Compassion for the Grieving

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Black dresses need no words.

—Black dresses need no words—

Having lost my mother only weeks ago, I’m doing the best I can to continue to work, pay bills, stay engaged with “life,” and be a source of encouragement to my father.  Oh. And stay positive, because as you know, our society has a low tolerance for anything less! It sometimes seems that the “compassion well” ran dry. To be clear, this has not been the response where my mom’s death is concerned. To the contrary, people have been gracious and kind and definitely compassionate. But her death triggered something for me that needed a much closer look. (I thanked her a few times for this!)

Wondering whether it’s best to stay as busy as possible (which I have been doing) or to “sit” with grief (which I also feel the need to do) I did some research and found a lot of great information, but far too much for one post.  So for the sake of this post, the message doesn’t concern how to grieve or how long to grieve, but rather the importance of distinguishing between grief and depression because they are very different. More importantly, I’m writing this to help prevent inappropriate actions and advice to those in your world who are grieving. In other words – be more compassionate.

Kelly Buckley was at the receiving end of inappropriate actions and advice. Shortly after losing her 23 year old son, she encountered a perplexing (but common) response from a doctor during a routine exam when she suddenly teared up over her tragic loss… “Paxil or Prozac?” he asked her, without so much as a simple condolence or a empathetic ear. Whoa.

Thankfully Kelly, a medical professional herself, understands what the majority of the population doesn’t. That grief and depression are not the same. And while medication has its place and should be respected when used in the right circumstances, it is too often the quick response of an ever growing population that doesn’t want to be bothered with your grief! (Or maybe they just don’t understand it.) When anti-depressants are subscribed without listening, comforting, or communicating, you run the risk of numbing the pain and preventing necessary growth or the need to uncover core issues.

Thankfully, my own family doctor took a different approach. She took my hand and let me cry while she whole hearted listened. Then with compassion she explained what I already knew. That grief should not be dodged or rushed because it is an important and natural process (i.e. growth). And in my case, growth and uncovering core issues is far more important than numbing the pain!  I’ll explain…

As I said, my mother’s recent passing triggered something for me. It gave me a lens to evaluate situations that I hadn’t fully processed…or misinterpreted…or stuffed. Namely, the ending of a long-term relationship with Mr. Wonderful back in the winter. He couldn’t hack the mourning I experienced through several life changes that happened over a short span (relocation, son leaving the nest, career change, etc.) His actions and advice were inappropriate and his complete lack of empathy actually prolonged my grief process. Perhaps it was the labels he used to demean me, like “depressed”, “bipolar”, “psychotic” (and some I can’t mention), that nearly broke me. Hadn’t he used those same labels to describe his ex-wife to me?  Because I’d stuck by him through his own set backs (some physical issues that required hospitalizations), I was blown away when his response to my emotional state was, “I can’t put up with your sadness, you’re on your own!”  And his parting gift (given to me on my birthday) was the news that our relationship was officially over because he’d found someone new. Thanks, but the cake would have been enough.

Was I depressed or was I grieving? I wasn’t sure. But either way, he had me believing I was unfit to be in a relationship. One of our last conversations was just before I left for Florida where I had hoped to spend a few weeks healing, mostly from that final straw – the breakup. I went there to grieve, but more importantly to get as far away from the source of my pain as possible. Twelve-hundred miles away.

And who schedules a vacation at the very same destination, at the very same time, and brings my replacement along with him? You guessed it. Mr. Wonderful. My family doctor was more outraged than I was when she found out! If I hadn’t held her back, I think she would have hunted him down with a club!  I really love my doctor.  “Passive Aggressive!” was the phrase she uttered as she shook her head back and forth. “He knew you were going there to grieve and heal and get away from him and all the heartache, and he had the nerve to bring his new girlfriend down there?  Honey, no, you don’t need medication! You just need to set much higher standards with men!” Grieving = growth.

About a month after my return from Florida, my mom passed away.  Grief of a different type.  I got to thinking about the black dress that women in some cultures still wear after the death of a loved one. In my own family, the black dress of mourning hasn’t been worn since my grandmother’s generation. A judgmental, impatient society branded it as “morbid” forcing many to forgo something that held such importance. The dress wasn’t “morbid,” it was a “statement”. It replaced the need to explain oneself. It was the unspoken message that everyone understood. “While this dress is on, please don’t expect me to come to your block party, or to volunteer at the church bazaar, or to square dance…because I’m in mourning.”

