Tag Archives: letting go

The Front Porch.

IMG_0067

What I think that I know about life, growth, and evolution, is that I do not let go of things, or surrender, until I am damned good and ready. At times, this can create immense suffering for me; for in holding onto to anything in this life, we suffer. However, I also trust my inner knowing to indicate to me when I am ready to release something that has felt scary to let go of.

 

Last weekend, I spent some time in West Brookfield, Massachusetts, a quiet, sleepy town that I spent much of my lifetime in. I didn’t live there my whole life, yet it is the closest place to feeling like home to me to this day. The charm and quaintness were only shadowed by the presence there of members of my family. And the house. That amazing, old, character filled, memory laden house. I came to that house when I was only a few months old, and have been physically craving visits in it the rest of my life. And, this week, it was sold to a person that I will most likely never meet, and who will now take it forward into the next phase of their life.

 

This particular chapter, which was a lifelong one, has been closed. And, I was finally ready to let it go.

 

Two years ago, that home was still occupied by my Aunt Ruth, and her cat, Josh. Before that, it was she, and my grandparents, and before that, it was my grandparents, Ruth, and her three siblings, one of which is my dad. A lot can happen in two years, and in these past two years, Ruth has died, Josh has come to live with us, and the home that I knew only as hers for more than twenty five years has been sold.

 

And, I’m good. I am ready to surrender all of that. 

 

When I visited the house last winter, the feeling when I entered it was sharp, biting. There was an edge in it that hurt when I would bump against it. But, at that time, she had only been gone for a couple of months, and everything seemed to still feel sharp and edgy. Being there was a flood of memories, and I spent time sitting in each room of the house, opening closets and drawers, smelling the smells and taking in the details of it as if I had never seen them before. I felt a sense of abandonment, as if I was abandoning it and her, as I walked away that day. 

 

Last weekend, the goodbye was different. I didn’t feel her in there anymore, and it didn’t seem to have anything to do with it being empty. It seemed to have more to do with her flying high, and long gone from the tethers of the physical world. She is so free that she is everywhere. At least, that is what I believe.

 

The front porch is one of my favorite spots there, and one that I will miss the most. And, although I don’t live in the past, nor do I even focus on my personal history much anymore, I will recall with deep love the times of sitting on that porch, watching people walk and drive by, saying hello, talking with Ruth while the breeze  was coming through the screens. One last time, Brenda and I sat on that front porch, soaking up all that had been there. Deepening our readiness for change. 

 

After all,  none of life is there, in those four walls. It is in Me.

 

11202856_1606994312902212_7038100225790313098_n

Advertisements

What Love Is.

15390837_10155518274833136_7323638454238237348_n

For three days, my kitty Joshie, who belonged to my dear Aunt Ruth, went missing. I let him out on a balmy summer evening on Saturday, and he didn’t come back home that night. Or the next night. Or the next. He has stayed out all night once before, but never for three nights in a row. I was frantic. I was sad. I was not ready to never see him again.

 

Of course, I imagined all sorts of terrible things: that he had been hit and killed by a car. That he had been hurt by a wild animal and was wounded and dying in the woods somewhere near our home. That he was ill, and went off to be alone. My mind was wild with stories, and as soon as I would feel a glimmer of hope, that he might just come back home, I would feel a longing for him, and create another tale of worry.

 

Yesterday, I made a commitment to myself: that I would deepen my love and appreciation for him, and all that he brought to my Aunt Ruth’s life, and to our lives in the last eighteen months. What that meant, is that I would be in the present moment, as much as possible, and not focus on the past stories or future predictions that I wanted to create in my head. I wanted to love him, regardless of whether or not he would ever return to us.

 

This morning, as I was walking out of the house for work, he was at the door, as if he had never been gone. He was hungry, dusty, and unscathed. I had no way of knowing where he had been or what had happened, and I didn’t care. But I more deeply understood in those moments after that what love really is to me.

 

Love is letting go- of expectation, of anticipation, of the future and the stories of the past. Love is acceptance, of people and circumstances just as they are, not the way that we want them to be. Love is forgiveness, of ourselves and others, for not being perfect or the way in which we might expect. Love is deep appreciation and gratitude, for all that we have in this very moment. Love is not holding on tightly out of fear or control, and it isn’t meant to be disappointing just if it doesn’t go my way.

