Saturday, June 24, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 46


This is Week 46 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

I am sinking into the earth. I want to let it consume me — let it strip away all the dead parts of my body and turn me into something new.

These last few weeks have been extremely difficult. I miss being excited and hopeful. I miss looking forward to things. I keep trying to think of things to be excited about, but nothing seems to penetrate my depressed darkness. My art making leaves me feeling empty. I go to parties and smile and laugh, but it's like there is a giant hole in my heart and I know that nothing can fill it. I feel like an addict that has no addiction. This giant hole in my heart just exists. I just exist. I feel like a shell of who I once was and I don't know how to re-build.

Those older widows were right. Year Two is 1,000 times harder than Year One. And I hear Year Three is even worse. I can't imagine hurting more than this, but I guess I have to get ready for more. How do we survive this kind of heartbreak as humans? I know so many strong widows, who have re-built their lives and have found joy again. What if I can't do that? What if I am just too broken? What then?

My dreams tell me to keep making art, no matter what. Even when it feels hollow and empty and meaningless — keep creating. So that is what I will do and I will try to find some tiny pebbles of hope on the path and put them in my pocket.

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 45


This is Week 45 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here

Shortly after my husband died, my hair stylist of almost two decades moved away. For that first year, I didn't get my hair cut at all. This year, I have been trying out new stylists without much luck. Today I saw someone new and she ended up talking so much that she just kind of kept chopping and chopping and chopping until over half my hair was gone.

At first I was filled with panic, because the old bleached ends that literally showed, like rings on a tree, when my husband was still alive are now gone. After getting my hair chopped, I sat in my hot car and cried and cried and cried. Then I went on with my day, doing all my weekend errands so I can hide out from the even hotter day tomorrow.

As I went grocery shopping and to the library and to the hardware store, I felt how light my hair felt. My neck wasn't sweating quite as much and I wasn't constantly pulling strands of long itchy hair out of my face.

It feels like a new beginning, as I face down my upcoming 45th birthday and the two year anniversary of my husband's death. It feels like part of the opening and flowering I am trying to welcome in, even though it is also painful and scary. What comes next?

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 44

Full Moon Growing Pains

This is Week 44 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here.

This has been a rough week. I was expecting a bit of "postpartum" after my Healing Grief - Flowering Ritual, but not to this caliber. I think there are a lot of factors at play, including the fact that my 45th birthday is almost here, which also means that the two year anniversary of my husband's death will follow two weeks later.

45 feels like one of those "big" numbers. I am solidly middle-aged and alone. The grey continues to show up in my hair. The wrinkles crinkle around my eyes. My hands are beginning to look like the hands of an old lady, and not my own. I am facing the life of a spinster widow.

As I continue to put one foot in front of the other and try to live this current life of mine, I can't stop thinking about how much my husband helped me to see myself. He knew me so well and when my life seemed to fly off the rails and I lost connection to myself, he was always there to point out what he knew about me, what he knew I was capable of and what he knew I was good at. We walked forward in out life together, hand-in-hand, making choices and decisions that were best for the two of us as a partnered team. I don't have my partner and ally anymore and I feel more lost at sea than ever.

The Grief Veil from my Healing Ritual
Now that I am close to finishing my second year as a widow, I have noticed a few things. Year One was a fog of to-do lists, grief, anxiety and being held in love and support by my friends. Year Two has been about survival — holding down a full-time job, keeping myself fed, keeping my car running, etc. It is starting to seem like Year Three is going to be about figuring out who the fuck I am now. I am not partnered. I am not a wife. I am alone, beholden to no one. This is immense freedom, but how do I make choices about my life when I don't know who I am now?

Am I an itinerant preacher, who can travel America in a van? Am I a cosmic painter who can live in a yurt in exchange for gardening? Am I a creative leader who can run a non-profit arts organization? Am I an author who can support herself by independently run book tours, relying on the kindness of new friends I haven't met yet? Am I a hands-on healer, who sees clients in a cabin in the woods? Am I a Mythologist, working in academia while writing articles on the side? Am I a Ritualist, designing personal rituals for those who need them? Am I a Witchy Radio DJ, sharing wisdom over the airwaves and being supported by my spiritual patrons?