The black dress (dresses) would be worn for weeks, months, sometimes a full year, depending on the mourner.  I have a feeling that the women who kept it on the longest probably had a Mr. Wonderful who made them feel like shit for being sad and maybe even undermined their healing – and so they just kept the damn dress on! (Where Mr. Wonderful is concerned, vivid colors all the way.)

Thanks, mom.  I could sense your presence with me today.

Be sure to visit Kelly’s blog on the “Hello Grief” site.

 

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(c) Copyright 2016 – BareNakedTalk – All Rights Reserved.

In Memory of Mom

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This post is dedicated to my mom, Lynette J. Santoleri, who journeyed to a safe haven on June 6, 2016.  With her guidance, I wrote the following tribute for her memorial service which took place on Saturday.

Lynette J. Santoleri 1936 - 2016

Lynette J. Santoleri  |  1936 – 2016

Everyone here had a unique relationship with my mom. To some of us she was a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, or a mother-in-law. To some she was a cousin, an aunt, a neighbor, a friend, or a confidant. To my dad, she was a best friend and a wife of almost 62 years.

Everyone here had a unique perspective about my mom. To some she was a comedienne and the life of the party. I remember how she loved to catch people off guard with a quick wit and a sometimes risqué sense of humor. To some she was a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear and a problem solver. To some she was a seamstress who could whip up a few festive floor length skirts for her daughters to wear at Christmas, or make matching dresses that had my younger sister, Jennifer, and I looking like twins. To some she was an incredible decorator, giving expert advice on wall colors and draperies. To some she was a visionary and a master crafter – I remember how she transformed a couple of 2 x 4s, some plywood, and a few tiles into a coffee table that looked like a priceless antique…or how she took some bits of nylon pantyhose, cotton, and red fabric and made a tiny newborn baby that became my favorite tree ornament.

Yes, my mom had multiple talents, but like many women of her generation, she was caught between paradigms – of living up to the ideal of the perfect homemaker – like a Donna Reed, or of taking a risk and exercising her independence – like a Gloria Steinem. And although she opted to stay home and raise a family, I could often sense her frustration at having to put a lid on all that she might have been if our culture had been more supportive and less judgmental.

As a highly sensitive individual, I often misunderstood my mom’s frustration and took it personally and it cost us precious time. But it was her frustration that became my driving force to live a different sort of life. In other words, in her own unique way, she motivated me and helped me to cultivate my own free spirit. Through her, I was able to become a more independent women, to leave relationships that were unhealthy, to step out of corporate American and put my own talents to use, and to fulfill my own dreams and passions (and maybe even some of hers).

And although she chose a more traditional route, those who knew mom the best could easily see her non-traditional side seeping out. There were the big hoop earrings and chunky costume jewelry and her ever-changing hair color and styles – I especially loved her bold decision to sport a soft orange afro and bright green eye shadow in the late 70s. There were the long thin brown cigarettes that she puffed on more as a fashion statement than any desire to smoke. And there was also her non-traditional decorating, like when she transformed the colonial dining room in our house in West Chester into a mini Egyptian museum, complete with hand made scarabs that she molded out of clay. Or when she lined the walls of the front entrance with dozens of cactuses of various varieties and sizes.

My mom was incredibly artistic and could often be found at our large kitchen table with paints, clay, crayons, embroidery thread, and ceramics, where her creativity became evident. She also loved playing Chinese checkers or 500 Rummy and I came to believe this was her non-traditional way of opening up conversation with her kids.

During her last several days on earth, I spent more continual one-on-one time with my mom than I had in a long time. I held her hands and told her all the things I had never been able to say. I assured her we would always be connected, but that we would have a different relationship – a better one. I also asked her to put on my heart, whatever it was she wanted the world to remember about her.

The other night I started to write her eulogy and after a page-and-a-half of typing, my laptop crashed and wouldn’t restart. Everything I had written was gone and according to Apple support, it was quite possible that my hard drive was shot. I took the laptop to Microcenter the following day where its usefulness is still in question. Perhaps it was mom’s way of telling me I wasn’t listening!  I had failed to write what she wanted me to write. I borrowed my son’s laptop last night and once again, I asked her what she’d want the world to remember about her. And this time I listened. My mom would want you to know the following:

She put a high priority on honesty and had an aversion to those who deceived or stole from others. I remember the time we went Christmas shopping and after leaving the store with her purchase, she realized the sales girl had short-changed the store by giving her too much change. Where most people would walk away, my mother went right back into that very crowded store and stood in line for almost 10 minutes just to return the extra $5. Even the sales girl was surprised. But that was my mom and she prided herself on that quality – she told me that it was something her parents, especially her father had instilled in her. It was an admiral trait and he’d be proud to know she took it so seriously.

