This summer has been hot, sticky and oppressive. I ache for free movement. I long to feel relaxed and have some fun. What I have really been longing for is to escape up to the cabin. That is a privilege I relinquished when I chose freedom over manipulation. It has always been a sore spot for me. Each Christmas I receive a card from a cousin that has a few summer pics from their time at the cabin, my cabin. Last Christmas it really got to me. I felt the sadness rise up, then the anger and resentment and lastly the guilt. The guilt that I had cheated my children out of summer days cooling off in the lake, learning to ski and hours of fun tubing with their cousins. Sitting on the end of the dock with my toes in the water was my happy spot. This summer, with everything shut down and no where to go to escape the heat, I have been longing for the cabin. The urge has been so intense that for a brief moment I even considered heading up mid week when I felt certain no one would be there, I came to my senses.
Last week I was talking to a friend and she shared a story about a recent visit up to her cabin. Ping, there it was, the reminder of what I had lost. A few days later while I stood at the kitchen sink washing up dishes my mind was free to wander. The awareness came crashing in. I had been carrying a guilt of taking something away from my children that was never theirs. She had taken that away long before but would have played the game and dangled the carrot until it suited her to pull the rug out from under them. Years ago she made a passive comment that my family was just to big for the cabin, implying that I never would be a co-owner. Yet, while around my father the talk was always when my brother and I took over ownership. A few years later, with my husband present, she made a passive aggressive comment that it would be best if my brother took over ownership as to not burden us. I nodded knowingly and my husband, who didn’t miss a beat, simply responded “it’s yours to do what you wish”. After she was out of earshot he whipped around and said “what just happened there?”. I told him this was her game, he was finally seeing it. The cabin was always meant to go to my brother. For whatever reason I had never put two and two together until a few days ago. My mother would have played the same game with my children! She HAD been playing the same game with my children, I was just blind to it. The grief bubbled up, my stomach churned and I got nauseous. I had been so accustomed her to treatment that I didn’t think much of it but to think she had it in her to treat my children the same way brought out such deep, repressed feelings. I had bought into the game that she loved them dearly when really they were game pieces that she manipulated whenever she felt like it. As I slowly washed the last dish gazing out my window I felt the guilt begin to break away. I had not cheated them, I had not taken anything from them. Although they will not have the cabin in the ways that I did, they also will not be controlled and manipulated by her sickness. There is a price to everything and with her the price is always steep.
I knew that I needed to write about this experience yet the words just wouldn’t come. Each time I passed my computer I got a nagging feeling that I needed to write before the vividness of the moment got lost. Nothing. Yesterday I called to check on my grandmother. She’s nearing 100, lives on her own and isn’t taking visitors due to covid-19. While we chatted she mentioned that a cousin who lives out of state was coming up for a visit and she and her sister would be staying at the cabin for the week. I took a deep breath in anticipating the emotions I had been feeling to rear up. This time I wasn’t triggered, I didn’t react. I commented that they were going up at the perfect time and would have great weather, I meant it. As I hung up the phone I remembered how my mother would use my family as the reason this cousin couldn’t use the cabin. She hated that they would ask to use it but didn’t want to be the bad guy so it was me she would throw under the bus. I checked in again with my feelings but still none of what I would usually be feeling. I had released my attachment to the cabin and was free to begin forging my own path. Today it was hot again, rather than being lost in the resentment of not having the cabin I had clarity, I told the kids to put on their suits and grabbed the towels. To the beach we went to cool off and break up the monotony. After a couple of hours of hanging out in the water, chatting and getting a bit sunburned we headed out for ice cream. We had fun, shared a few laughs and are creating memories, memories that won’t be tainted with manipulation and control.