 

Love is here, Love is now, Love is available whenever we say yes to it. 

 

It Is that simple. 

 

Teacher/Student, Suffering/Acceptance.

photo-13

 

There has been deep wisdom that I have opened to most recently in my life. Learning that I would no doubt encounter at some point, but the Now is the best time to be learning it. And even though some of the lessons that I am now learning, are in the same form as in the past, the learning is completely transformed at this time. I am finally ready. 

 

The areas that I have been learning in the most are around being a teacher, and a student; and around suffering, and surrender. No matter who you are or what your life circumstances are, I believe that all of these areas are Universal lessons for all humans. For the earliest years of my life, I was formally and informally a student. Before I was conscious of learning, when I was a baby and small child, a slow, deliberate process of domestication brought teaching to me, and although I was initially passive in the learning, I retained all that I was given. As I got older, and was able to be aware of the learning more acutely, I would receive lessons that were part of formal schooling, and seek out additional topics and learning opportunities that were more interesting to me. I have always enjoyed being a formal learner, and would joke that my career would be to go to college forever. College was the breeding ground for special learning it seemed, because I got to choose what courses to take and what interested me. It was a marketplace of choices and topics.

But, around that time, interesting shifts in me began to occur. I began to see myself as full of knowledge, and stopped having the desire to learn, and just wanting to teach. When I got my undergraduate degree, I wanted to start working because I believed I knew all that I needed to in order to be a great social worker. I wanted to teach others all that I had learned, so that I could get on with saving the world. And, I put my formal learning on hold, thinking there was not much left to learn about how to help others. 

Eventually, I did resume some formal learning, and saw how much more there was to know in the world. I started seeking spiritual teachers then as well, and was eager to gain as much knowledge as I could, emulating my instructors and thinking that was the way to believe and think. And, then again, wanting to become a teacher in the world, believing I had the best of information that others needed. With that, I would also stop being willing to learn, thinking, this has to be IT, everything that I need to know. 

My other big area of lessons has been in the realm of suffering, and what that means, in terms of my human experiences, and what stories that I tell about it. I used to believe that suffering and difficult experiences were all part of the human condition, that we all have bad things happen in our lives. And, terms of fact and structure, I still hold that to be true. Bad things happen. Yet, the degree to which we suffer over the circumstances and events that happen is directly related to how much we accept life as it is, or don’t. I would often blame the outside world, or my girlfriend, or God, or traffic or other fellow humans for my degree of suffering: it is all their fault. And, if I had a bad experience, and didn’t feel sad or distressed about it, I thought there was something wrong with me; to suffer over my circumstances seemed like a way to pay homage to it. To honor it. 

My current belief is that even a person or circumstance is what leads me into sad, angry, or distressing feelings, I still have the power to choose; to choose what type of story I want to tell myself about it. I also ALWAYS have the power to choose to remember that the present moment, right Now, is all that there ever is. This moment. And, when I am able to be in this present moment, and to accept whatever comes in it, as just being what it Is, the suffering is less. Surrender brings great freedom and deep relief. Choosing surrender and experiencing peace honors the events of our lives in a deeper way, because it means we are in deep acceptance of the fleeting, ephemeral nature of all things. 

These two pairs of experiences and beliefs are actual paradoxes of one another, but ones that are required for the other to occur. That is the part of wisdom that had been lost on me for the first 50 odd years of my physical existence. In order for me to learn how to surrender, there has to be the experience of suffering. And, for me to be able to teach others, I have to always be willing to learn. One does not exist without the other. And yet, even though I resist, I get scared, I don’t want it to be true, I know that it is the only way that I will learn that which are the deepest truths of my life. 

This moment is all there is; and I want to experience it as deeply as possible with no promise of what may come next. 

 

img_7621

Dear Aunt Ruth

“And in the end, the love you take 

Is equal to the love 

You make.”  The Beatles, Abbey Road

Dear Aunt Ruth:

Not that I am counting, but it has been nearly fifteen months since you died. Most days, that feels like a new normal to me; I have become accustomed to life continuing on without your physical presence in it. And, I say and feel that with no guilt or shame whatever. I am understand death, and dying, more deeply than ever before, and understand that only your physical body experienced death, yet you are always and forever all around me.

