The Invitation of Abundance
I invite you to visit a farmers’ market this time of year. The abundance flows from the stalls. I fill my bags with local produce even though I know, I mean I KNOW, I won’t get through everything. I am only feeding one person after all. But the fruits and veggies looked so delicious and autumn is underfoot as the first leaves begin to fall. It won’t be much longer and Sweet Sue peaches, Brandywine tomatoes, and Brooks prunes (reminiscent of my childhood) will disappear until next year.
Preparing for Winter
When I was a kid, we used to can the bounty from our orchard, storing rows of jars in our darkened pump house for winter lunches. That was something I enjoyed doing with my mum. Peeling Alberta peaches, hands raw from hot water, sweat trickling down our faces as steam rose up from the “bath” holding batches of jars on the stove, while other jars cooled on layers of towels absorbing heat, placed so as not to touch, risking cracking the seal.
I still have a couple of boxes of jars. Of all the “things” I need to downsize, a few dozen Kerr canning jars seem to never make the cut. And I don’t can.
Honoring A Year of “First Losses” While Living Fully
I opened myself up to abundance last year as my 59th birthday approached, marking the beginning of my 60th year on the planet. Sixty-I heard that was an auspicious number. Called forth a proverbial farmers’ market into my life. The previous few years had been difficult. It was time for change. I was going to “say yes” (#saying_yes) to more adventure and whimsy. It was going to be my “#60th_year_adventure.” My children were adults. I was divorced. And I was no longer responsible for my mother, who died the February before my birthday. I was at a turn on the labyrinth path in my life. It was a gift. Yes, I was still grieving the loss of my mother. I was in the midst of “the year of firsts.” First birthday without her. First holiday season. First anniversary of her death looming. Coming to terms with being an “adult orphan.” The tension inherent in being open to living fully with intention.
Risks Open Life to Change
My first big risk was less than two weeks after my birthday—taking a 10-day solo road trip down to Pt Reyes Station in California. Sharon Blackie, the author of the book, If Women Rose Rooted, was holding a workshop. The book had become an important part of my journey and I wanted to take part in the event. A flat tire due to hitting a fist-size rock on a tight-lipped curve on a mountain pass. An AirBnB with a funky male host and no locks on the front door or on my bedroom. Driving at night on a windy, dark road my last leg because I wanted to see the sunset in Florence. Learning to listen to my gut. It was fabulous! All part of the journey. And I gained confidence. Confidence I swallowed in gulps to nourish me the rest of the year.
I look back over my calendar and it was packed from mid-September until departure on my sojourn in mid-April. Lunches, business appointments, networking, writing workshops and reading at events and more. Yes. Yes. Yes. I believe I took more risks the last twelve months than in my entire adult life. Submitting a piece related to my mother’s death and having it accepted (Beautiful Mask.) On-line dating (a big one, since it resulted in a significant relationship.) And perhaps one of the biggest yeses—going on my spiritual sojourn, “Sojourning with Grief.” (Here is a link to the first of 15 posts under that title so far.) Life altering.
Growing Into Change
The accumulation of “saying yes” and being open to adventure has allowed me to cross thresholds. To be open to transformation. It has been wild and exhilarating…and exhausting.
The year has come to a close and I have been in a contemplative mood the past couple of weeks. Scrolling through my photos, and Instagram, Facebook, and blog posts I can see as I exhaled the word “yes,” my world expanded. “Saying yes” was about exploration. Pushing past my boundaries. Growing into who I am as an older woman with gifts, wisdom, and experiences to share. Sometimes I stumbled. Sometimes I soared. And there were days I simply moseyed. It was all worth it
Now officially 60, one year into my sixth decade, what hash tag to replace “#60th_year_adventure” and “#saying_yes?” Well, life is still an adventure and I hope I am always open to that, so maybe “#6th_decade_adventures?” That will last nine more years. But “#saying_yes” feels more like “saying_maybe.” Slow down and unpack the abundance received and decide what needs to be stowed away for winter contemplation. Stand by the sink. Hold each experience in my hand. Prepare and place in the mason jar. Into the steaming bath. Cool down. Cradle jars in my hands and admire the colors. Stow in the cellar. In the dark. Let it rest in me. My inner cellar. And as I listen, I’ll know…no, I’ll be told which jar to pull from the shelf. The dim light of a single bulb guiding my hand.
And there is also a part of me that recognizes a loss. A loss of who I was before all the thresholds were crossed. “She” needs to be honored. I don’t want to go back to who I was…and couldn’t even if I wanted to. But she walked/crawled/danced/ran/sat stubbornly at times on the path for 59 years. Some of her learnings and wisdom still reside in me and there are habits and understandings that have fallen away. I have yet to do a ritual to recognize the passing of this woman who was me. Who has made way for the woman who is becoming me. I write this and first tears and then a smile as I ask Grief, my wise mentor, what do I need to take in from this? And I am not sure yet.
Blessing to the Woman I Was*
May this Earth Body—sinew, tendon, bone, skin/ that walked me 60 years/over paths of gravel, mud, clay/ that reached up into ripe red peaches/down into thorny blackberries/with tender fingertips/be cherished with a “thank you, beautiful one.”
May the lungs that breathed pine rich air/and legs striding steep inclines/muscles aching with delight/at saying “yes” to life/ eyes that opened to bouquets of/foxgloves, lupine, forget-me-nots/sing “hallelujah, amen.”
*The rough start of a blessing I wrote in my recent Life Transitions workshop.
“Being” is Enough
This post has taken over a week to write. It has dribbled onto the page. Words added, paragraphs deleted. I’m reminded to simplify. The word “focus” appeared. Then my mind wandered. I spent my birthday “alone” with Mother Ocean, the wind, and rocks. They are Ancient wisdom. Reminded me that “being" is enough for now. The rest will come.
Gratitude For Abundance
This doesn’t mean I am aimless. I am passionate about spiritual direction/companionship, labyrinth facilitation, and writing. How it will all fold into my practice is still being discerned. What is amazing is when I let go and trust what that needs to look like, opportunities bubble up that I don’t expect. And just because the plenty of late summer will begin to fade as autumn arrives, there will still be fresh choices. Life isn’t only the stored, canned offerings or fresh-in-the-market. It is both/and. Contemplating, discerning, and appreciating what has been received is part of being grateful. Extending an open palm to receive smaller helpings of what is being offered in this season is about being present to this moment. And the hand, my hand, that is extending out…it is offering something back into the world.
This is going to be a fabulous year. I look forward to sharing the unfolding with you.
When was a time you felt an “old” you had passed away? Did you take time to recognize the change and if so, what did that look like? If not, what would it look like to honor it now?
Do you have a milestone coming up in your life? How do you wish to acknowledge it? What hashtag would you use?
What does abundance look like in your life? How do you acknowledge abundance received?
Upcoming Grief and Loss Workshop
The Labyrinth Path:
Writing and Walking with Grief & Loss
Please join me for my next workshop on November 16th, 1-5pm.
“We all experience grief and loss in life, from the time we leave the nurture of the womb to the leaving of our body at the end of our life, with many other losses, small and large, along the way. Our American society has shied away from healthy grief in favor of quick fixes leaving many with unresolved grief lingering in silence just below the surface, waiting for a chance to be heard. The labyrinth, an ancient archetype representing the metaphor of journey, provides a safe container to reflect on loss.”
For details or to register: The Labyrinth Path: Writing and Walking with Grief & Loss.