Friday, April 22, 2011

You Are Safe

The last few days I have been staying at my parents' condo in Pacific Grove, near Monterey, CA. My husband, kids and I came up here on Monday in two cars, we had a great time together until Wednesday and then they went on home. And I stayed here. Alone. We'd planned it for awhile now. Three days. Two nights. In fact, I'm still sitting here for a couple more hours before I drive home.

If you know me personally you know that last year at this time, I was living in my own apartment, spending days and nights alone, every other week. I should be used to being alone.

And yet I was what you might call "totally freaking out" Wednesday as I got my husband and kids ready to go home without me. It was a combination of not feeling comfortable driving in this area (I am incredibly directionally-impaired and don't have a navigational system or internet on my phone) but I was also worried about...I don't know exactly. Intruders. Getting lost. Some of the fear was just irrational. Nameless. It was just THERE.

But I put them all in the car and waved good-bye. I slept alone, ate alone, watched movies alone, read some, wrote some, sewed some, and even drove down to the Monterey Bay alone. I had a good map but sometimes maps confuse me more, so I....well, I figured it out. I got myself from the condo down to the ocean alone. And back again. I even parked the car on a downhill, which is something I usually avoid if at all possible.

When I got to the Bay I walked to a little area with a bench, overlooking the water. I watched the waves crash. I watched seagulls scavenging for food. I listened to people walking on the bike path behind me. I took a couple photos. And I listened.

The last couple days I have been intentionally "open," wanting to receive/hear what my heart is saying. Sometimes regular life is too loud, too fast and too full to really hear. I have had a sense of anticipation since I planned these days alone; I have felt that I have been here for a reason.

So I sat there last evening on that bench overlooking the Pacific, a cold wind whipping through my sweater and hair, and I listened. Or tried to. First the anxiety came as I realized that no one knew where I was.

"No one I know knows exactly where I am."
"What if someone walks up behind me and grabs my purse? My wallet and keys are in there."
"What if the car doesn't start when I get back to it?"

Irrational anxiety clouded my head and made my stomach churn.

And then my next thought interrupted the anxiety almost as if a voice spoke it.

"You are safe."

And everything shifted in that moment. If somehow I lost my purse, or even the cell phone in my hand, or if I got lost, or if...whatever happened...I would be o.k. I. Am. Safe.

Friendly, happy voices walking by on the path behind me reminded me that the world is full of good people. They reminded me of the DOZENS of people who love me enough to drop everything and come to my rescue if I were in danger. But even the people riding by on bikes seemed friendly. They would loan me a cell phone to call for help if I needed it.

With new eyes I looked around. Even the waves seemed friendly...the same water that might have washed up on the shore of New Zealand where some of my dear friends live. Everything around me suddenly felt "familiar." I felt a part of the grass at my feet, the salty air I was breathing in, the waves crashing on the rocks below where I was sitting. I felt comforted.

Even if the unthinkable happens. Even if everyone I love was swept away. Even if the apocalypse happened.

I am safe.

Today I've been watching movies and relaxing before I head back home. But I've also been stitching something with a needle and thread, my favorite way to sew. It's a little square of pretty quilted Durham rose fabric and layered on top is a cream poplin and a row of rhinestone trim. On the cream poplin I stitched in pink,  "You are safe." I cut the square the right size to put on a tiny canvas which I will hang on the wall at home. Maybe in my room. Or my studio. Not sure yet.

But when I look at it I will be reminded of these days I took for myself. How I did what I was afraid to do, no matter how silly that might sound to someone else. How I pushed through all sorts of fears to sit by the sea. Something so simple but that felt so scary and hard for me until I did it. And how my real self whispered to me what I can now carry back with me into my "real life."

You are safe.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Even broccoli is shouting out that you are loved! Yes! Broccoli!

It's just human to question whether we are loved and loveable. But if we're looking and listening, we will see that we ARE indeed...

Even Nature is on "Project Make _____ (fill in your name) Know (S)He is Loved." Even broccoli is part of this scheme (see bottom left corner photo of the collage!).

WHAT IF what we experience each day just FEELS like abandonment and rejection...but is really a "messenger" (nod to Michael Brown there), invitation in hand, that invites us to open up, often through great pain, our aching hearts so that we can receive the love that is all around us?

WHAT IF "You are Loved" is the lesson we are all here to learn? After all, isn't that our most base desire? And, when you turn that over, look at the other side of it: it means we are perfectly-equipped TO love! We know how to do it because we know what we want!

Some of my readers are deeply spiritual but don't identify with a specific religion; some are "sorta Buddhist" ;), some are evangelical Christians and others...well there are probably as many different philosophies about how to look at this world, our purpose here, etc. as there are readers!

But somehow I can't see how this idea that feels like a song that has always been sung, low and steady, in the background of my whole life, but is now getting a bit louder, is inconsistent with anyone's beliefs, unless of course you are atheist. But even then, why not MAKE loving/being loved the purpose of your life? But if you are someone who connects with a specific religion or philosophy, isn't this a thread that weaves throughout all religions and all philosophies? Love is what we want most. Love, coming and going, is what makes life worth living. The desire for it is something we've had in us since infancy; we can't remember a time we didn't long for it.

What do you think about this desire we all have for love? What do you think about the fact that, if we could step back and look at the world from space, we would see every single solitary person on the earth with a longing inside to be loved AND the ability TO love? How silly would that look from space? Why aren't we loving the person next to us the way we so long to be loved? I have an evangelical Christian background, and even though I'm no longer a Christian, I can see Jesus saying in the Bible, oh-so-clearly, that this is the "kingdom of heaven" he was ushering in, modeling, and inviting everyone he came into contact with into!

So interested in what you all think....tell me, please! :)

*Photo credits:
1. the shape of my heart "winter love", 2. Hearts in Nature, 3. ... Heart'leaf ..., 4. Heart , 5. heart rock, 6. pink bleeding heart flowers, 7. Little Hearts, 8. Heart Strings, 9. Hearts and Flowers (dedicated to Bettie's Mum), 10. Hearts and Flowers, 11. heart, 12. heart leaf, 13. Heart of the (Broccoli) Forest, 14. Heart of Nature, 15. heart, 16. At the Heart of Nature - Nel Cuore della Natura

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Friday, April 8, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Practice of Love

I am thrilled to announce that pre-orders of The Practice of Love are available starting today! I am privileged to be one of the contributors to this very first collective project by Civitas Press, edited by Jonathan Brink. As many of you know, I recently started working for Civitas Press in an editorial capacity, so I'm proud to see this book hit the shelves for many reasons! I am confident you will be as touched by the stories in this book as I was; it is truly life-changing.

If you are interested in pre-ordering copies of this book, you can find the PayPal button to the right in the margin. You can also go HERE to read more about it.