15304555_10155545154293136_3837759952328354844_o

Yet tonight, after my yoga class and as I was driving home, I lost my breath as I thought of you not being here physically anymore. The cry felt like a choke in my throat, and some tears came. The quote above was playing as I was driving, and my mind and heart went immediately to you.

11202856_1606994312902212_7038100225790313098_n

Now, it had been building for the last several days. Maybe it was when I would think about my book, and how exciting it is that I am going to be published, one of my dreams come true. I want you to be here at my launch party. Maybe it was because I finally got the ring sized, the one that you are wearing in this very picture, the only item that I cared to have that belonged to you. Maybe it was because I was wearing one of your Oak Island tee shirts, the only destination in your later years that we could ever get you to leave home for; you never missed a year in ten years at the beach. Or, maybe it was listening to Abbey Road in my new, blue Hug Bug, belting out Oh, Darling!, just like I did for you at the beach, pretending I was playing a piano, and you watching me with tears in your eyes. Or, that line: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

15134713_10155478443218136_3271239646749985533_n

Whatever the reason, I am missing you fiercely. I hear your voice in my head, but won’t talk to you on the telephone again. I see your face, but won’t ever touch it again. I feel your touch, yet these moments are never again. Of course, I am not being present, not staying in the now when I have these longings; I am remembering times that have gone by, never to return, only a mere memory trace and nothing more.

Still, I crave having you with me again. We had no unfinished business, no ugly history that needed to be sorted out in order to be at peace. I just wanted to be with you as often as I could. I loved your humor, your honesty, your humility, your love and your care. I loved that you loved me as deeply and courageously as you did, and I felt it, every minute of my life. 

So, I am missing you. And, in another moment, I will feel your presence deep, full and eternal, and the missing will pass. Until that time, I will shed tears, stay with my heart, and remember all that you are and forever will be to me.

I love you always.

Nessa xoxo

IMG_0912

Presence and Peace.

photo-13

The past few days have been deeply shape shifting and mind altering for me. I tend to keep the same routine in how I do my learning about where I want to grow next: I read books, and spend time in the quiet. I remind myself, in the car, at work and at home, multiple times a day about how to come back to the present moment. Some days, I feel really successful in becoming present. However, there are many days in which I feel like I am completely in my head, a lot of the time. 

I don’t have the illusion that I have a capacity for a completely quiet mind; I call that an illusion, because there is always chatter in my head. Even when I am being as present as possible, and not choosing to worry on anything in particular, there are stories galore being hatched in my noggin. That isn’t bad in and of itself, but when I begin to tell myself a whole novel’s worth of tales about that one strand of thought, it becomes somewhat overwhelming and ultimately problematic. So, I do my best to open myself to the thoughts, allow them to float by like clouds, and not take them too seriously.

But something much deeper and intimate happened to me this week. I decided to begin “formally” meditating. Typically, I sit quietly, on the couch or in a chair, every morning before I get ready to begin the scheduled portions of my day. I also listen to books on CD in my car often, or ride without any sound at all, to extend that feeling of quiet and peace. I have not done an actual meditation practice in several years. After a series of stories a few days ago about me and others around me, I wanted to make a more concentrated effort to quiet them down. I began meditating for 10 minutes in the morning, sitting quietly and allowing my thoughts to float by. 

I don’t know if it is the actual meditation, the readiness within myself that I felt to do it, or the readiness of learning this particular lesson myself, but I broke loose of some really old mind and heart patterns. No matter how humble I like to think that I am, I still have periods of entrenched arrogance, telling myself that I have learned all that I need to, and that others just need to “catch up” with where I am at. It is gross at the same time that it is so comically egoic and human. Catching that arrogance this week was like doing a cleanse, and feeling this sense of emptiness and clarity all at the same time. 

I decided to meditate this morning, by concentrating on two words which I wanted to carry with me through the day. For every in breath, I would think Presence, and for every out breath, I would think Peace. Both are necessary and craved in my current world. After clearing out some old patterns and thoughts this week, I understood how critical both are in my world. And, how I can still find places in me that need smoothing to be more in synch with both. 

I love being a teacher, a leader, and a light for others. But, I know I need to be first and foremost, a student. 

ID-100198225