Friday, February 26, 2021

I Know

 "I don't believe, I know."   - Carl Jung

I read this quote this morning and began to think about what I know today.

1. I know  my life changed forever with Rick's death on July 16.

2. I know  the moon still rises and the sun still shines.

3. I know  I am stronger than  I thought I was.

4. I know  grief and loss is always a part of life.

5. I know  Jason Isbell is right, it gets easier, but it never gets easy.

6. I know  the love of friends and family is the best gift I have ever received. 

7. I know  I still have the ability to laugh at myself.

8. I know  rainy days can be great and sunny days can be heartbreaking.

9. I know  my daily mantra has become, keep me healthy and strong.

10. I know  there are no answers to most of my questions.

11. I know  a cup of hot tea, a good book and a fire in the fireplace is comfort.

12. I know  my dogs bring me great joy.

13. I know  walking in the woods is medicine.

14. I know  life  goes on.

15. I know in the scheme of things, I know nothing.  Strange but true.

In the words of Sarah Breathnach, I don't have to just believe anymore, I know.  Sending you all wishes for peace and comfort today.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Winter Storm

 We have been issued a winter storm warning.  If it were for snow, I would be so happy, but this one is for ice.  Those of you who have dealt with ice you know this can get ugly.  My hope for these next few days,  beautiful scenes and no loss of power.  I added another layer of cedar shavings in the hen house yesterday for warmth, more hay in the nesting boxes and I encouraged the girls to huddle.  The pantry is full, my propane tank is full and I will make sure to charge my phone fully today.  I have bird seed and suet and will leave the faucets on a slow drip.  The cold won't last long but it has been bitter the past few days.

There is a difference in dry cold and wet cold.  Both can be bitter and deadly, but my bones and body react to wet cold more extremely.  The joints ache, the migraine knocks, the lungs demand oxygen.  Layers of clothing, hot tea, hot baths and deep breaths, those are my remedies this morning.  

I walk regardless of the weather.  Walking through these woods is my saving grace, my healing balm. Each day is different, the light is changing.  As spring approaches, somehow the light becomes more effervescent and even on grey cloudy days the skies seem to weigh less, and there is more air to breathe.

Some of the trees are starting to bud and everywhere you look, even in the middle of February, the earth is awakening here.  Daffodils are pushing through the wet soil, spots of white appear and you know soon there will be toadstools and mushrooms.  Patches of moss are spreading and the shades of green on a cold winter's day appear in stark contrast to the blackness of dirt.  A wood hen hammers on a tree, a squirrel yells obscenities and the dogs bring me a turtle and that was my walk yesterday morning.

Day is breaking now, songbirds are singing, reminding me this is Valentine's Day.  My mom always told  me that this is the day birds mate, maybe that is why there is so much music this morning.  Even the crows are joining in and the hens jealous for attention ,have started their morning clucks.  

Valentine's Day was never an over the top celebration with Rick.  Sometimes he picked up flowers at Walmart, sometimes he forgot to get a card, sometimes I got perfume but he always picked up a bottle of wine and I cooked something special for dinner.  If you are with your Valentine today, give them an extra hug and kiss, you won't regret it.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Fire and Rain

 February 1, 2021

For many years the house  I grew up in,  was heated by two coal burning fireplaces and a coal burning Warm Morning heater in the kitchen corner.  It was only a four room house so we stayed cozy most winters.  We lived in coal mining country, coal was cheap and plentiful.

I learned early the value, the beauty and danger of fire.  I remember the warmth of flames and embers on skinny little legs covered by a flannel nightgown and the yells of my mother warning me not to stand to close.  I can close my eyes and still see the grate holding the burning coals, the glow and depth of the red embers and oily smell of burning coal.  It seemed that even the belly of the heater had a glow when daddy would pour a scuttle of fresh coal in its mouth.

I suppose it was those winters that instilled in me a love and respect of fire.  As I grew older I realized that fire had played many roles in history, and that it had been a part of many stories and myths.  I think in wonder of what it must have been like to live in that earliest of civilizations when man and fire found each other.

When I worked at the addiction center, those with  PTSD, trauma and grief were required to come to my class.  As I listened to their stories, as I pursued my studies and involvement in helping those in recovery,  I understood that fire could be a release in many ways.  I encouraged students to write letters to those who had hurt them, to those that they needed to forgive but couldn't find the voice or courage, write letters.  Write letters describing in great detail, pain, hurt, anger, hate, fear, sadness, grief  and then...burn that letter.

Let the fire release and take away all those words and feelings.  Fire is extremely cathartic and healing. It can be an incredible first step in forgiveness and letting go.

Because Rick's death had been so traumatic for me, I knew at some point I needed to light a fire. I had wanted to do it on his birthday, but the weather would not let me.

Last Sunday, our good friend Fred ( who happens to be a trauma counselor at the center where I had worked) came over and helped me burn and release.  We spent close to six hours burning a fire almost as big as my great room.  Now much of the wood that was the base of the fire had been there since last spring when storms had blown down trees and limbs but Rick just never got around to burning it.  Since I order many of my supplies I had saved boxes for the past few months and a couple of months of newspapers as well.

As the fire started to burn, I had a long handled pitch fork, and Fred brought his "poker" that he uses in the fires with his work.  I had prepped the area around the mound, raking away pine straw, making sure there was no plastic, glass or metal in the pile.  As the fire took life and began to burn, we talked a bit at first, but then Fred started to explain that fire was much like life, and to live, it had to breathe.  We spent the next few hours, poking and prodding that fire with Fred reminding me to breathe, to let the fire breathe and to let go.

Once the fire had burned down to smoking logs, Fred left.  The clouds were rolling in and there were sprinkles dropping from the sky.  In an hour or so, I knew there was still unfinished business with me and the fire.  I went back out and grabbed my fork and started the poking and prodding, soon there were flames rising from those log, tears were falling down my cheeks, and rain and darkness were moving in.

For an hour in the rain and the darkness, I stood and watched those flames finally begin to wither.  All I could think of by then was James Taylor's song, Fire and Rain.  I had seen them both.

Today in Ireland, the Irish celebrate St. Brigid.  She is much older than Christianity, she was a Celtic goddess, so beloved by the Irish that the Church canonized her.  She is the Goddess of holy wells, fire and healing, and poetry.  With my Irish heritage, it seemed fitting to write this blog about fire and healing today.  Perhaps it is in my genes, this love of fire, poetry and healing.   I  can tell you this, that fire last weekend was healing in many ways.