Feeling the Feelings

Looking back at the past few months, I realize what feeling the feelings really looks like unlike any other time in my life.

Within a span of only 4 short months, I lost my Father and my Nana, both which I had extremely special relationships with, one for my entire life and one for about 25 years. More important than the time I had them in my life, was the impact that they had ON my life. True examples of unconditional love and support, acceptance and loving kindness flowed through every action and every word that they shared with me- words that I will hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life- words that will help shape and guide me wherever I go.

When I was about 8 years old, my dad taught me about mindfulness meditation. He didn’t call it that back then but that’s what it was. He would sit with me in our backyard every day to rest my eyes on the green leaves of our vegetable garden, feel the breeze on my face, hear the sounds around me and to slow down my thoughts and clear my mind. Perhaps it was his way of dealing with his own stresses or worries of raising 4 children and supporting a wife with health issues or maybe to quiet the constant hustle and bustle that filled the space in his mind. In this simple way he instilled tools in me that would help me take care of myself. It worked.

I was always thoughtful of the things I saw, heard, and noticed around me. I was perfectly fine being alone and in stillness sipping a cup of hot tea and feeling the warmth on my lips as it traveled down my throat and into my tummy.- soothing and comforting.  I am in gratitude for this upbringing that became so much a part of me and I am thankful for the opportunities to pass those tools to others every single day.

When I think about feeling the feelings, I look back at what that means. Yes, I went to work and yes, I showed up for my family and took care of what I needed to on a daily basis. But it wasn’t always perfect. Yes, I did forget a doctor’s appointment or two, and maybe I didn’t submit a form at my kid’s school on time and yes, maybe the house got a little messier than usual but I was honoring my journey being present and feeling the feelings along the way. I allowed myself to sit down and do nothing when I needed to. Nothing. When I felt drained and overwhelmed and couldn’t move, which I have to admit was quite often in the beginning, I held myself in loving compassion and said it was ok. I allowed myself to set more boundaries around taking phone calls or being out in public more than I needed to. I was doing the best I could. I still am.

What I did and still do, is hold both relationships deep in my heart. I slowed down to find comfort in the present moment, often times one breath at a time. I live the lessons that I was taught by these amazing beings and I try to be gentle with myself as I feel the feelings. I trust that I will make mistakes, some big and some not so big- we all do. And when that happens we can forgive ourselves and allow the process of moving forward with acceptance and hope...every step of the way.

No one is perfect especially during times of grief. We can strive to be better than we were the day before in some way but knowing that at any moment a song, a memory, a thought may bring us to tears- tears of longing, tears of appreciation and sometimes tears that we don't even understand. Let them flow. Flow is good. Flow means movement forward.

Give yourself the permission to let go of any outside worry as you go inward and welcome flow.  It doesn’t matter what others think of you because no one walks in your shoes nor may they ever understand your journey with your pains and struggles even if you tried to explain it- but YOU know. No two journey is the same. Whether your house is clean, whether you forgot a birthday or didn’t return a call- it doesn’t matter. You matter. Acknowledge your imperfections, make sincere apologies when necessary and know it does not define who you are as a human being.

Do the best you can.

That is enough.

YOU are enough.

Surround yourself with those without judgment and create a comfortable space from those with it. Find your people, those filled with love and light, those that let you be you regardless of what you look like or how much you may stumble or fall. Learn to let them in- to know your authentic self as you take the time you need to heal.

Every day I tell people I am sending them light. What I mean by that is that I am sending them love, acceptance, gentleness, compassion, joy, friendship and empathy...simply loving kindness. It’s important that we give ourselves the same light. 

So with courage and strength, with self love and compassion we trudge the road of our destinies with the light at the end of the tunnel getting brighter and closer. And with each step, we grow stronger, wiser and clearer of what is right in front of us. There are many miraculous simple gifts and blessings around us for sure. Being open to them will help us see them, appreciate them and embrace them. They will be an anchor to the goodness and positive energy around you.

The roof over our heads.

The food that nourishes us.

The air we breathe.

The love in our hearts.

Even though my dad and nana are no longer with me physically, I share good news with them. I seek advice from them, too and I quiet myself to hear their response. I envision their unconditional love and support and hear their wisdom through beautiful memories in my heart. I smile trusting that they are smiling right back at me.

The light in me sees the light in each of you. May you be gentle with yourself as you feel the feelings wherever you are on your journey- authentically in the here and now.

Always sending light,

Jo