is there a way to be lost if you’re on a wandering way?

When was the last time you got lost? Was it an enjoyable experience, or a stressful one? Tell us all about it.
via this prompt

When was the last time I got lost? What do you mean, spirituality? Figuratively? Physically, like the other day in the car? 

 There are many ways to “get lost”. I find that my life is an exercise in finding & losing: my ideas of myself, my footing, my way, the path – however one wants to talk about it.

When I rode my bicycle from LA up the west coast, I left without maps. Now granted I had an iphone at the time and the route is pretty simple, ride up the 101 or 1 and try to keep the ocean in view. Ahhh, the ocean, that beautiful compass; that healing, expansive, terrifying mother.

Along the way people gave me maps. I still got lost. And, then, I was never really lost (in that terrible panicky, achy, horrible way); for my journey was not so much about “getting somewhere”, as it was about “enjoying the journey” and “being on it”. That was enough. 

This was the supreme gift of this trip & the lesson it still reverberates into my life: am I perceiving my path as a journey or heading toward some destination?

Taking small steps, how can I plan for anything? Is there a way to be un-lost? Or is lost only a matter when you’re trying to get somewhere? Will I wander my whole life long? Is that wrong? Or is that truly the way? How can I know the way anyway?

How easy it is to get lost in a sea of questions, and then take oneself out again with a realization that it’s all about orientation. Being lost is only possible if you think there’s somewhere else to be other than where one is right now. Spirit path always reorients & takes right where one needs to be. In time, in time; patiently.

lost & found of the soul: finding true center

thanks to this daily post for the prompt!

 

lost & found

sometimes when things are lost, it allows us to more easily find something else. sometimes when i lose my fear and aversion to discomfort, i find my true strength. sometimes i lose my knack for “people-pleasing” and i am more able to find my true voice and move from my true center, unafraid of how others perceive me or my life. sometimes when i lose something, i am not lost at all, but rather am more found, by myself. sometimes when i lose friends or we drift away, it is not because i have done something, but because i am moving closer to my self, my real purpose and the relationship no longer fits into my life. sometimes in my commitment to truth, i must withstand loss. sometimes it can hurt to lose things, but what i find when they are gone is greater than the loss.

sometimes i must lose in order to find.

this teaches that loss, too, can be a gift.

dreaming in the warehouse, my mother’s strength

post inspiration via daily post


 

you are there, mom. the room is huge & cavernous. we are a in a warehouse & as soon as the dream starts i know that i have been there before, in these circumstances. it reminds me of the huge carved-out warehouses i played soccer in during my youth. the metal curvy side-walls, the football field sized floor stretching from one end to the other. cavernous.

only this time, people aren’t running around chasing a ball. the warehouse is sparse & suddenly a lion jumps in from the forest outside. chased by a puma / leopard. followed by a lumbering bear. at first the animals are focused on each other. their huge, powerful bodies collide with one another in fighting dances. my mother & i and a handful of other people crowd to the corners as the predators bat one another with huge claws & snarl and snap their sharp teeth. the bear’s roar echos through the warehouse and my whole body shakes with the thunder of its reverberations.

i am so scared. i inch along the walls trying not to be seen. for some reason, i have to stay in this warehouse and keep moving around while i am within it. i feel watched by the predators as i move. my body now palpably shakes as i edge around the perimeter. my breath is short & i feel sick to my stomach.

there are hyenas now, taunting & mocking us humans in the room. they are laughing at us & the bear, with one strong paw, swipes their laughing faces across the room. i lose the breath from within me & i am overtaken by nervousness. these are powerful creatures and i am probably going to get eaten.

and then, as i am edging around nervously, afraid to be seen, i am faced with the most curious aspect of all. suddenly i am seated behind my mother who is sitting cross legged like an astute yogi only 3 feet from a seated lioness. they are looking one another in the eye. my mother says nothing as she and the lion are rapt in shared gaze. from this, her silent example, i intuit that even if i am afraid, to survive this wild warehouse experience, i must reveal no sign of my fear.

like the good yogini she is, my mother looks as if she is unbothered, unfazed in the face of the lion. she is as powerful as these predators, i think. and they have nothing on her as she squarely faces them, unafrai. i am still trembling, but i admire my mother sitting there regally & triumphantly.


