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Spreading

John again this round.

On Saturday, my 8 1/2 year old rode his bike alone around the neighborhood for the first time. Big stuff in a small pond of a life.

He awoke and greeted us with the feel (and show) of heavy, sharp and hard in his body and Being. He grumbled about – discontent with his discontent in the world. After brushing his teeth and running down the stairs to find his two younger sisters playing with the dollhouse – something he definitely did not feel like doing – his body collapsed even further with a sigh of great gusto.

I looked at him and wondered silently, “Is there anything for me to do here? Or is this his?”

To which a soft voice from deep within whispered to me “Bike alone.”

uh… okay.

I turned to the husband and told him the idea. Got a nod. Turned back to the kid.

“John, would you like to go on a bike ride alone?”

“What? Really? You mean it?”

“Yup. Up to the stop sign.” I say.

“Like the one where we turn to pickup Nathaneal for carpool, right?”

“No, babe. The one at the top of the hill. Then you can go around the block if you’d like.”

“REALLY!?”

A supernova for this boy. You could see his brain BLOW with disbelief of the parenting shackles loosening. Off he went.

And I watched him leave. I watched his heavy and hard shapeshift in an instant to fast and light.

Right now, I feel a bit like how I perceived John to feel that morning… pre- bike ride.

I leave for Hawaii tomorrow. I attend a Compassionate Care in Death & Dying workshop over the weekend with teachers that I cannot see anywhere else. Because they don’t go anywhere else. I think this workshop could be just as appropriately titled,

Learning to hang out with each other
(It’s all kind of the same thing if we want to get real about it.)

As I’ve taken space to feel over the last month, I’ve seen many layers of this trip. In this very moment, here are a few from my rainbow.

I feel the magnetism of the choice to go “so far” to learn about something “so hard” and to be “so alone” wanting to pull me in. What was such a clear feeling in October is now yet another “What the bloody hell were you thinking?”

I feel what it means to take this trip. To do this study. What has landed me here?

Thomas has died.
Those of us still here have (new?) cracks.

I am sad. I miss how things were.
I mourn for what was.

Dark. Heavy. Shadows.

And there is more.

After John returned from his two loops around the block, he was winded. He was also illuminated in the same vein of his beamingly proud pre-school pictures . He had skipped from one planet in his universe to another.

“How do you feel?” I asked him.

“Free!” he exclaimed without hesitation.

“What qualities do you feel in your body?” his yoga therapist mother inquired.

“Light! Open!”

I drank it in. His taste of a shift. Me seeing he would never know Light and Open without having known Dark and Closed. Me seeing his wings expand a titch further in this world. Me seeing his joy to discover more of Him.

“I kept looking back in case there was a car!” he exclaimed.

“Trust your ears,” I say. “You pay great attention. You’ll hear what you need. You’ll know if a car is coming.”

And I hear myself. Talking to him. Talking to me.

This is a trip of trust. Of Greg solo with our kiddos. Of my courage to be ever more alone in the hard stuff. Of a return to the islands that I last visited when my then babe niece and toddler nephew lived on Oahu with my sister and brother-in-law.

It is a trip of caring and loving for me. And for all the others that I touch. Family, friends, clients – so many known and infinitely more unknown. Coming and going. Now and next. Here and then.

Will it bring a taste of free once more for me? Will it weave the light and open into an ever more contrasted braid with the heavy and dark? This stepping out on my own as John did on his own? I believe it will. We shall see.

I know my shadows want me to see my fear. “Stay away! This is uncomfortable! This is BAD because it makes you feel bad!!!”

I appreciate you, Fear. The gift of protection that you wish to offer me. The gift of limited love that you have for me.

And I won’t be held down by you. I will feel you for your offerings. And I will also step forward into the Ever More.

Because I know what else there is too. Faith in this deeply felt choice. Trust. Love. My good attention.
And I will go to discover what awaits. Just like John.

I’m coming. Here today. There tomorrow.