There is a country song with lyrics like those. Ironically, I don’t listen to country music but those lyrics have been in my head for a few days. Tomorrow is July 4th, a full moon and an eclipse. It feels magical to me and with those lyrics dancing in my head it feels like it is time for me to create my own celebration of my independence. In order to do that it also means I have to fully accept that I am free, it isn’t something I am chasing any longer. I AM FREE! I am free to live my life, free to become who I am meant to be, free to raise my children how I choose. Free! That also means I must release the limiting beliefs that I have been hiding behind, that have made me feel safe and comfortable. Where do I play small so that I don’t have to face the reality of being free. There is power that comes with being free, power that must actively be handled. That power comes with taking ownership of my life, taking the lead for the direction I want my life to go. What do I want to do with my life, how do I want to spend my days and with whom? These are all questions I must ask myself daily until I am so clear that I know longer allow things to distract me. Every day must be lived intentionally and with purpose and it is difficult to do that without clarity. Tomorrow I will take time to create sacred space to begin my day of celebrating. I will head out early and pick some wild flowers and then meditate. Since we will be spending part of our day with friends out on the lake I will allow myself time to use the healing powers of water to cleanse and will cap off my day around a fire. I will use the power of the fire to release and burn away those limiting beliefs and behaviors. This will be done through creating a list of those limiting beliefs to be burned. I will also spend time dreaming of something I would like to manifest into my life now as I open up and create space. As I release that which is old I will make room for the new I want to bring in.
Wishing you a beautiful and magical Independence Day! Let Freedom Ring!
If you are familiar with the law of attraction you’ve most likely heard it has to do with manifesting wealth into your life. If you think it, you create it, so think positive. I have been familiar with the law of attraction, creating vision boards and all that stuff. I believe in it, I believe if you have an attitude of gratitude that life can feel better, even get better! During this time of a pandemic and now protesting and riots I am seeing many people I know forget the law of attraction. I see a lot of hatred, judgement and shame out on social media. We can’t fight hatred and injustice with hatred or shame. This time, particularly with the protesting and riots around racial inequity, it is about personal accountability. If we buy into the fact that changing the way we think can change our lives, then we must also realize that what is playing out all around us, we had a hand in creating! Yes, I just said we are personally accountable for what is happening. No, that is not meant to shame or blame. It is about being hyper aware of our thoughts, feelings, triggers and reactions. We are a nation with a lot of racial and gender programing, it is out there whether staring us in the face or hidden under the surface. If you hear “Black lives Matter” and get upset because “All lives Matter” there might be some hidden biases. These biases are so subtle yet they can be impacting our schools, cities and country. Whenever we talk about the current situation as a family I encourage my kids to be aware of the thoughts they have around believing one person is better than another, ever. When we begin to have beliefs around someones value we set the Law of Attraction in motion to create inequity. The Law of Attraction isn’t just about manifesting a bigger house, successful career or loads of money into our life, it is about attracting what we invest our emotional energy into. When you feel something intensely, think about it with great passion the ball gets moving and builds momentum quickly. When we understand how incredibly powerful we are we can move mountains, or end inequality. It really is quite simple, focus on what you want rather than what your don’t want. Holding ourselves personally accountable for our thoughts is very empowering. When I find my mind taking me down a path that doesn’t serve me I simply say ” I see you, now let’s go a different direction”. No shame, no guilt. It is a new habit and may take time. I allow myself to stumble, it is ok, I am human. The voice that has the biggest impact on us is the one in our head. When we learn to take the lead our minds will learn to follow and great change will occur.
