Let Go: A Poem

I found out I don’t really have a dad. If I am honest, that is exceedingly sad.

Every girl should get a dad –

to love her and see her and help her be free

from the burdens of racing to make her own dad feel complete.

It has been tricky to realize that this fact is true –

all of the stories and blaming and, “Of course I love you.”

But, true it is and no doubt it’s the time

to let go, love myself and live a life that is wholeheartedly mine.

A Tale Unfolding

I have been invisible to myself for most of my life. I come from a long family lineage of invisibility, so it is no surprise if you really stop to think about it. For me, this hidden quality manifested itself as a hazy and heavy cloak constructed from other people’s projections and distorted perceptions.

My parents, for example, desperately searching for their own identity, could only plant and nurture seeds in me that were reflections of themselves.  They were blind to anything that did not strengthen their own search for self-hood. I understood my mission as their only child was to support this lofty undertaking and perform to their expectations. Ironically (or maybe not), we were all unconscious of this suffocating dance, and for years I was spun further and further from my own center into a dark forest of hopeless pain and exhaustion.

Gratefully, there is a brighter side to this story. It grows from my amazement at the fortitude of the human spirit – my spirit to be more specific. Even though a deep part of me has felt endlessly lonely, sorrowful and adrift for nearly three decades, I have discovered that my essential presence has been with me all along. Quietly and rather mysteriously it has remained, skirting the edge of the forest, showing itself in the secret places where solitude and stillness lie. This presence infused my existence with glimpses of peace and clues to the magic awaiting me, if only I kept going.

I have always searched for hidden spaces. Imagined unseen passages leading to light and wonder. Descended shadowed staircases, believing that the darkest corners hold the greatest truths. I embody an eternal innocence, grounded in curiosity and directed by beauty. I find that I am artistic and practical – a “rational romantic” who is deeply spiritual. I am paradoxical while making perfect sense. I am a modern day scholar.

I love the world of words. I am soothed by the crinkling of weathered paper and mesmerized by any story well told. The library was once my favorite playground – quiet enough to hear the whispers of my soul, full of infinite possibility. The intricate drawers of a card catalogue, the smell of an aging book. School book fairs and long car rides – these are sweet friends. My favorite authors, sweeping me away while always promising that there is still hope here on earth. “All will be well, if only you keep going,” they said to me. They told me that the magic is real. How grateful I am for that.

This love that I describe is one of the truest I have ever known. These memories, patiently uncovered, are a precious thread and a grand beginning to my tale unfolding.

Ring of Fire

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?

I do not love hot and spicy foods. Mild spice – fine…yummy even. I am not a fan of burning lips and teary eyes, and my spice tolerance is that of a typical born-and-raised Midwestern girl.

But, I do not avoid spicy foods for fear of what tomorrow might bring. I try not to avoid anything for fear of what tomorrow might bring.

My mind has spent years in tomorrow. I now encourage that sweet mind to put down the stories, and instead know that we are strong enough to be awake and open to every tomorrow. Spicy or not.

Clear Water

My husband and I were born on the very same day. Our birthday was on Saturday. To commemorate the occasion, we traveled to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to visit our college Alma Mater. Eau Claire is dear to me. It is the place I first met my husband, one Friday night in the Murray Hall dorms. It is a place that nourished and held me in a warm hug for the five years I was lucky enough to live there. It was such a lovely place to grow into the first adult version of myself. Sure, I was in college and had to keep up with the rigors of my class schedule – but the city of Eau Claire has never demanded anything from me. It was a safe haven; home in a way that I had never known before.

My parents did not have happy childhoods. Although they wanted to be different than their parents were, my mom and dad were often too sad – too traumatized – too haunted by their past to have much to give to their sweet little girl. What a parent is supposed to provide for their child is what my parents still longed for themselves. My role as their only child was to keep our lives afloat. I had to keep my parents heads above water long enough that they could care for my basic needs. I had to buoy them enough that they might lift their gaze and notice me. Living in Eau Claire gave me a ninety mile buffer from my parent’s wounds and my inherited full-time responsibilities. That physical distance gave my sweet soul an invitation to come out of hiding, and look around.

Eau Claire swaddled my first conscious glimpses of inner light. I would walk along the neighborhood streets by myself, and for the first time I did not feel so lonely. I was connected to something – to spring buds on the trees, to the smell of a gentle rain shower, to the bright colors of a fanciful house I’d walk past. I could feel the smile of a friendly stranger. I could open my arms, close my eyes and breathe.

