Friday, May 18, 2012

Breathe - Part Two

So, the first week of May, my daughters and I completed a journey to Sedona, Arizona called Freedom from Body Memory. We were told to expect life changes upon our return. I had such conviction that first day back that I knew what my next steps needed to be. I immediately drove to an apartment complex in Franklin Wisconsin and signed a lease.

Today is May 18th. It should have been a day to celebrate my 16th wedding anniversary. I am celebrating it at my new apartment,alone! Well, actually not exactly alone. I am surrounded bythesounds of birds and a great big old raccoon sauntered out of the nature preserve to say hi as well!

When Jim and I married, we had each already experienced divorce before. We made a promise to each other that if the time ever came that one of us wanted out, we would not make it a painful experience for the other. In our own way, we are honoring that request. I came back from Sedona and shared with him my revelations. At the end I thanked him for the lessons I had learned during our years together.

Tonight, I sit in peace, having conquered one of my fears. I faced the fear of the unknown. I pulled that blanket down away from my eyes and here I am again, looking out at beauty!



Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Power Animal!

One of the lessons learned from my Sedona journey is to open up our awareness to all things that present themselves to us. Entertain the possibility that all things happen for a reason. On the first day of the journey, I sat enjoying coffee and listening to the sounds outside our rented home. In minutes, I heard the buzzing sound of a hummingbird. I have always been intrigued by these littlest of birds and this morning, seeing this particular bird gave me great joy. And I found myself asking it, "What are you trying to tell me this morning, little bird"? Then, we spent the day with a powerful woman by the name of "Healing Wolf" and she reiterated the sense that I had long believed. Animals do carry messages to us! I was told about a book that could actually help guide these thoughts and the one purchased was "Power Animals - How to Connect With Your Animal Spirit Guide". What I read was that Power Animals are "spirit guides" that serve to guide you through challenging times. They are meant to protect, guide, and provide us with encouragement and inspiration.

I read through the first part quickly and understand that my Power Animal might be one that I am especially drawn to...and the first one that jumped into my thoughts was the hummingbird! I turned immediately to these pages and find the following:

Hummingbird's Message to Me - "I love life! It's such a treat to be able to fly backward, forward, up, and down. Lots of flexibility as to which direction I go. I'm especially sensitive and careful about who I let close to me, so if something seems at all scary or intimidating, I'm outta there!". Does this sound like me?

but then the message continue "Say yes to life! Taste the sweet nectar that is always nearby, even if you have to fly around for awhile until you find it. Know the only true prison you have is the belief in your limitations. Let them go, and experience the abundance of love and opportunity that's all around".

Still the message continues to speak to me. I will take more time to study this book and the power of animal spirits. It's intriguing, isn't it? Think about the possibility that animals, flowers, trees all exist for a higher purpose - to guide us along this journey called life. All we have to do is open ourselves up to it and just Listen!

Oh, and just so you know, each day as I sat on my rock waiting and thinking about the lessons I was to take from the climb, I was visited by the hummingbird!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Redefining Me - Conclusion ( for now)


The mountain became a metaphor for my life and the lives of each member of the group. My journey stopped me short of the top both times leaving me out of the loop on the aha moments of the others.

My daughters shared stories of how they pushed through fear. Erin's was found on a narrow ledge.

Katie surprised herself with her strength.

Both of them complimented me on mine! I had not felt strong or able! I had spent hours, instead feeling trapped by my own fears! As everyone prepared to leave, Bob tentatively offered his card. I looked him in the eyes for the first time and then hugged him, saying "I'm so sorry I yelled at you. And I don't generally use inappropriate language. But thank you for pushing me to my limit"! He very quietly just said, "That's my job"!

I had not been a full member of this group, twice not being able to join the learning circles, yet as each said good-bye, they added such wonderful words of support - "you were an inspiration!", "I will always admire your strength to keep going even though you had no idea what this journey was about", " every time you spoke, I was taken by your insight". I will channel these words every time I find myself feeling like a failure!

What I did come away with, though, was that I had climbed MY mountain! I had reached a place that now gives me a strong conviction to love my life, to push forward with power, to know that I have more strength then I think I have, and to face fear head on!

Deeper then before, I also have a new respect for the strength of my daughters! I will never allow myself to be a burden to them, nor will I ever stand in the way of their life journey. On the last night, we raised a glass in a toast that we will "hold space" for each other's issues but know that it is up to each one of us to solve them ourselves. And no matter what, we will love each other, unconditionally!

