Falling Upwards

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To Everything there is a Season April 5, 2014

… and a time to every purpose, under Heaven.

Today, I went for a walk. And, there was a very specific purpose for that walk. I walked to a place that is sacred to me, a place where I have, in the past, been able to reflect and find peace during times in my life when I was in inner turmoil. This time was no different. But instead of just sitting there to think and, perhaps, to journal, I needed to bury something; to physically, symbolically cut ties with a certain person who has appeared on this blog numerous times.

Without going into too much detail, I created a little ceremony for myself in order to sever a connection with “Milo” (whom I’ve written of in the past). I took heart-shaped pieces of paper and, on each one, wrote our names and the names of those I feel he and I have been in shared past lives. I tore each piece in two so that the two names would no longer be connected then burned the pile of torn paper while giving thanks to God/dess for the lessons, the love and the connection we have shared and praying for more beneficial relationships in the future that will also lead me to more lessons, love and connection. It was the ashes of the paper I needed to bury to complete my “ceremony.”

As I walked over the footbridge that crossed the lake on my hike in order to get to my sacred place, I remembered the last time I’d walked that path with Milo in mind. At the time, the lake was full, teeming with fish. And, as I looked over it, I saw the ripples in the water and composed a poem:

Karma

What effect has my one pebble
when compared to the ripples made by the wind?

Is God’s hand not greater than mine,
large enough to diminish my careless toss?

waves abound,
made by the stirrings of many

So why does my hand hesitate
to cast my stone far and wide?

Why not make my fleeting mark
upon the vastness of this little lake?

(Frances Marie Reilly – 5.21.10)

Four years later, and I finally felt the change I needed within me. And, as I walked, a heron flew towards me, then stopped at a rock and seemed to point, with its beak, the direction of my path. (Why do I mention this? Google “animal spirits meaning heron”.)

At my special spot, I sat on a rock, closed my eyes and felt the wind, listened to the birds and creek while I prayed for completion, for closure and openness. I gave gratitude for the love, the patience of the Universe (as I felt I’ve lived through this cycle and have had to learn these lessons repeatedly, over eons), and the God-given strength I knew to exist within me. I meditated, listened and felt the energy of the Earth, of the Sky and the Wind, then drank Water to cleanse. Nobody’s ritual but my own, I knew, in my core, this was all necessary. Lastly, I dug a hole near some daisy-like flowers (so fitting, because I have always associated that flower with Milo), and as I filled it, again gave gratitude and put into it the intention of closure, change and growth.

As I walked back from whence I came, I reflected on the lightness I felt in my core. I realized that I was doing something I LOVE. I love to hike. This was a significant realization for me because it was the very thing I have been agonizing over for at least two years. In trying to decide on a career path, the question of “what do you love to do?” often arises, and, to my dismay, I have thought “I don’t really love to do anything.” I have been in a dark place of sadness thinking that I truly felt I had no passions in my life and that, somehow, that made me a lesser person. And, because of this, I would never “make my fleeting mark upon the vastness of this little lake.” But, here I was… just having completed a symbolic act, and at that moment, the sense of lack, of lowered self-worth lifted in some strange way. All because I realized that I love love love walking in nature.

Almost to my car, I stopped to watch a hummingbird, which seemed to stop to watch me. Google “hummingbird spirit animal,” and you’ll find “The hummingbird spirit animal symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being.” I also love that “this fascinating bird is capable of the most amazing feats despite its small size…” because I’m 4’10”!!

Can you feel my joy through this post?! In one short walk, I managed to let go a Love that no longer served me (a very difficult thing to do indeed), to reclaim that part of my heart so that, with a whole heart, I am open to new Love, to new experiences and lessons. I remembered my powerful Self – that through intention and ceremony (and maybe a bit of magic), I reclaimed, or just recognized, my inner strength and felt my Light and knew Passion.

