Lindsay McKinnon is a Midwife of Souls and a Vessel for holistic healing, guiding individuals and communities through inspiration and action to connect, heal, and amplify their lives. As a Youth Minister she led retreats and pilgrimages to create personal encounters with Spirit through rituals, service opportunities, workshops and intentional conversations. A Childbirth Doula for over a decade, Lindsay passionately stands for the human spirit’s capacity for rebirth and daring expansion. As a Qoya Teacher she has lead retreats around the world, connecting women to their body-temples through movement, infusing ritual and ceremony into a celebration of the sacred feminine. Her writings and lectures offer both wisdom to soothe the aching soul, and empowerment to take action in our lives and communities. You can find Lindsay gathering with friends on her front porch for sunset, dancing on the beaches of Costa Rica, marinating in the people, animals and landscapes of Zimbabwe, or adventuring across the US in her teardrop camper, spreading love and being of service wherever her wanderlust takes her.
What does it mean to move heaven on earth? What does it mean to have life everlasting? I know the traditional answers here. I’m not looking for an altar call or an academic discussion on theology. That’s another beautiful conversation altogether for another time…
In terms of grief though, I believe that by witnessing my loved ones who have passed, in new ways, in which their love, energetic imprint, and goodness still remains on this earth and in my living, is just that. I’m not talking about being stuck in our grief stories. I’m not talking about an unhealthy relationship to the loss inasmuch that we don’t “move on.” I’m talking about infusing it all together and allowing their everlasting presence to be known, take shape and continue to light us up. Isn’t THAT heaven on earth?
Yesterday, thanks to some beautiful people, I was able to go to Patrick and Logan’s school and be with their classmates and teachers. This means the world to me, and I believe it means a lot to them as well. I brought glitter. I brought pizza (thanks to BOBBY’S Hot and Cheesy)! I brought my Baby Girl and arms open for hugs.
It. Was. Awesome. And it filled my soul and replenished me in ways that set me straight.
When it was all said and done, and the kids went back to class and I was cleaning up the pizza boxes, a man I had not met before came in the cafeteria and started wiping down tables. He asked if I need any help and he was wonderful and thoughtful since I also had my baby and the stroller, etc, etc… We struck up a conversation and I learned about his family. I offered him a whole pizza that was left over to take home and share with them. I learned that he’s only been working there for 6 months. So I introduced myself, and thanked him for his help.
“My name is Lindsay, and I can not thank you enough.”
“Nice to meet you. My name is Patrick.”
Deep breath. Body melt.
Ground through the feet. Lift heart open.
“Well Patrick, that is one of my most favorite names ever. I hope you enjoy your pizza with your family tonight. You deserve it. What a pleasure it is to meet you (again).”
These moments happen ALLLLL the time. And they delight my soul and hurt so good and carry me to the next and the next and the next.
Heaven on earth. Everlasting life. Living these prayers in very real ways is perhaps what saves me.
What kind of moments do you have from loved ones beyond the Veil? How do they show themselves to you? What kind of presence do you feel from loved ones who have transformed and passed and yet remain so close? And how can we cultivate an openness and relationship to it if it is not yet your experience?
If you have not yet read the encounter I had with an elephant in Zimbabwe that illumined this whole concept for me in new ways, check it out by clicking here.
Remember that time when my DREAM showed me how to navigate a particularly tough situation?
Oh wait – did I not tell you about that?
I was agonizing over a particular predicament I found myself in. I mean, I was allllll twisted up inside, deeply depressed about it, and afraid of picking up the phone to have conversations I really did not want to have with particular people. It just wasn’t working out the way I had wanted, the way I had planned, or the way I so needed it to work out! Ever feel like that?
