If You Love Something, Set it Free

If you love something, set it free. Such a cliche. If I love something why would I let it go?

Because deep down I knew it was the right thing to do. As much as I wanted to believe in happily ever after and even though my family thought we were perfect. Deep inside I knew we weren’t. Scrolling through the last four years of pictures on my iPhone, trying to find one, just one picture where he looked at me like he looks in his pictures with his girlfriend now. I couldn’t. I can’t.

For years something inside had been quietly screaming–it’s time to let him go. I fought back. He’s tall, handsome, hardworking, does everything around the house, takes care of me and our children. Yet the more I tried to deny the whispers the more insistent they became.

I loathed myself for not being good enough, strong enough, determined enough. If I could just be better maybe it could work. Yet all I ended up with was self-loathing and soon to be non-existent self-esteem. I felt caged by his attention, and when he tried harder to make me love him the way he needed to be loved, I withdrew even more. In the end we only brought out the worst in each other.

God, rereading this I feel like I sound like a neurotic mess. Maybe it was me being selfish, wanting my freedom. To be a free spirit, to just go wherever the wind takes me and in whatever direction feels right. To not give a damn about where I’m going and just go for the experience, to feel alive and be in awe of new things and random synchronicities that will never happen in the basement of a 1700 square foot house on 80 acres. Something was tugging at my soul too strongly and I couldn’t let go.

Before I left I entertained thoughts of putting him on dating apps. Maybe if I found someone for him before I said good-bye it would make it less painful for him. My pathetic ego trying to vindicate my guilt over leaving him.

A checkers king and a chess queen; a rodeo cowboy with his feet firmly on the ground and a free spirit with her head in the clouds. We were just too different. Once I admitted this I felt a weight off my shoulders. Like Anais Nin wrote–“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again…”

I told him when I left he’d find someone who loved that life of horses and cows as much as he did. He swore he would never love anyone else. I prayed every time I drove past those power lines and that house on the bluff he’d find someone…and he did. Someone that makes him smile, (really smile…even in his eyes) in pictures and can ride and rope, clean and cook. Someone who I could never be. Someone I honestly don’t want to be.

It doesn’t make it any less painful. Yet scrolling through the photos, realizing I made the right choice in letting him go. Some people are lessons. Some experiences. And others soulmates. He was a beautiful experience and I’m so grateful he found someone to make him truly happy. Even as painful as it was to walk away.

I think the one thing that frustrates me the most is I’m still not quite sure why I felt so compelled to venture on my own. I have no regrets, because I fought leaving until I knew there wasn’t any other way. I wish I knew what my purpose is. Why can’t I do whatever I’m supposed to be doing with this life living comfortably there?

I don’t know. It just didn’t, doesn’t feel right. So I have no choice but just to say okay…I trust God, and the Universe, and my faith. I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing but I’m just taking little steps in the dark in whatever direction feels right and trusting in whatever that this is my way. And every time I get really fed up and just want to say screw it, something will catch my eye. A feather floating to the ground right in front of me. Unpacking as I move into my father’s basement, stumbling across my grandpa’s social security card out of nowhere after leaving a particularly spectacular trainwreck of a rebound relationship. My tarot cards and Sacred Rebels Oracle cards gently encouraging me to keep going…keep searching.

Just living each moment with resolve, following my motto, amor supra omnia. Above all, love. Finding humor in the stupidest memes that I can’t help but laugh at. Realizing I have a choice. I can wallow, or I can be free.

I did a tarot reading for myself yesterday. I was so tired of feeling stuck, in a rut. How do I break through to this magical, purposeful, rewarding life I envisioned?

The card I drew instantly resonated. Ace of Cups. I’m still a newbie at reading and I ready biddytarot’s insight and it speaks to my soul. Awakening of the human spirit. Divine love flowing through the subconscious mind to conscious awareness.

You receive love, you give love, you ARE love. See this as a time of giving and not taking; make the most of helping others. Share your inner radiance and positive energy. The more you give, the more you receive.

In other words, get out of my Leo ego/self-absorbed vanity. Quit waiting for someone/something else to make me feel better and focus on other people.

I did this reading right before my 12 hour night shift. It left me with hope and confidence. Even though I’ve spent these last three hours writing this being an emotional trainwreck after a disturbing dream, I still have faith I’m where I’m supposed to be, and know if I focus on practicing love, everything else will fall into place.

I made this art page from an old dictionary page. Used gel medium and dried daisy petals and paints. Uploaded it to an app and when I messed with the filters, an angel as in the center. This was right after I woke up after 3 hours of sleep after working that 12 hour night shift. A restless dream, a feeling of being the ultimate Good Luck Chuck left me reaching for my phone to type out the poem.

Following the Will ‘o Wisps

Summer of 2018 I started keeping a special journal I called my Will ‘o Wisp journal. I had started listening to the quiet tugs and really paying attention to the little “coincidences” that caught my eye. It was amazing to me how one thing led me to another, helping me to learn and grow; giving me messages to show me the way.

I knew I needed to finally admit what I had known deep inside–that my ex husband and I just weren’t meant to be. It was heartbreaking and the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It meant walking away from the known and stepping into a scary abyss of the unknown.

I took this picture June 2nd, 2018 right after I told Nate I was leaving and drove away for the last time. I was sweaty from packing my Jeep up with my belongings and headed to my apartment in Fort Benton, driving north on US 87 with the window down. I felt a little exhilarated and free but mostly apprehensive. I had no idea what was ahead of me and being a planner, a type A personality, this was a nightmare. Yet I knew in my soul this was the right step for me. I couldn’t see the big picture, but making small steps that resonated felt right.

