Well….

So it turns out all this reinvention business is a bit overwhelming.  Again, I start another post with date disbelief.  It’s hard to believe that ten months have passed since I wrote something here and A LOT has happened in those ten months, or it certainly feels and seems that way.  I’ll have to get to all that later.

Right now I am teetering between getting a new website set up, trying to make further connections and getting some things going that help others and provide my family with some grocery money.  SIGH.

I am plotting and planning and enjoying the creative process in it all.  Ultimately, things will be ok, actually pretty great I hope.  I am where I am because of the choices I have made that were and continue to be very deliberate and intentional.  Leaning in to all of that is big, or feels that way.

Stay tuned for more posts and upcoming events.  I will continue to use Journey Proud for the time being.

Cheers!

Myra

Originally Posted 5 October 2015

And so it begins…

Yesterday was the solstice.  My husband and I celebrated by reflecting on the past year and setting intention for the new year.  We made amulets and put our 2014 reflections on paper and put them in the fire.  Our 2015 intentions are on paper too.  They will sit on our altar until the solstice next year.  It was really nice to have that ritual.  I see it as a new tradition for sure.

I deactivated all my social media accounts yesterday.  It’s interesting the attachment and trepidation I was experiencing about that decision.  I almost wavered and then I decided to stick with the plan.  I told myself for a while that was what I wanted to do and I wanted to do it on the solstice and now I am glad I stuck with it.  It’s freeing.  Though, I’ve already caught myself once today reaching for my phone to check Facebook only to realize that I had gone through with my decision.  I just smiled and laughed at myself.  The mind is an interesting thing.

The decision to deactivate and sign off was based on my desire to really deepen into the close of my year and deepen into the start of a new one.  I suspect my awareness and presence will heighten, or at least that is what I am hoping for.  We’ll see.

I’ll begin a 90 day urban retreat at home on the full moon of January the 4th as part of my thesis work.  I will not be going to Bhutan.  As I was in the midst of trying to work that out, we found out my mother in law has cancer, so it is clearly not the time to go to the Himalayas.  What I have planned will be wonderful, all things and much needed.  I am pretty sure that the universe conspired to create what I needed most, so I plan to just lean into it.  I am looking forward to meditating and doing yoga everyday, cooking, growing some of our food, making art and writing.

I’ve spent the last month gathering what I feel like I need and in some cases just want to have.  The preparation process has been busy so I am looking forward to the stillness that is coming.  Beyond the 90 days, I plan to continue the year with transitioning away from plastic, buying only necessities, swearing off big box stores and shopping pretty much, and when I do buy something I plan on buying used.  I think we are in for some adventure living.  I suppose I am not really doing anything extraordinary by doing any of this, people have been living simply since the beginning of time, however it’s new to me.  These shifts are definitely happening because of the transformative work I have been doing the past five years and I couldn’t be more excited to see what the year holds for us.

Awakening is my word for 2015 and I am doing my best to create the environment for that to happen.

May you have a wonderful close to your year and a wonderful holiday season.

Bowing in gratitude and sending love and light your way….

Originally posted: 22 December 2014

Radical Compassion

I’ve just returned from a week in Boulder.  Ahh, I do love Boulder.  It is beginning to feel, no it feels like a second home now.  I had the great fortune to attend Naropa’s Radical Compassion Symposiumand spend some much needed time with some of my soul sisters. It was so inspiring, intense, and wonderful in all the best Naropa ways.  I laughed until my sides split, I wept from my core, I was moved, overwhelmed, felt the grief and delight and hope of the planet, shared deeply with strangers that are no longer strangers, and came home with an underlying hum of “what are you going to do?” 

Originally posted: 25 October 2014

And it’s been 5 years…

Date disbelief…it seems to be a theme…today I’m focused on the fact that it’s been five years since Mama moved on to a different existence.  There are days when it feels like twenty-five years and days when it feels like it was yesterday.  Time is a funny one isn’t it?

A lot has happened in five years.  I am certainly not the same person that was standing at her bed side five years ago when she took her last breath.  I wonder some days if or how I am attached to the story of it all; her illness, her death, my place in all of it, what all of the experiences were in all of that and after.  I know in some ways, I am, attached to the story of it all and I just try to sit with that.  I also try to practice letting go.  I think my perspective on death is beginning to shift a bit, in a freeing way.  I think I am learning in a deeper way, after all these years, to accept death as more as necessary part of our experience.  You would think that losing your father at age ten would sort of help that concept along but, here as well, I think that attachment to story, decades of it, helped along that aversion to acceptance.  It’s odd to be here without any parents.

