Feeling Far Away

I went out yesterday on a hike with Dave and I brought my meditation journal with me, thinking that I would have just found a calm place to sit by the river, meditate then write like I usually do. Rather, I became observant to my surroundings and then to my own feelings that I’ve been tossing around in my head lately. I was moved by my writing experience and thought I should share it. Here’s what I wrote/felt:

I’m in love with nature. Dave and I came to the “tubs” area today to meditate and hike. There’s many different to explore that wind along the river and limb up rocky, steep hills. The trails are made of soft fallen pine needles and leaves, long browned from seasons passed. Large tree roots create stairways and make for a tricky ascent or descent when travelling. Along most paths- mountain laurels adorn the hillsides. Small white flowers with a pinkish hue create a brightened landscape amongst all the greenery. The area is called “the tubs” because there are seven natural carved out areas of rock that resemble large tubs. These cut outs were created from the continuous water flow cascading down from the mountainside. Probably taking hundreds of years to erode, the rounded out caverns with smooth edges and deep pools are now a permanent part of the Earth. Just another awe-striking form in these endless forms most beautiful.

Currently, Dave and I are at the peak of a steep hill. We climbed the rocky path to find a quiet place. From here we can see another lush mountain in the distance. Closer, there are oak trees which are being vivaciously devoured by ruthless gypsy moth caterpillars. There’s a terrible invasion this year- when you look at most of the mountains, there are massive brown spots that spread out for miles. Soon, the creepy critters will turn to moths, but that won’t make next year any better. With literally thousands of them spawning, there’s sure to be another outbreak. Sitting here now, it sounds like rain water hitting the leaves. As fast as the hungry creatures eat, they are making it come out the other end.

Aside from crawling critters, there’s blueberry bushes in front of me, and a bed of green/brown moss below. There’s occasional passerby’s and some distant traffic sounds, but other than that, it’s quiet. I feel it’s an escape- even from our normal life, which isn’t too busy, but we always seem to be going somewhere- doing something- always watching the clock. Today we’re doing that a bit as we have a small agenda. I’d rather sit and explore nature all day. It’s comforting. I think of my aunt Linda, and wonder if she’s feeling any peace yet from the loss of uncle Klaus. I wonder if she’s ever felt this peace. If there was ever a memory that she could fall back on in her time of grieving. It’s still strange to think that uncle Klaus is truly gone. Harder still is the ever-present change that has gripped me and the family. But, from my perspective, life drastically changed the day I moved out- almost one year ago.

From that day I knew that family relationships wouldn’t be the same, there would be no more happy get-togethers, no more travelling, or vacations. Not that I ever went on any grand vacation with my family, but still, the hopes of one are gone. Holidays have been tough, as they weren’t and won’t be the same again. Now, with a death and more looming illness with my aunt, I fear more change is yet to come. Perhaps it will all make me stronger- I feel I’ve already gained some strength. Perhaps the changes are positive- making way for new events, people and traditions. Maybe I have a fear they won’t last either, so I’m still hanging on to the memories of the past, when my family was closer, and times were more care-free.

Dave is good for me and he always will be. I am dedicated to him as he is for me. He’s helping me with the current family issues. There’s more to work on, but hopefully we’ll get through and it will be peaceful.

I am mindful. These are the moments I will cherish. I am free. I am happy.

Heaven is all around.

