My Inner Worlds
Over the past two years Matt and I lost a lot—many people worldwide have suffered tragedy, so this isn't a surprise. As a snapshot: we lost our two canine children, two cars, a house…and my mom. Our furry friends were a blow to our hearts, we adjusted to the physical assets, but my mom still has me grasping for a way to frame the life I’ve known as Sarah.
I was a daughter first. Mom went through so much to bring me into this world (insert “almost died”). Dad was the first person to hold me in an unexpected home delivery with no medical support. My second day of life introduced my older sister and brother. Ahhh…so I’m a sibling, too…not to mention a granddaughter to those supportive adults who surrounded me for pictures and snuggles.
Through life I took on new roles and identities. A student, a friend, a laborer to earn money for education after high school. A girlfriend, a lover, a wife, and finally a mom to her own version of children — five beautiful dogs who had their own personalities during the short years that are allotted to them.
But my first role of daughter stuck in ways I never anticipated until Mom passed last November. I won’t belabor mother-daughter issues — you can read about my feelings of our relationship in this post I wrote five years ago. Mom was in a facility for seven years where she could live safely with Alzheimer’s disease. I truly thought her passing would not affect me other than a few tears and moving on.
It’s five months later. Mom’s memorial service will be held in two days and I’m spinning with grief. My mental concept of losing a closed loved one did NOT take emotions into consideration. My body has a completely different idea about this relationship.
The morning Mom transitioned I had an incredible bedside experience that I’ll share at a later time. My sister Cheryl called me at 7AM on November 15 to say, “This is the call.” I burst into tears even though I had expected this, was even grateful that Mom no longer suffered, passing less than one day after the last of her children said goodbye to her. But wow, it punched me.
For almost a week it felt like something important had been jerked out of the middle of my body. I’d like to say that I immediately thought of the umbilical cord my body shared with Mom for over nine months, but it took a little longer than that. Energy work and awareness of our energetic bodies has been a part of my life for over twenty-five years. But it never clicked that I had an unseen umbilical cord still attached to my mother.
As part of my grieving and healing, I fell into a new artistic hobby of painting kindness rocks. While Mom lived I never developed my drawing or painting skills because I had so many siblings who are incredibly talented in that area. I chose to focus on other skills. But I’ve chosen to learn a new art form with Mom at my side.
The rocks aren’t all that beautiful at first glance, but the love and mother-daughter connection put into each of these works of art are priceless to me. These rocks will be my memorial gift for everyone who attends Mom’s celebration of life. And knowing that only I can appreciate some of them, I have a place in my Mom Memorial Garden where they can find their forever home and the love a mother will give.
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.
Tomorrow marks 48 years of my breathing this planet’s air, consuming nutrition grown on its land, and hydrating from the vast water supply on the sphere we call home. It also marks the day when I honor the call I’ve avoided for the past several years. My creative nature must rise from the hidden dark corner where I stuffed it in my first decade on Earth. I use logic and reason to restrain its growth and expression, and guess what? Like any neglected child, it now has issues and requires family therapy.
When Matt and I signed up for a series of personal integration workshops this spring and summer, I knew changes would happen. Why would we invest in flying to Phoenix, AZ not once, but three times if we didn’t think there would be benefit? Our first training module occurred in mid-April and flattened me for an entire week. I could barely think and felt extreme exhaustion. The second week I felt better physically, but all the trauma and distress I thought I’d dealt with from my childhood came back. Not just to revisit the old material—oh no, I got to see new stuff. You know, the second season has to outdo the first or else the audience will get bored and no longer watch the show. I remembered more blocked experiences and had to process them. I woke from a dream last Friday morning that left me unable to eat much of anything the entire day. I’ll spare you the details. By Saturday I felt better and thought I had processed what the dream meant.
However, today I woke feeling ill because yesterday I did everything “old Sarah” would have done to hide from her feelings. I completely skipped meditation, yoga, and bodywork, while indulging in food, wine, and binge-reading fiction (which ironically was about a grown woman who remembered she was raped as a girl—even in my escape, I can’t escape). I’m tired of avoiding my power, my creative nature, my gift to those who are meant to read what I want to say or write in whatever form it manifests.
Yesterday was a taste of the life I’m trying to leave. I don’t want to be numb anymore. So my gift to myself is to stop running and hiding. Running away doesn’t work, and I’m only making myself and those I care about miserable. I have a structure in place to face my inner self and allow her to shine through the visage I allow the world to see. Do you like the conceptual art that aligns nicely with how I see that inner light?
This past week was a pretty balanced one. Yoga tired me and reminded me I need to take it slow as I build my practice back to what it was last fall. Work offered unique opportunities, but allowed me to stay in my quiet zen-like office for as long as I wanted. I felt good and in my flow.
My flow broke when I returned a call to one of our stakeholders. I’ve never truly interacted with this particular woman and regretted the need for a conversation after ten seconds on the phone. This lady was filled with spiky, intense, destructive mojo that absolutely destroyed my peace of body and mind. She argued and actually told me she didn’t care what I had to say (I was explaining financial policy that is out of my control). Ugh. After attempting to be gracious in a no-win situation, she finally allowed me to hang up the phone. But that didn’t disconnect the attachment that formed between her energy and mine.
I’m a Reiki Master, and I’m in tune with energy around me. It has taken years of practice and awareness to balance myself, body and mind, in different environments and tough situations. The effects of this woman’s lack of regard and stabbing intent sat heavy in my gut for hours. Even writing about it brings the feeling back. Eventually I found my equilibrium and went on to have the peaceful sort of day I love and enjoy.
Yesterday I had lunch with a dear friend and relayed this story. She and I met 16 years ago in Reiki Level I training and became fast friends, taking our remaining classes together to become Masters. She reminded me of one of the symbols we learned: Raku. Reiki is based on using symbols while allowing the universal energy to flow through the practitioner and into the person/animal/situation needing healing or wholeness. A Reiki teacher uses Raku to separate her energy from the student after attuning the student to a new level.
Duh. What took me hours to accomplish on my own could have been done within minutes if I had used Raku to separate my energy and emotions from the woman-on-the-phone’s spite. I need to have this symbol on my cork board so I will always see it at work when I end a phone call. If something isn’t in front of my face, I tend to forget it. I trained hard to become a Reiki Master, but I’ve allowed some of that knowledge to fall into the cracks inside my skull. It’s time to dust off the Reiki symbols and see if there is a new and improved way to use them in my life. If I can rediscover a cool use for Raku, then surely more tricks await my creative spin.
What ways do you find effective to keep healthy, safe boundaries with those who think they can intrude into your emotional space? Reiki is one way. I’d love to hear about others.