Take good care,
Rachel

To See Anew

My New Year’s resolution is… to jump rope.

My 8 year old son and I are doing this together. We started yesterday and we did it again today. Right now, I want to do 50 jumps per day. But I recognize that some days, I may simply step through the rope a single time. Some days, I may leap through it alternating legs up and down my driveway like a jack rabbit on Pop Rocks. I have absolutely no idea where I’ll be each day or what life will throw at me. But my resolution and intention is to respond to that day with exactly what I have left in my tank. Whether the needle is at empty and I do the single step through or it is at a quarter tank full and I can do a little more, I will listen. And I will respond with love and compassion for where I’m at.

Day in and day out, I want to allow my feet to leave the ground and to meet it once more.

Day in and day out, I want to watch my story unfold beside my husband’s story. Beside each of my kids’ stories. Beside so many whom I love as they write their own stories.

Day in and day out, I want to see the joy within sorrow and the sorrow within joy.

Day in and day out, I want to help others and I want to let others help me.

Day in and day out, I want to feel what I feel and notice when I make myself wrong for it.

Day in and day out, I want to slow down even more. To do nothing even more. And to practice the ancient art of “hanging out” even more.

Day in and day out, I want to support others as they explore deeper meaning and impact in their lives and I want to be supported as I explore deeper meaning and impact in my life.

Day in and day out, I want to see when my fears stop me up and to see when my snowballish striving stops me up.

Day in and day out, I want to listen for more. Ever more. Beyond sight, beyond sound, beyond touch, beyond taste, beyond smell – the Ever More.

This will all unfold as the story ahead unfolds. As the pages turn they will show me the scenes, the characters and the plot lines that hold my intentions thick within their wonder. And in the space between the words, will rest the Feeling. The copious, indescribable, earth shattering, cosmos shaking Feeling of this whole thing called Life.

I don’t have to make it happen. It’s already happening. I just get to sit back, do my work, and watch it all unfold.

Yes, more than anything else. I want to watch it all unfold.

Oh, and for now, I’ll jump rope. John’s intention is to do 5 jumps in a row and he said he’ll see what comes next.

I’m in, kid. I’m in.

With love and admiration for each of you,
Rachel

A Deferential Bow

On this New Year’s Day, I humbly and respectfully share the wisdom of Neil Gaiman. May we all breathe into his skill for translating life into words for sharing.

—-
Excerpt from Neil Gaiman’s Journal, December 31, 2018

Be kind to yourself in the year ahead. 

Remember to forgive yourself, and to forgive others. It’s too easy to be outraged these days, so much harder to change things, to reach out, to understand.

Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.

Meet new people and talk to them. Make new things and show them to people who might enjoy them. 

Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.

—-
And that my friends, is all there is to say about that. May we rest in the peace of infinite New Beginnings.

Take good care,
Rachel

Just This

“What was I thinking?” I say to my husband.

To which he replies, “I think you were feeling. I think the problem is that you’re thinking NOW.”

For a very brief moment, I stop my spin on “Who do you think you are? What do you know anyhow?” in reflection on my offering of a class and gathering for others to share their grief. I see Greg’s simple genius. He is spot on.

In these days prior to the first Christmas with my family yet without my dear nephew in body, I give myself the gift of more quiet space. I sit down with me and settle in to less thoughts and more hearing the birds. I recognize more when I’m breathing but not smelling. I feel aching tired in my upper back. In the center of the space, I feel the magnetic churning within me of,
“How exactly is this Christmas going to go with an elephant in the room?”

And Wisdom responds in quiet and tinkling tones,
“You don’t know.”

Nope, I don’t know. I don’t actually have any idea how it will go.

And so, I sit down in the sounds of the leafblower. The cars driving by. The warmth of my ears and the pulsing in my back and throat. The lingering taste of coconut and spices from a beautiful lunch with dear friends. The lean to my right into fatigue. The gentle numbness of my temples and tongue. The smell of the wooden prop that my computer rests upon winding its way toward me.

