Saturday, December 28, 2019

People "As Trees", Ageism, Grace in Each Stage, Christmas and Yule.

Over the Holidays strangers, old friends, in laws, close family, new friends, and acquaintances often pop into our normal routine. This year some advice changed these interactions into magical affairs (for the most part.)

"...You see all these different trees... some of them are evergreens and some of them are whatever and you allow it. You see what it is - the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn't get enough light, and so it turned that way and you don't get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans you lose all of that. And you are constantly saying, "You are too this, or I'm too this." That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are."

I had to google whom Ram Dass (the speaker of the quote) was but I read this quote randomly and it hit hard. Often wisdom can come from people we wouldn't completely agree with nor fully support or maybe we simply have no idea what they stand for but quote them anyway ( like I just did.) There is still beauty. Just like the trees. I have not read a Ram Dass book yet his advice arrived at the right time. The same day I read a quote that basically asked the reader to allow their inner daisy (being yourself) to shine on every interaction and see how different the end of the day could feel with that mindset. I put the two together and asked myself, "If I could look at the people I invite into my home as trees, in the fact that they just ARE what they are, I would not judge them based on their facts- especially for one night. If I could view them this way, then allow myself to just BE, and purposefully try, when I can, to spread light and joy...or at the very least a bit of love or the gift of being SEEN for a moment in time to them, would my experience be any different? Would theirs?"

I can not testify to their experiences but I can to mine. I have three conditions related to my cycles. PCOS, Endometriosis and my new diagnosis of Adenomyosis (with Anemia). With these I bleed heavily and feel awful amongst other things. Christmas happened upon my worst day of my cycle and the days surrounding were not much better. Despite this, I woke with a tenacity to try my experiment. To show up in the best ways I could. I also took rest and respite in the down times. With the mindset above and gritty determination, I had the best possible Christmas in my personal scenario. It will go down on record as one of my favourites so far. I noticed minute details of people I often overlooked in pain moments. I stopped and allowed myself to BE and others to BE also. I put aside my self conscious weight conundrum (mostly) and realized I am whom I am no matter what weight. Thus I acted the same as when I feel skinny or fit. People I don't generally get along with, became tolerable...even enjoyable. When they were trees (metaphorically speaking) and when I viewed myself through a similar lens, it was easier to just appreciate what was and what is.

Part of being myself is honouring what is important to me and vocalizing this to people I know can handle it. (Not all can.) I took a leap with my sister a few months ago which led to her knowing the importance of the Yule celebration in my life (and subsequently my family's.) She surprised me with a text the week before asking if she could plan out Yule, decorate, make food and have us over. It was one of the highlights of my year.

Typically I despise Charades due to being an Aspie and past teen horrors, but we tried it that evening with just my children, husband and sister and I found that games can be fun in safe spaces. Spaces that are infused with mutual trust and allow for awkwardness. We ate nourishing soup my mother made and a Yule log my youngest son made with his Pappa. My parents did not join the after dinner festivities (which was just as well due to the nature of our celebrations) but it was nice to include them in the prequel...and due to my sister's new found knowledge on my self she bought me a SORTING HAT from Harry Potter for Christmas. Apparently my reaction was priceless!

Someone recently remarked that perhaps perspective is about "growing up." While I understand that rhetoric, it did not sit well with me. If I look back to my past self, I would not expect her to grow up before her time. She was what she WAS and was the best version of what she could be, with what she had. Youth also gave her a unique perspective. Maybe she was more volatile with the passion of youth? Perhaps she was a little impulsive or hasty in comment? Maybe her perspectives were still growing? Yes, she had plenty to learn but isn't that the beauty of youth? There is time. There is a cushion of protection to make mistakes, try new theories, even become a zealot for awhile in the idealized passion of change. Youth allows change, boundaries, slip ups and living without fear of the passages of time. Youth helps create the world.

This fact does not negate the beauty of middle aged perspective or the wisdom of old age or crone hood (a term we should resurrect as good and respectful.) Youth brings it's gifts and eventually, if one is lucky, experience and life turn into mid life and then onward. The gifts of life may change. Sometimes one needs to mourn in order to change, but to dismiss what came before, or to see youths as less than, seems arbitrary.

I was recently dismissed as novice in a new pursuit. I AM a novice to a degree, but that does not mean I am idiotic, do not have new perspectives to add to the conversation, or do not have wisdom. At any age we can be dismissed by others older or younger. I don't feel this is the way to go. We ALL have to be younger before older and if we are lucky, we all will eventually be older too. To dismiss, demean, or judge based on age negates the beauty, the incredible privilege of each age...and can turn any aged person into a sour shell of what they could be. Novice, naiveté and innocence bring their own gifts.

