how are you, today?

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Sheryl Sandberg encourages us to ask people in mourning, “How are you, today?” By emphasizing today, we acknowledge the bumpy nature of grief.

Sometimes, I think, asking, “How are you, right now…in this very moment?” may be even more appropriate because one minute you are fine washing the dishes, thinking to yourself about the awkward but funny comment your child made earlier (maybe you should stop referring to private parts by their correct names), and the next, you find yourself in a puddle of your own creation wondering what on earth to do next.

It has been three weeks since my mom died of metastatic breast cancer. Three weeks wrapped up in what feels simultaneously like 24 hours and 3 months. I knew this time would come and often wondered what it would feel like when it did. In the time forever marked as after. That picture was taken after my mom died. That was the kids’ first birthday after we lost her. 

The further I get away from her death, the more I feel like I am leaving the precious and intimately sacred space where time stands still and you are entitled, expected and even encouraged to be all consumed by the enormity of the loss. Friends and family wrap you up in a warm and protective cocoon. Thank God for that cocoon.

But time soldiers on. And eventually, you have to emerge leaving the safe and nourishing shelter as a completely different creature than the the one you were before you started the unwelcome but necessary journey.

You are a changed being now. You will never be the same. You start to acclimate slowly. You return home or the people you love go home. Work, school, plans, and chores resume and sometimes the familiarity is comforting and sometimes it just feels wrong. No, no, no this can’t be, I can’t be laughing and talking about Halloween costumes, my mother just died! In her house! And we were there. And it was intense and beautiful and heartbreaking but beautiful. Sometimes. Sometimes it was and is just plain sad.

I have been creating quiet, restful moments during the day. Grief requires this. And these are the moments when I relish the relationship my mom and I built and revel in the one we are still building.

As Thomas Merton said, “Silence allows many sounds to reach awareness that otherwise would be unheard.”

In this fruitful silence, I notice one palm tree swaying to it’s own breezy music while all of the other trees stand still. I hear the peck on the glass and turn to see a yellow finch trying to fly through the window. I am comforted, soothed.

Sometimes I talk to her out loud. Or I’ll say something to my kids that sounds just like her. Like the other day, as my son played piano in the dark, I walked into the room, flipped on the light switch and said, “A little light on the subject?”  How many times over the years did I hear her utter that expression? I love her expressions with their touch of humor and reliability.

As I feel the presence of my mom, I also feel more and more like her. And I remember the times when she would laugh and say to no one in particular, “I sound just like my mother”. Her mother, my grandmother, Nana, whom I also adored, still adore, and miss.

This week, my oldest turned 11 and my youngest daughter turned two. Our silly and sassy little caboose with brown hair, brown eyes, and a killer grin makes everyone in the room smile. Just like her grandma did.

When my brother said the day after my mom’s service that he knew he would be o.k., my sunny friend Derek enthusiastically said something to the effect of, “Well that is something!” And it is. Because sometimes it is enough to know that we are growing in the right direction. That in this moment, no matter how bumpy and how much we ache for the people we love, we know they are o.k, and ultimately, we will be too.

 

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i love you, i am listening

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When Rabbi Rami Shapiro was asked how he experienced God, he responded that God is the experience.

“How are you?,” asked a neighbor of mine the other day during a wave of abrasive heat on a walk with my dog. He asked in such a way that it brought me to tears. Right away. No time to think or process or adjust. Bam! Waterworks. I don’t know, it took me off guard somehow. I wasn’t expecting it. His asking was so earnest and innocent. So sweet. God is in the details some say.

The thing is, I am grieving. I am mourning. But the weird thing is that sometimes we do this before a loss. It is referred to as anticipatory grief. There are so many incremental losses along the way that can and often do paralyze us. Or when we feel triggered by the pain associated with our losses, we may feel more forgetful, angry, irritable, tired, heartbroken, distant, distracted. You name it.

And then sometimes grief does the opposite. You grieve. You cry. But then you feel like part of the world. Part of this seamless mystery that makes flowers bloom. Sometimes grief motivates us to be more human, more kind, more selfless, more apt to just get out there put our grievances aside and show up as much as we can, knowing that this is our one shot at doing so. No need to worry about saying the right thing, looking perfect, or sounding wise. That shit doesn’t matter. What is in your heart, that matters.

What a gift. What an opportunity. What a blessing.

