Falling Upwards

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I, I Did It All May 17, 2015

Recently, I’ve been looking for a new job. I more or less gave up my photography business when I agreed to help my mother with her businesses (a medical practice and a residential care facility) a year and half ago. My intention was to go full steam ahead with my business when my son went away to college. I would now have the time to fully commit. Instead, I’ve spent the past 1.5 yrs bringing stability to two businesses for which I have no interest. But, I don’t regret it. I did it for love. I did it for my mother.

“Hope when you take that jump, you don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises, you built a wall
Hope when the crowd screams out, they’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay”

Any change is difficult. But, as we all know, change is healthy and necessary for growth. And, even though this wasn’t the change I was expecting, my life has definitely changed. One of the positive things from the past year is that it has given me the time to decide whether investing more time in photography was what I really wanted to do. I’ve never been as passionate about it as most other photographers I know. As one friend put it, “[you] don’t carry your camera everywhere with you.” But, giving up something that I’ve been doing, that I know, is scary. Still… I kept thinking that there was something else out there for me.

My issue this past year has been in trying to figure out what the “something” is. So, last December, I went to see a career counselor. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d written an actual resume, and I truly didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, … and, oops… here I was middle-aged and, supposedly, grown. What I learned in our meetings surprised me. Very little of my interests had to do with photography and more to do with spirituality, community/volunteering, holistic health/lifestyle, and food. (If you were a FB friend, you wouldn’t be surprised by that last one.) So, I began to look for things in those areas, including possibly going back to school.

“Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad
The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you’ll say…”

I told very few people about my findings, that I was considering going back for an M.A. I told those I knew it would affect — my family members and a few close friends.But, now, here’s where I got a surprise. The folks I thought might be unsupportive (namely some in my family) were completely supportive of the idea, even knowing that I’m financial strapped as it is and going back to school will be an even larger financial burden. But, the bigger surprise was that the one person I thought would be most supportive (because she always has been) got angry at me. Angry. (I repeat that word ‘cuz I’m still baffled by it.)

My Good Friend’s opinion is that I need to take grow up, get a job, any job, and take care of my finances. Now, mind you, I have very few expenses, excellent credit and really want for nothing. I may not have all the “extras,” but I’m grateful for what I have and believe that Source/God/dess (whatever you wanna call It) will provide. And, I’m not silly enough to let myself (or my kid) starve and be homeless because I’m too proud to work at Micky D’s. But, because she has been one of my guides for so long and because I respect her opinion, I began to doubt to myself.

In fact, the doubt grew so strong, it turned into fear; fear that I cannot provide for myself, fear that I won’t be able to get a decent-paying job (her opinion is that I should be an AA because that’s all I can do, even though I’m grossly over-qualified for all AA positions); fear that, as a middle-aged woman, I really have no choices or opportunities left.

Around this same time, my son started to have serious problems his second year in college. His grades started to dip; he can’t shake off feelings of depression; and, he has been ill with one virus or another since the beginning of the year. His words to me (via text) were “idk if classes are the right way to go.” What do you tell your kid when he pretty much says he wants to drop out of school? Ok… now what do you tell your kid, who’s been telling you since sophomore year of high school that he doesn’t like school and how things are taught? I’ve been telling him he needed to “play the game.” But, now he says, “I don’t want to play this game anymore.”

“Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I’ll say…”

Then, because my angels and guides speak to me through the internet (maybe), interesting articles began to pop up on my wall and in my feed. One was from a Reddit post by a 40-something man who felt he wasted his life. Another was a compilation of inspiring life lesson quotes by Rumi. (Just click on the links if you want to read them) The author of the Rumi quotes article listed the #2 life lesson as “Your job is to live your life in a way that makes sense to you, not them.” Well, if that didn’t hit me between the eyes!…

What I realized is that is DOESN’T make sense to live in fear, according to somebody’s else’s concept of what should or shouldn’t be and playing society’s game when it’s one you “don’t want to play.”

I’m 46 years old. Yes, my time in the workforce is now limited, but that just means I’m not going to settle for any old job. I’m going to get one that has meaning for me; one in which I can contribute and learn. Or, I’ll get a part-time job and go back to school to learn more stuff. I haven’t decided yet! And, I’ve got at least 40 more years of life to have more adventures and experiences.

As for my son, he’s at the beginning of his life. He, as a young adult, is at his peak, invincible. Why must he go through school the “proper” way? Why not take the time now to explore while he has the energy and is young enough to fail again and again with few consequences? So, as his mom, I’m encouraging him to take a “leave of absence” from school to get his health back on track, figure out what he wants to do and maybe go an adventure of his own.

I’m sure some people read the last two paragraphs and cringed. I know my Good Friend would. But, here’s something else I learned in the past year and a half…. your good friends may love you, but they don’t know what’s best for you. Only you know what’s best for you. I learned to listen to Myself, to trust my inner voice. And, in doing so, I also learned to hear what my son was really saying.

I think, though, that the hardest part in all this was the part I didn’t expect I had to do, which was to let go of my Friend. She was the last in a group of “friends” I recently let go because of their negativity. Don’t get me wrong… I”m not a fountain of positive words and actions all the time myself. But, I started listening to my body when it was telling me that certain people made me feel bad, about myself, about my situation. Being around them made me feel tired, sad, uninspired, and that was not the energy I wanted around myself. I plan to live a fearless life, in the Now, full of possibility,…  that is the sort of energy with which I choose to surround myself…. so that, someday, I can say..

“I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

With every broken bone, I swear I lived.
With every broken bone, I swear I…

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived.”

 

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