Originally posted on my personal Facebook page, I shared these words as I reflected back on Dia de los Muertos this year. For the past 5 years, I had facilitated a workshop in spiritual community for people to remember and share stories of loved ones who had passed away and create mini ofrendas in their honor. These ofrendas were then displayed on a large community altar where the entire community was invited to light candles of remembrance as well. This spiritual practice has been deeply close to my heart every year as I have been fortunate enough to bear witness to the love we share with others in life and in death. The experience of a large altar that takes on a life of its own from conception to a robust creation that then dwindles and withers away always feels to be a a beautiful and poetic metaphor for life's journey. This year, I have taken to nature and the surrounding Fall atmosphere to be held and reminded of the grace in Life's seasons.
This is my original post:
Dia de Los Muertos is my day. It’s not even just a day for me it’s a season. Some years it has felt like that season has lasted for the whole year. Not because my life was surrounded by death or because I spent a lot of time grieving. Just the opposite. Day of the Dead is a time to honor and celebrate life. It’s a day that is set aside to honor our ancestors and the loved ones we have been blessed to share time in this world with. It’s filled with joy and celebration for all that we were able to experience with someone and invites us to set aside the time to remember the dead for all that they were (and maybe were not) to us in life. This time of remembrance is a gift to the living from all of life that has come before us and this profound transformation is echoed to us throughout the Fall season.
This Autumn for me, has been unlike any other that I can recall experiencing before. My Life feels as if it is filled with quiet transformation and subtle letting go into Life with a somber beauty very unlike my usual Dia de los Muertos season. Just days after we would have celebrated Barkley’s Gotcha Day, I am being called to honor his life without his physical presence here. To acknowledge his loss and all that has seemed to follow in its wake. His aging furry companion, Jada who has been lost without him for months, the void left behind by hugs and I kisses I would inevitably have had to steal from him, the trips we would have planned to the mountains just to see him light up and pretty much everything about how two human adults and four furry kids functioned as a family has taken on a different hue since he passed. This loss has been profound for me and just part of this years’ time of transformation.
I have spent a lot of time in silence over the last few months. Crying. Praying. Meditating. Listening for answers and larger questions. And, quite frankly, getting out of my own damn way! I have found love in new and unexpected ways which I attribute completely to the fact that I was able to get out of my way if only for a fleeting moment in time. I have experienced connection, community and relationship in ways I never would have imagined. I have gained so much and lost so many things in life that for one reason or another I never imagined would be gone. Not just physical things, but ideas and beliefs; heartaches that I didn’t even remember I had. Losses that I am grateful for in addition to the ones that have broken my heart. Now, I have landed in the middle of my favorite season feeling called to be with it in a whole new way.
I have been walking through the Bosque and along the river in Ruidoso listening to nature as it gently allows for things to end so that it may go about the business of creating next year’s beauty. I am trying to allow myself that same level of patience and room to grow, knowing that life’s next season is not as far away as it may feel at any given moment. I’m remembering that in this moment all of Life’s gifts are right here waiting for me and I am being summoned to open myself up to them only in the best way I am able. Transformation is never instant and this year’s celebration of Dia de los Muertos for me is one of quiet gratitude for all that I have been blessed to hold in Life up until now and all that I have let go of. My heart is open for the beauty that awaits without ever having to be rushed. Feliz dia de los Muertos dear ones.
Public speaking is a spiritual practice for me. I started that practice in the only way I could have really. If someone would have told me I was going to be good at it or that I should do it, I never would have believed it. But, it was presented as just the next logical step. If this who you want to be when you grow up, get up on the stage, talk, share, pray, just do it.
I was terrible. I was frightened. I stumbled all over myself for what felt like day after day for months. That was almost two years ago. I’m still not an expert, but I do it. It’s mine to do.
I don’t rehearse. I don’t even write most of what I say in advance. I get up there, get present with the energy in the room and myself, and I speak. I don’t write. I fight with it. I’m frightened of it. And, it’s the next logical step. Not because I love it, or enjoy it, but it’s mine to do. So I’m trying to do it.
I wrote this a few weeks ago in an attempt to describe what the experience is like for me:
My fingers hesitate over the keyboard anytime I start to write with my own words.
