Memento Mori is latin for “remember death”. Commonly used in art and literature during 17th century’s Dutch Golden Age ( Baroque period), it was to remind us that life is short and we all, eventually, die. Death is inevitable. It may sound a tad morbid, but I take it as a reminder to be present, because this moment is fleeting.
On this Memorial Day, I’m paying my respects to the parts of myself that have died the last couple years, the loss I’ve experienced and the grief I have survived. Divorce, death, ending friendships, family members addictions, infidelity. You name it. More often than not I am grateful for what I do have, but today, I’m pensive. Many, many things have changed and if I didn’t remind myself from time to time that life is short I may not appreciate things quite as much as I do. Most people are out celebrating an extended weekend enjoying a bit of a respite from the grind of work, kids, errands, life, etc. I’m at a friends, by the beach, acknowledging how far I’ve come, how I’ve changed and who I’ve become. The day is not about the sadness of death but moving, ever so slightly, from mourning to acceptance of times gone by.
A resolution to change…
I began this year wanting to challenge old stories and old belief systems that no longer served me. I wanted to surround myself with people who wanted to do the same. Subsequently, I was called to the mat. Every day I was challenged more and more to pick my battles, react to conflict with poise, fall on my face and rise back up. Sometimes I didn’t rise back up, sometimes I stayed on my knees. Sometimes I threw stones. Sometimes I begged someone to help me stand. Sometimes I convinced myself that being face down was fine and it just gave me a new perspective. Which is true, I have many new perspectives.
Shift is painful
Especially when your willing to let people walk out of your life in order to be true to yourself and your values. It requires new boundaries. It requires strength. It requires self love and shit ton of resilience. Some were unable to change with me. I had to choose them or my own transformation. It was me or them, and considering I spend more time with me than anyone else I’ve chosen me. In doing so, I’ve had to release alot of poison and toxicity, both in myself and in my relationships. Toxicity that was mostly present because boundaries were blurred, resentment set in and I felt taken advantage of. Only some were willing brave the journey with me.
Chocolate, carbs, hiking, the ocean, Jimmy Fallon lip-syncing battles, a giant trampoline, music, friends, consistently inappropriate humor, gratitude, silky chickens and soooo much processing– these have been my coping mechanisms. It’s been fun. It’s been heartbreaking. It’s been hilarious. It’s been torrentially devastating. It’s been authentic.
When we live, always aware of our inevitable expiration, we look at life through a different lens. Death is loss. Loss is impermanence. Nothing is ever permanent. Therefore, live as though this is the only moment you have, because it is, and it is absolutely, positively, incredibly beautiful.
“There’s no telling how it will affect you. Just know that it will.” ~unknown
An allegory about love, loss and transformation.
Bella was a beautiful young Kenna caterpillar . She was bright purple with teal spots, but beauty is subjective, and in the Kenna community, you were only beautiful if you were green. The brighter the green, the prettier. She was soft and kind, but not considered attractive. She would see the beauty in everyone she met which made her vulnerable to hardship. She would be lied to, taken advantage of and remained naive to the games caterpillars played. Insecurities ran high with her. She wanted connection.
She found a dark, fuzzy Tomeo caterpillar that understood, for he was the same. Kane left the Tomeo’s because that’s what they all did, but he still yearned for connection. He was wiser to the world, being solitary he had to learn who to trust more carefully. A bird may try to lure you to its nest, a spider to its web, another caterpillar may be poisonous if you touch them. He knew the latter all too well because the tips of his hairs were poisonous to some species if he was startled. He became her best friend, her teacher, her mentor, her life partner. She didn’t know if she was immune to his poison but since Kane was always calm with her it didn’t seem to matter.
Their Shared Cocoon
They built a cocoon, ever so carefully. It took longer than others because they were building it for both of them. It was strong and flexible, safe and comforting. Through the building of both their cocoon and their friendship, she learned to be more careful, more selective. Both metaphorically with who she trusted and in the building materials, because it would need to hold both their weight. Kane’s coat was soft and he now had more control over the poison on it, being able to protect them both from predators. He learned to see more beauty and have more faith that good things could happen.
When it was finished, they crawled inside, excited to soon fly together. For the next two weeks, their bodies liquified in order to take on its new shape. They would still become what they were meant to be but they would take on parts of each other since they were transforming in the same cocoon. Typically, they would have done this independently, but Bella didn’t know how to build one and Kane was afraid of predators in order to gather supplies. They needed each other. They were connected.
They emerged a month later. It took longer since both of them transformed together. There was more for mother nature to sort through in order for everything to be as she planned. The correct wings had to be placed with Kane and correct coloring with Bella, for this, was pre-determined.