My mom was extremely open minded when it came to structures or attitudes that divided people, like religions or politics or racism… She was an early embracer of the non-traditional family, and of multi-cultural, multi-racial, same-sex marriages – as long as people were kind and honest to each other, she could accept what most people resisted.

My mom loved deeply and that love was often conveyed in worry. She worried about her kids the most and would take on their pain, illness, sadness, and frustration as her own. I sensed early on that my mom felt the pain of others – even strangers. Like the time I was a passenger in her car as she drove to a doctor appointment and suddenly pulled off to the side of the road to help some elderly man make it up and over the curb. He was struggling and almost lost his balance as we were driving past him. She threw the car in park, ran towards him and linked arms with him until she was sure he had a solid-footing on the sidewalk in front of him. When she returned to the car, her eyes were moist. That’s the day I realized my mom was also a highly sensitive individual like me.

Like many of us, my mom was afraid of the unknown – especially death. She held on for days, probably for fear of what lie ahead. My dad, siblings, and niece were blessed to be with her when she finally took the step into the great unknown. I saw the look on her face change from struggle and fear to focus – as she truly saw the safety in the new world that awaited her. In that very second, I believe I saw exactly what she saw. A blue oasis, where the sand melted into the sky.  A small white dove dotted the blue background waiting to greet her. I knew she had just arrived and found myself saying out loud, “Mom! You are finally safe!” I felt immediate peace as she let go of this world for the next one.

Two nights ago, I opened a folder given to us by the Director of Hospice shortly before my mom died. It contained descriptions of all the wonderful services offered to the grieving family. In the very back of the packet, behind all the printed material was a single page. A poem printed on a scenic piece of letterhead. Chills ran down my spine. The scene was a muted beach where the cream colored sand met the blue sky. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was so much like the vision I had shared with my mom just days before. The poem was too perfect to be a coincidence – it was confirmation from my mom, that not only had she arrived safely to a world where fear doesn’t exist, but that our relationship continues on, only better.  

Below is the poem I found in that packet. Thank you to author, Henry VanDyke, for the gift of these words:

“I am standing upon the seashore.  A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.  She is an object of beauty and strength.  I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says:  “There she is gone!”

“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight.  That is all.  She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.  And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There she is gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

And that is dying.

Mom, may your spirit soar freely and may your soul experience the joy you have longed for. I love you.

(c) Copyright 2016 – BareNakedTalk – All Rights Reserved.

I Love You Not

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daisy-flowerNarcissistic love affairs seem to be on the rise. Did I say love?  “Ha, it may be an affair, but it’s anything but love!” is the sentiment shared by an increasing amount of men and women who now look back over the fantasy they thought was true love. I was intrigued enough by their stories to do some research and found that Narcissism is actually considered a form of Domestic Violence.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) offers the following definition of DV:

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.

From what I’ve learned, Narcissists will almost always attract a very trusting soul. They seek out highly sensitive partners (HSPs) who wear their feelings on their sleeve and are overly empathetic. An HSP is the Narcissist’s prize catch, because *she will rescue him from all the “bad” people in his life. She will go over and above to make up for the wounds that he suffered at the hands of his “neurotic” ex, or his demanding children, or his dysfunctional boss. She will make sacrifices to meet his “limited” schedule and his inflexible demands, and she will ask little in exchange; just knowing that he “loves” her is enough.  (But remember, it’s not love!)

So why would she comply to conditions that seem way off balance? Why would she agree to give far more than she gets? Isn’t she the idiot for getting involved in the first place? No. Not when you consider the smoke screen he uses.

The Narcissist has a method, or to use the phrase provided by the NCADV, “a systematic pattern of power and control.”  It is through this system of emotional and psychological abuse that the Narcissist reels his partner in, clouds reality, and renders her “useless” at the end.

The trauma of psychological violence and emotional abuse is not obvious to the outside world. In fact the subtlety of these types of abuse can fool even the victim (HSP) themselves, and therein lies the problem. Through progressive and thoroughly orchestrated manipulation of their partner, the Narcissist slowly but surely isolates them, takes away their decision making power, destroys their self-esteem and convinces them that they are mentally unfit to be in any relationship.

Sound far fetched? If you saw “before” and “after” snapshots of the typical HSP, you would become a believer. They are often rising stars and pillars of optimism at the start of the relationship. By the end (however long it takes for them to finally wake up), most aspects of their life have crumbled to pieces – the last piece being the relationship itself. They have lost control of their life and they blame themselves.

