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releasing the old

When we hold onto the things, places, and people that we love for too long, we restrict our own growth and evolution. We remain grounded like a caterpillar who refuses to transform, believing she would not be safe if she lifted off the ground and was free to fly.

Our planet is in a state of transformation. We are not alone facing growth and evolution. As a global community we are experiencing a rebirth. Rebirth is messy, painful, confusing, exhausting, yet fruitful. We are in the process of bearing new fruit to be enjoyed by all. But first we must go through labor pains.

Since Covid landed on our shores, I have been navigating a personal upheaval of growth and evolution. The deep loss of a child, a move to the Midwest, early retirement, and the vast profound loss of my childhood summer home, handed down since my great-grandfather’s passing. The two cottages now had to be sold. We could no longer afford the taxes.

They held places where I sat with my grandmother and watched Perry Mason, in black and white; where I braided her long silver hair, after she let down her bun for bedtime. Where our family gathered for meals in a Sears catalogue cottage on the hill overlooking blue Crystal Lake below and Lake Michigan, appearing as a bowl of soup on the horizon.

Places in my aunt’s cottage, where mom, dad, aunts, uncles and cousins gathered on the cement patio with their clinking cocktails, while us younger ones nibbled on nuts, olives, crackers and cheese. Where, as an adult, I watched glorious sunrises reflect on the glassy lake, inspiring me to write from the soul.

Last month, the great old cottonwood tree in the center of the hill finally released one of its large lower branches to the ground, no longer able to support the weight, the circumference of which was twice the size of my waist. Where we carved love initials in the upper branches, where we climbed higher for a better view of the lake. The tree had lived a long giving life, but had to be taken down for safety reasons. It had been planted generations ago on the site of an old wooden outhouse. Good fertilizer for growth. Its demise symbolized the end of an era.

In a recent acupuncture appointment, I asked my acupuncturist to set me up with needles that would allow for letting go or something of that nature. With needles in place, she dimmed the lights and left the room. As I lay there on the heated massage table, relaxing, I heard the word, “Surrender.” And then, “There is grace in surrender.” And then, “Let yourself be lifted from the old.”

That final phrase, I slowly realized, put a positive spin on the process of letting go. It indicated that I had been burdened by the old. And, in many ways, I had been.

It is time to break out of the cocoon, and be free to fly.

Mother’s Day is back again

I don’t need Mother’s Day to remind me that my daughter was lifted into spirit last year, and is still gone from my physical experience.

I don’t need a collectively agreed upon calendar date for that. I get plenty of random “reminders” throughout the year, like on March 18th when her former boyfriend from high school texted me out of the blue because the news of her passing had just reached him, a year late. He was devastated. We shared a deeply significant moment of grief and connection.

I do need Mother’s Day to remind me to take the opportunity to delve deeper into the Love and the experience of being her mom for 42 years! To be reminded of the Joy and the “best friend” type of relationship we had, and to be grateful for that. Not every mom has such “luck of the draw.”

Womb Life

When we think of human lifecycles, we might think in terms of infancy to elderly. But there are other cycles or changes, not discussed in biology, that are unpredictable, yet they are waiting in the wings at any stage of life.

For 23 years I was an administrative assistant at a college in New England. When covid hit in March of 2020, we were all sent to work from home. I loved it! I felt like the introverts of the world had won the lottery.

The following fall, they wanted us to return to the office. I did not want to go back. Covid cooties! I prayed for an offer of early retirement. It came. They offered. I accepted.

I had been working part-time for my daughter remotely as an executive assistant. Now that I had more free time, she increased my duties, my pay, and my hours. Awesome. I loved working for her, and being in touch with her daily. Our close relationship got even closer.

She had been battling breast cancer off and on over the years. We thought her double mastectomy would finally be the end of it. But in October, the cancer returned. It had metastasized to her liver. More chemo.

Around that time, my husband accepted a better position with his company that required a move to their headquarters in the midwest. He’d have to fly back and forth on weekends until we moved. The job started in January 2022; I started packing up the house.

By March, we were loading furniture and boxes into moving pods. One Sunday amid the chaos of friends helping us empty the house, I received a text from my daughter’s wife that she was failing fast. I dropped what I was doing and flew to Brooklyn, a four hour drive. Halfway there, I got a text that she had passed. I stayed down there for the week to help with the granddaughters until their dad took them in.

I had lost my daughter, my job, and soon my house. I just kept going through the motions of moving, packing, tossing, donating, selling, cleaning, and searching for a place to land. We still hadn’t found a house to move into.

Finally in May, we closed on a house. We sold our New England home in June, made the final trek to the midwest, and moved into a new house, in a new area where I knew no one.

My identity had been shaken up like craps dice. I used to be an administrative assistant, mother, crafter, songwriter, and performer. Over the years, I had co-founded and sung in a top-forty band, formed a four-woman a cappella group, and created Melinda Marie, a stand-up comedy act. In my junior year of college (at age 63), I wrote and performed a one-woman musical.