Grief is internal but mourning is the outward expression of our grief. We need both. Sometimes solitude is the healing salve our soul yearns for and other times we need to share our laughter and tears with others.  We don’t need to say things are o.k. or well because they may not be in that moment. They will be again…someday. But crying right in the middle of a heat wave on the sidewalk happens sometimes.

There is no right or wrong way to do this. When we are grieving, our resilience is down and all of our emotions are so close to the surface. Seaweed floating on top of the salty sea. Seaweed, green, tough, and seemingly everywhere. And you have the choice to get entangled in it or swim through the clumps, revealing the clear water everywhere else. The clear water waiting to hold you, to support you, and wipe your beautiful tears away with an incoming wave, dispelling it and joining it with the rest of the sea.

We stop resisting. We surrender. We float.

And when we grieve, we don’t squander or squelch our feelings as much as we normally do, they just come out and recede like moving water, like passing weather.

And this too, as hard and awkward as it is, is also a gift.

Just swim through it like the seaweed.

After being embarrassed for much of my life about my readily available tears, I don’t apologize for them anymore. I don’t wave them away. I tell them I love them. I thank them. They are doing their job.

Which reminds me of a circle of lovely women I sat with recently on a nearby dock. On the steamy summer solstice evening, we listened to the lapping water and mind numbing planes overhead while discussing how we love ourselves in the midst of heavy, hard stuff.

Forgiveness. Self Care. Compassion. And sometimes if we are challenged to access this kind of compassion and forgiveness towards ourselves, we may think of how we would approach a dearly beloved friend and then turn that kind of attention to our own thirsty souls.

Life is here too in this grief. Laughter, smiles, rainbows, big colorful ones that keep appearing over the Bay, and then there is my littlest girl naked with a fuzzy halo on her head playing with flowers.

It is all Spirit. Truth. Source. God. You choose the name you are comfortable with, maybe there isn’t a name.  The soul in me and the soul in you.

It is the experience.

How do you love yourself? How do you thank your tears and your anger as well as your waves of joy?

They are all here to help us heal and to encourage our growth, to encourage our union with Spirit. Loneliness and Separation are an illusion. Or as my friend Erica said the other day, “a thinking error”.

It may be as simple as putting our hands over our hearts and saying, “I love you. I am listening.” – ( From the beautiful and soul enriching podcast, Live Awake by Sarah Blondin).

This is the experience.

 

 

 

 

ushering in the magic

“I am more vulnerable that I thought, but much stronger than I ever imagined.”– Tedeschi Calhoun

Some days I pretty much have it together. And to clarify, pretty much having it together means a sticker on the bottom of my foot (thank you friend for telling me in yoga yesterday), a dress on inside out with the tags whimsically blowing in the breeze and shit everywhere…literally, my baby took off her diaper and pooped on the carpet on Sunday afternoon.

I had it so together yesterday that a young guy walked up to my car and asked me if I was his uber driver. I said no and we both laughed as I drove off with my perplexed son in the backseat and an infant car seat next to him. Oddly, I was flattered which may be something I should explore with my therapist.

But really I am joking, I never have it together. The people that you think have it together probably have odd fetishes and aren’t that much fun.

Really, right now, I am sad. And grateful. And tired, napping in the middle of a sunny afternoon tired. My mom, my sweet, Oil of Olay and Tide laundry detergent smelling mama, is in New Jersey coping with cancer. Again. And I miss her. I miss our almost daily phone chats. I miss her visits. So much has changed these past few months. I want to be with her. I want to be with my kids and husband. I want to be on a beach alone. I want to be helpful. I  don’t know what I want or need or how to be of service. Mostly, I wish we could go back to the way things were. But I know that is not a reality. I try to stay present and thankful for what we do have.

This being human business is hard work.

I am rereading Broken Open; How Difficult Times Help us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser because I love it so much and need it right now. I read this passage yesterday and it gave me chills. I felt scared awe as Einstein called it. Tears glimmered in my eyes like the soft track of light from the sun’s rays on the water. The presence of soul…

” If our senses were fine enough, we would stand around with our mouths hanging open at the glory and grace of it all. We would sense the presence of mystery everywhere: the angels keeping us safe as we drive home from work; the spirits hovering around our children; the thin waft of light pointing us in the direction of The Road of Truth. All we can do is try to refine our senses. We can try to quiet the noise in our minds, listen for deeper instructions, and leap without fear beyond what we think is so”.

