Sunday, February 27, 2011

Trust our sadness

A little over 3 months ago (actually much longer than that) I would never have imagined that my life would be what it is today. There were many moments where I felt like I was walking through the shadow of death; many moments where I didn't believe that my heart would stop aching; many moments where I thought I would never ever see or feel or smell or sense the light. And yet this time, and for the past couple years as my life started taking a turn, the universe was telling me it was time to face some painful truths and memories of my past ... it was time to stop running and it was time to move through the pain, the sadness, the grief. There's that saying, "the only way to the other side is to move through it." I look back on my life and I smile at all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) ways I have mastered how to avoid, diffuse and redirect the pain and hurt I was feeling inside. As I got older at least I picked healthier outlets like exercise :) I admit, even volunteerism can be a diversion, but at least I'm helping abused, abandoned and neglected animals in my work in animal welfare :) So as I get older, I am learning that I must find and embrace balance. To fuel the fire that burns inside of me with my passions, yet slow down and allow myself the quiet and stillness to feel and experience all that life offers to me ... and yes, the sadness and the grief and pain I have experienced are the landscapes where my greatest transformations have taken place ... and so I share with you a piece of Rilke writing that I just love ...

"Consider whether great changes have not happened deep inside your being in times when you were sad. The only sadnesses that are unhealthy and dangerous are those we carry around in public in order to drown them out. Like illnesses that are treated superficially, they only recede for a while and then break out more severely. Untreated they gather strength inside us and become the rejected, lost, and unlived life that we may die of. If only we could see a little farther than our knowledge reaches and a little beyond the borders of our intuition, we might perhaps bear our sorrow more trustingly than we do our joys.  For they are the moments when something new enters us, something unknown. Our feelings grow mute in shy embarrassment, they take a step back, a stillness arises, and the new thing, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it all and says nothing."
 as I captured the image above, I was reminded of how even in the midst of winter there is life. I am grateful for my life today and for all that I have experienced up to this point in my life.


Saturday, February 26, 2011


Photo from Flickr
The other morning while journaling and looking out my back window into the backyard I found myself thinking about my assignment from my photography class ... we are to capture 7 images playing around with aperture and it was to be a 'Collection' ... "be creative with your definition of collection" my teacher says. "It can be a concept, an idea, something physical, emotional. It could be the color blue. It could be love ...." So the other morning I noticed the chain-linked fence in my backyard. All week i've been pondering boundaries, my own boundaries, others' boundaries, and that morning the boundaries for my dogs. The fence is up supposedly to keep my dogs in my yard, and to keep other critters from coming into my yard. But I know that at any point any one of my 3 dogs could jump over the 4 ft fence very easily. In fact, my sweet Ahnung could not even be held back from an 8 ft fence when she was first rescued up at the Red Lake. So there are physical and there are internal boundaries. We put up boundaries for a reason.

As I went through some major changes this past year I put boundaries up. All the while I was asking myself "what feels right? why am I putting this boundary up?" I have also had those I love and care for put boundaries up. Some of these boundaries have been hard and even hurtful, yet in my heart, I know I need to respect and honor whatever boundary a person puts up, because there is a reason. One of my biggest learnings this past year for me is understanding that I have the right to put up, and also knock down whatever boundaries I have created. I've also learned that when a boundary is put up for me, by someone else, that I have a choice on whether or not to honor and respect that boundary. I love what a friend posted on my facebook wall when I posed the question on what are boundaries. Here is what she said "Boundaries can hold things in or keep them out. Boundaries can be fluid or rigid. They can feel restrictive or freeing. They can provide safety or a sense of being boxed in. They can be the right thing but the wrong fit. Boundaries can shelter or protect but they can also blind us to possibility. Timing in the life of boundaries makes all the difference ..." [thanks Merry!]. What I have learned is that I have a choice. I have lost people in my life as the result of the ending of my last relationship. Some of them have been hard. Some continue to still hurt as I struggle to understand why one must have to choose 'sides' when a relationship ends. Yet I know that it happens. Can we not still love, care for, and remain connected to both individuals who were once in a partnership?

