The Before-Math

IMG_8512

It’s important to squeeze the most fun out of a midlife rite of passage. Every drop of day is a chance to lap up the melting butter of existence, especially at the halfway point, or should I say, the half-and-half point (dairy humor).

We were preparing for our guests, spreading sheets and comforters over beds in smooth layers of polished cotton, plunking on pillows and daubing on extra blankets, when somewhere between the prepping and the plumping, I got a spark in my eye and a sparkle in my spirit. Lamenting the recent passing of Eagles singer Glen Frey (I’m a fan) and intent on celebrating the present moment, I began to sing “Well I’ve been runnin’ down the road tryin’ to loosen my load, I’ve got seven women on my mind . . .” as my fellow bed making friend began to harmonize the tune with me. It turned into an hour long tribute to the late singer, mixing in alternate lyrics that suited the occasion and some vocal twang whenever desired. Now that’s a way to get chores done!

The trip to the post office was just as bad– I mean good– I mean ridiculous. Picture two gurgling, giggling junior-high aged souls housed in a couple of midlife bodies, simmering, hissing and howling with humor several decades beneath them. Yes, the priming of the pump is about as important as the event itself. And so, I highly recommend a pair of obnoxious loose-cannon attitudes as the beginning fanfare for any large life event.

 

 

Commencing Countdown, Engines On

Photo on 2013-04-21 at 16.47

Crone? Wise woman? Lady of the Middle Ages? Halfway between here and there? Elder?

What are your names for crossing the half-century mark? I think we can get creative here . . . She-who-is-content-with-who-She-is . . . Wabi-Sabi Woman . . . or Our Lady of Perpetual Creakings?

In Howard Rheingold’s book They Have a Word for It,  the Navajo word hozh’q means “the beauty of life, as seen and created by a person”. The author further explains: “Quick- think about your wealth. You probably thought about your bank balance, stock portfolio, real estate, or other economic measures. If you were to ask the same question of a Navajo, you might discover that your informant’s reaction is to count the number of songs he or she knows, especially the ones self-created. Which of these answers is the more sophisticated? To the Navajo, beauty is not only a way of looking at life, but is in itself a way to live.”

And so . . . Threshold-Crossing Lesson Number One: Beauty is not measurements and mirrors, “beauty is in itself a way to live”.

A word from the wise via Ginny, my rite of passager

IMG_0448

I share with you today a wise and loving statement that my daughter has embraced as her own over the last several years. It gives strength, dignity, and a joyous realization to all of us about ourselves and our unique contributions to this world as we continue to “come of age” in youth or adulthood.  A quote by Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

You may have heard this quote before, but I find I can hear it again and again and find nourishment in its soul opening words.

How big will you cast your shadow today- the evidence of your large and lovely being?

Can you embrace your life right now?

IMG_0325

photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider

I’ve recently crossed the threshold of kidney surgery, wandering the strange and meandering road of recovery. Recovery sounds like such a positive word. You are recovering! You are getting better, and yet, it can be the most difficult part of the journey. Whether it’s in the physical realm, the soulful realm, the emotional realm, it’s where the shake-down happens. It’s where the questions arise. It’s where the open space of uncertainty and possibility remain open. It is where both pain and healing come to the surface. The whys, the wherefores, the what will happens are all out there wandering like lost children, bumping into each other, crying, crawling, and wondering when someone will pick them up and take them into that longed for lap of slow , motherly, rocking-chair solace.

In an act of spiritual direction toward myself, I asked myself a question this morning: “Can you embrace your life right now?”

I first had to think about what “embrace” might mean. I decided it doesn’t mean toying with myself and my situation at arms’ distance. It doesn’t mean  a quick peck on each cheek to make myself feel temporarily acknowledged. It means to hold myself during this time. To look outside my window and let life embrace me, too. For me, it’s a deep long, loving hug. It’s saying, “I fully hold you and love you at this time- hard as it is.” And I’m finding, as I embrace my life, life embraces me back.

