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Archive for December, 2011

As I have been cleaning and clearing out space for the new year, taking stock of what was, resting in what is and becoming excited about what may be I have been reading many of my old writings, looking at the quotes, blogs and books that I have collected and have been reminded of the threads that bind all of them together…

And it boils down to some simple truths…

You are okay (really- even when you feel the furthest from it).

Your greatest moments of pain and vulnerability can alchemize into your greatest strengths if you let them.

Healing, love and connection are waiting to be invited into your life.

Compassion, love and kindness are never not needed, nor are they ever wasted.

Your presence is needed.

You are enough, just as you are.

You are so deeply loved.

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Permission…

“The deeper your scars, the more room there is to fill them up with love.  Don’t hate your scars, appreciate their depth.”

—Daniel Chidiac

 At times these quotes can be very comforting, and at times they can rub just the wrong way… feeling frustrated that we have scars, angry that they are so deep, hurt that something so large happened to us… And that is how it is when we are deep in healing work, comfort often comes cloaked in many disguises and sometimes changes costumes mid-play.

Since my recent post about the dilemma of “Merry” Christmas I have been reminded of what an incredible gift permission is.  We don’t allow ourselves often in this culture the permission to be where we are at… we spend so much of our time looking backwards pining for what was, feeling the loss so deeply, wanting to “fix” whatever is broken, or we spend time fantasizing of what “could” be, what we want and punishing ourselves for not being there yet…

What if instead we allowed ourselves permission to be where we are at?

Sometimes that means handling things with grace, poise and composed, and sometimes that means handling things no better than a toddler having a tantrum in the middle of the mall.

Sometimes things will bring comfort that didn’t before, and as your healing takes root, as you move forward the things that used to comfort may not, and you may be looking for a new perspective, a new way of looking at things, a new way of feeling about them.  Your experience may shift from pain into a gift, a new perspective may help you reframe things.  Sometimes you recoil against anything else changing, anything else shifting, it is enough just to walk upright in the world.

I give you permission to handle your life with grace and poise, and I give you permission to have a loud, ugly, tearful temper tantrum that leaves you feeling exhausted but refreshed.

I give you permission to not know what the next step, but the assurance that there will be a next step laid out for you.

I give you permission to be where you are at, and to promise that you won’t be there forever.

I give you permission to stop, to stay in this wave of grief until it subsides.

I give you permission to ride this wave of joy, to feel to the tips of your toes the sheer delight of the first genuine smile as your heart thaws and you feel yourself coming back to life.

I give you permission to feel the hurt, the pain, but also the promise and possibility of the life that will beckon you towards love.

I give you permission to allow the totality of you, with an invitation to travel your own journey in your time, in your way, with the support of all those who love you by your side.

You have permission to be you.

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In it’s own time…

“Psychically, it is good to make a halfway place, a way station, a considered place in which to rest and mend after one escapes a famine. It is not too much to take one year, two years, to assess one’s wounds, seek guidance, apply the medicines, consider the future. A year or two is scant time.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

 

Allow yourself the time you need, to tend to your wounds, to heal your heart, to hold yourself gently.

One of the difficulties of healing is we want it to happen faster, bigger, better- but healing comes in it’s own time, in it’s own gentle way.

I guarantee if you invite healing into your life, into your heart it will work it’s magic.

In it’s own time.

 

 

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My brother

Christmas is coming and it brings so many pieces of joy, of light, but for many also of longing and pain.

I have had many conversations recently with people in the midst of various In-Between’s who are struggling with not feeling the joy, with feeling the pain of feeling disingenuous when saying “Merry Christmas”.

My first Christmas after my divorce and the death of my brother I simply didn’t.

I stopped saying “Merry Christmas”, the words felt so hollow, the pain so deep and the gap between joy and the darkness of my heart so wide.  I allowed myself to say “you too” and offer a small smile, but there was no “Merry” that year… and that was okay.  I wish someone would have told me that it was okay.  I wish someone would have told me that it wouldn’t last forever, but that for right then, in those moments there was no “Merry”.  I struggled with wanting to feel “Merry”, I wanted so desperately to be “normal”, I wanted to care, but there wasn’t enough energy left, there wasn’t room in my heart for any “Merry”.

My friend who had lost her daughter was telling me about a Christmas card she received where at the bottom of the card a well-meaning someone had written “I hope all is well”.  Her eyes filed with tears and her voice broke as she shared the pain those words had caused. This is the second year without their daughter to celebrate and all is not well.  Although the capacity to feel joy, to see beauty, to share love will increase right now it is overshadowed by the grief and loss.  Those words stung- a reminder that life is permanently changed, there is a before and after and you aren’t in the place to see that it will ever be “well” again and that the loss looms so large.

