Thursday, August 7, 2014

What makes you feel alive?

Today as I celebrate my 50th birthday I find myself looking back ... it has been a journey, an adventure to reach this half century mark. I will admit, after my diagnosis with my heart condition, I did not think I would make it to 50. But I realize now that I was given the greatest gift in 2011, the gift of learning to face fears I never knew existed, to go deep within myself and to learn to embrace and to appreciate fully each day.

So today, I share a few things I have learned. Life is a web of amazing connectedness; life is a blank canvas and we are the artist; life isn't black and white ... it's a blend of so many colors, both seen and unseen. What I have come to learn is that it is the mystery, the magic, the uncertainty, the questions and the willingness to leap, to reach for the stars, to BELIEVE, to HOPE .. and to LIVE as if each day is your last. Life is about connecting and I have learned that I am not alone, that I have a community of support, that if I leap off a mountain that yes, I will either learn to fly or I will be caught by a community of friends, or if I crash, that in the pain and brokenness that I will emerge out of the rubble even stronger. What I have learned is that I must STAY; i must be present; and I must not run from that which scares me.

In March, 2006 before I fell into the world of animal welfare (through the loss of my dog Shen to spleen cancer), I wrote the following in my journal ... it became the opening poem I would share with kids when Ahnung and I would visits schools or give presentations:

What makes you feel alive?

What makes you cry, makes you laugh, makes you angry?
Is there something you believe in,
feel passionately about, that if it is taken away from you
is like sucking the oxygen away from you?
Is there something you believe in,
you would be willing to give your life for?

What is that something, that lives and breathes
inside of you, and
outside of you?
That something that consumes your mind,
melts your heart, and energizes your body?
What is that invisible, yet transparent force?

Do you know?

Marilou Chanrasmi
March 13, 2006

And then in December, 2008, just a couple months after Ahnung came into my life, we spent a week up at Red Lake Reservation with her rescuer, Karen Good (of Red Lake Rosie's Rescue). I wrote the following 'We Believe' credo ... the original version at the end of 2008 was an 'I Believe' credo and with a few words added, and changing 'I' to 'We', it became the core values of Leech Lake Legacy. And now, in 2014, what I wrote with Ahnung by my side, continues to be what I believe and what guides in how I live my life and what I believe and what makes me feel alive.

So today, as I take a moment to reflect back on my journey, I realize I am truly blessed ... For I do know what makes me feel alive and what I believe in .... and I do know what I want my legacy to be.

I remember sitting in my writing room, early morning on March 13, 2006, journaling and reflecting and asking myself, 'What makes me feel alive?' I remember feeling lost, struggling to find myself, struggling to find what made me feel alive and wanting to feel that fire in my soul. Little did I know that I would be embarking on the journey I did ... and that grief and pain would open up doors I could never have imagined. Little did I know that it was GRIEF and pain that would break my heart open so I could explore new possibilities.

I don't know what tomorrow has in store for me. What I do know is that something magical is happening and that doors are opening and amazing new connections are being made. And in the words of Diana Webster (president/founder of The Native America Humane Society), there is a 'brilliant convergence' ... and all I know is something is happening. That something is beyond explanation and logical thinking. Our job is to still our minds and hearts enough to listen, to notice and trust in that wisdom and inner knowing that lies deep within each and every one of us.

Wishing everyone a day that fills your heart with love, passion, healing and hope.

May you feel that spirit of fire and flame of passion that lies within each and every one of us.


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