Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Grieving....Just Grieving...

“Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour.”

My life has changed drastically in the last 6 months. My mom’s passing in November started a tidal wave of events and ideas that hit me hard, throwing me around, and leaving me feeling confused, lost and helpless.

At 61 years old, I feel grief for the first time in my life. My valued Rabbi and good friend, Tina said to me “This is not new grief, Amy.” I didn’t know what that meant when she first said it to me. I am beginning to think I do now.
I have come to understand that, for me, grief is about loss. My mom’s passing created an explosion that grew into a massive sense of loss. I will never have a verbal conversation with my mom again. My brothers and I will never share sibling play and have fun together without screens. My son and I will continue to struggle to relate to each other with any kind of depth and meaningful authentic conversations. I will never win the “Teacher of Year” award. I will never finish a marathon. I probably will never see China or Japan. There just isn’t enough time in my life to do those things that I might love to do, and that aren’t necessarily a priority.

I’m guessing that grief takes many shapes and forms. It happens at all ages and in various ways. How we experience grief varies depending on who we each are and what we’re ready to embrace and feel.

Grief is mostly about dealing with loss. When my dad died in 1999 I experienced a tremendous sadness. I suffered for many weeks. I cried a lot then and found so much comfort in my familial and spiritual communities. I think, though, that, at that time I was not ready to really experience grief. Grief is different.

People say “Grief subsides with time.” “It gets easier.” I am finding that this is not to be true. In fact, I’m finding that this is a unique characteristic of grief. Grief is forever. It’s about loss and, in fact, mostly the loss of those things that I never really had in the first place. In terms of longings that I’ve held onto for my whole life, grief presents the realization that I never will have them. As I age into my elder years, mortality presents itself and I must let go of those things for which I no longer I have the time or the passion. My teaching practice has grown into a series of workshops and a commitment to school boards for training. My marathon run has morphed into Yoga, swimming bicycling, walking, and climbing and maintaining physical strength. My relationship with my children is no longer daily, but involves constant attempts to gather together at some time during the year and ongoing visits with individuals when we can.
As I let go slowly and surely, I leave myself open to receive. And, as I transition into older age, there is so much left to embrace. Changes, yes! Changes that will enhance, fulfill and help me grow. Grief doesn’t go away, and, in some ways, it can help me to feel more complete.

In just a few more weeks, Paul and I move into our new, beautiful house, leaving our Yurtville space open, free for retreat and peaceful sanctuary. In the physical realm, at least, it is a sign for a new beginning. And I welcome that with an open heart and mind



Monday, February 8, 2016

A Naomi Meditation

My life is changed forever! It will never be the same…and it’s all because of you, Naomi! You actually changed my life!!!!!

Meditation takes many forms. For a week in the fall and several days in the spring, my meditation takes the form of oyster shell cleaning. I’ve been doing this for several years now, ever since I discovered a natural and unique way to adorn our outside garden.

It started when I fell in love with your and Eli’s gardens. Various flowers grow wildly all over the property. Fresh vegetables of all sorts and gorgeous lush berry bushes are all encased in unique and creative fencing, lovingly built by Eli. He is such an exceptional and accomplished wood sculptor and as I walk through your property, I am amazed at the variety of little hideaways, each reflecting a special natural commodity. Pebbles pile up the circumference of your trees! Marbles fill in some of the depths of the holes in your gardens. Natural decorations border the lovingly designed bushes. Structures enhance the outdoor furnishing.

But it was the oyster shell garden that really blew me over that day many years ago in the Spring. Hundreds of bright white oyster shell halves, carefully placed around your trees. Bright, white shells, lying carefully upon each other, blanketing the ground create artistic splendour in your yard. I decided then that I wanted that too!

That summer, I collected hundreds of oyster shells, most of them from the bottom of Brickyard Hill, the welcome mat to The False Narrows on Gabriola Island. Many afternoons I walked alone or with friends, gathering shells for the project. That first summer I carefully layered the shells one atop of the other, like shingles on the ground of our garden. A moon-like shape developed there, an area of oyster beauty surrounded by rounds of logs and wild growth of trees and bush. Artwork - paintings on glass and sculptures of cloth, wood and jewellery that I created during the years, accessorized the d├ęcor. It is beautiful and different in its natural expression and its unique presence. We all revel in its beauty and regularly appreciate its uniqueness. What a surprise when in the fall that first year, you told me that each of the shells needs to be removed, washed, and stored for next season!

“No,” I thought to myself. “That’s not gonna happen.”

So, when the fall came and the rains poured and the winds blew and the pearly white shells began to look messy and cold, I remembered your instruction. I visualized you picking up, scrubbing and putting away each one of the oysters from your garden. I felt negligent! I experienced guilt! I called myself ‘lazy’! I wanted to be just like you without the effort! So finally, I just knew I had to do it too! And it began! My Naomi Meditation.

Each year, as I remove, soak, wash and store our oysters, my attention focuses on you - a most unique, eccentric, energetic, smart and productive woman. At 84 years old, you have earned the role of Poet Laureate in Nanaimo, B.C. and you’re busy with presentations and workshops and consulting gigs around Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.  Prolific in your writing and engaged with presentations, you are an inspiration for many.

The interesting thing about you, Naomi, is that you published your first book when you were 60 years old. Since then, you have published over 50 titles, everything from poetry collections to descriptive narratives. You write alone and collaborate with others. Do you have any idea how much you motivate all kinds of people to create, to express and to get out there? You have touched so many!

Interesting, dynamic, beguiling, dramatic, funny, genuine, simple… this is who you are to me. And each year, as I rearrange and create our oyster garden, dear Naomi, you are the focus of my intent.
And I also want to let you know, Naomi, that I have come to embrace the task of cleaning our oyster shells, mostly because it brings me closer to you! My Naomi meditation, a chance to absorb the energy that you put out! Thank you!