I am moving on and I am discovering and re-discovering myself in this newfound  freedom. But yes, I still grieve and I still hurt for the many losses.  And I am learning that it's possible for me to safely hold in the palm of my hands both the grief and the hurt along with the joy and excitement of new possibilities. And as I move forward in my life's journey I know that there will be boundaries around me ... and the boundary can be physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual; it can be rigid or fluid; it can be made of concrete or of mesh; it can be one i've created or one created or put up by someone I love or care about. When will I choose to dance and swim around these boundaries and when will I choose to stand behind the boundary? How will I know when it's okay to raise, lower or even remove a boundary i've created? How do I find peace in a boundary created by someone I care about and had hoped to remained connected to?

For me I embrace a Rumi quote shared by a new friend "everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself." I feel more alive today than I have ever felt. I feel more joy, more hope, and more peace. I also feel more grief, more sadness, and more turmoil. How invigorating to feel so many emotions and not feel like I need to sweep them under a rug anymore. I wonder ... is this what it feels like to really be alive and to live in the moment? Is this how my beautiful dogs live each day?

As I work on my photography assignment this weekend it will be interesting what 7 images I choose to capture to represent the ever evolving role that boundaries have played, and continue to play, in my life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

With that Moon Language

One of my favorite Hafiz poems was calling to me today ... I have previously posted it on my blog but feel compelled to post it again ...  I love the ending of the poem, and I want to be able to live a full moon in each eye and the courage to speak with sweet moon language ....

With that Moon Language
by Hafiz

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise,
someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us
to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a full moon
in each eye that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?

So often we go through life afraid to tell people we love them. We want to be loved and we also want to love. We want to feel the connection with others. We want to to feel the pull ... like how the moon pulls at the oceans causing water to rise and fall in such a rhythmic, beautiful way ... high tides and low tides. 

Today, take a risk. Tell someone you love them. Maybe he or she will then turn around and take a risk too, and speak that sweet moon language to someone in return. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

We must first learn to love ourselves

Today is Valentine's Day ... a day focused on romantic relationships. For me this year it has an entirely new meaning. Last year was a very difficult year for me on so many levels. It was also a year of tremendous pain, but in that pain came growth. I learned that in a relationship, love isn't enough. I also learned that in relationships (and friendships for that matter) we bring in old deep wounds, often covered with scabs that have solidified over the years. And I've learned how we must peel back the scab, layer by layer, and sit with all that emerges so we can keep move forward and deeper towards our true selves. Most importantly, I learned that we must first learn to love ourselves and we must above all, listen to that whisper inside of us that is often crying out to be heard.

"Recognize that your spiritual self is a crucial voice in the whole of your life. Recognize what you believe and begin to comprehend why you believe it. Your spirituality is intrinsic to growth, the process of change, creative expression -- all essential processes of living."

"there is synthesis.
there is silence.
then there are spaces
in between the two.
those spaces require the greatest courage.
for in them we
must learn to listen
to ourselves."

There will come a day when I will again dare to step into a relationship. That day won't come until I feel secure enough to know that I am rooted strongly in the earth and in my sense of self to no longer lose myself in the merging of two people in a relationship. I love what one of my healers recently said to me "how do we merge in a relationship without submerging?"

For now, I am grateful for the time I have with myself, my dogs, my friends and with all that lights a fire in my spirit and my soul --- writing, meditation, photography, animal rescue ... and to have a place and a home that has become such a sacred sanctuary for me. I am grateful for the time I have to explore, to discover, to define and re-define, to mold, to create and to step into unknown territory. I am basking in this wide open space around me ... a universe filled with possibilities. 

