Moving Through Emotional Trauma

My Daughter was shot early in the morning on Cinco De Mayo. The miracle is that she survived. The trauma of that incident has changed us all forever. I still feel stuck, lost and numb since this occurred almost 6 months ago now, but I feel I must share this incident in order to move on and past it. 

My daughter is an active and amazing 25 year old woman. She works in a leadership role in the food service industry and is a single mother of a very bright 5 year old daughter, but she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. She had gone out to a club with a friend to go dancing. While outside the club, getting ready to leave, some young men began fighting. Someone in the group pulled a gun and tried to shoot their adversaries but hit my daughter instead. The bullet entered high in her left abdomen and came out her back. It passed completely through her missing: stomach, intestines, lung, pancreases, spleen, and bones; literally missing everything important for life. There are many heroes in this story. Her friend was the first one. She fought her way back outside, against the crowd and despite active gun fire still occurring, to be by Kat’s side and apply first aid. Still more heroes were the police officers who arrived quickly and moved her to safety across the street. Then there are the EMTs, doctors and nurses who got her to the hospital, into surgery and started on her healing process. I am so grateful to all of these people who played these roles to make sure my daughter came back to me. Her sisters who rushed to be by her side, putting their own lives on hold, as well as all the other extended family members aiding in her recovery. There is so much for me to be grateful for in this story. 

I feel the need to finally share this emotional trauma. I have friends who have lost children and I cannot imagine that pain or what life looks like after having to face such a devastating loss. Many people go through all types of trauma and loss and I do not believe mine to be worse than anyone else or more important. I just feel the need to share about my trauma. That it might give words to others who have experienced this and somehow feel unworthy to express it. Because in the end, everything is okay. 

Everything is okay with my daughter. She has healed physically, although the scars are still there. Her life choices are forever changed by having gone through this, but emotionally she seems to be doing okay. For me, though, it is still there just below the surface. While she was in the hospital I stayed with her everyday; about 22 hours a day even though I didn’t have too. When she went home from the hospital it felt so hard to leave her. Somehow, I felt that if I could stay by her side, I could keep her safe. I knew I had to go but it was still one of the hardest things I have experienced. Having to drive away from her house her first day at home. 

I am numb, I am lost, and things that once seemed important have lost their appeal. I went to a therapist to see if that would help me work through it, but after a couple of sessions, she told me I didn’t really need to be there. I know I am processing grief. I am mourning the belief that we are safe. That things like random gun violence happen to other people but not to us, but it can happen to anyone. Does this mean we should live in fear and not experience life? I do not believe that. I believe that taking the risk, going to see and trying new things, falling in love, applying for your next great job, and following your dreams are all totally worth it; even when they do not turn out as planned. Even when pain and heartbreak are a part of your journey, the journey is still every bit worth taking. The trauma we feel is real, but so is our ability to dig and claw our way out of the the darkness. 

I am still figuring out how to make my way home to myself. Writing this blog is a part of that journey. Supportive friends and family are also a blessing on this trip. I have so much gratitude to all of the love and prayers that have been shared with us. Healing work, meditation, gratitude are also a part of this path. I will practice good self care, love my family, spend time with our children and grandchildren. Someday I will wake up and realize that the numbness is gone and that the darkness has been replaced with more light. 

Thank you for reading my blog today. May any emotional scars you are carrying be brought into the light and validated. I love you!

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I Met God Today

Today I  meditated on compassion and not judging people, but just accepting them as is, including myself. My meditations are always a bit ADHD with thoughts coming and going. Images popping up before me and dissipating like smoke. I have learned not to fight what happens during meditation. I just stay present and accept what comes. I ignore my mind, which is constantly trying to narrate and document everything that is happening. I focus on my breathing, or a mantra, when the mind gets to insistent and just let it float to the background.

Today was no different. I was meditating, as usual, when suddenly there was this white light before my mind’s eye. It was a bright light and grew in intensity as it came closer. I grew to realize that this was God. I sat with him and just accepted the Divinity of this moment. My mind screamed at me to write it down and document it. I ignored the mind and allowed the observer part of myself to enjoy this extraordinary experience. Then it changed. The bright white light changed into an inky purplish black color. It was no longer a concentrated sun as the white light had been. It spread and filled the area of my vision, nebulous and changing. I came to understand that this was also God. She explained to me that God is all things; light and shadow. Duality is a necessary part of all things. She said just as I do not judge the moon, the negative charge of electrons or femininity, as bad, nor is the dark side of God or anyone. It just is.

