I WOKE UP this morning while vacationing in South Dakota feeling some grief in my body — a heart full of heaviness and uncertainty, and a head full with confusion. In that moment, I had a choice of how to respond. Should I avoid it? Try to figure it out? Push it away? Take it out on my beloved lying next to me? Or find a better way? At age 46, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things, but some days still test me.
While uncomfortable energy moved through my body, I noticed the swirling thoughts in my head, and I found stillness. Taking a breath, I exhaled and rested quietly in bed with my eyes closed until the “made up” stories began to dissipate — creating an empty mind that allowed me to become more present. Recognizing the heaviness in my heart, I took more deep breaths, and held my partner’s hand as he drifted in and out of sleep. I held still.
Often we run in circles, run toward or run away. Running sometimes feels more comfortable in the moment because what we’re really running from is discomfort. What I’ve learned is that we have another option. When I keep my body still, my mind can unravel and my feelings can sort themselves out.
Getting out of bed, I grabbed a glass of water, climbed up into the cozy little loft in the cabin and began to write in my journal. Tears came as I uncovered a deep feeling of loneliness that I wasn’t yet totally clear around. As I continued to write, the grief that was moving through me felt deeply connected to spending time the day before at Porcupine, Wounded Knee, Manderson, Pine Ridge and the gravesites of Big Foot, Black Elk and Red Cloud. Tears flowed as I held my body still — allowing the uncomfortable energy to move through me.
Two days of car travel that took us from the interstate highway to the Badlands to the Lakota reservations, then back to the busy-ness of Custer, SD, I noticed my body, mind and spirit needing more balance.
As my partner became more awake, my work became finding a healthy way to let him into what was happening inside me so that he could understand, accept and support. It’s easy to find solace when you’re on your own, but add a loved one and then the seesaw has another player!
As a kid I remember sitting on the seesaw alone and how easy it was to find my balance, my little legs barely touching the ground. Nothing was resisting me on the other end, so it felt easy. But when my older (and heavier) sister jumped on one end, I flew up into the air, and now she was in control.
“Farmer, farmer let me down!” I’d yell, and she’d reply with a grin, “What will you give me if I let you down?”
“A Hershey bar,” I’d reply. It always worked, even if I didn’t really have anything to give her.
When I’m trying to find balance, I remind myself that it’s really quite simple when I don’t resist. When I “go with” whatever is showing up, and take the time to find my ground, I notice that life runs a whole lot smoother.
Snuggling up next to me at the breakfast nook booth that was tucked underneath the loft, my sweetheart put his arm around me and listened deeply with his heart. Inviting him onto my seesaw, I shared the words that went with the loneliness and grief as he held me in his arms. More tears came as I assured him that everything was okay — that I was letting go of what I didn’t need anymore, and that the rainbow was soon to come. And then it did.
Joy is always just around the corner, but we resist it by thinking, discerning, worrying and running in circles. When we take the time to find that sweet spot of “now,” we can find what it feels like to be a kid again — balancing both ends of the seesaw from our tippy toes, feeling the sun on our skin, and the wind in our hair.