Bella became a beautiful magenta butterfly, built for basking on bright flowers in the sunshine. She felt confident in her new self and eagerly awaited Kane. Kane emerged dark and fuzzy with blue iridescence…but…he was moth, built to flutter through the darkness of nightfall. Their hearts sank. They knew it meant their lives were headed in different directions. They tried to learn to fly together anyway, but either way, one was left wanting. Kane began flying at night and Bella bathed in sunlight while mustering up the courage to practice more. She was afraid to practice without Kane. In the following days Kane found a female moth that could show him the ropes and Bella knew it was time to find other butterflies that could do the same for her. The sinking feeling was back and heavy like an anchor.
As Bella cried from the treetops for Kane she heard Mother Earth whisper gently from the willow tree “my sweet girl, all is right in your plan. I know you miss your friend, but you have different destinies. You will find another that enjoys the sun as much as you.”
For a moment, Bella felt the folds of Mother Earth’s great nurturing power soothe her pain. She breathed in the crisp mountain air. The relief was short lived.
“But Mother! Why couldn’t you make us the same! Since we took on parts of each other, why aren’t we both half moth and half butterfly??” she cried. “My dear, you were made as you were meant to be. Kane’s transformation gave you safety and healed your insecurities. Your transformation gave him optimism. Courage is now a part of your genetics. Only now can you truly fly.”
She cried instead. She didn’t want to fly without Kane. What if she fell and got hurt? What if no one accepted her, just like before? What if she was alone forever? The questions were endless. The tears were big. Then she slipped off a branch and had to flap her wings or come face to face with the forest floor.
So fly she did. On her own, because she had to. She felt the courage Mother Earth spoke of, traveling through her veins like the warmth of a mothers love. With the wind carrying her she began to enjoy the vantage points and everything she was able to see in the daylight. The more she flew, the less she thought of Kane and the more she was able to appreciate the lessons she had learned from him. Some days she missed his company more than other days. She missed him when she made a new friend or flew by a spot where they shared a good laugh. She knew he was always a part of her and she would always be a part of him, it was their genetics. She felt connection which gave her the confidence to be who she needed to be.
Sometimes connection to another person affects us in such a profound way that we are never the same again. There will be good and bad parts. Some stay and some are meant to move on. We experience it, we learn from it and we grow from it. When we allow our perception of the past to be balanced, accepting the good and bad memories, we give ourselves permission to move forward. It’s ok to be sad then happy, angry then sad, then happy again. When our connections to people shift it can be difficult to accept. Especially with love. It’s hard to let go of what was when everything seemed right. But things change. The world changes. People grow together and people grow apart. Connection is valuable. We learn many of life’s most important lessons through connection. Life is more emotionally charged because of it. Connection makes us feel alive. Connection makes us human.
As an ode to a beautifully inspiring post by Dr. Andrea Dinardo I have borrowed a phrase…
Stand your Sacred Ground.
Stand your Sacred Ground.
Stand your Sacred Ground.
My intuition kept whispering to me…
You’ve had this argument before.
You know this is fear and resistance speaking from the other end of this conversation.
Walk away before you add fuel.
So I did. I have before, but this time was different. This time, rather than defending my integrity, and making my points, I spoke my truths and walked away with my integrity in tact. I simply gave them a hug and stopped giving a reason to resist. It was not the comfortable choice, it won’t be the easy choice to live with right now. But it will be the choice I will be proud of later.
I’m fiercely loyal and passionately curious about the human condition. I have a strong circle of relationships around me that share those qualities and usually join me in the darkest vulnerable places in order to see the bright meadow on the other side. I’m so very grateful to have my tribe. Then there are the relationships that no matter what you do it’s never enough, or it’s too much. You drift apart. I always try to real it back in, be more attentive, more honest, more curious, more loving. That has always done well for me. Not because it works, but because sometimes it doesn’t . For me,the greatest emotional pain lies in letting go of people. Not just any people. The ones that know me. The ones I’ve laughed with, struggled with, cried with, shared stories and experiences with.
My fear bellowed from the depths…
Maybe they never really knew me.
Maybe they did but didn’t want to anymore.
Maybe it was me.
But my herculean spirit was stronger…
Stand your Sacred Ground.
Know your truth.
Trust your light.
For many of us, the brave road is to fight through something, to work through it. I value that. Through conflict and struggle our cards are on the table and our warrior inside revealed. We learn what we’re made of, where to set boundaries and when to push through difficulties. But other times, we learn when we’re fighting a losing battle. When we have to love ourselves and our values MORE than loving another person. There’s a very fine line between enabling someone to treat you poorly and allowing them to feel however they need to feel. When you become the object of their resentment or the target for their blame it may be time to lovingly walk away. It’s not healthy, nor is loving what you expect them to be. We all deserved to be loved exactly as we are. Sometimes that means letting go. Sometimes that’s the best kind of love we can give someone.