The sitch: I wanted to be a part of a retreat that I had helped to organize and host. I mean, I was bringing a whole group of people to MY town, MY special spot to share with these very special people.I wanted to host them and introduce them to this particular place that means so much to me, so they could have an experience that I helped curate and get that warm fuzzy feeling inside when they think of it. (Notice how my ego was running this storyline?) Unfortunately, another opportunity that I had already invested financially in created a huge schedule conflict for me. It was out of my control.The dates were set and I couldn’t do anything about it! The opportunity I had with my investment in my own business needed to take priority and I knew it, and it was so, so, so very difficult for me to stand in that truth. Try as I might, I just could not be in two places at once – Virginia, and Colorado.
I felt broken.
I felt I was letting some very special people down.
I felt I was being unreliable.
It was out of my control, and I was about to disappoint people who were important to me.
Ego, ego, ego…
I was on the phone with my Dear Friend, Soul Mother, Divine Confidant and Midwife of Spiritual Pathways, Diana McKendree. I was in tears and letting down to her, telling her all about this awful situation I found myself in. I knew I could trust her guidance. You know what she said?
“My Dear One (I love it when she calls me that), have you had any dreams lately?”
Stunned, and instantly pulled out of my chaos of emotion, I had to think for a minute.Wait – have I? Have I had any dreams lately? I sat quietly for a bit as I redirected my brain. I couldn’t even remember what I had for breakfast that morning! I sat in uncomfortable spot, needing some kind of answer for her. I took a deep breath, and then, it came rushing in. The visions were clear, and as I began remembering, I shared with her this recurring dream I had been having in the most recent weeks. And as I recounted the dream, she would inquire a little deeper. She wasn’t telling me anything. She was pulling out of me what my subconscious had already been sharing with me – only I didn’t know how to listen, how to interpret, how to allow this dream to have meaning in my real world as an awake human being. And, the fact that I had had this dream more than once was another matter. It was important! My dream – my subconscious – was begging for my immediate attention!
Diana helped me unpack the wisdom in this dream, and it made all the difference in my real life situation. Instead of feeling handicapped by my conflict, I felt empowered in my capacity to claim responsibility in a new way. Instead of feeling the guilt and the weight of disappointing others – which was totally self imposed – I felt the strength of my own voice making informed decisions in what I knew was true.All the emotion I had been running with was diffused.I was solid.I had a new foundation from which to create the experience I wanted to live into.
It was the most incredible thing!
Within the hour I called the others and shared my conflict, and therefore the decisions and choices I was making around it. There was no disappointment or judgment or feeling of agony – only mutual understanding and growth. And because of that, I could move on to the areas of my life that needed attention next. It was so clear, and so clean once I was in alignment with it!
Diana is a special friend indeed, and one I can’t keep to myself! I love her so much, and I love what she DOES so much, that I simply MUST share her with you too!
Dear One… have you had any dreams lately?
Diana and I are teaming up and offering a retreat for you this Spring! Wanna come?!?!April 26-28th we will unfold together in Asheville, NC at The OM Sanctuary (OMG it’s beautiful y’all!) for our Dream Into Being! Retreat. We’ll spend an entire weekend unpacking our dreams together, learning about the symbology and meanings of different pieces of our dreams, and how to listen deeply to any messages our dreamworld has to share with us. Encoded in the language of the soul (imagery), your dreams hold key directions to healing and wholeness. Dream work and Psychotherapy can help you to know and care for yourself better by bringing unconscious values and beliefs into consciousness. Gaining deeper insight into who you really are and what you really feel in the presence of others of like mind and orientation, can open new paths of transforming self-defeating patterns from your past, and strengthening hope for your future. With support and if necessary guidance, you will embark on a journey of supporting your true capacity for meaningful living and relating. We must give body permission to “speak”. We will explore the energy related to dream images held within the body, through subtle and active movement, music and reflection. Wholeness is possible only when body, mind and spirit are in balance.There will be lots of time for questions and you will be given instruction before the retreat even starts on activating your dreams so that you come ready to go deeper. We promise your inner voice will be heard in new ways, so that you can step into your life more confidently.
