Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On The Wings of Love

On March 2nd 1977, I greeted my blind date at the door of my apartment at 75 Gardner Street in Allston holding my newly adopted kitten Jacques. I had no idea that 35 years later we would be celebrating his 60th birthday together this Friday. We did know that night we were going to be married. March 4th 1978 we gathered with a small group of family and friends at the First United Parish in Cambridge and exchanged vows and rings. We were planning to have our reception on the Peter Stuyvesant which was a boat moored next to Anthony's Pier Four but it sunk a month earlier in the blizzard of 1978.

Even then, although we could not quite articulate what we were doing, we paid attention to the signs from the Universe and decided that we would move our reception to the church and save the money. Somehow among our moves, our wedding photo album was lost as was my wedding dress. Our apartment was broken into when we lived in Allston and believe it or not, the thief stole the pants to the suit my husband wore on our wedding day. My bridal shower was scheduled for February 6 - the day of the blizzard and had to be rescheduled. I say with a huge smile that I love the metaphor of Tom and I needing to weather a major storm as we were preparing to enter into marriage. We do not have any 'tangible' reminders of our wedding day. We do have our wedding bands and most important of all, we have a steadfast love that has helped us to weather many storms during our 34 years of marriage. We have also celebrated many triumphs and felt the deepest joy in finding our way in the world together.

Until recently in my healing journey, I would cling to things I never had. I did not have a fairy tale princess wedding. I never felt like a princess or someone special. I did not have a carefree childhood. I suffered in my pain of trauma because I did not know any other path. I do grieve but I do not suffer. I celebrate. I feel incredible gratitude and grace in my life. I live life with passion and purpose. I embrace and release the pain in my body. I breathe freely and deeply. I move with joy on and off my yoga mat. My body is discovering a resilience in managing stressful life events and the beauty and grace is I have an incredible life partner with whom to share it all.

A year ago, March 4th, my nephew took his life. It was a traumatic death and shook our family to its core. Tom and I brought our love and compassion to my brother and his family but unfortunately, their pain was too deep to allow us in. Rather than being able to connect, bond and grieve together, we were seen as outsiders among my nieces and nephews. They wanted us to take care of my brother after he ended a relationship with his girlfriend. It was a huge healing choice on our part to say no, We can't do this. Tom has been there every step of the way to support me, nurse and nourish me through my fears and sadness and to breathe deeply creating a loving space around the life we created together.

Yesterday, I received an email that was sent out to everyone who donated to my nephew's memorial fund to have a memorial bench set up by the ocean. My nephew was a fisherman who loved the sea. That is where he chose to return when he ended his life. My brother attached a you tube video of the bench installation.

I sent out loving thoughts to my brother and his family on the wings of love during this time of remembrance. It would be easy to be swallowed up by the pain of grief. I can experience a flow to the feelings allowing them to wash up on the shore and then go out with the tide. Tom sat and watched the video with me and together we sent our love to my brother and his family. We can only heal ourselves. When we take care of ourselves and find loving kindness and compassion, we can feel that in our heart. I am so blessed to have Tom as my life partner. I know I would not be where I am today in my healing journey were it not for his unwavering support and love. The eyes are the window to the soul and that night 35 years ago on Friday, we saw into each other's souls knowing we were soul mates. It's been an incredible 34 years and we've only just begun. We know that no matter what happens, together, we find steadiness and sustenance and on the wings of love, we transcend.

Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary to the love of my life

From my heart to yours
With deepest love and gratitude

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jamie and Me - Trust

"In your love, my salvation lies in your love ... My brother and my sister standing by."

“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” - Henry van Dyke

Today I'm reminded of the journey our adopted animal companion Jamie has taken with trust.

She had a history of trauma possibly from being abused in her first home, definitely from being out on the streets before making her way to the shelter and then the shelter experience was traumatic for her. We adopted her in October from the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Animals are so much more resilient than we humans as Peter Levine reminds me in his book, "In An Unspoken Voice:How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness." . She has gone from staying in the basement under a desk for the first two weeks eating and using her litter box only at night to making a safe shelter for herself between the box spring of our bed and the cover which she ripped off as a hiding space to slowly interacting with us. Just the other night, she climbed into my lap when I was sitting on my yoga mat and fell asleep. Last night, she jumped up on our bed and snuggled with us. It's only been five months but with our patience, consistent love and allowing her to let us know what she needed and when, she has settled into her new home leaving the trail of trauma behind her.

On my way to yoga class today, the car in front of me had a bumper sticker, "She who laughs. Lasts". When I saw Bernie Siegel, MD and his wife years ago at Harvard, this was one of their favorite phrases. I affectionately call Bernie my chosen dad and he calls me his chosen daughter. I first met him in the 1980's. A beloved nurse gave me his cassette tape when I was hospitalized for a bone infection in my shoulder. I am in awe of how the angels have protected me and how earth angels have come to guide me at every turn. I knew this was a sign to email him. I've been a guest on his radio show a couple of times as we talk about the healing power of poetry and the creative process. I asked him if he still had the show and if he'd like to have me back to talk about the latest phase in my healing journey but regardless, I knew that the Universe was telling me to reconnect with him thanking him for all he has done to love and support me. He emailed me back and said he liked the idea of having another poetry session on his show. We scheduled for May 1st.

The synchronicities which now abound in my life take my breath away. I am working with Lindsay Gibson of Majestic Yoga Studio on the Weekend with Matthew Sanford. There was a facebook post about Downward Facing Docs. Boston University Medical School offers yoga as an elective course. I worked with Dr. Chris Streeter, one of the doctors cited as doing research on the benefits of yoga when I worked at the VA. I will be reaching out to her and the team at the Neurobehavioral Science Unit at Boston University Medical Center (one of whom heads the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder clinic at the VA) to let them know about Matthew's visit. The article will be a wonderful segway to promoting Matthew as a guest on WBUR and who knows where else these reconnections may lead....

In today's yoga practice, I felt a greater trust in myself on my mat. I trusted myself to modify. I know there are some poses that just aren't right for my body right now and rather than pushing or struggling, I let it go. I did take myself right up to the edge with strengthening and opening and love the feeling of sweat dripping from my face. I have learned that when it comes to doing push ups on blocks lowering halfway is plenty for me right now and I can feel the muscle soreness from doing enough but not too much.

Getting acquainted with myself, learning to love and trust myself and then opening up to receive love and support from others is a whole new world for me right now. Tears flow. Joy abounds. Gratitude overflows as the curtain rises on the second act of my second act.

From my heart to yours
In God We Trust
With deepest love and gratitude,