Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Opening our own cages

What does it mean to be a wise woman? Can anyone be wise? Does the wisdom come from within, or without? Does a woman learn from her mother line, her family, her village, her community, her world? I believe all of it.

When I lived in Washington, I belonged to a group of mindful, playful women who named themselves the Holy Ho-Ho's, fashioned after the Ya- Ya sisters. These women would come together every other week, meditate, pray, hold hands, sing, and love each other. They would giggle, be naughty minded, and share. They would cry, comfort, and be there for others. It was the best experience someone like me could possibly have.
This group of women became my sisters, and my mamas.

At the time my own mother and mother line was pretty much non-existent for me to learn and grow from. I was the daughter of a broken woman, who was the daughter of a professionally driven but suppressed mother, who was the daughter of a deeply depressed and bitter woman. I can't go any farther back, because I don't know my mother line story. It is something I would like to work on.

The back story:

My mother was so incredibly young when she had me. I would like to say that she did the very best that she could, given her circumstances. At one point in her life she had had enough responsibility of caring for me... maybe it was too hard, maybe she wanted to play, I don't really know the story, because I have never heard her honest truth. Through a period of time in my 5th year of life, and through a tumble of passing Dina off to other family members for a while, I landed back in her life a changed little girl. I didn't trust. I didn't feel safe. I was so incredibly serious. I was sad.

My mom's story became more entangled, confusing, and her life came splitting apart like shards of glass. She made decisions based on survival and security, even when it went against what would make her happy. She said she did it all for me. She had the soul of a free spirited gypsy and after she made those choices, she felt like she was trapped in a cage, and started to numb her very own existence by making unhealthy choices.

I didn't receive any more wisdom from that point on. I was on my own. But now I had two sisters and a step father (who is the most amazing man, by the way).

When I became an adult and moved out on my own, I had so much suppressed anger and bitterness toward her. I subscribed to the drama, I had a gigantic chip on my shoulder, and I blamed her. I was determined to break the chain of her parenting skills, and of her unhealthy choices. Regardless,I started to make the some of the same choices that she had. I landed myself in a situation out of security and survival. I too became a trapped free spirit in a cage of my own creation, and numbly lived my existence. I felt completely alone.

But I was also living a double life. I was searching for meaning, for a purpose. My girlfriends were my saving grace. I explored religion, philosophy, theology, and mama wisdom with them. I started going to a New Thought Center, because I longed for community. I joined a book circle, and read the book "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar". I fell into a group of these incredibly powerful , beautiful, loving, and soulful people who taught me a whole new perspective on life. I thrived in this community. I started to see a spark of hope and life. I was invited to join this women's prayer circle, the Holy Ho-ho's. I was told by a special woman who had tears in her eyes: "You are the one we have been waiting for". So I joined. I learned, I grew , and I loved.

A little ways into this prayer circle I started meeting other women from other communities. I joined new communities, where I was taught amazing woman wisdom, sister wisdom, mama wisdom. Stuff I NEVER learned from my own mother. And so the light within grew. I stopped being bitter, resentful. I reformed a tentative relationship with my mother, knowing that her unhealthy choices made her who she was, and she wasn't willing to change... but that she had a good heart underneath. I found the key to my own cage and unlocked it. It was extremely difficult to step out of my life.

But I did. I am so thankful to the wisdom of those women, those sages. They helped to shape who I am . They helped me to shake free of my beliefs, and live with an open heart. They are mamas and sisters.

I am now in the process of creating something like that here in this new place. To create a community. To share together, learn together, live with an open heart together. To laugh, and to play, and to shift what doesn't belong.

The other day I received this incredibly little lesson in my inbox. its about 11 minutes long, and wonderful. I encourage you to take a moment, make a cup of tea, and just listen. There are 4 more parts to this video. I will post them later. Blessings.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The journey of 2500 miles

This past weekend was an emotional one. I traveled back into my past, to move forward into my future.
That said, it wasn't easy. It was like walking into a tunnel knowing that there was a light on the other side, but it was so far away that I couldn't yet see it.
There were high highs, and one incredibly low low.