 

a few days later i tell my mom about the dream. she listens fascinated as the dream unfolds. as i finish she says, “wow, i consider it a compliment that you think of me as that confident.”

is it the tigers, lions, bears & jesting hyenas that demand my fearful response? or is it, is life’s stage, as the dream appears, an illusory mirror dictated by and responding to my behavior toward it?


 

soon after, the animals jump out of the windows back into the woods. i see them tackling one another ferociously, careening past trees and into the hollers. i feel so relieved that these powerful beasts are now playing with one another again. i sink back into my body & breathe a sigh of relief. i am safe again, unscathed. alive to live another day.

a fresh wind moves in: letting go of the angst

Today as i walked the loop by my parent’s house it was palpably a different experience for me. We moved into this house from a fish-bowl neighborhood, where everyone is competing with each other & can literally see into each other’s homes to know what they’re competing on. One of my friends growing up – her dad was a basketball star on our state’s NBA team & i used to play in the lake, others were my wild soccer team members (lots of stories to share about that!), and others were children with lame mothers who didn’t enjoy it when i would invite their daughters to play in the ice with me- so what if our feet got caught as we tromped around the icy stream beds? we were on an adventure! but i digress..

We moved here and it was spacious & surrounded by farm fields and the occasional farm house (which pretty soon got torn down as little box neighborhoods, as i call them, were popping up in their place). Good bye corn & soybeans, Hello plastic siding & same-looking boxes with same landscaping for people to live in! Everyone gets their little mortgaged square of bland, colorless earth around here. At the time, i was a very active young one – playing sports in every season, hanging out with friends, making out with my boyfriends in the basement. It was a time i look back on as being so outwardly-focused. But sometimes in my room, especially at night, i would feel this hungering ache. I would write poetry to my boyfriends or write in my journal to God. I read Edna St Vincent Millay. I wondered what it would be like to live an artist’s life and i hungered. It was a hungering ache i didn’t understand & it made me feel very very alone & misunderstood. While on the outside, perhaps everyone would’ve said, well, that girl had such a great, well-liked high school situation – and, in so many ways they were right – but there was so much uncharted territory, so much of myself, left unaddressed and, well, neglected. The plastic siding & homogeneity only made it worse.

They tore down the farmhouse i could see from my bedroom window – and the one across the street too, where my sister & i would dare one another to sneak into the old, falling-apart, creaky barn & where i got the then-wild asparagus & transplanted it into the garden. The neighborhood seemed to magnify this ache that i had. The homogeneity was excruciatingly painful. I saw it as a place with no character. Without soul. Filled with slaves disguised as people who take out mortgages & listen to everything the local news says. A place where people live in fear & do not think for themselves.

My inner life was relatively untapped while in high school. My inner learnings were to unleash themselves/i was to open up a few years later as i faced certain struggles like death, injury, desire & ways of life different than the ones i’d known growing up. Since this homogenous neighborhood experience & many seekings of character, art, ingenuity, individuality & ram-shackledness later, i am pleasantly surprised today as i go on an evening walk and feel peace as i look around at the surroundings, the plastic siding, the boxes, the manicured lawns.

Suddenly, my judgment or perspective of the place was not holding me back from enjoying my little moment in nature, my walk on the concrete loop in the subdivision’s flood plane turned into nature trail (i’m sure you’ve seen one of these places – a little forest, prairie, wetland nook in an area unbuildable for homes within a subdivision). The prevalence of non-native, “invasive” species didn’t bother me. The cotton woods were beautiful, as were the red-breasted black birds and the shrubby legumes were so prevalent & taking back that landscape, fixing nitrogen into it, so well! The sky had just rained & big grey billowing clouds were still turning above me. I felt like a witch as i harmonized with my surroundings, taking step by step, recollecting & embodying the walking meditation i had taken part in the week before at the prison meditation. Perhaps it was seeing some of the horrible natural devastation in Peru just a few months prior that gave me this perspective. The clear-cutting of the amazingly diverse amazonian rainforests into vast deserted land. The pollution near rivers & in cities. Perhaps it was this perspective which more easily allowed me to “let-go” of my previous hold on hating & judging & disdaining this young adult habitat of mine. Perhaps there’s something in this week’s astrology (I think so), which eased this transition for me. Or perhaps, this wound has finally dislodged in a deeper way within me & i have found peace here from within my earlier surroundings which beckoned so much pain, angst & aching. So many questions. So many existential crises.