Life is short! We each have to find the ways to live it 100%. Ending with no regrets! I am on the right path again! The journey to Sedona became a journey within! I found a group of people who each climbed their own mountains. We all left stronger!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Redefining Me - part 3

We're climbing again today! It's not as steep as the other and when we get to the top, you'll have a 360 degree view of below!

I am already panicking. I go to Bob and say, "I'm only going as far as I feel comfortable today. I don't want to slow everybody down". He just responds with, "whatever you say"!

We start the long trek and he tells the two slowest walkers to lead the way! That would be me and another lady who is 66 years old and has hip problems. We make the flat path part of the journey look like we are seasoned hikers. At least in our minds! But then the path starts leading up the rocks and there I am again feeling weak and unable! Bob is yelling from behind, "come on, Jane, use those legs. Let's go"!


Pretty soon others are passing us, easily climbing those rocks. My feet slide and I become more and more nervous. The 66 year old lady is helping me! Bob tells her not to pull me. I need to use the power in my legs! I keep climbing, panting, sweating, and thinking...I want to stop right here. Bob keeps pushing me forward. " find your feet. Feel the solid ground. You don't want to stop. Wait till you see the top. You can do this. I sip some water. Take a few breathes and keep climbing. Slipping and sliding on pieces of red rock, wanting to enjoy the moment but feeling only fear. Others seem so able to move from rock to rock up the hill. I have to study each one to find the most secure path.

I reach a certain level and we're told to stop and take a break. "Hey Jane! High five! You made it half way"! Half way? I'm exhausted and this is just half way? We are to turn and continue. The climb becomes steeper. Bob is right in my ear saying "you don't want to give up now! You have more strength then you think. Dig deep. Push yourself"!

And then it happens! I look at a rock that I can't imagine climbing up. I don't have enough strength in my legs to push up this rock. I start to breathe fast and hard. "I can't do this one"! "yes you can". "No, I can't! Leave me here I'll be fine". "The top is right there. Thirty more feet and you've got it". "No, Bob, I can't. Let me stay right here!".

Then Jonathan says "maybe this approach would work better. All you have to do is ease across the front of this rock and then climb up this side".

I look it over and decide to try. Easing myself across the front of this rock, I try not to look down. I'm almost to the other side when I realize the the assent is still steep and I reach full out panic! I start to cry. "I can't do this. I need to go back". It's then that I realize that I don't know how to go back. I'm afraid to turn around! With some help, I am turned so I can face the rock, but then I start sliding. Not much, but I can't tell where I sliding to so I cling with my whole body to the flat surface of this rock and the horrifying fear takes complete control. I can't move! There is nothing to hold on to. My hands are sweating as I desperately cling on. Jonathan is right behind me saying "you're perfectly safe". But I don't believe him. I can hear that the others have made it up. Why can't I do this? I start to sob. Deep painful sobs that seem to come from nowhere I have ever been before! Jonathan stays with me saying "let it out. Release it. Let it go"! Sobbing, sobbing, sobbing! Frustration, anger, fear, helplessness! Deep painful despair! And then it's done.

I quietly still cling to this rock while Jonathan says "you'll need to push yourself away from the rock and turn your feet into the rock so you don't slide". I think that I can't make myself do either of these things. And then from above, the group starts singing Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a retch like me! I once was lost, but now I'm found. Was blind but now I see! Somehow, I gather every bit of strength I have and push my arms away from the rock. It was surprisingly easy! My feet followed and I find that I can ease back across the face of the stone. A couple of slides and reoccurring panics but I make it back to solid ground. I am relieved but totally spent, happy to stay put on yet another rock while the rest of the group continues to the top once again!


For the next two and a half hours, I sat in this spot trying to come to grips with what had just happened,thankful to be on a solid surface but humbled by how fear had taken over my entire being and rendered me frozen. While the rest of the group continued their journey to the top, each fighting their own demons, I had found mine on the side of that rock!

How much of my life has been defined by fear? I think of how I would sing to myself as I went into exams or class presentations "I have confidence in confidence alone and so you can see I have confidence in me"! How many times in my life had I not done something because I lacked the confidence? How many opportunities went by me because I had too much fear to see them? How much of my life had I settled for something other than what I wanted because it was easier to just keep the peace. How many times did I avoid a confrontation because I was afraid of the fight that might erupt so I sat in silence like my dad?

I closed my eyes and let a peace come over me. "Let go, let God".

We will each die when it is our time. We have just one brief moment on this earth to enjoy. I had been pulling a big heavy blanket over me, covering my eyes so I couldn't see...but now I let that blanket fall away and all that's there is beauty!