Growing up in a dysfunctional home, forgive and forget was one of our doctrines. Over time I came to realize what this really meant was when someone harmed or hurt you, you just moved on and preferably with a smile. However, my experience was that my parents carried this infraction for a along time complaining about it, rehashing it, etc… for days, weeks or even years later. Resentments built. There was no true forgiveness and there was never any forgetting. I came to believe that forgiving and forgetting was really so the other person didn’t have to feel the shame or guilt of their actions by being called out or to cause discord in the family. As an adult I came across the concept that you forgive someone for my own benefit, holding onto that anger only harms ourselves. I could understand that in theory yet it was still hard to forgive because I was always aware of the action. Also because my experience has been the person who behaved badly went along life as if nothing had happened, leaving the door open for it to happen again. What I am now coming to realize is that forgiving ties in with accepting. Accepting means being willing to see, taking the blinders off. When someone behaves badly, if I accept that this person is showing their real self to me then I can stop making excuses for them. I have found people will often let you see who they really are in small doses, will you walk away or will you allow it. If you allow it, there will be a lot of “forgiving and forgetting” in your future. People tend to see how far they can push, how much will you take. The sooner you stand up for yourself the less you will have to “forgive” in the future. Back to the forgiving and forgetting. I have discovered on my journey that it is important to forgive and then put it out of my mind, easier said than done. Each time I do is a gift I give myself. How do we hold someone accountable that is not able or willing to hold themselves accountable. For me it means lowering my expectations. If I come to accept that someone is not capable of behaving in a way that is safe or healthy for me I limit my expectations and attachments. That can lead to distancing myself or leaving the relationship completely depending on the behavior. In my family, this was not the example given. You “forgive and forget” so everything can go back to the way it has always been. Keeping things comfortable was important and confronting bad behavior made everyone uncomfortable. Allowing myself to accept a person for who they show me they are, rather than what I want them to be, means giving myself permission to do what I need for my own well being. Forgiving and forgetting is no longer a part of my vocabulary, it is much more simple to accept and move on. At the end of the day it really is all about me and my well being, another thing I had to wait until later in life to learn.
These past couple of months have been a bit of a struggle for me. The struggle being I don’t have a clear path forward. I have had a hard time figuring out where to go from here. As a nation we have been on pause for a few months. I have been in a holding pattern. There’s no going back, that path is quickly disappearing, There’s no going forward yet. It’s as if I am a sailor of a small boat trying to cross the ocean. The waters are rough and the sun it setting. I have taken refuge on an island, I have no control over the water or the wind and will be waiting until the ocean has calmed. While I am suspended in the In Between the world around me is highly active. People are protesting stay at home orders, there is rising tension in Hong Kong and this week in my own state we are having protests and rioting in response to the death of a black man by a police officer. Today businesses in my city are boarding up their stores, big box retailers are closing early and there is increased patrols. It feels like a dam has broke and the wild and angry water is overflowing the banks. I am free floating in the In Between, it is surreal. I think of Billy Joel’s song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” when I think of the world around me. The In Between is the place after what was and before what will be. We may not be able to envision what will be so the in between can feel chaotic and scary. I was talking to a friend today and she talked about the need to surrender. We aren’t conditioned to surrender so it is a new skill that needs to be learned, it is foreign and wildly uncomfortabe. I am a doer and I like to feel I have control over things. While cocooned in the in between there is no doing or controlling. It is truly a state of surrender and allowing. Resistance if futile, it will only prolong the discomfort. I feel the agitation grow, I want to function on a time line. How long do I have to wait, how long do I have to be patient? Right now it feels indefinite. What am I preparing for? I want to be doing something! But there is nothing to do, there is only surrendering to the process. A process that is unknown to me. So I turn to writing, spending time with my children, baking and getting outside as much as I can. I am growing food, while I tend to the seedlings I also talk to myself hoping to calm the waters of the storms that surge within me. The in between has become a time of praying for we are all in this storm, we are all being called to navigate uncharted waters. While talking to my friend, I shared by inner thoughts. She seemed to have an inner knowing of what I was expressing and in that moment it was like seeing the flashing light of a distant sailor. I was no longer alone in this vast ocean, that gives me courage. I am learning to make peace with the in between, the other option is to spiral downward into darkness and despair. I do not want that so I choose to sit with the in between and befriend it. I choose to become familiar with what is uncomfortable to see where it might lead me.
I’ve always struggled with finding the sweet spot of being a compassionate listener without being a door mat. I remember times on my journey feeling so lost and overwhelmed and how I believed having someone’s support would make all the difference. I’ve rarely had that relationship and felt I have mostly been on my own. Because of that it has been important to me to support others when I can. This has proven to be challenging as I tend to over give and leave myself feeling frustrated and depleted.