And today on the walk, they felt transcendentally resolved. I felt finished with them. I was there, in this same place i have been so many times before, in so many moods and i felt … peace. simply put … peace. And that release brought happiness and gratitude.

the story of my name: wren, like the bird

does your name have a story? did you choose your name or did someone else give it to you?

when i think of the subject of names, i think back to reading the bible at an early age & coming to the part in revelation where it says that the rider of the white horse has a mysterious name written on him that only he knows. to this day, it beckons a sense of intimacy that this white-horsed rider has with himself. perhaps the name gives him special power, like his special word he says for strength to remember the truth about himself, the truth about his strength & power, inherent goodness & rights.

when i was making many changes in how i chose to perceive the world & interact with it, i decided to give myself a new name. my original name, lauren, gifted to me by my parents was always a beautiful name to me, but i wanted something more evocative of the way i had been feeling lately, something in close connection with the earth. i wanted to claim my name for myself, as myself. i had been living in north carolina at the time & fell in love with the mountain laurels along my path. laurel or bay tree is, after all, one of the roots of the name lauren, so in doing this i saw it as a way to birth the “new me” from within the older naming or “older me”. mountain laurel seemed like a mouthful, so i kept thinking. ren, which stands for goodness or essential kindness in Confucianism stuck for a bit, but i didn’t quite like the spelling. so i went a step further & added the w. wren, like the bird. there, that’s it!

i asked my friends to call me wren. some took to it easily, while others would still call me lauren & say, “it’ll take time for me to catch onto this!” my parents were bothered saying, “do you not like your original name?,” but it wasn’t so much about that as it was a symbol & there was strength in the re-naming of myself during a time of such transition. one woman i met in california, upon meeting me, said, “wren, Yes! that’s the perfect name for you.” regularly people will comment on my name, relating it to the bird, saying, “what a pretty name,” or otherwise acknowledging that they like my name. my parents also gave calling me wren a trial. they didn’t quite take to it, but most of the world knows me as wren now.

when i call myself wren, it feels light &, as one person, a yoga/meditation instructor/friend, related for me, it is as if i have the power of the bird, wren, inside of my name. wrens are nest-builders and strong & vocal birds. i feel this strength move through me as i go through my life. light on my feet & on the wind, but powerful, so powerful & strong when it comes to taking a stand.

i have friends who say, “i want to change my name too!,” and almost always i encourage them to try out a new name for themselves, if they feel so called. especially during times of great transition, it can be a breath of fresh air to internally/externally take that final, powerful step in re-claiming oneself in more of a self-defined way. the people in your life might not always like or “get” it, but that’s not what renaming oneself is about.

 

thanks to dailypost.wordpress.com for the post inspiration!

Early Memoirs: Letting Myself Out of the Box (A Series)

due to the nature of my gypsy life over the past many years, i lack a sense of place. i am rootless, and although it is my desire to eventually root, this is where i am at currently. this means that i get to meet diverse and unique people all over, that my scope on the human community has widened, and that i personally have grown much through witnessing and experiencing so many different things. yet this also means that because i am always moving on, i don’t have the chance to see the same people every day. i move on and other people move on. we keep a semblance of “knowingness”, but there isn’t the time-tested, experiential friendship-through-time-&-space that establishes familiarity over time. in one regard, i want to share myself, yet when i do so through mediums such as facebook, i end up feeling acutely aware that so many from so many stations in my past are peering into what i have written. hardly anyone comments on these writings, but many look into them. this leaves me with a sense of oftentimes still not feeling familiar– of Who Knows? Not Me! because i have a variety of friends from all over that represent different parts of myself and my concept of not-myself, i feel somewhat disconnected. but, i want to change this internal perception that i have and i want to do it through a series of writings titled early memoirs: letting myself out of the box.