To me, this post is so creatively representative of the emotions women feel when we are waiting for a lover to engage. I am a “hopeless romantic” and have recently graduated to a courageous warrior. As a self-reflective, self-aware woman I want a partner that “shows-up” to be seen, that chooses to love me everyday, that comes to our special place…just the way this post so vividly describes. I make choices everyday and when your choosing to show up emotionally and your partner keeps standing you up in the rain, eventually you have to accept that your alone. I keep waiting for him to show up.
She stood there. The sky howling as the wind whipped at her. Though the heavens wept, her heart glowed. Today was the day he said he would come. Today was the day she would meet him after years of being waiting.
“Wait for me at our special place” he had whispered in her ear as he left. She had smiled through the tears that were streaming down her face as he left, for she knew he would come, and she would wait until he did.
Today was the day, at any moment now, she would see him. Tall frame, messy black hair, twinkling eyes and grinning lips. She could imagine him so clearly in her head, it was a wonder she thought, even after all this time, the memories hadn’t faded.
She felt jitters as she thought of what would be. A heady mix of longing and fear. She closed…
We hold the holidays in high regard. The expectations are incredible, from family showing up and getting along to everyone having gifts to open. The tree must be just right, someone has to be in charge, a perfect dinner arranged and no one is supposed to worry about the finances. Those are just the generic ones. Every family is different and each one has even more expectations. I spent all day thinking about what to write about. I knew I needed to write but wasn’t sure what to focus on. Now it’s clear.
I love Christmas. I enjoy going all out, decorating everything, getting everyone well thought out gifts, cooking dinner and watching die hard and a Christmas Story. I have been pretty blessed in previous years, everyone put their personal stuff to the side for the sake of family. This is not one of those years. My truth…is that my mother and sister are estranged, my boyfriend and I are at a major crossroads, my pseudo step kids think I’m the devil incarnate, one of my friends thinks I’m inconsiderate and I’m sicker than a dog. My father and I are sharing the holiday together, both sick, unable to visit anyone with no tree or decorations. My expectations are destroyed and I’ve spent most of the day in total despair. In walk the evil minions…or gremlins as Brene Brown calls them. They are the voices in your head that tell you you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not pretty enough. You are not worthy of love and belonging. Those evil minions can be engaged simply by a comment someone says to you, but when shit really hits the fan their voices are all you will hear. For the last 5 days that’s all I heard. I’m sick, exhausted, beat up and kicked on the ground.
I could name all the reasons for my pain. Not being able to see the kids faces as they open the gifts we picked out so thoughtfully together is one at this moment. That was my choice, albeit a difficult one. The universe has insisted on my current solitary reflection. Sometimes, it is as necessary as the air we breathe. Never, ever, settle on your morals and your boundaries. I’m not saying be a martyr either, that always seems to lead to death. But if you want to attain peace and happiness as badly as I do then you must stand firmly and bravely in the face of negativity, blame and projection. I will not allow myself to develop a cloak of shame because someone else wants to blame me for their past. I am brave, I am worthy. I am a good person and work hard to nurture the relationships close to me. I am not someone else’s judgements or pain. I am not my past but the possibilities of my future. I am resilient and what is difficult today will strengthen me tomorrow.
No one can hurt me without my permission ~ Ghandi
Be very careful who you listen to when you allow their words to define your character. Very few are capable of pointing out things that truly help you to grow as a person. Most, in fact, will project their weaknesses, or self perceived flaws, onto you. Maybe they will misjudge you’re motives for having ill intent. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone has the best intentions and not everyone is good natured. Sometimes you may really need someone to put you’re butt back in line. I’m grateful for those moments. I’m strong willed and don’t always listen but I know when to admit I was wrong.
I found myself recently questioning who I was. My intentions were good. I wanted to provide stability, space for new roles, boundaries and love. Get to know who you are on your own. Self reflection and self love will carry you further than you can imagine. Not everyone knows how to love unconditionally, I’m still a padawan. Mastery of the force still eludes me. Not everyone will be considerate, patient and gentle with your shame triggers. Some people will purposefully summon your evil minions. Not everyone is a trusted friend. You are lucky if you have one, and very blessed if you have more. By listening to yourself you can be the one who decides what you need to work on and what you don’t. So, this holiday, release some of those heavy expectations, know you are doing you’re very best and appreciate every moment you have with family and friends. Merry Christmas. XOXO
Sometimes I will over complicate a simple task beyond recognition of it’s former condition. I told myself “my first blog post will be chock full of relevant articles, interesting stories and factual research”. Alas, I almost didnt write this at all. Especially since it’s 1:30 in the morning and I have work in the morning.
As I washed my face and got ready for bed I thought of my grandfather who recently passed away. My lotion smells like licorice, “good n’ plenty’s” specifically. He loved both. Death of a loved one makes you reflect on their life, your life and the meaning of life as a whole. I won’t delve into that here, tonight, but I will say I love you Papa. The memories I have with you and the knowledge you bestowed upon me will be with me always.