December 4, 2013

word of the year...

I was never good at making (or keeping) New Years resolutions. But choosing a word for the year? That felt right for me.

In 2012 my guiding word was nourish. And it was a wonderful word which served me well that year. (Actually, it's a good word to focus on all the time, in all areas of life, but I digress...)

My word for 2013 has been clarity - and holy wow, has this been a year of clarity for me! I can't even begin to list the ways.

These words chose me. I didn't choose them. They came to me out of the blue, hitting me on the head, demanding to be chosen. And this has happened months before the actual beginning of the year.

So I wasn't surprised when my 2014 word-of-the-year landed in my lap, out of the blue, when I wasn't even thinking about words of the year or anything related to the concept.

It happened about 2 months ago. I suddenly, simply, completely knew what my word for 2014 would be.

It chose me. And it wouldn't let go.

I started to blog the word before now, but I didn't. I've told a few people already, and posted it in a forum or two. I don't feel the need to keep my year-word secret, or close to the vest. For me, personally (although it's different for different people) my word in no way loses 'power' when I tell what it is.

If anything, it becomes an even stronger force in my life when I speak it, write it, share it with others.

So I'm saying it here, now...

My word for 2014 is INTEGRATION.


And so it is.

December 2, 2013

in the shadow...

In the shadow I sit, tv flickering, candles glowing, tears flowing.

Breaking apart. Breaking open. Breaking free from expectations and guilt and shame.

Opening to the unknown, to what's to come. Feeling my hurt, my joy, my strength.

Breathing: surrender, accept, release, trust.

Breathing this mantra of my soul.

December 1, 2013

regaining inner peace...

So it's finally December... and this has been one hard-ass year. And the hard isn't over yet.

As I wrote in a previous post, my 87-year-old father passed away in late August after many months of a downward decline and severe pain from a spinal fracture (which happened almost exactly a year ago). My 84-year-old mother is in frail health, has severe back problems of her own, and has been having strokes which have impacted her memory and confusion.

There has been so much about this whole year that I don't even have words to express. Not yet, at least. And perhaps I'll never find the words.

There has been so much about this whole year that I don't even have words to express. Not yet, at least. And perhaps I'll never find the words.

How do I describe how my heart has been broken wide open... and that in the midst of the incredibly hard and painful, there has also been healing of relationships with my parents, and a blooming of an inner strength and power I never fully realized I had.

How do I describe the painful breaking-open-heart which also, at the same time, has meant a heart open for more love and compassion and connectedness and joy?

How can I ever describe how hard it's been to watch what's happened to my parents? And how hard it's been for me to try to help them, and realize I can't and couldn't do all they needed?

How can I adequately talk about all the many lessons I've learned this year?

And how can I ever describe the family drama, the disappointments and hurts and anger - things I might never be able to share here, because some of it isn't my story to tell, and even the part which is mine to tell... well, I'm not ready. It's too fresh, too raw, too painful.

One thing I know for sure is this year has reinforced what I believe to be true about my own journey. Over and over again, I've had new periods of healing... and then stagnation... and then more healing.

For many, many years I've thought of life - and of my healing journey - as a spiral. This year has made that imagery even more significant for me.

I've been reminded, again and again, that I don't grow or come to a new realization or enter a new phase of blooming, and then that's it, I've 'gotten there', I've been born anew. No - there's no there there. I'm constantly emerging, constantly birthing, constantly in process.

Another thing I've been reminded of again and again - learning and re-learning this valuable lesson - is the importance of self-care and self-soothing and self-nourishing. I turn to what brings me comfort. I turn to what brings me peace. I turn to what helps ease my pain and grief and fear.

This has been a hard year - the difficult time isn't yet over - and I've just gone through another round (or, more accurately, I'm continuing to go through a round) of pain and grief. Family drama. Hurts. For quite a while now, I haven't been all that fond of the holiday season (probably not a popular opinion to have, but I'm just being real about my feelings) - and this Thanksgiving holiday turned out to be a fresh new hell for me. More painful than I can describe. (Again with the lack of adequate words...)

These past few days I've done another deep-dive into extreme self-care. Taking it easy. Being gentle with myself and my feelings. Doing restful things, calming things. Trying to feel the pain and let it wash on through me with cleansing, releasing tears.

Finding my center again.

Regaining inner peace.

Will this be a permanent thing, this inner peace?