Like somehow I am entering into an unbreakable commitment to Life and the world. Or even scarier still a commitment to myself. The fact is, that I don't want to make a commitment. I like the feel of words rising from my belly, pulsing through my chest and dancing out into the world across my tongue and lips. As those words swirl out into the atmosphere and dissipate with the weight of them still hanging in the air, that's when I feel like I am truly expressing. Not when my fingers hit the keys, or when the printer spits them back at me or even worse when my pen is pressed to paper. But, when life and love find each other in every fiber of my being and their tangled embrace becomes so dynamic that they have no choice but burst into life from that gaping chasm at the center of my being that I call a soul. From that part of myself that is excited and exhausted at the same time. That is old a born anew every time that I remember that I really am brave enough to let Life in and pour the contents of my constantly broken heart out into the world.
But, I can't put that down on paper or post it on the internet. It would look like spilled paint on the sidewalk as it lay there for decades while people walk by and wonder what sort of catastrophe had to happen in order to cause that mess. Until they stop wondering and just walk by without noticing it anymore. Then, someone's insides (my insides) on the ground are just something people walk past on the way to where they really want to go.
I don’t know. Maybe somewhere in my mind I’m afraid that’s all words are when they are written down- a mess. More plausibly though, as my relationship to spoken words flourishes, I recognize the power of words and continue to shy away from what an answered prayer to “level-up” means for putting my words onto paper or screen as it were. But I’ll keep doing it, it’s mine to do.
At the beginning of a new year so many of us focus on changing things in our lives that society or convention tells us we should be doing a certain way. We think that life would be so much better if we just follow a road map that tells us how much we should weigh, what food is best to eat, what kind of clothes are fashionable, and which habits are favorable and unfavorable. So, we resolve to change ourselves to fit into a mold and we never stop to consult our own inner wisdom. The one authority that truly knows what is best for each one of us as we strive to live authentically and in harmony with all of Life.
For the last several months I have felt myself being propelled by my willingness to experience life in authenticity and with a new understanding of fulfillment. I felt like I kept stalling out. Taking a few steps only to end up standing still and often feeling frustrated because I know something is waiting for me but I can’t seem to get there. So, I decided to take my own advice and recognize that all those blessings I want; all the Good that I am seeking is already here in this moment waiting for me to receive it. Limitless possibility and endless opportunity are present in my life.
Here is my advice:
1. Get rid of things that no longer serve you.
Not just things. Yes, clear out the clutter. Stop holding onto things for ‘someday’. And for heaven’s sake, stop waiting to use things only on special occasions!
But, this little plan means much bigger things when we are willing to recognize ALL of the places where life just isn’t working right. Why isn’t it working? Often times, if we recognize where we are holding onto old beliefs and habits that just don’t fit the person we are right now we can let them go to focus on becoming the person we are meant to be.
Yes, this is often a painful process. Maybe we don’t want to donate our old prom dresses and bridesmaid gowns. It’s difficult to admit to ourselves and others that relationships are not working and in need of new healthier boundaries. But wounds heal and scars fade and the only way that those things happen is because we are willing to move on from the pain. Let it go. You are serving no one by clinging on to things that keep you small.
2. Get out of your own way.
All of those clichés about being our own toughest critic or harshest judge and worst patient are pretty much true. Other people are usually too involved in their own stuff to care about our stuff as much as we think they do. And if they are overly involved in our business- it’s just a way of distracting themselves from their own. Believe that!
But I digress-the point is that we are judging ourselves most harshly and our experience of life is a direct reflection of all those things we think we do and do not deserve. So, stop it. The only place that gets us is stuck exactly where we are. By telling ourselves that we are unhappy, unlovable, unworthy or undeserving of life’s blessings in any way we are perpetuating and putting energy into beliefs that are just untrue.
The truth is that every one of us is blessed and the best way to fully experience our blessings to be willing to recognize them. Every moment that we spend focusing on what we don’t have or worrying about the outcome is a moment we are not realizing the things that we do have. Sometimes it’s coffee with a friend or an unseasonably warm day in December walking in the park. It’s the love and laughter and abundance and riches that we are in the thick of and when we stop blocking all of those marvelous things with our regrets and insecurities, more and more experiences like that show up in our existence.
So, that’s it. I’m following my advice. My mantra continues to be Limitless Possibility, Endless Opportunity and I’m enjoying all the little things that are showing up in places I didn’t think to look. I hope you’ll take some time to let your gifts find you too.