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Along with my journal, I brought my guidance cards with me. They are cards that were created by a woman that I met at a recent holistic show. Her name is Denise Crawn, and her main occupation is travelling to Scotland for pilgrimages on an island called Iona. She recently created a book called “Walking Awake”, which is filled with beautiful pictures she took of faces that appeared in trees, flowers, etc. Each picture is accompanied by an inspirational quote that is very fitting. Alongside her book, she created cards with similar pictures, each one with a word on them like fear, happiness, sadness, etc….in a way, like tarot cards, but different in that they’re more for simple guidance rather than predicting/reading. So, I decided to pick three of them holding the intention in my mind of all the changes that have been going on in my life. I choose playful, surrender and grace. Super interesting because I thought they fit my current situation perfectly. I reflected that playful is what I feel I am, surrender is what I need to do, and grace is what I need in order to surrender, which would then bring me back to complete playfulness. Surrendering isn’t a negative in this aspect. Rather a positive where there’s thoughts and memories inside of me that I feel that I need to let fall free- memories of how things were with my family, of traditions, of holidays. Everything. Part of me asks why I should surrender? I’m young. My family is still alive. All of these things are totally possible and still should occur. Unfortunately, no matter how much I transform and push to have my parents shift, there’s just no getting through. Yet, I’m still hanging on to everything I had with them. It all still feels so close. So alive. For all my life my family was the closest to me. More than friends. More than anyone. Then suddenly they were gone when I chose to leave. Anyone would guess it’d be easy or just a matter of time before they let go of their anger and we would be back together. Of course they would, because most people would certainly do that. They wouldn’t hang on to the hatred, the pain of the past.

Now, I’m guessing that surrendering the memories and letting go will be the healthiest for me. There’s nothing easy about that. It’s not something I ever thought that I would have to choose. But, I fear that if I don’t I’ll become a slave to something that will never be. That would be my downfall. Instead of surrendering thoughts, I would want to surrender my life. There’s no point in living when you feel that life is playing you and there’s no way out.

I know I have to hang on. There’s a stand that I have to make. For myself, for Dave and for them. Fear is what I have because if I do make a stand, I may feel ecstatic about myself because it’s something I’ve never done before, but if I put all of this effort into making a stand in order for something to change, and nothing does, I will feel that it was a complete waste of time.

There’s no way to win. Either way, I’ll be torn. I’ll never have Dave and my parents because they are unwilling to change. If I would have my parents, I would have to have Dave separate, and that’s not fair. None of this is fair. They talk about their heart being shattered, well mine has been torn by them, but they can’t admit to it and take responsibility for the hurt they’ve caused me. I have a sneaking suspicion that my mom feels that somewhere she went wrong with me and that’s why she is the way she has been for so long. But, there’s nothing that she really did wrong, per say. There’s just some things that never worked for me and affected me negatively. Things that I didn’t realize until now. Now that I’m older, I have looked back on a lot of things and saw times where my parents weren’t there for me. They fought. They drank. Controlled me in a way. There’s a bunch. Yes, they raised me well and all of that, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t hurt. I don’t think that any parent and child relationship goes without both being damaged in some way by the other. Of course this isn’t done on purpose, but it definitely happens- just part of the cycle. Dave talked about how there were times that he knew he hurt one of his daughters when they were younger, and he felt terrible and apologized early on. He knew there was no way to go on with the relationship with that blockage in the way. I think that’s absolutely beautiful and takes a lot on the parent’s part. Not a parent myself, I don’t know from experience, but I can definitely imagine.

I know I can’t demand or expect an apology from my parents.I guess all I can do is do what I need to do; make that stand and hope for the best. Life is meant to be lived, not survived. I’m currently attending a Landmark seminar where the intention is to live passionately and play the game of life with purpose, grace and ease. I’ll save more details for another post, but for now I’ll just say that it’s helping in a way, but not, because there are just things like Landmark that can’t solve the kind of situation I’m in. I already told my parents about it, since there is a huge emphasis on sharing…so I shared and all my mom replied was, “you can go to all the seminars you want, but they’ll never help us.”

There’s so much I don’t understand, so much torment. So much I don’t know what to say or do.

There’s so much I’m learning as I struggle.

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The Landmark Experience: Day One

The two hour drive to Philly was torture. 6:30 was not my preferred time to hop in a car and travel and on top of that, since personally, I wasn’t familiar with the drive, I was on the edge of my seat due to intense traffic. Thankfully, we arrived on time, and safely. Sustained by a Sheetz breakfast of egg, bagel, tater tots and coffee, Dave and I entered the city and the building in which the forum was held with tired smiles and nervous eyes. The windowless room was located on the third floor of a school building. In it, approximately 120 people would spend three entire days dedicated to making a major breakthrough in their lives.

