My Momma’s Hippie

I woke up one morning recently and realized I’m where I always wanted to be.  And you know what happened to the girl who got everything she ever wanted? She lived happily ever after.  Okay, I might have stolen that line from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but it’s the first thing that popped into my mind.  Willy (the Gene Wilder one, not Depp) smiling at Charlie as he broke through the ceiling of the factory and soared above the pain, suffering and despair below him (and now in his past).  People tell you to be careful what you wish for but I didn’t just wish myself happy.  I didn’t just start to think happy thoughts.  I dug deep, cracked open and blossomed.  While positive affirmations are a big help, being receptive to change and setting the intention to change is very, very different.  I had to shake off things that no longer served me and while it was hard, I did it.

I’ve been thinking about my mom a lot. I became the hippie I am today because of who she was. Her struggles, her anger and her fear were catalysts to make me stronger, gentler and more accepting of myself.  That was her greatest gift to me; to allow me to become who I am and accept who I am.  Right before she died I was trying to get her to eat something.  It was diced pears (the last thing she ate) and she’d have nothing to do with them after one bite.  She was looking at me with those tired, tired blue eyes.  I now think she was burning my soul into hers so she would recognize it again when she returned.  Teasingly I said, “You never thought you’d raise a hippie, did you?”  She quickly said, “No!” with almost a proclamation of disbelief.  She’d always complained about my food choices (damned hippie) and how I raised my kids. I was (and am!) too soft on them.  But I could see she was proud of who I’d become.  I hadn’t been a failure after all.  And most important, she knew I’d be okay.  I had no other option. She had given me all her strength and determination, leaving none for herself.

The past year has been one hell of a journey.  Loss, acceptance, new love (not only my partner, but most importantly, love for myself).  I have gone on a tremendous journey of self-discovery, tearing down all I thought I should be and welcoming the person I am.  So many lessons run through my mind, body and soul.  Some seemed to hit me like a brick this morning; others have been brewing and bubbling to the surface one understanding at a time.

  • The journey happens whether you like it or not.
  • And whether you notice or not.  The days tick by and you need to be happy as much as possible. I have bad days–they pass.  I have good days–they, too, pass.  Each day passes no matter what.
  • I try to be as happy as possible and take the sad days as temporary.  I am a lot more aware of why I’m unhappy and if I don’t, my years of journaling have allowed me to crack open and get to the heart of the matter.  Which is usually my fear of not being enough one way or another.
  • I have the resources to heal myself.  Journaling, Brene Brown books, a little Agatha Christie and most importantly, quality (and quantity) time on my mat.  Going within isn’t scary; it’s peace.
  • I’ve learned to work through the stories I tell myself and put them to rest.  Too often I create scenarios on why someone said something or didn’t say something, and bring myself into a dark place. All because of the stories I’ve created in my mind.  They are self-inflicted.  I used to think it was because I’m a writer, but it’s because I’m human.
  • I’ve had a very long journey to get here and while not every day is a success, fewer and fewer are spent in pain.
  • When I live my passions, I am at peace. Reading, yoga, nature, writing and research.  When I make time and space for these five elements, I am being true to myself and am able to truly feel comfort and solace.

I love who I’ve become and I’m proud as hell that I’ve allowed myself to become her.  Her strength, love, understanding and acceptance is beyond what I could have imagined a year ago.  I am at peace for the first time in many, many years.  I live true to my nature. I am happy!



The Cave You Fear to Enter


Hiking, or “woods walking” has always been my solace. It’s where my soul regenerates and I can get in touch with something so primal and authentic it speaks to my very inner core.  Sure, it’s good exercise and removes the cobwebs from my head, but it’s so much more than that.   It’s not about the hike. It’s not about the walk.  It’s about being at one with the earth and hearing nothing except my own heartbeat (and the birds).  It’s about being surrounded by trees and dirt and rocks that will far outlive me.  We come and go.  The earth beneath our feet is eternal.  The rocks, while they may eventually erode or crumble, will be here for many generations.  I look at the stone walls that line the old back roads and think of those that came before.  The people that cut down forests and built their houses in new fields; those same fields that are now overgrown with pine and maple trees once again. Nothing remains except remnants of cellar holes, boundary lines and old animal pens.

They are logging a lot of the hill where I walk.  At first it broke my heart as the landscape changed and became unrecognizable.  Swaths of newly cut land created a foreign world where I once felt at home.  But now, slowly, it’s becoming familiar again.  Just different. Trees that had stood for perhaps a hundred years lay abandoned, cut and left to rot into earth.  The cycle is continuing.  Life is continuing.  I thought about how the farmer’s children, returning to their homestead decades later, must have been saddened by the trees overtaking their beautiful gardens, pastures and fields.  How those same trees are now being felled to give way to pasture and fields once again.

These moments give me insight into life like nothing else could.  I’m reminded continually of the cycle that surrounds us. Life and death. Growth and decay.  It’s everywhere all the time.  We cannot mourn what is missing for something new is happening.  Where there were trees, fields will take over. Where one thing was, another takes its place.  Different. Foreign at first, but gradually becoming familiar.  For me, where  pain once lived, a new peace is taking hold.  Where once I felt alone, now I feel quiet.  It’s very, very different.

I’m coming into a new period of my life.  I suppose it’s called “empty nest” but it’s much more than that.  I’m coming into a time where I can focus solely on me.  On unveiling the person I’ve become over the years.  It’s happened slowly. Pieces of who I used to be have faded away, much like the erosion eating at the rocks that were stacked purposefully into stonewalls a century ago. I’ve been stacking experiences and emotions into a new formation. Solid and strong enough to last throughout my life.  I’ve changed. I’ve morphed into a different person without really noticing.  But now is the time to take notice.  I’ve the time, the quiet and the solitude to be able to find out who lies beneath this skin I wear.  Who lives deep within and what I need to bring to the surface.  It’s not easy and it’s not always fun, but it’s a journey like no other.  Joseph Campbell said “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”.   It’s time to light a torch and enter the cave.  They don’t call me Jewels for nothing*… for I am my own treasure.


*Although, when I was young my cousins DID call me “Jewels Worth Nothing”. But they did so in such a way that I knew they loved me more than any jewel they could ever hold.