I was reminded this week why I go on retreats. Besides my love of travel, my love of gathering with like-minded women, my love of Qoya and ritual, nourishing food, and sand between my toes, perhaps the biggest reason I go on retreats is to give myself the space to notice the subtlety of spirit. While I do trust that spirit is in all places and things, my ability to perceive it can be profoundly affected by environment, awareness, and the state of my nervous system. Retreats are where I go to quiet the distractions of daily routine that often go unquestioned, leaving me unaware of their impact on my ability to be fully present. This is when the subtlety of spirit begins to feel less subtle, but rather an undeniable force of unconditional love and support.
Dropping from the head into the body and the senses,
experiencing life with all of my faculties,
open to fresh information.
Sometimes it takes a week-long getaway to clear the channels of spirit. Sometimes it takes an afternoon. And other times it’s as simple as taking one deep breath.
Coming home from the Dance With the Veil retreat in Tulum, Mexico, I bring with me the reminder to infuse my life with more moments that support the clearing of my channel. Right now I feel gentle nudges of guidance in the air and look forward to following where spirit leads me.
Have you ever had the feeling that something bigger is going on than meets the eye? Maybe the radio played the perfect song at the perfect moment, maybe you stubbed your toe, maybe the waitress has your late grandma's name, or maybe you dropped your favorite necklace in the toilet. Is it a sweet coincidence, unfortunate occurrence, or something bigger?
(warning: a little TMI below)
I had one of those moments the other day when I actually DID drop my favorite necklace in the toilet. Well, actually it was more like the stone from my necklace leapt from my chest and dove into a toilet bowl of pee.
After relieving myself, I was buttoning my jeans when I saw something black falling in the corner of my eye. I heard a ding! followed by a plop! I looked down to see that the blue tiger's eye stone from my favorite POUND pendulum had fallen off it's chain into the toilet. I guess the metal attachment had loosened and as I stood there the stone came loose. Luckily I had just gone "number 1" because I hadn't flushed yet when I fished my stone out of the toilet bowl. When I picked it up I saw that a piece of the stone had chipped off in the fall.
What is it about witnessing my grief that draws you in?
Do you even know?
Or is it a visceral and emotional response that you can't quite put into words?
I share what I am going through because by sharing it publicly I make more of an effort for my words to be coherent. Whereas sometimes when I just write my words in my journal they are a jumbled mess and difficult to follow when I read them later. The times I share with you I am brought through a process of healing. These times help me anchor a deeper understanding.
Rebirth can be a long process. I think of the labor pains a mother endures for the birth of a child. How sometimes the contractions can seem to go on forever. I've heard mothers say they wondered if the baby would ever come out.
I've never given birth to a baby, but I feel the analogy fits to a Soul rebirth. Something feels so right and innate about the process. And yet there are aches and pains. Contraction and expansion. Wails and cries. Excitement and peace.
A soul rebirth is a shedding and releasing of everything the soul no longer needs to move forward. It is a growing into and familiarizing with a new body, new skills, new challenges, new qualities.
As the soul is rebirthed we may grieve what we are leaving behind. Maybe we leave people, places, things, but mostly we grieve who we were. Even if we know it's time to move forward and we are excited about our becoming, we mourn the loss of our old self. Just like a mother who deeply loves her teenage child mourns no longer having a baby to snuggle, we learn to feel all of it. The love, the ache, the excitement, the grief.
In a soul rebirth some parts of us evolve more quickly than others taking a toll on our physical body as our body is the container for all of it. Today I feel my rebirth in my body. A little achy, a little tender. I say thank you to this body for all that it endures in my own birthing and the birthing of all that my soul wants to bring into being.
Every morning the Sun says "Hello!" as we slowly turn around to face it again.
Then every evening the Sun says "Good-bye" as we slowly turn away.
Remembering that it is not the Sun that leaves us to the darkness or brings us back the light, but it is our own doing as we sit upon the spinning Earth.
This is a daily ceremony, so often missed or ignored, so easy to forget our own role in what is happening. So easy to put all the responsibility on the Sun or give it no thought at all. But there is power in remembering. There is power in acknowledgement and ownership. What does it feel like when you choose to honor this twice-daily solar ceremony? The ways to do it are endless. Here are two:
A year ago I danced and cried on the beach- the beach where we exchanged our vows.
Lately I have been getting gut punches of grief.
I would not have imagined this level of disbelief would last this long (18+ months). Some widows I know said the second year was harder than the first. I would say that in some ways it is harder and in other ways it is not.
Every gut punch makes me want to vomit. Then I feel so, so alone. It takes a strength of will, but I choose to stay in it for as long as it needs to go on. I choose to not look away and every single time it passes. I am pretty certain it will come back again. But in that moment it passes and I feel alright. In the first year I wasn't sure if it would pass. In the second year I know it will.
It is in that place of nausea and loneliness that another door opens. Personality fades, need for validation vanishes, expectation on another disappears, and pure contentment with the unknown rises.
Grief is fucking hard. But it can be a portal into another way of existing, a way that the Soul longs for.
That is, if we don't turn away...
Life will give to us and take from us things and experiences we didn’t ask for. I believe that by fully allowing ourselves to respond to these unwanted gifts we receive so much more than we could have imagined.
When my husband first died my response was primal. I didn’t think about it. The grief swept over me and swallowed me up like an ocean wave. I floated in the ethereal current for months, maybe even the first year before I began to feel myself consciously interacting with the larger world again. Slowly I did begin interacting with the world, but it was different than before.
When the clock struck midnight it was like walking through a portal to another dimension.
I had spent the evening at home with friends. We drank cacao, played music, sang, ate nourishing food, and shared our gratitudes of 2016 and our intentions for 2017 over the fire and ceremonial tobacco. We picked oracles cards and played more music. After a few hours of enjoying the company of one another we hugged good bye, wished one another a Happy New Year and everyone had cleared out by 10:30pm.
Sleepy but the year was not yet finished. I drew an epsom salt, bubble bath and slid into the water for a late night soak lit by candles. My dogs snuggled together in my bathrobe on the floor next to the tub. I enjoyed the soothing and comforting heat of the water on my tender body. So much integration energetically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally... my sweet body is trying to catch up. The bath helped and I got out of the tub feeling refreshed and clear. Snuggling with my dogs on the couch it was still only 11:45pm.
"How do I want to enter 2017?" I asked.
The following was inspired by conversation with a dear friend who is a widow, who knows love, loss, and the complexity of living a new way of life.
The person who ends up with a widow or a girlfriend who lost her love may be the luckiest man out there. When a woman loses the love of her life this is a woman who knows true love. She could say "fuck it, I've already had the best," and live the rest of her days remembering the best as it was in the past. But often she chooses to not let that be the end. She knows the best can show up in many faces and when it is real, love has no limit.
Love doesn't cower in the face of itself but expands to unimaginable power.