Did I mention how beautiful the OM Sanctuary is? During your visit you have the opportunity to experience cell phone free common areas, access the wellness center, hike the woodland trail, enjoy the gardens and waterfall within a nurturing, supportive community. This 54-acre destination mountain retreat center is tucked away just minutes from downtown Asheville, NC.This carefully curated retreat center boasts exquisite single and double occupancy bedrooms, each with a cozy gas fireplace, a wellness center complete with a spa, and even a labyrinth to enjoy some quiet time for inward reflection. I am so excited y’all! Please join us!
If you have always been interested in learning about your dreams but struggle to remember them – this retreat is for you…
If you are an avid dreamer and regularly journal about your dream life – this retreat is for you…
If you have a particular dream that you have held onto and desire to know more about it’s meaning – this retreat is for you!!!
Diana McKendree is a powerful package all bundled up in a warm coat with a handmade shawl or an eclectic woven scarf wrapped around her shoulders. Her bright green eyes are always looking straight through you, but in a way that invites warmth, acceptance, openness, and so much love. Diana’s passion is working with creativity through the dream, images, the body and all manner of material. This has led her to explore a wide variety of professions – from fashion to psychology. Trained as a Jungian psychotherapist, Diana is a skilled educator, an international keynote speaker, consultant, leader of pilgrimages and an iconographer. As a senior faculty member with the Haden Institute since 1998, teaching Spiritual Direction and Dream work, Diana has deepened her passion for the integration of the unconscious into body and life, embracing the true teachings of Christianity’s Wisdom tradition. Ordained an Interfaith Minister, Diana continues to search for the common threads that weave humanity and soul together.
Alison Krauss and Natalie MacMaster strike the perfect chords in their song, “Get Me Through December.” Some of the lyrics that resonate most deeply with me are as follows:
“I’ve been to the mountain, left my tracks in the snow Where souls have been lost and the walking wounded go I’ve taken the pain no girl should endure Faith can move mountains; of that I am sure But faith can move mountains; of that I am sure
Just get me through December A promise I’ll remember Get me through December So I can start again…”
Sometimes you just have to listen and feel, listen and feel, and listen and feel your way through some more…
Leaning into grief through the Holidays is no easy task. It’s not something you can cross off your list or check twice. For some who live with grief, it may seem easier to just bear down and get through the month of December in any way possible, using any means possible. Alcohol, sex, spending extravagantly, or busying up those schedules so much you run on pure adrenaline. I could numb out and pour myself into a bottle of wine every night, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.The headaches, throbbing joint pain and dehydration on top of grief is excruciating.Been there, done that. Besides, I’m nursing a Baby and her health is dependent on mine. I think about that all the time these days. It’s not all about me, and thank God it isn’t!This knowledge may just be what saves me on some days.
The first year of grieving through Christmas Holidays was excruciating. No one knew what to do to help one another feel better. We leaned into being together with family but pretty much cancelled Christmas, holiday decorating, baking, and gift giving – kinda. It was awkward as hell and the more we tried to fight against it, the worse it felt. I love my family dearly, but if I had it to do over again – I would just take off on a spa vacay by myself. It’s just too much pressure and everyone is so fragile, and working double time to be careful and considerate of one another also added additional stress. Dealing with the emotions of others, the glances, the longings on top of what I was already feeling internally was just too much for me to handle. Sometimes it really is – just – too – much, and it’s OK to put yourself in a bubble and be solely responsible for oneself.
The second year of living through December we were pregnant, and so the Holidays took a different shape. It felt a little more “normal” according to the traditions I grew up with, and there was certainly plenty to celebrate as we looked forward to a new child blessing our presence. I was hungry in a new way and so the sense of taste was in full force and Holiday recipes dazzled my taste buds again. We didn’t have to tip toe around each other as much and the rawness from exposed pain had settled and healed a bit. And yet, it remained under the surface, and would sometimes come out sideways and take the breath out of me. People weren’t quite sure what to do but also weren’t as careful. The growing pains of how to interact with people in acute grief “stages” is just mind boggling. There’s no linear or rational thinking about it, it’s just all tossed around in there like a tornado through a town – not really sure when it will touch down, if at all, but everyone running for safety.