These times call for a lot of checking in and grounding in the soul. The sadness doesn’t dissipate but it is accompanied by a big blanket of love, acceptance, support and appreciation of the universal mystery weaving in and out of every waking moment. I am trying to let myself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what I really love like Rumi tells us to do, and trust that there is something bigger at work here.

And then, in addition to the sadness, I feel warmly alive, thankful, at peace (sometimes) and even happy (most of the time). I don’t take the abundance of blessings and kindness of friends and strangers alike for granted.

Being human is hard but more important than hard, it is sacred.

Connecting to others is a saving grace. And true connection soothes sadness.

Although, right now, I often want to cocoon myself up with a good book, I find when I have chatted with dear friends, over tears and hope, that it feels rich and life affirming  Like an unfurling rose. It leaves me feeling better because we just touched something authentic, sweet, and universal.

So often we want to run in the other direction but when we swim towards what is hard and face it together, magic happens.

Because we all suffer.

But in the fog of suffering, there are angels everywhere. My friends have reminded me in so many different ways of the beauty, joy, laughter and meaning in the midst of it all. No small act goes unnoticed.

Jenny told me to listen to beautiful music because it supports the nervous system and keeps the energy up. So I listen to music I love (when my kids aren’t yelling at our Amazon Echo to play  “Baby’s Got Back” or “This is How we Do It”) and it helps. Because of more music, we have been dancing more too. And singing. While my particular singing may not be beautiful, it does unburden my heart and tether me to something collective, something humans have been doing forever in every corner of the planet during good times and bad. My chest feels softer, more open, and not so achy. Glory, Glory, Halleluja, since I laid my burden down…

Stephanee mentioned grounding, supportive rituals and lighting candles. It too reminds me of all of the abundant blessings all around. All the beautiful light ushering in the magic.

I used to think I needed more time to engage in such rituals. That to meditate or pray, I needed to set aside special time. But now I just do it whenever however in my own imperfect, not together way. The intention is there and intention is big. I burn palo santo and sage. I light a candle while I do the dishes. I pray out loud for all of the people I love and know are hurting while I am driving around in my car. I write in my journal in the pick up line. I say yes to help and food and walks. And no to what drains me. I take a bath with nice salts and probably don’t wash my hair because it is too much work during a ritual!

Meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein speaks to this, saying that we don’t need to set aside time for spirituality, rather spirituality is simply unfolded into our days. The way we fold towels, listen to our children when they speak, and by being honest with one another about our feelings.

Grounding in the soul looks different to everyone and is often the medicine we most need. It may involve simplifying and prioritizing, getting in touch with what we hold most dear, and letting go of countless, energy depleting obligations.

This soul time means perfection has to go while compassion and self care takes center stage. Which for me means I must write this right now. But while I do, my baby girl is using an orange chalk pastel on the stucco wall outside. Sorry, Josh and thank you for understanding.

Engaging in small, meaningful rituals is a way to sustain the soul. Rest is always a good place to start.

Last week, I heard doctor and wife of Paul Kalanthi, author of the beautiful book, When Breath Becomes Air, say that while Paul was alive, he taught her that life wasn’t about avoiding struggle, it was about finding meaning.

One day, we will die but today we are alive. 

And our lives have meaning.

In Option B, Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, she discusses finding meaning during grief and how we build resilience. One activity that helped her after her husband died was to write down 3 things she did well each day before bed. Smalls victories, maybe seemingly insignificant ones like checking email but anything that kept her going, kept her knowing that she was doing what she could to be engaged with living.

We live with losses and grief and the older I get, the more I realize grief is never something you get over. Rather, it is something we learn to live with. And that anything, any small thing that keeps us choosing life, light, and living with compassion, kindness and connection is a good idea. Our souls know that we will be okay.

 

 

pain

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“If you fight the pain, if you resist the contractions, you cause even more pain. I told them that labor is like life and life is like labor; sometimes the most painful experiences deliver the best things-new life, unexpected insight, the chance to stretch and grow. This was the greatest lesson I learned in my years of delivering babies: don’t strain against the pain; learn its purpose; work with it and the energy of the universe will assist you.” – Elizabeth Lesser from Marrow, A Love Story

I wrote this post for the Tampa Bay Mom’s Blog because it is hard to be a human being. And after devouring Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Love Warrior, I’ve been consumed with how we deal with pain (mostly the emotional and mental variety) both at home and as a society.