I have changed for better and worse. Mostly it renders neutral. Christmas is an excellent example of this. In my youth I experienced even more magic in one sense but I was also was more stringent about what I expected to experience with family and friends. I craved acceptance but was purely un filtered. Two options that did not always match. As I am in midlife now, I find that I am filtered a bit more and have that acceptance to a degree. It's not better or worse. It just IS. In some aspects life is easier, in others it is tougher. I may fluctuate as the seasons do and I have learned this is also part of being.

There is one thing that makes life easier as it progresses and that is the intricate lessons we take with us as we grow. 'Life hacks' so to speak. Age doesn't bring it necessarily, but often it can be a by product of age. I know older people who have regressed or forgotten that they can still grow. I have seen children at age four learn life hacks and lean into their lessons.

With these lessons I now can view people who found me disruptive or not worthy, mostly neutrally. It took a lot of work, but with new perspectives, I now see what once hurt as mostly a turn of perspective or circumstance. I can see now, why some family/friends found me hurtful, upsetting, or insulting. I can also see how I wasn't truly in most regards, but that does not change how I came across. Thus, it is easier to forgive those mindsets and also to apologize for hurt caused even if I do NOT need to give an apology for whom I was or the choices I made. There is a fine line that we all must choose to walk if we want some degree of harmony or friendship and it involves being respectful enough to extend apologies even when we do not fully understand how we hurt, but to also OWN our stories and live unapologetic within those. It's tough. I don't always find the line. Sometimes I find the line in retrospect. If that is the case I forgive myself for coming across in a way that ultimately caused hurt for myself or others and realize my best apology is probably behavioural change. Sometimes it also includes a verbal form of peace but also an acceptance in myself that it was what it WAS and I know without a doubt I did my best with what I had.

I wrote to my mother over Christmas that I wanted to age gracefully. Which doesn't mean that I won't have moments of bitterness, trauma, grief or pain. What I meant is, that I do not wish to be stuck in myself so much for prolonged periods without embracing change, differences or allowing what is to BE while still fighting for what should be at times. But mostly, I want to be a person my children or grandchildren wish to be around in some shape or form. Maybe I will be the 'reading grandmother' or the one who has outrageous ideas to talk about? I am not saying to be traditional, acquiescing, trampled on or harmonizing for the simple sake of conformity. What I am saying is that, I want to be true to myself but also temper reactions or perspectives to see others too, so that they wish to invite me to their occasional gatherings or visit me.

The last few months in my life have had both magic and mayhem. There has been gasping physical pain in which I have been on the floor wondering if I would die from it at times. But then, I have also had so much beauty. Sometimes they go together. At other times they could not be more opposite in time and space. There has been exhaustion and energy, toxicity and empowerment, insight and lessons, relationship and disintegration. That is just life. I am honoured to be a part of it. I wish to have many more years of this human experience. There is a time for judgment and a time to let go of the judging. If we have the honour of many years on this planet, we will hopefully circulate through these stages many times with new lessons or fresh perspectives. Hopefully with a bit of grace with those we love. And grace for ourselves when we inevitably fumble, stumble and shut out or down of necessity. But we WILL be the judger and sometimes we need to be, to activate change within or without, but if we get stuck too much in that pattern it's nasty. We may also become the doormat which sometimes is necessary to find our new path, but when stuck too long in that pattern it becomes depressing. There are places and spaces that are appropriate to talk about our pain or are safer and there are others that we must hide. It is impossible to be safe everywhere. At the same time it is good to fight for more safe spaces. Sometimes I'm the advocate and sometimes I am blissfully unaware. The world needs both unbridled innocence and critical thinking. Freedom recognizes the dance of opposites and paradoxes.

On the night of Yule, the six of us gazed through the large back deck windows and watched the large flakes of snow slide past. The lanterns and twinkle lights reflected in the glass. The candles flickered while the stove pleasantly crackled. We had moments of silence, where we simply just basked in each other's presence. My heart was full. I love Christmas even though we have had some tough ones. I can't help but feel the unified magic to a degree. I adore Yule. I am in love with Midwinter.

Midwinter is a tricky season of repression, hibernation, struggle and cold mixed with hygge, sharp beauty, community and gifting. To me, it represents daily life on a larger scale. Freedom embraces paradox. Joy is in the simple. Love is found where it is often lost ... in a different form or perhaps to fill the place that was lost which enabled a space for something new? Most people are irreplaceable in their forms, but the love? Love can be found in surprising places. It lights us up like the glittery lights on a Christmas tree or enhances like the mushrooms on the Yule log. I firmly believe in the magic that love can win.