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a retch like me! I once was lost, but now I'm found. Was blind, but now I see!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How Do I Define Myself? Part Two

So the next morning arrives and I feel stronger and ready to tackle the day...dancing, swimming, whatever. I don't want to be defined as a quitter!

We get to the first destination and we're greeted by a woman who will guide us through a ceremonial dance designed to help us open up memories and feelings from our past. This is the second time we experience the tradition of the "medicine circle". As we face north, we are to think about how we might have felt as a baby and let our bodies move in a way that would depict that. I start out rocking slowly, inhibited but moving. With my eyes closed I forced myself to be that baby but then in rushed the words of my mother..." you were a very fussy baby! You made your brother and sister so mad because they had to rock you and rock you!". I started rocking and moving around in the circle, holding this fussy baby!

Then we were told to face south and bring forth our inner child. Think about being playful and carefree! I could hear the others as they seemed to easily take on this role, laughing and dancing in crazy circles! I tried to feel that child in me but it wasn't clear. I was glad when we were told to face east.

Facing east we were to bring out the shadows. Think about your ancestors, those who have gone before you. What lessons did they leave for you? Think about your parents, your mother. What did she teach you? The answer came flooding into my brain---FEAR! My mother taught me to be afraid! We were to keep moving and dancing to represent the shadows to acknowledge their presence in our lives. I was completely in my own space, in my own head, the feeling of anger replacing inhibitions.

Finally facing west, feel the sun on your face. Gather strength from it's warmth. Feel that strength fill your body. Bring forth the lessons from infancy, childhood, and your shadows. Acknowledge their roles in your life but now think about how you want to move forward. I feel it. I know it. I want to move forward strong! Now join everyone together, making one sculpture. Choose one position and hold it. I make a fist and raise it towards the shadows. Fear cannot define me!

Leaving the circle and heading to the next destination, I am happy that I had chosen to come back. This "dance" had just clarified so many things for me. I felt confirmed that although I have deep hurtful memories from my past, I don't need them to define me. But now we arrive at a place that requires us to walk across a stream from stone to stone. Well, there goes my strength again. I feel fear. I don't want to slip! The last time I slipped, I injured my knee so bad that it required surgery. I finally decided that wet shoes were a better option then falling so I just stepped into the water and walked across!

While everyone swims, I talk to Marla. She too is facing a separation from her husband. She said they are still great friends. She had finally thanked him for the role he had played in her life and for the many lessons she had learned from him. She left him feeling whole and because of that, they were both able to move forward.

Before we left this final location for the day, we were asked to share our thoughts. I said, "you know, I had not planned on coming back. After yesterday, I was angry, frustrated and humiliated. I think mostly at myself but also at Bob! But after talking about it with my girls, I do know that I don't want to be seen as a burden. This is my journey and I need to make sure that I don't expect others to carry me. I also know that I have an awesome opportunity to be a great role model for two fantastic daughters. I don't want the shadows to define me! I want my lessons to be about strength not about fear! And Bob, I'm not mad at you anymore. I understand what you were telling me"! Later Bob said, " yesterday, when you sat on that rock for three hours, did you see anyone pass you?". I answered with "no". He continued then, "do you get that? Do you understand that most people only take the hiking paths down on the ground?". He then just walked away leaving me to process what he had just said.

I had felt bad about not making it to the top of that mountain. I felt like I was weak and a quitter. In his quiet subtle way, Bob had just told me that I had actually had more courage then most people! Do you get that, Jane?

How Do I Define Myself? Part One

Today was a journey that pushed me, angered me, humiliated me, and then guided me back to the ground.

I worried about this day, not of the potential revelations but of the physical challenges. I braced myself with good shoes and a pair of walking sticks. Looking at the mountain we were to climb made me tear up! I can't do that! I was reassured. It's a slow steady climb. Looks can be deceptive! So I started.

Already on flat ground, I am out of breath. I can't keep pace. Bob hangs back with me. Tells me to just go one step at a time. No problem. Sip of water, catch my breath, keep going. Then the climb begins! It's not just walking uphill, it's climbing up rocks! I do the first couple and then I feel the fear! I can't do this! Yes you can. Feel your feet, trust your feet. You don't need the walking sticks. They get in your way. Trust the strength in your legs. I don't! My legs are the weakest part of me. I start to cry and I'm told that I'm releasing! Releasing what? Maybe frustration...maybe anger...but about what and at whom! Me? Bob?

