Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ahnung's 3rd Anniversary - Anger and Grief

There is no time table for one's journey through grief, loss, pain, trauma. Today is the 3rd anniversary of the passing of my soul spirit, my soul dog, my heart, my Being ... my Ahnung. This year, for whatever reason, has felt different. I became friends with Grief, with Anticipatory Grief as together with Ahnung I prepared for the day (Aug. 25, 2013) when I would have to hold her in my arms and her spirit was set free. It didn't matter though ... I didn't feel like I was prepared but I knew I had to keep my promise to Ahnung. That I would stay with her, that I would walk with her, I would love her with every fiber of my being, and I would listen .... listen ... really listen ... and when the time came, I would let her go. This year, as her anniversary approached, I found myself wanting to just disappear .. to isolate ... to lose myself in 'something'. So I walked and I walked and I walked. 'Walk the Earth, Marilou'. And I became frustrated at times because my left knee which I had injured on March 26th despite physical therapy was not healing and I couldn't run. For me, running was a spiritual practice for me. All the while I keep telling myself to be okay with whatever. Then a couple weeks ago, while walking with Ishka, these words appear ... 'it's at a cellular level' and then the image of my acupuncturist appears. I hadn't seen my acupuncturist in many years, yet she was the only healer I had that really saw me as a whole person. So I reconnected with her. And I have since discovered there is so much more under the surface which I need to heal. And I came face to face with an emotion I have tried to bury. I used to write to Grief ... i invited her into my home; i became friends with her. But lurking in her shadow was  Anger. And I shut the door on Anger and kept her at arm's length. Truth is, I have never been good at Anger. I have been afraid of Anger. I used to also be terrified of Grief. That I would be swallowed by Grief ... by Anger.

So I have been trying to allow myself to feel this 'bad' emotion ... this 'scary' emotion. Funny though ... when I write to Ahnung and I tell her how much I miss her and I begin to venture down the path of telling her how angry I am, I find myself asking for her forgiveness and apologizing for even having feelings of anger. I'm afraid to tell her I am angry not just at the circumstances, but I am angry at her for cracking my heart wide open and then leaving me. There is so much more I want to say but I don't know how to say them to her, or maybe to even allow myself to say them.

This morning as I was journaling and looking out my writing/meditation room I could hear and feel Ahnung's spirit, giving me permission ... giving me permission to feel anything and everything I need to feel; to not judge my emotions and say they are 'good' or 'bad'; they just are. And then as if to assure me she was with me, a red cardinal swooped down and landed on the post on my wooden fence. He didn't just 'fly by'; he landed on a post then flew to the next, and then finally on a post where the sun was partially shining down on him. He picked the post at the intersection of sunlight and shadow and remained there for a few minutes.

And in that moment, I could hear Ahnung telling me we need both the sun and the moon; light and darkness; joy and grief/anger. It's okay for me to tell her I am angry.

Ahnung, I am angry. I will try to allow myself to feel those emotions, but right now, on the 3rd anniversary of your passing, I just want you to know that my heart aches for you and I miss you and I would do anything in the world to have just one more walk with you.

"Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with their heart and soul, there is no separation."

~ Rumi

Friday, July 15, 2016

Reconnecting with Ahnung through Ishkode and Place

On Wednesday I was able to walk the same area I used to walk with Ahnung ... this time I was with Ishkode (aka Ishka). After Ahnung was was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 we would take regular trips (mostly in the winter months) to Grand Marais and walk along the rocky shores of Lake Superior. The quiet of winter was what I needed. The stillness allowed me to simply Be in a sacred place with Ahnung. Two days after Ahnung crossed over into the spirit world in August 2013 I returned to Grand Marais ... to the exact Place we visited ... and there I cried and I cried and I cried ... I wrote and I wrote and I wrote ... and I scattered some of her ashes into Lake Superior as I wished her safe travels and thanked her for all she has given to me, and continues to give to me. On Wednesday morning I needed to reconnect with Ahnung; i needed to feel her spirit and to be in the same sacred place we shared ... to soak in her energy, her wisdom, her calm. This time, I had my beloved Ishkode with me, whom Ahnung brought into my life in the fall of 2013 to help me in my healing, and maybe to also remind me, she is always with me. Ahnung taught me to listen, to truly listen. She also taught me to be willing to love fully and completely even knowing our time was limited and that my heart would be broken. She taught me that my heart never really breaks ... or at least not in the way I fear it to break. She taught me my heart will break, but it will break open and that I need to just be still and Be in whatever place I am at, physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally.

There is something very sacred about certain places and spaces for me. My home is a sacred place and space for me. My morning ritual of meditation and writing and the burning of incense grounds me every morning. My walks with Ishka connect me with the Earth and with the skies and with Ahnung. And the sound of water, especially Lake Superior water, brings me to a place of peace.

