My husband and I have an annual tradition of going somewhere warm and beautiful for a week or two. We started four years ago as I was ending radiation. I felt like my body had been ravaged from surgery and radiation and wanted to take my body someplace warm and beautiful. We had never really been beach people, we live in the northeast, so we were skiers. Since undergoing cancer treatment I feel that I want to be gentle with the body, treat it well, give it everything it needs for health, comfort and resilience. We have spent long glorious hours on the beach watching the tide move in and out, the clouds rolling by. It has connected very strongly in me to the fluid nature of our lives, our bodies, our minds. Everything is moving and changing moment by moment. In our ordinary day to day busyness we can forget. We treat our lives, our thoughts and emotions as if they were fixed, permanent. When I am sitting by the ocean it is easy to connect with the ebb and flow and impermance of my life. It is OK, all is well. As I transition back to my life and the start of a new semester I will hold the vision of this beautiful place (by the way this is one of the fabulous beaches in Vieques, an island off Puerto Rico) and try to connect with the feelings of ease and contentment and count my many blessings.
Over the past few years I have chosen a word to carry throughout the year. It has proven to be a touchstone, a question, something to ponder over. Previous years words have been Open, Accept, Allow. This year the word Release has come forth as a direction for 2016. The dictionary defines release as: allowing or enabling an escape from confinement, allowing (something ) to move or act freely. What in me wants to be released? Released from what?
Ultimately I know that I am moving towards the ultimate release. I am of an age that I know my life will end, it is no longer an abstract concept. When I look within there is still worry, fear, concern and all sorts of questions. What does my future hold? Will I ever be able to retire? How do I want to spend the rest of my days? What has my life been about? Why does fear still come up? What am I afraid of?
In case you are thinking that I know the answers to these questions, I do not. I do know something about holding a question, coming to myself in the present moment and seeing what is there to be seen, trusting that I can handle whatever is seen in the present. I look forward to the journey of the next year and seeing how the idea of releasing works it way through the year. I can think of some things I might want to release: fear, possessions,pounds, worry, expectation. In my gut I know that this release needs to come from a larger place than my rational mind, this is beyond the mind. It needs to be felt and experienced from a deeper place. Let the journey begin.
I am preparing for the New Year by doing an online retreat, Women Unleashed. I discovered the retreat this past August and ended my summer by following this retreat. It proved to be a wonderful way to bring the summer to a close and prepare for the fall semester of teaching. The retreat made a tremendous difference in starting off the semester in a calm, focused way which amazingly continued throughout the semester.
The above photo was inspired by a guided meditation in the introduction to the retreat. Some of the imagery from the meditation was a spiral staircase leading down into the belly, finding a doorway, opening into a field and then a circle of trees. I have recently been creating self portraits in various apps and have found that something deeper within can get expressed in the process. A few of my favorite apps are Pixlr, Enlighten, Waterlogue and PhotoBlender. I have avoided having my picture taken for most of you life, I am generally the one taking the photos. I have found in the process of creating these digital self portraits that certain information is revealed about myself. In the above photo there is this young wounded one whose voice has not fully been experienced. My intention for this retreat is to create a safe playful space for this one to emerge and express whatever may be needed.
The retreat is free and available until January 31,2016 at theradiantmama.com.