From my past experience I have to say no. It truly is a spiral for me. Peace, for me, doesn't come and stay. I spiral around to another place of hurt, fear, grief, anger... and then I do what I need to do to help regain my inner peace again, I lean on the help of friends and others and various tools to help me connect to that peace again... and I find myself on a different place on the spiral, another place of inner peace.

And then my place along the spiral of life moves again. And again.

But I continue to move again to the place where I find the inner peace. Where I can feel the calm that's there, even in the midst of the storm or the shadow.

It's an important part of what helps me get through the difficult and hard times.

September 1, 2013

my father's passing...

I had planned to do a blogging challenge of a post a day for 30 days during the month of August. But I didn't finish - and that's okay.

Blogging needed to come to a stand-still for me for a while because my family's situation - which has been a major factor in my life this whole year - became even more of a priority.

My post last Thursday was written on the day that the decision was made to call in hospice care for my father.

By the next morning, his condition had drastically worsened.

Hospice came onto the scene officially that Friday afternoon. My brother changed his plans to take a week-long trip out west, and instead went to my parents' on Saturday so that he could be there. Saturday evening my father was transported by ambulance to a lovely and caring in-patient hospice facility in the county where my parents live.

The next evening - a week ago today - early in the evening of Sunday, August 25, my father passed away.

My father was 87 years old (a couple of months away from 88)... he'd lived a long life, he'd spent the last many months in a great deal of pain, and I know he's at peace now.

Thank you to everyone who called, posted facebook comments, and sent emails and messages of condolences and love and support for me and my family.

It means more than I can say.

In memory of my father... with love for him, with gratitude for him...

August 10, 2013

music and self-care...

My husband I got home a little while ago from a visit with my parents. My folks live an hour away, so it's not a very long drive but it's long enough to listen to several songs. We drove, the night muggy from the rain of the day, the windows down to let in the summer air that wasn't exactly cool but was cool enough not to need the air conditioner going in the car.

And we blasted the radio, enjoying the music as we rode.

Oldies were playing... Gloria Gaynor, Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, the Stones.

I danced in my seat to the fast ones. Sometimes I sang along.

It made me think about the role music plays in my self-care.

I LOVE music. LOVE. All sorts of music, most genres. It can soothe me, uplift me, get me moving, or get me crying.

I'm currently doing some online courses where we get up from the phone or computer or wherever we might be listening, and we dance to music for a few minutes - we do this as a way to help shift the energy, as well as to help integrate and ground what we're learning. We move and dance to music by Loreena McKennitt, James Asher, and others.

It's new to me to incorporate music and movement into classes and learning experiences. And I love it.

Music is energy... and music shifts energy.

Music feeds my soul. It nourishes me. It helps me release blocked emotions. It helps me connect more to joy.

That's why it's such an important part of my self-care.

August 6, 2013


Recently I was involved in an in-person group discussion where a statement came up (more than once) about choices. As in... "we have no choice but to _____." And immediately, that pinged something inside of me.

We do have a choice. We often have more choices than we realize.

There are certain situations which come along in life and offer no good choices (or choices we would want to make).

There are some life circumstances where there truly is no choice (but those are rare in a lifetime).

Otherwise, we have choices.

In the conversation I mentioned, if it had been phrased as "we have no choice but to _____ unless we want _____ to happen" ... well, that would have been more on target. Even then, though, there would have been other choices that could be made to avoid the other-thing happening.

Sometimes I feel like I have no choice about something. Sometimes I don't see the choices which are available. Sometimes I don't know which choice to make. Sometimes none of the choices are things I want to choose.

But still, except in certain circumstances, there are always choices.

I have a choice. You have a choice.

And when I make a choice... I own it. Even if I later feel I made the wrong choice, I still own the decision as being my choice. I'll sometimes ask for input or advice or intuitive hits or guidance from others - but still, it comes down to making my own choice.

I own the choice. And I own the consequences of that choice.

If I ask my husband for his advice or input about something, and he gives it to me, and I end up making the choice or decision he was in line with, and then it doesn't work out the way I planned or I end up wishing I hadn't made the decision - I don't blame him for it. I don't say "well, you told me..." or "I did this because you thought..."


One thing I do is own my decisions and my choices.

And I really don't like it when someone tells me that I (or we) have no choice.

Because really? The vast majority of the time, that statement simply is not true.

Realize you have choices.

Make your own choices.

Own your choices.

And please don't try to tell other people they have no choice.

'Cause usually they do. As do we all.

