While on my road trip up the middle of America and back again, I had a birthday. I had thought perhaps that I would make a bit to-do about it….because that is how I usually do birthdays on my blog, but instead I was busy getting my car fixed. I made the best of it though….donuts and all!!
I had been staying with my cousin Lori on a communal far just outside of Oklahoma City. On the morning of my birthday, she took me to a donut shop and ambushed me with Happy Birthday at the top of her lungs…solo. I was mortified and delighted all in the same breath…which I am sure is the exact reaction she was hoping for! (This little bird was my car mascot for the trip. Great listener, by the way!)
My birthday passed rather quietly after that. I usually like to spend some time looking back and visioning the year to come, but my attention was on the trouble I was getting fixed on my car and the 4 hour drive to at night to my next destination, Springfield, MO.
Back to the Gifts
The work GIFT is one of my words for 2013. It serves as a theme that I can focus on for self-exploration. This last week, I have been working on understanding some of the more difficult areas of my life. Why now? Well, life has a way of doing a bit of Spring cleaning from time to time. Now is my time. Difficulites…..We all have them, the things we always come back to or that pop up multiple times over the course of our life. It might be self-esteem, an old story about ourselves we hold onto, a fear we just can’t kick.
The difficult areas I am working on are about limitations that I have perceived in my life. Some of them are physical limitations, others emotional….sometimes they are relational and even mental. Some are stories about myself that were told to me when I was very young that I continued to believe. Some stories about about what it means to be a woman in this society or to grow older as a woman. Some are of my own invention, some circumstantial.
Over the last week or so, I have been challenging the limitations. I think having driven to the other side of the country on my own has given me a new perspective on life. (Seriously, some days I am shocked that I did that. And never once since I got back have I regretted it!) My new perspective isn’t just on life as it is, but I am looking back over my life and attempting to re-story-ing it.
I am specifically looking for aspects of my story that were overlooked before. One of my mentors, Dr. Rose Knippa, has been visiting with me about how life is always in balance or moving back into balance…..and how we often don’t see it as such. So I have been going back to look for how life was balanced when I didn’t see it as such.
For example, I discovered this week that one of the most difficult and painful parts of my life, losing my mom when I was 21, significantly shaped who I am today. I have felt the limitations of it for a long time, and sometimes I could glimpse that good things came from it. But this week I am more fully tapping into the many gifts my mom’s early death has brought to me and how I use those gifts with my clients. Her death sent me looking for answers about pain management which sent me to massage school. It sent me to study counseling and shapes my coaching practice. It helps me to understand first hand the stages of grief, the process of dying, and the family dynamics that can shift as a result. Her death was the catalyst for my shift towards visual art and has been the subject of most of my art journaling over the years. More than anything, it has taught me that death isn’t the end. Even when someone dies, there is an alive-ness to what was between you and them that can grow. You might call it cultivated memory or a spiritual relationship. Whatever it is, it has been essential to the peace I am finding with her passing as I grow older.
I just don’t know who I would be had I not had this extreme event to weave into my being. For most of my life, I would not have even imagined that I might say I am grateful for her passing. I would prefer that she be alive and happy, right here beside me. AND. I am grateful for the gifts that came from her death. This week more than any in my life, I can see what those gifts are.
Later this week….
I want to share with you how I am moving from disgruntled about the difficulties in life to grateful. In the meantime, I invite you to begin looking for the gifts you might have tucked away in your life that could make the hard times the most valuable times in you life.
Til then….keep creating!