My Inner Worlds
One-hundred and ten years ago today, my maternal grandfather came into this world as a thirteen-pound bundle of baby boy. This morning I noticed our cherry tree starting to bud, the earliest I’ve seen in the past seven years of living in this house. I love the cherry tree that grows outside the window of our meditation space. I had a harder time learning to love my grandpa.
A complicated man, my grandfather was a fervent televangelist to whom I felt no connection. He and my grandmother bickered incessantly. As a highly loyal child who fiercely loved her grandma, I felt any slight against her as a personal affront. So Grandpa didn’t earn my love or loyalty, shaping the relationship I would have with him for the rest of his life…and beyond it. He passed from his human form in 1994.
Several years ago a car drove up to my house and stopped at the mailbox. I walked outside and up to the driver’s window to see what the person inside wanted. Behind the wheel sat Grandpa Culp, smiling at me and glowing like an angel. I felt slapped, stunned. How dare he come to my home, my energetic space, showing himself to me as though I didn’t resent his presence. Yes, that was my reaction. Not “wait a minute. You’re dead and can’t drive.” I woke from this dream, this vision (I’m not sure I was really asleep), feeling my world had to shift.
Grandpa became a companion and teacher after this dream-vision. I saw the true angelic beauty within him, no longer masked by the human life he led. He worked with me as I forgave the aspects within my own life that corresponded to his (hoarding is one of those genetic traits that I have brutally and intentionally culled from my life). While it’s now rare for Grandpa to visit me, he still comes around a couple times a year, usually in the presence of one of my other grandparents. Yes, I can communicate with the non-corporeal.
After all my grandparents passed from this life and into their truer forms, I learned that the one I believed “the least among us” was a brilliant, incredibly beautiful light that shines brighter than the rest.
Thank you for the gift of budding cherry blossoms, my special teacher and friend. Happy birthday wherever you are, Grandpa.
Years you’ve held my hand, balancing the steps on my chosen rocky path
Years you’ve seen the beauty inside, as blindness shackled me in self-made chains
Years you’ve believed in the woman hidden within
Thank you for spending twenty-six years as my husband. Happy anniversary, Matt.
Late bloom. Born in the creeping night, you don’t yearn for light like a blossom grown in summer. Stretch your stem. Reach for the star who watched you form. Let the moon caress your velvet cheek as you peek from the birthing heart. Shine in the growing dark. Your sisters watch through sleepy eyes, waiting for their favored time of warm days and summer’s song.
Matt and I were opposites when we felt that first spark of attraction almost thirty years ago. He was erratic and unstructured, while I held my feet on the ground and valued logical process. During our twenty-five years of marriage, Matt and I have integrated the strengths of the other, making each of us more whole. I’ve learned to think outside the box and to free my creative self. Matt has learned the value of staying in one place for years, despite his craving to always move to a new location and experience that for a hot minute before moving on to the next.
In 2018 we intentionally pursued integration work, traveling three times to Arizona for intensive classes on how to defragment those pieces of who we are that get splintered off as we experience childhood and our adult lives. It has been more than worth the time, money, and tears.
Using this new lens of integration, I now view my world as reflections of me. If somebody irritates me, I now ask myself why. What is it within me that is not whole, allowing this irritation to enter my life? It’s been a valuable tool and helps me continue the work I learned in class.
Last month Matt’s brother came to live with us. He’s a sweet man, and I’m glad he can enjoy the love and safe haven Matt and I have crafted into our home. However, I’ve trained Matt for twenty-five years to do things my way in the house. He gladly humors me because he doesn’t care.
Enter another person raised in the same chaotic household as Matt…things aren’t going my way anymore. For instance, I have a weird thing with doors. They need to be open. My family didn’t close doors (even when they should have), and I feel claustrophobic without the air flowing freely from room to room. With another person in the home, naturally doors need to be closed. And I’m having a problem with it. Since Matt complies with my view of the way things should be, I never realized how big a deal a closed door is to my health and sense of wellness. While it seems stupid, I know there’s an underlying issue in my psyche that is gently telling me it’s ready to be seen and healed.
What is it? I don’t know yet, but I’m committed to work through this dissonance and to come out stronger for having seen it.
Have you noticed an issue that makes no sense in your life? If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear about it. Together we can work on our integration and healing, bringing that much more wholeness into our world.
Our first night in The Stanley Hotel led to an interesting experience. For those who aren’t familiar with this historic place, it is the setting for the interior scenes in The Shining, a movie based on Stephen King’s novel. The place is known to be haunted. Ghost tours run several times a day, bringing many corporeal visitors to the grounds.
It isn’t unusual for me to wake in the wee hours of the morning, an unfortunate side effect of aging. The first night, I woke at my usual time, cracked my sleepy eyes a bit and saw a glowing form standing next to my side of the bed. In the split second between my brain registering a body where one shouldn’t have been and my gasping quite loudly, several things ran through my mind.
First, I thought Matt had gotten up and ambient light in the room bounced off his naked body, creating the glow. (There was no ambient light in the room.) Then I wondered why he was acting creepy and standing over me instead of shambling into the bathroom, the door being near my side of the bed. I drew a loud breath, but held back my scream. I felt startled, like any sane person under these circumstances, but didn’t feel scared.