Flying into Seattle on my own was exciting. I walked the blocks and tucked into different stores to look for treasures. I walked along the waterfront and smelled the water. I people watched. I found a treasure for my friend and enjoyed conversations with perfect strangers.

I met a soul sister in Seattle for the very first time. We have known each other for almost 5 years, and I adore her. It was her 45Th birthday and we shared time trading stories of love, sadness, hope, and joys. We watched a sunset together and had a delightful meal. I wish I could see her more often.

I saw my baby sister and met her beloved for the first time. To see my sister totally grown up, in love, and a complete woman astounded me. She has always been a little girl to me, and it is an adjustment to acknowledge her own transformation. But she is a woman, beautiful, strong, powerful, and adorable. Her man is lucky to have her. I think he knows. They made a sweet pair, and I could tell there was an easy compatibility that is always nice to have in a relationship.

I drove down from Seattle Washington to Kalama Washington to visit my Nana and Papa. The drive was amazing, and throughout the experience of the drive I felt it. "Home. Home. Home." It thudded into my heart, in my veins, and flooded into my soul. The gigantic evergreen trees made me cry, and it was powerful to feel utterly and completely at home.

Seeing my Nana and Papa was nice. Knowing that each moment with them at this point in their lives is a gift, and I treasured the time I spent, listening to the stories of catching Salmon, new great grand kids and a brand new GREAT GREAT grand baby. They are snowbirds and will travel to California where they will golf, and play with their buddies for 6 months in the warm sunshine. So beautiful to notice the things that are important to them, the way they are able to go with the flow, and just be. It is a lesson and a gift just to know them.

I drove down to Vancouver Washington and met up with an old friend that had asked me to officiate her wedding to the love of her life. Seeing her was fun, bringing back memories and amazed me at the growth of her own children. Visiting with her mom, and realizing that I only knew her as "Mom", and not her name made me laugh, realizing that I had known this family for a long time.
Her boys were excited, anxious and typical teenagers who were about to finally have a dad for really, the first time. It was a magical moment to watch them all play together, and to see my friend, and I was glad that I was there to help them perform this wedding.

I met up with my other sister and her husband and we shared a dinner and light hearted conversation. I noticed how incredibly different My sisters and I all are. We all have different journeys, different expectations and different things that are important to us. Trying to find the common thread could be difficult if you didn't know us, but it was there, quietly interwoven. A past history, perhaps. A love for our father, maybe. Just being sisters? Possibly. This sister is established in her home, career, and marriage. She positively lit UP discussing the possibility of starting a family. It was so sweet and exciting to listen to her anticipation of what becoming a mother would be like. I can't wait to watch that experience unfold for her and her husband.

I finally made it to my Adopted Mama Cathy's house and visited with her long into the night. She let me ramble. Let me share, and let me just be with all of my turbulence. She held my hand, placed her hand on my swollen belly, and hugged me until tears were in both our eyes. It was her gift to me to let me stay with her and her husband Curt during my visit.

The next day I got to see my sister again, along with our dad, and it was like time was non existent, sharing as if it had only been a few weeks instead of a year. It was awesome seeing my dad, and I realized how very much I missed him. He brought me apples to share with my friends while I was visiting, and gave me his side hug.

I officiated my friends wedding, and it was beautiful. I really thought that I could maintain dry eyes, and be slightly detached, but seeing both my friend and her beloved with tears streaming down their faves, choked me up. Their words to each other were amazing. They have real, heartfelt love. This was the one they have always waited for, and I was honored to share in their moment.

Afterward I drove up to see a family that has always been dear to my heart, and I sat in their home, listening to the kids share with me, watching love sweep through the room. There was peace in that home, and a love for each other. It was a blessing to be among them.
My heart was tender being there, because this was my old best friend, my soul sister, and she seems so happy in her new life. She is content, complete, and living in joy. She is established, and confident. I am proud of her.
Another dear soul sister, my other best friend was also there, staying the night, and sharing in a visit. What a gift to see the love between them, for each other, and to be in their presence. I was blessed.