you see, i don’t exist within a box. or at least i try not to. it’s kind of like, when the world began the world was formless & void and gods and goddesses spoke into existence everything that is. cultural presumptions are kind of like this- they create ideas about “the way things are” from the formless void of chaos. for example, when a child is born we ask, what is it? a boy or a girl? and per history, on into the life the child’s likes and dislikes and culturally appropriate behavior is dictated by the genitalia. what if the child has a penis, but isn’t attracted to all of the things “boys should like”? or likewise, what if the person is a girl and likes things that are more characteristically “boy”? in my series, one thing i am coming out of the box about is the box of gender. i don’t feel like a boy or a girl. biologically i am a female, yet, to use the idea of my friend dan, i am a wren. i don’t fit stereotypes of gender and don’t want to be boxed in. yet as the gods and goddesses of culture have spoken “what is” gender-wise into existence, there exist two boxes in the large cultural mind… it is these boxes i want to come out of and into my essential being. to know myself as this and to express this, to make space for myself (and possibly for others who feel similarly). for you see, it is in writing things that we make space in our cultural story. consider then that these writings will be thoughtful disclosures. many of my friends understand these parts of me, but i still feel boxed in. so also consider this me breaking through lingering entanglements, like in this osho zen tarot deck card called breakthrough:

Image

 

it takes courage for me to do this. so it will be an exercise in me telling it like it is, in being fearless & in self-love. it also feels like me destroying the box for myself (and possibly others). opening the gate of the box and then, as i do so through my words, the box implodes. i realize boxes exist in someone’s mind, perhaps in the cultural mind, but consider this me destroying them in my own mind.

this will be a series of posts i will create about the following topics (not necessarily in this order, or these specific topics – these are primary ideas so don’t get attached to them):

~sexuality
~gender
~religion
~spirituality
~life path
~government
~life on earth/ mission
~life on other planets/ connection
~plant medicines
~”woo-woo” metaphysical stuff
~others i haven’t thought of yet

it’s my goal to have fun while writing these. to test my boundaries of comfort- to become aware of them and perhaps in some cases to share beyond them. i don’t consider anything about myself incriminating, but i am still shy in revealing myself in some ways, so this will be a challenge, as stated before. to be concise, honest, clear & informative. it’s also my way of sharing what i have learned throughout my life- the things i have learned and experienced in my travels (whether traveling inside of myself or physically). I’m excited to write about a lot of these subjects because I clearly have a passion in many of these areas. My goal is also not to limit or restrict my thinking/writing and also not to say things because I think that’s what people will want to hear. It is my goal to write clearly about the subject in the manner I would like to write and to not write for anyone else. I don’t know the time frame of this work or even if I will write about all of the subjects listed above. But I think it will be a fun and liberating exercise and it’s my hope that as the woman in the card is pictured above, I will feel a sense of release, expansion, power and freedom in this expression, and that, gratefully, I can also make space in the cultural mind-scape. It’s also my hope that in this writing, I’ll channel a sense of Being Loud & Unapologetic about who i am, in all my ever-changing facets!

You can follow my blog by clicking the follow button if you’re a wordpress user or inserting your email address in the sidebar (at which point you’ll receive emails when I post– this can always be edited later if you no longer wish to, so just communicate with me). It’s also my hope that people will follow along, comment, ask questions, share their story and generally discuss the subject material. For it’s my belief that I may just be one person, but I am a part of a culture of which many of us are a part in some way- therefore, we face similarities in our dialogue with our lives. I’m interested in hearing your story, too, so please feel free to share if you feel so inspired. Thanks for listening and expect the first post tomorrow (Monday) at some point.

See you then! ❤ wren

Edit: Here’s the page bringing together all of the articles contributing to the Letting Myself Out of the Box Series.

 

Writing as Healing: Life’s Lesson in the Death of My Grandmother

Why, when I sit down without an intention do I often start to write about my grandmother? Why, when sitting before an indigenous shaman in Peru does she tell me that my grandmother’s spirit is sitting beside me, that she looks sad & that in order for me to move on in my life, I’ll need to heal the relationship, to release her? Why is the relationship unhealed and, if this is true, how can I heal it? I asked the shaman that night, Why is she sad? How can I heal it? And she told me to love my grandmother. To talk to her & listen. I’ve tried praying to and talking to her. Listening. Sending her love. I think she’s getting it. But what’s the next step?

