I love this photo of us. It takes me back to a time when life was easy and carefree and I felt like the luckiest little girl in the world. I cherish this picture because it serves as reminder of all the great memories I have of you. I think of you often and sometimes with regret. When I got the call that you passed away, it was in that moment that I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I saw you face to face, nor the last words that I spoke to you. What I do remember is that there was tension in our last phone conversation and many unanswered questions. That was about 22 years ago.
I must admit that I did not spend a large part of my life trying to understand your choices. I was too young at the time to understand the complexities of life and relationships between a man and a woman but as a young child when I saw my mother often frustrated and angry as a result of your choices, I took her side. My heart ached trying to figure out how you could be so easily led astray and I took your actions all too personally. Weren’t we enough of a reason to leave the alcohol, streets and women alone? How could anything be more important than us? As a result, I armored myself with an “If you don’t care enough then I don’t care enough either” attitude. Little did I know the undertone of this experience would live, grow and fester inside me. It has shown up in various areas of my life. Whenever I’ve felt betrayed or disrespected by a friend and it most certainly has shown up in my relationships with men. While I was busy showing many “I didn’t care about them either” I also was neglecting “not caring” about myself. And I was too blinded by ego to see it. I’ve faced some hard truths about myself in my desire to achieve success in the one area of my life that proves to difficult. Relationships. I have wasted much time trying to prove my worthiness to men. I have accepted scraps of attention and time from men, I’ve stuck by their sides forgivingly, when I should have walked away. All the while convincing myself that if I could make “this one” work despite the obvious signs, my worth be recognized. Because I could not see my worth, I was looking for it in my various career choices, in my friendships and in my relationships. In my mind I knew better, but at my core I needed to be healed.
My path to healing has been ripe with hard lessons, self-reflection, awareness, gratitude, and love. It wasn’t until I claimed my baggage which I carried with me everywhere, that I was able to release it. I have since learned to forgive myself and I’ve come to forgive you. I’ll never know the weight of your burdens and fears but as an adult I now understand that you did the best you knew how to do. Life does not come with a manual and our experiences are here to show us ourselves, good and bad so that we can live fully and in truth. It is not for me or anyone to judge you or your actions. My unconscious behavior is no different from yours or anyone else’s for that matter. The common thread of fear of inadequacy runs through all of us. I now understand it had nothing to do with me. At 44 I know without question my value and my worth and as a result I am responsible and accountable for the energy I bring to life experiences. Although I am still single, it is because I know what I will and will not allow in my life. I am guided by my intuition. I forgive without giving up my truth. There is nothing to prove. Life happens for us to nurture and promote our spiritual development.
And so, on what would have been your 66th birthday, it is my hope that these words touch your spirit. Two years ago today mom and I traveled to St. Croix to release Grandma Sheila’s ashes into the ocean and once released the clouds dissipated and the light from the sun confirmed that her spirit was free. We were able to see your sister Karen and celebrate both your life and my grandmother’s life. For me this day is about letting go of the things that are holding me back from living my best life. I pray that wherever you are in the world, that your life is abundant. I pray that you have found your way. I pray that you are sharing your light. Know that I love you and know that I always knew your love for me and despite the past, I am grateful to have known you on this journey called life.
I attended what I now refer to as “Sunday Service” at the Won-Buddhism Meditation Temple yesterday and it was quite a memorable experience. I have been attending the Temple off and on for about two years now and there is always more to appreciate with each visit.
My practice of meditation started fairly early along this journey. The more I read about it the more I desired to achieve that moment when mind chatter disintegrates and complete silence takes over. And like anything else in life, the more you practice the better you become.
At each service there is always a Dharma talk which one could compare to a sermon. Yesterday’s Dharma talk touched upon several areas that really spoke to me in addition to the Reverend’s commentary on the recent events that took place in Paris. Prior to meditation the Reverend talked about “attachment” and how people become fixated or so consumed with their beliefs and ideals that truth eludes them. Blame is placed on others recklessly, without acknowledgment of self victimization. Her commentary offered me an opportunity to question myself and ask what ideals I was still holding on to and why.
The Dharma talk was given by a student who aspires to be a Buddhist priest. His words were simple but honest, he spoke of being fully committed to his journey and his fear of straying off of his path. He spoke of the despair of not knowing what he should do with his life and how his experiences have brought to him to this decision. He will have to let go of many material attachments and worldly pleasures, and will have to commit daily to his practices. There will be no turning back to his former life, there is no trial period, at twenty something he is fully committed to his calling in life. I instantly thought of all the many things I struggle to commit to in my life that are missed opportunities.
In a few days the sun will enter Sagittarius and as my birthday approaches I am filled with curiosity and excitement knowing that this time is very powerful for me. The choices I make during these next few weeks will propel me into my not so comfort zone or keep me complacent within my comfort zone. As the planets align in my favor how will I best make use of this energy? What will I let go of that I have held on to for too long? What no longer serves me? What will I commit to and will I be able to stay accountable to it? The shift I felt in October continues to expand and great opportunity for transformation and abundance lie ahead of me. This shift also brings discomfort and anxiety, triggering the part of me that wants to ask “why can’t this be easy”? But still, I pray for guidance, taking action towards what I know to do, stay faithful to my practices while yielding the rest to God.
Lately, I have been asking the question “What Shall I Do”? It is this same question that the young Dharma student started and ended his story with.
It wasn’t until this morning that I remembered this week is the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. I write this in awe because it is in this moment that I now connect the reason for the incredible shift that has taken place in my life within the last 24 hours. As soon as I made the connection I could feel her with me. I feel alive and bright and electric. And more than ever I feel peace within, a deep love inside that makes me want to weep. Taking the time to sit still I feel that she is with me and that somehow she has contributed to this recent shift.
My grandmother’s story is one of adventure, courage and invincibility. She never spoke of fear and lived her life committed to the experience of life and taking advantage of opportunities which fed her spirit and as she would say fed her brain. Never was she concerned with other’s opinions or observations of her life, she was her own teacher and held herself in high regard.
There are many times when I feel my life is unfolding and developing without my consent and the heaviness of fighting the present moment sneaks up and rears its ugly head. I forget so easily that when I just go with the flow, doors open, miracles become clear and heaviness is replaced with transparency. In these moments I do remember to ask for guidance and despite the numerous opportunities I face, my prayers are always answered and I am able to let go and let God once again. I am lighter, more grateful and able to accept and embrace all that crosses my path. I long to keep this feeling with me but am smart enough to know that this feeling too shall pass. Life will continue its ebb and flow and I shall follow my course accordingly.