The world is FULL.

A mantra I’ve embraced this year and repeat to my son all the time, “The world is full of magic, medicine and miracles. Every day is a new adventure.”

Its been a rough few weeks….months? I’ll be frank, its been a real rough year. For a lot of people, not just me. But the last few weeks really threatened to kick the shit outta me. I lost sight of my mantra. It happens. Things pile up, layer upon layer until you’re staring at a mountain that seems insurmountable and suddenly months of tiredness, years of tiredness, all hit at once and you want to draw all the shades and hide. The world is just too much. I know there are a few million or more people who can probably relate to this feeling right now. What is going on in the world right now feels like way too much to hold. Despite the current social and political climate, this is familiar terrain for me come mid-December. Wanting to hide out, feeling overwhelmed. And the amount of self care I feel like I need to cope seems impossible for the life of a working, single parent.

But here is the miracle, here is the magic: for anyone in a dark place right now, it only takes a tiny crack of light. When it feels like the mountain is sitting on your chest, a knock on your door can turn everything around. When you feel like you’ve fallen for the last time and you’ll never rise again, it may just be that someone else’s call for help that pulls you out of the fog and into the big bright world again. Or maybe a good homemade meal, a walk, a long hot shower. Just for today or just for the next hour. These are miracles. Maybe they don’t change the circumstance. Maybe they can’t bring order to the chaos still swirling inside you or in the world at large, but maybe – they can help us to keep breathing through it all.

I have come to realize that the real miracle is the abundance I have in friends around me who can point me back to light and remind me to keep looking for the magic, the medicine and the miracles. Earlier this month I got to visit with a long-but-not-so-lost kindred friend who I am so indescribably grateful to share this lifetime with. We have known and watched one another grow for over twenty years. We are not the same girls we used to be but somewhere and in some ways we still are. It’s weird. And though our paths have winded away from each other for years, somehow life has brought us back together at a time when we find ourselves in very similar processes. And this gift of being seen, really seen by another person and to speak the truth we see, this is medicine for the soul. 

Then this weekend I was visited by another newfound but not so new soul sister and am elated to see how paths have intertwined. We picnicked on the beach, went in search of a mysterious hidden labyrinth in the cliffs above the waves, we ate the best chocolate I’ve ever had in my life, found some magical crystals and talked and talked and talked. Time passed differently. Everything felt symbolic, every word meaningful and synchronicity abounded. My friend, she brings magic wherever she goes. And this weekend she brought it to me. 

I have another dear sweet friend who fights courageously every single day through pain and depression to keep breathing, to believe that things won’t always be this way. She fights for her life, she fights to find the purpose in her struggle and I watch her and wish desperately that I could take her suffering away. But she inspires me every single opportunity I get to spend time with her, even on her worst days. She is a MIRACLE. Another crack of light, my sister-in-law who sat with me on my bedroom floor and helped me make phone calls I was too overwhelmed to make and create a plan for getting through this last week when all I felt like I could do was lie on the carpet. And another friend who sits me at her kitchen table and makes me coffee and breakfast on a hard morning. Yet another friend who brings me oils to help with pain. My neighbors who bring over food every time they have extra of anything and have no idea that it always arrives at the exact moment that the fridge is empty. The fact that I have at least ten people I feel like I could call at any give point and say “I need help” and they would offer whatever help they could. Small miracles that are big. Small miracles that suddenly make things more bearable. Small miracles that at the very moment they arrive feel like they save your life.

I am moved to tears by the WEALTH of family, friends and community that surround me.

The little Acorn Scout asks “What is a miracle?” I tell him it is an amazing and unexpected gift. So whenever something happy happens, he says, “Is that a gift, mama? Is it a miracle?” And I laugh and say yes, yes! It is a gift. It is a miracle.

The warm sunshine in the middle of a cold December, a friend’s buoyant recovery after surgery, a gift of firewood found on our porch, a hot shower, mending a miscommunication with an apology, a steaming cup of turmeric chai with honey,holding my friend’s sweet newborn baby, the right song at exactly the right moment, cherished new and old friends, soft and warm socks, two almost pain-free days in a row, a card in the mail from a friend I haven’t heard from in too long, an extra long real hug from someone that doesn’t know all of it exactly but doesn’t need to, another morning waking up to beauty of the morning fog in the redwood treetops…treasures around every bend.

Whatever you focus on is what you’ll find. Keep looking, I tell my son (and myself). Keep watching and you’ll see… the world is full.

magicmiracles-source

Collage by me.

 

 

 

 

The in between place: Sometimes things are just shitty.

I’m in the hard holding space.

The painful, restless, unknowing place of trying to hold more than a human heart is capable of holding without knowing how anything is going to turn out.