Now, in my new life, there is silence. I’m now drawn to local libraries and reading books. Meditating. Yoga. Practicing mediumship. Now there’s an abundance of alone time to go within. Plenty of time for healing and grieving. Reacclimating.

Soon, fall will fall into winter when I usually hibernate inside. It’s like I’m in a womb, preparing for some kind of rebirth. My new identity is yet unknown, no sneak preview. The Universe has me on a “need to know” basis.

I feel no inkling of a desire to be out there performing…or hunting for a meaningless job for that matter.

Womb life. Kept in the dark. I’m being held in the warm belly of the Universe until it’s time for a rebirth. A new life cycle. (I kinda feel like sucking my thumb. Is that wrong?)

Navigating loss, identity, and love in the “Chapter 3” of our lives.

First of all, let’s be grateful that we even made it to the Chapter Three of our lives. Not all of us are granted that status. By this stage of life, my loves, many of us have lost spouses, parents, pets, friends, or have even experienced the loss of a child.

Loss comes in other forms, as well: Loss through divorce, house fire, loss of a job due to covid, retirement, or “restructuring,” a.k.a. being replaced by a younger, less expensive (salary-wise) model. (Not fashion model, no. That’s the spousal department.)

We’re older and hopefully wiser. We’ve been around the block enough times to feel, well, dizzy! And, jumbled in with our various losses is the potential loss of our identity. Who are we, if not the caretaker of our loved ones, be they aging parents, ailing spouses, or terminally ill adult children who need help with the grandchildren?

We ask ourselves, What’s next? How do I begin this new chapter? I don’t know how to handle being in limbo. I’m so used to working a job or being busy serving others and sensing or asking them what they need or want.

I have so little practice taking time for myself and asking, “Hey, rock star! Me? Yes, you! What do you want? What have you set aside all these years? What’s a new idea that’s been waiting in the wings to be given center stage? What makes your heart area warm and fluttery…besides caring for others?”

Be the caretaker of you for five minutes…or longer, if you can stand it! Try this exercise. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to get off the couch…except for pen and paper.) What and who were you surrounded by growing up? What or who in that scenario do you want to keep, work through, or toss?

Make a list of both “good” and “bad.” (I put those words in quotes because once we depart this lovely planet, those qualifications no longer exist, I believe. Those are human determinations that we created. But that’s saved for another chapter, isn’t it?)

Ok, pen and paper ready? List what non-physical traits you inherited or were subconsciously influenced by in your childhood. What values were held by the adults around you? What shortcomings were in play?

Below is my list in no particular order: (names/roles were withheld to protect the not-so-innocent, but you should feel free to embellish your own list as you see fit. No one will read it…unless you post it on social media!)

Teaching/education
Book writing and creative writing
Theater
Love of animals
Love of children
Spirituality/psychic phenomena
Victimhood
Subservience
Strong work ethic
Creativity
Dance
Music (piano playing, singing, songwriting)
Avoidance of conflict
Abundance/money is “bad.”
Abundance/money is success.
Reverence for Nature
Quaker meeting
Atheism
Soft spoken parents
Mental health issues
Divorce

I’m sure there’s more, but making this list will help bring you back to your roots and who you are and how you feel about the influences of your upbringing.

End of Part I.

“Is it ME??” Dealing with a narcissist.

Spirit reminds us that our greatest teachers in life are our enemies, the ones who cause us the most strife. Well, then. There are a few in my life who deserve the Teacher of the Year (or lifetime) award. I’m sure you have them too. None of us get out of this unscathed! But hopefully, in the process of circumnavigating obstacles, we gain wisdom and strength.

Narcissist #1 came into my life when I was 16. Of course, no such label was known by the family about her. No. We all had to figure this out for ourselves. Being an empath, it took me years to unravel the mountains and valleys of deceit, the twists and turns of deciphering the hidden manipulation, gas-lighting lies, and wedge driving that was instigated by this individual. I spent decades thinking it was me that had to change, to rise above, to love unconditionally.

I tried all that. It worked for a while, and then back down the mountain of deceit I fell.

We need to recognize, dear Empaths, when we have been enticed into their sticky web with kindness, generosity, and charm. Narcissists excel at this façade, and save their rage for those to whom we show allegiance outside their circle. They’ll tell outright lies about them to drive a wedge of distrust and keep you for themselves.

“Narcissists present a false self, where they can seem charming and intelligent, and even giving, until you don’t do things their way, and then they get cold, withholding and punishing,” says Judith Orloff, psychiatrist and author of The Empath’s Survival Guide. They’re incapable of feeling empathy, although they will use such language to their advantage.

Narcissists require admiration, attention, and allegiance. Perhaps this was lacking in their childhood. Whatever. Not our fault, Empaths! Not our path. Not ours to fix!

The hidden toxicity of this relationship is dangerous to one’s mental health. Empaths endeavor to create harmony. Narcissists relish in creating chaos. It’s a no-win situation. Keep your distance and recognize the behaviors before they suck the lifeblood out of you. Like mosquitoes, they seek out their prey: Empaths, the bleeding hearts of the world.