That is exactly what the Narcissist wants, because he uses that as the excuse to move on to his next victim.It is deception of the worst kind. Worse yet, he draws on the sympathy of mutual friends and family for the so-called “hardship” he endured having been stuck with such an “unstable basket case.” In doing so, he drives a wedge between her and everyone he knows leaving her isolated.

Those who shared their stories had another similar sentiment, “Nothing hurts as much as the realization that what you thought was true love was anything but love.”  Each one in their own way said that no one wants to believe that the words “sweetheart, you are the love of my life” were inauthentic or have been uttered to every person before and every person after them. But one particular woman had a great point when she said, “I would prefer to accept the fact that he is incapable of love, than to accept the lie that he shoved down my throat, that I was unlovable.”

*Although written from the “female perspective” it is important to know that both men and women can be Narcissists and HSPs.  It isn’t about gender anyway – it’s about putting an end to silencing victims of Domestic Violence because in silencing them, we prevent them from educating themselves or safely opening up about the trauma they suffered. 

The following author paints an interesting picture about narcissistic “love”:

The Love Story of a Narcissist and His Victim – by Shahida Ariba

Once upon a time, his tenderness wrapped around you and his fingers traced the outline of your tattoo as his lips brushed against your ear. Most love stories begin with a kiss; this one begins with a well-constructed mask and premeditated murder. A first meeting where the conversation is sex itself; language becomes a weapon and a medicine, a healing balm for your wounds and a sick game of Russian roulette.  (Continued here…)

As always, your comments are welcome!

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(c) Copyright 2016 – BareNakedTalk – All Rights Reserved.

Ode To Love, Past and Future

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couple-distance-resizedI’m going to love him more than I ever loved you. I know that more and more each day as my eyes open to who I really am and what I really had with you. It may have taken a long, long time, but I’m now fully aware of the fantasy I created while I was with you; the fantasy of a man who loved me unconditionally and was genuine when he said, “You are the love of my life.”

That fantasy belongs to another man whom I mistook as you. Everyday his presence becomes clearer to me as yours fades away. He is stepping into my reality now that I’m finally clear. Like me, he has been personally transformed by his own brokenness. He has humbled and ultimately flourished and become a whole man who has what it takes to be with a whole woman.

Emotionally stable and secure, he is knowledgeable on a wide range of topics and his diverse interests add to his appeal. He is solution driven and strives to make the world a better place by beginning with himself and his personal relationships – because he realizes the world around him is a direct reflection of him. And for these reasons, self-growth is his top priority.

He abhors the absence of interdependence and knows that the world will suffer if it settles for anything less, so in every decision he attempts a “win” for all involved. And he protects those involved by forbidding political camps, triangulation or anything else that lacks integrity.

He is flexible and open-minded and doesn’t cave under pressure (or the pressure of his most valued partner) because mutual respect and emotional support in times of trouble is the truest sign of love. And though he will not enable, nor expect to be enabled, he is keenly aware that the storms come and go for all of us at some point in time.

This great soul looks beyond the surface because he is astute enough to know that a compassionate heart is his partner’s sexiest feature. And it is that very feature that will connect he and I and form a bond that cannot be broken.

Yes, I will love him more than I ever loved you – but it is because of you (and the remarkable relationship that we shared) that I am becoming a worthy partner for him.

And for that, I am forever grateful to you.

________

(c) Copyright 2016 – BareNakedTalk – Lynette Landing – All Rights Reserved

***If you like what you read, please hit the “like” button (and share it with others!)  

You may also enjoy the following posts:

By the Grace of God, I Was Dumped!,

Life In the VoidWhen I Break Down, Casinos and Break-ups,

Are You Too Understanding?

 

By the grace of God, I was dumped!

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I was dumped for trying to protect my boundaries (something I finally learned to do after a lifetime of never having them). Being dumped may have been difficult, but not as difficult as having my boundaries violated over and over. By the grace of God I was dumped.

Heart break can be the greatest gift if you look closely…

 

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Faith, Miracles, and a Renewed Purpose

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UNDENIABLE COVER 2014Wednesday, May 4, 2015

From a very early age, I knew my life would have to be fascinating or it wasn’t worth my time. It would have to include the mysterious and the miraculous and take me from very low points to very high points in order for me to see the whole picture clearly. I knew I would take the lessons I’d eventually learn and share their message with the world. Maybe that’s why, as a toddler, I used to line up all of my stuffed animals classroom-style and play teacher. I was practicing.

