Whether you look at your life as a journey, as a highway, or as any number of other analogies, one thing that is true for each of us is that life is not lived in a straight line.
We set out on this trip, believing in our heart of hearts that we will go from point 'A' to point 'B' by following the master plan that we've created in our minds. That we will get the education, then get the career, the partner, the children, the possessions, the (you fill in the blank) and eventually end up where we saw ourselves being when we first created this plan at age fifteen or sixteen.
But life doesn't go in a straight line, nor does it often follow the plan that we've created. It takes on a momentum of its own, often taking us to places and experiences that in our wildest dreams we would not have included on the map. Some are breathtaking in their beauty. Others are devastating in their heartache. Many times, these unplanned bends in the road ahead stop us in our tracks because we don't have the vision or the courage to see beyond them. In our brokenness, we can't see that no matter how sharp or unexpected the bend ahead of us is, that the road does continue. That beyond our line of sight, there are places and experiences and people that will once again take our breath away. That will allow us to feel joy and passion for life once again.
Grief often leaves us stuck and staring ahead at the road that has disappeared from in front of us because it is not how we pictured the road that we would travel to be. We look at our map, and it doesn't show the sharp curve we've encountered. The grief can be caused by the death of a loved one. It might be caused by the end of a career, or the loss of trust you had, or for financial problems that you never projected. In fact, grief can find us through over forty life experiences. Grief can settle into our lives when the unexpected happens and changes how we experience our world. When that does happen, we are often not prepared. Why? Because in general no one is taught how to deal with grief. We are not taught the tools and actions that will lead us through the pain, and along that winding road so that we can finally see that the “bend was not the end.”
Our society does not prepare us for how to handle grief and losses, so when they befall us, we are often left broken and afraid that we can not continue. We can't see the next portion of the road ahead because of the pain that blinds our vision. Let me assure you that there is hope after loss. There is joy after pain. The road does continue, and you can get into the driver's seat of your life once again to travel it. The Grief Recovery Method provides tools and actions that allow you to take responsibility for that which you can control, and it helps you to find a sense of completion for the things that you can not. In being able to do that, you'll once again be able to move forward along this road called life. You'll once again be able to take in the sights and smells and sensations that make each of us feel fully alive while we journey through this precious gift we call life. Are you ready to get back into the driver's seat of your own life?
Jelaluddin Rumi, the 13th century mystic poet, was truly one of the most passionate and profound poets in history. These hundreds of years later, his poems and quotes still find their way into the fabric of our world, still striking chords with those that read or hear them. Still leaving people wondering what the intention of a particular quote may have been. One of my favorites is this one...
"Out beyond right doing and wrong doing, there is a field.
I will meet you there." Rumi
As with many of his quotes, there is still much debate of what he was referring in his poetry. With this quote, I like to think he means that there is a place where our limited beliefs and ideas on what is right and wrong are no longer important. A place where we can communicate with each other. A place where we can leave our conditioning and old understanding behind, drop our defenses and open our hearts. A place where there is hope for reconciliation and mutual understanding. A place where the first seeds of forgiveness can be sown.
In working with people through the Grief Recovery Method, although forgiveness is one of the three components of completion, it can be one of the most difficult concepts for people to understand. Through time, we have confused forgiveness with condoning an act or event that impacted our hearts in a painful way. We believe that if we forgive another, we are trivializing the pain that they caused us. We feel that we are letting them off the hook for something horrible that they did, and accept that their actions were okay. That is not forgiveness.
The definition of forgiveness in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines forgiving as "to cease to feel resentment against." When we think about forgiveness in those terms, we begin to understand that continuing to harbor the resentment and anger towards someone who offended us begins to limit and restrict our own ability to move forward and participate fully in the life we are living today. That anger and pain continues to resurface and invade our life whenever something stimulates the memory of the event and the hurtful emotions that are attached to it. We continue to hurt ourselves because we hold on to the hope of an apology...an acknowledgement...or some sort of retribution for what was done to us. We continue to hope for a different or better yesterday when all we really have the power to do is the ground work for a better tomorrow.