When my mind strays, I herd it back to center with an exhale breath and a gentle reminder, “Just this.”

Just this.

I take in here and now. Because that’s what I’ve got. This moment writing you out there. Me sitting in here. And closing the space between.

There is magic in the space between us.

Just this.

Less thinking. More feeling. That will be my love hold this Christmas.

Just this.

I wish you all well as you wrap in the robes of your holiday. And all that it offers you in Grace.

Take good care,
Rachel

Full Up

I tap out right now. I have found immense courage in the wake of grief this year – courage to step out and be ever more seen. Courage to offer programs, classes, and words that stepped onto ground that I thought was untouchable. Courage to love more deeply – and likely to have my heart broken over and over as I invite that love to seep through me.

And sure enough, as I step into new ventures of Being, giving and doing that are offspring of my grief, my heart cracks a little deeper. It seeps a little deeper for the reason that I am at this particular place at this particular time. It grasps back through the past to a life that has completed and to a boy that chose differently than I have. Goo seemingly fills from the tips of subtly aching feet to my chest that feels safest today sucking in on the inhale to my scratchy throat.

I am thick and smushy and a lump of Being right now. Every crevice and cavern within this pulsing body feels full up. And with that fullness, I feel empty of the ever elusive thing we Westerners call “energy.”

And it is beautiful. It is stunning.

Feeling a bit like a bog creature wrapped in this skin of a human, I navigate today weaving in and out of choices for clarity and space. Moment by moment and breath by simple breath. I wake and meditate and move. I have clear broth soup for breakfast and sit with my kiddos. I think of my husband as he travels away from us on a plane. I am snuggled by my daughter and I snuggle her. I drink tea and water. I shop for gifts for my kiddos’ Angel Tree at school and I feel the overwhelm of sights, sounds and more in the store. I make a nourishing ojas milk and cancel a compromised credit card. I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch because that’s my best in that moment (not so clear or spacious but eh – it’s good to be human). I lay on my bed in silence listening to mantra and looking at the trees. I watch the birds on my feeder. I listen to the leaf blowers and see the blue blue sky. I see the fall turning winter winds shower the last remaining leaves over my yard. I buy pizza for dinner because I do not wish to deplete my body’s gas tank anymore. I navigate destruction of my son’s toy by my 3 year old daughter. I lose my stuff with my kids. I finish that blow and get quiet to ride the hot and fiery sensations that echo within. I arrive a bit slower in spin and a tad cooler with the three devil angels. I write to you all who dance with me around this same room called Life.

Hmm… yes. I do believe the bog imagery is spot on. Yet, I’m seeing it’s not so much a bog like creature tucked away inside of me. It’s more the bog itself that rests under my skin. Full, thick, heavy and full of such richness. Such richness of feeling the prism of my life.

I lean in here to the layers of mud, water, and swirling silt in suspension. I am held in the bog. I am embraced here by something as perfect as the trees and as flawless as the sun. In this moment, I rest in wholeness in the bog.

The feeling invites the Being. And the Being allows a deep saturation into the essence of all this Doing.

Wherever you are right now, may you find rest in that place.

Take good care,
Rachel

Remembering

This letter to you includes a special class announcement that will be 100% donation based for the organization of Hospice. And you are welcome to right away scroll down to the bottom to learn of the class details. But I decided it is vital to me to share the heart root of this offering. If you wish to journey with me on how it came to be, please read from beginning to end. I am ever so grateful for our walk together.
This year, I made a new acquaintance. And I visited with her again this week. She came to me in April with the sudden passing of my nephew. I chose to approach her today with the writing of two notes of compassion for dear neighbors’ losses.

My new acquaintance is Death. She had visited me previously with the passing of all four of my grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and a dear friend’s younger brother when I was in high school, but I was not ready to open the door to her yet. No doubt she knocked at that time – curious as to my doings and eager to sit with me for a spell. But I locked my door tightly. I bolted it. I shut her out with all of my might.

