I’ve been feeling grinchy this season - full on grinch-mode.
The holidays, decorating, singing (gasp!), and all the planning were a BURDEN. This is sooo not me as I would delight in decking the halls, baking and singing grand carols - in August.
This year, a burden.
So, I asked myself, “What do you need in order to feel Christmas?”
And I heard back, “Dad.”
My Dad died this past March. This is my first Christmas without him and let me share: it’s a mixed bag for me. A part of me feels relief. Big relief. Another part grieves. Many other voices (or parts) come forward too. Overall status: it’s complicated.
Dad was a raging narcissist. Abusive emotionally and abandoned our family over and over again. He blamed others for his behavior and especially his children. I learned this is backassward but carried the idea that, “It was my J-O-B to make sure our relationship was good” well into my adult years until I could deeply learn that it was actually NOT my job. (Making a note to myself to write more about “Parentified Children.”)
A big part of me deeply grieves what I never had. I never had a reliable father growing up. I never had a present father. He was always looking through me: outward and onward. I was never good enough, love-able enough or even worth being around. In fact, my life was a burden. I ached for his presence and caught glimpses of “him” (his soul) in the sweet moments of camping in the forest where he could more easily arrive.
I also have another part of me that grieves and is deeply hurt by what DID happen. The neglect. The abuse. The deep longing for him to love me. This little part of me, my little one, is healing and is home now, back with me in my heart. I now get to take care of her as it’s my joy and honor. (Another post about Fragmented Parts / Soul Loss and Retrieval / Complex Trauma coming soon.)
Me, the Wise Me is full of compassion and gratitude toward Dad. He gave me life, great lessons and ultimately the gift of why I am a Hakomi therapist / healer / energy worker. I learned that I am intuitively led largely BECAUSE of the skills I learned within the trauma: keen awareness, acute spidey senses, and the ability to read people in a split second. I CAN FEEL THEM.
It’s not his fault and I don’t blame him. I mean, yes he did do all those things (or mainly NOT the things I needed) but it was without intention. There was no parenting intention, presence, inward curiosity. As a young boy, dad was raised in a home with massive abuse and as a young father he did the best he could. But he felt trapped in the family he created, and like a bunny, he fled. Over and over again.
In his last weeks of his life at only sixy-eight, he showed remorse by unrestrained tears. Tears of longing. Tears of wanting to do things over. Tears of relief too perhaps from bearing pain so great from the ravaging cancer.
His tears showed me his own deep suffering. Loss. Ache for love. Cavernous loneliness.
When I went to visit him in Las Vegas after nearly 20 years of estrangement, he requested pictures of our past, almost like grasping for anything that was meaningful. Perhaps seeking proof there were fleeting glimpses of love, connection, family. And in-between bouts of crying, when I could see him eye-to eye, he was totally fucking right there. Present.
He taught me big things that cannot be taught without suffering: When we abandon others, we also deeply abandon our own Self.
When we cannot hear others, we cannot hear our Self.
When we cannot see others, we cannot see our Self.
When we judge others, we judge our Self.
Simple hard truths.
In the moments upon asking my Self, “What do you need in order to FEEL Christmas,” and hearing, “Dad,”...
Grief came pouring in, heavy, but with a containment of trust that it will move through.
Then it turned to calm.
And an opening happened where I could feel my heart expand again and the rich loving feeling of Christmas came in: joy, anticipation, love, rest.
So I now turn to you and wonder: if you’re feeling grinchy, melancholy, bleh, or just outright angry this season. So be it.
There’s no “right way” to be, though we are told elsewise.
Just be you.
Fully present in whatever is right there for you.
And perhaps ask your Self, “What do you need?”
Perhaps you’ll find your own gold.
You're not alone!
Here's the delio: you and a million other moms are feeling a flavor of this and it's ok. If we slow down and look a bit deeper, it all makes sense. Here's the gist of what might be going on.
If you look at this list from a neutral place, there's nothing wrong with ANY of these needs, and if they're true - they're TRUE! Even if you feel just ONE of these things, that part of you may be craving RELIEF which screams from roof tops: go back-to-school! Makes sense, right?
