Today is the last day of my being 50.
I started my 50’s being pregnant. Her name was Isabella. She was a healthy vibrant being, so much so that every sense inside me was heightened and rich. Animals were drawn to me, stillness and the richness of nature pulsed as if glowing. I wrote every day while she was with me, we had an ongoing “conversation” that was wordless but came out in words on the page. For months I was vibrating in another world. When she decided to leave she said, “Mama, it is my time to go, it is your time to do what you are here to do. That is why I came, to remind you, to show you, to be with you over the bridge but now I must go back.”
I did not want her to go. Never mind about detachment and impermanence. When it comes to being a mother, I don’t care what you say, there is NO detachment and IT IS permanent. Once there, that life never leaves. They may be in the heavens, but they leave you indelibly altered, your cells carry them always.
The day she left I was walking and I felt a surge that made me sit. There was no contraction, no gripping, only my heart expanding. She said it was time to go. I spent 24 hours holding her, my hands on my belly, feeling her movements and whispering…then singing, I sang all night. I don’t know what I sang, it was not conscious, it was just an outpouring of love. I didn’t want her to go, I held on, to savor those moments, I couldn’t bear the thought of not holding her in my arms. At midnight the second day, she said, “it is time”. And I let her go. I felt the grandmothers come, as if kneeling beside me, hands on my shoulders, whispering at my ears, tenderness at my belly as a weight was lifted and a being faded within. At 7 a.m. I stood up, reached inside and pulled her body from my body. I went to the hospital later that day, and my doctor was not able to comprehend how there were no remains. I had just had an ultrasound several days before and everything was viable and healthy.
After she left, I spent the first part of the year in a type of delirium. My spiritual friend and teacher Jonathan Foust encouraged me to go to Kripalu and enroll in the yoga teacher training. I spent the deep of winter there, getting up every morning, willing myself at times to follow the rhythm of the classes, falling into the embrace of the energies and community there, sinking, sinking onto the planet, fracturing off…not knowing why at times I was there and wondering why I had to stay here on earth at all.
In April I entered into a 9 day meditation and advanced asana teacher training again with Jonathan Foust and Michele Dalbec my yoga teacher from Kripalu, and found myself seeing memories and images of trauma rise before my eyes. The issues that had lodged in my tissues started to make themselves present on the mat. Sometimes meditation is not indicated in times of trauma, and I had been through already significant trauma the last 2 years, independent of Isabella, she merely opened my eyes. I found myself shifting and changing while on the mat, taking each experience when it was too painful, shifting and visualizing it into a jewel, a gem and placing it before me. I kept a 10 pound rough cut amethyst that a monk had given me on my mat as a reference.
Through all this, I asked myself…what am I? Who am I? I didn’t know. Still wandering in my heart and soul, I came to one thing: headstand. Focus on that. What? When I was 28, someone challenged me to do a headstand, having never done one and not knowing how, and in the ego of my youth, I did it. I promptly…fractured the C7 spinous vertebra, which is not really that bad considering, but it left me with debilitating pain for my entire 30’s and forcing me to leave the sport of my 20’s, kayaking. Because of this, I went to physical therapy school, and when that modality didn’t work started studying more alternative light touch therapies and energy healing.
So back to the headstand. I made my goal to do a headstand freely and to be able to do it for 5 minutes by the end of the year. 4 weeks ago, I was able for the first time ever come to full stand without being against a wall. And this week I held it for 3 minutes.
In April as well, through another series of “growth” (read “wtf”) opportunities, I started “re-practicing metta and committing myself to a 90 day practice. The first 30 days, I used the Buddha Padmasambhava and Jesus as the means of extending love to myself as I was struggling just to comprehend how I could extend love to a self that was struggling just to breathe. Yoga practice all aside, Buddhist teachings aside, St. Francis, and all the great angelic hosts aside, my humanity was just flat out saying “love me, I forgot how”. Awakening to one’s “Path” is disorienting, connection even more so.
I signed up for the Wanderlust Yoga Festival, and went west to Whistler. Sleeping in the wild woods, being visited by a bear in the wee hours of the morning in my tent, an eagle flying within 20 feet of me while doing yoga on a paddleboard, running up the ski slope with a hawk at my side, and taking 4 classes with Seane Corn, more classes with Shiva Rea and MC Yogi, the experience brought me closer to something inside but still found me adrift. I left Whistler and went on through British Columbia and Whidbey Island, spending time with family and looking for reconnection. Where was my mother? Oh right, she was dead. Was she really? No. Wait where are you? Here: In that face, in that tree, in that breath I take. Ok.
Through out all of this, Robbie and I traveled, camped and celebrated the different parts and joys of being 6. He is an amazing child, having weathered so much death these several years and with chronic illness, he is a testimony to the wisdom and resilience of youth. He teaches me more about mindfulness than I could learn in any class. He is my joy and pride, a real gift. He told me before I even knew I was pregnant, that everything was okay in my belly. He made Isabella a christmas card and told me it was okay with him to have a sister. What a child. I can hear my mom laughing in the heavens. When Isabella died, it was the only time I have ever seen real grief on his face. Even with my mother dying, he was at peace. But with Isabella, his whole face screwed up in to tears, and then a shudder went through him, and he reached out and said, “Mom, it is all okay.”
In August, I went up to teacher assist at Kripalu in Megha Buttenheim’s Introduction to Yoga and Meditation which happened to be the same weekend that Seane Corn was there, a truly good vibin’ weekend…followed by 4 days with Jonathan Foust, Tara Brach and Ruth King in a silent meditation retreat…then another invitation to Kripalu! A weekend assisting with Bhavani on Introduction to Meditation. Kripalu 3 times in one year. It was good, but traveling and the constant shifting broke my body down a bit and I ended up spending 3 days in the hospital to make sure my heart was okay.
There have been many more experiences, all mostly superficial. Except of course with my interactions with people. For me, that has been one thing in my life that has never changed, people. I love them. And for those few I am close to, I always seek to deepen, to nurture, to see. And for those I work with, the same. My gift is in illuminating the shadow, which is uncomfortable for some, and can create discord, but if you are open and willing to stay around, to listen together and stick with it, beauty unfolds. For under that shadow is of course, deep stillness, peace…great love. Somewhere inside, I cannot help but love, WE ALL cannot help but love. I have suffered terrible anxiety in my life…as an empath and intuitive…I have struggled mightily in my life to not take on others shadows as a way to identify and connect. And I have shut down and gone away many many times so as just not to feel. I see the deep pain of others, and have put up my own walls of pain as well. Throughout this year, my heart wanted to shut down, and it did at times, but a living force has been driving me forward and i hear myself say, “no way. there is no other way. love, that’s all.” Even in my darkest moments, my heart has said, “no other way. love”. Isabella says, Robbie says, “Mama, you are here now, and we need you, the world needs you.”
And so here I stand in the 6th decade of my life.
I started out the year saying to myself, “I am a healer. A healer of myself. I am a mother. I am a lover. I am a householder. I am a partner. I am a friend. I am an aunt. I am a sister. I am a cousin. I am a writer. I am whatever anyone thinks of me.
And I end the year, saying, “I am not a healer. I am not a mother. I am not a lover. I am not a householder. I am not a partner. I am not a friend. I am not an aunt. I am not a sister. I am not a cousin. I am not a writer. I am not whatever anyone thinks of me.
No more effort. I am. Breath. Feeling. Alive. Here.
May all feel this love, this place of no effort…and in so doing, may this world be a better place.
Namaste my friends. Thank you for being in my life.