Other friends are struggling with the desire for “perfect” Christmases when children are melting down, parents nerves are strung tight, and everyone just seems to be overwhelmed and overstimulated.  We all need to remind each other to hold ourselves gently, to know that our efforts are enough, that even though it doesn’t always feel like it.  The magic of Christmas is that grace weaves it’s way through the difficult moments, that often there is a sparkle of light when you least expect it, and that meaning can be found in the simple moments shared together.  I invite you to remember the most memorable moments of Christmas for you and I doubt they have anything to do with the presents you received but more than likely with the time that is shared, the memories created while catching snowflakes on your tongue, sipping hot chocolate after making snow angels, or watching the snow fall like diamonds in the purple veil of night.   Allow yourself the space to breathe, to be gentle with yourself and to be where you are.  Which may or may not be “Merry”, and that is okay.

May you be held in the magic of the season, may the warmth and love of those in your life hold you close as you heal.  May your brokenness feel a little less sharp, may your tears bring healing and hope and may your heart find the healing that it seeks.

If you are in the midst of grief I offer you these words:

You have permission to not say “Merry Christmas.”

You have permission to be frustrated, to be hurt and to be upset by well-meaning friends and family who don’t understand the depth of your pain, the place you are in or the difficulty this season might bring.

You have permission for the lights that are meant to bring hope instead to sting your heart and illuminate the gap between what you “want” and what you have.

You have permission to cling to the love of those that surround you, to take more than you give, to trust that someday you will be able to give again when life fills you and it is your turn to support, to offer hope, to be the light.  You have permission for that time not to be now.

You have permission to feel great love in the midst of great loss.

You have permission to miss that person, place or thing that you have lost while holding a space in your heart for the possibility of what is yet to come.

You have permission to cry and to laugh and to remember and to share those memories.

And for those who are grieving the loss of someone you love…

You have permission to say their name, to bring up in conversation the memories, the love, the loss that you feel.

You have permission to not know where you are.

You have permission not to be “Merry”.

For those who are supporting those in the midst of grief:

Say the name of those we have lost knowing that your acknowledgment may bring tears, but know that is a part of the healing.  Your remembering soothes our heart.

Acknowledge the struggle that this season may bring.

Ask us to share memories of those that we have lost, allow us the opportunities to remember the love, the laughter and the memories.  Allow us space to keep the love alive in our heart.

Know that your presence is a gift in and of itself.

Know that we may cling to you for the love and light we are looking for – but you are not responsible for making us “Merry”.

Know that even though it doesn’t take the place of what was lost your love is enough.

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Christmas Cactus from my Grandmother

I have been reminded time and time again that it is a gift to be used in the Service of Love.

May you bloom into your gifts, be of service and seek out love today and always.

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There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen

I was reading through something I had written a year ago and was struck by the clarity, the depth, and the authenticity of it.

At the time I didn’t feel clear at all.  The words just fell onto the page and I just left them, too tired to “fix” them so they were “pretty and sparkly” (aka- perfect).  I have been reminded recently that the more I try to control things, to rearrange them to fit what I “think” they should be- the more frustrated, overwhelmed and overstimulated I get- and the less clear things are.

It reminded me too, that if we allow ourselves the space and the safety to be brave, to be honest, to be open we often have the wisdom within us to find that next step.  Even when we are swirling in the midst of chaos, if we are able to breathe deeply and tap into the core of our being, the Divine spark within us that knows that where we are is where we need to be will guide us there, one step at a time.

I am slowly remembering (again) to release my death grip on control and perfectionism and see the beauty in the process, in the midst of the In-Between.

So to my heart I vow:

I am no longer waiting to see the beauty until it is all cleaned up and sanitized accordingly- but instead see the beauty in the midst of the pain seeking the raw power of a vulnerable heart.

I am trusting in the process to be the important part, not the moment where you survey your work at the end of your life, instead the living the depth of it in the midst of it.

I am willing to believe that we can become strong in the broken places- and that light shines through in the cracks of our foundations and THAT can be beautiful.

I can give myself the same grace and forgiveness that I offer to others, and to surround myself with people who remind me when I forget.

To let these words apply to me too, not just everyone else:

We’re all stumbling towards the light with varying degrees of grace at any given moment.

Bo Lozoff

To remember even the process is beautiful.

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Christmas Light

A friend of mine wrote this prayer when she was looking for the words to soothe an aching heart and couldn’t find them.

Sometimes that is how the In-Between is… we may find what we need in other people, other’s words, and sometimes we need to write it ourselves, to seek our own healing, to seek our own inner wisdom, to take time to search for the hope held deep within ourselves.

Wherever you are in your In-Between may you find peace, may you find rest for the restless nights, may you find light in the midst of darkness, may you hold yourself gently as you navigate your journey.

May the God of unconditional love surround those that are hurting this Advent season. Loss of jobs, loss of loved ones, and loss of relationships can lead into a loss of hope. Help us to nurture the traditions that heal while creating new ways to honor those not physically present this year. As we fill our hearts with the songs of the season, fill our hearts with gentle compassion for the ones finding it hard to prepare for a Silent Night.

Amen.

~ Alison Feigh

 

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