Song Choice: Glittery- Kacey Musgraves ( I watched the 'Kacey Musgraves Christmas' on Prime at least three times:)

Friday, December 13, 2019

Yule. The Next Right Thing; Coming to Terms With Diagnosis, Dreams, Mother Moon, Frozen 2, and Resilience.

Beautiful bounty is often ignored by current sorrows. Mother moon sings while she empties her chalices of the past as she wanes, "Let go of the past. Other's do not want to hear about it anymore unless you still need to tell your story to heal but if your holding on simply to hold on- maybe your own self doesn't want to hear it? Don't allow the pain of today to blight out the current blessings. Move forward in hopeful anticipation of all that is and what could be. Come child, dream into this night instead of living in nightmares."

Dreams are more precious than silver. Why? Because they light us up with renewal and allow us to hope for the future. When a new diagnosis happens in life, whether in health, business, or on the home/ relational front, often we experience a temporary loss of dreams. (A diagnosis in this context meaning identifying signs and symptoms.) Current blessings flee to that elusive cloud where the lost things go and we are left bereft. Or so it feels. We feel we are that lone toy soldier trying to beat the drum to inspire cadence to a silent army of ghosts. Will we ever hear that music of the morning? Will we ever be whole again? Did our truths get mushed into the mire of grim reality? Or are they the stars shinning above but masked by the haze of initial shock? "I've seen dark before, but not like this. This is cold. This is empty. This is numb. The life I knew is over. The lights are out. Hello darkness, I'm ready to succumb...This grief has a gravity that pulls me down..." (Frozen 2 Next Right Thing Lyrics.)

And time continues to tick it's tock. We revisit the past to make sense for the future, but sometimes we get stuck. We forget to release our concerns, the blues of rejection or the security we take within pain. But who are we without that pain? And if there is literal pain that persists, how do we still make the best life we can within it? Can we let whom we were yesterday go?  "But a tiny voice whispers in my mind. You are lost. Hope is gone. But you must go on. And do the next right thing." (Frozen 2 Next Right Thing Lyrics."

Yet, yesterday perhaps troubles were not so far away. They are here now, new information, new tears, but the heart can always find another way. And if that is too comes down to the next right thing. "I won't look to far ahead, It's too much for me to take. But break it down to this next breath, this next step. This next choice. Is one that I can make. So I'll walk through this night, stumbling blindly toward the light. And do the next right thing. And with the dawn, what comes then? When it's clear that everything will never be the same again? Then I'll make the choice, to hear that voice and do the next right thing..." (- Frozen 2 Lyrics sung by Anna.)

The shadows recede in morning light eventually. Until then, through the darkness, sometimes the next step is the next best thing. "Can there be a day beyond this night? I don't know anymore what is true. I can't find my direction. I'm all alone..." (The Next Right Thing Lyrics.) Resilience is that admirable quality that requires the person whom has been broken, strained or bullied by life to recover in some shape or form and continue becoming whom they already were, are and will be...usually by taking the next step and breaking it down to the next step after that.

It's not about wondering whether we earned that next step. It's not about being only content with life when we are in control. It isn't about NOT being enough or TOO much as we are currently. In all our messy magic, it's about being what IS.

Awakening comes in stages. Transformation often happens in elusive, liminal spaces. Recovery takes much more to recover our muchness. The muchness from which we know we are worthy, imaginative, unique, loved and part of nature. We are children of sparkles, light and beauty, when with radiant clarity, the magic seeps in. But sometimes, there is so much dark it feels like there are no more wisps of music or light. We want to close our eyes against the darkness. Perhaps for a moment we do. But then we realize we are still taking that next breath. What follows is a next step. And opening our eyes we still may not see any light but we choose to walk another step regardless. Not realizing that we have entered a pocket of numb protection. It is what it is needed. For the moment. It is a place to let the tears slip, allow grief, be angry without judgement, and lose ourselves in darker dreams. And we step again. And again. And again. And again. Until we see a soft glow. The gradual gentling of nightfall reminds us that we can not rush healing.

After days of steps, falls and confusion, we enter another liminal space between. We suddenly feel a bit of certainty...we made it through for a reason. It's time to show ourselves find what is the core within. We no longer walk on trembling legs. We have lost much. But maybe, maybe we can find something different, within ourselves that is muchier. That opens the door and we grow into that unknown space. Some of it may be worse than expected but if we look for the right things, the next right thing, we see more sacred innocence, mature beauty, and wizened knowledge. Out of the darkness comes a light. It is both within and without.