As people slowly come to realize the definition of forgiveness and to understand that we forgive in order to reacquire our own sense of well being and joy, you see the change begin. That subtle shift where the anger starts to lessen, where the painful lines of hurt begin to soften a little and a different view of the world begins to seep in. It is beautiful to be part of and to witness. It is more amazing to experience within one's self.
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong."
When Gandhi said forgiveness is an attribute of the strong, he understood that forgiveness is hard work. It takes intention, and commitment and it takes a strong person who is willing to revisit the pain of the past and make a decision to let that pain go. It takes a willingness to let go of the hold that the past has on them, and build up from where they are today, without the pain of the memory dragging them back down.
Often, the act of forgiving opens up the possibility of looking at the event through different eyes. When you forgive and set aside the pain, there can be an new awareness develop as well. Not always, but sometimes. Sometimes the event was so horrific, that the perpetrator can only be viewed as evil. Again, your forgiveness of them does not take away from who they are or what they did, it is solely to relieve your heart of the pain that it has carried.
But every now and then, I see Rumi's quote come into play. 'Out beyond right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there' Every now and then, by making the conscious decision to take the action that is forgiveness, we open our hearts up to something more. Sometimes in forgiveness we see what happened, or what was said, was a difference of beliefs, education, life skills or upbringing. It was not necessarily a matter of right doing or wrong doing, but rather a difference in understanding as a result our individual beliefs or stories, based on what others might have believed to be true at the time. Sometimes, if we can drop that view of rightness or wrongness...we can see the field beyond. And in that field, there is hope and possibility. In that field, by planting the seeds of forgiveness, there lies the potential for growth, reconciliation and a softer, kinder world than the one we often see today. In that field lies the opportunity to seed change.
Yesterday was a perfect day. I had no idea that it was going to be when it started out. In fact in the morning I was a little miffed that I had to go to Treherne with Cecil when he went for lab work. I'd gone to Portage the day before to get a criminal record check, only to be told there that I had to get it in my own area, the Treherne office. So I begrudgingly headed into town with him.
As we got that done, we headed on a drive to Elm Creek to pick up the tarp for the boat, then had lunch in St. Claude and headed for home. It was a beautiful, sunny day, the first we've had for ages with all the smoke that has filled our skies from the wildfires across the country. I decided if I was going to get any pictures of the canola fields that were in bloom, today would be the day, as the smoke and haze is supposed to come back in the next day or so.
When we got home, we both decided that we'd go to our day's projects on the quads. He would ride with me to the field I wanted to photograph, and then we'd carry on in our separate directions. I'd intended to just go to the one field and head for home...but I got sidetracked. More than sidetracked...I got lost in the day...and it was glorious.
I ended up going from one field to another up along PR242. Then headed for home past Mom and Dad's old place. Some of the back-roads I took were so overgrown with clover, you could barely see the trail through, but the sweet smell of the clover was captivating. I'd forgotten how those sights and smells can take you away from your everyday into something magical.
I made stop after stop, turning of the quad, listening to the sounds around me and photographing the wild flowers in the ditches. As I was about to head for home, I ran into a neighbor that told me the pink lady-slippers were in bloom over by the cemetery, so I changed directions again and headed off in search of them, the wind in my hair, the dragonflies surrounding me.
In the end, four hours just disappeared. I never once took my cell phone out of my bag to check for messages, or Facebook or anything else. The time was just mine, capturing the beauty of nature, preserving it's magnificence digitally for days to come when that kind of escape might not be possible.
Back at home, I had to reflect on why I don't allow myself to do that more often than I do. Our days of summer are so limited. Our days are limited, period. Why not grab on to those moments when they appear and go be with nature, with no regrets or excuses..to yourself or others.