And she gracefully walked away. She knew I wasn’t ready for her yet.

And now – now I am ready for her. I have experienced how she has the power to crack me open raw to the world around me. And I have experienced how she has the power to solder my cracks with golden salve of love. I have experienced how she waltzes with me when I receive her. I have experienced how she will stand solid and steady and refusing of a fight when I take a rigid battle stance against her. She will let me be hard and sticky and rough as long as I need to be. She will not back down but she will not come after me either.

She waits. Patiently. Lovingly. Knowing that in the end I cannot turn away from her whether it be by choice or by circumstance.

The dance of Grief with Gratitude is dynamic. She is one in the same as she constantly shape shifts and reveals more of her richness. Her teachings are unlimited.

We each dance our waltz between Grief and Gratitude in our own unique way. Yet in our aloneness of the dance comes a togetherness that is like no other. It is the togetherness of mourning for what has passed. It is the togetherness that can begin to allow for what is future. It is the togetherness that can honor the past in remembrance and the future for possibility. It is the togetherness that gives us the courage to imagine – and to experience over and over – that although the recipe of our world is forever different now, it is no less magical in its potential.

The holidays can bring a unique period of celebration juxtaposed with lost idealism of childhood. We tend to grieve either a little – or a lot – deeper during this time of lights and sparkle. We tend to shove down the visit of Grief and to think we are wrong to step into it. We think that it will ruin the season.

Perhaps we think that we will ruin the season.

But She doesn’t go away. Grief sits in camouflage patiently waiting for our gentle attention. She tucks into corners and cozies into the quiet between the holiday loud. She whispers to us. And in our resistance of her, the whispers can turn into screams.

Yet, what if stepping into the grief when we feel safe to do so could also allow us access to bone warming gratitude? What if the two sit by the fire together when we do not lock either out?

“It’s horrible having to tell people… and it is so much better when they know.”

My incredible 16 year old niece said these words in the April weeks after my nephew – her brother – took his own life. This year has involved great sorrow, great learning, and great wonderment for me. This year has rocked my foundation. And this year has begun to build it anew.

A Class & Gathering in benefit of Hospice
Remembering: From Grief to Gratitude

This 90 minute therapeutic yoga practice will include my signature small movement explorations with a focus on the very individual dance of Grief with Gratitude. The practice of expansion and contraction will be appropriate for all levels and can be explored using a chair if supportive. Included in the practice will be an extended savasana (reclining rest) or seated meditation. Following a short break after the class, the entire group will have a chance to gather over some homemade nourishment to share a story of their loved one or of days gone by. We shall honor our stories – and our loved ones’ shining existence – in our togetherness.

Donation details:
The suggested donation range (cash or check only) of this 3 hour exploration including 90 minute class, 15 minute break, and 75 minutes of together time is $30 – $50. Again, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the local hospice organization (Transitions LifeCare hospice of Raleigh and Rockbridge Area Hospice in Lexington). If you wish to donate to either organization as part of our collection but cannot attend the class, please email me at Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com.

Remembering Class & Gathering #1
Location: Long Life Wellness Center in Cary, NC
Date & time: Saturday, December 15th, 4:00-7:00pm
Signup by emailing Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com to reserve your spot. Space is very limited for this special event and registration will be in order of requests received.

Remembering Class & Gathering #2
Location: Center of Gravity in Lexington, VA
Date & time: Saturday, December 22nd, 1:30-4:30pm
Signup coming soon on the Center of Gravity website at https://www.lexingtoncenterofgravity.com/ . Please email me at Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com if you’d like to be first to know once it is up.

I am ever so grateful to the hosting studios of Long Life Wellness Center and Yoga Mojo in Cary and Center of Gravity in Lexington for graciously donating their space as well.
When we share in the hard, healing is possible.