I like to say now that Mama gave birth to me twice.  The end of her physical presence  certainly impacted my experience, in the most phenomenal ways.  So I sit in gratitude today celebrating a life well lived that touched and reached so many.  In awe still, as I will always be I’m sure, of the phenomenal woman I knew and continue to know as my Mama.

Originally posted: 11 October 2014

Sabbaticals, Storage Units & Laundromats…

It’s hard to believe it is already the 25th of September.  I seem to start every post with date disbelief.  I said I was going to blog about this experience of sabbatical and what nots so here I go.  Thank you for being here and reading.

The summer was full as usual.  The day after graduation at school I boarded a plane with ten teenagers headed for the Dominican Republic.  It was an amazing experience that I will have to write about at length in another post.  Suffice it to say it was meaningful and good for the soul and really special to see a group of young adults transform and represent us abroad in the best possible ways .

Another, almost 4 weeks, at Naropa was AMAZING!  I really made an effort to take care of my body more so than last summer which proved to be very rejuvenating.  That experience also is another one to write about at length that I’ll have to save for another day.  I sure do miss my sangha there.  We are all together online right now and it’s not the same.  For those of you that have participated in traditional master’s programs, sangha would be Naropa terminology for cohort.  Sangha is the sanskrit word for community.

So with those two things behind me I was back home and the sabbatical started.  The first thing on the list was to empty the storage unit I was still paying for.  This storage unit was filled with stuff from Mama’s house.  This was my second storage unit.  Back in the winter I decided it would be a good idea to move the stuff from a storage unit in Wilson to a storage unit in Raleigh so I would be able to access it easier and chip away at it.  A good idea in theory, in reality, life was too busy to touch it until August.  So off I went, determined to deal with all of it.  I envisioned myself sorting through everything at the storage unit and getting rid of what I needed to BEFORE dragging anything to the house.  Another great idea, and logical, in practice…um not so much.  I got organized I carried a table out to the storage unit, sharpies for labeling, paper, tape, all in a cute little red bin with a yak sticker on it.  So there I was in that storage unit, facing this stuff I’d been avoiding and not had the time to face.  Making a lot of decisions in one day is taxing.  Storage units are also creepy. If you are by yourself, you have to put everything back in the unit and lock it back up, just to go to the restroom.  I was just humming along, doing what I needed to do; checking my box inventory, yes I had a box inventory, which I highly recommend if you ever are faced with something like this.  I would check the boxes and the inventory to see if it was something I really wanted to deal with at that moment.  Avoidance behavior is awesome isn’t it?  I came upon a box of stuff from the top drawer of Mama’s dresser.  It must have had 4 or 5 hairbrushes.  I looked at them.  I knew, from a previous experience, what any of those hairbrushes might do to me.  I did it anyway.  I smelled one of those brushes, and there she was, almost 5 years and 2 storages units later it still smelled like her.  I just turned into a puddle.  I was sitting in a (insert expletive here) storage unit crying my eyes out.  Sigh.  Totally stopped me in my tracks.  I think I quickly got the hell out of there.  That pretty much wrapped up the day of work.

I went back the next day, a glutton for punishment.  Ready and prepared to tackle multiple boxes of linens.  My sweet Mama hoarded linens.  You name it; sheets, towels, napkins, table clothes, blankets, pillow casings.  I have a little bit of anxiety about bed bugs.  So, I thought even if I am donating some of this stuff, I should wash it.  So I did.  With so much, of course I had to go to a laundromat.  So being the glutton for punishment that I am, after the previous day’s experience I decided to spend the entire day at the laundromat dealing with most, not all, of the linens.  Have you had to spend any time at a laundromat, I mean since college?

I decided that week that storage units and laundromats were most definitely in the hell realm.  These two days certainly pushed me to my edge and to the realization that my initial plan was not going to work.  If there was the potential for me to be sobbing, I was not going to do that in a storage unit, OR a laundromat.  Against my wishes, this meant everything had to come to the basement.  This was defeating the whole purpose and rationalization for the damn storage unit in the first place.  If all this stuff came to the basement, I wouldn’t be able to walk through it, much less use it for any purpose.  So that is pretty much what happened.  The basement quickly turned into and episode or four of Hoarders.