The previous year had brought me exponential spiritual growth. Everywhere I looked it felt like the Universe was speaking to me. But once I left, I let fear take over and lost focus.

I continued to make small steps that resonated, groping in the dark for what felt right. I made several missteps that taught me lessons–yet lessons learned the hard way are hardest to forget. I learned what I wanted and what I didn’t want. To surround myself with relationships that felt right, and to burn bridges with those that didn’t. I learned to stop letting people, especially men, take advantage of me.

The discomfort is overwhelming, yet the Universe has always provided me with what I need. It’s been uncomfortably tight at times, but it always worked out in the end.

I ended up moving four times in less than a year. It’s amazing how easy it is to prune down your possessions and realize what means the most to you when it means having to pack and move them. How quickly I realized material things are just that–material. Replaceable. Inconsequential.

With all the chaos–changing jobs, moving, finalizing the divorce, a rebound relationship that ended so horrifically it’s something my dad and I can’t help but laugh about, and everything else, I stopped putting my spirituality as a priority, and suffered for it. Overwhelming feelings of helplessness and inadequacy take over so easily, and honestly some days it took every last ounce of willpower to just get out of bed.

Yet the Will ‘o Wisps…a beloved friend recommended a book not once, but twice. I bought it for my Kindle but didn’t read it right away. When I finally did, the words spoke right to my soul. Glennon Melton’s Love Warrior. I bought it on my Kindle, but if it were a hard copy it would be dog-eared, highlighted, and well worn.

I identify so well with how she describes escapism. I’ve never been good at dealing with loneliness, with discomfort. I learned to read when I was four, carefully rewriting words from my books. Since then books were my way of escaping away from whatever overwhelmed me at the time. Baths were another way I would escape from the world, soaking for hours at a time, refilling the tub with hot water when it became too tepid. As I got into high school I started partying, loving the feeling alcohol gave me. Anything that worked to escape the loneliness, the discomfort.

But you can’t numb the negative without also numbing the positive. The more I ran, the less I let myself feel, until life felt empty, meaningless. I felt so hollow, like I was just going through the motions. I wondered if this is how everyone felt, yet knew I was missing something. Glennon writes in her book, Love Warrior–

“…My entire life has been a race from the hot loneliness. I picture ten-year old me, feeling my anger, fear, jealousy, otherness, unbelonging for the first time and understanding these uncomfortable but normal human feelings to be wrong, shameful. I thought I needed to hide these feelings, escape them, fix them, deliver myself from them. I didn’t know that everyone feels the hot loneliness. I didn’t know that it would pass. So for the next twenty years, every time anger or fear or loneliness started bubbling up, I reached for an easy button–a book, a binge, a beer, a body, a shopping spree, a Facebook feed–to shove it back down. I’d press that button and find myself magically transported to a pain-free place. Distracted, numbed, underwater, gone.”

Like I mentioned–the Will ‘o Wisps. Glennon Melton mentions another book, called “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. Reading the first chapter and it encapsulates everything I feel about fear of the unknown.

As Chodron writes in her opening paragraph,

“Embarking on the spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands. With wholehearted practice comes inspiration, but sooner or later we will also encounter fear. For all we know, when we get to the horizon, we are going to drop off the edge of the world. Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s waiting out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it…”

Reading her words I can’t help thinking how much time and energy I’ve spent being overwhelmed by fear and loneliness, instead of embracing the unknown and trusting what the Universe has already shown me over and over. Trusting that whatever emotion I’m feeling, however unpleasant, is teaching me something important and will pass. Everything will work out as it is meant for me. What I want most in this moment might not be what I truly need. Trying different doors, expecting them to open and being surprised when they remain firmly locked. It’s only in looking back and realizing with gratitude that those doors weren’t right for me, and being thankful they didn’t open. They would have kept me from something even better.

Slowly things are settling down. I’ve moved into an apartment and am slowly getting unpacked. The divorce is final and our sons seem like they’re handling it well. We try to be as amicable as possible and put them as our first priority, ahead of our own pride and selfishness. I have no idea what is up ahead for me. I have a picture of what I would like to happen, but if anything I know things can change in a moment. So instead I let go of my expectations and just try to live in this moment.

Letting go of control and trusting everything will work out has been one of the most difficult lessons I’ve ever learned and one I’m still learning day by day. That I don’t need to numb myself out of fear of the unknown, that I can face whatever is ahead independently. If I just breathe, stay in this moment, and take small steps in whatever direction that feels right, I don’t need to see the big picture. I don’t need to know the end destination to appreciate the scenery along the way.

Yesterday as I was bringing in groceries for my son’s 3rd birthday party, I watched this feather float to the ground from the tree above. I knew it was meant for me, a sign that everything is as it should be and everything will be okay. Another memento for my Will ‘o Wisp journal…

Ten Things I Learned from Rehab and Life After Treatment

I can’t believe it’s been six months since I wrote a blog post. Six months of distractions, overcoming obstacles, and following what feels right for me despite others’ opinions

Last February I was still working a nursing desk job, one that I enjoyed my coworkers and the flexibility, but the hours I spent getting the boys and myself ready and out the door, then shuttling Dillon to school 7 miles north of town, turning around and driving 37 miles to Logan’s daycare, and then driving across town to work were wearing on me.