May we find the courage to together explore the stumbling, gliding, ever dynamic dance of Grief and Gratitude. And may we be in wonder of what could emerge.

With love on this Thanksgiving Eve,
Rachel

Joining

Nora runs up to me and says, “It’s dark, it’s dark!”

“Where is it dark?” I ask her.

“It’s dark everywhere! And especially in the stairwell. It’s so dark.”

“Well, what can you do?” I ask.

“I can use my flashlight.”

She tiptoes off in adventure across the kitchen to the dark, cavernous, abyss of our eight stairs to shine her way to the far off land of her upstairs bedroom.

I smile at her inner explorer.

Nora has eyes like brown glass marbles, eyelashes that sweep across her face, and a body of solidity. My niece and nephew used to watch a Japanese anime show that involved people in tribes that had magical powers over the elements. My niece has confirmed that Nora is no doubt an earth bender. Her firm steps and ability to ravage any electronic equipment that she touches including cd players, dvd players and ipads is unmatched. Her power is beyond compare in our house.

Are the broken electronics annoying? Heck, yes. But I marvel at her firm ability to Exist. Nora walks our floors with an acceptance of her existence that is different than in my other two kiddos. She is still only 3 ½ so her perception of the world’s judgments haven’t moved in yet, but the clarity in which she steps is inspiring. She seems to say, “I know my way and no person or thing shall stop my march.”

Later today I am unloading the dishwasher while my older two kids horse trade Halloween candy. Nora steps into my path as I stand with glass in one hand and plate in the other.

“Mama, why can I wink with this eye? (Insert left eye wink.) But I can’t wink the other one. See?”

She winces and contorts and squints but can’t quite get the right eye to close on its own.

Her face holds pure curiosity and wonderment. She looks at me for the answer. For which of course I have no answer so I just stand there smiling at her puppy like adorableness. My mother eyes are glazed in unconditional love.

She is the painted sunset to my watching earth.

A few more acrobatics of the right eye and she says, “Mama, can you help me wink it?”

My heart flits in an underwater somersault and my belly opens into a release of butterflies. Joy for this small request. Pure light and gentle amusement.

My eyes see her. They see all of this unstoppable soul inside of this powerful earth bending body.

“Yes, Nora.” I set down my To Do and cover the few steps between me and her. She has invited me To Be. And I accept. I softly place my fingers upon her right eye. I gently close it while she keeps her left eye on me.

I marvel for a moment at her ability to ask for support. Not to fight the presence of another but to invite me in.

This is a wisdom so often buried away as we get older. Nora exudes the open truth of “Please help me do what I cannot do myself right now. Because I’d like to experience this and I don’t know how.” Softness in her request. Openness for me to meet her. Such a small interchange and yet such light for us both.

I finish with my assist and she grins. Ear to ear (and I think all the way to the back of her skull) she grins with accomplishment. Her wink is no less accomplished in asking for and welcoming my support. Perhaps her wink is even more because we have shared it together.

She has accomplished and she feels that. She has asked for support and received it and she feels that. She feels so much more beyond my imagining.

I have witnessed her and I feel that. I have answered her request for support and I feel that. I feel so much more beyond my awareness.

This simple moment is not first steps. It is not the first day of school. It is not a graduation. It is not a new job. It is not a marriage. But in this single moment of Nora’s assisted wink is our entire shared universe. She opens. I receive.

And she giggles. And I giggle. We join together across a bridge of laughter.

In the midst of the noise, there is always quiet. Oh, how the little magic feels big. Ever so big.

Be well,
Rachel

Little Let Go’s

“Mama, can I have this money?” 8 year old John asked me this morning. He was wandering the house gathering loose change for a donation to his school’s book fair. The PTA gathers loose change and creates a fund for kiddos who would not otherwise be able to buy books.