This morning I bounced out of bed with things I wanted to get done before I needed to head out. I got up, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down at the computer to take care of some needed research for my garden. It felt good and I was excited about what I was accomplishing. My phone beeped and I saw a text come in from a friend an upcoming obligation she had. I said I was free and before I could refill my cup the phone rang. What I hoped would be a 20 minutes phone call to turned into an hour of utter confusion. I was agitated, I’m not sure even the purpose of the phone call as there wasn’t much to discuss other than making a decision she had already made more complicated. I was to agitated to finish what I was doing so headed out for some time in the garden to soak up some sun and get my hands dirty. I hadn’t been out long when a friend stopped by. We hadn’t seen each other in a while so I took a break and we sat and talked. The conversation never got in a rhythm. It felt awkward and forced. We were struggling to find a common interest or topic while trying to stay away from current events and politics. Normally after I spend time with this friend I feel good and grateful for our time together. The time kind of dragged on and I finally had to excuse myself as I was now running behind to get to the store for groceries. I went in, cleaned up and got ready to head out. I heard my phone ring but since everyone was home assumed it was a spam call. Later I checked and it was a friend who I know has been going through a tough time, I had heard all about it the week before and had already gotten a voice mail a few days earlier to update me. This was another update. I began thinking how do I get myself into this? Where is that line between being a good, supportive friend and being a door mat? I had things I wanted to do tonight but I am exhausted, it feels like my whole day was consumed by the problems of others. I am left feeling depleted which means I have nothing to give to those closest to me or to myself. I’m still trying to figure out how to put boundaries in place, how to say this is my limit with out fearing I will sound uncaring. I am aware that this happens because I allow it, I haven’t put into place clear, defined boundaries. When I have only wanted to give 20 minutes I have freely given a couple of hours. Why would they expect that they get anything less than what they want? I know this is coming up now for me to address. A time for me to honor myself and become clear on what it means to be a compassionate listener. I have been in a very dysfunctional relationship with myself. I have not been a compassionate listener to my inner self and I have put the welcome sign out to be used as a doormat. It’s hard to deny a change needs to take place when I have been challenged multiple times during the day. I call it the 2 x 4 across the head, wake up RavenFire!! I see it clearly now and I have learned if I allow myself to sit in it for a while it will start to lessen. I used to work so hard to force change and I have come to realize it is all in the allowing, letting go of the resistance or judgement. The allowing comes when I am honest with myself about a behavior, whether I talk it out or journal about it, I am putting it out there to be seen. Once it is seen it is much harder to go back into denial. Now, I sit in it, allowing the old to wash away, allowing the new insights to flow in. I no longer consent to being a doormat.
Essential oils were one of the first tools in my toolbox. Twenty years ago when I first started dabbling they were not as easy to find. I was introduced to them by someone who was in an MLM, I signed up. I took a lot of classes, read and stocked up. I have no doubt they work. My family has used them to treat ear infections, strep throat, sinus infections, restless leg and heart burn to name a few. Essential oils help more than physical ailments, they work in the mental, emotional and spiritual realms as well. This is harder to prove though so you have to use your own discernment. Because I have had wonderful experiences with treating physical conditions I fully trust fully work on those other levels and incorporate oils for that purpose into my daily routine. My inventory of oils has grown over the years, I use them in the morning when I get ready for the day and I end with them before I go to bed. Because essential oils are so readily available, and sadly have become more of a money maker than a healing tool, it is that much more important to do your own research. When I joined all those years ago I had a very active up line that held classes and learning events. We learned about so much more than just oils, we learned about healing the body, mind and spirit. It was then that I was really introduced to the idea that food is medicine, what we put into and on our bodies matters! I learned why it is so important to drink water, I was drinking close to a 12 pack of diet cola every day! I haven’t seen that level of education in a long time so now the learning is on the student which means lots of book reading and online research. It is critical to find trusted sources for your information and your oils. I have books specifically about the oil blends from the company I buy from and have also used books by Valarie Ann Worwood, she provides good, solid information.
