Six years ago my greatest
fear was that my mum would die. Even further back than that, from the time we
found out she had cancer I was afraid about what my life would be like without
her and how I would go on. My worst fear happened, and I survived it. She died
almost six years ago, and there isn’t a day when I don’t wish she were still
here. She was the person I was closest to in my life. And my heart breaks
sometimes thinking about all the things in my life she won’t be there for. I
don’t say this to many people but despite all my wishing, if I had the
opportunity for it to have worked out differently, for her not to have died, I
don’t know if I would change it. It is strange to think that about the single
hardest thing that has ever happened to me, and about the single most important
person in my life. But, I really do feel that way.
I sometimes have these
moments when I can pull way back and it’s as if I am looking down on my life,
this master plan for my soul. And
I have this profound clarity and trust in everything that I have experienced,
even in all the pain and sadness I feel about her not being here. I think about
all the ways her death, and the experience of being with her when she died, has
changed me, changed me for the better. I think about all the amazing things
that have come from that happening. In that one moment between her being here
and her not being here is when it all happened for me. Oddly enough in that
moment I was not afraid. That tiny moment held so much. So many gifts have come
out of it, so many feelings that have pushed me to become the person I am
today, so many things all of a sudden held so much meaning, in so may ways my
life changed and was set on a new course that held so much purpose.
This year I became a grief
group leader for kids at Our House Grief Support Center in Los Angeles. It has
been an incredible journey that has lead me to this amazing place, full of the
most wonderful people doing such important work. Every day I feel honored to be
a part of what is happening there. I have moments when I wish my mum were here
so that I could tell her about it. But I know that if she were still alive that
I wouldn’t be doing this work, work that has become so deeply personal and
fills me with such purpose, work that is changing my life.
This summer was my first as
a camp counselor at Camp Erin in Los Angeles. I had 12 incredible six and seven
year olds. I learned so much from each camper about grief. It was amazing, and
overwhelming, and inspiring, and challenging all at the same time. I was really
confronted with how I show up as myself, and had so many opportunities to
really look at and see what special things I bring to the table just by being
me. This was such a big lesson for me. I found that during times when others
would be enthusiastically getting the girls to put on their shoes, or cheering
them on during the ropes course was when I felt most out of place. The
introvert in me was being confronted. But after the Memory Wall on the first
night a few girls were in tears, crying so hard they could hardly breathe, and
that’s when I knew how to step in and be there for them. My comfort level with
tears and grief make it hard for me to relate to everyone, but I am learning
that there is a place where this is needed. It was in those moments at camp
where I could see that I didn’t have to be like everyone else, but I could see
for the first time that there was value in me being myself.
My favorite activity we did
was the grief hike. On our hike each camper would look for a rock, and on the
bottom of it would be painted with a different feelings word. They would all go
around and use that word in a sentence about their grief. It sounds simple, but
is actually quite profound.
We had already done
“sadness”, “guilty” and “happiness”, when one girl had found the rock with the
word “anger” written on it. Each camper, one by one, passed the rock around the
circle while talking about her anger. Anger is one of my favorite things to
talk about in grief group. I think it’s one of the emotions that is still so
ignored when thinking about grief related feelings or about the person who
died. Often time’s people don’t give themselves the room or the opportunity to
feel angry at all, and especially not with the person who died. One of the many
amazing things about being with the youngest campers is that they really do
wear their emotions on their sleeve. When they are scared you know it, when
they are sad they show it. For the most part they are unafraid to express what
they feel, they haven’t yet learned how to hide it.
The rock finally got to one
young camper and she held it in her little hands and said so directly, “I'm
really angry that my mom died.” All the fidgeting and distractions stopped and
everyone in the circle was just right there with her, listening and relating to
what she was saying.
I said to her, “You are
really angry that your mom died, huh?”
“Yes” she said.
“What do you do when you get
She responded with something
that has stayed with me since. She said, “I think about all things that I have
in my life that other kids don’t.”