My grandmother had finished a story shortly before she unexpectedly died one weekend with a carrot in her hand sitting in her favorite chair. Sudden death, they say. We didn’t do an autopsy. She’d already had cancer twice plus lived with diabetes. She’s dead, my family decided, we don’t need to know how or why. One of her best friends, Sylvia, whom I’d met a couple months prior, told my mom at the funeral that she thought my grandmother passed on because she had felt like her life was complete after I’d been living with her for 3 months. She’d really enjoyed that time with her granddaughter, she said. Sylvia thought she’d felt fulfilled and that’s why she passed on. But the story I found written by my grandmother wasn’t a story of fulfillment. Not to me. I read it shortly after her death, finding it in her documents on her computer. And the conversation we had the week before she died certainly didn’t speak of ultimate completeness, as Sylvia supposed. No, a week before she died, my grandmother and I had had a talk about things she still wanted to do before she died.

We sat in her front room library with the looming bookshelves & wood-panneled walls. The same living room I played in as a baby. The same living room I walked into each day as I returned from university to find her sometimes sitting on the couch watching soap operas, QVC or odd news channels. It was evening and we were having a deep talk, which shouldn’t be surprising given both my grandmother and I are deep-thinkers, but it was rare for us, nevertheless. She told me how she wanted to go sky-diving, maybe travel more, and smoke marijuana, which gave me quite a laugh. Being raised in a conservative, Christian environment and being a elite athlete up to that point, I hadn’t smoked marijuana either, though many of my friends did, so I promised to get us some so that we could smoke for the first time together. Grandmother & Granddaughter, meet Marijuana. Perfect scenario for my coming-of-age-rebellion, finally.

But she didn’t last long enough for me to secure some pot & bring it home to share in that same wood-paneled room. She died suddenly that weekend. And I was heartbroken. My life felt ripped from within. For the first time in my life, I knew loss. I remember going into the bathroom still smelling her, mesmerized by her night-shirt & towel still hanging on the shower rod. It would all soon be washed. The leftovers in the fridge all soon tossed. As I wrote that day,

pretty soon your towel will be removed from the shower curtain, the clothes you folded for me will be worn, your leftovers from Saturday (the pasta that made you so happy) will be in the trash. in fact, your grandma smell is already gone. your dentures are gone, your food will be eaten and junk mail will accumulate in your inbox. life is growing fast over you like a wilting flower in an overgrown wood. your memory lingers, but we all know it will get choked out in time. thank you for your life. you have left fingerprints of love on our hearts.

It was all too much and I had finals that week. My pseudo-boyfriend at the time, kind-hearted soul that he is, came down, basically took a week off from school (impossible feat in finals time, yet he did) and laid in bed with me. I had never known depression before. I had never known an off-beat or a low moment. But that was all to change after this.

I began to question life deeply. A growing existential dilemma had been rising within me since entering college and being inundated with lifestyles unfamiliar to me. I began to question why I did the things I did. Why go to church? Why listen to the social code and keep my hair a certain way? Why not date women, smoke marijuana, eat mushrooms, dress how I wanted? The list goes on and somehow my grandmother’s death would be the catalyst to push me into jumping off the precipice of the known, of my safe & standard life, into the gorge of chaos.

Looking back, I should have gotten out of the house. My mom offered to help me pay rent elsewhere, but I insisted on saving money so I stayed there and got a few roommates. Slowly we cleaned out the closets. Found hoards of QVC jewelry, purses, hand gloves, much of it never worn. I smoked marijuana & made weed tea and was stoned for an entire weekend in her home. Convening with my grandmother’s spirit- we were going to try weed for the first time together- I would say for years afterward. I was going through a hard time and mostly did so in the privacy of my own mind. It was rough- feeling all of the existential questions ramble & roar at me as the foundations of my life as I’d known it up to that point crumbled and fell down. Truly the questions I came here with as a young soul came to the fore, full-bore- Why are we here? Who am I? Who made God? What is going on here?

I wondered why my grandmother had left me. Why no one else seemed to be puzzled over these questions as I was- haunted by them, even. Why everyone was just going on with life- humpty dum, living so superficially & unquestioningly, I thought at the time. I read a lot of Kafka, Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov… I studied philosophy and talked about it with nary a soul. I wrote a private journal and pined.