The following day I needed to just rest. I had been going non stop for 3 solid days, and I was exhausted. Mama Cathy put together a baby blessing, which you can read about HERE.
The day was awesome, and I was glad to be in the present moment. Seeing everyone was such a gift all in it's own.

Driving to the airport the next morning was incredible. Watching the sunrise as I drove, seeing the fog swirl on the landscape, and frost on the fields, the mountains with their purple peaks, Mt. St. Helens looking like a giant scoop of ice cream with a smaller scoop taken out of the top, and Mt. Ranier gigantic in the distance, I was in awe of the incredible place that I have lived for most of my life.
I had been blessed to be living in God's country. It was a magical place. The people, the places, the beauty is incredible. I will always always love it there. I miss it tremendously. I wish I could bring my family back to live there with all of my heart.
But not for the reasons you might think.
I realized in my journey that the very heart of why I wanted to be there in the first place, ended up not being as important as I thought. It was the beauty and magic of the Pacific Northwest that I had really longed for. Everything else was a bonus.

Life goes on without me, and I realized that people have indeed moved on. I felt and saw the space that has been created by time and distance of not being there. Some friends made time to see me, but it wasn't like I thought it would be. I am not sure what I expected, but I let myself be incredibly disappointed. I didn't live in the moment, and I had expectations that weren't met. This isn't any one's fault, just my incredibly raw, tender heart grieving the slow death of what was. I felt out of place in some places, a third wheel in others. I realized that my chapter in some of my dear friends lives is almost over, and to know that saddens me.

Of course I was blessed to make the journey, blessed to see everyone, blessed to be with people that I love.
I am thankful for the process of growth, for the truth of knowing that I will grow through this dark time of losing friends, of knowing that my heart will continue to open wider to the lesson.
And I will move forward to a new place, in a new direction, and a new me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

What do you Love?

As part of my wedding ceremonies, I include a special piece that is always the couple's favorites. It was given by permission from the wise woman who ordained me as a Minister, and Married my husband and me.
I ask each of the couples individually "What do you love most about your fiance?" And the answers I get are incredibly interesting. Sometimes I laugh, because it's adorable, and sometimes I get all choked up, but I always respect their words, thoughts, and beliefs. This, shows me the deep insides of their relationship. Their respect for each other. It is truly beautiful.

It shows me the differences in men and women, and how they think. It shows me where the couple is aligned, and where they are totally different from each other, somehow making it work.
Often, I share these Love stories with my husband, who doesn't say much in response, other than to chuckle, or say "Awesome". But it is enough. I remember the things that he loves about me shared with me in our marriage ceremony, and I was so touched that this incredibly private man of mine, would feel comfortable about opening his soul and sharing it with someone he didn't know. (Our Minister).

So I am going to share with you a few totally abstract couples, and show you what I mean:
Couple 1:
Groom's email to me:

Hi Rev. Dina,

I am soooooo excited about being with Bride for the rest of my life. She truly has filled my life with true happiness, unforgettable memories, and a sense of peace and certainty.

There are like way more than 5 things and it is really hard to bring it down to five. But here goes...

I love her caring nature and her love for the world around her, especially wiggly worms.
I love the beauty of her dimply smiles and the giggles which accompany them.
I love booping her nose followed by a sweet "Simba" across her forehead
I love her delicious taste in music
I love six kisses in the morning and our secret handshake.
I love the calming sound of her heart beating

Sorry that I had a six things (and a couple compound I love yous) but they are all very important.
Thank you so much for being so nice and making this a reality for us. It really means a lot.

What I love most about Groom is that he always saves me the slice of pizza with the biggest bubble on the crust. I know that may sound strange but it's an example of how he always thinks of me before himself. I love how he likes to go on adventures with me, play with worms and have ghostsock wars. I love the way he looks into my eyes knowing that I love him as much as he loves me. I also love that in loving him he has made me love myself again. He is the kindest, sweetest, most honest man I have ever met and I am incredibly lucky to have him in my life.

Interesting, huh? But yet you see the silliness, and the almost innocent love that they have for each other.