John’s question was asked with a smirk as he passed by my nephew Thomas’ candle. He knew that I’d stepped on that nickel under the table a few months back in one of my waves of deep sadness for Thomas’ death. He knew that one of a thousand little magic moments had found me that day as I picked up the rogue coin and the smirk of another Thomas – Thomas Jefferson – stared back at me. For that Now, my rigidity of mourning melted into tendrils of softness.

John knew all of this. And he knew that I’d had that coin sitting with the candle reminding me of all the little magic that seeps in in a big way when we are listening. Feeling. Being.

“Uh, what? No.” I reacted without pause to his question and he continued walking across the kitchen.

But I was caught. Frozen for a moment in a ripple that had a different momentum to the wave. I heard a quiet voice from far back within me whisper, “Let it go.”

“Hold on, kiddo. You can have it. For sure.”

He turned around with utter surprise on his face. And, to be honest, a bit of terror.

“No mama, no. You should keep that.” His eyes began to fill with pools of love and so much more. More that was beyond my assumptions; more that was beyond his understanding. A rainbow of emotion shone in the prism of tears that veiled his eyes.

“John, that coin is just a reminder to me of the essence of Thomas in his life and now beyond in my heart. It isn’t the connection itself. The coin is just a thing. The connection remains regardless.”

My 8 year old softly padded back across the floor. His slanted blue eyes searched mine for assurance. I gently smiled at him and pulled him close.

“This nickel was meant for me to find that day, John. And now, it is meant to move on. And Thomas – with his deep love of books and reading – would want it to go no where more than to kiddos who will now have pages to turn.”

When we practice the little let go’s, they patiently add up to surrender. One little let go at a time, we dance between grief and remembering. One little let go at a time, we discover so much more beyond what we see.

Oh, and that quarter you see in the picture above? Well, 5 year old Ruthie wordlessly watched this scene unfold as she ate her cereal. As soon as John walked off, she ejected from her seat, smiled knowingly at me, raced upstairs like a jack rabbit on espresso, and returned beaming from ear to ear. Sitting back in her chair ramrod straight with smirk on her face and assurance in her bones, she moved swiftly:

!!PLOP!!

went the quarter down on the table. She looked up at me with sparkling eyes and still wordless mouth.

“There.” she said from within her silence.

Easy as that.When the time is right, let it go. Continue the dance with the partner of patience. And see what grows from new space.

In my new space, I got an expanding heart of a son, a softening heart of my own, and a giggling heart of my daughter’s.

Little magic feels big. Little let go’s add up.

Be well,
Rachel

No One Way

My husband and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary on September 30th. We’ve been together for the past 15 years. We’ve welcomed three new humans into the world. We’ve said goodbye to at least five people that we loved dearly as they passed from this realm into the mist of what follows.

We’ve grown together. Evolved together. We’ve come out of hiding together to be more Us. Both in our individual selves and our togetherness.

This man is ever thinking and ever refining. He is a lover of systems and problem solving. He swims in the corporate world day to day. And yet he touches that potentially dry space with vivid color and connection to something More.

On this day, I’d love to share with you a piece that Greg wrote a couple of months ago. I share this as a glimpse into simple compassion and kindness in a time that can feel chaotic and swirly. When we each do what we can to soften this place we call Home, we do in fact make a profound impact. I am grateful to soften in with this kind, gentle and inquisitive soul.
—–

Most weeks, Rachel will ask me “Did you read my blog post?” In my head, I generally reply “I live your blog posts!” To prove this, here is my attempt to write something worthy of being a guest blog post.

My alarm is set for 5:00 AM, but yesterday morning, I woke up at 4:35 AM without the alarm and I was awake. When I say “I was awake,” I really mean that my first impulse was not to put the pillow over my head. In truth, it’s been rather hard for me to get up consistently at 5:00 AM to: feed the cats, run 1 mile, do very un-fancy yoga, and meditate for at least 5 minutes since early April.

Okay, running hasn’t been consistent since December.

However, yesterday was different. I was out of bed, cats fed, and opened the door to the screened-in porch, and that is when I heard a sound that stopped me.