It is so hard, in one blog post, to really convey everything I took away from my hike. The symbolism of the two animal totems – the heron and the hummingbird – are even more significant if I could tell you my whole story, my life in the present and the truly difficult, but necessary, situation I deal with daily. But, really, we all have those challenges in our lives. We all have the times we can’t figure out who we are, where we need to be, what we need to do. We all have things we need to let go, whether it’s stuff or, with more difficulty, people. And all these things wear us down, day after day, and its challenging to keep the darkness at bay (some times, we don’t even know it’s there) and remain positive through it all.

But, look at what I remembered. We are, each of us, so very strong inside. We were born that way, born with the strength to accept and live through the challenges and lesson Life gives us, and made even stronger by meeting those challenges which, with lessons learned, increase the Light within.

This time that is upon us now is a good time, a good season. I, for one, am looking forward to the new challenges ahead and finding my passions and my strength, my light. For, it is my time, my season, as it is … yours.

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

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The rest is still unwritten February 5, 2014

You know, this personal growth thing is a roller coaster ride. No sooner do I think I’m getting close to the top, hearing the click click click of the belt as it pulls up my coaster, then I dip right back down to what feels like the bottom. Or, I’m riding that fast ride up but don’t realize it’s a loop-de-loop (is that what it’s called?), and I’m right back at the same level I started. It’s enough to make a girl feel like she’s making no progress.

In the few years I’ve had this blog, I’ve broken up with a boyfriend, which led me on a path of enlightenment, only to be sidetracked when I met my twin soul, with whom I had a non-relationship that put me off my path of personal growth for two years. He came back into my life like an unexpected maelstrom last autumn only to depart just as quickly and with as much confusion this past month. I would like to say that these unfulfilling, negative romantic relationships I’ve had have put me off of them for good. It might be nice to have an easy ride down the lazy river and live a quiet life of no romance, desire for self-improvement, growth or change. It might be peaceful. But, I would take Magic Mountain rides over Disney rides any day.

Even though it’s so frustrating to be near the bottom again, I think it’s worth the hard work to get back to the top and be able to see the view and feel the cool air on my face again. And, what does that work entail for me? I was just gonna describe them as a paragraph, but then I realized it’s a laundry list of things. So, here goes:

Meditation – I used to do it daily and worked my way up to a good half hour, at least. Now, I can barely meditate for a few minutes. Time to get back to my daily, morning routine of meditating. It’s a great way to start my day as it helps me start off with good energy and an openness. And, I personally think of meditation as that time during which I listen to God/dess/Universe. There’s much wisdom to be gleaned there.

Journaling – I, again, used to do this daily especially while I was with and just after I broke up with the Ex. My journaling, much like my blogging, is a lot of personal rambling that helps me organize my thoughts. It helps me get out my frustrations and insecurities without burdening others with them. But, I also try to be a cheerleader for myself and write down my hopes and dreams and desires. It’s definitely interesting to read back on those pages to see how much I haven’t changed but how far I’ve come.

Practicing Compassion – I can be super-critical (especially of myself). It’s a terrible thing I inherited from my father. But, I have a choice as to how I view life and those around me. And, I have the ability, as we all do, to put myself in someone else’s shoes (it’s called imagination). That grumpy, old lady who was snarky to me today…? maybe she’s in some physical pain or her kids haven’t called her in months so she’s lonely. Maybe her best friend just died. So, my reaction to her doesn’t have to be equal snark. It can be gentleness. Of course, this goes hand-in-hand with remembering not to take things personally. How someone behaves towards you usually has nothing to do with you.

Experiencing Nature – whether it be a hike through the woods or a walk on the beach or even just sitting next to a city planter full of green stuff, touching base with Mother Nature is always soothing to the soul. Looking up at the sky at night and seeing the millions of stars above reminds me that the Universe is vast, and the mistakes I make in life will hardly impact anything. Watering my lemon tree, whose life depends upon my care, reminds me that I am responsible for the well-being of other living things on this planet, so my actions do matter. Feeling the wind upon my face lifts my spirit and reminds me of those things unseen that surround us and are a part of us all.

Creating Art – as a photographer, this should be fairly easy. But, it’s not the only art-form I want to “experience.” I enjoy painting and drawing (even though I’m not very good at either) and scrapbooking (yes.. it’s art!).  For me, this is really about creating. After all, life is about creation, isn’t it? My art can be on paper or canvas, on the computer, or even a delicious dish I’ve cooked up. The very act of creating is soul affirming.