This year is our Baby’s first Christmas, and it is a welcomed feeling to get caught up in the magic and newness of everything while she discovers things like Christmas trees and lights. She represents everything we hope for, and everything we love and adore.And still, her older brothers are not here to show her the way – to wake up in the mornings looking for the Elf on the Shelf, affectionately known in our family as Manuel.Manuel also died in our House Fire. They are not here to create Christmas wish lists from catalogs over taking our mailbox, to gather gifts for someone less fortunate, to perform in school musicals, lay out Christmas cookies for Santa, or to snuggle along side of while singing Silent Night at the midnight Eucharist on Christmas Eve. And they won’t be there to get caught up in the contagious enthusiasm of opening gifts under the tree while I sip on my coffee on Christmas morning. I still get those catalogs and I’m not sure what to do with them. So, I look through them and dog ear what I think my sons might wish for at this point. And then I throw it into the recycling bin.Why do I dog ear those pages? Because I can get lost in the wonderment of it all. I can get lost in wondering what they might like to have, what new toy, what new book or gadget or style of shoes to wear. I embrace the wonder, but it’s so hard to throw that magazine in the damn bin. I don’t share the feeling that some bereaved mothers talk about when they feel guilty for feeling happy. I know my Boys would want me to be happy, as they would take cues from me on how they should show up at any given moment. If I was happy, they would also feel confident in feeling happy. This has not changed. I can still feel their happiness when I am also paying attention to feeling good in my body and bones on this earth. The opposite is also true. So I’d rather fill myself up with wonderment. For me, it’s easier to imagine them feeling in awe too. They would for sure be in awe of their little sister. I know they wish they could hold her and make her laugh.
So this year, as the Holidays are upon us, I find myself wondering how we as a family will create space for both, and… to honor the love we have lost in the passing of my two children, while simultaneously the love we have gained in our Baby Girl. Whether it will be in decorating a tree of their own, in lighting a candle in memory of them, or recollecting memories for her to get to know her brothers she will never meet, I will endeavor to create sacred space in which to have intentional conversations and honor it all.
I might even buy her two gifts from a “Secret Santa” or “Guardian Angel,” picking out specific toys I think they might have picked for her.
While doing so, I will anchor myself in my breath. I will feel my feet connected to the earth, here, for as long as my life allows me. I will take the opportunity I have to be with my loved ones and help co-create experiences in which to flourish and savor special memories. And I will remember that I am not, nor am I ever, alone.
If you are navigating grief from losing a loved one, please honor that space with in you in a special way.Honor the way they touched your soul and create intention around something specific and tangible in regards to them. Reach out to those who you know will talk openly with you about your loved one. Try not to take it personally when others forget to acknowledge your loss, or how you may still be navigating the heavy energy surrounding it. Be honest with yourself and those around you, and it’s OK to take a break from all the hustle if you need to just be by yourself for a bit.
If you are aware of folks dealing with loss during the Holidays, do not hesitate to reach out to them. Do not be afraid to name the person they have lost out loud. We crave to hear their names spoken in other voices besides our own. We need to know that you – also – have not forgotten this very significant person in our lives that made us feel whole. You can always say something like, “Hey – I just want you to know I’m thinking of you as you navigate the Holidays without your person (fill in the appropriate name here). I can not imagine what it feels like for you, and I want you to know you are not alone.” And if you can’t say it, because that can be hard too, write it. And sometimes it’s a look that’s more like a gaze. A look that reaches further into the soul of someone else and emits the tender care you are capable of sharing.And if you’re just not sure what to do, saying that can also be so refreshing. Authenticity will reach further than anything.
This Sunday, December 9th is the Annual Worldwide Candle Lighting for all those parents who have lost their children. The Compassionate Friends asks us to light a candle on Sunday evening at 7:00 pm for one hour in honor these loved ones. Not only will I light two candles, but I will share through social media as well. We light candles because we remember their light in this world. We light candles because their love lit a room in ways no other could or can or will. It will be nice to see all the candles lit knowing that across the world, LOVE is still the most powerful thing that reaches across the Veil and unites all loved ones together.