I couldn’t distinguish the sound, just that it sounded like a human in pain. Against the early morning dark, among the rustling of green leaves, and very little else, there was this sound, bouncing and echoing around the neighborhood. I couldn’t figure out what direction it was coming from. I shrugged, went out the door, down the stairs, through the chain-link fence gate that sounds as loud as a car crash at that time of morning, then up the driveway to start my “run.”

Within a few steps, I had forgotten about the sound. A half mile later, I turned the corner, and headed down the hill, back toward my house. When I reached the point of my track that is roughly parallel to my house, a mourning dove started talking right above me and wanted me to listen. I stopped. That’s when I heard the sound again. This time I was sure it was behind me.

I walked slowly back up the street, listening, looking. There it was again. Passing one house, then coming to the next with lights on inside, front door open. Very uncommon in my neighborhood before 7:00 AM. I stopped and listened. There it was again. I shone my flashlight toward the house. The next time I heard the sound it was unmistakable.

“Help!”

There, fully hidden and laying between his house and tall bushes, at the top of a hill, set 40 feet back from the road, I found my 90 year old neighbor that I had never met before. It’s a little unclear how long he had been lying there, crying for help, but my best guess is at least 12 hours. He said he was pulling vines along the base of the house when he fell.

Right or wrong, my first instinct was to get this man out off the ground and out of the bushes.

A few minutes later, we were sitting together on his front steps. He drank several cups of water and his hands were starting to shake less. We sat there in silence, we sat and we talked, we sat there in silence. As the sun slowly climbed, the dark gave way to that strange blue before real
light shows you truth. The same light in which the box turtle you thought was in the yard was really just a leaf.

That was also when I noticed the noise of the day growing. Cars were on the roads, birds were singing, the neighborhood was waking up. I realized then how hard it would have been to hear this man’s cry for help after 6:00 AM.

Wait, there is more.

This morning, I got back from my “run” and I had the idea in my head to write this story about the morning quiet, but the irony was that I was so far in my head that I wasn’t hearing the quiet anymore. Once again a strange sound, this time very different, followed by the mourning dove.

So I took the hint. I sat down, closed my eyes and listened to the quiet, breath in through the left nostril, out through the right, in through the right, out through the left. I lost track of time.

At some point, something inside me asked, “How long have I been sitting here? Should I stop now and go do the rest of my chores?” That’s when I was bathed in a bright light. The motion detector on the back of my neighbor’s house had turned on, the dog was on his way out to do his business, the neighborhood was waking up.

Have a morning, as often as possible.

————-

May we find connection with one another through our sacred experiences in the quiet. May we learn how to hold space for each other beyond the fillers of busy and words and into the blue dawn of feeling. May we lean into the love and shared frequency of a spouse, a pet, a sibling, a parent, a dear friend, the mailman, and all others whom cross our paths.

May we share kindness and quiet as we explore in this Life.

Be well,
Rachel

Opposites

It’s hard for me to right in this moment – as evidenced in that “right” versus “write” as I kicked off. I’ll tell you a bit about why since I apparently can’t focus on anything more grand or insightful right now.

It isn’t my typical emotional and mental overrun that has me grounding back in my body as I type. I don’t need to remember my physical body right now because it is in full spotlight. My body isn’t typically very pushy. But when it is, it’s like the bouncer telling my brain and heart, “Back of the line, toots. The front is taken.”

The skin covering my rib cage is ON FIRE. I’ve suffered my share of pain in three unmedicated childbirths, two broken feet and 20 years of migraines, but – as most of us do – I tend to forget the strength of intense sensation.

Many of my clients lived in the unignorable every day until they found a New Way of meeting their pain. And there are innumerable New Ways. The one that I’m most versed in is learning to feel yourself instead of run away from yourself.

I’ll affectionately dub this Armor Up or Open Up.

We’ll use me as an example right now. The primary sensations – the LOUDEST you might say – are the burning, itching, and tingling. Holy cow they are strong. But if I quiet, there are more. What else is in here?

