I Said Yes

I Said Yes

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I note my space on the plane and compare it to the same time last year. Fascinated by the way time sculpts life, I find myself doing this often; fanning through the pages of change like a flipbook of existence. Since the visit is reflective in nature, I envision versions of me all standing in a row, each representing a different place in time with different awareness, pushpins in my likeness along a timeline; one not knowing what the next would meet.

What did I know then? What did I find hopeful? What was I making peace with? What was I resisting?

It would take the collective effort of 6 people to get me out the door this time. I prepped meals, packed multiple bags for their different stays – bought extra socks and underwear just to cover the occasion, coordinated detailed schedules of their whereabouts – no more than two days looking the same, wrote a bible-length “care manual” for those less familiar with our routine and home, made arrangements for pets, and paid for help.

Is it worth it? So many of the noisy “feels” try to tell you ‘no’, but I know better. I’ve taken risks and adventures in the past year that have provided an immeasurable amount of healing and clarity during a time when it’s been necessary to keep me moving forward. Believing. Living. Self-care was foreign to me in the years when my children were much younger. I ran myself into the ground, whether I had a choice or not, likely for a number of reasons. We were extremely stretched, with little help or breathing room. Maybe noise told me I wasn’t worth time for myself – that all others’ needs were priority. Maybe I felt guilt based on another’s perceptions of my desires. I’ve always struggled with feeling undeserving of gifts. Maybe I was resting on the idea that someday things wouldn’t be so hard to work around – that now, now you must remain in the trenches. Well, the early parenthood trenches turned into the single parenthood trenches, which turned into home repair trenches, which lead to the family health struggle trenches.

PAUSE is illusive. Would I allow myself to climb out for just a bit? Could I do so without wrestling guilt or holding traces of impracticality?

Single parenting through a challenging dynamic brings you to the very ends of the spectrum. Parenthood of any type threatens to ground the scale on the side of self-sacrifice. I recognize and cherish the reward of balance in practice by taking time for myself even if it feels like moving mountains. I boarded a plane twitchy and drooling from all the prep and anticipation, but I exhaled the weight by the time I landed.

I was saying ‘yes’ after years of saying no. I was asking for help and seeking nourishment deeper than or different from that within my reach at home.

I said yes to worthiness.

I can’t help but feel hollow within the conversations where women validate their participation by sharing that their partners rooted them out the door, sending them on their way assured that everyone would live and that they deserved it. It’s not a place I choose to stay, but if I’m honest, envy flitters through momentarily while I try to imagine such validation, such encouragement.

I’m tasked with cultivating my own worthiness, the best kind I understand, but much harder to build. I receive the contrary message; that I’m undeserving, frivolous.

So many damn whispers of NO have circulated my space over the years and I’ve fought them all.

I said yes to expression.

We are given the privilege of riding the stretch of beach and rocky trails without a guide. Halfway across the county from each other, and many years back, I imagine the two of us rode at the same time, maybe even sharing a sunset cross country. Now here together, galloping hooves strike the beach like a drum and we watch the ocean horizon swallow the blazing sun in a matter of seconds. An audible exhale, hands held, an “I Love You”. I am reminded of how great it feels to say that out loud. Thanks for the journey, Soul Sister.

I Said Yes - livingfromthisdayfoward.com

I sit in a circle with new friends atop a sandy hill near the ocean. The sun is creeping higher in the blush morning sky and glows against my closed eyelids. We’re mentally traveling up our bodies noting the energy present in each point. We chant Om together. I resist my disposition to hold back, to wait just long enough to detect when all the others have begun or are wraping up. I’m present and dedicated. I’m in myself. The exponential vibration of our voices combined is powerful and changing. The energy we create is thick and the love palpable. Oms aren’t meant to be muffled.

I said yes to open-mindedness.

In the company of 11 goddesses, I am asked to channel the elements of air, fire, earth, and water. We are to answer only to the voice within our bodies, movement guided by music. We are to strip our insecurities and familiar and protective patterns that would hold our bodies tight with dismissive smirks.

I commit to stretching my sensibilities while satisfying my fairy alter ego. With eyes closed, I am rolling around on the platform effectively channeling tree roots with an increasingly fluid body. Ears dripping with thin and delicate turquoise feather earrings I’d been gifted the night of our arrival – my 38th birthday, I feel beauty and connectedness with my body.

Lifted by an imaginary string through my solar plexus, I turn my head from the planked wooden platform where it rests. The slender tin feather threaded through my earlobe is unknowingly lodged into one of the slats. As I roll over to surrender fully to root rapture, my earring yanks out of my ear, bounces across the ground and is swallowed up by the platform under our feet. Gone. I sit stunned for a minute, looking around amid the circle of dancing wood nymphs, realizing how engrossed I had become, have a light chuckle at my expense, and set back into character. Fairy life is hard.

I said yes to connection.