I have this quote hanging in my meditation room ...

"In the end what matters most is
How well did you live
How well did you love
How well did you learn to let go."

Ahnung means 'star' in ojibwe. Ishkode means 'fire' in ojibwe. Through the spirit and energy of two reservation dogs (one from Red Lake and one from Leech Lake) I feel I can reach for the stars and I am reminded to always look within myself so I never lose track of all that fuels the fire and passion of life inside of me.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to walk the shores of Lake Superior, in the exact space place I used to walk with Ahnung ... this time with the puppy she brought into my life just 7 weeks after she crossed over into the spirit world.

miigwech Ahnung ...

miigwech Ishkode ....

Monday, May 30, 2016

Guided by Ahnung ... and the fire of Ishkode

Baby Ishka up at Leech Lake Reservation
October 11, 2013
In 3 months it will be 3 years since Ahnung crossed over into the spirit world. August 25, 2013 is a day I will never forget. I journaled, I blogged, I wrote and I wrote as I walked and I learned from my precious Ahnung, on how to live life fully; to embrace every moment ... to stay in my heart and not be taken away by the fears of my mind and all the 'what ifs'. I wrote because it was all I could do to diffuse the pain of  shattered glasses that drove right through my heart at the thought of not having Ahnung with me. I wrote to let go of the anger of the injustice I felt that I would only be gifted with 5 short years of a soul who touched not only my life, but the lives of so many others. How do I live without her? How do I breathe? How do I learn to walk without my Ahnung, my north star?

And guided by Ahnung, I wrote and learned to make friends with Grief, with Anticipatory Grief. I learned to not be afraid. I learned to walk into the deepest and darkest places of my heart, and I trusted Ahnung would hold me and guide me and lift me up. And just 6 weeks after she crossed over to the spirit world, she led me to an 8 week old puppy from Leech Lake Reservation. My head was telling me 'NO I do not want a puppy!' I was tormented on what to do, and an elder said, 'Ask Ahnung what to do?'. and so I did. Another elder said to me, 'Marilou, sometimes it's not up to us.' It was clear Ahnung had brought this puppy to me, and when I walked around the lake we used to walk together I asked her for a name. The word 'Fire' came to me. I could hear Ahnung telling me, you must name her 'fire.' And so this 8 week old puppy came home with me, and she was named Ishkode (Ish-ko-day, means 'fire' in ojibwe). Let's just say, Ishka was not the calm dog that Ahnung was :) .... she had 'fire' alright and she brought laughter and joy back into my heart with her antics and her spirited way. And as she has matured, I see more glimpses of the wise spirit of Ahnung coming through.

Ishka has been my bridge to Ahnung. Ishka has also become the glue for the rest of the pack at home (Missy, Mister and Legacy) ... a wise girl in her own unique way.

So for the past couple years I have had sprinkles of joy and laughter with the adventures of Ishka .... I realize now it was Ahnung at work. She gave me 6 weeks to be swallowed by grief; to not run from the pain (and boy, am I an expert in ways to avoid dealing with pain) .. i wanted to remain in that dark space but I guess my Ahnung felt like it was time to bring a little Fire into my life, and to step back into life ... and so I did. I was learning to live again. and Ishka was the bridge to Ahnung I so needed to keep my heart open. I didn't think I needed; i especially didn't think I needed a puppy but Ahnung felt differently, and as always, she was right.

I continue to feel Ahnung's presence and spirit in so many different ways. In the past 5-6 months, I have felt her presence in cardinals that have been visiting me almost every day. Most of the time they come separately .. sometimes I am blessed with a male and female cardinal at one time. The time I feel Ahnung's presence most is when i have a single cardinal visit .. perched on my wooden fence outside the window of my writing/meditation room. Often the cardinal just sits there .... and often I get a glance.

It has been hard for me to write for my blog. I don't know why ... i just know it has been difficult. But in recent weeks Ahnung has led to an amazing person, and he is opening up my heart in a new way. For the past 5+ years I have intentionally chosen to be single and to focus on my healing. Again, I wasn't looking to meet 'someone'; quite frankly, I have been very happy with my life. But I believe Ahnung is asking me to consider the possibility of once again sharing my life with someone. That is a possibility, and a chapter in my book my life, that I had wanted to simply keep closed. Now... a new chapter .... 2015 was a year of many learnings and stepping away from an organization I co-founded (Leech Lake Legacy) and stepping into an organization more in alignment with my heart and soul (The Native America Humane Society) ... of learning and immersing myself in community work and tribal nations. On a community level my heart opened up in so many ways in 2015. It appears Ahnung is guiding me to explore opening up my heart in the most personal and intimate way in 2016. It is scary and exciting all at once. An adventure as I step into a new chapter, and learning more about myself in this new possibility ...

Ahnung, I am listening to you. Thank you for this new chapter ...