Something else was calling  me, but it seemed impossible. I honestly felt doomed to repeat this routine for the next 4 years until Logan was in school. I tried going part-time at my desk job, but that still didn’t feel right. I found an RN job 20 miles north of our house-a small town hospital where I do everything—ER, acute care, observation, and skilled and long-term care. This felt a lot better, but still things weren’t quite right. I decided to get my own apartment to see if that would help. I could stay at the apartment so I didn’t have to commute on the days I worked 12 hour shifts. That felt a little bit better, but still I didn’t feel right.

Talk of divorce came up more and more often. Nate was at the end of his rope with my drinking and I was just at the end of my rope.  I was drowning my anxiety and sense of dread and overwhelm with Chardonnay. Family members were concerned and reaching out, but I carefully ignored them. This continued until the beginning of April. I had tried quitting on my own and quickly realized I couldn’t. I was up to 5 Black Boxes of Chardonnay a week and if I didn’t drink, I would get shaky, sick, and extremely anxious. I had a routine where I would drop Dillon off at school and start day drinking on my way home. On the mornings I worked, I would cut myself off at a certain time the night before and then start drinking again once I was off work.

With alarm and self-loathing, I admitted I needed to get help. Nate came and got me from my apartment, helped me find a 30 day treatment program, and let me stay with him until they had an opening a few days later.

April 15th I took Dillon to school, then frantically tried to find something to drink. It felt like I was losing my best friend, security blanket, life jacket. Desperately I looked around until I found a Twisted Tea and a little Crown Royal. A few hours I checked in. I remember sitting there, desperately wishing Nate would answer the endless questions the admissions woman was asking. My heart was racing and I felt like I could easily pass out from adrenaline. We finished and Nate and I said good-bye as I was led to the nurse.

After giving a urine sample, changed into scrubs, my belongings taken, and my vital signs/assessment completed, I was taken to my room where I would detox. It was a surreal feeling, but as I looked out the window, there was a dragonfly sticker attached to the window. I’ve written before how dragonflies and butterflies feel like the Universe is telling me everything will be okay.

I was started on a high dose of Librium (like long-acting Ativan; a sedative) and detoxed for 5 days. I don’t remember much from the first 3 days—barely eating and doing little but sleep. I remember having dreams of trying to open my eyes but they were too heavy and I could only get them half open. My blood pressure was 163/90 something when I checked in—a shock as I have never had high blood pressure.

On the fourth day I started to participate in activities/group and went to the cafeteria and ate with the others.  This program was strict about no fraternization between sexes. We slept on opposite sides of the hall, couldn’t go outside and smoke together, weren’t allowed to be in the opposite sex lounge without a treatment assistant present, and took separate vans to AA meetings and outings. There were 12 other girls but quite a few of them graduate that first week so I didn’t get to know them well. Everyone was friendly to me but there was drama between other girls that ended once some of them graduated.

Once I was done detox’ing I was allowed to wear street clothes and make phone calls at certain times. After wearing scrubs non-stop for almost a week, I was so thankful to have my clothes back and feel like me again. We had a strict schedule from wake up time to lights out that kept us busy. Counselor education, small groups, group check-ins with the treatment assistants, recreation, and sharing/listening each others’ life stories became our norm.

Sharing the life story was one of the more difficult parts of treatment, some for reading it out loud, and others for processing it afterward. I didn’t mind sharing my life story, but I wasn’t ready for the feelings of shame and self-judgment that overwhelmed me the next 48 hours. I remember sitting in the back of the van with two other girls and being unable to contain my emotions. This was slightly horrifying for me because I hate crying in front of people, but I couldn’t help it. Suddenly I couldn’t help laughing, because all my life I’ve only cried out of one eye, leaving one side of my face splotchy and red and leaving the other looking normal. The idea of going into the AA meeting looking like Two-Face gave me the giggles and as I explained my bizarre mood swing they couldn’t help laughing. The girl sitting next to me, this brilliant woman younger than me, who was street smart and hard as nails tough and had gotten caught up in using and selling meth and other drugs to make ends meet, gently squeezed my hand and sat by me. We became close and I learned so much from her—what a stripper baggy was, and some of the horrors she’d encountered in her experience with drugs.

She and I would later have a cigarette and talk about treatment. I joked it felt like hell at the moment, but she wisely told me it was purgatory. Having grown up in a Catholic school, she explained to me purgatory is where your soul goes to be purified before moving on to heaven. I loved that parallel—we were in purgatory so we could move on from these negative thought processes, addictions, and past traumas and live a better life.

I became incredibly close with some of the girls. Once I graduated, it felt like nobody else but the people I’d gone to treatment with could quite understand my experience. It was hard and overwhelming to try to explain it all to everyone. It was so much easier to not interact with family and friends and just do my own thing.

Before I went in to treatment, I googled other blogs to see if there were any insights or advice I could use about checking into treatment. I kept a mental list of things I wish I would have known before checking in:

Things I wish I would have known before checking into treatment:

1) Don’t be ashamed of drinking/getting help. Checking into treatment felt like I was a failure at first, when really l needed help with my thought processes, negative self-talk, and taking care of the invisible garbage bags I had been carrying with me since childhood.

2) I would have packed a lot differently. I wasn’t allowed to keep my books or Tarot cards. Anyone who knows me knows when I pack I tend to bring a lot of books. Instead I would have packed more clothes so Nate didn’t have to bring me so many things.

3) Take care of financial matters beforehand. I really wasn’t in a frame of mind to think about this, but when bills were due and I had no internet access to get my debit card number (my purse and wallet had been packed away when I checked in) it was a pain to have to get the number to my bank from Nate, call them, explain what was going on, and get him the information. Call anyone who you might have loans with and explain what is going on. I wish I would have done this for my student loans a lot sooner. I was able to get a few payments deferred until I got back on my feet.