One of the most significant benefits of incorporating essential oils into my life and health is I began to feel I had some control in my health and well being. I was no longer solely dependent on a doctor. I was learning to pay attention to my health and well being. Through using the oils and investing time into learning I began to wean myself off of pain relievers. I used to pop 1000 mg of acetaminophen each morning, and again in the evening, to cope with the body pain and head aches! This was when I was in my 20’s and my body should have been in it’s prime. I used Valor and Pan Away, along with Lavender, night and day for a couple of years. The pain and headaches subsided. I learned when I felt a headache coming on to start incorporating Peppermint. It is a rarity for me to ever take over the counter medication any more. I much prefer to see if there is an oil I can try first or some other natural remedy. It has taken me years to learn which oils to lean on in certain situations and even some of those have evolved. Peppermint is my go to if I have heart burn and to perk me up, lemon always goes on my dryer balls and lavender is always on hand for soothing the body. When my children were young Immupower and RC were my go to oils for cold season along with Eucalyptus. When we travel I usually freshen the room up with tea tree oil (helps with mold and mildew) and Citrus Fresh to get rid of the chemical cleaner smell. My list goes on and on but hopefully you get the point, there are countless oils for different situations and ailments, it is a great little tool to have for any situation. Do your research, find a reputable supplier for your oils. The quality needs to be high enough that you can ingest it, I don’t recommend this, since you will be applying them to your skin and our skin absorbs it directly into our body. I have learned if you can’t eat it don’t put it on your skin.
Today I woke up invigorated, something has shifted and it feels like the dawning of a new reality!! By 7:00 p.m. last night I was ready to call it a day. Felt a little early to crawl into bed and risk being up for the day at 3:00 a.m. so I trudged on keeping myself busy. By 9:45 p.m. I was laying in bed, crystal in hand to do a meditation and clear my mind with the intent of some deep, restful sleep. I felt myself relax deeply, my mind slow and my breath deepen. I was drifting somewhere else. Then I put my crystal on the night stand and settled in for sleep. Instead of calm I felt an energy coursing though my body that was electric, my mind with rapid fire thought. At some point I moved to the floor and did some stretches hoping to move the energy out. I grabbed a pillow and laid there on the floor. I found it remarkable how comfortable I was and how relaxed. I was oblivious to how hard the floor should be, I drifted between electric energy and states of serene calm for what felt like hours. Finally I returned to my bed, drifted off and then popped back into a wide awake state. I often use times when I wake in the night to pray or talk to my higher power. However, I had been awake so much last night and felt like I had said all I needed to say, so I asked “what do you want me to know?’. I didn’t get an answer but felt as though something had opened. I had let my higher power know that I was open and receptive to learning the answer. At some point I finally drifted into sleep. When I woke my first thought was I am still tired. I laid there and felt energy course through me, this time it felt invigorating. I knew immediately I must get up and get moving, there are important things to be done today. Today is a re-birthing, a time of nourishing and allowing. Today I move into what I have been desiring. Now I fully let go of the past and what was to create room for what is to be. What is that? I have no idea but I know that it will be an amazing adventure of discovery. In this moment I feel light and free, fully capable of creating something beautiful. I came across a comment that we must first stop talking about and then stop thinking about something in order to release it. I have recently had a few things pop up in my life that must be there to be cleared out yet rather than letting them go I have allowed them to over take me, I had felt myself spiraling down deeper and deeper. I was allowing myself to be pulled into someone else’s energy, to become something other than who I am. Today it is time to say good bye to those old things and thank them for their lessons. In this moment there is choice! Today is to be another cloudy, rainy day yet somehow it feels like permission to take care of me. To spend more time on little areas of my life that get neglected. Today I will take time to sip on my favorite tea, listen to some music, enjoy my freshly arranged lilacs and dream of what is to come. Dream of the wild woman who is being birthed. Dream of adventures to be had, people I will meet, experiences I will have and magic I will create. When I put aside all of the shoulds I am supposed to do and be I see so much magic in the world. When I am able to see that magic I also see the massive amount of love, kindness and generosity that is in the world. Within that magical state I feel so blessed to be on this planet, at this time, soaking in all of the beauty. Life is grand when we allow ourselves to dwell within the the mystery of life.
