I have worked with people for many years and fall in love with the beauty each person has inside each time. Jody is one such person. She was quiet, shy and unassuming. Then during a week she had deep life experiences and wrote the most beautiful letter which I published in a small newsletter for our center. Her words, her story are so eloquent and deeply moving I wanted to share them with you because truth is universal. Jody gave me permission to share her words, her story here, with you.
Image left: image by jill111 @ Pixabay.com
Seeing the miracle of myself unfold right before my eyes
I am the Celebration!
I AM THE CELEBRATION! How many of us can say that about ourselves? It wasn’t that long ago that I would have ever in a million years thought that about myself. But I can now say and honestly feel that I am and I believe it.
It’s an amazing feeling believe me. It’s even more amazing for me to go from just having that thought, that feeling to now, actually seeing the miracle of myself unfold right before my eyes in my daily life. And it is only just the beginning. The beginning of my new life. My choice to take the clothes of my old life off and to now darn the robes of myself as a miracle, an amazing celebration here on earth. How did I ever get to this point you might wonder. I almost wonder myself. I never thought it was possible. I thought I’d never ever get to this place. This amazing place of aliveness, gratefulness, and passion for living we would all like to know.
I have been living in a sticky place, a place I thought that I would be stuck forever, the place I had made for my life. A box more like it. A place where I felt safe. A place where I could control things. My family, my kids. A place where I could avoid pain and disappointment. So I thought…
I lived in this sticky place because I abandoned MYSELF. I abandoned all the things inside myself that are important to me. I completely lost my CONNECTION to myself and therefore the rest of life as well. I couldn’t see my underlying needs that I neglected day after day. I was left with feelings of exclusion from people and life. A deep sense of being alone in this world. Lost. Helpless, unsafe, not worthy, jealous of others’ successes, of being a loser, of going nowhere, of not belonging, of something is wrong with me. Isolation and paralysis in the relationships in my life. Of WHAT IS THE POINT ANYWAYS?
I had such a fear of loss that I wouldn’t let myself experience it at all. I was afraid of the feeling since having experienced many losses as a child. I made my life small. I didn’t allow myself to form deep connections with other people being so scared of the loss that could happen, yet deeply yearning for love, feeling of closeness and intimacy that I knew was possible between people. I thought it wasn’t there for me. That it would never be.
It turns out that when I looked at myself and could really see how I was living I realized that I was already living my life from this place of loss. Loss of myself, my dreams, joy, and feeling. I’ve lived like this in my disappointment for years. It was boring, dull, joyless. I can see now how living in this feeling of loss and disappointment limited my opportunities and growth. I stopped trying to live bigger, better. Stopped trying for more, stopped dreaming. Had I ever dreamed? Not getting too excited or passionate about anything in case it didn’t work out. I didn’t love fully, share myself fully or get too close to people. I ended up feeling alone in a world full of people. Emotionally flat. Depressed. Joyless. All the while, trying not to sink.
The cost of living this way has been severe.
I did not live for myself…only for others trying to please them to gain their love, all the while being full of rage and disgust with myself. Slowly, through doing circle work I started to see myself more. I could see that my heart was not valued as a child. I was never allowed to be my own authority. I wasn’t heard.
My feelings were not acknowledged. I was not seen for my true self. I was not celebrated. My dreams not believed in. Because my dream was not good enough, neither was I; told in fact that the very thing that excited me most and got me out of bed every day was not very practical. I needed a real job. Something to fall back on. I didn’t have the support I needed to follow my heart or believe in myself and what I loved to do. My energy was turned away from what I loved due to loss of passion and my inner drive and then to searching for a “real” job. Something else to be okay with that would actually make money. I still haven’t found that to this day.
Seeing this in myself. Really seeing myself for the first time in my life enabled me to start to think of more. Another possible reality. Another future than the one I was going towards right now. One that I chose, that I wanted, that I dreamed of. I wanted to find joy, love and laughter in my life. I wanted to feel worthy and embraced. I wanted to lead with my heart. Experience deep emotion and feeling. Wanted to love and care for myself. To live in ecstasy. To be the celebration. My own miracle. But how? I had no idea.
I had started to go into my experiences and feelings of my daily life. I allowed myself to feel angry, scared, helpless, sad, happy, funny and other things and started to gain small insights and clarity as to why I reacted the way I do to things. I could now see that the experience of being helpless or angry is not a bad thing. These feelings serve a purpose. Like messages from my soul. There was nothing wrong with me.
I started to take some risks. I took some initiative in trying some of my ideas. Started to see a few friends more. Invited myself along to concerts with one friend and others I didn’t even know. Spoke more to others about myself and let a few people in.
And then, the unimaginable happened.