I would love to hear about what helps you navigate grief through the Holidays. Will you share in the comments below? If you’d like to engage a conversation with me and share the name of your person, I will add them to my altar and light a candle for them as well. Just make sure to leave a comment here so my attention will be all on you and yours…
And by sweet, I mean one of those secret places you go to – no – run to, in order to touch base with yourself and get centered. One of those places you grow to depend on because you can trust the experience to remind you that you can, in fact, handle anything. And that kind of place must be prioritized and protected. Especially during the Holidays. Hallmark Holidays are often challenging to navigate for a myriad of reasons, and require a level of sensitivity and restraint, as well as creativity and a good dose of energy drawn from the wellspring of one’s resources. May we channel it all in the most positive directions. Holidays, though there is plenty to celebrate, and plenty to honor – can be energy suckers, especially for women who are often burdened with the weight of unspoken expectations. We rush into the thick of creating, creating, creating – for others to have magical experiences with one another, gathering the perfect gifts and moments to treasure. Cooking, shopping, tasking, doing… and all the while we forget to feed ourselves first. We rush to serve the expectation (often self inflicted expectations!) and will conjure the energy when we are already exhausted. But without filling the well, how can we give to others what we don’t possess? No wonder why so many fall ill following the push to be everywhere with everyone and do “all the things.” When it’s all said and done, and everyone leaves, and the dirty dishes are in the sink, we fall flat on our faces. Pure. Exhaustion. And THEN! Then we get C-R-A-N-K-Y… We get sick. We get drunk. We detach. We shut down. We go numb.
It ain’t fun, and, it ain’t sexy.
Why not feed ourselves first, and give from the overflow? I am nursing a Baby. I know that if I don’t feed and hydrate myself, that she will fail to grow and have the nutrients she needs to develop and thrive. She depends on me as the foundation for how she is able to function in this world. Which means I need to function. I need to thrive. It is the same for our families and loved ones. It is not a selfish thing at all, to take exquisite care of oneself. It is because of my loved ones, that I put myself first. It means I’m not cranky after I give my time or energy, because I first took the time to fill my cup.
If you know me, you know I LOVE bathhouses. I love entering the womb like spaces where our physical bodies can unfold and be renewed. I love emerging from those spaces, glowing, and letting the Love flow from me from that spot. When we travel, I love going to Hot Springs, to the bathhouses, to the inner sanctuaries where God blesses our bodies by allowing us to feel them in new ways. It’s also why I teach Qoya as a movement practice and personal pilgrimage. It’s all about remembrance, really, but I digress…
So, when my amazing and thoughtful brother arranged for my family to go to a sensory deprivation tank (what an awful name) the day before Thanksgiving, it was an absolute YES for me. These tanks are also called float tanks, and are quickly gaining attention as more people are catching on and opening up these businesses across the country. They are called sensory deprivation tanks (or “pods”), because once inside and the lid is pulled down, they become soundproof, light proof vaults of stillness in which 1,000 pounds of dissolved epsom salts in 10 inches of warm water becomes your personal cocoon for an hour at a time. You are isolated from every external input berating your body and brain. You can’t hear a thing outside of your own thoughts. You can’t see your hand held up in front of your face. All you can do is be suspended, supported, and held by these healing waters. And ohhhh my, is it ever sweet. Scientific research shows the benefits of these float isolation pods for many different conditions: anxiety, depression, muscle tension, inflammation to name a few. Neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein has established the Laureate Institute for Brain Research dedicated to studying the float tank phenomenon on our bodies and psyches in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The epsom salts literally pull the toxins out of you. In addition to creating space to connect to our internal worlds, it is actually helping people with illnesses and conditions that have routinely plagued them. Isolation. Isolation in order to create a boundary that we might not otherwise be able to do for ourselves. Perhaps this is intimidating for some. Of course, you have options and total control of keeping the top open, or the lights on, and you can even play music if you wish. It is not so much of a deprivation as it is an amplification. It is a vehicle with a quickening effect for our natural, sensory intelligences to come alive, to wake up, fall back into alignment and nourish our bodies. I chose to