Here's the good news: you don't have to struggle in this time and can have relief right now! Here's a simple practice that will rock your world:
I'm not going to talk about #1. Just go do it and then come back here and read about #2. I mean it, go on and fill your cup! You can't love from an empty cup, you just pour sour and bitter. So, please take a moment, 5 minutes of quiet breathing does wonders.
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I'm assuming you're back from filling your cup and you now have 1) a cup, and 2) it's a little bit full or filled up. Bravo! If not, please go back to step 1.
Presence. So why presence? When you can be fully present with your SELF every day, even just for a few minutes, holy moly, you'll move mountains. It's a simple exercise of deeply knowing your Self.
THIS particular exercise is to be fully present with YOUR CHILD for 10 minutes. Daily. It is important to focus on one child at a time so they can fully be with YOU and soak you up. This is super easy:
If you're caught up in an internal struggle, a Boxing Match of wishing-them-back-to-school vs Feeling Guilty, it's exhausting AND when you look back at your summer, you might fear that you missed everything. If you take little moments of just being with your children, come school-time, you'll look back upon those LITTLE MOMENTS with joy, gratitude, and possibly relief!
Here's another HUGE benefit: your children will feel your Presence so immensely that it will fill their cup too. They'll be so filled up that their Neediness will subside and you'll have more space to do your own thang in peace (your presence calms their system AND yours. Hello magic).
Finally, here's the biggest WIN of all: just being Present with them is more than enough because it tells them really powerful messages about themselves:
You see, just you're PRESENCE gives all of those yummy messages. Just 10 minutes, or even just a couple of minutes if that feels like too much (which is just a friendly way of knowing you need to fill your cup first).
Wishing you deep nourishing presence, and a very happy back to school. :0)
This is me and my daddy-o a long time ago. Those cheeks of mine were always pinched. I can still feel the Chinese elders' fingers who would squeeze them so tight. Grr! For fuck's sake: Don't pinch kids' cheeks! #handstoyourself
It’s my first Father’s Day without Dad. Such a funny day, these holidays. Sweet feelings. Hard feelings. All the in-betweens. It’s AMAZING how we all journey on after Big Things that happen in our lives. But here I am and here we all are. Aren’t we amazing!!! #highfives #grief #wildride #lovewins
And today when I looked up from my garden, I kid you NOT, but saw a rainbow around the sun. WHAT?!!! Yup!! It's called a Sun Halo #thankyougoogle and it's caused by thin cirrus clouds drifting high above your head ablaze with tiny ice crystals in Earth's atmosphere. All this causes light refraction. WHAT?! I call it a wink from Heaven. #thankyoudad
Today I also greatly honor my dear husband: his sweet tender ways with our two girls, his love for great details in all things beautiful, the way he teaches our girls to show their pythons, the way he swirls eggs for breakfast and mostly his constant blazing ways of being totally here for us. We are so very blessed by him daily.
Cheers to you however you land on this Father's Day whether it's a day of joy, sadness, a very fine mix of both, or it's-just-so-very-complicated. Yup. Yup. I hear you. I see you. It's all welcome. However you are today, I honor you for showing up, just as you are. And thank you to Janet for the very #perfecthashtag today. #nailedit
Hello! I want to share with you a very personal journey I've been going through these past few months plus some great learnings that have helped me tremendously. I haven't been ready to share, it's been far too raw for me, but today on my 42nd birthday and seeing more grey weaving through my hair, I'm ready.
In early March after the crazy weird snow storms, my Dad sprouted his wings earlier than he wanted by what seemed like a feral form of cancer. He died just a few weeks before his 69th birthday with a Bucket List still full and so many more things to say. He died mute as his cancer grew from his kidney and bones to his throat and mouth. I had the great honor of being with him for twelve days in hospice; some of the most beautiful moments I've ever shared with him, with anyone (!) - in total quiet. Our relationship until then was only tumultuous at best with 18 years of estrangement. In the end, unexpected beauty and grace, and now, radiant LOVE.
