LOST AND PROFOUND.

It was a year ago this week my father passed away. Needless to say, last year was not the merriest of Christmases. But I’m not looking back to dredge up sadness. There is no sense in that. As far as I’ve been able to figure out, the only reason people should ever look back is to learn. And, in doing so, allow themselves to move forward with more grace and ease.

And as much as I would have loved to skip the lessons of the teacher called death, that isn’t an option. So, in the spirit of moving forward with grace and ease, I look back on this past year with a lens not on what I lost when we physically bid my beautiful father farewell, but on what I found.

Which was a lot. Because as it turns out, death is one profound mother effer.

And I mean that literally. If you break down the word profound into its parts: “pro” meaning to be for or in favor or something, and “found” meaning to discover or unearth something, you’ll get my point. Death is all for us finding a deeper way of living.

The hole it leaves is cavernous. Beyond deep. And if we are going to crawl out of it, we have to get deep as well. Once there, in that new and uncharted territory within, you can’t really help but find something to take with you as you journey back to wholeness and happiness.

One of the things I found in my journey back is how much different it is to bury your second parent. When my mother passed away, I still had my dad to tether me to life as I knew it. But as that sweet, sickly, adorable little man left his body and flew to his greater place of being, he took with him the umbilical chord that tied me to this Earth.

With him died the very foundation of who I have always known myself to be – my first and longest running identity – that of being daughter. From breath one, I was a daughter. Every other role that I came to play in my life came after that. Every other title I ever adopted was built upon it.

But with the death of my dad came the identity shattering reality that I was no longer someone’s child.

And in that moment, I became an adult, really and truly, for the first time. While I have been a successful, independent, self-functioning grown up for quite a while, what I came to discover is that as long as I was someone’s child, I was not fully an adult.

No matter how old or accomplished you are, as long as you get to be somebody’s kid, a part of you resonates to that and draws from it. I drew the most incredible sense of love and support from being my father’s daughter ever day of my life. I didn’t have to think about it, look for it or try to feel it. Until it was gone. And I did.

When my deepest source of love and support slipped into another dimension, I had no choice but to reconnect into the only love that could ever be more vast than the love in the heart of my father. And, as it turns out, that was the love found in the heart of Life.

This past year has been one really dig deep inside myself to find the place that connects to the Universal source of love and support. The center of the core of the nub of the nucleus of the hub of the heart of it all.

Talk about profound.

Talk about life altering.

Talk about a pain in the ass.

Obviously, I jest. But in all fairness, growth on that level, when you really commit to it, can be a tough row to hoe at times. And in many ways my first steps into true adulthood were much like my first steps into childhood. Wobbly. Uncertain. Lots of falling down.

Yet every step was worth it. Looking back, I can say my entire life, and probably a great many more before this one, have been leading me to the visceral discovery of the simple truth that I am loved. Regardless of whose face is or isn’t in front of me and whose heart is or isn’t sharing it, Love is mine. It is my birthright as a child of this Universe.

That has been the ultimate find in the loss of my father.

I now truly understand on all levels that it is not, nor has it ever been, a matter of deserving love. We all deserve it. We don’t have to look a certain way, do a certain thing or make a certain amount of money to attract love. The very act of doing those things is born from some quiet, hidden belief that love isn’t already ours.

Take a look around your life. Those spouses, friends, children, pets, playmates… They are not the source of the love you feel. They are simply the priceless venues through which Life is delivering the experience of Love. The person, place or thing bringing that feeling to us is a spectacular stand in for the Great Love of Life. Which is fantastic news. It means when that person, place or thing goes away, the love remains.

Love is. Simple as that.

You can fight the is. Ignore the is. Deny the is. Embrace the is. Expand the is. It doesn’t really matter; love can’t be made weaker or stronger by our reaction to it. But we can. Our ability to receive what is always there waiting for us will strengthen or weaken us to the extent we really learn to let love in.

Somewhere, a long time ago, I heard a saying that went something like this: When someone or something moves on, leaving a void your life, something will always grow in its place. And usually that something is you.

I warned you this would be profound. Boom.

 

A STAR IS BORN

I celebrated a birthday this week. And, for the record, it was a very happy one. They always are for me. I love celebrating being here and being me. But this year, as my favorite people sat around my birthday cake singing fantastically out of tune, life itself gave me an unexpected gift. It gave me a bona fide, happy birthday Aha moment.

I looked around. Saw candles lit up. Saw faces lit up. And in the background, saw all kinds of Christmas decorations  lit up as well. And suddenly the message from life became pretty hard to miss: “See the light.”

Specifically, I believe it was talking about the light within.

Because, in my opinion, that’s what was really born those not so many years ago. Not just the red-headed girl, but the spark inside that lights her up. Truth be told, this face I see in the mirror – the one that loves to smile, and these legs that love to dance and these arms that happily hug … they’re all expressions of the light that shines within me. They are ways for the light to get out there, show itself, pass itself on. (And hopefully, on and on and on.)

So, if that is the case, then it begs the question: Why in the world are we all focusing on the number of candles on the cake when the real message is found in the glow they’re giving off? Perhaps birthdays aren’t a reminder we are getting older but rather, are a reminder that we (just like our cakes) are destined to get brighter.

It’s a lesson, right? It has to be … the more you shine your light, the brighter and more brilliant life becomes. It makes me think of a really happy memory involving the daughter of a dear friend.