4) Work your own journey. Being a nurse, it was hard for me to not go into ‘nurse mode’ and just be a patient. I had to realize I couldn’t make things easier for people, and I wasn’t there to work. I learned later from my counselor how codependent I can be. Other people being sad, angry, or upset makes me uncomfortable. Instead of giving them the space to process their own journey, I was trying to make it easier for them so it would be easier for me. This wasn’t fair to them or myself, and I’ve since learned it’s okay to allow others to express their emotions without needing to mother them.

5) Treatment is a lot like a detention center (I realized this after watching a Netflix show about low-security female incarceration). I was told where to go and what to do, everyday and all day. We couldn’t take food back to our rooms, we couldn’t use the phones until we ‘leveled up’, we couldn’t pass notes. From 8:30 to 9:00 our day was mapped out with counseling sessions, small groups, etc. At first it was frustrating having someone tell me what to do all the time, but it helped me develop more discipline.

6) There will be drama. When there are that many people with serious addiction issues living together, there will be issues and squabbles that come up. Cliques still develop, just like high school. I tried hard to get along and be friendly with everyone. I really enjoyed learning how to smudge with one of the Native American women, and one of the older patients became like a mom to me. Instead of letting things others did frustrate me, I tried to think of their side of things. Sometimes they hadn’t learned any other way, other times they had experienced horrible things and couldn’t help the victim mentality the had developed. I tried to not judge others. It wasn’t always easy. Sometimes things come out wrong and people get offended. If I realized I’d genuinely upset someone unintentionally, I explained what I meant, apologized, and left it at that.

7) The treatment assistants are not your friends. Everything you say and do will be repeated back to the other treatment assistants, counselors, and staff. Treat them respectfully, but unless you want everyone else knowing, don’t talk about things you’d rather keep private. Don’t vent about the program or other staff to them. It’s too easy for things to be misunderstood and misconstrued.

8) Keep an open mind. I hated having to go to an overly zealous Christian movie as our outing. While I still don’t agree with having certain religions spoon fed to me, I enjoyed spending time away from the treatment center, especially when we were able to get Dairy Queen after.

9) Manage expectations. If you don’t have expectations for others or situations, you won’t be bummed or upset. Now if someone makes me a promise, I think, “If she shows up, great. If not, no big deal.” I’m not counting on anyone else to make a situation better. Once I learned to go with the flow and not resist or try to control things, I felt so much more relaxed.

10) Your emotions will be all over the place. I had never heard of PAWS before treatment (post-acute withdrawal symptoms) but it’s real and I still forget about it, until I catch myself asking, “What is wrong with me?” When I read the symptoms, I realize I’m PAWSing. I also learned to recognize when others are PAWSing and to give them a little grace when they have an outburst or don’t seem like their usual selves.

Two weeks after I graduated, Nate and I realized treatment wasn’t going to fix much of anything with our marriage and mutually decided to divorce. I moved out of the house into my apartment. The first time I had ever lived on my own. We are sharing custody of the boys until the divorce was finalized. There were a lot of frustrating moments, but when I felt overwhelmed, I thought about the boys and what would be best for them and that helped me dissolve petty feelings and anger more easily.

So six months later, I can honestly say I feel better than I have in years. I know a lot of my family don’t understand my decisions, and that’s okay. I know I’m doing the right thing by listening to my intuition, trusting the Universe, and following my heart.

I saved this post as a draft…I wrote it a few months ago. Reading it over, I have to add number 11:

11) For the love of all that is holy, stay off dating websites. Tinder is not your friend. Don’t jump into another relationship. Being newly single and sober is terrifying, but jumping into a rebound relationship complicated things so much more for me. Now not only am I dealing with tying up loose ends with my divorce, I also have to process this epically failed relationship, the guilt of hurting someone, and the realization of just how bad my blinders were.

 

 

 

Runaway Bride

I think I’ve been looking at being single all wrong since I started dating, in high school. Since that first boyfriend, I don’t know why I’ve been so afraid of being single. Maybe because I was afraid of being alone? Why was/am I so afraid to figure out who I am, on my own? In brutal, embarrassing honesty, I haven’t been single longer than a few weeks since then. I wrote a poem in my diary once, and one line has always stuck with me. That I feel like a runaway bride for the thousandth time. A play on Julia Roberts’ movie, Runaway Bride. Each time she takes on the likes of her current hubby, without realizing what she really enjoys for herself. Except she’s smarter–she realizes her mistake before she hits the altar. Two failed marriages and a few long term relationships later, I can count the months I’ve been single since I was 16 on one hand.

Maybe I’ve been looking at being single completely wrong.

For the first time in my life, I don’t have to answer to anyone. I only have my boys to consider when making decisions in my life. If I want to plan a trip in December, I don’t have to rationalize my reasons for going to anyone.

This realization gives me hope and honestly, is exciting. I started realizing what resonates with me while I was married to Nate. My spirituality has always been important to me, even when I was seven years old. I sacrificed it multiple times to appease whomever I was with and instead took on the hobbies my hubby was passionate about. Like snowmobiling and ranch life with Nate. I love the spirit of horses, but I’m just not a cowgirl. I wrote a poem once…cowboy, don’t take me away. A twist on a Dixie Chicks song. I love the open night sky, but I don’t like being so far from town.

I’m finally following the beat of my own drum, and as hard as this year has been, I know I’ve grown more in the last six months than I have in the last sixteen years.

