crow

crow

I like to believe there are messengers and teachers sent to us in human or animal form when we need them.

I ran across one such angel in October 2009 and posted about it here. She was a blind woman with a seeing eye dog who I met in a doctor’s waiting room. She introduced herself and then said, “I was crying. I’m so glad you’re here.”

She had no idea what I was going through with my divorce nor that she ripped my heart wide open with her words. She somehow found comfort in me, while I received her gift of putting something warm back into my heart.

She was glad I was here…

And with her words some of the hurt of having my husband stop loving me healed just a tiny bit. And it seemed possible that there were other people who were also glad I’m here and that my life was not over.

So many angels popping out all over the place when most needed…

clouds

And yes, I do imagine less visible angels hovering nearby. And I see mythical creatures in clouds and among the trees. It makes me smile to imagine them there and create stories in my head of another level of worlds going on around me – one that is sensed and comes in flashes out of the corner of my eye, but disappears if you turn my head to look.

“If an experience is delightful or pleasant, usually we want to grab it and make it last. We’re afraid that it will end. We’re not inclined to share it. The lojong teachings encourage us, if we enjoy what we are experiencing, to think of other people and wish for them to feel that. Share the wealth. Be generous with your joy. Give away what you most want. Be generous with your insights and delights. Instead of fearing that they’re going to slip away and holding on to them, share them.”
~ Pema Chodron, “Always Maintain A Joyful Mind”

I was listening to a Pema Chodron CD about living a joyful life, while I was driving home from seeing Luke. I was feeling particularly lucky to have such a nice horse and grateful that he’s had no symptoms of heaves for quite awhile (breathing not barfing problem).

horse

I had ridden Luke outside, because it was above freezing and sunny. I couldn’t get enough of that blue sky and warmth on my face. While we were riding a circle, three trumpeter swans flew overhead, with their distinctive honking and amazingly huge white bodies and wingspan.

Who can see such a sight and not stop and try to take it all in? I felt as though my heart was expanding to the size of an elephant as I watched them go by.

So I was still feeling that horse and sun and swan and outdoor beauty high when I heard Pema use the word “delight” in her teaching.  My ears perked up as I thought how that word so perfectly fit what I was feeling.

As Pema said in the quote above, I did wish I could somehow transfer what I saw and felt to other people. Couldn’t such sharing somehow heal the world of the sadness, anger, and ‘otherness’ thoughts that seem to cause so much suffering?

Oh, if only I had magical powers to do so. But I don’t. And I guess you have to see and feel these things for yourself. So keep your eyes open for angels in human and fur and feather and tree bark disguise.

They are out there. You just have to see them and feel the delight.

Or better yet, you can be one for someone else.

dog in snow

standing on rock

“It’s a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand. It stops us from taking anything for granted. ”
— Madeleine L’Engle, “The Summer of the Great-grandmother”

One Friday night, probably eleven years ago, when I was a sweet, young thing of forty-six, my then-husband and I went out dancing.

We were going through a rough patch and I was feeling reckless so I grabbed ahold of a support beam out on the dance floor and started doing some kind of shake your booty, pole dance.

I know this is probably a disturbing image for quite a few of you and I’ll try and wipe that picture out of your mind before I’m done here, but I seriously can bust some moves.

Anyway, my then-husband asked me, “Why aren’t you like this all the time?”

I don’t think he literally wanted me pole dancing all the time (although, maybe he did). The question was more about why aren’t you always this person who takes risk? Who is uninhibited? And adventurous? And exciting to be with?

Maery

The thing is, when you feel like your world is ending, you stop caring about making a fool out of yourself. And I knew my then-husband wasn’t happy with me. As control slips away, some people grab for the string before it rises out of reach.

And some of us pole dance.

Or we wonder if perhaps this will make a good story someday.

Or we swear a lot.

Or we do all three.

Eventually, we still got divorced. My ex’s take on things was that although I gave it my best try to change, I always drifted back to who I truly was – in his view – someone who was cautious, withdrawn, exhausted, and unhappy.

I thought he was right. I hated this person that I, myself, could not find a way to walk away from.

But then this year, I realized that once again, I felt like I had nothing left to lose.

Not because I had lost everything but because I no longer cared about trying to make things remain the same.

I know I can’t control the feelings or actions of others. I’m no longer willing to try to be someone for someone else.

I no longer have the energy (I never really did) to desperately try to read people and give them what they want.

I can’t make people love me. And no matter how good things are today, I know things can change.

And that’s okay.

I’m not the same person every day.

But I’m pretty much the same at the core.

tomato

And that core, can still bust some serious moves.

I bet you can too.

2009, the year my marriage went up in smoke, was the first time I tried kayaking. For that matter, 2009 was the year I tried a lot of new things. I was hungry for distractions and salve for my wounds.

After paddling the Elk River with friends, I wanted to run out and buy a kayak right then and there. But there was the issue of how I could possibly lift and load a kayak by myself and where I would store a kayak, since I didn’t even know where I was going to be living. I dropped the kayak idea and focused on handling everything that was changing in my life.

But not being able to get a kayak right away didn’t stop me from imagining myself paddling down a narrow river, or gliding along the shore of a lake in the early morning, when the water is as still as glass and the quiet is only broken by the splash of a fish jumping or the soul searching sound of a loon.

Someday, I thought…

A year later,  Steve and I tried out several kayaks at Lebanon Hills Regional Park, where Midwest Mountaineer was having a kayak ‘try before you buy’ session. I fell in love with the ease of paddling and the stability of a Venture Easky 13. But the Easky was pricey, and I still needed to prepare for our house selling and having to move somewhere else.

“Not yet,” I told myself.

When I was on Madeline Island last month, I saw the Apostle Islands kayaking brochures. As I looked at the cover photo of smiling people exploring sea caves, I pictured my body leaning low to enter a rocky opening, my paddle cutting the water and the sound echoing off the sandstone walls.

Someday, I thought…

Unexpectedly, someday arrived, as somedays often do. An email came from Midwest Mountaineering showed that the kayak I’d been dreaming of was on sale! The price of everything I would need to kayak was still a stretch, but I justified the expense by telling myself that it was cheaper than the home on the river I had wanted or the cabin on a lake that I wished I had. A kayak was a doable way to grab a chunk of the water world that I longed for.

I’ve been out with Xena twice in the two weeks that I’ve owned her. Every boat has to have a name doesn’t it?

I’m glad I waited to see if kayaking was something I lusted after on impulse or wanted to do long term. I’m glad I waited to get to know myself better.

I’ve been putting a tentative toe into many things, getting to know what I like, versus what I like in order to be liked. I feel a little bit like Goldilocks, only instead of looking for the porridge or bed that is “just right,” I’ve been looking for the just right life.

It’s taken me a long time to finally give myself permission to love what I love and to believe that what I like is okay, even if someone else tells me it’s strange, or asks me the kind of question that I was asked when I was showing friends a photo of my kayak.

“Do you even have time to kayak?” I was asked.

The question could have been like a bucket of cold water dumped on my steamy enthusiasm. But not anymore. I’m done with that.

“Are you kidding me?” I said. “I don’t have enough time NOT to kayak.”

(Crossposted on Vision and Verb)
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