I look at all that is going on in the world. All the pain, the wars, the anger. I wonder when was the last time, if ever, that some people have had the opportunity to be lost in the timelessness that I was blessed with yesterday. Have the had the chance to sit in the grass, stare at the sky, explore the wildflowers and just breathe. Even more important...Just BE. If people had more opportunities to commune with Mother Earth, would there be that anger and disconnect that is so prevalent today? I don't thing so, and I know that it's not easy or possible for everyone. Most of the world does not live in the boon-docks as I do...but what if they could find a way to just spend some time away from it all. All the noise, all the buildings, all the other people who are also in that space. I wonder and I wish that opportunity for all, just every now and then.
When we are being who we truly are, our days flow, our time is spent doing things that call to our hearts. We're allowed to use our gifts in ways that are meaningful to us, and hopefully helpful to others. There is joy in what we're working on and creating, and I saw a great quote on facebook the other day that said when we are working hard on something that we don't care about, it's called stress. When we are working hard on something that we do care about it's called passion. Loved that explanation!
So I have been working harder of late, but it's all be on what I am passionate about. My most recent project was to finish a song I'd been working on to hopefully continue to play a role in raising the awareness of our missing and murdered women, men and children. I think when you find something that calls to your heart, you can find ways to make a little difference from wherever you are. I am hoping that this will do that.
In the midst of it all, I'm continuing to learn, and grow and expand my own knowledge, and that is such a marvelous feeling. To know that at whatever stage of life we're at we can continue to grow and develop skills that allow us to be more effective at whatever it is we're hoping to achieve on this journey. Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. That's this weeks message to myself, and anyone who takes the time to read this. Never stop doing any of them, and if in doing so you have the chance to make a small difference in the world. Then do it..we're all in this together, it's time we remembered that
So to close, here's the video I worked on and put out into the world this week. Quality is home grown, and hopefully down the road there will be a better version, but for now, it's the message I want to share. It's not about perfection. It's about just doing our best as it currently is. Thanks for letting me share.
It's been a sad several weeks around our house. While we were away in Boston in early November, our 2 year old Golden retriever, Duke, took off from our daughter's house with her dog. We haven't seen either of them since, and there's something missing when you step outside and he's not there to bounce all over the place in greeting. Nothing makes you feel more loved and appreciated than a dog I don't think...even though there are lots of times that love and appreciation can drive you a little crazy. You still know, that while you're in their view at least, there is nothing in their world more important than you. In this highly technical, digitally connected world, you often don't get that sense of absolute presence from the people in your life. With your dog you always, absolutely do.
I don't think we could have done much more to look from him, short of catching a plane home the day he disappeared, and that didn't make much sense. We've advertised in papers, facebook, on the radio. We've put countless posters up over a span of 40 miles, and followed several leads in all afternoon drive-a-thons that didn't result in finding him. The worst part is the not knowing. The wondering if he wandered into the wrong yard and was shot by someone who doesn't approve of strays. Was he caught in a trap somewhere, as there are reports that there are several laid in the area, with people trying to bring down the coyote population. Was he hit? Was he stolen? Or our favorite, did he just find himself in the yard of someone who saw his beautiful, joyous spirit bounding through those fluid eyes of his. It's the questions that drive you craziest, and hurt the most.
But as much as I love my pets, and I know how we all love our pets, one thing really put it all into perspective for me. While driving around putting up signs in the area near where he went missing, I went into the store at Dakota Tipi, just south of Portage la Prairie. They were good enough to listen to my sad tale, and let me post a picture of Duke. Those inside said they'd keep an eye open and spread the word...but as I left the store I looked directly at the giant billboard outside, asking for information on the missing Jennifer Catcheway.
Needless to say it stopped me in my tracks, and put my heartache into perspective. I had met Jennifer's Mom Bernice just a few weeks earlier, when she'd pulled into my daughter's yard to ask permission to search along the river bank of her property, as that had never yet been checked. Five and a half years after her daughter's disappearance, her parents still continue to look for signs and traces of what may have happened to their daughter.