I am learning to listen to a voice that has been stuffed down for decades. "it's a familiar voice." I say. It's been vibrating inside of me, aching to come out. Slowly I learn ... it's my voice and it wants to be heard. Somewhere I was given the gift of courage last year ... by God, maybe my father ... probably both. And as my voice started to emerge I discovered it was no longer okay to remain where I was at. I realized the path I needed to choose was one that would be very difficult and very painful, yet one I needed to do. As one of my healers told me, "You fell in love with you. And you chose You." I smiled, with a tinge of discomfort because I have never felt comfortable choosing me. I have always felt more comfortable giving and choosing others before myself. 

"You lean forward not because you know, but because you
want to find out.
You lean forward into your life not because it is safe to do so, 
but because
You have found it intolerable to remain still, unmoving from
the same place."

"breathe in the winds of courage
that each day you may discover
in fresh ways what it is to
soar above this sacred earth
and sweetly land in her
arms at dusk."

[quotes from Maryanne Radmacher].

Thursday, February 10, 2011

God lives in the Post Office too ...

I was going through old emails and stumbled across an email that was forwarded to me a while ago ... I have no idea the source or the origin but it's a story that bears repeating and sharing .. it's a reminder to me that God is everywhere ... even in post offices. God appears to us in the places we least expect it ... and God is wherever there is love ...

Our 14-year-old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.

I hope you will play with her. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her, you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.


We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, 'To Meredith,' in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, When a Pet Dies. Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey and Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,

Abbey arrived safely in heaven.

Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey right away.

Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you.

I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much.
By the way, I'm easy to find. I am wherever there is love.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Dance of the Dolphin

As I was going through my last few boxes I came across a book I had purchased many years ago. A book that has been sitting on my bookshelf unopened, untouched for probably 10 years. Yet something a decade ago drew me to the book ... "The Dance of the Dolphins: Finding prayer, perspective and meaning in the stories of our lives" by Karyn Kedar.  Swimming with wild dolphins last July changed my life. Without a doubt my astrologer Pat was right when she said that 2010 was going to be the biggest wake-up call I was going to have. As I opened up the book to the first few pages, they touched my soul:

"The dolphins dances because to survive she must live simultaneously in two elements that are seemingly incompatible. She must live in both water and air, and she must dance between the two.  She dances because she is commanded to from the moment of her creation. She dances because her instincts are pure genius and they are the source of her survival ... she dances, and we learn ... we must learn the dance because life at its best is the seamless integration of all aspects of self: worlds seen and worlds experienced, the world of doing and the world of being ....."

"The dance of the dolphin, as it gracefully navigates water and air, tells me to find a balance because life is a mystery of contradictions, worlds I know and those I don't, realities I can see and those I can only sense. We live with paradox and ambiguity. We live in our minds and in our souls. We live in our world and the in the world of all. And all the while we dance, sometimes with grace, and sometimes not."

and then in one of the latter chapters titled "Shema: Listening is the language of the Soul." [Shema means "hear" and is an important Jewish prayer] .... she writes about the importance of listening. How many of us really, really listen? How many of us fill our lives with noise, distractions, and the hustle and bustle? How many of us are afraid to stop, to slow down? What will happen if we do? What will happen if we remove all the ways we escape from simply being with ourselves?

She writes ... "Words are the language of the mind; silence is the language of the spirit. Sometimes to hear the language of the spirit, we must silence the language of the mind .... goodness, beauty and love are not experienced by reason. Divine stirrings do not reside in the realm of the logic. We have forgotten to listen because listening has lost its value in our world. To be busy is to be productive. To be active is to be healthy."

I have been loving my new home. It has become my safe haven - a place to be wholly me. A place to witness and learn from angels sent to me through the bodies of my 3 beautiful furkids. I am discovering how much I simply love to be at home and how I don't have to fill up all my time with activities. Doing nothing. I am learning how much I enjoy it. And in that space of nothing I am learning to listen more ... to my true voice, to God, to the Universe.

