I took this picture back in 2009 while taking my walk around our neighborhood in Brazil.
I used it as inspiration for one of my very first blog posts. I wrote, “The menacing sky in the background encouraged me to focus my attention upon the beautiful blossoms right in front of me. Although I passed these flowers everyday, the intensity of their charm wasn’t truly apparent until I saw them contrasted against the threat of the oncoming storm.”
“It was an epiphany!”
“Life is going to be hard sometimes, and these challenging times reveal the truth of life. Whether beautiful or scary, what matters at the end of the day is the focus of my attention.”
“I believe, while it’s important to recognize the approaching storm and prepare accordingly, I can’t allow fear and worry to blind me to the amazing splendor of life. Instead, I choose to use fear as an amplifier, a distinguishing feature of the landscape, a contrast to better accentuate the beauty along my path.”
Most of this blog post still rings true, especially after my accident on Cinco de Mayo. The trauma of being hit and pushed into traffic has amplified my feelings of being lucky to be alive. My wounds have all (mostly) healed, except for a bit of PTSD while walking through parking lots. Thanks to my friend, Celeste, I had a Pranic healing session at Rochester Holistic Arts which helped clear my head and balance my energy.
I’ve also started talking to a counselor about my PTSD symptoms. She said my responses are entirely normal and will more than likely dissipate over time. In the meantime, she’s given me some exercises to practice whenever I notice feelings of panic come over me. They’ve come in very handy, especially when an Escalade started backing up and scared the bejeezus out of me at Costco the other day! The simple act of taking a deep breath and holding it for a count of five did wonders, enabling me to go in and finish my shopping.
Gratitude and more.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank my Captain for saving me that day.
I’m grateful my friend, Lisa so eloquently commented, “OMG! I am glad you are okay, and I know that girl was scared straight because of this. Your even-keeled response kept her from having more trauma around almost killing someone, which makes it even more likely that she will be a better driver than she ever would have otherwise. Again, SO GRATEFUL that you are alive and well in this world. Love you!!”
I replied, “Thank you so much, Lisa!! You put my deepest intentions into words! I would never want to contribute to someone’s trauma. In fact, I want to do just the opposite! No matter the circumstances, I hope to be a source of peace, love, and healing, in this crazy world! 🙂 I appreciate you seeing me and recognizing my heart’s desire. I love you too.”
Lisa and so many of you (thanks for following me on Facebook) have offered tons of feedback after posting my blog on social media. My heart has been deeply touched by people telling me their stories of near-misses and grateful-to-be-alive moments. This connection has been the very best part of this whole experience.
I’m incredibly grateful to my son. I don’t think I’d be here today if Garrett hadn’t been there to save my life and pull me out of the road. As many have suggested, I, too, believe we had many guardian angels watching over us all that day.
Honoring our stories.
After my accident, I thought about that old blog post.
With fresh eyes, I realize it’s important to honor all of our stories. Everybody has struggles. Whether we talk about them with others or think we gained anything from them, every moment we face our challenges contributes to the way we recognize ourselves. Just as love, compassion, and vulnerability can lead to the joy of connection (like writing this blog post connects you and me), raw, unfiltered trauma can leave behind scars and stories to tell. Both the dark and light are valuable to who we are and worthy of our sacred inspection. Owning all of it contributes to the strength of our souls as we sail upon the stormy seas of life.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brene’ Brown
Original works of art
I believe we are all originals, fashioned by the hands of our Creator. Our shared experiences, i.e., eating dinner, falling in love, or being hit by a car, allow us to relate to others and tell who we are. Like the strokes of a paintbrush, experiencing love, pain, and everything in between creates the work of art that is our life’s expression. By telling the stories from within the Captain’s log of our ship, we discover we are both unique within our boundaries and relatable through our hopes, flaws, and beliefs.
Of course, I realize mixing metaphors is a no-no; however, making mistakes is also something we ALL have in common. No one is “perfect.” Perfection isn’t the point of living. The point is recognizing and honoring our experiences. Whether we’re facing challenges, telling our stories, or savoring good times with family and friends, it’s all necessary and beautiful because it’s all part of you, me, and the Universe looking back at itself.
Like waves upon the ocean of consciousness, We are One, stretching large between grief and gratitude.
“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the others and to be *stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other peoples suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.” Francis Weller
Honoring those we’ve lost.
May 29th marked the second anniversary of my Dad’s passing. I loved him dearly and still feel his presence upon the deck of my ship. I like to think, a Navy man and middle school teacher, my Dad was proud to have served his country and his family to the very best of his ability.
I’m proud of my Dad for his service. And in honor of Memorial Day last weekend, I’d like to share this sentiment from my friend Chuck, who wrote on Facebook.
I would like to thank every soldier, nurse, and support teams that gave the ultimate gift and every wounded soldier that had to live a different life when they got home. I thank you for the freedoms that I have.
I still feel incredibly lucky and grateful for my life.
And I appreciate you reading this blog post.
Thank you for sharing this part of your voyage with me. 🙂
Do you have a story to share?
Do you make art, write, sing, or garden?
What’s your art?
I’d love to read about it in the comments below.
BTW, if you’re in SouthEast Michigan and interested in creating original art, check out these new workshops available through Rochester Holistic Arts.
- P.S. Take a couple of minutes to join me for the Stretch. 🙂