The heart loves silence

Have you slowed down enough to listen?  Where can you slow down enough to make space for the silent whisper of your heart?

There is so much silence here in the mountains.  On our daily hikes we have found secret meadows for a picnic, and spots where we can dip our feet into the cold mountain streams.

I have taken to meditating by the mountain stream.  The rushing water creates a background of pink noise that you can zone out to.  I imagine sending my energy and stress down to the earth and into the stream.  I invite the pine tree energy and the cosmic sky above to flow universal energy in through the top of my head, and mingle with the earth energy.  I can smell the pine trees, I can hear the running water.  I am sitting on the moist earth after a night of rain.  Running these two energies through my body clears out any “cobwebs” or stuck energy that I have picked up thought the day.

My two dogs sit beside me, drawn by the energy.  What a privilege to be here in the mountains at this time, insulated from the chaos in the rest of the US.

You can always find stillness inside if you slow down enough to listen. I would love to hear what is your place that allows you to get to still inside?

Storage past lives

Its amazing what you discover when you are moving.  I have had my belongings stored in my friends basement.  Now she is moving and it’s time to get everything out.

I have been living in Colorado and my belongings are stored in Canada.

Going through your stored belongings, is like going through your past lives.  Your hobbies, your half-finished projects.  I  find a finished piece of stained glass mosaic.  When did I  create this? 10 years ago?

Another box holds your theatre life in Montreal ,Canada from age 24-30.  I pull out the poster Laughing Wild by Christopher Durang  It was my first juicy lead role at age 24.  Then another poster Blatantly Sexual produced at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto.  A play I wrote and produced.  This was when you were dating your first real love, and thought you were so radical and creative and was out to prove it to the world.

A third completed project a stained glass piece, of a girl on a hill, the girl is in red while the hills surrounding her are clear white glass. Reflecting on it now it looks like a lonely image.  Perhaps that is how I felt in my 20’s.

Finally my angel wings I made out of metal ready for a garden.  Meanwhile these wings have only seen the back of storage.

Why do we hang onto these random objects?  Is it because they tell us who we were?  That we existed. That we were creative and daring at some point our life.

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

~ Brené Brown

split between two countries

Living a life in two countries.

It is a strange subversive stress to live in one country (in this case the USA) and have your friends and your belongings in another country (Canada).  I live in Colorado and I am adapting to the differences in culture.  But despite how much I love my new husband I am always feels torn.  Torn between the familiar, the ease of Canada and the strange individualistic culture of the USA.

As we flew here to Canada from Denver a mother and father with twin boys boarded the plane.  They asked a man if he would be willing to trade seats with the husband who was in the back of the plane as he would be separated from his kids and wife.  The man refused to move, he liked his seat near the front of the plane.

For the next two hours the kids screamed and the mother screamed, I bet he wished he had traded seats on the plane.   I remember thinking he must be an American.  Most Canadians would have given up their seat.

When we landed in Canada we came through as one family.  I had a Canadian passport and he has an American passport.  I thought we would get pulled over for scrutiny.  Instead they said to my partner “Canada welcomes you”.  What a sigh of relief!

Living in the USA without the right to work is stressful.  So is not being able to leave the country.  I  sympathize with the undocumented hispanic populations who live in fear that they will be kicked out.

I am relieved to know that the end is in sight—- I will have all my life in one place soon.

I believe as humans we are territorial.  This means we desire all our stuff our belongings in one place.   I have had my belongings in Canada for 8 months, while living in Colorado.   Have you ever felt split?  A part of you is in one country and part of you is in the other? My heart is with my new husband, and my heart is also with my elderly best friend, who is in Canada trying to manage her house on her own.

For me finally having the right to travel and go to Canada, to have my belongings all in  one place,  is a feeling of being home.

We had a Canadian wedding reception.  Ritual is so important to mark rights of passage.  For me this reception helped me know and feel I was married.  To be witnessed by a community of people I loved and who love me in return.

I would love to hear from others who are living life in two countries…………

Let go of the oars *

I saw on a bulletin board the phrase “Let go of the Oars, everything you want is downstream….”

When I was 16 I immigrated to Canada from England.  15 years later I went back to visit England with my new Canadian husband in tow.  I always felt British in my blood, and that England was my home.  When I went back in my 30’s I had changed so much, I no longer fit into the British way of life.  Most Brits thought I was American.  I was shocked, I did not realise how much I had changed until I went back to visit.