May we all be filled with the spirit, love and healing energy of the dolphins and other angels that come to us in so many different forms. May we learn to find balance in a life often filled with mystery and contradictions. And may we welcome silence, if only for a moment, to allow our spirit to be heard.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Immortalized ...

This year my crazy dog Mister will be turning 4 years old.  After years of super high energy and pretty serious separation anxiety, he is finally starting to settle down. Good boy Mister :)

He's been a little upset though because his sisters Missy and Ahnung have their own pet portrait and it's been hanging up on the walls of our new home. He wants to know, where's my original artwork?? So .... now he can stop complaining!! :) A local artist, Layl Dill of Clay Squared to Infinity,  was inspired by a photo I took of him making himself quite comfortable on my new coffee table that she immortalized my sweet boy in clay .... Mister is now a content, happy boy. Thanks Layl!!

Mister ... immortalized in clay!!

But don't let this sweet, calm boy fool you ... most of the time this is what he's doing ....

Mister tearing through the backyard!
Bliss and heaven for this energetic boy!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Step into the Unknown

Bliss ... swimming with wild, free dolphins!
I listened in its entirety to my taped session with Pat Kaluza from March of 2010. Pat is an astrologer i've been seeing every year for several years now. She told me last year that there was a major Pluto transit ... and in one's lifetime it makes 2 big hits. The first big hit for me was when I was 9 years old. The other major hit was happening in 2010. These Pluto transits symbolize death and rebirth. She asked if anything significant happened to me when I was 9 years old. I replied "the sexual abuse began." She said it marked the death and loss of my courage, of my innocence and of safety. Last year I had 2 death planets showing up in my chart. With all of my health issues my concern was more around the possibility of a physical death. She told me that in astrology, death can be symbolic ... it could mean the death of a way of life  or even the old Marilou. When I left her house last March I already knew something major was happening in my life. There were shifts occurring. I simply had no idea what was yet to come. So 2010, the second major hit of a Pluto transit, was for me a rebirth. 2010 was also one of my most difficult years. Last year I decided I had to choose me. I had to take care of me and allow myself to heal on all levels -- physically, emotionally and spiritually. I had to give voice, space and room for the little girl inside of me who has been stuffed back for decades. I had to walk into Pandora's box and face the demons, re-wire old ways of surviving and coping and let the tears flow for all the losses I have never wanted to acknowledge or feel. I chose the door marked 'Marilou' because for all of my life I have chosen other's needs ahead of mine.

Pat said to me last year "Pluto is called evolutionary journal of the soul. The soul is here for experience. It will take you into very painful experiences so that you can rework what needs to be healed ... you need all this physical suffering for this evolution to happen." She goes on to say "2010 is going to be the biggest wake up call you're going to have ... you are going to learn to say 'No'. Your old life is dying. 'Saying no' is a piece of your healing ... Pluto is in the house of play. Play will save your life." After my session with Pat last March I booked the trip to swim with wild dolphins. I had no idea how that trip was going to change my life. She then tells me back in March that this year (2011) I will be on a brink of a new community. She goes on to tell me that in January 2011 your heart will be very open ... "it's all about learning to receive. ... there's a lot of Venus in your chart and I believe it's about falling in love with you so that someone else can."

I had a wonderful session with Pat yesterday. There's more work for me to do in 2011 but she says I have the courage to go inward and do the work. The death planets are gone in 2011 :) I am on the brink of something new, a lot of creativity and a whole new community. It sounds like each year gets better and she says watch out for 2014 ... it's going to be one hell of a year!! :)

~ Rilke from Book of Images

Whoever you may be: step into the evening.
Step out of the room where everything is known.
Whoever you are,
your house is the last before the far-off.
With your eyes, which are almost too tired
to free themselves from the familiar,
you slowly take one black tree
and set it against the sky: slender, alone.
Ad you have made a world.
It is big
and like a word, still ripening in silence.
And though your mind would fabricate its meaning,
your eyes tenderly let go of what they see.