. Resting & new life.

 

I don’t know how. I don’t know where or when. But I know it needs to happen.

 

For 7 years, I needed that silence. And for my present, I needed the reminder of how far of I have come, and that it is time to pick up an identify scattered at the wayside- the dreamer. I have grown in beautiful & profound ways.

 

Truly, I can’t wait to see what is next.

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Cousin moments

There are moments in life that tug at the heartstrings. And ones that I experience where my gratitude just soars in.

I am the youngest of 11 cousins. And the majority are nearly 20 years older than myself. Growing up, my Christimases were amazing, so many older cousins to play with and entertain me. But even by the time I was 5, the were less and less around, staying with significant others, or having moved out of state. I always missed that interaction with my cousins.

In the last few years, that connection has been renewed. My one cousin and I emailed about financial information and investing. We both love it and are self taught. And he knows that I miss doing this with my own father. We are a full country away, but send this information to each other!

Another cousin has a sweet 2 year old daughter and she has brought life and youth back into our family. I have stopped by there house just to play with her on multiple occasions.

Another cousin, we email about crappy sleep patterns!

Yet another, we had a conversation until 4 am in the morning after my sister’s wedding. Bonding about life, family, and all the hard things.

I sit here, so incredibly grateful for my family. Do we met up every year in one centralized location? No. But I am so grateful for the bonds that have developed and renewed over time. How much I need this.

Morning place

My morning place is important to me. It’s where I write, listen, and just settle in.

Until recently, I was not loving my set up. Just a little cluttered stand, with pieces of paper, old journals, and a collection of books.

 

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Now, I love it!

The painting above was done by my Mother’s dear friend. She now lives in an Ashram and I was able to spend a few days, including the 1 year anniversary of my Mom’s passing, with her. The bookshelf is new and organized. I have my books I’m reading, journals, and inspirational pieces too.

 

And I look out on to a small piece of the world. Often, there are little visitors.

 

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A few years ago, after Dad had passed, I sat on my back porch. Missing him so, I was staring out on the the patch of grass, two stories up. One came, then two, then three. Three bright blue jays. They immediately made me think of 3 family members who had passed. Without explanation or rationale, I felt a deep sense of peace & connection.

Growing up, we had a little can of miniature baseball caps. These were toys from the cereal box, but for some reason, I loved them. They had all the major league teams on them. My favorite cap was the Toronto Blue Jays.

So this morning place, its a gift to myself. A reminder to relax, to connect with who I am – just in this exact moment. It’s a place to feel- to remember those I hold & love so dearly. And its a spot where I often see reminders of my loved ones, my elders who have supported me so.

This morning place, it’s my beautiful reminder to breathe in this life.

 

 

 

 

 

What if ‘whatever’ is right?

I found myself being radical today. Radical in a way that I hope becomes more commonplace for me. I just *listened* to myself.

I was rushing about, “take that 20 min walk- not longer you don’t have time”. “Make your lunch- hurry, hurry”. “Leave now to get into the city in time for class”.

No. Nope. I needed breathing room.

In this year off, I realize I am learning the process of ‘undoing’.  Changing how I normal work. It’s not linear, organized or clear. But lord, is it necessary for me.

So today, I said no to plans. No, spending 2.5 hours in a commute to do something I love. I said no to rushing around, and yes to my tired, exhausted body.

That allowed me to write. And in writing my soul spoke “what if instead of worrying that you are doing this year wrong, you believe that WHATEVER you do this year is right? Whatever you do this year is right?”

I believe we have the power in choosing our thoughts. So often we rush around, land on autopilot that we forget this basic truth. We become dictations of our thought, not masters of our destiny.

Where can you say “Whatever I do, is right”?

In the muck? Look up!

I took a quick hike today. The sun was playing peek-a-boo and the temperature was vacillating between the 70s and the 80s- a delightful surprise on a fall day. Quite the contrast to the heavy thunderstorms of last night.

For most of the walk, I was looking down. I wanted to avoid getting stuck, sinking too deep into the mud.   Every few steps, muck, muck, muck! Towards the end of my hike, I laughed- I was walking around in the muck, exactely how I felt in my life.

And then I looked up. I saw the most vibrant blue sky, sunshine, and verdant, growing trees. What a contrast to the dark, sticky mud below!

What happens when you keep looking down at the muck, trying to control how stuck you might get? You missed the beauty around you and above you.

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Look up. Oh dear one, look up above yourself and your own feet and fetes. Gain new perspective, even in the midst of muck.
Change your vision. Look up.

 

Permission to waste

I give you permission, dear Kate, to waste this year.

I give you permission to spend a lot of time and money not finding yourself.

I give you permission to squander, to make mistakes, to not have a path, purpose, or passion or not to be desperately seeking one. I give you permission to just breathe; to awaken each morning with no plan and just go where your heart leads – a new hike or the worn in spot on your couch.

I give you permission to just be and ignore the need to “do”.

I give you permission to step back and out of life for a moment and to fail. To fail big and large and miserably. Because in failing there is life. There is risk. And there is living large & unafraid. And too often, oh dear one, you mute your life so that you stay in the lines, and on the narrowest of paths.

I give you permission to waste this night, these words, this week, this month, this year.

For doing whatever you need to, dear one, is not at all a waste, but a win.

Perhaps

Perhaps has filled my mind lately.

Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps. 

Perhaps is a gentle nudge. A freedom to say, “maybe this is what this means…or perhaps not”.

It is kindness, allowing my wisdom to eke out, leaving room for questioning and the truth of another day to be just as valid.

Perhaps gives comfort to the soul weary of decision making & analyzing.

Perhaps lets me see with faith-filled eyes that perhaps there is more than one way to be. More than one what to think. More than one way to feel. More than one way to experience.  More than one way to love. More than one way to live.

Perhaps speaks volumes.

Are you listening?

The ball & the box

The ball and the box metaphor is a beautiful one that I stumbled onto today. Draw a box and inside it draw a large ball. On one wall of the box draw a button inside. This is your pain button. When grief is new, the ball that is inside the box is quite large. It takes up so much space, it almost feels like the box itself. Thus it is constantly rubbing against the button that brings up your pain.

This weekend, my pain button kept being tapped. Life naturally moves this box around, like a wooden labyrinth. So often, the pain button is just avoided. Other times, you keep slamming into that same darn spot.

This weekend that. A work experience where I wanted advice *pain button*  I wish I could ask Dad for help. Seeing my sweet friend’s 2-year-old sit with her “Papa” * pain button* “Dad, I wish you’d get this for yourself”. Driving home, thinking about Easter  *pain button* “I wish you both were here and we were having Easter dinner at the house”. Our house. Life *pain button* loss of parents stirred up. Over and over again.

I can go days, weeks even, without the pain button being touched. But man, did I make up for lost time it seemed.

And I’m ok. This is human. I can still feel, breathe, cry and an hour later, smack a tennis ball so hard, laugh with a cashier or honk at the drive that cuts me off.  Because life goes on, even if its hard. Even if I miss you more than I can express.

Oh, and pain button, you are welcome to take a vacation this week. You’ve been present enough. 🙂

 

Kindness is always paid forward

Today, I was late to work. Late due to a doctor’s appointment and delays on the train. The main lobby of our building in midtown Manhattan could not be used. Someone lost their life last night in front of our doors. A brawl that left a bar, and left one man dead.

The day was filled with meetings, productivity, sighs, and laughs. But like many days, you become absorbed in the day to day, the monotony, you disconnect from the truth you seek to be.

 

As I hung around later into the evening, a co-worker and I quickly caught up. When I realize how difficult of a time he was having I asked “what can I do for you”? He was so shocked, tears glistened in his eyes as he said “thank you. No one has asked me that”. We chatted about a few ideas, nothing that could be solved in the moment but with promises to touch base again.

Fast forward to nearly 10:30 pm. I am home from the grocery store trying to prepare my car for a donation tomorrow. But I can’t seem to get the back license plate off. The screws are rusted and stripped. After efforts with multiple tools, I realize this will not happen tonight.

Without a question, as late as it is, I text my landlord, asking if I can borrow a wrench in the morning from his workbench. He immediately writes back that he will get up early in the morning to take the screws off for me.

Just as my coworker did when I shared some kindness, I cried at this kindness. I felt helpless, not sure how I could change this situation or get the aid I needed. It can be so hard to reach out and ask for a bit of help, but if we don’t, we may miss those moments to allow others to be givers.

So I wrote to my coworker. Thanking him for allowing me to be with him and share some kindness, as I truly believe it opened me up to asking out of my own need and then receiving such help as well.

Perhaps it truly is “in giving that we receive“.

What we cannot share

No one knows, I realize. This game of loss is just me &…. No. It’s just me. 

Tonight I watched the latest episode of “This is Us”. If you’ve not gotten hooked, beware. If you ever need a jolt into tears, this script will do it for ya.

Two siblings, as close as can be, start to remember their Dad’s death from years ago. The sister has processed it recently. The brother still hasn’t. Their father died while they were in high school and are about 35+ now.

What moved me was the the last scene, the brother admitting to his sis, yes I have a really hard time thinking about Dad and his death. But. But, but, but. It’s on the phone, they just made up from after a fight, there is distance. So while he starts to cry, he shuts the conversation down.

This is grief.

Yes, there are moments when you are in it with someone- a friend, relative, partner, sister. But more often that not, you are in this journey alone. No matter how deeply connected you might be to another, who is missing that same person, who lived through the same timeline, it is not the same experience. To each, their own.

This is human.

For all the times I have heard, “You are not alone”, the one phrase I want to retort is “Yes, but I am. We all are”.

Hear me out. I am quite a gregarious person, who loves connection and meeting others. But nothing feels more true than the wisdom of I walk in this world in my shoes, my mind, my heart alone. It does not mean I am not in community with another, it does not mean I am forever lonely or lost. We enter this world alone, as unique, individual selves. And we leave it, changed I am sure, but alone and unique as well.

I will not say the alone-ness is “all ok” and “fully beautiful”.

But when grief wells up within me, there is no one who knows the pain better than myself. While I can share with words, no one else can live inside me- know what I am thinking when I cannot express it, know what physical changes I feel within my body, and no one can truly know what it feels like within my soul.

In that truth, there is liberation. There is the freedom that stops me from seeking someone, or something, ‘get it’ or ‘take it away’.

So even a sister to a brother who seem to have experienced so much the same in their life, their grief, their journey, their process will never be the same.

This is us. Human. Alone. Liberated. And maybe somewhat ok.