As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For July 2023 my quote was “live loud enough in your heart and there is no need to speak.”
I write this blog in my mother’s home sanctuary. I sit here in her backyard at 6am among the chatter of various birds, soft chilled air, and touch of emerging light. While the day comes alive, a stillness surrounds me. I am aware of a connection to more, to a whole of which I am one piece. I welcome the gentleness of the day’s start as I think about the quotes, lyrics, and phrases that that caught my attention during the month:
- Opportunity did not knock until I built the door
- Allow don’t push
- Practice creates the person who owns the thing
- This is it, dammit
- Your mission is waiting on you
- Time runs out
- Laughter is the carbonated holiness
- Do what is vital
- Some people are soul medicine in the way they love you, support you, and believe in you always
- Your future self is not someone you become – it’s someone you choose to be
- Follow your soul, it knows the way
- What is essential is invisible to the eye
- The meaning of life is to give live meaning
I felt July. It was a lot to feel. The emotional pendulum swung big – from pure glee laughing uncontrollably as tears rolled down my face to the devastation of death as tears rolled down my face. Both a part of a life filled with dear friends.
In between these moments I had three poignant conversations that in hindsight were my own emotional fable like the Alchemist.
First, came preparation. A friend and mindfulness coach shared how she welcomes her emotions or rather gathers them together and talks to them. She brings them into the light to see what they are teaching her rather than keep them at bay wreaking havoc. Perhaps it’s because I’m in my mother’s space, that the analogy I give you for this comes from her days as an Executive Director of a child development center. Sing it with me now, “Where is thumpkin? Where is thumpkin?” Call each emotion out, say hello, and put it away. My friend reminded me that emotions aren’t bad. They are information to listen to.
Then came reality. Another key conversation was with a friend who is training to be a death doula, someone who helps people prepare for and transition through death. In this call we dumped all the random things going on in life on the table so to speak. We gave our crazy stories to each other, the absurdity of them all, when combined together, led me to say, “Well, this is it. Dammit.” And she offered up it was a book title for both our lives at the moment. Life unvarnished. No filters. All in the open.
Finally, came acceptance. I closed the month with a role model—a spiritual, artistic, community leader. Our intimate conversation over breakfast was tender. From medical hardships of our loved ones to creative learning to our alma mater, we each shared and listened. There was no fixing or advice. Just space to simply be in life with another person. Together. I shared how the phrase “let it go” continues to show up in my life and she shared a phrase that helps her, “let it be.”
I am grateful for these conversations and these women both in moment and especially when I learned a long-time friend and Junior League of Northern Virginia volunteer died after a nearly two-year battle with stomach cancer. All the feels came when I learned her light was gone. It was too big for me to process. Like a short circuit of my system. Then I got to know my sadness and found out joy was there… joy of her smile, joy of her compassion, joy of her network, joy of her animal videos, joy of her faith, joy of her information, joy of her flamingos, joy of her being. As I struggled with the reality of her death, I discovered that her light was not in fact gone… that it was just disbursed into everyone who felt her joy. That we all carried her light forward, and this helped shift my sadness to possibility. How can I emanate more of JJ’s joy in the world?
Funny enough, as I come to the end of this piece, “Reveille” blarred full throttle from mega speakers at the nearby Air Force Base… time to live loud through our hearts!