I had a similar experience recently when I had a single friend visit me here in the Colorado mountains.  He was interested in the nightlife in the mountains.  I really have not been out in the bars late at night, as my fiance does not drink. I wondered if I was missing out on the live music and the dancing scene by staying home every night.

With my single friend visiting we went out on the town in Breckenridge.  We first went to a bar called Apres where they serve craft beers. It was fun, I had a dark beer from a Fort Collins Brewery.  We met people from Miami who grew up skiing in Breckenridge.  We met lots of young folks from Florida who grew up in the heat, hate the heat, and love the snow and mountains.   Then we went to the Gold Pan Saloon which was loud and we left. We Finally ended up in the back room of another bar called the Motherloade tavern.  We sat and watched attractive 30 somethings hooking up around us.  One couple had just met three days ago, she was from Denver and he was from Miami, they were on their third date and they were very cute. I kept encouraging my friend John to go and talk to women.    He went up to ask a woman to dance and she said no.  I mean really? it’s just a dance.  Everywhere people were doing shots of Fireball whiskey.  The band started at 9pm and people were dancing on the tables, with pint glasses smashing on the floor.  We were standing on the ramp to the back room, and within 15 minutes the place filled up.   We were  pressed up against two other rows of people on the ramp hanging onto our pint glasses.  People were screaming in your ear to talk to you.  One guy beside me got up and sang with the band and did the Rolling Stones song Ssympathy with the Devil.  He rocked the house.

The energy of the place was drunken hook up energy, or as they say here “hitting the mountain”.  I said to my friend John “if I was a cougar I would have easy pickings here” as everyone was in the 20s or 30s and pounding back shot after shot.  I realised that this was no longer a place that I fit in.  I missed my fiancée who was home in bed, and I could not relate to the drunken hookup artists around me.   I just wanted to go home.  I waited  until my friend was ready to go.   I was relieved to be home.  I realised I had emigrated from the country of singleton to the country of relationship, and I was not missing a thing.

*Image credit:  By Motmit – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Manchester by the sea

We just saw the film “Manchester by the Sea”.  What a deeply moving movie.

It’s a story of a young man who just can’t forgive himself.  My heart broke for him.  He was on strike with life.  Leaving a place where everyone knew him at his home by the sea, to go live in a one room basement in a big city away from his past pain.  Every time he went home he was reminded of his past, reminded of his pain and his heartache.

How often have I run away from pain, changed locations and thought that I was leaving my pain behind.

The irony is that we take the pain with us, inside us no, matter where we are physically.  We can change locations and get new partners. But still the heartache is kept alive inside us.

As I watched that movie my heart ached for the character played by Casey Affleck.  When he meets his ex-wife in the street, she wants to forgive him, and love him, but he could not receive the love, as he could not forgive and love himself.

This movie was a moving portrayal of an extreme circumstance of loss.  How often have I played out situations or circumstances where I don’t forgive myself. My unforgiveness is being on strike with life and it becomes a habit or a stance.

Is there anything you have been stubbornly hanging onto from the past, that you are  in unforgiveness around?

There are many benefits in not forgiving ourselves.We get to continue to punish ourselves and play the victim in life. We get others to feel sorry for us and justify our backdoor behaviours, like being cruel and impatient with ourself and others.

Right now as I wait for 90 days for my immigration permit I tell myself that I am “trapped”, that I don’t have choices.   I feel frustrated and impatient, as if that official piece of paper will give me permission to shine.   Someone asked me what would a spiritual leader do in this situation?  A spiritual leader would be disciplined and use this time to expand, write, meditate and create.   Time is something that people crave and associate with abundance.  Rather than see myself as being punished I can see myself in abundance, in a time to be me, to flow to shine, to listen to my spirit.

 

 

Flashbulb memories

“Flashbulb memories are nearly photographic recall of paticularly shocking events. The specifics of flashbulb events can change in our minds, but what is nearly impossible to erase is their emotional impact”   Michael d. Lemonick- The Wall Street Journal.

For me being in a new relationship I have constant flashbulb memories of moments in my past marriage.  When someone dies it is not the big romantic moments you remember, it is the small silly details.  This morning my new partner who I am living in the mountains with went to the fridge, and grabbed a slice of baloney.  He smeared it with mayonnaise.  I sat there entranced watching him roll it up, and pop it into his mouth with such glee.

I was in a complete flashback to my previous husband who loved baloney, he used to make bread, butter and baloney sandwiches and freeze them.  He would take a stack of them to work.

When his doctor told him to cut back on fat due to high cholesterol, I nagged him about his baloney habit.   Flash forward to now, watching my fiance, pop baloney into his mouth made me feel warm and sad, there was a bittersweetness to the memory.