And further: my Poh Poh (Chinese word for maternal Grandmother) died just yesterday morning. An amazing 90 years of great life, she immigrated from mainland China fleeing communism with my Mother, then 2 years old tied to her back. She lead a beautiful and full life; on her death bed tucked in peacefully by her four devoted children. Her childhood dream was to become a teacher, but the War banished that and she spent her life working in the family laundry business with her husband. She was a quiet, fierce woman, strong, determined, highly self-motivated (Tai Chi every morning until just last week!), and majestically graceful. We've known of her illness since January and watched her walk toward her death ever so gracefully. As she lay still just a few days ago, I've never seen a more strikingly beautiful woman. She died in a way I aspire to when my time comes. For me, she was a great teacher, even as she crossed back over welcomed greatly by her husband.
I've been walking Grief for the past few months and I'd love to share my Top 4 Tips that have been immensely helpful along my journey. I'm intentionally using the number Four here because in Chinese, it's a VERY unlucky number, as it means death is near. I'm never supposed to use that number. Well!! Death has come and gone so let's roll with FOUR!! Perhaps some of these ideas may help you along your path, or give you inspiration, if you've lost someone very dear to you.
So, there is all is. My journey + FOUR tips on Voyaging Grief. I hope some of these ideas help you if you find yourself navigating the big waters of Grief. I'd love to hear what's worked for you; feel free to leave a comment or send a note. I read everything.
It's already been a big year and am so grateful for the opportunity to be here, learn, grow, heal, laugh and share with you. Grief is great love, and while it's been hard, painful and searing at times, it's also been a wild and awesome ride.
In great love with so many tissues,
I have been quiet for a few months as big things have been happening (will tell you more soon), but as I deepen my own journey it has becomes so clear and important to honor and hold gratitude for my ancestors whom have walked before me.
Today, in our culture it's Mother's Day, and today, I want to honor the Mother Line. Mother. Grandmother. Great-Grandmother, and so on. I offer a thought:
However our Mothers walked.
However they walked with you, or did not walk with you, or walked in a way that was hurtful or painful.
To honor the gift of life they have given.
However they were in their own story.
They gave the gift of life.
Isn't that amazing!
* * *
Today, perhaps in wonder, we can ask...how was Motherhood for them? What were their dreams? Their struggles? What made them glow? How did they love? If you have the opportunity and are curious, you can ask them. Even if they're not with you today in their physical body or they simply can't hear you, you can still ask in a quiet way. They are listening, even if you believe they can't. Because mostly, you are listening and this is the greatest gift.
* * *
Before I close, I want this share this beautiful snippet from Thich Nhat Hanh after this mother crossed over:
Wishing you a day of wonder, gratitude and the million other ways you may be feeling today...confusion, ambiguity, or pissed off and angry? Do it! But please rock it with compassion and curiosity. Want to know how or feel stuck? I've got your back and a millions others do too.
With gratitude and great love,
Starting on the left: my mother, my first daughter, my Poh Poh (mother's mother) and moi! This was from 2011 and I need an updated photo!
Yes. It. Is. ANGER is great love. And beautiful. Coach Izzy said, "WHAT? Beautiful?!
Check out our chat here!
Yes! I had a blast talking with Counterstrain Therapist Coach Izzy about the benefit of expressing anger in a healthy way!
I loved sharing our experiences in each of our practices and how we see the persistent damage of suppressed emotions. Coach Izzy is a Counterstrain practitioner with Healing and Strength and is a master in the pain management field. He explains that while he can release pain in the physical body, if the root of the pain is suppressed feelings (especially Anger), the pain will come back - usually magnified. He likened this type of treatment as "patching a tire with chewing gum."
In a Hakomi practice, we honor the body+mind+spirit connection and can help with persistent body pain. If we habitually suppress our emotions, this can manifest in physical pain, weakened posture, digestions, suppressed immunity, illness and disease.
This is the great gift of a Hakomi practice to where you learn to honor your body, your emotions, and learn to lead from your Wise Self.
Come check out our talk! I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did!
If you're curious about exploring the emotion Anger or just need a little support, feel free to drop me a line. I'd love to walk beside you and share the gold nuggets I've found along my own journey. Perhaps you feel like your Anger is too big, or the emotion is scary/destructive, or "you just ain't gonna do it." I'd be delighted to support you along the way.
You're also invited to a 3-part series workshop on February 26, 2019: Anger a love story if you'd like to journey along-side other women.