That Wholehearted Living Stuff

HospitalSo much has happened since I last blogged!  Back in November, I let you know I’d be outta commission for a while with my brain surgery, but so much more than that has happened this fall. In addition to major surgery: I camped in the early fall for the first time (for me) and went into hotsprings for the first time with Holly, saw the most incredible waterfall I’ve ever seen in my whole entire life, created my first burlesque show with my friends, traveled to Seattle, made a huge decision to end my thirteen-year marriage, cut my hair super short for the first time ever (hair therapy anyone?), got my first apartment, started living alone for the first time, caught up with so many of my favorite people, and binged a whole lot of Netflix. A significant amount of that Netflix binging was to simply escape the chaos that the fall season brought into my life, which actually made for a good recovery period.  Now winter has arrived. The leaves have all fallen and I’m able to see the sun through the twiggy leafless trees in the park. I feel ready to feel again.

Happy Smiling Me

I’m moving into a place in my life where I want a more expansive experience. I want the freedom to feel everything, the time to see everything, and enough quiet in my head so that I can hear the stories people tell me with complete concentration. I want a bigger slice of life. The world is huge and the range of emotions one can experience is far larger than good, fine, ok, not bad, and [insert other emotionless answers]. The amount of love a person can give or receive is infinite.  I want to push the boundaries of my current life’s experience. I want to push out of this skin, move past the old stories, and declare my independence from the realm of guilt and shame, as they are useless emotions. I’m ready to dive into what is real. I want to unpack fear, see how deep love can go, explore what lies beyond anger and frustration, and open up to see what the fuck anxiety is really all about. The real stuff.  That wholehearted living stuff.

This desire to live with my whole heart comes with significant emotions, but that is ok with me because I love emotion.  I don’t always have the ability to indulge in it though – I mean, who wants to ugly cry in a busy Target or inappropriately laugh their face off in a staff meeting?  However, when I do have the ability to indulge, I love the experience of allowing myself to be fully in a moment and ride whatever wave of emotion is carrying me. After Holly got back from her trip to Catalina Island and I got to hear about the trip it reminded me how hiking has a unique effect when it comes to dealing with emotion. Hiking requires just enough physicality and awareness to keep you from becoming totally lost in your emotions but is still simple enough of an activity to allow your brain and heart to have some considerable discussion and sussing out of emotions.  Holly worked through grief on her trip.  She had been riding the waves of grief for a while and they sucked her in and threw her up against the rocks over and over.  Once she was done letting them smash her into pieces on repeat she decided to let those pieces reshape into something new.Emerald Bay Selife

I’m jealous of her opportunity to use the challenge of nature to work through something, but it inspires me to get my boots on the ground.  I’m craving the constructed thinking time.  I’ve been taking my dogs on longer walks in the park with fewer podcasts and more thoughtfulness.  I’m starting to think about how I want to prepare my body for the trails.  The best thing I can do right now is to slowly increase my movement and listen with intensity to my body to find the place of growth, but without overdoing it.  Do you have any tips on rehab after major surgery? I’d love to know.  However I go about it, I’m feeling really ready for 2018.  For everything the new year has to offer me in this new reality that is my life.  I’m ready to feel and see and hear.

As I’ve been dealing with some of the most intense emotion of my entire life I’ve come to really love the metaphor of emotions coming in waves.  We say it all the time, but we tend to focus on grief as one of those big wave emotions, but there are lots of other waves that come through and they are all worth riding out. Think about that last beautiful hike you took or the last concert you were at. Did you pause to feel it?  I bet you did. I find that when I let that wave of emotion carry me, it almost always results in some kind of powerful realization that will help to carry me out of the water and safely onto the beach where I feel grounded once again.  Unfortunately, the realization often feels exactly the way that the water looks when a wave crashes onto a rock. Broken but beautiful.  A perfectly smooth wave turns into a crash and splash and destroys the wave completely, yet the water and earth remain.  I could look at my life as being destroyed, and maybe it has been destroyed – my old life, but I remain.  Unlike the water, which has to recede back into itself after the wave has crashed, we humans are able to move forward with renewed clarity and strength.  Riding the waves, though painful, always results in some kind of growth, and growth is what I’m after. I am afraid, in awe, and inspired by the immensity of the ocean. The power it has.  I know I have it too, but I don’t know exactly what to do with all of it sometimes.

There are times when I have to pause. When the growing pains are too intense or I don’t have the stamina to deal in tumultuous stormy waves. When I have to binge on Netflix, go out to get comfort food, smoke a bowl, or have a couple drinks. I don’t always turn to numbing out, but when I do,  I like to consciously pause emotion, rather than letting it run me ragged.  How many times can we crash on the rocks before we need to take a break?!?! Maybe one day I will have a better handle on these waves, maybe I can even harness them, but for now, I’m trying to learn how to ride them and learn from them.  I want to get good at exploring the immensity and leaning into the expansiveness.

As always, we want to tell our stories on this blog and create a community of wholehearted hikers. In 2018 we want to get to know you all more. Drop us a comment or an email and let us know how you plan to tackle the waves of emotion in 2018.  Do you have any good tips, books that help you, trails that calm your mind and ignite your soul?  Tell us EVERYTHING. Have questions? Just ask.  

Waves Crashing