I realized this was not my beloved husband standing over me. He still slumbered next to me in oblivious dreaming. The form disappeared as I fully woke, but I felt the strong presence of a pregnant woman. Her body hadn’t looked pregnant, and as I felt into her more, I didn’t believe she still was. Pregnant yet not pregnant. I wasn’t sure if she had died in childbirth, had a stillborn baby, or miscarried not yet at full term. Somehow this ghost woman believed she was pregnant, and I felt intrigued enough to want to know her story.
Sadly, I couldn’t get her to communicate with me. I went back to sleep, and when I woke for real at a reasonable hour, Matt shared with me that throughout the night he felt the presence of a woman. She didn’t try to communicate with him, but a woman kept weaving in and out of his dreams, making them weird.
Do you believe in ghosts or in the spirit world? Have you ever seen something non corporeal? Please comment below and share your experience. I love a good story!
John Denver’s song never made much sense to me when I was younger. At one point someone mentioned the high was from drugs, but I didn’t grow up in an environment that explained drugs and didn’t understand the connection. My family listened to John Denver because the lyrics were clean and safe for our conservative home.
Now that I’ve been in the Rocky Mountains for over 24 hours, I understand what John referred to—altitude sickness. I’m weathering it better than Matt is, but I still have to catch my breath if I walk too quickly while wearing my backpack. Last night I woke in a panic unable to breathe, but after realizing it was just the lower oxygen level creating that feeling in my body, I fell back asleep. Matt barely slept and isn’t handling the high very well.
This morning we drove down to Longmont to meet a friend for lunch at Sakura Japanese Cuisine (amazing food and wonderful owners). We were amazed at the difference in mental clarity and the ability to breathe. Estes Park, Colorado lies 7,500 feet above sea level. Longmont is at 5,000 feet. My precious husband and I are used to oxygen levels found at an elevation of 315 feet—a huge difference.
We are supposed to hike in the morning with another friend. I’ve already warned her that we need to enjoy a nature walk or a mild hike. Matt thinks we can handle a real hike, but I’m not so sure. Maybe I’ll get to post pictures of one of us fallen to the dirt trail or having to be fed oxygen in the back of an ambulance.
Four years ago we successfully climbed the Alamos Vista Trail near Santa Fe, New Mexico, a hike that began at 10,000 feet above the sea and ended at 11,100 feet. So what has changed? Does age make that much of a difference? Are we really that out of shape compared to our 44-year-old selves? My goodness, but this makes me rethink my lifestyle choices. I work at a desk (and love my job), I write in a comfy chair, I play Dungeons and Dragons once a month—again in my comfy chair. And I practice yoga two to three times a week. Possibly I don’t have enough cardio in my physical activity.
Tune in post-vacation to see how I mix it up exercise-wise. Something has to change if Matt and I are going to hike Machu Picchu next spring. We have seven months to kick it into gear so we aren’t passing out in the Andes.
When Hurricane Florence became a real threat to the Carolinas last weekend, I pretended to not care for one whole day. Then a deep-seated panic gripped me, and I joined the throngs at the grocery store to find only empty shelves. We were still over four days from predicted landfall, and supplies had already sold out. I returned to the store every day at different times, buying what little had come in from delivery trucks since my prior scavenging. Were we prepared enough? How could you ever prepare for the unpredictable nature of a storm? Do we need to evacuate? We live in a flood plain and everyone says we should leave, so why doesn’t Matt seem affected? My incredible rock of a husband told me I could lean on him—that we’d be fine. And we are. My fear drained much of my energy this week, and I’ve determined it’s just not worth it to live like this anymore.
For the past four years, I have consciously worked on facing my fears. I stopped writing creatively at that time because a gripping terror waited for me two paragraphs into a new story. In order to embrace my writing, I had to leave it for a while. During this break I’ve used various tools to delve into my psyche to understand why I freeze in terror, like I’m that little girl again who can’t control the dangerous environment she hides within. Each method of self-exploration has been deeper, grittier, and has taken me to places that I couldn’t have touched without the previous tool that got me to the next level. I’ve made phenomenal progress in 2018 with integrating parts of myself that either fractured when I was a young child or that I just couldn’t have reached without doing my inner exploration. So why did I still feel crippling terror this past week even as the sun shone overhead in a clear blue sky?
My friend Sherrie Dillard posted the following on FaceBook two days ago:
I took the invitation and determined I would use Hurricane Florence to overcome this fear of inclement weather and storms. As the hurricane made landfall, a realization came to me that storms are like the void where I create. I’ve panicked for many years when I see that darkness where my writing takes me. It really looks like a void, an emptiness that is actually filled with possibility. The paradox where my creative being yearns to free herself, but my conscious self fears to enter, much less linger and play with the potential that exists there.
Knowing this creative void is truly what I have feared, and not a weather scenario, I hope the next opportunity to experience ice, a flood, or whatever else Mother Nature brings, will find a calmer Me, a more accepting emotional place. Maybe I will learn to channel the ferocity of a storm and weave a beautiful flow of delight and tension into a fictional place where many may find refuge.