Well, I eventually pined. In the beginning, as was the custom in my family, I pushed the grief of her death aside. I went on with my life. I pushed myself to do the things I had signed up to do. A new semester started and I was taking part in an Adventure Leadership Training with 18 other students. Looking back, I should’ve gotten help. I should’ve talked with someone, expressed my pain & questions. But I didn’t. I charged ahead and eventually worked them out on my own and with friends over time as I gently opened up through the years.

This was one of the most challenging times in my life. I remember feeling so alone. I was grieving and I gave myself no space for it. I was grieving and I didn’t even know the word. I wrote,

This death and emotional fragility, all this baggage makes me want to cry out for truth or else not talk at all. It makes me want to be a saint or else drink too much and fuck. 
It’s hard to say what exactly I am feeling. 
I haven’t talked about it; I haven’t told myself.
I want time and silence to heal me, along with wandering and mountains.

It’s cathartic now as I write. I have talked about this with a lot of people, but I haven’t written about it full-swoop as I am doing now. I haven’t dug in and really faced it as I am doing now.

I still remember when I got the call from my mother. I was in the library, looking for a book for research, high up on the 9th floor when I got the call. My mom called, I answered, whispering hello into the line as softly as I could. When all I got back was silence and the struggling voice eking out from my mother on the other end, I knew something was wrong. What’s wrong, Mom, is everything ok? I stammered, increasingly getting worried. Mom’s dead, is all she said on the other line. I started shrieking in the library. My mom said, We’re all coming to the house now. We’ll be there in 45 minutes. Are you okay? I told her I’d be fine. We hung up and I felt like I was in a bleary dream.

It was winter, December in Indiana and the snows had just begun. I was about an hour’s walk from the house, so I started walking instead of taking the bus. I was shocked and confused and numbed. I don’t remember walking home. I remember sobbing, dazed, as I meandered the streets to the south side of town to my grandmother’s house. I remember getting there into that front wood-paneled room where my mom and dad, sister and aunt and uncle were sitting. I remember everyone staring at me silently, first waiting for some sign from me on how to act. They knew I would be taking it hard- but how hard? She was living with her at the time, they must’ve all been thinking. Everyone was sobbing or stone-faced and my mom enveloped me.

I don’t remember many details of that time. I just remember my disbelief. The sunken feeling that something was lost that I didn’t expect to be and I couldn’t get it back. I couldn’t have her back to tell her how much I loved her. To have the conversations I really wished I could have with her. To smoke MJ or go sky-diving, or watch each other grow more over the next few years. She was one of my greatest encouragers. She was maybe my main soul-mate in the family, understanding me deeply with even one look. What was I to do without her? What was I to do without her?

My grandmother was a daring woman. A woman of courage, keen insight, a soft, warming presence complemented with a jovial chuckle and wily sense of humor. She hugged me too tight and long as I child; I always thought I would suffocate. She had sharp, long claws that she would pinch my arm with and scratch me and laugh. She cared about justice and had an open mind. She faced a lot of pain early in her life and had health issues throughout which she also dealt with squarely. She was intelligent and hard-working, and, though I gather that she wasn’t the most nurturing or communicative of mothers at times, I know she did her best for her family.

While I lived with her, we went over some of the special moments from her life. She was an editor for a technology magazine, having gone back to school later in life to fulfill one of her personal dreams. She got to interview Mr. Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, One of the Kennedy’s and many more, though I can’t remember them now. She loved literature and corresponded with Thomas Wolfe, one of her favorite authors. After she died, we found a letter to her from him stating that he didn’t think his career would’ve been the same without their correspondence.

As I said, she was a sharp, smart lady and an astute encourager. She knew brilliance and would rave about intelligent things she had picked up. I feel sad that she lived most of her later life alone. My grandfather, her husband, who I never met, ran around town with young women and my grandma was one of the last to know. I think this wounded her greatly and she never really had any other romances or close, intimate relationships after they divorced and he died. It must’ve torn her up to be betrayed and lied to. I can only imagine. I feel for my grandmother in this regard, and when I recently read the short story she had written and saved on her hard drive some time before her unbidden death, I had a wider perspective on what she might’ve experienced as a cloistered, unfulfilled woman in the mid-century.