Practicing Gratitude – this doesn’t have to be formal, like a gratitude journal or a list or anything. Even if I take a few seconds out of my day to just appreciate a flower and send a quick, little thanks to the Universe for showing me Its beauty, I find that practicing gratitude gives me joy. There’s no room for complaining when you’re truly grateful for…whatever.

Practicing Forgiveness – yeah… that sounds weird. But, I find people just carry so much anger within them. I do, too. I’m not talking about being angry at anyone or anything specifically. Just read comments on any article. Even if it’s inspiring, there’s always at least one person who’s just pissed for who-knows-what-reason. I know I get “justifiably” angry at whatever social injustice I come across. That anger is a weight on my heart. It’s negativity that I don’t need to carry. So, yes.. it would be great if we were all on the same page in this world so that there would no longer be bigots and their like in this world. But, I have to remind myself that we are all on our separate journeys, each at our own pace. And, we’ll eventually arrive at the same place, given time. So, yes, I have to practice forgiveness, a lot. Release the anger and send out love.

That’s it. Just those few things. Some of them are even fun. Some of them are a lot harder than they seem. But, I want off the easy, lazy river ride and back on the roller coaster. My coaster car might keep coming down — there’s fun in that, too — but at least I know I’ll keep climbing up. Ok…so maybe a roller coaster isn’t quite the best metaphor here.  heh heh

Definitely, though, I think the song I chose for this post is fitting because, even with all the ups and downs, my life is still before me. It is still unwritten.

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

 

Things Left Undone January 3, 2014

I was just reading my last post on “commitment” and, being as it’s the beginning of the new year, the traditional time of the year to make new commitments, I have to take pause – review, rethink.

It’s been over a year since I posted last. I’d written “if we want something bad enough, we make it happen, right? Even if our goals aren’t accomplished the first time around, we keep trying, push past the failure, until we get what we want, or something that is better.” And, I still believe that to be true. But, sometimes, life throws us a curveball, and we have to adapt our swing, change our goals or, at least, the timeline.

“When your life is over and you’re reaching the end,
River of Jordan is around the bend,
Will you be counting all the trophies you won?
Or will you look back on the things left undone?

I was determined, last year, to put my photography business on the road to success. The plan was to implement all my marketing ideas and really start booking shoots and making money in the business. What actually happened the latter half of the year was the complete opposite. First, I lost my largest “client.” The organization decided that they were perfectly happy having me photograph their events for free and, now that we had come to the point where I should be properly compensated for my efforts (even after the many thousands of dollars they’d saved with me as their photographer for the past two years), they happily let me go to “hire” another photographer. I took that event as a positive thing as I had become quite unhappy with our relationship.

….

I started this post last night when I’d written everything above. I was going to go on about how so many things happened to make me re-think my commitment to having a successful photography business, including losing the client, the death of my grandmother (for whose funeral arrangements I was responsible), going to the Philippines (for grandma’s funeral) and getting caught in Super Typhoon Haiyen (Yolanda), and leaving my home in San Diego for extended periods of time in order to help my mother with her businesses (I would drop everything, except anything for my son, to help my mother). How can I possibly continue as a photographer when it seems life is pointing me elsewhere?

I couldn’t quite complete the post because I was so torn as to where it was going. I mean… I make commitments all the time and, when they’re made to others, I will always follow through. But, the promises I make to myself, whether they be in business or personal life, somehow get put on the back burner.

I looked around my home and saw the many, many projects left undone — paintings partially completed and barely begun, books half read (like a mountain of them), even food in the fridge I’d meant to turn into some yummy dish but ended up throwing out because I’d never gotten around to cooking, and it spoiled.

I was in this frame of mind when I’d titled this blog post and found this video with the words that described how I felt last night — the fear of letting another year go with so much left undone.

“Do you regret, Love, all the things left undone?
Do you regret?

Then, this morning, I watched this Ted talk:

It is given by Diana Nyad, a woman who this past year, at the age of 64, completed an epic journey, swimming from Cuba to the U.S.; a journey she began in her 20s.

