Fierce Freedom

 Trinity Episcopal Church, NW Portland, OR.  New Years Eve labyrinth walk, 12/31/16

Trinity Episcopal Church, NW Portland, OR.  New Years Eve labyrinth walk, 12/31/16

This will be my 23rd blog post. I found that hard to believe when I went back and counted. When I first started Nurture Your Journey, I knew I wanted to have a blog. Moving into my middle years I have reconnected with my passion: writing. This gave me a forum to share. Plus, it would give followers (hopefully) a reason to come back, which I heard was “good marketing.”

What I didn’t anticipate is how it would start to evolve. My original intent was to write reflections on themes related to nurture, heal, create, explore (the words that came to the forefront as I developed the focus of my practice,) grief and loss, personal growth and spirituality. I wanted to offer gentle reminders about self-care and draw examples from those I respect and my own life to encourage followers in their daily lives. And I wanted to post a few poems, so I could encourage myself to keep writing, to be brave and take risks.

After a hiatus from posting back in the fall, as I completed and submitted my first poetry manuscript titled “Withstanding,” I discovered that writing deeper, more personal blogs was calling. You may have noticed that in my two most recent offerings. I have also been inspired by the posts of other courageous, fierce, women writers. For a practical, responsible, grounded gal like me, revealing more personal history is scary. But the word that keeps coming to the surface for me is FREEDOM. If I keep relying on my old habits and ways of coping, I can’t be free. So I have decided to trust my loving Creator and trust my intuition and loosen the old ways. I’ll make mistakes, offend, and have days I want to crawl into a cave. Yet as Anis Nin said, "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

Most of my friends and co-workers have bid “good riddance" to 2016, even amidst births, memorable vacations, graduations, and other life milestones. Maybe that extra leap day tipped the scales. Maybe it was the election and other turmoil around the globe. I know I felt heaviness both personally and in a community context. My divorce was finalized in February after 33 years of marriage, my mother’s unfolding Alzheimer’s disease increased use of blackout curtains to conceal her memories, and on the 29th of December my pug companion of 15 1/2 years took his last breath.

Where to take the heaviness and grief? For me, it is the labyrinth. My New Years Eve ritual: walking a labyrinth. This New Years Eve as my right foot entered the container of the circle, flicker of candlelight reflecting off polished wood, my tears fell. I invited Hugo (my pug) on my walk, knowing I would release him in the center. I brought Mom’s lost memories, a marriage dissolved along and moved forward, following the curve of the path, winding toward the center then out to the edge toward candle glow. In and out, back and forth. A few others shared the space, walked, even danced their own pace, focused on their journey. And the tears continued to caress my cheeks, wet my shirt. I made no attempt to stop. No shame felt in drawing water from this deep well. The center welcomed me, a womb embrace of her vulnerable child. I sat and sat and sat, eyes closed, ears hearing the whisper of harp music playing in the background. Remaining tears crept down my face, not tears of sorrow but gratitude. As I released the heaviness of the year past, all I could say was “thank you, thank you, thank you” to the Holy One who cares for me and gratitude for those who love me and accompany me on this journey and will be there for me moving forward. Though there were still tears of sadness on the way out, there was also the lightness of release. Grief still lingers, as I expect it to. My grief is fresh at the death of my beloved dog. I believe he hung around this last year to help me get use to living by myself—someone to come home to and greet me with a stub-tail wag. Another gratitude.

The deep need to recognize a new year is a human designed ritual to mark beginnings and endings. Often changes in our lives, monumental and small, need to be recognized, celebrated and even grieved. Yet in our grief-shy world we can move almost seamlessly from one event to another. If we don’t take time to stop, sit, breath and reflect, grief falls into the marrow of our bones, fossilizing. This fossilized grief can be loosened from bone, resurfaced and wept over, yelled at, held tight, comforted, released, healed if we are willing to create the space.

2017 will be. It will just be. I have invited the word FREEDOM into my life along with DISCERNMENT. I may discover some of my own fossilized grief resurfaces. I expect my humorous side will make appearances. My radical feminist will most definitely be more present. She is pissed (which is why the word discernment was given to me I believe.) The fierce women writers I respect are offering me permission to quiet my internal censor, allowing my own fierce, raw-self to appear in my blogs and in my poetry. I welcome you to join me.

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Withstanding

How can a body withstand this?
By floating in water and letting waves
    lap over with gentle caresses.

How can a heart withstand this?
By airing laundry of life’s losses and
    allowing sparrows to splash in puddles of grief.

How can a mother withstand this?
By gliding across the floor, shoulders back,
    head high proclaiming dreams.

How can a daughter withstand this?
By infusing the stories with cayenne and ginger
    and drinking the spiced brew.

How can a woman withstand this?
By relishing her body as primal
    with power to birth the antidote to fear.

How can women withstand this?
By communing together with a new vision
     chanting until a cloud of peace reigns.

© anne richardson 2016