At 5 years of age, I probably didn’t realize it would take me half a century to finally do the sharing. But some lessons take time…and sharing of the message cannot precede the lesson or it will be unauthentic and therefore useless. It took me forever to get that.

Miracles exist. They are regular occurrences that most of us miss. They require faith. If the word “faith” makes you uncomfortable then substitute it with something else. Use the word “belief” or “anticipation” or “expectation” or “knowing.” Those who believe, expect, anticipate, and know – are the ones that experience miracles on a regular basis.

What has happened to our ability to experience miracles? We rarely hear about them unless we dig deep. Has the media jaded us? Have we become too stressed? Have we lowered our expectations so much that miracles are no longer within reach? It seems that we’ve replaced the desire to experience miracles for the pleasure of complaining. Unfortunately, the art of complaining has far reaching consequences. It breeds negativity that can destroy an entire race.

Isn’t it time to choose miracles again?

This book is about faith, because faith it is the vehicle to miracles. I use the word “faith” because it is the word that was shown to me when I first received the inspiration to write this book on October 21, 2009.

“God” is another one of those words that can make people uncomfortable. Throughout this book, which spans several decades of my life, you’ll notice I use a variety of words to describe “God” depending on where I was in my spiritual journey. I’ve used the words: Goddess, Universe, Source, Creator, Great Spirit, Divine Feminine, Almighty, Higher Power…and even the word Team. These words may hold an entirely different meaning to you; therefore choose what is most comfortable.

On and off, throughout my life, I’ve lost my faith in many things, including God. Which is odd for someone who has not only experienced some of the most incredible miracles, but has also had some of the most fascinating interactions with God. A spoiled brat may reside in all of us. Mine was out of control at times. Losing faith in ourselves can send us spiraling into dark and scary places emotionally. I have struggled with that as well, yet always seemed to bounce back. Recently though, bouncing back seemed impossible, no matter how much I tried to save myself, no matter what I did to change the momentum. When hope diminishes, so does our recollection of purpose.  A string of “bad luck” and heart break corroded my purpose and I felt very little reason to exist.  For the first time in my life, I felt dead inside. In the darkest moment I’ve ever experienced, my faith in God was miraculously restored.

God will use any method necessary to wake us up. In my case, it was a storefront psychic in south Florida, less than one week ago.

When I started this book back in 2009, I never expected it would take me seven years to complete. But I’ve learned that the book is a living, breathing aspect of me that has it’s own timeframe in mind. The book knew I was far from ready to write about a subject as important as faith, even if I thought I was. I had a lot yet to discover about faith before I was permitted to pick up where I left off.

I returned to Pennsylvania from Florida on Monday afternoon with an entirely new understanding of faith. On Tuesday morning, I felt the gentle nudge of God directing me to pick it back up again. “It’s time.” The book is finally confident in my ability to continue as planned.

May your faith in you, in God, and in all of life, open you to the world of the miraculous!

Lynette

(Preface for an upcoming book:  Undeniable: Blind Faith in the 21st Century)

 

(c) Copyright 2016 – BareNakedTalk – Lynette Landing – All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

Naked and (Less) Afraid

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the-creation-of-adam-detailGood news… My soul and I are reunited and back in business. According to my soul, we never split up or stopped doing business even if it seemed that way to me. She tells me this:  When your life seemed to freeze up like a rusted old motor, that’s when the most important work began.  Rusted old motor is right! It felt like a piece broke off and jammed itself inside that motor and nothing moved! Life got stuck and became very confusing. My soul assures me: Major work was happening just under the surface.

When I left PA for FL a few weeks ago, I brought only two books with me. Three weeks into my trip, I finally grabbed one and read it cover to cover within three days. I’ve had it for several years, but you know how it goes with books. They’ll sit quietly until the day comes when their message find its way to you. The book, Broken Open (by Elizabeth Lesser) came on this trip to give my recent suffering meaning. It revealed the purpose behind that suffering and removed the confusion, guilt, and self-hatred that almost destroyed me. It helped me to dispel judgements that came at me from the man I counted on the most, and to shed my own judgments towards him for abandoning me while I was flailing around in the dark. There was a greater story going on behind the scenes that I’m slowly beginning to appreciate.

This new understanding isn’t an instant cure, I still have crying jags over many losses, but like rain showers in South Florida, they are short in duration.  Hope was something I feared I’d never have again.  Now I feel a renewed faith and excitement about the future.