I am all of these people and yet none of them.

Add to that, the work I am doing with my Open Human Heart, which asks me to move past my "beliefs, self-images, assumptions, blind spots, embarrassments and shadows" to find my most authentic self in Love. It's quite an intense process that feels like sitting in an alchemical alembic that is disintegrating me. I am questioning everything I have ever believed in, thought and done. It makes me question who I am, constantly and that is not a comfortable feeling. It hurts. It is bewildering. It is frightening.

Last night was the Full Moon. This month's moon has been called: the Moon of Integration, the Rose Moon, the Lotus Moon, the Green Corn Moon, the Windy Moon, the Moon When Berries are Ripe, the Moon of Horses, the Dyan Moon, the Planting Moon, the Moon When Ponies Shed Their Shaggy Hair, the Full Leaf Moon, the Turtle Moon & the Strawberry Moon (for the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries).

I am feeling the fullness of this particular lunation. I do think that this hard emotional week is part of my integration. Sometimes new growth is painful, as my delicate little sprouts reach for the sun, hoping to flower some day.

Thank you for witnessing me. See you next week.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 43

Inside the Flowering

This is Week 43 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here

It's been three weeks since my Healing Grief - Flowering Ritual. In many ways, it feels like much more time has passed. I have solidly returned to my "every day life" — back to the day-to-day of work, weightlifting, grocery shopping, laundry, etc. And yet, the ritual is staying with me. I am surprised by the subtle but important ways it is shifting me.

Thanks to the recommendation of a friend, I was introduced to Open Human Heart work. It's been a very powerful practice to be grounded and present in my deepest, most authentic feelings. This has helped me a lot with "being okay" with my grief and rage around the loss of my husband, while also giving me re-access to my deepest joy. Being led to this work and really embracing it, feels like part of my flowering — welcoming in new blooms in myself.

Week 3 of the Ritual Seeds Planted

It's as if I have stepped sideways back into my life. It's still my life, but I have a slightly new perspective. I have still felt extremely deep grief since my ritual. I've woken up crying and afraid in the night. But, my vessel feels stronger. Through my ritual work and now this new modality with the Open Human Heart work, I feel more at home in my feelings. There is a vibrancy and solidity to my heart and mind and body. I feel more hopeful about the future. In many ways I am living more deeply in the unknown. I am understanding that I truly have no control over what is happening or going to happen in my life and in the world. What I DO have is the ability to be as completely present as I possibly can in any situation, and stay as open as possible to the wisdom of my heart and my feelings.

It's interesting how many times I have been told that I am "brave and strong" for being so open about my feelings on my grief journey. I don't doubt that I am brave and strong, but I am also doing the most natural thing for a human to do. Our culture has trained us to not be "weak" and show our dark side to the world, when in the deeper truth of the matter, our feelings in the most vulnerable of places can be the source of immense power and vitality. 

I remember when I was ordained as an Interfaith Minister, our ordination group co-wrote our vows together and one of my contributions was "power in vulnerability." Some members of the group really resisted including that vow, and yet for me, it is one of the most powerful, truthful vows we committed to.

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Surviving Year Two: Week 42

The Flowering Continues

This is Week 42 of my Surviving Year Two Grief Project. Details about all my Grief Projects, as well as Grief Resources can be found here

It's been two weeks since my Healing Grief - Flowering Ritual.  Part of the ritual was planting seeds into a planter box my husband made from scavenged wood. Along with good energy and deep wishes, some of my husband's ashes were also mixed in to the soil. This week, the seeds we planted began doing what seeds do — they have started to sprout!

I love living symbols like these little sprouts. They are a reminder to all of us who were present in the sacred circle that the ritual we created together keeps going, even after we have gone back to our lives. My opening, flowering heart feels a bit like these little sprouts — tender and new, yet fiercely strong and ready to grow.

Thanks for witnessing me. See you next week.