In the midst of my “rethinking and reviewing” and just going back and forth in my head as to my photography business and all the other half-completed, unfulfilled promises and commitments to myself, I watch this video and some of her words just jump out and touch me:

“Isn’t life about the journey and not the destination?”

Yet, Ms. Nyad does also say, “Of course I want to make it across. It is the goal.” We all want to keep our commitments. We all want to reach our goals. And, as much as I’ve always believed in her first statement and have always considered my journey the reason for my life, I also want that feeling of satisfaction, of completion. I want to end my life (when the time comes) to know that I’ve done and created. 

So, I start today, the third day of January, with more hope that I have enough time to complete my many paintings, to read my many books and to be successful (in my definition of “success”) as a photographer. It took Ms. Nyad forty years to reach her goal. I am only just 45 now myself. There is so much more time, and I’m walking my path on my epic journey at my own pace. I have the time to fail a hundred times over before I can succeed. And, more importantly, I can be forgiving and compassionate with myself, to allow myself that time.

I think, though, that more than Ms. Nyad’s words of commitment, promise and hope to “never, ever give up” are her very wise words that:

“Every day of our lives is epic.”

 

I have died everyday waiting for you February 26, 2012

Filed under: awareness,love — frannymarie @ 11:15 am
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“…Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
for a thousand years
I will love you for a thousand more.”
—Christina Perri

Last night I saw my “soul friend” (I’ll call him “Milo”) for the first time again in a year. There was no hug, no hello, no good-bye. And, he tried his very best not to talk to me, though we were seated half a table away from each other. Just the thought of it now makes me sad. Last April, he’d made the very difficult decision to stop talking to me. He thought our friendship was hurting everyone around us. The only time he broke his silence was to reprimand me for gossiping, or so he thought it was me feeding his girlfriend (ex, at this point) lies about the two of us. It was causing her hurt. Never mind the pain it caused me to be accused of something like that…

Two weeks ago, I had sent him a final email telling him that I will love him for the rest of my life; that, whenever he feels lonely, he only needs to remember that there’s someone out there (here) who carries love for him and sends it to him, energetically, daily. Two weeks ago, I had “abnormal cells” that might have been pre-cancerous. Last week, after surgery to cut out those cells and knowing I had done everything to I could to complete my karma with Milo, I erased his number from my cell and archived the hundreds of emails. I think both the surgery and my actions were physical ways to wipe the slate clean.

“…How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid to fall..”

Last night, as I was sitting at that dinner table, trying to assess my feelings and still give off positive feelings to my friends and son around me, I got a sad text from my sister. She had just had a very difficult conversation with the man she had just started dating and who she obviously (to me) had already fallen in love with. Turns out he decided he doesn’t want children. And, my sister has been trying to have a child (even before she met him). His feeling is that they do not continue the relationship because it would prevent more pain in the future. If she succeeds in getting pregnant, that would be the deal breaker for him and… what if… what if he, and she, are more attached at that point. There would be a lot of pain.

Why are we all so afraid?

Last night, I made a conscious decision to go to that dinner. I did not want to skip out on spending time with my friends (and all-you-can-eat bulgogi) because I was afraid of my reactions and being around one of the guests. If, at the last moment, it didn’t feel right to me, then fine… I would have left. But, I did not want Fear to make my decision for me ahead of time.

Why would this man my sister is seeing make a decision to cut short their possibility for happiness now because he’s afraid they may both be hurt later on? It is already inevitable. We hurt those we love, we are hurt by those we love… sometimes, there’s a happy ending, sometimes the ending sucks. But, in between it all, there is that wonderous, beautiful time. And, that love may still exist afterwards. What’s so bad about knowing that someone loves you, and you return that love, even if you cannot be together?

Does it take the possibility of having cancer for people to value the time they have? Life is so short. Tomorrow, I may… well, I may not have a tomorrow.  So, let me love you for today, for this moment.

“…Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath
Every hour has come to this
One step closer…

I have died every day waiting for you.
Darling don’t be afraid
I have loved you
for a thousand years
I’ll love for a thousand more.”