“Like a big bed, a lot of my
friends don’t have a big bed like I do, and my cat, and my close friends.”
My heart was so moved by
what she was sharing. “There is a special word for what you are talking about,”
I said, “it’s called gratitude.”
We all talked for a little
bit about what that word meant, and what it means to be grateful. As we did
this it’s as if the sun was shining a little brighter, the sounds of nature got
quiet, everyone was so present.
I was so blown away that
this little six year old understood something so profound. That she could
comfort herself and understand her life in a way most people can’t. She is six,
and is facing the rest of her life without a mother, and she can have gratitude
while doing that. This isn’t something that someone taught her, this is just
something she feels.
I think a lot about
gratitude. It’s easy for us to have it when we are doing something that brings
us great joy, or comfort: when we are with a friend who make us laugh, when we
receive good news that alleviates worry, when we are in the presence and beauty
of nature. But, what about all the other times, times that are challenging, and
full of more difficult feelings like pain, anger and sadness. And even times
when the unthinkable happens, like when the person we love most in our life
It leaves me wondering - Do
we abandon gratitude during the times when we might need it the most?
And, more than anything it
confirms my belief that gratitude is truly healing.
photo I took while packing up our family home to sell: a pot my mum bought be in Santa Fe for my dollhouse
On the heels of the Autumn Equinox on Monday comes this New Moon in the sign of Libra. During the last two weeks I hope you have been enjoying the abundance you have created in your lives. Seeing the circle of energy that has been created by you, from the very first seed that was planted, to how it has grown from your nurturing and attention, to the moments when you get to reap the rewards and take a step back to enjoy it! This is a perfect time to honor completion in your life, anything you have finished, or anything you are ready to let go of. If there is something that is hanging around that is unfinished now is a wonderful time to take those last steps to do so. Lots of people have resistance around completion, if you feel a little of that sit with it for a while, take a closer look at what that's about, ask questions of it, and work with it. Surely by giving it some attention you will already have shifted it and cleared some space to allow for completion or letting go. This could be a project you have been working on, or even just transitioning into the coming season, or it could even be something you have been working on that you are ready to let go of, some old story from the past. The past only follows us as long as we keep holding on to it. This is time to look ahead, and into the future, and you get to decide what you want to take with you. Honor the endings or changes in your life and celebrate the things you are completing.
An Equinox is a time of equal day and night, earth and sun. It is harmonious with the sign of Libra, as she is all about balance, and beauty. Think about all the ways your life has balance, or perhaps there are places in your life, body, relationships... that are calling for more balance. You can imagine yourself at the center of a scale, the fulcrum, feeling strong, calm and grounded. On either side you hold the scales, carefully weigh and measure your feelings, your experiences, your relationships. Notice how your body feels as you do this. It will tell you everything you need to know about what is feeling out of balance: what is nurturing you, what is draining you. Another word I like to use is exchange. How are you living in equal exchange in all the ways you show up in your life? To accept the scales as your guide means you must accept responsibility for your experience. You, and only you, have the power to shift the energy so there is equal exchange, and more balance in your life.
This is also a time about love! Libra is ruled by Venus, the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Creative Power. If you want to cultivate more love in your life or call in new love now is a great time to do so. Our outside relationships mirror our inner relationship with our self. Attracting love starts first with self love. Spend one day doing each activity with love, and thinking only loving thoughts about yourself. This will surely show you so much about your relationship to love. How do you receive love? How do you show and give love? How do you express with love? How do you stand in love? Use your creativity with this, write letters, sing, clean your house, buy yourself flowers. Use your creativity to create a loving environment both inside and out.
And with the Equinox, the changing of the season, as you are acknowledging the ending of things, with this new moon you have the opportunity to call in some new energy. Again the balance of Libra is all around us, an ending and a beginning. New Moons are powerful times to set intentions. You are allowed ten wishes maximum, and they must be hand-written, and made within the first 24 hours of the exact time of the New Moon (within the first 48 will do). You can use the energy of Libra to help you make wishes about harmony and balance, love, relationships, attracting new love (a marriage partner), and creativity.