I am trying (and trust me, trying is the operative word here) to give my children space to feel whatever it is they are feeling and without attaching my judgment or hope to their words. My internal dialogue may look like…why is he crying about this, it is not such a big deal, oh no they all inherited my overly emotional gene. On the outside, however, I am reminding myself to breathe and bring my shoulders away from my ears. I am whispering to myself to just stay open. I am praying to Spirit, to the powers that be, to help me to not mess it all up.

My concern is that if we teach our kids that it is not okay to feel emotions (why are you you so upset about this?) and express themselves, (you’re fine, stop crying) I wonder if they will in turn keep things from us. Big things. Like questions they have about drugs and sex as they get older. Or the disappointments and worry they have at any age.

If I can’t handle their truth, where will they go with it? What will they do with it? Especially if their truth has pain wrapped up in it. Am I inadvertently teaching them it is better to numb their true emotions then feel and express them in order to make others feel better? In order to keep the peace? In order to spare me dealing with my pain?

I know my kids won’t tell me everything as they grow up and if they did well that would be even harder! But when they do, I don’t want them dealing with my unresolved pain. So I am trying (once again trying not always succeeding) to take care of my heart and soul and all of my emotional baggage. If we don’t deal with it, we pass it on to someone else to deal with.

I now know that pain is a great teacher. And distraction is okay and even necessary from time to time. But in order to grow, heal, and be free from all that binds us, we need to feel that which calls us, even if for a brief, scary and awkward moment.

If you want to read more…http://tampabay.citymomsblog.com/2016/10/11/pain-pain-go-away/

creating from struggle

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The other day while giving my heart a little love on the elliptical at the gym, I listened to writer, Elizabeth Gilbert talk to a singer songwriter on her Big Magic Podcast. The woman had suffered through the death of her sister and was paralyzed with the overwhelming weight of her grief. She wasn’t ready to write about her sister. But yet she wanted to write about her sister. She was conflicted.

On these podcasts, Gilbert calls other creative people for their take and on this particular call, she reached out to novelist, Ann Patchett for her advice on how to help this brave young woman.

Her advice was that she absolutely had to write about her sister. She spoke of the two different processes at play. She spoke about the creative process and that one can “never shut a door to creativity.”

Then after allowing oneself the freedom to write whatever needs to be written, the decision becomes what to do with it. Whether to share it and what parts to share, keep it, or get rid of it.

Whether to keep the writing to ourselves or share it is our decision to make. But we cannot let this quandary of what to say, how to say it, and what will others think, get in the way of expressing our grief. Or any of our emotions and experiences for that matter.

Patchett said in regards to her own experience with grief and writing after losing a dear friend, that it was like “sticking her hand on the eye of the stove.” “How long can I leave it there?” Some days the answer was not very long.

“How could what I write possibly be worthy?” This is the impossible thing she says, but “in facing the impossible thing, you tell the truth. You keep trying. You realize the limitations of words and music to possibly express this love.”

But you tell the truth, you keep trying. Even if you can only keep your hand on that hot stove for a brief moment.

I believe when we write or create from a place of grief or struggle, we change our relationship to it. It becomes part of our life and not something to avoid. I’m not sure grief ever fully goes away. But maybe it can be transformed if we work with it, create from it, move with it, learn from it, and ultimately share it.

Listening to this story reminded me of an Oscar-nominated documentary by Tomasz Śliwiński called, The Curse about a young couple in Warsaw and their beloved new son. The boy, Leo, had been diagnosed with an incurable disorder affecting his breathing. He could only be kept alive on a ventilator. It was agonizing to watch but also beautiful to witness such love. The father and filmmaker said this of his decision to  film and then share their story:

“That period of our lives was depressing and devastating. But shooting this film helped us a great deal. It kept us going; instead of succumbing to depression, we could direct our energy into something creative. At the time, we were not sure if we were going to show this film to anyone – it felt much too intimate and private. However, after a few months I realized that we had gone through the universal process of coping with any obstacle, even one that seems impossible at first. It was then that I felt that we should share this experience with others. I decided to complete the film.”

When I read this for the first time I felt the desperation in his chest. The desperation in his chest and in his throat. It was too much to bear alone. But channeling his suffering into something creative and then sharing it, somehow helped change the experience. It was still awful and hard but there was so much beauty and love around it too. It was uplifting. It was almost as if surrounding his pain with art, he also made a new opening, a new possibility, a new realm to another more understanding world where pain can be transformed and healing occurs.

In another podcast I listened to recently, Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned that the definition of the word responsibility is the ability to respond.