The story (attached below: Ruth & Harold) was all about the bland & repetitive existence of a housewife with a disconnected & drab, yet faithful husband. The story delves into the housewife’s un-lived fantasies, how she feels essentially unknown and ignored by her husband. In the end, she kills herself in the bathtub after paying all the bills 3 months out, cleaning the entire house and writing a telling note to her husband with directions he should follow in his life & her reasons for leaving. She was unfilled and unseen, plain and simple. When I read that, I felt like fighting for my grandmother. If she was here, I would’ve demanded that she stand up and seek out a better life for herself.

Over time, I’ve realized that in many ways my grandmother did seek out better ways of life for herself and that perhaps she just didn’t have the energy or wherewithal to address this one. It has certainly given me fuel to make sure that I don’t end up this way, feeling ultimately unheard, unsatisfied and unnoticed in my relationships. Per usual, the mistakes (for lack of a better word) of our ancestors can lead us forward into choosing better lives for ourselves.

When the Shaman-lady in Peru told me that my grandmother was very sad and that I needed to heal it, I didn’t know what to do, but I knew immediately that it was true. There is a deep sadness in the life that has things left undone in it. There is great sadness if a person even metaphorically (through a story) kills herself because she has never been seen, gotten to live out certain fantasies, hasn’t truly related to a person and been known for the beautiful, amazing, multi-dimensional soul that she is. My grandmother deserved this! Just as we all do. In some way, me living my life well, as best as I can, is an offering of hope, of healing that in some way my grandmother’s life is redeemed. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do, but it seems to have happened naturally in the process of responding to my grandmother’s life/death, using it as a catalyst for greater life & growth in my own life.

My grandmother did not die in vain. She may have left before we were all ready for her to go, but her life leaves a legacy for me in so many ways. She loves me greatly and this empowers me. I also know that I might not have stepped out on a limb in my life so early and so fiercely if I wasn’t propelled by her timely death and the talk we had a week before she died.  Writing this now, I feel how my grandmother’s life pressed upon my own. She touched my life, as the saying goes, whether or not she intended to in this way.

Her life, in its entirety, created a foundation early in mine that I would not live hidden, wounded, unsatisfied or waiting. Something within her death handed me the keys of release from the cage of the social code, of playing it safe. She unlocked the huge container of What if that I had collected already in my lifetime. Now it is time for me to move on. Ultimately, I must move on because, even though I am influenced greatly by my grandmother and her life, I must live my own life. Her life & death has run its course through me like a storm- at times silent, at times rambunctious, but certainly changing things: ripping out old growth, shedding light and watering new life. If we are really here as souls having a human experience, which I believe we are, what an important thing for my grandmother to have done for me- Effectively, she pushed me past the bullshit of What will others think into my very own soul path.

Her death ripped away the illusory facade of life and made me get to the core of my life early, before doing 30 years in the “work-force” and having a family. I had an expedited life-crisis due to her death. Had to go through hell at the time, yet looking through it all, I’m so thankful I’ve put this work at the forefront of my life. I am a cleaner, purer me than before her death. I am aligned with my life and I know the tools to implement, the steps to take if I get off-course in some way. My grandmother’s passing on gave me the right to pass on so many of the short-changing ruts of the human experience. She lit a fire under my butt that said, Don’t wait! Deal with your shit! Live! Become! Try! Her words echo in Mary Olivers poem, The Summer Day:

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

 

It might’ve felt to me that my grandmother left us all too soon. That I’d like to talk with her now, tell her about all my adventures, tell her how I have lived and loved and tried desperately to learn from the lesson of her death and that I have succeeded. Some people teach us their greatest lessons in their leaving. This is the way my grandmother taught me. Her lesson for me reverberates in all eternity. And I am thankful for her soul and pray for its peace & release.

Love you Grandma….Gram….

Mardell Jefferson Raney, younger years

Mardell Jefferson Raney, younger years

Gram n Me readin'

Gram n Me readin’

Gram with my sister, Erin

Gram with my sister, Erin

Ruth and Harold, the story I found in my grandmother’s files. I realize it’s graphic, but I feel it’s a common sentiment from her generation of women and I’d like to share it. So that, in some way, her words and pain and feelings are known, released & composted so that only beauty remains. Because, ultimately, I believe that the telling of our stories can bring peace & healing.