Spring is in full swing when the lilacs bloom, it is one of my favorite scents. It is nothing less than pure simplicity at its best. Where I live the city planted block upon block of lilacs when the city was being developed. They are now massive shrubs towering above the sidewalk and they explode with color and aroma every May. Some residents have tried to tame them but many of shrubs are wild and unruly while being gloriously beautiful in their many shades of purple. Somewhere there is a message in these delicate blossoms. Have you ever inspected a lilac flower? There are tons of little flowerettes clustered five to seven and that cluster is part of more clusters to create the flower we cut for bouquets. They look delicate and fragile yet they are quite the opposite. Packed together they provide protection and strength to the other flowerettes, like a protective community. They are robust and resilient. Possibly I have been drawn to these spectacular flowers for more reasons than their simple beauty and aroma, possibly they have been inspiring me to embrace my wild, beautiful and unruly self!
Self care has been a hot topic for a while now, I’m sure you have all seen the lists of ways to practice self care. Buy yourself a new outfit/lipstick, take yourself out for lunch or buy yourself some flowers. Don’t get me wrong, all those things can bring a spark of feel good in the moment but what about the long haul. What about when you have no desire to get out of bed, to do another chore or to drag yourself to work again. What then? Will a new outfit or a bouquet of posies do anything? What about the list that says eat real food, take your vitamins, go for a brisk walk, soak in some sun? The art of self care starts with making a commitment to yourself. Self care is about having the inner dialogue with yourself about the amazing person you are and then standing up to your inner critic and telling it to zip it. Self care is about the commitment to smiling at yourself, complimenting yourself and providing your own positive inner conversations. It’s about holding ourselves accountable and reminding ourselves why we deserve better than the drive through food and need to grab that organic salad that will nourish us for the day. It’s about choosing a warm cup of tea and a great book over numbing out in front of the TV with a beer. Self care is about nourishing our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual bodies. It’s about saying no to more so we can say yes to ourselves. It’s about consuming less so we can be more present with our dreams. For me self care has been about falling in love with my life and that means figuring out what has to go so that I have more time for what I love. It also means becoming clear on what I love. Sometimes self care looks like standing out in the sun, breathing deeply. Sometimes it looks like a brisk walk yet other times it looks like a slow leisurely walk giving myself time to observe children playing, birds chirping or newly blooming wild flowers. Sometimes it is diving deep into a project or cleaning out a closet and sometimes it is slowing down and writing in my journal or listening to some inspiring music. Self care is about tuning into what my body and soul need in this moment. I personally have found someone else’s lists stress me out, it almost feels like another item on my to do list. Over the years I have discovered that true self care is about creating a relationship with myself, making a commitment to my wholeness and holding myself accountable. Where to start? Have an inner conversation or journal and find out what you need. Sometimes this will take a while, we have ignored ourselves for a very long time. Keep talking, keep writing and before you know it you will begin to get the answers. What you need today will be different than tomorrow. Right now I have found I need more sleep, more rest and more time to just be. That has been going on for days and I am honoring it. Periodically I will wake to find myself needing to create something, clean something or take on a project and then I follow that lead. We are in a perpetual state of flux right now and listening to the self, caring for the self is so critical right now. By listening to myself and honoring what I need I have built trust in myself, that is the ultimate act of self care. Then I buy myself a brightly colored bouquet to celebrate the efforts I have made in caring for myself!!