Even though not much of dealing with stuff is pleasant, especially from a parent that is no longer with you physically, I can say it was and is nice to have the time and space to deal with it.  Even to have the time and space for the crying, it’s necessary.  I have said often in the last four plus years, we don’t do grief well here.  We don’t give ourselves time for it, we don’t discuss it, really.  I mean we have all these catch phrases… like “so sorry for your loss”, “I’m praying for you”, and we typically say these things to those in the midst of grief, and keep rolling.  I think our sentiments are genuine and there is a great level of discomfort there so it’s easier for us to just keep rolling.  Sometimes we say something really stupidbecause we so awkwardly feel we have to say something. I’ll never forget someone looking at me right after Mama died and saying “The holidays are going to be so hard for you”, ya’ think? I’ll refrain from writing here what I said about that at the time.  The other thing we do is we try to talk someone away from their feelings by giving them what we think is a necessary distraction.  One thing I am so grateful to be learning because of my work at Naropa, is to just sit with feelings, to literally feel them and experience them even the ones that hurt.  I’ve also experienced what it feels like to have someone just sit with you in hurt or grief.  I can unequivocally say that is my preference in experience.  It is much more meaningful to me to have someone just sit with me in something.  Words are not always necessary, being is.

I knew this sabbatical would be all things because that is just the way life is.

I honestly did not know this was going to turn into an entry about grief.  If you are still here with me, thank you so much for your time.  If you get the opportunity to practice simply sitting with someone in something, try it and see what shifts you notice.

Originally posted: 25 September 2014

Living into My Life

It’s really hard to believe I have not generated a post since April 30th, 2013.  Well, maybe I’ve been a little busy, just a little.  Doing what…..

1)finishing last school year, if you are an educator, know an educator or can imagine living in a public high school these days, you have an understanding of what finishing a school year looks and feels like for those who live it. It’s not for sissies.

2) Traveling to the Dominican Republic with 7 teenagers for one week.  It was a great trip.  We worked with local artists and schools.  My colleague, students and I all had home stays in two different villages.  I was embarrassed when I pulled back in my drive way after that trip.  We have so much here.

3) Started graduate school at Naropa University for Contemplative Education.  Which meant a three week intensive in Boulder, Colorado in July right on the heels of the DR trip.  If you ever have the opportunity to live in an intentional community, do it. The work I did there was all things; up, down, inside, out, joy, and pain.  Of course, I’ve signed up for a graduate program in which you dig into your core.  I think it was day three of the summer intensive when I was sitting on a meditation cushion wondering what in the hell I was doing there and who were these people I was sitting in this room with and just about to run out of the room screaming.  I am too stubborn though.  I came back home to immediately get the

4) 2013-14 school year started, which meant teaching four classes instead of two, in three different classrooms, stepping down from being the School Improvement Team Chairperson (smartest move of the year), continuing to help coordinate our school’s International Baccalaureate program, manage the school’s open house, put on an International Festival, raise $25,000 for a school-wide Stop Hunger Now event, I did mention teaching too didn’t I?  None of which I did alone.  Please do not misinterpret, I am in no way claiming credit for any of it.  None of it would have happened without the community of amazing young people and colleagues I am humbled to work with, but I think you get the picture?

5) 2 graduate classes in the fall and 2 in the spring however, I can really only count 1 in the spring right now because the school year was so out of hand I couldn’t keep up so I am receiving an incomplete until I can finish the work for one of the courses.

6) We hosted 21 friends and family for Thanksgiving…Which was wonderful and how did Mama and Aunt Ruth do it all those years?  I even made centerpieces for the tables, got out Mama’s silver and china and resisted my urge to do place cards.  Actually, I think I just ran out of time there, but whew that was a lot of work.