close the lid, keep the lights on, and listen to a playlist I have for savasana. The temperature was equal to my own body temperature, so I neither got cold, nor did I get too hot like I sometimes do in a hot tub. Call me Goldilocks, because that porridge of a float tank was juuuuust riiiiiight! It was so quiet I could hear the sound of my breath bounce against the interior walls, and my own blood pulsing through my body. The mere ripple effect in the water from my lungs expanding and releasing, sent small waves to the walls and then back to my own body like lapping water upon a sailboat’s hull. I went into my music deeper, and into a meditative state that I have not yet been able to reach until that moment. I wasn’t sleeping, but I wasn’t there. An entire hour went by in the blink of an eye, and I did not want to leave when the time was up. I felt like I had just taken the most amazing nap of my life. When was the last time I had that kind of stillness, that kind of welcomed silence, or even that kind of privacy?
I was held. I could just be.
For the rest of the day and into the next, I was in a state of bliss, and I was no longer sore from my workout the day before. All of my senses were heightened: sight, taste, smell, sound, and touch. I wanted to be outside in the sunshine and feel its warmth on my face, and the breeze whip around me. I wanted to eat the most delicious foods – slowly – and dazzle my taste buds. I wanted to stroll from one place to another without a plan, or itinerary, or care in the world outside of that moment. I wanted connect with my friends and family and listen to them, enjoy them, laugh with them. I wanted to get lost in a song that came over the speaker and get lost in dancing. I wanted to give of myself to everything and everyone around me, as though they were love letters to my soul.
Because they are.
And, because I (and my brother) gave myself that time and space to connect with my internal world, I could participate in it in a way that took us all higher. My brother for the WIN! Thank you for filling my cup, so I could show up as my best self for others!
So, how do you fill your tank? Where do you go and what opportunities do you take to honor your body and soul in the midst of all the crazy? I would love to hear from you. Please comment below, and list your top 3 things to do in order to tap into that space of genius where soul meets body, where you connect in deeper ways, and find sanctuary within.
There is a round table that now sits in my Dining Room, and it is called the Table of Grace. It just landed here last week, from Texas by way of Pennsylvania. It’s been passed down through the family, and now it’s ours to take care of. I love sitting at it. It’s heavy, made of solid wood, and seasoned in its years. It carries its own stories, just like me. As I sit at this table I wonder who will gather here. Over the next decade or two, who will sit here, break bread, share in prayers, and dive into discussions and memories, laughter and tears?
As I sit here thinking about the now, my heart pulls faded memories of similar tables where we gathered with my children. Everyday meals, and special Holidays… it all happened right there. It’s Thanksgiving, and although I am deeply grateful for the life I have and the loved ones that surround me, I am also deeply sad and missing my Boys. At the same time, I am deeply held in awe as I wake up to my Little Girl cooing and crawling across the floor to reach for what ever captures her attention. It is possible to feel all of this simultaneously, just like ingredients to the perfect Thanksgiving Meal.
The Dining Room table is multifunctional, and often used for doing homework while I prepped and cooked dinner. It may be the same at your house, too. That way, I could keep an eye on my eldest and answer questions he had regarding his homework. His little brother typically sat across from him, peering through the rims of his Ninja Turtle glasses and tracing his letters onto lined paper to learn the strokes and patterns of writing in cursive. Do your kids stick out their tongues when they concentrate? It was so frustrating. For both of them. Homework was tough and using new muscles to hold a pencil was exhausting, especially when you hold it too hard. They just wanted someone else to do it for them. I get it! Sometimes I want that too! But that was not part of the deal. They had to learn to think for themselves, make mistakes, and grow into this world as their own people in their own bodies, with their own thoughts, and it was my mission and honor to help teach them to do so. I wonder what kind of school projects my daughter will get into and how on earth will I protect this gorgeous masterpiece from her? She will no doubt become a master of her own creative flow – glitter and glue included and encouraged – and I will have to get even more creative in how to allow for that and protect this heirloom simultaneously. Sitting at the Table of Grace is often frustrating. For everyone. Even the cook. Often dinner gets burned from having to keep small hands on task while learning, exploring, and building confidence.