Yes, the colour, as it shifts, occupies the space and we enter. The frame that delimited the space is no longer there. Taking it away, the colour takes on the space and invades the space. And when this happens, it’s miraculous.
- an amazing and thought provoking article on touch - Loosing Our Touch - Are we loosing our senses? The importance and the gift of having a body, and being human. What it means to be touched.
- so excited to share that a book I contributed to is now on the shelves! Women in Clothes is the brilliant new book by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton. It's a collection of interviews, conversations, photos, drawings, projects, and diagrams from over 600 contributors - including Miranda July, Cindy Sherman, Rachel Kushner, and Kim Gordon. I'm so honored to be a part of this amazing group of women, thoughts, ideas, and stories.
On Saturday, September 20th there is a book launch at Skylight books in Los Feliz. You are invited to bring an item of clothing or two to swap. Each item should have a note pinned to it with your name and an interesting fact about the garment. More info can be found here.
You can read all of the full surveys on their website.
I encourage you, if you haven't already, to run to your nearest independent bookstore and pick up a copy of your own. This is a "forever book"! (smile)
This is one of my favorite Moon's of the year. The Harvest Moon has long symbolized the time of year when farmers would mark the end of the summer crop. It would be a time to share the abundance they created, to see the journey of the seeds they planted months ago, and to enjoy the results of their hard work. Some of you have experienced this first hand as you plant vegetables and wild flowers in your gardens, but we can also think about this time as an opportunity to reflect on the things in our lives or in ourselves that we have planted and been nourishing. Maybe it is a goal you made months ago, a new project you set into motion, a new relationship that has come into your life, or even deeper internal work you are committed to doing. This is a time of reflection on the journey you have made and to send gratitude to yourself for your commitment to the things in your life that are important enough to really work hard on. Not everyone is choosing this path. To put in the work to evolve and be more aware at times can be really uncomfortable, and at times it can be easy. But, really acknowledge yourself for all that you are doing for yourself and for others, and for your commitment to you spirit and your soul as they guide you in your life.
This is also a good time to think about abundance. What is your relationship to abundance? Do you hold on to things because you feel there is not enough? Do you see an endless resource of love and support and nourishment from those in your life and from the universe? Do you feel a lack somewhere in your life; a lack of energy, health, wealth, joy? What are you not trusting that leads to these feelings?
This Full Moon is in the watery sign of Pisces. This feminine energy pulls us into ourselves, it slows things down a bit, allowing us to dive more internally, to be more sensitive and compassionate, and to allow an awareness of our connection to each other. This openness and sensitivity can lead to deep vulnerability. The few days surrounding the Full Moon can always be a more volatile time as we are full of so many emotions just bursting to be expressed. But, especially during this Full Moon in Pisces be extra compassionate with yourselves, and with others, especially during communication. Lots of emotion might be coming to the surface. Also sleep disturbances, tiredness, and emotional or dark dreams won't be uncommon during this time. It's a wonderful time to visit the ocean or take an epsom salt bath as a way to support yourself.
The other major thing happening in the skies right now is that Chiron is conjunct with the Moon. Chiron is the wounded healer and teacher, he represents our deepest wounds in this life and points in the direction we must go to heal them. He also carries the wisdom of our own individual healing powers and how we can use them in this life. Where he sits right now in the sky is a position that will allow for deep understanding of the mind - body connection and the impact emotions have on our physical bodies. If you have felt a disconnect in this area lately, or challenged by your physical and spiritual bodies now is a time of great healing and awareness of what needs to be adjusted to create a happy and healthy union between the two. Though this healing must come from within, know you are supported by the events and people that surround you.
Take some time to yourself today. Honor yourself. Nurture yourself. Be gentle and kind to yourself and others. Reflect on the work you have done and send gratitude to Mother Earth for the abundance she creates for us!