I started to write this post on the eve of the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and now we are just a day before the celebration of Christmas. A time of reflection and a time of renewal as we look forward to the beginning of a New Year.
I have been contemplating writing a “Christmas Letter” blog post for a few weeks now, but it has been slow pulling together my words. It may be because 2017 was a year filled with many changes emotionally, physically, and spiritually… a year of total immersion into my mind, body, and spirit.
I am finding that the older I get, the more I learn about myself. This past year was another year of my education which included some pretty intense curriculum along the way.
Our year began with great sadness when our beloved “fur baby”, Gracee, was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer and died within three short weeks of diagnosis. For being a person who has always been pretty comfortable around death, the transition of my Gracee girl totally knocked me off my footing and I fell into an ocean of grief.
I believe that I was a child born into a grieving family for a purpose… a soul purpose to be a light for those who mourn. This life purpose has put me in front of many death & dying experiences, including the death of my father 27 years ago, but I have to be honest, none affected me as deeply as the death of my precious Gracee.
It has now been 11 months and some days I smile while thinking about our special times together. On other days, I still cry with a deep sadness in my heart because she is not physically here to see with my earthly eyes, or to touch with my human hands.
I have experienced the many faces of grief… begging the Universe to heal her when she was diagnosed, anger that she only had 6 years of life, guilt because I did not recognize any of the signs or symptoms early on, and acceptance when I knew that it was time for her to pass on.
I believe I have become a much better coach for my clients who are dealing with grief. I know that the emotional tides for them will change from month to month, week to week, and sometimes day-to-day. I understand and honor the journey of grief with a more compassionate heart than I did before.
Life Lesson #1: To truly understand grief, one must experience it.
In February of this year, a new pup found her way into our home. Little Hope moved in which brought me a variety of emotions, including joy, sadness, happiness and frustration, as we maneuvered our way through the rapid growth and exuberant energy of a young puppy. She is now a year old and a most beautiful, smart, curious, and very fun-loving girl.
As I reflect on the past ten months with Hope, it amazes me how quickly she has changed from a tiny little thing to a fifty pound bundle of enthusiasm and energy. We recently finished our first formal training program together and to see how quickly she caught on to her lessons was an inspiration to me – if Hope can integrate her life lessons so quickly, why shoukdn’t I?
When we go through life experiences that are difficult, bringing hope into our mindset can be tough. However, if we allow our hearts to be open to Hope, we will begin to experience moments of happiness that will build upon each other. Within time, grief will slowly take a back seat and beautiful memories will fill our thoughts with gladness.
2017 Life Lesson #2: Hope can be both challenging, and comforting.
We experienced so much joy in April as our son and his wife celebrated their marriage. To have all of our children and our grand-daughters together was a true blessing. The time went by in a blur of activity, but what remains in my mind’s eye and within my heart, are the images of our family and how we have grown over the past 25 years. Our little children have become these most wonderful adults who are strong, capable, and heart-centered. Our little family of five is now nine strong with the addition of two more daughters and two grand-daughters over the past six years.
Our family is a true blended family in which the same DNA is not shared among most of us, but the love we have for each other is what bonds us together.
2017 Life Lesson # 3: A true family is created from love, not genetics.
In late April, I found myself with a pretty significant back issue. I had severe pain in my low back which radiated down my left leg, causing my leg and foot to go completely numb. As a nurse, I knew that I had done something that irritated my nerve pretty badly.
In my prior life, I spent 25 years in the workers compensation industry where I witnessed so many people sustain an injury to their low back and end up with scans, injections, and often times, surgery. I knew that was not the route I wanted to go for a couple of reasons: 1) I did not carry traditional health insurance (and I was paying for my medical care out-of-pocket), and 2) I knew I could heal myself with some help through alternative treatment.
Earlier in the year, I had been trained in Spring Forest Qigong. Qigong is working with our energy (Qi), to help us balance it, which allows our bodies to function in a healthier manner. I worked with the simple exercises and meditated, while treating with my chiropractor and acupuncturist.
I spend about six weeks in pretty significant pain and the numbness in my leg was quite concerning, until I went to a meditation led by Master Chunyi Lin of Spring Forest Qigong.
As I sat in the Lotus healing meditation, something happened that changed my life… I walked away from the meditation with my low back pain GONE! Truly, within that one meditation, something shifted inside of my mind and within my body, and I walked away with zero low back pain.
The only way I can explain the shift is that I opened my heart, allowing grief to leave and love to flow in. My unconditional love for others opened up my heart to bring unconditional love and healing to myself.
2017 Life Lesson #3: Love Heals
By summer, I was able to hop on my trike and spent some wonderful time in “road therapy”. I even managed to ride to Colorado and maneuver the mountain passes with ease! Ken and I spent many hours on our bikes this year, riding whenever the weather and time would allow.
There is something about getting on the bike, even if only for a short ride, that cleanses the mind and the soul. The wind seems to “erase” all feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, stress, or hurt, and replaces it with peace, calm, and contentment.
2017 Life Lesson #4: Take the time to do what you love
This fall brought many changes in my life. I started a new position with Spring Forest Qigong in late September (which is why my blog posts have been few and far between). I am honored to be able to work with Master Chunyi Lin and help to make his vision of “A healer in every home and a world without pain and suffering”, a reality.
I work with a small group of dedicated people where we all have the same purpose – to support and help others learn how they can heal themselves. To be able to talk to people all over the world and be a compassionate “coach” for them is a true honor.
2017 Life Lesson #5: Make a living based on heart-centered purpose and abundance will flow in many different ways.
Master Chunyi Lin
I also had a wonderful opportunity to spend time in Southern France this Fall, with 6 companions and a beautiful guide by the name of Veronique. Our trip was centered on walking the path of Mary Magdalene, spending time in the area she lived for many years after Jesus’ crucifixion.
I started this trip with no expectations and no research of the area. I finished the trip filled with a deep love and understanding of the people who had such a love for Jesus and the message he had brought forth during his time on the earth.
Which brings me to my ending of this Christmas Letter with a simple message born from the birth of a beautiful baby on Christmas Day many years ago:
Know that each and every one of you are a spark of the divine light, just as Jesus was. You are just as special, just as holy, and just as revered as Jesus, because you are his brother or his sister.
You are a child of God… a child of this Universe.
As you enter into these days of Christmas and the New Year, please fill your heart with unconditional love, kindness, forgiveness, and compassion for yourself, and every one you meet.
Merry Christmas and Many Blessings from my heart to yours!