It makes me wonder…How do we respond to struggle? To suffering, to obstacles, to grief, to being human? Do we do it alone? Can we do it together? How can we try?

It can be scary living and creating from such a vulnerable and open place. And sometimes it is scary for those of us viewing it. But it is real. And at least we are trying. One word, one brush stroke, one touch of the stove at a time.

For more info on Elizabeth Gilbert and her wonderful podcast on creativity, go to http://www.elizabethgilbert.com

and for more info on Leo and his brave story you can check out his father’s blog at http://www.leoblog.pl/en/

 

the choices we make

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“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Marukami

I learn something new every day.

Many days, it is the same lesson in disguise. Over and over again. I think I will be learning it for the rest of my life.

The lesson is this: We create our own reality. We choose how to share our energy within this reality and what thoughts and actions we want to focus on next.

I don’t mean that we make shitty things happen. Sometimes really bad things happen, and it is completely out of our control. It is simply not our fault.

Some people believe that nothing is random. But there is just too much sorrow and extreme suffering in the world for me to believe this exactly.

I do believe however, that no matter what happens, something good can come from it.

We choose what we want to believe.

And it may take a long time to arrive at this place. And it may take a lot of conscious practice. This is, after all, not an easy task especially when bombarded constantly by grim news.

While I was in college studying abroad on a program called Semester at Sea, I had the opportunity to visit The Peace Memorial in Hiroshima. There, where the atomic bomb caused such vast devastation that nothing grew for decades, were now proud trees and smiling children taking photographs with tourists, many of them American.

Inspired by the true story of a young Japanese girl named Sadako, colorful handmade paper cranes symbolized prayers for hope and peace. The story tells us that even while Sadako was dying from cancer, she folded hundreds of origami cranes in an effort to turn her attention towards praying for personal healing and the healing of the world. And with every crane, she made the brave decision to move toward hope and not away from it.

When coping with harrowing circumstances, it is as if we have been split open and the contents come spilling out, sometimes against our will. We may feel like we have little control over our feelings, thoughts, and reactions.

But turning toward our difficulties, not away from them, is what enables us to make the next thoughtful choice.

We also then become more empathetic to the fragility of the human condition. Maybe then we are more inclined to access the wellspring of compassion that lives deep within our hearts softening into our reality.

I have to admit, I get frustrated with people often. Sometimes I stew in this. But after awhile, I choose to believe that we are all trying to do the best we can with what we have been given. And the time between the stewing and compassion is becoming perhaps a tiny bit shorter which is helpful!

Because of the hardships that we endure as humans, our resilience grows and our souls bloom. We can also use these opportunities to become more aware of who we are; our values, what motivates us, and what we need to feel our best. We learn to honor our innate wisdom, surround ourselves with supportive people whom we can trust, and persevere by attempting to find meaning in our struggles.

And always we get to choose what to think and do next.

Fortunately, there are many people who have showed us the way. These uplifting stories are about ordinary people who choose to focus on the solution and not the problem, on the bright side instead of succumbing only to darkness…even though there is nothing wrong with the darkness, and it is an important place to pause from time to time.

Recently, I saw a story about a man who opened up the only store in his neighborhood in New Orleans. There had been no redevelopment there since Katrina. Not one single business. But this kind and determined soul literally spent all of his retirement money on opening a convenient store to help out his neighbors.

Along with selling the essentials there, he provides perhaps something far greater; a sense of community, respect, and hope where there had been little since the storm.

His choice was born from love. He chose to believe in abundance, not scarcity and made a courageous decision without knowing if he would ever be able to save the kind of money he had before.

I am always reminded that I too have a choice as to what to do next when yearning for things to be different than they are.

For example, when I am missing my dad, I am greeted with the eternal knowing that, more powerful than the sadness, is my desire to honor him and bring what I loved about his generous spirit to life.

So I envision what it was like to be in the same room as him. What stands out to me is that he profoundly appreciated the little things; the colorful hibiscus in the backyard, a gin and tonic at the end of the day, hanging with family, the celery in the tuna fish my brother-in-law made, and taking friends from the East Coast to beautiful spots in Arizona for a “50 cent tour.”

He never talked about the potency of living in the moment and looking for the silver lining. He just lived it.

So this morning when I found my tweezers in the car after declaring that someone had most definitely come into the house (again) at night and taken them, I celebrated as if I had won the lottery.

And why not celebrate?