It’s Thanksgiving, and we love to host family and friends for the Holiday Feast. Part of the fun is pulling together recipes and savoring the flavors just by holding the Desire and dreaming it into being. Now that we have a Dining Room table again, I look forward to hosting this special meal next year. This year we travel to be with family and will sit at their table, absorb the aromas wafting from their kitchen. Ultimately we will fall asleep on one another as we lounge across the couches, feet fighting for space on the coffee table while watching the Macy’s Day Parade or another Holiday Classic. Sooner, rather than later, the tryptophan will settle in, and we will be a choir of snoring wonders filling the Living Room.
The Holidays can be filled with so many frustrations, expectations and ideas on how to cook certain recipes a certain way to do it “right.” The food, after carefully curating the perfect menu, may even get burned. In the end we all sit at the table. In the end we all have a chair. Beyond the frustrations or sadness that we all hold, what is truly palpable is the grace in which we serve one another with our presence of simply being together. Perhaps that is the perfection in these moments. Because of the hardships we have endured, we open our doors, and our hearts, and welcome them all in to be blessed and shared among others. In sharing, it infuses the burdens and even makes them sweet. How present are you feeling today? Do you need to reach out to someone and feel that connection? Could you breathe even deeper and pull up a chair, offer a hand in the kitchen or get into the conversation? Can we find the shared strength to be grateful for the things that bring us to this table? What ingredients are you bringing to the Table of Grace so we can all experience the fullness of life-flavors that are ours to appreciate and honor?
Thank you for being here and thank you for all that has brought you here to this moment today. Thank you for all that your heart holds dear, and thank you for sharing that with us.
“We will never have to tell our horse that we are sad, happy, confident, angry or relaxed. He already knows long before we do.”
– Marjike de Jong
They say that horses are clairvoyant. In the Summer of 2016, I found that to be absolutely true. I had recently lost my home and my two children in a deadly house fire. This article is not about that. As a part of my healing process, I was grateful to participate in an equine horse therapy program at Healing Strides in Boones Mill, VA. Several mothers of my son’s closest and dearest decided they wanted to move through our grief together. Our time at the stables is not about riding horses. It is about connecting and allowing our own healing process to percolate, and breathe, using the horses as mirror images of ourselves, or as representations of other events, people, experiences and concepts in our lives. I am just learning about this, and it seems to be a back door, metaphorical approach to accessing the deeper parts of ourselves that are seldom seen by others.
