October 21. 2013
I drove a very long six hours. I spent two of those hours in excruciating Calgary traffic. My phone GPS got me out (thank the goddess for modern-day technology) with minor honking and only a little perspiration. The white knuckling experience through the city had knocked off about an hour from my already very strict commute.
Then that inevitable push feeling crept up as I was slowed at various construction strips along the BC highway. I took it in stride though, my audio book in and my seat heater on; I was relaxed, for the most part, not eager, not excited, just really ready to get out of the sitting position. The view of mountains and river and forest surrounding me was enough to keep me serenely grounded. BUT…my butt was falling asleep.
I did not have any expectations going in to this weekend. I did the homework assignment to the best of my ability and I did not even think about the retreat the whole drive up. I was going to take come what may, and relish in it. The fact that I was heading into the mountains was enough for me…
My mission, however, was not to make ever lasting friendships, nor was it to find ‘ah ha’ moments or to release pent-up frustrations (even though it was a release type retreat). My mission was to see, how I was, at ground zero.
Ground zero. It’s a place of beginning. Where issues have been dealt with; decisions have been made and sincere detailed intentions set. It is a place you get to when you realize that you can no longer be stuck in that ‘place’, the middle where chaos reigns, tears spill, anger rises and indecision breeds dis-ease.
It’s a refreshing place to be, here at ground zero. I’m enjoying the weight free living and grace of movement in my ether that being here provides. I have made solid plans, time lines and decisions. These decisions will affect my life in very large and diverse ways, both presently and in the future, so I mourned them respectfully long before I left on my retreat.
As I turned off the highway and onto a bridge, I slowed again. A herd of female Elk were grazing on the train tracks and too close for comfort. So I stopped, rather than chance spooking one of them. They strolled about my car casually not but an arm’s length away. I sat, dumfounded for a moment, wondering just how they had managed to surround me so quickly and how, was I going to get off the tracks before the next train came?
I rolled down my window sending quiet words of encouragement to the closest beauty but they continued their grazing, ignoring me. They moved with such grace, like four-legged dancers. It was all I could do to just keep breathing. I was so in awe at their beauty, I did not even think to get my camera or phone out for a picture I just allowed their magnificence to greet me, supportively, at zero.
I was late. I had missed the initial meet and greet and felt a little out-of-place. When I walked into the room, women were already gathered in comfortable groups and pairs, chatting and laughing amicably. I knew then and there I was to be that ‘one’, that one that just doesn’t quite fit and I was totally ok with that. Things could easily change, or not.
We gathered about in yoga tights, slippers and cozy sweaters, sharing quick personal ‘get to know me’ stories over late night tea and snacks. Later on we chatted like school girls in our bunk beds, surrounded by the light blue hue of night lights, snuggled under cozy comforters. I felt like I was six years old again. Sleep came easy.
I honoured the ever-present reclusive feeling the next morning. I was the only one up at the crack of dawn and I spent the better part of an hour sitting curled up on the stairway so as not to disturb. It was a time I relished, writing in my journal, reading and relaxing.
When we moved to the community centre for our yoga that morning, I walked alone and spoke to no one. How odd I felt there, in that room, with all those beings. I felt separated and distant. I was usually the one to make at least one fast friend. I was also one who easily fell in to that ‘mode’, quick with a Kleenex and quicker with my own tears and stories.
I loved loved loved the two hour morning yoga practises. I felt great afterward, sore but springy. I loved the two hour silent meditation during lunch even more than the yoga. Eating, walking and reading in silence gave me SUCH immense pleasure. I enjoyed the two hour walk around Emerald Lake. I was, however, wishing that we had remained in our silent meditation for that time. I think we would have enjoyed the scenery that much more if all 17 of us weren’t so chatty. The meditation lessons on the Saturday evening were very helpful; I took notes and moved into a meditative state with ease. In that state I was flying, high over mountain tops, skimming over rivers, soaring on the glossy blue black wings of a raven, my totem animal. I knew I was ok.
What I disliked, however, was the fact that I had to share these moments with 16 other women. Please no offense here. Hear me out.
I came in at zero. I had already cleansed my system of all things that were holding me from walking my path. I have been flying in my meditative practises and in my dreams. I was removing obstacles, negativity and health discomforts like water on a ducks back for the better part of this year and I felt great. Most of these women, they were not at that point, or had the tools to get there, yet. This was their cleansing, releasing, retreat and I was in the way.
When I realized that, I suddenly felt cold, awkward and out-of-place even more than I did that first night. So I tried, I participated but I really didn’t have to, I had nothing to fix, to get over, to discover or to change. I was already there. At zero.
At zero you see things differently. Less grey more black and white with shades thereof, of course. For example, these were the thoughts in my head as I listened. (Yes… I listened. Don’t laugh, I’m learning and I’m liking.)…
-If you want a divorce, get one… if not, don’t. Settling to stay is just as hard and messy as leaving so why teeter in the middle. Make a decision, don’t look back and then mourn it. Either way staying or going, it will be the hardest thing you do and then, stop humming and hawing about it.
-If you want to leave your job, do it. I did. It was the scariest time of my life and I made the decision KNOWING the challenges and consequences ahead of me. It worked out and I rid myself that which was causing weight and pain issues.
I mean really, for Pete’s sake, if staying in a marriage, a home, or a job is making you so ill… what is your alternative??? Counselling? Sure. An expensive side track toward one of the two already mentioned above choices…
You can argue these points all you want but in the end if you can’t make a decision you will end up swimming in a circle like a whirligig. How is that for a life?
I’m sure some of the women spent their drive home in buckets of tears, pent-up frustrations or deep contemplation, or, maybe they didn’t. I don’t know. I spent mine seeing how many shades of green I could spot in the hills and valleys through small towns and farm lands. Not much, I can say with honesty. Shades of green have been overcome with the burnt reds, pumpkin oranges and gold as far as the eye can see. Stunning.
What I do know for certain, after this weekend and this past year, is that I am no longer a city girl and I am no longer in a state of chaos. I’m flying. My dream of an Earthship, on a quiet plot of land is even stronger now. Can you see it? I can. I dreamt about it last night.
October 24. 2013
Since I have written this blog post, I have been feeling heavy and blue. Had I been at the retreat this weekend I may have been a different person… maybe. The university where I work at has started the firing process. Its first hit was close to home. Too close. The atmosphere here is grim, angry and scared. I’m still at ground zero, I personally have no worries on the job front. But I do feel for families and the outcome of such a horrid and wrong decision made by our provincial government. I am suffering the week before payday blues and searching for emotional support at the home front (as usual). BUT, at zero I have made decisions and I will stick to them. Hard as it is.