When my friend’s little girl was learning to say my name, instead of Merry Carole, she used to call me Merry Candle. (Ummm …Awesome!) We loved it so much we convinced her for years that it was actually my name. Looking back on that from today’s perspective, maybe we didn’t just love it because it was cute. Maybe it struck a chord deep down inside. Maybe just maybe, subconsciously, it felt really good to have another human being call me a light. In a world that often considers it boastful and self aggrandizing to embrace and celebrate the light within, that little lady gave me permission to shine.

Shining is what we were born to do. I honestly, truly, cross-my-heart-and-kiss-my-elbow believe that. We are all stars. Every one of us. We have something to give and a way to shine that is uniquely ours. We don’t have to light up the entire world, to shine. That’s a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on our light. A little shining can go a long, long way.  Take, for example, my dentist.  He has this incredibly gentle manner. And, knowing how I am illogically fearful of my visits, every time I sit in his chair, he has a set of headphones waiting for me, with classical music to help soothe my anxiety. That, in my opinion, is a way to shine.

Every time I drive through the bank, this one particular teller gives my doggie a treat. That’s a way to shine. My dad used to give little frozen Milky Ways to all the neighborhood “kiddies” as he would call them. They would ring our doorbell constantly, and each and every one of them was that much more happy when they walked away with the treat. That was a way to shine. An amazing way to shine.

We don’t have to have our names up in lights to be stars. We can shine brightly on the stages of our lives every single day. The simple, manageable ways we come up with to illuminate our gifts and brighten the lives of those people we come in contact with are all ways to shine.

All this talk about shining our lights brings to mind one of my all-time favorite pieces of writing. One that I’m sure many of you are familiar with, but in my opinion, can’t be read enough: (Thank you, Miss 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, talented, 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 that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Seems to me that a human afraid or unwilling to shine is like a dolphin being afraid to swim or an eagle refusing to fly. It’s an unnatural state, one that leads to missing out on exactly that for which we are born… the very thing that defines us and gives us our ability to move around our world with joy and freedom.

And yes, just to bring this post full circle, I got all that from a birthday candle.

RIDDLE ME THIS, BATMAN

Usually the best answers are the ones you conjur up for yourself.

So, in the spirit of that there factoid, I offer a riddle …

The Japanese call it Chi. The Chinese call it Qi. Religions call it God. Star Wars called it The Force. Businesses call it morale.Nutritionists measure it in calories. Minds exert it through thought. Hearts process it through emotion. Sports drinks bottle it. Emptiness is filled with it.Einstein equated it. Synapses fire it. Nervous systems run on it. Lightning strikes with it. Sounds travel on it. The sun radiates it. The moon reflects it. The tides roll with it. Stress zaps it. Joy multiplies it.It zips. It zings. It zooms. It stirs. It stunts. It strives. It hustles. It bustles. It balances. It skews. It rests. It moves. It heats. It cools. It hones. It heals. It animates. It emanates. It alleviates. It’s wasted. It’s stored. It’s converted. It’s kinetic. It’s static. It’s power. It’s force. It’s the good. It’s the bad. It is the symptom. It is the source. It’s the cause. It’s the cure. It is the core. It is the creative currency of life. What is energy?

And now, for the riddle: How do we harness it to create the life we want rather than simply muster through the one we have?

 

HAPPY HOLIDAZE!

It’s here again – the most wonderful time of the year. And, for today’s purposes, by wonderful I mean overbooking, overeating, over serving, overspending and a general, all around overdoing.

Anyone else kinda over it?

Don’t get me wrong; this does not come from a festering sense of Meh Humbug. I absolutely love the holidays. Let the record state that any time of year defined by words like “cheer” and “spirit” and “glad tidings” and “jingle jingle” are a-okay in my book.

But if I’m being honest, I’m starting to wonder if perhaps the world is so starved for cheer, holiday or otherwise, that we aren’t gorging ourselves at the social butterfly buffet.

And, if so, could it be possible that, in trying so hard to cram all the happy we can handle into the holidays, we might actually end up depleting ourselves of one of the key ingredients to happiness: Which is the quiet and peaceful state of mind to actually let all that good stuff sink in.

Perhaps its time to stop trying to spread our holiday cheer a mile wide at the expense of only being able to take it an inch deep.

Having said that — In the spirit of jumping off the holiday hamster wheel and putting some mental and emotion chill in the air this season, I’d like to serve up a whole new idea of Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree. And I’d like to do it via a little something I wrote for a project I worked on a few years back. It’s called Rocking Chair:

Ever wonder why babies love rocking chairs? Is it the simple, gentle motion they find comforting? Or is it the fact that they can feel the rocking chair working it’s magic on you? Perhaps they sense that one of the world’s adults is, at long last, coming to a much-needed stand still. Because when you think about it, a hiatus from forward movement is exactly what a rocking chair is. In this life where everyone is striving to get ahead and get to the top, rocking chairs are about getting you nowhere at all. They are designed to keep you right here. Rocking back and forth…back and forth…back and forth…lulling you into the moment. Where you can enjoy a nice view. Catch up with a good friend. Recall a happy memory, or perhaps make a new one. It’s funny, when you think about it like that, the question isn’t why do babies love rocking chairs. The question is, why on Earth did the rest of us ever outgrow them?

Figgy pudding, anyone?