In Broken Open, Elizabeth calls this transformational journey the Phoenix Process in honor of the mythic bird with golden plumage. Famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell, calls it the Hero’s Journey.  Lissa Rankin, MD calls it the Space Between Stories. Some refer to it as a Personal Crucifixion or a Personal Sweat Lodge. I called it the Great Unraveling or most recently The Void  Whatever you call it, you’ll be required to go through it at some point in your life, even if its during your last days on earth. And while it ain’t pretty, don’t push it off, because in going through the dark, you’ll find the light, the forgotten dreams, the unseen miracles.

For the sake of this blog, I’ll refer to it as the Great Transformation

The Great Transformation is the Soul’s calling for our internal change (or breaking open). Change is hard. Letting go is hard. Leaving the familiar is hard. And these are all reasons most will resist the process. Some will feel the Soul’s push to change an outdated internal pattern to create a positive change in their intimate relationships. If they resist the call, they’ll miss out on the greatest gift; a miraculous metamorphosis of everyone around them, including future generations. They resist due to fear. They search for an escape route, often with a new partner. And down the road, they’ll sense the same uneasiness they experienced in the past, usually more daunting this time around, because the Soul will stop at nothing to bring them into alignment with their highest purpose. You may be able to postpone the Great Transformation, but your life will suffer grave consequences in one way or another.

The Great Transformation can come through divorce, separation, addiction, tragedy, watching a loved one suffer or die, the loss of a job, or any number of human atrocities.  But keep this in mind.  Not all losses trigger The Great Transformation.  Because the transformation was never about the external conditions of your life.  It’s about the internal you.  Your beliefs, fears, patterns, etc.  The Soul merely uses the external circumstances to get your attention, then it’s up to you to go inside and make the internal changes.

So even if you’ve suffered a major loss or devastating set back, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve gone through The Great Transformation.  Years ago, a disastrous divorce left me without a home or a sense of community. It threatened my security, wiped me out financially and cost me many valuable relationships. Although it rattled my world for years, and positively changed me on some levels, it was not the Great Transformation that my Soul was looking to trigger. I was too focused on the external changes and adapting to them.  While I did make some internal changes, I didn’t hit the mark, according to my Soul, who “kindly” gave me another chance 2+ years ago (an earlier blog describes some of the external changes, and even as I wrote that a week or so ago, I didn’t understand what was really required – the deep internal changes that create new life).

As I said, most people resist the Soul’s calling for the Great Transformation, because change and letting go is hard.  But there is something that causes much more resistance.  It is the fear of death and it is something that almost all of us struggle with to some degree.  Death is a strange and daunting cloud that hangs over our heads from birth.  When we are called by the Soul to transform, we resist with every bit of strength we can muster, because deep down inside, we are fully aware that this process demands the death of our former self in order for us to live the life we truly want – to be the authentic person we had in mind when we entered this earth stage.  I think Elizabeth’s book title sums it up perfectly – Broken Open.

If you’ve been through it, you are nodding your head right now. You have the battle scars and have reaped the rewards that come with going fully into the dark. And you’ll agree that OH MY GOD is it ever painful, emotional, tragic, lonely, and frightening as shit!  When my Soul began tapping on my shoulder 2+ years ago, my son had just finished college, my house had good energy, my training business was growing and I was in love. Why mess up a relatively good thing? I ignored the calling. And as I’ve described in previous posts, one thing after another was taken away from me. I assumed with every external change, my life would start “working” again. But it didn’t work again. I just spun my wheels and wondered if I was invisible. And then I plummeted into despair. I intuitively knew that this was an epic transformation that I had to face head on, otherwise I’d have to face it again in my future, yet I kept latching on to the things that were being taken away to gain some sense of control.

awakening

The Turning Point

A stroke of luck…a client postponed their April training until May which allowed me to drop everything and go to Florida for a month.  I knew I had to finish this process and face the death of the old me.  I didn’t realize how incredibly frightening such a process could be!  Someday I will write about it in much more detail, but for now, I’ll just tell you that on the worst days I could feel the angel of death walking with me. No lie. I came to the conclusion one night that I must have agreed to be a human sacrifice (like the women who dove into volcanos). That was the moment I fully accepted the idea of death. In other words, I faced the concept of losing myself completely and stopped searching out some quick fix to feel better.  I embraced the possibility that I was losing my mind and would no longer identify with this world or other humans. I had no choice, I had to embrace that thought. So I let go of fighting to survive or improving my emotional state and I allowed my whole being to be brought into the shadow.  In doing so, I surrendered to the most terrifying thoughts, visions, and judgments.