It sounds a bit funny, but loving ourselves into the whole of our realities can be the very lap we’re looking for.

May you be deeply embraced today.

“Extraordinary” time in Ordinary Time

IMG_0230

photo by Ginny Schneider

I was diagnosed with a form of kidney cancer very recently. This turned this “ordinary time” of the year into “extraordinary time”, with new things to consider outside the arms of the hourly ticking clock. The prognosis looks good, but it still takes me to the edge of a threshold where I had not expected to go (which I’m sure is true for anybody gazing suddenly over a seeming precipice!)

Being “here” in this moment, at this time, brought me back to an exercise I had created several years back, appropriate for the now of “ordinary” time surrounded by the now of “extraordinary” time.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “milagros” are small pieces of metal, often shaped into parts of the body that serve as both a reminder, a desire for a healing of that place, and/or a token of gratitude after the fact. Fascinated with these little symbols mostly prevalent in the southwest, here is a threshold crossing exercise.

Milagros Exercise

Take some time to write on 5 slips of paper, 5 praises to the part of the body you choose. For example: “I cried out to my______ (hand) and my hand said, I ____ (write messages of stars, hold tiny fingers of bone and flesh, paint the world with colors).

Here are mine:

“I cried out to my kidney, and my kidney said, ‘I am the seat of wisdom, I purify, I hold streams of red life, flowering gifts like flame-flowers on the Red Road of Life.”

“I cried out to my legs, and my legs said, ‘I take you where you want to go, bark-less trunks of determination, bringers of new gifts of new experiences.”

“I cried out to my heart, and my heart said, ‘I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things; when prophecy comes, it might fail, when words come, they may cease, but I endure forever, for I hold Love.”

“I cried out to my mind, and my mind said, ‘I take in the above and I take in the below; I am the great sifter of thought, the great dreamcatcher of wisdom. I will walk with you on this journey.”

I find that marking the places of hurt and of health, and honoring them, gives awareness and somehow resurrects gratitude, even though at times, the going is tough.

May all of your “parts” support you, and may you rise up and call them “blessed”.

The Threshold Choir: helping others through transitions

IMG_0325

photo by Ginny Schneider

Yesterday, I practiced sitting bedside. There were three of us and our voices created a beautiful moonlike glow of sound all around a friend lying reclined on a living room chair. As the simple songs floated over her, and our voices listened intently to one another, I felt once again even in myself the healing power of song and of creating an ambiance together that helps smooth the path for another from transition to transition, whether it’s from sickness to health, or busyness to slowing down. In this case, we were treating a friend to sweet, calming music after a tiring week, and syncing our voices together to prepare for others who could benefit from this gift.

Music really can help us do that. Our little threshold choir often helps those transitioning from sickness to health, or illness to death, but, really, song has been used for centuries, millennia, to “cover the threshold with flowers”- to lift a child into the realm of sleep, to mark the changes and passages of the day, or to aid a friend, or even ourselves into hopes and reassurances. What song or melody can gently hold your hand through a transition today?

Considering the future . . . and planting a big one on its lips!

IMG_0397

Now that I’m standing at the bottom edge of the shining bridge called “middle-age” (a little bit tarnished, I must admit), I realize that before me are beautiful opportunities for more rites of passage, including my own. I look to the upcoming 21-year-old threshold for my daughter with excitement, smiling eyes, and hands rubbing together in creative scheming, but I also look ahead to my own fiftieth (only 2 years away) with rich anticipation.

When we honor ourselves, we pave the way for our children to learn to honor themselves as well. And I’m not talking about ego. I’m talking about honest to goodness self-realization- bursting onto the stage of the next milestone of our lives with bravery, not fear. Taking it by the horns, and then planting a big one on its lips and saying, “welcome!” Honoring is giving dignity and respect to something. And the turns in our lives deserve a little encouragement.

I hope you’re thinking about the upcoming milestones in your life with hope and anticipation. There’s someone standing behind you on the bridge watching, and he or she, daughter or son, is not only observing, but quietly urging you on.