7) I started 2014 with one of my most wonderful friends and favorite teacher Sharon for a weekend yoga retreat at Shaker Village in Kentucky. I’ve seen images from this annual retreat that Sharon does for a couple of years now and I was so excited to get to share New Year intention setting with a group of beautiful souls.  I was also so grateful to be with Sharon, Andy, EverlyJo, and Zoe at the big blue house.  I returned from that retreat so energized and ready to get my yoga on for the year and not 48 hours after my return…

EIGHT) we lost Ollie.  For those of you that know us well, know Ollie was and his memory continues to be our joy.    Greg called on his way home from work and said “he’s bad baby” and I didn’t believe him.  When they got home it was painfully clear that Ollie could not breathe.  We had signed up for Lap of Love, where a vet will come to your house when it is time, but of course it didn’t work out that way.  We had to take him to the emergency room and we left without him.  Isn’t it funny that we think we can plan for death and loss.  I knew this was coming and I thought we had another 6 or more months with the little guy.  That was not to be.  Loss stirs the vibration of every previous loss…so this made for a long, quiet and challenging winter.  My heart will continue to long for his physical presence and he is with me still in so many other ways.

By the time March had rolled around I was exhausted.  The busyness that I had engaged myself in for the past year or five or ten finally caught up with me.  That’s a bit misleading, my exhaustion and disconnection had been there all along, I think my work through Naropa is what led me to the realization that I can not live the way I have been living any longer.  My work here also kept me from giving the Masters work the time and attention it deserves.  So, I listened to what I called a whisper and a dear friend called a roar and…

9) I decided to take a year off.  Even with all the snow days we had this year, I was still so weary.  It was on one of those snow days, that I think there actually wasn’t any snow that the clarity came to take a year off from work.  It was March 4th.  If not now, then when?  I had struggled for days with the decision.  It’s something I have been wanting to do for a long time really.  When I look back though over the past 7 years; Mama’s diagnosis and illness, losing her, getting married, moving twice, selling my childhood home, losing 3 of Mama’s siblings and another Aunt, and navigating cancer with another, teaching and being a coordinator, trying to heal, being in school, losing Ollie…yeah, I need a year off.  The work I am doing at Naropa is not for the faint of heart.  It’s really a master’s degree in digging into your soul, into the parts of you, you may have avoided your whole life or just didn’t give them the attention they needed…I am committed to giving this one soul I have what it is asking for.  So the week before Spring Break I told my principal I would not be back next year.

In all this thinking, stewing, and contemplating a year off from teaching, a whole year, was I really going to sit in Raleigh the whole time?  That didn’t feel right.  I was running through possibilities, Mexico, Japan, Germany, hmmmm, what could I do?  I was in my office with a few colleagues on Friday, Aprill 11th and we were having an innocuous conversation and somehow photography came up, and I said out loud “I could do Miksang for my thesis project and go to Bhutan to do it, wouldn’t that be cool?”  I wrote the word down on a piece of paper and didn’t think too much about it again that day.  On Monday, April 14th, I went to central office to turn in my paper work to take an educational leave of absence.  On Tuesday, April 15th there, on Facebook of all places, was a link for Naropa Study Abroad in Bhutan.  I suppose you can guess where this is going…..and yes

10) I’m going to Bhutan.  I immediately emailed my professor to inquire if there were any Masters candidate options for this study abroad opportunity.  He wrote me back the next day to inform me that in fact yes, they want to offer a second year, second semester option and the thesis project would in some way reflect the experience, “would you like to be our guinea pig?” was the last line of the email.  So by Thursday evening of that week, my husband and I were celebrating at our favorite sushi restaurant.  I’m going to Bhutan.  It feels so right.  I feel like myself.  I feel like I am living into my life and I most certainly am.  I am not 100% on Miksang as my thesis project but the opportunity will certainly be there.

So…..I am going to try my hand at blogging about this experience and this coming year.  In many ways the year off has already started just because of the space I feel in my body and my mind.  I want to document and share this experience with anyone that is interested.  If you are still with me here on this page, thank you, this was not a short one, and there was a lot to cover.  It’s interesting that we have evolved to the tendency to minimize an entire year or ten into a short list that could never convey the gravity, joy, pain, or love that we experienced.  There has been A LOT more to this year than you have read here.  Thank you though for reading and I hope you will enjoy reading about my journey.

Originally posted: 18 May 2014

Clarity & Wonder

Wow, it’s hard to believe my last entry was in October of 2011, only a few days prior to going to Tulum for Yoga Teacher Training.  What a wonderful experience, with 12 beautiful souls, who are and will remain for the rest of my days, near and dear to my heart.  A year and a half later, I continue to grow and evolve in ways unfathomable to me previously in my life.