Miraculously, the broken piece that had jammed up the motor came loose and I actually felt movement for the first time in over 2 years. By movement, I mean I felt the momentum change directions. There was hope!  Within 48 hours, I felt my life kick back on in an entirely new way.  I sensed the flow of life…the connection to my source.  But this was not the “flow” of life as I used to think of it. It’s the one I always dreamed was possible but could never figure out how to get there. As I sat on the beach yesterday, I wanted to record the miraculous change in mindset.  I let my Soul explain it to me as I wrote the words:

The False Flow You Accepted as Real

The former flow of life you thought was real was actually a false construct of this world. A manufactured flow that was anything but real. It was structured and rigid and had rules and restrictions. It enslaved and consumed and constricted creativity. It was fear based and controlling and judgmental. It required long hours of arduous work and little time to enjoy soul connections with others.  It distracted your attention from the very earth you chose to inhabit!

This false flow caused you to trade in nature for cubicles and assembly lines. You traded whole foods for pharmaceuticals. You traded soul-filling messages that come from creeks, mountains, oceans and trees, for energy draining directives of television and computers, where you sit endlessly escaping the hell you’ve grown accustom to.

And you accepted all that as real?  Yes, you (and almost everyone else you know) considered these things the flow of life!  The natural order.  But it is far from that!  You stepped out of the true flow a long, long time ago and blindly accepted a false reality!  This isn’t science fiction or some airy-fairy philosophy.  This is the absolute truth!

true flow

The True Flow Awaits Everyone

It beckons you and everyone else to return to it. Like a lactating mother with no children, she’s suffered her own pain and she’s pulling her babies back to her breast now.  One at a time. They resist. They’re afraid! How can they possibly leave this enslaved life behind? They don’t trust that they will make ends meet. They don’t trust they’ll have food! They’re handcuffed to a daily commute through traffic, endless hours in an environment that is mainly set up for the sake of profit, and micromanages it’s people’s time off. Yet they resist it even still and give more and more of their freedom away. They’ll forfeit their true nature for the peace of mind that the mortgage will be paid, that the kids will go to college, that the car will run efficiently. But it’s a false peace of mind!

When they feel the beckoning of the mother, the true flow of life, it’s like a stir inside their heart. Somewhere deep inside, they know she’s right. They know there is a better way! They know there has to be more than this!  And they’re pretty sure she’ll have their back if they take the plunge… but the “What If’s and How Will’s” scream so loud it drowns out the sound of her call.

“What if I leave my high pressure job for something that feeds my soul?  Who will pay the bills?”

“What if I quit grad school?  Who will hire me?”

“What if I take a hiatus from my family to find myself?  What will they think of me?”

“What if I get rid of my possessions and my “suburbia” lifestyle?  Will I still respect myself?”

“What if I say no to everyone who expects something that I’d rather not give them?  Will I let them down?  Will I lose their love?”

“What if I leave a relationship that seems to make both parties miserable?  Will I live to regret it?  Will I be alone forever?  Will God judge me?”

“What if I break free from a life that feels like a noose around my neck and instead put my needs first? Will I seem selfish?  Will I be the laughing stock?  Will I be shunned by society?”

“How will I possibly survive if I heed the call?”

going with the flow

Let me assure you of something…because you were willing to die to your old self and your old understanding of the “flow” of life, you have now been reintroduced to the true flow of life.  The one you used to believe in before you became jaded and fearful.  Before you lost faith.  Just look around you!  THIS is the true flow!

I had chills when I looked back and read what I’d just wrote.  Nothing every seemed more true.  I thought about it long and hard…

When I made the split decision to come to FL – I was on the auto train within 24 hours at a rock-bottom price. The timing was perfect, the price was perfect, the conditions were all perfect. I found a cycling place within minutes of the house where I’m staying. Everything is convenient and easy. In other words, everything flows without a lot of effort. While spending time in a climate I love and focusing solely on me and my needs, a few unexpected jobs came in – easy, decent paying jobs I could do sitting in the sun, and the income was deposited directly into my bank account without the need for me to even get out of my beach chair.

I’ve been so used to griping through the pain of the Great Transformation, that I barely noticed all the good that had already begun to reveal itself. It took days for me to realize that the past is gone and this is my new reality. It has nothing to do with the external. I can live anywhere I want, be with anyone I want, do any kind of work I want. I simply had to let go of the belief that the “flow” of life I had adopted all my life was the only option!  I have been reintroduced to the true flow of life.