We can always try, as hard as it may sometimes feel, to find something, even if it is one little insignificant thing, to be grateful for. This has become something of a mantra for me.

And these moments inspire other opportunities for gratitude to arise because gratitude begets gratitude. For a brief spell, we may even get to reside in the space of feeling thankful for all of it.

Because there is beauty and potential even when we feel there is none.

And while our genes are powerful and our circumstances heavily influence who we are, what we choose to tell ourselves is equally as important to our well – being.

Being human is the whole enchilada…the whole messy enchilada.

None of us have it totally figured out. And contrary to what we see on social media, no one is happy all of the time. No one is perfect. No one escapes loss. Or disappointment. Or failure.

But here we are.

And still we have choices to make.

Because this is our one beautiful, messy reality.

welcome home

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” – Wendy Mass

Last week through tear-strewn eyes, I watched a movie called The Welcome. My dear friend, mentor, and founder of the Exalted Warrior Foundation, Annie, recommended it. Thankfully, she also suggested Kleenex.

The Welcome is a documentary about 24 veterans who, along with family members, partake in a therapeutic weekend retreat, and through writing, talking, and listening, they begin to truly welcome one another home.

What transpires in this room and then later in a sold-out theater in Ashland, Oregon is awe-inspiring.

I felt myself break open as I watched these remarkably brave men and women bare their bruised hearts by sharing their stories. Witnessing their courageous work, one learns very quickly what the true definition of a warrior is and that anything is possible when you face your fears and allow healing to take place. By sharing their experiences, they help us all to understand a little bit better about what it is to be a soldier, and most importantly, a human being.

Their tales of battle, injury, and death are chilling. And often life doesn’t get any easier when they come home.

This movie had a big impact on me and left me with the realization that one of the most truly unselfish things we can do for others is to help heal ourselves. It brings to mind the familiar analogy of the flight attendant on a plane directing passengers to “Please adjust your oxygen mask first before assisting others.” We are of no help to one another, if we can’t breathe.

The Welcome got me thinking about how many times each one of us must return home, and re-enter our lives. Maybe not in the literal sense of returning from deployment or from a trip, but metaphorically, because whether it is falling off the bandwagon or recovering from a significant loss, diagnosis, or accident, we must gather ourselves, pick up the pieces, and rebuild our lives again. We can’t go back, but we can start anew.

Last Thursday as we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, I sat with my family listening to the Rabbi’s sermon about life and death, mourning, and awakening and thought of the men and women from The Welcome.

The Rabbi spoke of the wounds and scars we carry with us. He spoke of how they may never go away, but that over time we can change our relationship to the experience, the suffering, to the very thing that caused the bleeding.

And that is exactly what these brave men and women did during the movie, they changed their relationship to their suffering. To me it was like watching them write their stories, and although they had no control over what already happened, they were going to create the best life they could from this chapter forward. And grieving and mourning and healing doesn’t just end one day, it is a gradual process that takes time and a heartfelt commitment. It truly is work.

Similarly, it is something we are all called to do and often many times in our lives…we welcome our hearts back into our souls with grace, perseverance, hope, and faith. And over and over again, we step back into our lives, our worlds, our homes, and align ourselves with our souls’ deepest wounds and longings and discover our greater purpose.

It is all in the welcoming, and how we welcome all of our feelings, not picking and choosing just the pretty ones. It is how we welcome our loved ones when they walk through our door, how we welcome our friends after they have been hurt, and the way we welcome back our service men and women as they return home.

We can honor our own individual struggles by finding our vulnerability and courage to breed the strength needed to share our stories in the way (and with whom) we want to share them. It is not weakness to admit to feelings of sadness, loneliness, depression, despair, and isolation. It is, in fact, the exact opposite. Coming home to our hearts even if they feel broken helps us find true freedom.

And home is inside, it is always available within as opposed to being somewhere else, somewhere out there. It is behind and beyond our hearts, it is beneath the noise, clutter and busy-ness, and it is deeper than our culture shock, wounds, scars, sadness, worries, and fears.

Home is the still pool of water. Home is here to welcome you no matter what kind of shape you are in or what kind of day you have had.

May we all find the strength, hope, and ability to welcome ourselves (as well as one another) home.

For more on the movie, The Welcome, please visit http://www.thewelcomethemovie.com.

To learn more about Annie’s efforts teaching adaptive yoga to vets and how you can support the cause, please visit http://www.exaltedwarrior.com.