Memory is an interesting thing.  I was thinking about what causes us suffering in life, and I believe a lot of it has to do with hanging onto memories.  Hanging onto the past, investing life force energy in past experiences.

Recently we went to see my finance’s mother who has alzheimers, she was joyful, happy, living right in each moment because that is all she has left.  Is this not what we strive for in enlightenment?  To live in the moment?

What is the purpose of our memory?

Researchers tell us that our memory is designed to help us accumulate knowledge to make sense of the world and to navigate it better.

I know my memories are not exact, they are my interpretation, and from my perspective, and speak to the emotional impact the experience had on me at the time.

How often do we have “relationship flashbacks”?  Where we notice something our new partner does, and it triggers a past memory postive or negative from a previous relationship?

Viking energy at ULLR festival

Getting from the Denver airport to Breckenridge at an altitude of 9,600 ft  in the mountains has been a real challenge.  The highway was shut down going down the mountain, and closed returning from the airport.

There was no snow in Denver, but the highway up the mountain was closed due to an avalanche.

My fiancé was determined not to spend yet another night at the Econolodge by the airport, so we braved the back roads returning from the airport along with all the other locals.  A two hour drive turned into four hours with speeds of 40 mph.

We followed a mountain shuttle driver who picks people up at the airport.  Thank god we were able to follow his lights in the driving snow.  It was the kind of snow that hypnotizes you over long periods of driving.

When we arrived home our cars were buried by 2 feet of snow. Our  plough driver said he needs to bring in a front loader to remove the snow, as there is too much to just plough.

They closed the ski area at “A Basin” because there was TOO Much snow.  Who ever heard of that happening?  The local radio tells us there has not been this amount of snow since 1917, over a hundred years ago.

I started to wonder how men and women survived 100 years ago in this snow.  We had ordered home-chef delivery and our box was somehow at our door buried in snow.  It reminded me of the miners who had groceries delivered by mule train once a month, and often found boxes of frozen food in the snow bank in spring – and the food was still frozen.

My fiancé shovelled for 2 days straight and we are expecting another storm this weekend.

Now we find ourselves saying “what have we done moving here”?

We arrived and stopped at the store for eggs. Inside there were 5 or 10 people wearing viking helmets.

They told me today is the start of ULLR festival.  ULLR is the god of snow.

We were told to go into town and get our viking helmets for the parade.

My fiance ran to town and came back with two viking helmets covered in jewels and fur, with only 5 minutes to spare before the festival began.

We put our helmets on, grabbed our dogs and headed down to the main street.  There were 1,000 people lined up to do “shotski”.  That is a series of skis bolted together the length of the town, with 3 shot glasses per ski velcrod to the ski.  Everyone had viking helmets on.  There was a master of ceremonies counting down.  Everyone took their shot of whisky off the ski at the same time.

This was followed by a viking parade, where they chanted “ULLR, ULLR, ULLR”

Then there was a huge town bonfire where they burned all the old christmas trees.

It was great to return to this crazy energy.  We went to the irish pub and had fishbites and listened to live music and danced in our viking helmets.  Where else could you do this?

This gold rush town is true to its roots of wildness and self-expression.

My fiance said this is a town where you can be yourself.  I reflected upon the accounts of women in the 1800’s who said that they were able to be themselves, no longer confined by society’s expectations.

This bubble  in the mountains called Breckenridge is a unique town, with unique energy.  It just makes you want to stay up here in the mountains until spring. Who knows what summer will bring.

What a crazy adventure this is!

Life grief

 

Have you ever experienced any grumpiness or grief as life changes?

Have you ever gotten what you wanted and then found it wanting?

Whether it is a new job or a relationship,  you have reached your goal.

I believe as humans whenever we have any change, wanted or not we experience a levels of grief.  Even if it is a change that we have dreamed of.

Eckhart tole tells us “There are two ways of being unhappy. Not getting what you want is one. Getting what you want is the other”.  Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth.

I believe we all experience this grief to differing degrees. Is it acceptable to acknowledge this grief in change?

In America I can see this in a bigger way with the turnover in presidents.  There is a grieving of what is known and familiar, along with the excitement of the unknown.

Being a foreigner in America, I find I grieve small things that I took for granted in Canada.  Such as HP sauce that I had with my eggs in the morning, which is not available here. These small familiar things act as markers for home.

Even if home was sometimes predictable and boring.  I believe my mind wants to cling to the familiar to protect me, to keep me safe.