So then Bob says " I heard you say that you like traveling with your girls because they push you to do things you wouldn't normally do"!  No offense, but do you really want to be a burden on them? They have their own journey. Yet they are here worried about you! Do you want to keep them from their own journey? Of course the answer is "no"! "How old are you anyway"? When I answer with "61". His response is "my grandmother is 84 and still runs circles around us". So I push up several more rocks, angry and frustrated. I don't want to be a burden. I am not old. I can take care of myself. But then the rocks getting higher and the fear deepens. Now it's replaced with "How am I going to get back down"?

Bob says "is this where you want to stop? I spent four hours with another person once and I swore I was never going to do that again! Is this where you want to stop!". "yes, go, go! I don't want to be a burden. I don't want to slow you down'!  "Ok, you have water. You have food. Stay in the shade!"

So there I am on the side of this mountain, higher then I thought I'd ever go, sitting and waiting for the others to finish their climb and come back down. I sat there for three hours!

I sat and first thought about how stupid I was for trying this anyway. Then running over the words that Bob said, I spent the rest of the time thinking about how much I don't want to be a burden on my kids, how I want them to experience their lives the way they want.

My next thought was I am sitting here alone. So much of my life has been dealing with things alone. Everyone else is at the top of the rock. I find out later that they are "unwinding" - what ever that is - but with the support of each other. I am sitting on a rock alone!

All of a sudden, I think about how hard it is to be alone. How frightening. Perhaps the choices I am making to leave Jim are all wrong. Maybe what I should do is show the courage to stay in this marriage. Perhaps my job is to help him get the help he needs. He told me as well how desperately lonely he was in Florida. He also told me that Erin and Katie were not going to want me around all the time. Now here was Bob saying the same thing! So ok, if I ever get off this rock, I will just go back to Jim. He wants me and it's comforting to think about just letting all the stress, anxiety, and fear of leaving behind.

So there it was, my reason to be alone on this rock was to figure out that I needed to go home!

Three hours later, I hear a voice. Jonathan is coming back down followed by three others. "How you doing Jane?". I just start to cry. "What's the matter?" all I can say is "I'm afraid to climb down". "Here, take my hand, I'll help you"! I make it off the rocks and I walk the rest of the way with thoughts that are so conflicted. I don't want to burden my daughters. I want to show them a strong woman.

Bob calls out "Hi Jane! How you doing? My answer was, " You know what Bob, the lesson I learned from today is that I am alone and I need to figure things out for myself! He says the typical stuff like "How's that worked for you in the past? My answer is "It doesn't seem to matter. It's been this way my whole life! I'll figure it out!". Then he says, Here take my hand! I reply with "You wouldn't give me your hand when I couldn't get up the rocks, why would I need your hand now on flat ground"?

He walks on!

Later that night, my girls share their insights about the day.  I say, "I don't think I'm going back tomorrow"!  I was still angry and frustrated as I recounted the way things happened from my perspective. They had worried about me being left behind but had been told that I was fine and in the right place for "my journey".  The next day we were told that we would be dancing and swimming!  Great!  Two more things that I don't feel that good at!  Let's just add to the humiliation, shall we!

Then, Erin says, "You are not a burden to us.  You have always pushed us to do things and you have never held us back.  Bob just heard a couple of things and thinks he knows you and us!  He's just wrong... Mom, what if Bob was intending to make you angry?  What if he did that on purpose"?

I showed them the picture that I had taken from "my rock".  Erin said, "Look at this, it's beautiful! If you really look at it, it could have deep meaning.  The cactus is like all the prickly parts of your life, the two yellow flowers could be us, the tree stands protective, and the horizon just shows how much beauty there is out in the world if you just look out at it."  I smiled and gave her a hug.  Wise beyond her years!

Then a red cardinal landed on a tree branch.  Katie asked who I thought that cardinal could represent.  We decided that it could represent my brother Dave.  Then Katie said, "What would Dave think about your decision to return home to Jim"?  I said that he would just weigh the facts.  So we started laying out the facts of my marriage to Jim and in the end the fact was that my decision to just stay with Jim was not about being strong but instead it was about staying just because it was easier.  If this weeks journey was to prove to us that we are strong and capable women, then I needed to not give in so easily.

If this week is to be about being strong and capable, then I need to not give in so easily...I need to go back tomorrow!

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Today begins a journey!

This morning, I was up early! Coffee cup in hand, I sat in this beautiful swing and just listened to the sounds! There is running water far below. You can make out just a hint of a stream! Bird sounds come from every direction.

Then, while I sit and take in the beauty, I hear a buzz! Right in front of me is the most charming hummingbird! There it is, fluttering wildly and staring at me. What are you trying to tell me little bird? Do you also see the beauty in this day? Let's both just take it in, shall we?

Let the journey begin!