My dear beautiful friend of 20 years was dead. Another friend called to tell me. She had killed herself. The very friend with which I had been seeing more of the last year. The very friend whom I had invited myself along to a concert with her and her other friends. The one whom I had just gone cross country skiing with a few months before and a workshop a canning workshop and egg decorating party at her house. The one with whom I was trying to get in touch with for the last two weeks. The one who shared my passion with when we were in high school and college. The one whom I danced with and sang with and laughed my ass off harder than with anyone else I know. The one who even though I knew she was bi-polar for the last 15 years I ALWAYS thought she would continue to come out the other side. The one whom I thought would always be my friend forever until we got old. The one who when she was in a good phase lived bigger than anyone else I’ve ever known.
She danced, she sang, she had parties and get-togethers, workshops at her house. Composed her poetry. Sought justice for many. Loved and fought for the environment. Nurtured many, many friendships and took the time to know people, hear them and “get” them. The one who made a yearly tradition just for us. A yearly fondue party for my husband and I and a few other close friends. It was special. I loved her and felt loved by her. She took the time for me, even with all her other friends. I knew she loved me for who I am.
When I heard the news a feeling like nothing I’ve ever felt before came over me.
Complete gut-wrenching, heart-piercing agony. My heat torn open, shattering in a million pieces. Tears and howls ran through me with an unbearable force. I’ve never felt a loss like that before. I had been good at avoiding that. But here it was tearing me apart making me feel more intensely than I think I ever, ever have. I didn’t even know I loved someone that much until then.
I cried all that day and into the night. My heart weeping. All the memories we had shared together soared through my mind. And there were many. I laughed and cried at the same time remembering all the amazing times I’ve shared with my friend. My heart was alive. Alive with love for her, love for the memories I have of her. The memories that fill me with joy. Alive with deep pain and loss. Alive with sorrow for her pain. Alive with longing for her not to be gone forever.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more open to love from people until then. My husband, my kids, my friends, and family. I realized then how tight and closed my heart had been and I longed to hold onto this new and amazing feeling. In my quiet nightly solitude after my children and husband went to bed, I cried and laughed and danced and felt light and love and a great energy growing all around me. I reached out to people. I messaged and talked to friends whom I haven’t seen in ages. We were all connected to this one friend who died. Brought together again by this tragedy. By the love she had for all of us and the world, she infected with her laughter. I started getting together with people. I picked up the phone. I wanted to see the amazingness in everyone who crossed my path. I could see that everyone has beauty and specialness inside of them. How everyone is unique and special with their own special ways of being. I could also see, that I was in other people’s thoughts as well. I could see and feel the love of other people for me too. This was something I had never thought of before. I had believed it when I thought I was boring and unlovable but here I was being shown otherwise
More than anything though, my heart became alive to the fact that I know she loved me.
I haven’t always known that for sure from people. But with her, I am sure. She had told me many times, showed me with thoughtful gifts for myself and my family, and gave hugs like you wouldn’t believe every time you saw her. I could feel her love. Concrete and real. Filling up my heart and my love for her.
The messages poured in on Facebook. Other people’s memories, sorrow, happiness at having known her and the love they had for her too, their poems and gratefulness for her being in their lives. I always thought you had to be 90 years old with a huge family to make a legacy like that! It blew my mind. I knew she had many friends but seeing and hearing from so many how connected to her they felt kept me in awe. More love came into my heart. Watching how her light had reached so many.
We mourned together. This great gathering of the community she had built for herself in her life. Full of love for her and from her. I could feel it everywhere. Hearing the stories from others. Their special memories of her. We all had them. All of us. I can’t count how many people told me they felt like she was their best friend and that she how she had understood and cared for them I could suddenly see what she was all about. Her very essence and all the gifts she gave to people while she was here on earth. Often with people, I see what they are lacking, what bugs me about them. Things that make me feel annoyed and angry.
Yet here she was, gone from this world with all her glory and beauty and love seen and felt by all.
Yet here she was, gone from this world with all her glory and beauty and love seen and felt by all. The feeling of this took over me and my heart broke open into what felt like endless light and love for her and everyone around me. I could feel and even see in my mind a great beam of light coming from the cosmos beaming right through my body and out the other side.
Open. Not closed anymore but open.
I started to do a few meditations trying to hold onto this feeling of being so alive, open and full of love. I wasn’t dead and I certainly didn’t want to be. I wanted to live and love life fiercely but also to love myself. Follow my love for the things that bring me joy and the relationships that make me feel good. I wanted to get excited, to laugh again with people, to find joy daily in life and to be grateful for every day I’m living.
Then more news reached my ears. Another friend from high school and college had stage 4 cancer, pneumonia, and other health complications. I knew he had had cancer before but had beaten it the first time. I hadn’t seen him for a long time except for the odd run-ins yet we shared a lot of good times in school doing the things we loved to do. My heart agonized again at what I knew would soon come. An early death for him as well.
