Monday, March 30, 2015

Mountain Pose

Practicing Mountain Pose upon a mountain top ... pure bliss.  A local mountain hosted a free event Saturday afternoon, consisting of a rainy nature walk, followed by a tranquil yoga class. After wandering through old growth forest, our group of thirty arrived at the mystical Hiwus Feasthouse. Once inside, we settled ourselves on the mats, which had been placed in a circle around the stone fire pit. After an hour of various yoga poses, it was time for Savasana. Smelling the cedar, hearing the silence, feeling the peace ... absolute perfection. While resting in this final pose, I recognized the powerful combination of the four elements of matter at play here. Lying grounded on the Earth, there was Fire burning in the centre, Water raining down onto the roof, and with each breath, awareness of Air moving in and out of our bodies. All this led to experiencing the fifth element, the one that exists beyond the material world, often referred to as Void or Sky. Pure heaven. Thank you Grouse Mountain and Yyoga for your generous gift of this experience. The exquisite setting, inspiring instructor, and lovely group of participants all made for an incredible event.  
Photo credit: Grouse Mountain

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sweet Dreams

     Dreams are precious gifts. The messages contained therein can prompt me to take action, provide more information about a situation regarding myself or others, and offer comfort and support.  Occasionally, I am asked if I still have dreams about Michael, and although I would love to have more than the two or three per year that I do, I am grateful for the ones I do have. A few nights ago, it was a short and sweet one, but the dream before that was quite long and involved. In both cases, they were very realistic and easy to understand.
     The lengthier dream of a few months ago involved my husband and I returning to our car after an invigorating walk around Stanley Park. After both getting in, he slowly drove in the car reverse, against the one way traffic pattern of the road. We encountered many vehicles but no one honked - they all accommodated us by moving out of the way. In the next scene, it is just my three-year-old son and me near an outdoor shower at the playground. He is only wearing shorts, ones that an acquaintance had actually made, and on his sweet face is the sweaty glow from running around. I soon realize that in all his excitement he has accidentally pooped his pants, and that he is feeling both embarrassed and upset. I calmly try to figure out the best way to handle the situation but the overwhelming thought is that I am thoroughly unprepared, and how disappointed I am with myself about that. (When my children were young, I was never without extra clothes, bags, snacks, you name it - however, in the dream I had absolutely nothing with me). After some consideration, I decided to take off his pants and have him stand under the shower. What a mess. There was poop everywhere - on him, on me. I looked around and finally found a stray plastic bag for his soiled shorts and was now literally carrying a bag of shit. As I stood there, I could feel how upset he was. He felt responsible for causing this mess. As a mom, I knew that shit happened, accidents happened. I just wanted to pick up my naked son and carry him back to the car but before I could do that, the dream was over and I awoke with the clear understanding of his sympathy. Through this dream, Michael was expressing compassion for having left me holding this bag of shit, even though we both know it was unavoidable.
     The shorter dream I had on Friday night was set in a dimly lit restaurant where our family was gathered for brunch to commemorate the fourth anniversary of Michael's death. I was seated alone at one end of the table, lost in my thoughts. Suddenly, I looked up and there was Michael, aged twenty-five, walking towards me, handsome as ever in his grey suit, green shirt and tie. He sat down to my right, handed me a Caesar cocktail, and simply said, "Here Mom."  (The only time I might order this drink for myself is if one of my kids orders one, but even then, rarely). And then, he was gone. I instantly understood that this was his way of showing support and I sure was glad to feel his presence. 
     Sweet dreams .... until next time. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Celebrations for Generations