March 11, 2013

caring less...

For so much of my life, I've cared too much about what other people thought about me. What they thought of me as a person, about what I said, what I thought, what I did, how I looked, what I created, how I came across to them. Just... everything.

There are times when caring what others think is important.

But a lot of the time, caring what others think gets in my way and stifles me and keeps me playing small. I won't go into all the ways this has impacted my life over the years, but it has.

As time has passed, as I worked on gaining more confidence in myself and showing who I am, as I've grown older and realized it truly doesn't matter so much what others think of me - things have shifted.

These days (and for quite a while, really) I'm caring less.

I still have times when I care too much what others think. But I know I care less than I used to. And a few days ago, it struck me how very much I care less than I used to.

I've been taking Flora Bowley's Bloom True e-course, a class about intuitive painting - and painting on canvases large enough that the thought of them intimidated me at first. I'd only painted on canvas once in my life, and it was smaller than a page in a notebook. And I'm not a painter. And I can't draw. But this method of painting, intuitive painting, really called to me. The sound of it felt freeing. It felt like being able to play with paint, and express myself through paint, in a way I've always wanted to do... but felt I never could, because I can't paint things or people.

The 5-week class recently ended, but I'm behind and only on week 3. But I was right - painting this way has been freeing for me. I can't even express how much I'm loving this class. (and how grateful I am to have access to the course materials for a few more months, so I'll have plenty of time to finish going through the course)

Since I'm only on week 3, my canvases aren't finished. But all along, I haven't cared how they look. For me, how they look isn't the point of why I took the class.

But even though I'm not finished with the paintings, I realized several days ago I wanted to go ahead post a picture of at least one of them.

Most of my life, I would have been too scared to do something like this... but when I realized I wanted to post this draft of the painting here, it struck me how very much I'm caring less these days about what other people think. Not only about what I paint, or what I create - but also caring less than I used to about what other people think of my opinions, or how I do things, or the decisions I make.

Caring less about what other people think of me and who I am.

Then I remembered... over a year ago on my blog, I posted a picture of an art journal page I did. It was the first time I ever tried to draw a face. (not counting smiley faces!) For most of my life I would have never done something like that. And yet I did it.

Remembering that art journaling page, and how I posted it, made me realize how this process of caring less really has been happening for a while.

And it is a process. I care less now than I did when I posted that art journaling page with the face. I cared less then that I did the year before.

I'm still in process. I'm still not where I want to be with this. But I'm in such a different place than I used to be.

There are times to care what others think, and I don't want to lose sight of those times because that would mean being a person I don't want to be.

But when it comes to being myself... I'm caring less what others think about me.

It's a good feeling.

January 30, 2013


It dawned on me a little while ago that it's Wednesday and I hadn't checked this week's prompt for Jamie Ridler's Wishcasting Wednesday (what can I say, I knew it was Wednesday but it didn't really sink in - it's been a weird day, with thunderstorms and losing electricity for a while, and my husband having an odd work schedule today). I jumped over to Jamie's site and knew I wanted to chime in.

The Wishcasting Wednesday prompt this week is: What Nourishment Do You Wish For?

Nourish is an important word for me. It was my 2012 word-of-the-year, and even though 2012 is over and I have a new word for 2013, nourish is still a top priority. Nourishment in all areas of my life.

Right now, though, the nourishment I wish for is the nourishment of rest and replenishment - for my body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

I need rest and replenishment on all levels.

My parents' health problems, my recurring trouble with insomnia, and then general stuff with worry and stress and trying to release things I cannot control... these have been taking a toll.

I need more sleep. I need more rest - deep rest. I need more nourishment from Mama Earth by getting outside in nature (except that I reallllly dislike being outside in cold weather!). I need more nourishment in my creative life (which I'm starting to feel I'm getting again). I need more spiritual and soul-full nourishment. I need more nourishment in my diet and eating habits.

But if I had to narrow it down to just one, it would be the nourishment of rest.

Resting my body, resting my mind, resting my emotions.

Lovely, deep, nourishing rest...

But really, nourishment in general - in all ways - is incredibly important to all of us. Sometimes more important than we realize, until we're feeling depleted or we get sick or we run into a creative block.

Whatever ways you need nourishment, whatever areas of your life need more nourishment, I hope you'll give it to yourself (or find ways to get it). Nourish yourself. Nourish your body, mind, spirit, soul, creativity, emotions - nourish your life.