A few short months after Jennifer, Amber McFarland also went missing from Portage. To date, the mysteries of both of their disappearances remain unsolved.
I've lost a child myself. I know that pain, that hole that remains in your heart no matter what you try to fill it with. The void in your family that can never be filled by another. Part of the circle is broken, and cannot fully be repaired. But with my loss, I had the opportunity to say good-bye and honor the life of the one we loved. I was there at his passing, and although there remain questions as to what happened, there is also peace. However, even with that experience of loss, I can not fathom what their families continue to live with. All the unanswered questions. The inability so lay their child to rest, to say a proper good-bye. The never knowing. I can't imagine, and my heart breaks for them.
It's been a lingering thought for me over the past several weeks. Amidst that has been the disappearance of Colten Pratt in Winnipeg, the Grandson of a friend of mine. Another missing person, among so many missing people both in Manitoba and across Canada. And there are so many more questions than answers.
Something that I've found rather alarming over the discoveries of the past several weeks also sits in my heart, asking to be answered. Social media is such and incredibly powerful tool, and we know the good it can do when used for so many projects and purposes. One of the pages I have followed for some time, and have used a lot more lately while looking for Duke, is the Winnipeg Lost Dog Alert. It has been an incredible network of people across the province, posting, forwarding and assisting me and countless others to find our lost pets. There are currently over 25,000 people on the network, and I appreciate them all so much.
What is troubling to me is that I also follow another page called Missing Manitoba Women that connects with the local RCMP and police services to post and publish when people in Manitoba go missing and to report when they are found. They continue to be a voice for the over 100 people in the province that remain missing. It has a following of just slightly over 13,000.
The question that arises in my heart is why do we have almost twice as many people in the province watching out for our missing pets as we do watching out and sharing information about our missing persons? Then I suppose the next question that I've had to ask myself is...what am I going to do about it, and is there anything I can to to initiate more action in my circle of influence, in my community and in my province? And is there hope that that circle of influence can spread beyond our provincial border and across our country where over 1,000 remain missing or have unsolved murders?
I really hope so, and I hope I can convince my friends and family to join me. Somebody out there somewhere knows something. It takes so little time to click a share button on facebook so that a few more eyes are watching for those we love. The voices of those that are missing can not be heard...but each of ours can so that some of these families can find closure with the heartbreak that they live with. So that they can have their questions answered, and begin to heal. That is my hope for the season of love and giving of ourselves, and my intention for the upcoming New Year, and I hope you'll consider joining me. If you will, then please click here for the Missing Manitoba Women page. Like their page, share when someone is missing, and together lets work towards being part of the change.
It was an interesting evening last night. So much is changing around us right now, as we await further information on where our journey is headed...and, knowing that the only constant we have in our lives is in fact change. So in going with that flow of thought, I decided it was time to change up my website a little. And so it began...
Not everyone you know likely has three blogs flowing from one website. I am not everyone. And choose to document and share different aspects of my life's journey in different ways. It's a very long story, and I won't bore you with the details of it all at this point.
Anyhow, in working to make those changes, put my blog areas together, and update a few things, I ended up hitting a wrong button that completely erased my ongoing 3 years Truly You 'Sharing Blog' journal. I was devastated ...and in fact this morning, was still angry with myself for the mishap. But as I've tried to with every event, good or bad, over the past several years, I calmed down and asked my self "Why is this happening for me?"
It's that constant re-framing of events that has made such a difference in my life. Instead of asking 'Why is this happening to me?" when things don't go according to our well orchestrated plans...I instead choose to ask, "Why is this happening for me?". So as I have for so many, many events...I asked myself this same question this morning.
As the day progressed, wonderful things happened and came to light. So what are the possibilities of why this happened for me?
It takes time and energy to become who we truly are! In life, so many things can get in the way of our figuring that out..but the time comes in each of our lives where we need to be able to do that if we're going to live happy fulfilling lives that are authentic reflections of our best selves. These are just things I've learned along the way. I hope that they might help you in your own journey into being Truly You!