Family and friends, young and old, came out to celebrate my grandson's first birthday yesterday. Such a lucky little boy! Within his extended family, ages ranged from his newest second cousin, born just last month, to the great-grandfather celebrating ninety-one next month. On this day, a snapshot of my grandson's family included his parents, sister, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This gathering reminded me that often, when we hear the word family, we think of a fixed group - usually, but not always, consisting of our living relatives. Of course, when we take a moment to consider, we know that family more accurately refers to a fluid group. We understand that family continually shifts with each gain and each loss. 
Leaping far ahead, if it is his destiny, in ninety years my grandson will be the age his great-grandfather is now, and it is quite possible that not one of my grandson's relatives in attendance yesterday will be around. Morbid thought? Not really. The love and support he received from all those attending the party will remain with him, always. And hopefully, all his future celebrations will be just as magnificent as this one was.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Blue Roses

When I saw the blue ice-cream cake sitting in the freezer display through a cafe window, I knew it would be the perfect dessert for the family dinner we had planned for the fourth anniversary of Michael's death.  It would be last on my list of options for any other celebration, but for this occasion it would be perfect, since it reminded me so much of my son.  If most people typically chose A or B, he would usually opt for C, D, or even E, instead.  Why give a girl the more traditional pink or red roses, when the unnaturally dyed blue ones were beckoning with a wink?  Why concern yourself with making healthy food choices, when junk food, with all its additives and colouring, was calling?  So, on Saturday night, we each enjoyed a piece of this crazy cake in his name. And, if we needed a physical reminder of his sense of humour, we were all left with blue-stained fingers well into the next day. We love and miss you Mike!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Relative Signs

     This past week was filled with incredible synchronicity, revolving around the two themes of communication and family of origin. The family that I chose to be born into has not been without its challenges, as is the case with most, if not all, families. Family is where so much of our learning occurs, offering great opportunities for growth. The circumstances in my family of origin led to our current situation, where neither my brother (my only sibling) nor I have had any contact with my father for over six years (outside of my son's funeral), the consequence of heartbreaking communication. Our mother, with whom my brother and I were close, died nearly thirteen years ago. Numerous signs flooded in this week, dancing over, and around, all of this - unmistakably powerful and incredibly supportive. 
     Early in the week, I emailed birthday greetings to a paternal aunt who had been a huge part of my life, before cutting off all communication with me, without explanation, a year and a half ago. I think of her often. About an hour after sending that email, I received a phone call from an unknown number. The caller turned out to be a woman I had met once, seventeen years ago, at a birthday party I had hosted for this aunt. The woman explained that she had been an old friend of my aunt's for decades but had had no contact with her for many years now, having been cut off without any explanation. She thought of her often and was contacting me to find out how she was doing. Crazy circumstances, indeed.
     A few days later, I was following up after a call I had made the week before to my mother's only sibling, my maternal aunt in Germany. I wrote her a card, enclosing a photo of her sister's memorial bench, as well as a picture of my grandchildren. She is the only relative I have long-standing, albeit limited, contact with over there. Our communication consists primarily of an annual Christmas card to each other, but for some reason, I had felt the urge to call her.  Later this same day, with the envelope lying on my desk, still waiting to be mailed, I received a Facebook friend request from a woman in Germany, a daughter of one my father's friends, not connected to my maternal aunt at all. The last time I had had any contact with that person and her family was during our family vacation to that country, eighteen years ago. Curious timing, for sure.
     Then, on the weekend, I stopped in at the cemetery, an hour's drive from home, to place flowers on my mother's grave. I only visit a couple of times a year now, preferring to adorn her memorial bench located in my neighbourhood, instead.  The actual date of this particular visit had no significance - I just happened to be out that way for a dinner date with friends. A short time later, my brother texted me, wanting to confirm the date of our mother's birthday. I fleetingly thought he was joking since he always makes a point of acknowledging our family birthdays. When I asked him about it, he told me that he had been thinking about our mom and had momentarily forgotten when hers was. A brief memory lapse required in order for this loving connection to be made.
     Individually, each of these three days had great significance. Taken in its entirety, the week was over the top, and made a huge impression. A colleague of mine refers to these signs as Relative signs, since they relate to what is transpiring in ones life. The fact that the Relative signs happened to involve my relatives, is perfect. Feeling immensely supported by the visible and invisible, I continue to process it all.