Yule/ Christmas mimics this process. Eves of preparing. Our sorrows are put to sleep as we anticipate being awakened by gentle light. We are renewed. We find new dreams in the midnight blue that showcases each snowflake. The cold moon reflects off of white. It's no longer black in the sky. We can see the footprints in the snow of where we have been. Do we want to go back? Why would we want to retrace the crunches of snow back into our darkness? Holding on to remorse, regret, bitterness or the same old stories from the past are the same as walking back into that place we could barely stand.

Instead we hopefully look ahead. The crisp landscape beckons with enticing sparkles leading us onward. We see trees covered in frost. We ponder. The trees do not seem to resent their load. They don't break with the heavy cold. They bend. They don't refuse their burdens but instead with welcoming energy they enhance droplets of arctic to pleasing aesthetic. Their branches are happy to hibernate and host the complex formation of the ice crystals. Beneath brittle beauty the warmth of the tree is rooted underground. It knows what it is and what the cycles of life bring. The trees shine in the drenching moonlight as the silence ensconces the atmosphere. Swirls of snow continue falling and fly around like time often seems to do. The moon continues to reflect light.

And we chose what we are going to do. We do have a choice in some way... almost always. We look back and already our old prints are filling up with fresh glimmers. We could retreat. Some do and we don't blame them...perhaps they need more hibernation in the liminal? We know others run into the snow with abandon or fling themselves into the cold embrace to create snow angels with imprints and heat. That sounds like a nice approach too. Maybe we are that person when we decide to let yesterday go?

Or maybe we are that person who still has to carry pain? It will be our reality until we die, despite best efforts of health, meditation, faith or community. It does not give us an excuse to expire our next breath willingly... (In most cases that is. There are often exceptions to everything...even exceptions.) In general, most of us, do not want to have our footsteps lost in the snow. Walking is easier than it first was, where each momentum forward took every last bit of strength. What was a stumble is now tentative. One day it may be a marathon or at the very least a leap or jog. But for now, those who still carry pain, continue to walk a tad more heavily. But their prints are theirs alone. The snow proceeds to fill up their deep, sorrowful passings with individual and collective sparkles. The Oak moon is ever present and it watches with a soft inspiring glow. The winter night exhales and kisses the night with quiet rejuvenation. Silver lines the edges of perspective. All it takes is a step and the aura of nettle as a reminder to pay attention and dreams are in the embers of the soul. Slowly they will awaken again.

Until then it's another step, another look up through the frosted trees and up to the twinkling stars that glimmer through the snowfall, and another moment of focused BEING. No longer are you lost. North is true North. Resilience is in the next right thing. Nurturance is found in nature and community. Loving return of light is found within.

Wherever you are, whatever you struggle with or are grateful for, and for whatever season you are in or stage of light, be it Morning or Midnight, may you find yourself.

Yule Blessings;

* If you want my opinion on Frozen 2: I LOVED it. I was not a huge fan of Frozen 1 for multiple reasons though there were parts I absolutely loved and related to (AKA Elsa.) Frozen 2 incorporated depth, grief, emotion, magic, elements, and the right balance between Extroversion and Introversion. I found it was more cohesive, intellectual and emotional while also whimsical with love at it's core. The songs were beautiful lyrically and dealt with complex topics like maturity, changing (which is hard for everyone at times), growing up, being lost with choices, finding yourself, grief, and keeping that elusive tie between magic/myth and practical pragmatism.  "Into the Woods" (click) finally showcased Glees' Jonathan Groff's 80s rock band voice! My heart did several joyful leaps with that song. I had memorized it before we even stepped foot in the theatres. I loved the Bee Gees Moose scene. We have already gone twice and the songs have been on repeat. The entire journey seemed to mimic my last year and I cried through the entire movie the first time. In the second viewing I enjoyed all the incredible beauty and gorgeous songs. Idina has been a pivotal part of my healing journey since my twenties with Wicked's Elphaba and continues this tradition with Elsa.

** For anyone curious about the rest of my diagnostic process email me. I generally am not ready to talk about it except in a few places I have healthily divulged. The pictures of life are ever changing. I am not a stranger to diagnosis. Some have been accurate, others have actually been the first step to deeper issues. Each one has been a process of pain, discovery, change, crisis and sometimes ironic redemption. ( To be clear this is not about anything previous I have written. New information has come to light. Some diagnosis are more personal, have more consequences in other realms or require more space to absorb and figure out what the next right step is...for each person they are different as we all have different fears, strengths ect...)

Song choice: The Next Right Thing- Frozen 2 or here

And for Fun: Lost in the Woods- Jonathan Groff ( Immense joy has been found in playing it over and over!:)