9:30 sharp. “Good morning everyone!” The forum leader Denise bellowed from the front, practically bouncing with her words. Too much pep for me. Dave and I arrived literally right on time, so the room was just about full and we were split up when we took our seats. We sat on the left side of the room, Dave one row in front of me. Of course, I was a little uncomfortable sitting next to two strangers on the first day, but we were soon into meeting and then sharing with our neighbors so it wasn’t long before I was comfortable. Breaks were every three hours, and I couldn’t wait to get back with Dave and talk to him, not to mention eat and drink something. Before that though, there was a long and drawn out general intro discussing all the basics, ground rules, etc. After that, we kind of got right into what Landmark was all about. There were two large posters hung on both sides of the room. One was what you were supposed to walk away with from the forum, and the other was their own distinctions that we were to follow all throughout the weekend. They proved to be helpful, as the statements/commitments were reiterated many times all weekend. Basically, they were saying that we would be able to live our own transformed lives and be able to touch, move and inspire others with what we have done. We were to do this by sharing and “enrolling” others in the possibilities that we created for ourselves. At first, I wasn’t sure how all of this was going to go down. I mean, I had a syllabus that I had looked over for day one, but once there, that didn’t seem to matter. Topics flowed quickly, and there was transformation right away.

Since the gathering was a forum, the majority of time spent there was with people sharing their story and getting coached by the forum leader. One person after another with various topics went up, shared, cried and then was able to overcome what they were blocked by. One of the very first concepts that we went over was that with pretty much every event in our lives we create “stories” about what really happened. When someone went up in front of the room in front of the mic to speak, Denise drew two large circles on the chalk board. One represented “what happened”, the other, “Stories”. She went on to explain that these were two separate things that when collapsed into each other create a “vicious circle.”

A little confusion crept in immediately as she brought up this diagram. I couldn’t truly believe that everything that happened in life was “made up”. That wasn’t true though. Through seemingly endless examples of people sharing, I finally got that the diagram meant that we, as humans, actually DO make up stories, rather interpretations, of what happens to us. Words may be said to us, or something may actually happen, but it’s US who attach a meaning to it. Therefore forever branding that incident with a negative connotation. If we are able to let go of the meaning that we assigned to our incidences, then we are free to create in a new and empty space.

Sounds tough to grasp, I know. Believe me, this stuff makes much more sense when you’re actually sitting in that chair for over twelve hours. I certainly can’t explain everything that happened, but I’ll hit on the points that impacted me and helped me have breakthroughs.

Dinnertime was a breakthrough for me. I need a freaking break!! So, Dave and I met up with three others and we went to a local place right around the corner called Jones’. There, we got to know the others, hear their stories, and then share our own and what we were getting from the forum. That part was actually kind of fun! And at the same time still exhausting because at that point all I wanted to do was turn my brain off! Cooler yet though, was then watching our new friends have their own transformations over the weekend. By the end, we were all hugging and crying together.

After dinner, there were only three hours left. But wait! That’s not all! As if that whole day of learning and mind-bending wasn’t enough, there were homework assignments that the leader wanted us to complete for the following day. There were about three of them, and I felt they were impossible. Only because by the time Dave and I left, found our hotel, parked and got in, it was almost midnight. We had to rise and shine nice and early the following day to do it all again. So, I think that first night, I didn’t complete any of the assignments. Dave may have, but I didn’t care. The following day though, Denise asked who did them, and who didn’t. Not to make anyone wrong or right, she just wanted to know and then to lecture us about integrity.

Sleeping never felt so good that night. I know I needed it because the very next day, Saturday, was when I was going to have the biggest breakthrough that I had gone to accomplish.