Flowering tree outside the state building near massage school.
The view from the bridge looking down onto the Willamette River & Waterfront Park in downtown Portland.
"Tulip" tree from up the street...so messy but so beautiful!
Happy Monday y'all! So I'm just going to put this out there--I have a few more scheduled posts up my sleeve, but the new term starts tomorrow and there's no guarantee that I won't fall back off the planet until summer "break," but we'll see. :)
Last night I got back to my home, took in my surroundings, mowed the lawn, relished the flowering cherry trees, took the dogs on a jog, and then ate dinner while a breeze came though the open windows. It was 66 degrees and sunny! And here's the thing that came to me....the next 6ish months are totally my "on" time of year. I love the newness of spring--the showers, the flowers, the sunbreaks through the gray, the cool crisp mornings that lead into sunny afternoons. AND I love summer: the growth, the sunshine, the mix of excitement and laziness in the air, the smell of fresh cut grass and turned over earth, the warming of the river, the warm embrace that nature provides that encourages us to be active. AND I love the first few months of autumn too: the hot days of September, the beginning of the changing of the leaves, that feeling that there's a few more fun short-sleeved adventures to get in before winter. Seriously the next six months in Oregon tend to be incredible. I definitely still enjoy the winter, but late spring/summer/start of fall....that is totally my jam.
I honestly feel like this whole Lenten period has been so good for my body, my mind, my heart, and my soul. While I wouldn't say that I feel completely healed, I do feel much more in balance and closer to my truest sense of self than I have in a long time. I feel like my own internal winter is closing down as I head into the newness of spring, the awesomeness of summer, and the season of growth and enjoyment that is ahead. I haven't forgiven everything and everyone, but my heart is headed in that direction...and I'm trying hard to trust that life is going to work out for the better. I'm beginning to truly believe that some doors shut or were kept in holding patterns in order to allow a sense of what is important or maybe to kick butts back to their foundation...because truly I feel like the last few weeks have done just that--sent me back to my foundation.
For the first time since I moved to Louisiana almost five years ago, I feel like advocacy and steps toward environmental improvements truly are worth my time and energy. Yes, there are so many out there who don't care, but part of what I realized during my day of volunteering is that if I do nothing toward counteracting the steps of those who purposefully damage the Earth....then I'm really just continuing to be part of the problem. (And all this I say as I hypocritically drive around in my SUV, etc.) This re-engagement with the things that matter to me extends beyond just the environment though and has also reawakened in me the same drive (although slow and small at the moment) toward making a difference and trying to be a better example toward people in general. Whether that's doing more for the homeless, figuring out how to donate more time/money, reconnecting and healing my own family and friend relationships, or finally taking that trip to do some mission work in Africa. The jadedness that arose based on increased exposure to those outside my family and social circle has begun to dissipate and I'm feeling some of my old optimism return....even if this means needing to be surrounded by those of likeminds and optimistic energy in order to continue in this pattern .....and even if I still am unsure that I want to eventually reproduce biologically due to the state of the world and the general direction in which the environment is headed. :) At least, I feel compelled again to do something about it...
That middle picture in the set up top is an example of how things have been changing in the right direction. A few weeks before the end of last term, I made the decision to stop driving to massage school and to instead take public transportation. While it takes longer, it's actually a savings in money and allowed me to read for fun on the Max train. One morning as we crossed the bridge to the other side of the river, I looked up to see the view that I captured in that picture. Incredibly simple but yet so gorgeous and beautiful. I wanted the opportunity to snag a picture, so after class ended I walked the half mile or so back to that location and took several pictures...and from there I walked another mile or so through the streets of the city, following some of the streets I used to wander along back in the days of grad school. I used to love just being able to walk along downtown as my primary mode of transportation, taking in the sites, the people, and the seasons while allowing observations and thoughts to pass through my mind. This simple beautiful spring evening was incredibly restoring to my soul and again made me appreciate how its the simple enjoyments that truly are the most fulfilling.
Taking a month to be more gentle with my body was much needed and allowed me to run or hike just when I truly felt my muscles or soul had a yearning. Not pushing pacing was a strange change and giving myself LOTS of rest days was rejuvenating. While my sleep is still more miss than hit and my eating has been all over the board while on "vacation" the last few weeks (ice cream for lunch, say what?! :)), the acupuncture and Chinese herbs seem to be making a difference. I'm still not physically 100% but my body (and spirit) feels like it's healing in some big ways. Socially this month has been great as well as I've spent much more time reaching out and connecting with friends that are near and far. (Both my gals Christina and Caitlin are also heading back for trips again this summer...and I couldn't be more excited :)) I've also spent more time in communication with my immediate family and focusing on trying to heal some of the relationship issues that have been present. I've been very open with my parents regarding my processing and where I might need some assistance, which isn't always very easy for me to do as I generally don't like asking for help or admitting weakness. And spiritually I'm in a better place than I've been in months as well...and most days I feel God trying to tell me something or at the very least trying to get me to just trust the process.
And that's just it...it's all still a process. There still are days where certain topics or random things make me get teary or choked up when communicating, but I've stopped trying to avoid these moments nor do I worry about changing the subject. As I work through certain issues (sometimes repeatedly, obviously), I'm allowing for stuffed emotions to be freed and new windows of opportunity to open. Holding on to hurts and hopes of the past doesn't help anyone, although I'm still needing to let go in MANY facets...and as mentioned I'm finding that in general the hopes for life that I had are still generally where I'd like life to evolve to at some point...just either solo or with a truer partner. I'm also well aware that in order for life to truly feel "stable," many, many, many things still need to line up and flow together in the next 6-9 months as well.
Honestly the best part of this whole process...has just been reconnecting and discovering an old friend...which was and again is...myself. Still evolving, still reconnecting, still forgiving, still knowing that I'll probably be an internal stress cadet for the next several months....but happy to see old parts of myself, to grant myself grace, to stand up for what I believe in, to not be walked on or taken for granted while still trying to internally love others, to begin to be proud of and comfortable in my skin, to know that while flawed, I'm still beautiful, intelligent, motivated, and simply doing the best that I can.
The ND/acupuncturist had mentioned that giving myself a deadline of Lent to work through everything might be a little unrealistic...and I definitely agree. I don't expect to have it all worked through and figured out, but already I'm incredibly happy with what has happened in all the various dimensions throughout the last couple of weeks. And I'm heading forward....looking forward to what I hope will be more positive changes and growth in the months to come--the months that tend to be my most favorite jam :)