This is a hard concept to wrap one’s head around. In the Taoist philosophy there is the Yin/Yang. This is the symbol we often see where the white and black swirls meet to form a perfect circle with a little spot of the opposite color on each side. It shows the nature of both being necessary for the whole and that each contains a bit of the other. Yin is feminine and the dark side. Yang is masculine and the light side. Neither is good or bad. But both are necessary for the formation of life. We could not continue the human race without both. A battery does not work if the charges are not aligned correctly. Night and day are both required for nature to exist in harmony. We must work and we must sleep. Why should it be shocking that God contains balance, duality within the Divinity of our source?

We have put so much negative connotation to the shadow side, that perhaps some of its true nature has been lost. Darth Vader tries to get Luke to come to the Dark Side and the movies make it all very evil. If you have ever watched the Disney movie Maleficent with Angelina Jolie, you know that a story can be told in a very different way, in which the villain’s story looks less like a villain and more human. Someone who is doing the best they can in the time and space they are in. What if we say that God is in all people? What if we noticed the duality and knew they were doing the best they could in the time and space they are currently in; to balance the duality within themselves? Know that they are doing their very best possible, to express the divinity from which they come. It does shift how we see each other, doesn’t it? I feel this makes it a bit easier to have compassion, rather than judgement, when experiencing others along this path called life.

Spend some time with this concept. Let it float around in your mind and in your dreams. Try it on and see how it feels. Find your own truth within it. I hope it helps you find more compassion for yourself as well as for others.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May you find compassion over judgement naturally, as if by magic.

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Letting Go of Darkness

The full moon is in a transformative time that comes every 28 days. It is all about letting go of the old, while the new moon is about manifesting or bringing in the new. These energies of the moon start about 4 days prior to the actual event and last for about four days after, according the Susan Miller: Astrologer. This transformative time gives us wonderful opportunities to think about what no longer serves us and what we would like to see come into our lives.

Last night was the full moon. My husband and I attended a Kirtan. These are becoming the favorite feel good events of ours to go to. This full moon Kirtan was a beautiful event and attended by many sweet souls. This, once again, made our souls sing along with our voices; as the call and response of the mantras progressed throughout the night.

When attending an event like this or starting a meditation, going to a yoga class or retreat; it is always a great idea to set the intention for what you hope to achieve or experience. I learned this many years ago from a wise teacher and have found it to powerfully enhance my experiences as well as help me along my path of healing and health. Knowing that there was a full moon shining overhead, I set an intention to let go of any darkness in my heart. To let any anger, fear, jealousy, hate, distrust, sadness, or need to complain flow gently out of my heart and into the earth. There it could become fertilizer to grow something beautiful. I intended for all darkness to leave my heart so only love would reside there. My great grandmother said, “Those who sing, pray twice”. Singing or chanting is a beautiful form of prayer.

As Chi Johnson lead us skillfully through the various chants. We came to the one that was so very perfect for a full moon Kirtan: “Nataraj, Nataraja, Jai Shiva Shankara Nataraja”. (One part of this powerful mantra) Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. He is also called Lord of the Dance. This is basically asking Shiva to dance through our lives and destroy what no longer serves us, so that we can transform into who we truly are. As we sang this chant I asked Shiva to remove any darkness from my heart. No, not just remove, but destroy anything other than the love that was residing there. “Music in the soul can be heard by the Universe”, Lao Tzu.

When we are hurt, darkness can take hold in our heart center and it can come out in a variety of ways. It has a purpose though; it is trying to protect us. There is purpose is all things, even when we cannot see it or know what it is. The complication is, that sometimes we hold onto these things much longer than we need too. My heart’s fear of being hurt, served me well, as I was healing from the acute pain of a broken relationship. It no longer serves me though. I have held onto it much longer than I needed too. Now is the time to release any darkness in my heart to make room for unending love. Love for all people and things. Love and respect so that I can more fully live in the flow of life. By doing this I can open up to appreciation and gratitude for all the beauty around me.

I am grateful for the Full Moon Kirtan. I am grateful for Shiva dancing through my heart, so that I can release that which no longer serves it. I appreciate all of you who walk your journeys along side mine. When you are ready, know that you are safe to release those things that once protected you.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you easily let go of the darkness that has taken up residence in your heart, as if by magic.

