The last few weeks, I mean months, Ok, much of last year was tough. Really, really tough. For sure, my mom’s passing was the hardest part. And, there were many other losses and changes that happened concurrently. For much of the year, I felt as if I was in a raft floating without oars. I was in between, experiencing both deep beauty and intense sorrow. I would love to say that I was embracing the middle but really, I was in the muddle.
Several weeks ago, the year came to an intense crescendo. It started with the anniversary of my mom’s passing, and the recitation of the Jewish memorial prayer (Yizkor) on the same day. It continued with an overdue uncomfortable and upsetting conversation. The culmination was my oldest daughter’s high school graduation, which also meant she will soon be leaving the country for her GAP year abroad. The combination was a perfect storm of raw emotion. I started crying on a Friday afternoon and continued to cry through my daughter’s graduation the following Tuesday. Over the days, my tears displayed the sorrow of endings, as well as the excitement of new beginnings
Looking back, this crescendo, which felt like endings, was also a beginning. I knew I had to clarify my personal, professional and spiritual intentions and make some changes. It was time.
When I talked with my Zen teacher a few days later, he asked me to share my “practice statement” (i.e., my purpose or goals for practicing meditation). I could have recited a number of answers, but none of them were genuine in the moment. What I said was, “I have no idea.” His response was reassuring. He validated that this was perfectly expected given my year and encouraged me to really explore why in fact I am still meditating.
This exercise was great. My current practice statement, not surprisingly, is different than in years past but more aligned with the current me. The answer gave me much needed clarity and grounding. In fact, I was encouraged to explore my intentions in other areas of my life as an extension of this exercise.
So I ask you. Which area of your life need both clarity and change? I encourage you to step back from it and engage in some self-exploration. Ask yourself what your goals are? What feeds you? What you hope to give or get from this aspect of your life? The answers my surprise you and guide you. Though I am not fully out of the muddle, I feel like I have a grasp on the oars.
Wishing you all many moments of embracing, be it in the middle or the muddle, and a joyful, safe July 4th!
And, when you start over, it forces you to step back and re-examine. Though I had begun to make some decisions more in alignment my curren and where I am. I began to step back areas of my life to remind my why I am there. For example, my Zen teacher
(I had no ideas how squarely I would be faced with challenged of the Middle when I started Emracing the Middle just two years ago. At that time, the notion of creating a paradigm shift for middle age, helping women clearly and powerfully navigate midlife and their own journey, and teaching mindfulness/meditative tools was something I wanted to share with others. I had definitely needed to change my career path and begin to prepare for my nest to empty but did not anticipate the other challenign changes to happen so quickly. Year one, when I was teaching tools I had learned and working with less intense issues was great. This past year, not so great.)
To my credit, I did an amazing job at mourning. I contined to attend synagogue several mornings per week and recite the moruners’ prayer. I stayed very present to my grief, shed many, many tears and actually loved the bittersweet aspect of mourning. The others areas of my life, however, were less embracing. I age more sugar and cheese than is good for my body, I became less accepting of myself, and meditated with much less consistency. I began to feel like I was not walking my talk with embracing and started to lose sight of
( Include??? Though I did an amazing job at Embracing my grief around my mom’s passing, other aspects of my life were more challenging. I resisted working as intimately with them and instead had periods of eating too much sugar, criticized myself harshly, and spinning my wheels in a variety of busy distractions. I could not find the discipline to write, to meditate regularly, to consistent treat myself with compassion, or to move forward in areas I which I was stuck. I was in the Muddle and that was the best I could do at that time).