Here were my friends dying. One friend who had lived hard during her time and another one who wanted to live hard. And there I had been all this time letting fun times and adventure pass me by. But here I was. Myself alive and healthy and strong. And I can move and dance. And I can talk and sing. And I can celebrate because I’m alive and able. And I will do these things because I can. And because they feel good and are fun. I want to do things that bring me peace and joy.
And then I went to a retreat. My mantra going into this weekend was to love and care for myself. This was derived from some circle work we had done a few days before. At the beginning of the retreat, we were asked to choose a focus for the weekend. Mine somehow emerged as being “I AM THE CELEBRATION, THE MIRACLE” Something that seemed a tall order for myself even though I had been experiencing some amazing energy as of late. After working through what was stopping us from reaching our higher potential for day one, we went into day 2 where we were to bring our vision down into our body in order to become the very thing we wished for ourselves. I didn’t know I could do it. I had been feeling sore and stuck all weekend and hadn’t really talked much. It turns out though that I was just sitting at the edge of my vision which was easily within my grasp. We went on to do an hour-long walking meditation to music and these are the notes I jotted down immediately afterward while everyone else went for lunch:
“I’m like a baby or child full of self-discovery of myself and the world around me full of awe and wonder. Seeing things for the first time including myself full of delight. Previous visions I’ve had in other meditations of late were of people celebrating me but in this one, I was celebrating myself. I was the dancer dancing down the wooded trail, not anyone else, feeling uninhibited and free to express myself.
Got to the top of a mountain with the worlds swirling around me. found my glory, my strength. Silent, peaceful.
I don’t have to resist myself any longer. Only to give in, release and allow glory to take me.
After standing in my power on top of the mountain the eagles and owls came and gently picked me up and I flew gently, lying face down upon their backs. Soaring. gliding easily, soundlessly, coasting through the air round and round.”
“Celebrate my nuances, my very own essence. It is precious and all my very own. I don’t have to rid myself of any part of me. My stuck back, my hurt foot. My red face and dry skin. I melt into myself and accept all that is. I give up the fight. I surrender. I don’t crumble. I don’t fall apart. I am anchored and grounded by my hips but stand tall and proud of every part of me. Not rigid, but soft and full of beauty, light, love and the grace of God in my own self. There is no stuck back. There is no hurt foot. There is only me. I am a child full of wonder and joy and laughter willing to fly off the edge of the cliff, leap into life full throttle. No looking back, secure in knowing something or myself will catch me while I fall. Falling into life.”
And then this, after lunch and a half hour of chanting to music and the question: How do I feel, putting on the garment of being the celebration?
“I celebrate and am grateful for my entire journey from the second I was born. Grateful for this opportunity to experience this life. In this body at this time. I CAN live. I WILL live. I can count on it. I celebrate living. I celebrate me.
I now shed the garment of passivity, poverty, mopiness, anger at myself, of being a victim. I’m taking off the dark tattered, drab, heavy clothes. I’m now putting on joy, laughter, deep feeling, beauty, gratefulness, grace, wisdom, light, airy, elegant clothing
I am a goddess and I celebrate myself.
I am loose, free-flowing, comfortable in my own skin.
I am Woman.
I am Power.
I am Beauty.
I embrace myself.
I live in ecstasy and I am most definitely worthy of love and everything the world has to offer.
Wealth, health, experiences, connection, travel.
I AM HERE.”
Strong words I know. Words I jotted down that day not too long ago. They may seem like only words, yet I could tell them to anyone now and even more. I can celebrate my flaws, my mistakes, my past moments and my future moments. I can celebrate my journey. All the moments of my life leading up to this one right now, right here where I have this amazing feeling inside. This is the point to which I’ve now come!
I can celebrate other people’s journeys too.
I can celebrate the mistakes I make
And especially the mistakes others make in trying to find their own way. I can celebrate and forgive all the people who have caused me pain over the years as part of their own journey intertwined with mine. I can celebrate my dreams and passions. Living in the moment. I celebrate my anger and frustration. The tantrums and fighting of my children because they have strong will and power and strength and passion and they too are on their journey through life. A journey all their own. Just as everyone here is.
I can see each person as a miracle
And the things that are a part of them. I celebrate my interactions with everyone and everything. I’m finding out I have more courage and light than I ever imagined. I’m friends with amazing inspiring people with new friendships blossoming almost daily. I’m saying yes to life. Yes to the adventure. I’m ready for the loss now. Even the pain. I am worth it and so is my life.
I’m ready for my life and where it will take me.
I follow the opportunities thrown in my path and the people brought into my view. They are leading me in new and exciting places. Healing myself along the way. I’ve had more fun doing more things than I have for a long, long time. By myself, with my kids, my husband and family and with old and new friends. The doors are opening before me. I can see them blowing open in the distance bringing me somewhere I never even knew existed. I am ready to follow my path and my destiny. I can feel it coming.