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.
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.
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.
Karl and Eleanora Wolf, Matt’s beloved grandparents, have left this world in the same manner they lived life…together. Sweet Poppa held Nana’s hand earlier this week and told my mother-in-law they would go at the same time. Twenty-six hours after Nana transitioned, Poppa followed her.
I met them during the summer of 1992, a week before Matt asked me to be his bride. Over the following 25 years they became my surrogate grandparents, offering me love and warmth since my own had passed. Nana listened when I needed to voice thoughts and feelings most people would feel uncomfortable hearing, and I treasured her compassion.
I thank these two wonderful people for helping Matt become the beautiful person he is. They supported Matt and his mom during his infant and toddler years, showering him with love and affection in the critical time a child develops his base for who he will be in life. May Matt and I be blessed with long life, a long fulfilling marriage, and the opportunity to leave this world as they did…together.
One day we’ll all raise a glass on the other side. Until then, you will never be forgotten.
The integration workshop last month kicked me harder than April's module. While I can't write about it—still processing the awesome things that happened—I can post pictures of the natural beauty Matt and I got to experience in Sedona and the surrounding areas.
While in Phoenix for training, I noticed a red poppy theme and captured photographic evidence:
We spent five nights in Sedona after the workshop, not realizing we would need the calm, healing space that Red Rock country provides. Matt and I were both hollowed out when we arrived, and we benefited from quiet hikes and not being in our normal environment.
Below are two friends I met during our hike in the Secret Mountain Wilderness. I enjoyed quiet meditation next to both of them.
Two weeks ago I realized I couldn’t live with my frayed purse strap any longer. I bought my current handbag three years ago around my birthday. I had splurged, not really needing a new one back then. I probably don’t now, but I feel like my professional demeanor is called into question if my accessories are less than perfect.
I spent a miserable hour in the mall looking at ladies bags and the gaudy trend some of the really expensive ones have this season (or maybe it’s always been that way). After much obsessing, I purchased one black purse a little bit bigger than what I want, and one deep red wristlet that just looked too cute to pass up. This is why I don’t often shop—I base my decisions on “cute” and “I could use that for this one random event I might go to in the next year” instead of using my trusty logic.
When I make a decision, I usually feel good that I can click a task off my list. Not so with this purchase. It opened a pandora’s box of insecurities within me. This purse will represent all that I am to strangers. My professional competency will be judged based on this black shoulder bag, and you know what? I’m better than this Coach Chelsea cross body.
So I pulled up multiple browser windows and spent an entire week searching for the bag that represents all of me. Matt watched my crazy, frenetic behavior from the sidelines as I ordered yet more purses so I could judge them side-by-side and get their feel. Is this one me? Does it say, “You just hired me for a consulting job and paid a bunch of money to fly me cross-country and I’m worth every penny?” Sadly, no. The purse didn’t. Because purses can’t.
Matt, my beloved husband, an incredible therapist, and a deeply intuitive man gently asked me one evening as we walked the dogs, “Have you thought about what a purse might represent?” I gave him the blank stare. No, I obviously hadn’t searched my soul for a deeper meaning as my OCD reigned. But dang it. As soon as he said that, my little inner voice flashed a picture of the creative space deep in my belly that’s just waiting for me to put my valuable stories, words and energy into it. I saw the orange fire casting a comforting glow in what I named my “creative cave” a few years ago when it presented itself in cold, dark gray. It now has an incandescence that somehow has grown despite my inattention.
The compulsion I’ve felt to find the right purse was a misplaced need to put my treasured gifts and talents in the safe and nurturing environment of myself. My inner confidence and ingenuity represent who I am, not a fancy leather bag to heft around crap I don’t really want with me.
I’ve decided to train myself to use a clutch purse that barely fits my phone, sunglasses and keys. I returned the large shoulder bag I bought and gave the red wristlet to my sister, who oohed and ahhed over it because she needed a new one (and it really is cute). A perfect ending to a story about a woman finding and accepting her personal power.
Do you have a happy ending to an issue you’ve struggled with? Are you still encountering blocks or denial on your journey to wholeness? There are plenty more in my bag of tricks, but this one is enough for now.