By chance, she sits across from me at dinner. She shares the language that single mothers do. It may even be more of a feeling. She’d been unexpectedly standing on similar ground years ago when her boy was a young teenager. The eyes of such souls, connected by experience, speak the words that aren’t passed between lips. A glance can scan and access a vessel of pain, fight, beauty and perseverance. She is wearing turquoise painted feather earrings made from recycled bike tires from a Portland artist. She tells me they will be mine. A gift to me. I can’t help but read meaning into this coincidence – the full circle of the turquoise earring, but a meaning much deeper.

With each disclosure, there is a chance your offering will not be met with understanding, that the exchange won’t be reciprocal. To connect, we take the leap and hope for wisdom returned in swapped story.

I shared life with new friends who, at the surface, look like many things I am not. Time and time again, I am reminded that the surface is merely detail, that our guts foster understanding.

I said yes to trust.

Time away from home is not without wrinkle. There are moments of empty hearts and sick tummies and although thousands of miles away, I feel responsibility to make it better. When you are the default parent, you are never really away. I have to trust that everything will work out, that those caring for the children in my absence will find a way to fill that role. I wrestle with the discomfort of knowing they need me and that I can’t be there physically. I have to trust that what I’ve given them inside will radiate ease, fill the hole. I watch a village at home – dear teachers and a friend – gather resources, collecting photos from social media to make my boy comfortable at school. To have these women step in and assure me, “We’ve got this,” is a sense of support that I can’t properly commend.

I said yes to solitude.

Traveling alone, there is opportunity for quiet reflection. I wake early each morning to walk the beach. As the sun is starting to push past the horizon, I come across a single newly hatched sea turtle making its great journey from nest to ocean. I squat down behind “her” – I call her Luna – keeping a distance as not to interfere with nature. For over 30 minutes I watch her fight to reach the waves that would eventually thrust her back up the shore to the places she worked so hard to leave behind. I cry a bit because it was impossible not to see myself in her. At one point she is flipped on to her back. Knowing she is distressed and stuck, I gently tip her over with my toes. She is left with a pile of wet sand on her back the size of her own body. After sitting still for a minute or two with her head against the sand, she throws both flippers out in front of her, digs them in deep, and hurls herself forward. Her natural gate soon returns. On her fifth and final attempt, a secondary wave comes around the backside and washes her forward. The moment the water is deep enough to life her body from the sand, her movement instinctually changes. She is swimming. The ocean consumes her and I am left alone with the magnitude of this gift.

I Said Yes - livingfromthisdayforward.com

I said yes to death and birth.

I sit across from beauty. Pigtails and soul. We met last year. I was arriving to retreat after a nearly three-year battle following unexpected dismantle. I purged hurt and pain and confusion. I wanted to leave it there on the platform, on the mat, on the table, to be carried away by the wind. It was exorcism and metamorphosis. She cradled my head in her hands; crystals spilled the length of my body. We breathed together as hot tears shed what my heart retained. I hadn’t felt cared for, held, in as long as I could remember. I noted that breathing with someone might be one of the most intimate and loving connections that exist.

This year, I carry new burden with me. I host two larger than life swirling struggles within my walls. They outweigh others. I need breathing space to begin to assign them a shape that I can hold on to a bit better. I want to understand them. I want to feel them. I need to build energy and confidence in my ability to embrace and endure.

She listens. She hears my intentions. We discuss death and grief in relation to loss. My desire is to receive it all as beautiful privilege. We also discuss death in the form of old habits and patterns in behavior, and the unhealthy ways we may receive the behavior of others. We contemplate the birth of new ways. Loving through intention and boundary. Remaining open, but not subscribing to the negative invitations that are sent our way. She offers me the words: Compassionate Indifference. Those two words, one simple phrase, will remain the heart of my life’s practice, challenging me over and over again to find balance without breaking.

Sacred blessed cacao beans from Guatemala are brewed into a ceremonial offering. A sucker for ritual and process, I ask to help shell the beans. I want to manipulate them with my fingers, feel their texture, and imagine their origin. 25 heads and hearts in one connected circle. Tears stream cheeks that are tightened from a smile. Stones circulate energy warm against the body. Point by point, we envision turning open our centers of love, truth, belief, confidence, communication, and vision, exhaling out the undesirable patterns and behaviors – death – and inviting light back into those holes – birth. We seal each one shut, full and renewed.

I Said Yes - livingfromthisdayforward.com

Peace with personal struggle, tears – both kinds – with laughter, relaxation with exertion, clarity with wonder, doubt with growth. There is full moon ceremony, writing sessions, traveling souls with beautiful messages, friendship, yoga practice, meditation, reflection, culture, and connection. When you have fought with more gusto than you knew you had inside – against tangible obstacle and it’s more cumbersome sidekick, NOISE – it’s all a unicorn, a big fat colorful unicorn.

I said yes.

Tomorrow is a continuous cycle of todays. Making them count now. Believing in this wholeheartedly.

Comments

  1. Beautiful

  2. Corinne Shark says:

    Stunning. You, the words, all of it.

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