Now here is the next couple who are about 15-20 years older:
Hello Dina,
This is acutally harder than i first thought, trying to put to words what i love about Bride. Bride is the most beautiful woman i have ever seen (she rolls her eyes at me evertime i tell her that) but there is more to her than just physical beauty there is a beauty that is deep down in her soul. You can see it through her eyes. The moment i saw her i knew she was the one i had been searching for. I also knew in that moment that i loved her , i had always loved her.
What i love most about her is her soul. There is a beauty there that is the greatest thing i have ever experienced. Have you ever been just walking along, look up and find yourself in the perfect sunset? That moment of pure beauty. That moment that takes your breath away as you stare it. I get that feeling everytime i see her. I see it when she is asleep on the couch with her head on my shoulder, when she is yelling at the kids or cheering them on in a game. That brightness to her soul comes out through her eyes and brightens my soul. She is a rarity, her inner beauty matches her outer beauty.
I consider myself the luckiest man in the world. She is the best thing to have ever happened. i can only hope that i can make her as happy as she makes me.

And Bride:
Dear Mrs. Rev. Dina
So...I've been staring at this thing for a couple days and I'm not quite sure how to put it into words. Of course, I love the way he hugs/holds me, especially when things aren't going so well, you know, the kind that says things are going to be ok. I love his smile, the sheepish way he grins and winks when I catch him staring at me. But his whole being is what I find so amazing...I can't narrow it down. When I first saw him, looked into his eyes, I knew that he was the other half of my soul and I was in love, that he was the one I've been looking for my entire life. I'm not sure if it was fate or luck t hat brought us together, but I've never felt so complete. We have such an amazing connection...Grrom's been known to complete my thoughts and finish my sentence, and it's totally what I was thinking. I just love HIM : )

TWO incredibly different couples, and I love them both.

Most of my grooms want to write me a book of the thousand things they love about their brides. I SO love that, and I am honored to be a part of their love story, even though Its only for a brief moment. What a blessing it is for me to share these sacred moments with them. LOVE it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Traveling to the Past to figure out the future.

Next week I am taking a trip to the West Coast. I lived there my entire life, and love every inch of it. It will probably always be referred to as "Home". I haven't been out there since last August, when Hubby and I were married.

Normally,over the past three years, I would head out there every 6 months or so to collect my children who would be visiting their father. It was my excuse to get to see everyone, under the camouflage of not wanting my kids to fly alone.

This year I stayed in Pittsburgh every time they traveled. It was hard, and I was obsessed with making sure they were safe. I could have easily flown out there to see everyone when it was time for the kids visit to end, but I didn't.

Things have changed for me. Oh sure, I miss everyone, and I was embedded in school, with no vacation from it in sight. But I really didn't have a reason to go.

What happened?

Life. All my family and friends have lives of their own to live. They aren't holding my hand, they aren't at my beck and call, they are busy raising families, adapting to new relationships, traveling, and living! They obviously can't come out and see me.

Right now, I feel and see where my ego is getting in the way. I want to say "Hey! You all forgot about me!" But really, no one out there did. Life simply goes on.
I won't pretend that I am not a LEO and say that it doesn't hurt. Because it does. But it is a process that I am learning to roll with. Over and over again. My ego, it is roaring ferociously. I have also been enabling it.

So next week will be a week of traveling, essentially backward, and yet forward at the same time. I will be traveling to see my past, accepting the present and embracing the future.
I will give love to those that want to spend time with me, and I will send love and best wishes for those that can't, or don't want to. I will learn to move on. I will embrace the now of every moment while I am there, and find the beauty of just being able to be "there" again.
And I will come back to my new home and look toward the future.

I have one final trip planned for the west coast, and that is after Baby McGee makes her entrance. After that, I lay my life map opened for discovery.

I keep being reminded of my other writings of standing on the edge of the cliff, and the world behind me falling away. Its sad for me, and I am grieving, but as in all things, my life is a journey. I can't expect everything and everyone to stay the same. Growth happens. I surrender to it.