The in between space, waiting for each next breath, each next step, having faith that healing can happen, that peace is possible. The world feels so heavy and full of darkness right now. I grieve over the war and violence in the world, I grieve with my fellow countrymen over the unfathomable corruption and devastating policy-makings of our government, over the unthinkable and compounding acts of violence and what it means for the future of our children and our planet.

Violence. Oppression. Suffering. Helplessness. Rage. Grief.

My partnership has been in its own stage of painful metamorphosis. Kind of like how the caterpillar in the cocoon has to completely dissolve before it can change form… you really want to believe its going to be reborn into a beautiful butterfly, but for awhile its such indistinguishable mush. Sometimes your faith can’t help but waver somewhat. I mean, it just looks like mush. It feels like a mess. From your limited human perspective, it doesn’t look promising. From the outside, things look impossible. Except that something tells you “Hold on. You don’t have all the information.” And you have lived long enough now and seen enough miracles to know that they are always happening.

It’s been a hard waiting. It’s been a good while now. Breathing, believing. Praying. And waiting.

There should be a meme out there that just says “Sometimes things are just shitty for awhile.” Because ain’t that the truth of life? It isn’t being negative. Actually it feels quite liberating when you remember that its normal for things to suck for awhile. But then they get better. Then suck again. And then its wonderful. And not everything hard is necessarily something that has to be (or can be) fixed at the moment. Like the world right now.

I’m going to make that meme.

Speaking with a few different friends this past week, it seems a lot of us are cycling through a pattern of feeling totally overwhelmed and checking out. I know that’s been true for me. Because it’s just. too. much.

Last week, I had to log off social media and the news feed for several days. When I came back on, I read first about Colorado and then about San Bernadino. What is happening? And what, oh what, are we to do about it?

To be awake, to be alive is to feel the darkness of the world, the heaviness when it comes, but to be of service to the world is not let ourselves be swallowed up by it. So I teeter back and forth, trying to find my balance when one after another these blows keep coming. We can choose gratitude – and can I tell you how my heart is swelled in gratitude these past weeks?? – We can focus on the positive, we can seek beauty for I have learned that there is always, always something beautiful happening

But we can also learn to sit with sorrow when sorrow is warranted, rage when rage is due, grief where heartbreak is demanded. This is what it means to be fully awake, we can’t choose to be selectively conscious. It is the juxtaposition of feeling these simultaneous polarities. We don’t turn our backs on one or the other, we don’t go back to sleep. It is the seemingly impossible task of learning to hold them both, the light and the dark. To find stillness in the churning sea. In the face of a tidal wave that threatens to wash away everything we know and to still believe that whatever the storm takes or leaves in it’s wake we will go on. We will still look for love.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroanatomist (that’s really a thing), author and stroke survivor (listen to her TED talk here) has said that it actually takes less than 90 seconds for an emotion to get triggered within the body, peak, dissipate and disappear. So anything more than 90 seconds it caused by our thoughts about the emotion. We feel fear, we instantly create a story about why we are afraid and what ifs and how the world is unsafe and we feel out of control, which creates more fearful emotions.

Feelings create thoughts, thoughts create feelings. These become the constructs of our reality.

This simple concept feel especially empowering to me right now. I can breathe through 90 seconds. Hell, I breathed through 22 hours of labor contractions and I learned you don’t waste that sweet spot in between, you take any tiny respite you can.

Breath by breath.

space between

Glennon Melton, of Momastery (whom I adore and if by any possible circumstance you are not familiar with her, her blog or her work, please give yourself the huge gift of introducing yourself) gives these instructions on how to respond to global trauma:

“1. BE STILL. Feel it. Listen. Pray. There is a word in my holy text: Selah. Selah means holy pause. The Selah is the space between what happens to us and how we respond to what happens to us. When we don’t take a Selah—we tend to respond from fear. Fear is never a powerful or transformational launching pad.

2. HERE I AM. This is the action after the stillness. This is when we feel centered enough in love to be fairly certain that our reaction will bring light instead of more darkness. We are ready. Love is our launching pad.

Stillness without action is not compassion. It’s more like pity. Compassion means your pain into my heart and back out through my hands.  Action without stillness can’t be trusted. It has no wisdom, no steadiness, no plan. It’s reckless. It’s oil on a fire.”

Let’s look for beauty.  Let’s find a little patch of the natural world and sit in it; by a rock or a stream, beneath a tree or prostate on the Earth. She is very absorbent, She can hold all of it.

Let’s tune out when we need to. Let’s do the things we love with people we love. Let’s do the things we love by ourselves. Let’s look around for someone who needs help and offer what we can for service to others is a great healing balm for the human heart. Let’s stay awake.

And let’s pray, pray, pray. (Or dance, or sing, make art or do what you do.)

Ask ourselves, “what is the next right thing?” and do it.

xo

Here ya go 🙂

shitty final

(For more good stuff read here: “What would happen if we let people be broken sometimes?” by renegademama.)

Carry on soldier.