I don’t know if I’ll ever marry again. I don’t really care right now. I might not have a boyfriend to text throughout the day, but I have so many friends who I can reach out to…friends that I met in middle school, high school, college, and beyond. I’m realizing the people who have come into my life that I’ve never fully appreciated and am so grateful as they reach out with their support as I shamelessly over share on social media.

My motto that I unearthed when I first started this spiritual awakening holds just as true today as ever–cotby and townlys. Concentrate on the task before you and the One who’ll never leave your side. If I keep myself from future tripping about things I have no control over and just focus on being in the present…if I just trust that my god will work everything out for the best as long as I follow what feels right, I will be okay.

I’ll be more than okay. I will finally be able to build a life that feels right.

Butterflies & Dragonflies Let Me Know I’m All Right

Sitting on the lawn with my tarot cards. I felt called to meditate on them, to learn them more. Instead of doing a reading, I decided to choose one card. After putting them in order, I asked the Universe to guide me to the right card to study. I was pleasantly surprised when I looked down and saw this:

It’s hard to see but a strand of my hair was a caught in the deck. Carefully I found the card and looked at it.

I knew Aces stood for beginnings. Cups for water. I studied the picture but not a whole lot jumped out at me until later. Instead I opened Robert Wang’s book, The Qabalistic Tarot and read what it said.

“We begin the process of accelerating our own spiritual development, or return, by the invocation of our own Kether. This Kether unconsciously guides and directs us. The very act of calling attention to the “Light above our heads” brings about a subtle activity on the Inner Planes. It is a conscious affirmation of the Personality in manifestation of its mutability, and that the source of all true life is above. As the very Universe begins and ends with Kether, so all work of spiritual development, whether meditative or ritualistic, must begin with an invocation of the Highest.

The God name in Kether is Eheieh meaning “I Will Be”, a name which has been likened in its sound and meaning to breath.”

The Hebrew letters for Eheieh are read from right to left. After thinking about this card and then meditating, I wrote the following in the margin:

*manifesting “I Will Be” – Eh heh ye – giving breath to an idea…bringing an idea into existence

The Hebrew words are read from right to left. The first letter, Aleph, has no sound– it’s a “silent letter”. The second and fourth letters are Hey, and the third is Yod.

“Thus when any Ace appears in a divination, it stands for great power.”

The more I study this the more my mind is blown. Shirley Peterson’s The Secret Science of Numerology gave me a way to connect all the dots. Everything in the Universe is made up of wavelengths of energy. Elements are the same, whether on Earth or the Moon, or the Sun.

“…they are composed of basic molecules of energy. The ancients say this energy is made of God Himself: being the Creator of all there is, He had to create from the energy of His own ideas and the material of His own Being…each invisible force has its own set of vibrations, starting with low frequency domestic energy…sound, radio, television, radar waves, microwaves, infrared rays, X-rays, and gamma rays, all invisible around us but powerful when harnessed (Peterson)”.

I knew instinctively I wanted these Hebrew letters tattooed on my arm. To remind me every time I look at my arm to think of what I want to bring in to my life and who I want to be as a person. Yet I wanted to add another component to the tattoo. I had heard about ‘unalomes’ and I loved the idea.

“The unalome symbol represents the path to enlightenment in the Buddhist culture The spirals are meant to symbolize the twists and turns in life, and the straight lines the moment one reaches enlightenment or peace and harmony. The dots at the end of the symbol represent death, or the moment we fade into nothing. There are multiple designs for unalome tattoos, or you can create your own and add your own elements, such as the lotus flower to represent new beginnings.”

From https://www.yogiapproved.com/life-2/yoga-tattoos-their-meaning/.

Instead of a lotus flower, I wanted a dragonfly. The summer of 2017 I was struggling with post-partum depression after having my son in December 2016. I was drinking more, and so overwhelmed and depressed I couldn’t see how things could possibly get better. My mind was so dark that I had started to believe there was no way out. The idea of slipping away became more and more enticing, to the point I had thought about how I would do so. I didn’t mention how I was feeling to anyone.

My dad had put together a fishing trip for my family, and normally I would have been enjoying myself. But my nerves were so frayed with anxiety, and I was so tense and brittle I felt like I could easily snap. During the first day of fishing with my dad, we were in his boat, fishing. Dragonfly after dragonfly landed on my pole, on me. They were blue and beautiful. Mesmerized, I watched them. I felt like they were a symbol for something, so I looked it up.

“In almost every part of the world, the Dragonfly symbolizes change, transformation, adaptability, and self-realization.

The dragonfly is iridescent…the magical property of iridescence is associated with the discovery of one’s own ability by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity.

They can be a symbol of going past self-created illusions that limit our growth and ability to change.

The dragonfly has been a symbol of happiness, new beginnings and change for many centuries. The dragonfly means hope, change, and love.

https://dragonflytransitions.com/why-the-dragonfly/

My brother pulled me aside and after he asked what the hell was going on with me, I opened up and told him everything. He convinced me it was okay to get some help, and there was no weakness or shame in needing an antidepressant. His sage analogy made sense to me as a nurse; “It’s no different than your brain having an infection. You just need an antidepressant for a little while.” He gave me a hug and I felt a little lighter, a little bit better. I laid on my dad’s boat and stared at the night sky for a few hours that night. I made an appointment with my midwife that week and started taking an antidepressant to get me through until I figured out why I was so unhappy. This memory is just one of several that include dragonflies giving me hope.

I told my boyfriend I wanted to get a tattoo. That afternoon. I had gotten one before on my wrist from a local shop, and I told myself if they could get me in I was going for it. I called and they told me they’d had a cancellation and if I could be there at four, they would be happy to help me out.