My guiding words for 2013 are clarity and wonder and have proven to be exactly my experience thus far this year.  I continue to experience wonder because of clarity provided by presence, mindfulness and sobriety.  Presence, by that I mean truly being present or at a minimum consciously making an effort to be so with everything I do and with everyone with whom I engage.  Mindfulness, really to me is the same thing as presence and for us sometimes a difficult concept to grasp much less practice.  Sobriety, true straight up sobriety, no alcohol has entered this body since November 25th.  For those who know me well, know that a Corona in my hand can be a common sight, especially on a Friday night.

In the first six months of 2012 my family lost three of my Mama’s siblings, another brother and two sisters. In October of 2012, on the three year anniversary of Mama’s death, I found out another sister had some health stuff going on, only to find out shortly thereafter she too had Cancer.  “Back off ladies” were the words I believe I used to those soul sisters together somewhere in the ethos.  I needed to, wanted to, wanted to at least try to move through what I was facing with clarity, which for me meant total sobriety.  I did just that.  My Aunt managed things incredibly well and I am happy to report she is currently Cancer free and working her tail off in her yard.  She returns for a three-month check up soon.

I think too, moving through that with a clear head was something I needed to do because of Mama, for Mama, maybe for myself because of her illness and losing her or more likely because of the way I moved through all of that.  Maybe because of the way I think I moved through all of that and or possibly/ probably some judgment connected to it.  You know looking back a lot of it seems to be a complete blur…a complete blur with significant moments, visions and memories that will stay with me forever.  I remember at some point, maybe in 2010 or 2011 having to literally get out a piece of paper and pen and make a calendar going back to October of 2007, when she was diagnosed, and writing down what had happened every month in three or four years because I was convinced I had lost a year somewhere in all of it.  There everything was on that piece of paper, and I still couldn’t find that year.  Loss does things to us that sometimes simply can’t be put into words.

Today I am grateful…grateful for being raised by a phenomenal woman.

I am grateful for her presence in my very being.

I am grateful for the sound of her voice that I still hear.

I am grateful for her love that I still know and feel.

I am grateful for all she taught me and continues to.

I am grateful to her for inspiring me to give myself the gift of wonder through clarity.

 

Journey Proud Friends…

Originally posted 30 April 2013

The Knowing Place at The Water’s Edge

There is a place under the moon, at the water’s edge,

Where you can see your Mother,

You can let her go there too.

This is the place where you can weep tears of joy and even giggle.

This is the place where you look up and there she is shining as bright as the full moon,

the only brilliant star in the night sky.

This is the place, the knowing place,

where you know she is always with you, holding you, loving you,

lighting the path of your journey.

She brought me here, that rascal.

To the knowing place, under the moon, at the water’s edge,

where you look up and there she is shining her brilliance in the night sky,

seeing the only thing she cares to see at the water’s edge…

your brilliance shining back at her.

Originally posted 11 October 2011

The Traveler Awakens

I am entering the blogosphere.  I don’t quite know why I have resisted this for so long.  For whatever reason I have had an urge to write for some time now.  I am humbled by those who take the time to read.  Thank you.

My Intention

So you may be asking, “Journey Proud”, what is that?  My Mama used to use that phrase whenever any of us were going on a trip.  It describes that feeling of excitement one has prior to travel.  She enjoyed teasing me about being excited about going somewhere.  I can still hear her saying “Well, are you journey proud?”  I am sure you may have heard this term if you are from the South.

Excuse the cliche, but life is a journey.  We are definitely all on our own journey.  It’s been a long time, for me, since I was excited about this journey of life.  Watching your Mama fight the fight of her life and losing her does things to you that you don’t quite expect or can explain, even to yourself, for some time.  I feel like I am emerging from a dense fog from the likes of which I would rather never return.  Transformation can be beautiful though, as is clarity.  We might not know clarity were it not for the fogginess of confusion, the sadness in despair, or the hurt in pain.

My intention, I am supposed to be explaining my intention.  My intention with Journey Proud is to honor this gift of life we have all been given. Honor the life of my wonderful Mama by living what remains of my own life with purpose, clarity, and meaning.  Living the life, that she so graciously and selflessly gave to me, with passion. Journeying to the best of my ability and being journey proud with every step, every waking moment, every smile and every tear.  For her, it’s the least I could do.

So, I’m not really sure where this will take me or how it will evolve.  It will be fun and interesting to see.  Again, I am humbled by those who take the time to read.  Thank you.

May your journey be filled with love and light.

 

Originally posted 11 September 2011.