In the mountains of Colorado the scenary is unfamiliar-and I am unfamiliar. My identity is changing, and my ego wants to cling to the old me.

For years I prayed for love to find me, I asked my dead husband to help me.  Now my prayers have been answered and I am in a push-pull relationship with all the good that is coming into my life.  Being in a new relationship and living together is a big change after 8 years of living alone. When you live alone, sometimes the loneliness vibrates throughout your very being.

When I was living with my good friend Pauline, we each did our own thing.  We watched the news and ate dinner together, but that was the limit of the togetherness.  We always did our own thing.

In this new relationship we sleep together, we wake up together, we do things together.  We process our feelings together.  That is a lot of togetherness.  Currently I am not able to work, as I wait for my immigration to be processed for  residency. This gives me a lot of time at home.

I feel like there are two parts of me, the old grumpy widow who is stubborn and is used to doing her own thing, her own way.  The other part of me is the excited tender part of me that is so grateful to have love in my life.  To cuddle, to cook together, do yoga together.  I feel that the old self, and the new self are trying to cohabite but are in conflict, like difficult roommates.

There are times when I stay up until till 12 midnight when my fiancé goes to bed at about 930pm.  I stay up and watch British tv shows, and tell myself I am doing exactly what I want to do.  This feels like me time.

He has expressed an interest in going to bed together at the same time.

Why am I so resistant?

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

A sheltered oasis

 

For the past 6 weeks I have not driven my car.  Instead I have walked the mountain town.  Shuttling on foot from yoga, to the coffee shop, to the grocery store, the dog park and back home .  One of our goals was to live somewhere where we could walk everyday.

During the week between Christmas and New Years there were 160,000 visitors in a town that has 4,500 permanent residents.  I was glad to walk everywhere as drivers were impatient and the traffic was bumper to bumper.  In this mountain town, the sidewalks remain clear and walkable due to hot water pipes running under the cement.  Quite brilliant.  It’s too bad Canadian cities have not done the same.

My favourite “date” with my fiancé is to get a soy caramel late, and take the 20 minute free ride in the gondola up the mountain.  It is so silent riding the gondola. We glide above forested wilderness. From the gondola we have seen moose, red foxes, and bears. There is marshland, and frozen water that has nothing but animal tracks. It is like a moving meditation in the wilderness with no effort exerted. All in the comfort of a glass cabin in the air.

Heading down the mountain range to the Denver airport is a trek.  We got the car warmed up after 6 weeks of sitting.  We dug it out three times as it was snowing constantly.  We left Breck and drove an hour at 35 mph, getting about 15 miles to Silverthorne.

The I-70 on-ramp was closed, and the Eisenhower tunnel was closed.  We were turned back.  Only then did it dawn on me how isolated we are in the mountains.  There is only one way down, and if that is too dangerous to pass you are turned back.  We took it for granted we would be able to get to the airport and travel down the mountain with ease.  This time we missed our flight.

A simple trip down the mountain becomes a two-day voyage due to the mercurial weather storms that blow through the mountains suddenly.

The next day we got through the pass, my ears popped 3x on the way down the mountains descending from 9000 ft to 5000 ft altitude.  There were two air masses interacting half way down the mountain that caused a pounding headache for us both.

As we descended, the wilderness of the mountains surrounded us. What a blissful bubble the town of Breckenridge is. Only 15 minutes outside the town there is no phone reception, no clear roads, no gas.  At any moment the visibility could be zero, with snow falling off the mountain cliff or an avalanche that shuts the highway.

Imagine being in this mountain town in the 1800’s gold mining halfway up the mountain. Imagine living in a rough wood cabin built from the surrounding trees with the snow blowing through the cracks in the walls creating a snow carpet onto the floor.  I watched a documentary called the Ladies of the mines. It depicted the life of women who were wives of the gold miners.  Their job was to cook, wash and educate the kids.  One woman’s diary from the time period said that “she felt free in the mountains to be the woman she wanted to be.” In one photo she is shooting a gun with her husband and wearing pants and a cowboy hat. Written accounts from the time talk about breaking with convention of what was expected of women at that time.  In this mountain town women rode horses, set up schools, took in the miners laundry, and had their own income.  One women referred to missing the mountains when she went back to normal society, as women led aimless lives “with calling cards and an invitation to tea”.

Were these 1800’s women feminists before the word was coined?  Were they bucking the traditional role of women at that time.

I guess that is why so many people come to the mountains, to reinvent themselves without conventional roles or expectations put on them.  Is that what I am doing here?

What would you do if you had no expectations put upon you? How would you re-invent yourself?