Getting the tattoo didn’t hurt at all. Once it was done, I looked at it and loved it. The artist commented the stress of doing this tattoo might have taken a few years off his life, which surprised me. I thought it was a pretty easy, simple tattoo, not realizing the fine lines meant no room for error on his part. That he would realize the significance of this tattoo for me and take such care meant a lot.

Whenever I see this tattoo, I think of my goals for myself, my future. It reminds me I’m a journey, and it’s not always going to be straight and easy…there are and will be difficult times, but if I keep my faith in my spirituality and try to be the best person I can be, it will always be okay.

Reckless Decisions & Divine Messages

One of those mornings. A decision made on a whim that looking back now, makes me realize everything happens for a reason. And also maybe I should be a little more careful. I don’t always need to test limits.

Nate ended up staying home today, so when it was time to take Dillon to school, I asked Logan if he wanted to go with or stay with Daddy. He chose Daddy, to my surprise. He usually loves going places.

I loaded Dillon up and took him to school, stopping to talk to his teacher. She mentioned something interesting. On a whim I went to go look at it, despite the heavy snow on the rarely used road. Meh, there’s tracks, Black Betty (my Jeep) can handle it. Later Nate pointed out that they were tractor tracks and snowmobile tracks…

Black Betty did great until it was time to turn around. I could have just thrown her into reverse and floored it with the 4WD but for some reason I went to turn around…and was stuck. 4HI, 4LO, nothing. I needed help.

I have no phone service from mile marker 11 all the way up to mile marker 40, in Fort Benton. Yet at mile marker 27 I had just enough of a signal to call Nate to come help me out. He told me to make sure the exhaust wasn’t blocked by snow (oh yeah…that would be good to check…) and that he’d be there in a bit.

I got out and looked. Sure enough the snow was almost covering the exhaust. I’ve seen patients with carbon monoxide poisoning and I was grateful Nate is level headed enough to remember to remind me of this.

I got back in and waited. Finally I decided to turn the engine off to save gas. I was toasty warm anyway. Several minutes later I went to start the engine and the battery was dead. Whaaa? Could anything else possibly go wrong?

Eventually Nate arrived after having to dig through his shop for the ball we use for the Jeep. Only he couldn’t find the tow rope pin so we just had to cross our fingers. When I told him the battery was dead, he explained leaving the headlights on in this cold weather kills the battery quickly. Oh. Good to know.

He was able to get the Jeep pulled out most of the way and went to turn around so he could jump her. A few minutes later I could hear him yelling.

I ran over and he was frantically throwing snow on the engine–it was on fire. I didn’t think, just started throwing snow. There happened to be some clumps and I threw them up to him. He was able to reach down and put the snow right on the fire and put it out.

As we headed home to get his farm truck, who I like to call Clifford (he’s red and a great truck) I started visualizing my morning prayers. We made it home, 7 miles away. I immediately took Logan inside while Nate looked at his blue truck. I went downstairs and with gratitude said my morning prayers the right way.

As we got in, there on the floor of the red truck was the pin for the tow rope Nate needed. I knew everything was going to work out. As we headed back, Nate said he knew it was a fuel line leak and it was probably a good thing it started on fire there, with snow available and not on the highway somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

We jumped the Jeep and Nate gave me some pointers on getting out of the snow–I was panicking when it would start gaining traction–don’t stop, just keep going!!

We loaded up and Nate jokingly (or maybe seriously, lol) asked me to please stick to the main roads. As I drove home, the radio station was on 95.1 for some reason and the volume was up. I rarely listen to the radio and I never listen to talk shows or sermons. It was some religious station out of Havre. Yet something the preacher was saying caught my attention.

He was talking about being stressed, and how people tend to freak out and try everything in their human power to make things better, with no luck. Really, they as mere humans, don’t have the strength or wisdom to know unless they trust God. He mentioned Isaiah 30:15, which Isaiah has always been one of my favorite books.

“In quietness and trust is your strength”

I don’t need to try to figure everything out, to worry about the future. I will be strong enough to face whatever comes my way, because if nothing else, I can be quiet and trust Him.

And always remember my morning rituals, no matter how busy or distracted I get.

What a morning…

Soul Journey

Brain zaps. Vestiges of an antidepressant I want so desperately to be free of. The worn Band-Aid I no longer need but can’t quite bring myself to rip away quite yet… Insomnia. Random pictures sketched and water colored, paper soaking up rich pigments of fleeting ideas. The images flow out of my subconscious as I let them go… Finding my way in a world I haven’t quite found my sea legs yet it continues to captivate me daily.

Random moments of exquisite beauty. A “dangerous” thistle in a transplanted field of grain. She belongs here, they don’t…yet we pluck her away before she can take over. Never mind the bumble bees and butterflies she helps to thrive. Her demure beauty captivates me as her angry thorns juxtapose the radiance of her violet down. A siren call on a late summer night, catching my eye as I wander by. Society says she shouldn’t be here, but I can’t let her go.

She remains in my sacred room. She has a purpose.

Listen. Be quiet. Follow what resonates. Stop following the mindless drivel that plagues my existence. These songs, these words, my lonely thoughtful meanderings. My mind wanders until finally I lose my self-imposed shackles and let myself free. Dancing beneath diamond studded Milky Way skies, grass beneath my feet and the chill as my dance partner. I’ve never felt so alive as I do in these moments. An ancient melody calls my name and I must follow. The sweet cows bellow as they keep our tune. I don’t know where I’m going, and I don’t know why. Yet I follow…it’s the only thing I really know is right.