One horse in particular caught my attention as she was very anxious and pacing the edge of the fence line, desperately wanting to be on the outside of the fence. This horse reminded me of Patrick, my oldest son, and all I wanted to do was help it calm down, settle back into its body and get grounded. I wanted to help ease the anxiety and do what I could to bring it some sense of Peace. As I stood near the horse it continued to pace back and forth, back and forth. It charged at me, and darted to the side as I stood my ground, speaking to it through my mind as though it could hear my words. Twice it circled me. I just stood there feeling into its heart space and speaking to her from my heart space, without words, just presence. Words often get in the way, and the horse probably didn’t need my words. Children are sometimes like that too. Eventually, the horse slowed down but continued pacing. It was breathing deeper. It gradually closed its gate, and then, it dropped to its knees and laid in the grass on its side, head and neck upright. I gasped as I watched her do this. I clinched my chest and started crying, as I had never had such a big and gorgeous creature lay down in front of me like that, and of course, I was thinking of my boys. Inch by inch and trailing tears, I crawled on my hands and knees through the grass until I reached her. She allowed me to touch her hoof, her leg, her neck and her head. I swiped the hair from her third eye and massaged her ears. And then, as her brown eyes searched mine, she laid her head down into the grass as well. So, I did too. I slid my arm out and laid down on my side next to this beautiful, magical creature. Her gaze completely pulled me into hers and there was this moment that I can not describe as anything other than other-worldly. She became a gateway between me and my boys; for a moment, an enchanting, Divine and powerful moment, I could hold them energetically while we laid in the grass together. I wanted to stay in that moment forever. It was fleeting. When it was over, it was over… but not really. As the Moms and the “Watchers” gathered together to process our individual and collective experiences, the horse continued to stand up, and then lay down again, and again, and again, making its way from the edge of the fence to the center of the field in the sunshine. I’m not really sure what happened between me and this mystical creature, but I know it was special. I am still processing it, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I was completely spaced out and totally discombobulated for the rest of that day: forgetting where my keys were, being on one side of town for an appointment when I was supposed to be on the opposite side of town, and forgetting to pick up a friend at an agreed upon location. I couldn’t even form sentences to communicate thoughts in my mind, just jumbled up words. That kind of aloofness happens when we humans have spiritual experiences that take us outside of what we have already known. Memory and speech is a functional process related to the left hemispheres of our brains. It is associated with our lineal and rational thinking minds. Experiences such as the one I had with this horse, opened and expanded my way of thinking, feeling, and being; experiencing reality outside the boxes I have so carefully placed myself within. The horse raised my vibration and opened a portal beyond linear and feelings and sensations. I wish I could live in that spot.
I had an amazing and unique experience. But it was not just about me. It was not even about me and this beautiful horse. There were several other amazing and courageous women standing in that field with me, and several other beautiful horses. Each one having their own experiences simultaneously. Each one peeling back the layers of rational thought and allowing themselves to feel the space inside of nature, to be in Communion with it all. Common. Union. My experience was no more and no less important than that of the others, they are equally powerful and Divine. How often do we have these experiences, but do not talk about them? How often do we hold back from sharing incredible, almost unbelievable experiences because we are afraid of what others might think of us? Will they even believe us? It happens more often than we think. I’ll bet that as a reader, you may be nodding your head recalling profound experiences in your own life. Together as a Community we have the opportunity to lean in to one another in the heart of seldom-seen transparency. Do you have the courage to share that with your lovers, your close friends, your children or colleagues? We can be in that field together and honor ALL of it. When I heal, you heal. When you heal, I heal. This is true of the women gathering with horses. This is true of our entire Community of Roanoke that is greatly impacted by one another’s stories, for better, for worse. This is true of you, and this is true of me. They say that horses are hyper sensitive and clairvoyant, and I am so grateful they are. To be in their presence, to be fully seen by them and to be so taken in by them… I am on-my-knees raw with gratitude.
* Grab a sneak peek of my book-in-progress right here! I will keep you updated as it moves through different stages, AND you’ll be the first to know when it’s published!
It can not possibly be comfortable… for the Baby or the mother, but I am thinking about the Baby here. I mean, at first they are warm and cozy in their chysalis of a cocoon that they have grown inside of, and grown quite used to, but guess what… time is up and they are growing beyond, so their little brilliant bodies send these messages to Mom’s brain which then continues relaying the message on down the line at the speed of light until…
… the first contractions begin…
Reinventing and starting a new business is kind of like feeling those contractions. And still, I am thinking about a Baby. It’s confusing and uncomfortable to feel all that pressure on your head and in your body, and
then be exposed to all that light, and sound, and cold air. It can kinda hurt! No wonder why Babies cry when they first arrive on this earthly side of the womb!
So bear with me while I figure this all out. I am pretty amazing, but I am also human, and I’m figuring a lot out as I go. Thank GOD for support! And tools and technology! Apologies if I don’t know how to use it all seamlessly, but I’m just getting started and there’s a lot to grow here…