Every time I visit Eau Claire now, I remember and honor the part the city played in showing me that life did not have to be so heavy. When I was socked in with grief, the city offered me a cozy coffee house to rest within. When I felt trapped under the weight of expectations that were not my own, the city offered me a park bench to rest upon. The city offered me beautiful things and places to play. The city offered me reasons to be curious. Opportunities to be spontaneous. The city offered me hope.

At the end of our weekend visit, my husband and I took a drive around Eau Claire’s largest park. We stopped and got out of the car to admire the sounds and smells of a freshly thawed marsh. As we turned to leave, an osprey glided slowly into the marsh. I exclaimed with glee at the sight of this large, sleek bird. The osprey soared lower and circled closer as we watched. Suddenly, his focus sharpened to a spot on the water. His wings contracted and he entered a magnificent free fall. We lost sight of him for a moment behind the tree line. But then, “Splash”! The sound of his contact with the water was electrifying. My husband and I looked at each other with child-like wonder. Looking back out onto the marsh, the osprey had risen again right to our eye level. With amazement, we saw that he held a shiny fish in his talons. Our mouths dropped open. We felt so acutely blessed to witness this beauty and strength. So remarkably humbled to be a part of this wildness. So wonderfully connected to all that is alive.

Eau Claire never fails to hold sacred moments for me. This weekend was no exception. As the cities’ name suggests, I am grateful to have purifying moments within its clear waters. Until next time, my friend.

Who I am and why I’m here…

This past winter, I signed up for a six week online writing class at our local community college. Every Saturday morning I’d finish watching my favorite PBS cooking shows with my husband, shift our chubby gray cat off my lap, unwrap myself from a cozy blanket and wander over to the desktop. I’d join the online chat and see my instructors’ name on the list of participants. There were three other people enrolled in the class, but usually no one else came…it was just me and the instructor (talk about a nice teacher/student ratio). We’d start by reviewing last weeks writing homework and the assigned readings. Eventually, the discussion would inevitably shift to more personal musings, “What do you wanted to accomplish by taking this class? What is your history with writing? What writing have you done in the past?”

I told the instructor that I’d been keeping personal journals over the last year, but had recently felt a new inner stirring. That I might have things I wanted to say…out loud…to other people. I hoped the class would help me find an avenue where I could write publicly while still giving myself space to build confidence in my own voice and hone my focus. I told her that I started to journal regularly after I’d voluntarily left my corporate office job months before. I’d left because I had chosen to listen to a voice vibrating from deep inside me – a voice that begged for me to stop. This sweet voice was panicked – a little girl who had known heavy burdens in her life. Confused and lonely, so very tired. Longing to be still, longing to let go and just breathe. I spent time getting to know this sweet girl within my heart and on the pages of my journal. Listening to what she had to say. Moving through emotions from long ago that she was just now feeling safe enough to release. Feeling the thaw of long frozen aspects of a more full and true inner nature. She and I together were awakening – emerging.

My journals became a personal chronicle. Some entries allowed a place of free expression – getting it all out, sorting through life’s chapters. Some entries were meant to support and encourage a belief in my own wisdom, truth and strength. There were quotes, insights from within, calls to trust in the profound journey I had embarked upon. Day by day I was finding my footing, growing more vital. I was discovering that my life today could be expansive, sacred, dreamy and full of wonder. I also discovered a core and cellular part of myself that wants to glow warm and bright, to be fully immersed in living. I want to foster love, connection, oneness – support joy, curiosity, imagination. I want to hold life gently, not take things too seriously. I want to wander with my eyes wide open – a pilgrim discovering the universe anew each day. These convictions have become my working manifesto.

With these thoughts in mind, my writing instructor suggested I start my very own blog. After some step-by-step, deliberate consideration and research, here I am! Within this blog, I hope to document details from my own life and observations of the world around me as they unfold each day. So, naturally, topics and tone will vary. This blog is also a declaration of dissent to that voice in my head that tells me I have nothing unique or interesting to say – too bad, I’m blogging anyway. I’m excited to learn more about my own voice and writing style. I give myself permission to be flexible and open to shifting course as my blogging evolves.  And finally, I look forward to connecting with other bloggers and followers in a sort of kindred fellowship – becoming part of a conscious community.

And so I begin. With a deep breath from my belly and feet firmly grounded to the  earth, I lead with my heart and…publish my first blog post!!