They say I should follow societal norms, be meek and obedient. They say. I tried to listen and obey yet nothing ever felt so wrong. My heart and soul tell me otherwise…

Songs that resonate so deeply my jaw aches with unshed tears.

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing ’cause I’ve built my life around you…

Can you accept my in my allness, my fullness? Will you still love me when I’m not the person I was 10 years ago? If it means I’m healthier, happier, more radiant and whole? Or would you rather I be the empty wine-soaked soul trudging through the days and nodding as I smiled meekly and obediently as I was did back then?

We were born before the wind, also younger than the sun…the Bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic…

There is so much more out there, so much we don’t know, or understand. So much more than the sitcoms and daily news. There is an entire life to be explored, and countless who have gone before us to show us the way. Those with open minds and hearts will see, and find this amazing path…

super omnia, caritatem <3

Benefits of Meditation

Running nowhere fast

Endless hamster wheels in rat races

Won by no one

Why?

What’s the point?

Silence.

Breathing in, and out.

I’m in this moment

Right here, and now.

Trying to make my world around me

Just as I need it to be.

Distractions.

‘I should’s’ roll around my mind;

Empty beer cans in the bed of a pick up

I’m worn thin

Saltwater taffy, stretched in all directions.

Diminished, pulled to a wisp

By everything I don’t know to not need

Listen.

There’s silence.

Don’t try to fill it

Just feel it

Silence

Home.

Everything is better through their eyes…

“…It’s easy to feel like your present situation is how it will be forever, when it’s viewed as negative or not favorable.

When it’s a positive time, it seems to fleeting before fading away to monotony or more difficult moments.

Yet when I look back on my now 34 year old life, whether in journal entries or looking at pictures with my grandmother, I feel I’ve so far lived a pretty blessed life. I might not have always been able to wear the expensive clothes or have the newest car, but that’s just materialism anyway, and doesn’t mean anything.

My family might not be perfect, and there may have been a few holidays with tense undercurrents for whatever reason, yet when I look back on them, I don’t remember the mild discord as much as I do feelings of gratitude of the many memories we share.

If I had it to do over again, I would remember to take pictures in the monotonous moments. The Cribbage game played to pass the time, grandkids sitting on their grandparents lap, eating ice cream. Doing the dishes together, then playing the worst game in the world, Aggravation, just so my dad could gleefully toss our marbles off our spot and watch us try to catch it before it landed on the floor.

Maybe I’m more of a pessimist than most, but I find it easy to dwell on the negative and lose sight of my blessings, something I’ve been working on over the last several months.”


I wrote the above back in September, after looking at some photos with my Grandma. I wasn’t quite ready to publish it for whatever reason. But after re-reading it now I can see how I’m progressing…I might still be a little too pessimistic at times, but for the most part I’ve realized that life is what I make of it, and if I don’t like something, change it. If I can’t change it, accept it & maybe try looking at it with a new perspective.

This holiday season it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed by all the things I *should* do. There is that word again–should. Who says I need to do all these things? If they don’t resonate at the moment I’m not going to force it.

We have the Christmas tree up. The train that goes beneath is completely derailed thanks to a very active 2 year old, and per usual our house looks like a toy bomb just detonated, but the boys are happy, and healthy.

Instead of looking at my overwhelming to do list, I’m going to look through their eyes. They don’t care if we miss a few traditions. Santa is coming! <3

The video is best if you have the sound on 🙂

Speak Your Truth, Even if Your Voice Shakes

I’ve chronicled my struggles with drinking and cough syrup ad nauseum. But why do I struggle with feeling like I need to self-medicate? Why do I look for easy ways out to numb myself, to stop feeling, stop thinking? What if I was doing it because I was afraid to admit who I really am?

At first I thought it was just because I had made it into a habit, and when I was bored it was just what I did. And then I realized no, that wasn’t it.

Then I thought it was from old emotional wounds and I was drinking because of this. This didn’t feel quite right, either.

I knew when I was chasing my spiritual side, my formerly unquenchable urge to drink diminished. In fact, it was the last thing I wanted. I had to relinquish the fear that I wouldn’t feel as connected spiritually without the cough syrup, but with my husband’s steady encouragement and support, I realized the need for over the counter cold medicine to feel something spiritually was a lie, too.

So as I peeled back all these layers, I found myself with a new truth, an uncomfortable truth to say out loud, but one that resonates so deeply within me I can’t deny it.

My Christian faith was so good for me, to me, for so long. It gave me the glimpses of something deeper that kept me searching for more, for my truth. Some moments of prayer and worship were ecstasy, while some things I struggled with, deep inside. Like a good Christian I stuffed them down and told myself I was being tempted, that it was sinful to feel this way.

Until I gave myself permission to let go of every preconceived idea I’d been taught of good and bad, right and wrong. I recalibrated my inner compass to follow my soul and not my brain.

I started connecting the dots. Hebrew is a magical language, based on numbers. It goes so much deeper than this, but there is a reason sacred texts were written in Hebrew. It lent a deeper meaning to the words, the letters even. Numerology? It’s directly connected to Hebrew. Shirley Blackwell Lawrence spells all of this out for me in her book The Secret Science of Numerology.

I keep following the breadcrumbs. Pythagoras (faint memories of high school trig come to mind, and I still remember a2+b2=c2) was on to so much more. These written words, when spoken, become vibrations. Sound waves. Just like music. And then she explains how there is a mathematical synchronicity between music notes and the color spectrum. Red is C, Orange D, Yellow E, Green F, and so on (Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, 911). She goes on from there and explains how it is all connected. God and science. Numerology and Hebrew, Tarot and astrology.