Close my eyes. Pause. Feel. (I’ll even write with my eyes closed for this next part so I can stay primarily in feeling.)

Loudest is the itch at the sternum. It feels like it offers no relief but wait… the strongest itch travels from the right side of my sternum into the depth of my tissue where I feel it exiting through my back just behind my shoulder blade. Woah. Now a tingling of electricity in my shoulder as I’m with that feeling for a breath or two.

But the left side of my sternum. It is quieter. There is less itch over there. And what I do feel on that side is actually moving forward and out of the front of my chest wall into space. How fascinating.

What else is in here?

Next loudest is the itch in my upper chest. Again, more intense right of center than left. Some sharpness left of center.

Can I feel where the itch in the right upper chest stops and no sensation begins if I go outward? hmm. That’s tricky. But I can feel that in my armpit itself I do not itch. The soft flesh just in front of the armpit shivers with sensation. It’s got some stuff going on too. Again, stronger on the right than on the left.

But all so subtle. No way I would know without typing with my eyes closed right now.

Moving onward to peer through another thicket, I find…

My left armpit and the soft flesh in front of it are quiet. That arm can even be heavy as I allow it. The right arm still on alerted stiffness and shoulder in military “Atten-TION!” with it’s irritation.

Then there is the lack of breath. I am bracing against the itch. It’s been a shallow and tight breath thus far.

My jaw was locked on until this pause too. As I find it, it releases on it’s own and I feel that my facial muscles were all in contraction.

That natural release of my facial muscles and jaw gets me to wondering… What feels the opposite of this intense discomfort? Well, my legs are at ease. Not a bit of itch. Throbbing of blood in a rhythmic way. My nose is quite cool. Not a hint of the heat southward in my rib cage.

As I make this connection of opposites and discover coolness in this same house of a body where the fire rages, I find an involuntary sigh.

And now, now I can feel the tightness in my sternum. Like it is glued together. I begin to massage the soft tissue between my ribs. Tough. Dense.

Constriction.

My shoulder releases. My neck softens. A lack of sensation now. The itch and heat subside multiple stair steps.

Holy cow, the right side of my neck is tight. Now I can feel that. When I began this exploration, my neck was buried deep under my level of awareness. I had to follow the winding path to find it nestled below.

Short story, I am in a break-out of hives.

I could leave it at that and go to a doctor for a cortisone shot. I may still do that at some point. That is an option to get me through this.

But there is so much to learn here. There is so much to feel and discover in the hills, valleys and rivers of my awaiting body. And I still have to be in the discomfort while it runs its course. It is intense. It could be overwhelming. And I can bring my own tools into the mix – my honed toolkit of feeling and breath and movement and more feeling – to open up to them. To release the armor that my brain wants to clamp down in defense of the discomfort but, unwittingly, actually clamps down AROUND the discomfort.

My sweet brain unintentionally had locked me INTO the hot, itchy, and burning.

The itch just has something to tell me. Shivers run through my chest and arms as I write that. I don’t know what talk my body is trying to have with me right now but I do know one thing.

It’s pretty pissed at me. 🙂

As I write those words, I giggle and my whole chest softens. As does the discomfort. Yet again.

I feel my chest release just a hair in the tension and bracing.

Expansion. Over and over again as I’ve been feeling and sharing with you all, expansion.

A million ways to soften inside of the pain, the discomfort, the reeling thoughts and emotions. But in order to do so, you have to choose a road less traveled.

Armor up or open up. If we armor up, we insulate from the world but we also isolate from the world. If we open up, we flood outward. All of our Being floods outward into the Space that awaits.

huh. To return to how I started, “It’s hard for me to right in this moment.” Well yes, it is because there isn’t a “right” in this moment. There is infinite sensation and unlimited ways to explore it.

After all, what have you got to lose? Choose differently. And discover more.

Be well,
Rachel