* Photo was taken on the banks of the Ganges River in Rishikesh, India.

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7 Tips to Help When You are in a Dark Place

I saw a meme that my niece posted on Facebook. It said, “When you are in a dark place you sometimes tend to think you have been buried. Perhaps you have been planted. Bloom!” When you think about that, I mean really think about it, that is so true. I believe this! Those dark places that life takes us to, causes us stress and pushed us to change! It helps us transform from who we were to who we are becoming. You may be saying that, this is all great in spirit, but going through this type of transformation is painful and really stinks. How can we nurture ourselves through these dark places? How do we keep putting that one foot in front of the other while we are moving through these times? What can we do to keep our spirits up while our world is falling apart? Here are some thoughts to help you keep looking for the silver lining in these difficult, sometimes even terrible situations.

  1.  Listen to upbeat and motivational music. Remember the song from the play Annie? The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow! Whether upbeat songs from musicals, pop culture, or your favorite local band; music can be a great way to change your mood, remind you of a brighter tomorrow, and just help you keep going.
  2. Meditation. When things are falling apart, it can be hard to imagine they will ever be whole again. It can be hard to imagine that you will ever be whole again. It can be easy to dwell on the past and imagine a dismal future. Meditation is about being “in the now.” Just staying present in this moment, can help you step back from past regrets and future fears, at least for a little while.
  3. Do kind deeds. Sometimes when things seem bleak in our own lives, we feel we need help and it is easy to get stuck in this feeling of need. By doing kind, random acts for others, whether they be strangers or friends, can help our self-esteem and give us a chance to feel valuable in the life of others.
  4. Pet Therapy. Play with puppies, pet a cat, or cuddle a bunny. I personally do not have any pets and I am very happy in my pet free existence. But there are few things as stress relieving as the unconditional love of an animal. When I go on walks, I will often ask to pet the dogs. My friends’ dogs are usually happy to see me come visit because they know I have lots of love to share with them. Studies have shown that animals help reduce stress, anxiety, pain and even blood pressure when interacted with. You don’t have to have your own pet. I bet you know someone who has one that you could share some love and affection (and scratching) with.
  5. Feel your emotions. Feel your emotions and realize you are safe to have these feelings. I think this is one of the hardest parts for me. Touching those painful emotions seems so scary. I wonder if I truly allow myself to feel them, will I ever be able to come back from that precipice. Remind yourself that you are safe! You can stick your toe into the river of emotions and feel the cool wet water without having to get washed away by it.
  6. Journal. There are many different journaling techniques.
    1. There is Free Writing, where you do not sensor, just let whatever comes, flow out of you and onto the pages.
    2.  There is a technique referred to as the Divine Witness Journalling. This is one of my favorites because you can see your own wisdom (the advice you give your friends) come back to you. In this type of journaling, you give your wise-self a name, then you write notes back and forth. You write your question or whatever you are struggling with, on one page to that wise part of yourself. Then on the next page you allow that wise person to respond to your note. You will be amazed at the the wisdom that pours out for you.
    3. Gratitude Journaling is another that can really help change your mood. It shifts your focus from what’s wrong to what’s right. There is always so much to be thankful for. Looking at the positive things in life can help shift you towards a more positive tomorrow.
  7. Get out into nature. There is just something about being in the forest, hearing the birds sing, and watching a creek gently meander amongst the trees; that is so refreshing. Depending on where you live, “nature” may look very different. It may be hiking up a mountain, riding your bike in the desert, walking on the beach, cross country skiing, or sitting on a park bench near some roses. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to be with nature. I remember driving through downtown Minneapolis one morning and seeing the sunrise reflected on all the skyscrapers. I realized then that nature is all around us. From the vegetation growing up through the cracks in the sidewalk and pigeons landing near the sidewalk bistro tables, to the squirrels racing up and down the trees along the street. Nature is always there for us, even in the city. We just have to notice her. Find a quiet corner of your city or a peaceful place in the country and allow nature to refresh your spirit.

If you are in a dark place right now, I am sorry you are experiencing this. I hope these ideas may help you push out of the darkness and force your beautiful, authentic self; up into the light. We all spend some time there, so know you are not alone. I love you and I am proud of you for continually moving forward, even on those days when it seems next to impossible. We are with you in spirit. You are not alone.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your life be happy and joyous, as if by magic!

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