Sometime my mind drifts back to the past and I find myself repeating old thinking, “What if I’m making this up in my head?  What if I can’t trust this and everything comes crashing down again?  What if I can’t get enough work to survive?”  I immediately feel stuck and anxiety returns. But I’m learning how to rewrite the program.  By facing my greatest fears and embracing death, I am assured that the past is the past and no longer part of this true reality where there is nothing to fear. So I simply surrender and breathe and just do what feels good in the moment. Like swim, or walk on the beach, or sit and stare at the blue sky, and immediately things start to flow again. The words come to me so I can resume writing projects, or a new training lead comes through email. Things fall into place easily, gently, with very little effort.  I’m getting use to the new way and less likely to fall back to old thinking.

Going fully into the dark helped me to see the light. 

And-the-answer-is-02

The Answer

All my life I dreamed about doing work that not only filled my spirit, but gave me the freedom to travel the world while I was still young enough to see it, and to have a fun travel partner that was eager to join me. In order to fulfill that dream, I needed to get right with myself and let go of things that held that dream back. Over two years ago, my Soul tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Wake up, baby girl, it’s time!”  In order to experience the true flow of life where my dream resides, my Soul helped me to let go of the following:   

Trying to please everyone. Constantly seeking approval. Forming unhealthy attachments to people or things. Constant worrying that I’ll offend others by honoring my own needs. Fearing rejection. Over apologizing for other people’s BS. Lowering my standards just to be in a relationship or have a man in my life. Sticking with relationships that are incapable of change or growth. Taking inappropriate responsibility for others. Forcing others to take inappropriate responsibility for me.  Judging, criticizing, gossiping, labeling.  The need to say yes, when I should have said no. Holding onto material possessions that weigh me down or no longer have purpose for me. Living in a house that no longer suits my needs. Backing down on important issues instead of standing my ground. Denying my own principles to keep peace with others. Absorbing other’s skewed opinions of me or my journey in life. Squeezing into a mold that doesn’t fit me. Maintaining a lifestyle that was stagnant, difficult and completely opposite of my dream. Worrying about rocking society’s boat by letting this free spirit loose on the world.  Believing that the former flow of life was the only option!

As you can see, there was a lot of letting go to do in my case.  That’s exactly why the process took over 2 years.  And holy shit – letting go is excruciating!  Yet we are forced to let go long before we understand why we need to let go!  That’s were faith comes in. Faith helps us to let go without seeing the future.  It minimizes the time and pain involved in the process. (Don’t allow yours to take as long as mine!)  I resisted letting go of life as it was, with every cell in my body, no matter how unhappy I was. Thankfully, my soul wouldn’t let up. And because of that, I am beginning to experience the dream of a life time.  After an upcoming month-and-a-half filled with writing and training, I’ve decided I may head back to Whidbey Island or Mount Shasta; both are truly magical places.  And after that… (I welcome your destination ideas! I’ve got a lot of world to see!)

wand

Final note:  A few years ago I was invited to Key West to speak to a hospitality association.  I brought my significant other.  The speaking engagement was short and sweet and was over the first day of our trip which left us with several wonderful days to relax and see the sights.  LIke any vacation, we were completely carefree.

At one point, we were in a very cool toy store. There was a small room in the back where people were seated in a circle watching a magician do some tricks.  We quickly realized that the small audience of people were mentally challenged. The magician had a wonderful disposition and catered his tricks for that particular audience who watched in amazement with “oohs” and “ahhs” and giggles. We stood off to the side and were awed by the man with the magic wand, not for his magic tricks, but for his compassion and tenderness for this particular audience. To my surprise, my significant other’s eyes welled up as he watched. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it and said to me with utter confidence,

“I want to do that some day!  I want to give my time to lift people’s spirits, just like he’s doing.  I want to make a difference in the world.  I’ve had enough sitting behind a desk every day just to make ends meet and make someone else rich!  God as my witness, I’ll make it happen!”

(His conviction was partially due to the fact that his boss had cut his pay right before we left for the Keys as punishment for him taking time off – because taking time off was something he rarely did.)

For as long as I live, I will never forget that moment of clarity I saw in him.  I heard his soul speak loud and clear and it made my heart melt. The man who had driven through the same heavy traffic day after day and been tied to the exact same desk for over 30 years had just been given a glimpse of the true flow of life. Unfortunately, the vacation ended and “life” got in the way and that inspiration he experienced back in the Keys withered away. Our subsequent arguments centered around limited time and too many chores and making money and paying bills and tight schedules that left little to no room to develop dreams. We drifted apart. I can only hope the day will come when he too will be broken open so that he can experience the true flow of life.

soul

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