Growing up I’ve always had a fascination for Tarot cards and numerology, and the spiritual world. I just could never reconcile the two worlds (the esoteric/occult with Christianity) without feeling like I was doing something wrong. Blackwell’s book was the key I needed to reconcile the two and to let myself give myself permission to explore what really rang true for me.

Once I let go of my preconceived ideas, it was like the Universe just opened to me and I was realizing new truths everywhere I went, meeting people to guide me on my journey without even consciously seeking them out. A podcast (Weirdly Magical) listened to on my way home from work brought me to Lou Edington, someone who gave me so much of her time and attention as I was trying to figure all this out. When she did my astrology report, everything was so spot on, things I’d never told her or even my husband, she revealed after a glance at my chart. She gave me the encouragement to follow my heart’s desire with my art and nursing career, and gave me insight as to how I could reconcile the two (art therapy). She gently helped me come to my self-realization that I am not happy being a desk nurse, and this isn’t where my gifts lie. With this realization I spoke with my ever patient boss and told her I knew last year this desk job wasn’t a good fit for me and asked if I could work the floor as a registry nurse. I start Monday, and I am so excited.

I met a local woman who while looking for sage, who on first glance, felt like home. Kindred spirit, I found myself confessing everything of my spiritual journey as she nodded and smiled and showed me where the sage was.

A few weeks later, she helped me figure out what white sage looks like in the wild, and it turns out we have it growing everywhere on our property!

I started doing things instinctively. My husband couldn’t figure out my sudden aversion to plastic and wanting to compost, and watched with curiosity as I traded in my wine libations for tea.

I researched whatever called to me and felt right. I had my little diary, that I call my “Will o Wisp” diary, and would write down anything someone suggested, or that I read (it was my breadcrumb diary…the universe throws things at me so quickly I can’t keep up…)

This is the same diary that I looked back on recently and realized something that left me breathless. I never paid much attention to eclipses. But hearing Lou’s podcasts and reading her posts, that were so spot on, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. So I looked up where I was for each eclipse.

The first eclipse, of the year? In February? Was February 15th. The night I found Kelly Rae Roberts’ art class and decided to quit drinking, and inadvertently launched into finding my way back to my spiritual journey path. I was blown away. I had felt the need to chronicle my thoughts in this blog, and as I look back, finding my religion back then, reopening the door to my spirituality that I had kept so carefully locked away for over 7 years…

I started to realize there is a reason I always wanted to go into medicine. I’ve always felt called to be in medicine. When people asked I would tell them I wanted to be a librarian, an author, and a doctor when I grew up. I love the idea of being a healer, and have built up my stockpile of herbs bought from a local organic store and a local wellness store to research and study. Growing them is another story (except basil and aloe…I’m convinced they can pretty much grow themselves).

I bought books on Tarot, numerology, astrology. I don’t have the patience for astrology, and I find I don’t like hearing what’s coming up—it leaves my mind feeling muddled and overwhelmed–but I love looking at my diaries and reconciling everything afterwards.

I love my Tarot cards, the High Priestess, the Empress. I did my Tarot spread, asking what was coming up for me in the next 3 months. The final card, outcome, was Death. How fitting. Not death in the physical sense, but death in the way that I am being emotionally, spiritually reborn. I’m no longer a slave to my addictions–for the most part. I still fall down at times, but the times in between stumbling are getting further and further apart–and as I get better at recognizing my triggers–my moments of weakness, and then learning how to work through them, the less of a hold my addictions have over me.

The universe led me to the most amazing art therapist who seems to understand me better than I do myself.

My go to book for insight is Women Who Run with the Wolves. It’s so deep I can only read a little bit at a time, but then when I digest it it’s exactly what my soul needed to hear, and I realize the answers are all within, if I can only quiet myself and be still for a moment.

I find amazing Facebook groups that resonate so deeply, and meet fellow women who I connect with on an inexplicable, primitive level. Rewilding for Women is amazing, and I adore the women who I Zoom with on Thursdays, one of which who sent me sand from across country for my abalone shell. I receive a friend request from another girl who is planning to move back to Montana and was also in the Rewilding for Women, and she suggests a book. Women Who Run with the Wolves. I can’t help but laugh as agree with her how great of a book that is. I suggest Paulo Coelho’s Brina and The Witch of Portobello. Both books left me breathless and feeling so inexplicably close to something that I can’t quite explain.

She suggests another book–Witch. Unleashed, Untamed, Unapologetic.

I read the Kindle sample, then order it. It strikes something so deep, and visceral. The same feelings I had when my mom told me my sister and her were going to Salem, MA next month for a tour, and invited me to go with. I found myself finding a dirt cheap airplane ticket, and talking with my husband about going. I can’t really explain it, but it’s as if I’m being drawn to go and I need to see this, hear this story for myself.

But what about the negative connotations? The judgment? Condemnation?

It can’t be any worse that the self-judgment, the self-condemnation, of living a life barely half lived, a life of half truths and feeling empty inside. With every fellow woman I meet who dares to stand tall and say she is not afraid to embrace being a female, and is not afraid to meet her deepest, darkest fears head on, I feel a little more empowered.

And when I read of what happened to millions of women years ago, and what continues to happen to women via shaming and guilt trips, and suddenly I feel a lot more empowered.

It’s only when I deny who I am that I am weak.

It might not always be easy, and society might not always understand. But I know the deep love I have for my earth, my fellow women, the children, the elderly, the broken, the hurting, and my fellow women, and if using my power to help them makes me a witch, then that is exactly what I am.