Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heal your heart

Ever notice how when you're going through something that has to do with your heart, whether being madly in love, grieving a loss, celebrating something joyful or healing from a breakup, every song you hear seems to speak to you? That happens to me anyway. I love music. Love it. Love it. Love it. And while I may find myself completely moved and entranced by the instruments in a beautiful song, it's the lyrics that often get me. It's the lyrics that resonate with my soul, touch my heart and give a voice to the many emotions swirling wildly within me.

My heart has been pretty tender lately. I'm still dealing with what it is to really love someone yet know you can't be with them. And with several people I love going through real and substantial pain with breakups, deception and death in their midst, I'm extra tender out of sympathy. Each time I turn on the radio, download music for a new playlist or decide to listen at random to my ever-growing iTunes catalog, I seem to come across a song that reaches down to the very depths of my pain. The memories flood into my mind's eye and longing grips my heart. My friends' hurt mirrored in my own being rises to the surface even more acutely. It really does leave me breathless at moments. But just as much as music can touch my pain and my fear, it also touches my strength, my courage, my hope, my conviction and my joy. It validates my efforts and motivates me to continue forward along my path. Truly, there is a soundtrack to my life, as I'm sure there is yours, that we can craft with care by choosing our songs (thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, companions) wisely.

Last night I was staring into the star-filled night sky as I flew home. I was thinking of A. and feeling sentimental, despite myself. And in the mix of a new playlist just as heavy on artists and songs that cut right to the quick as those that apply healing balm to the wounds, After the Storm by Mumford and Sons filled my ears with this message:

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

Truer words could not have been spoken, or in this case, sung, with the reminder that the pain of a broken heart, like everything, is temporary. Heartache fades eventually. When love is lost, it can be hard to remember that. We fall so easily into the trap of identifying heavily with our hurt and our fear, momentarily forgetting that love is so much more than that. Love is truth. Love is light. Love is the reason for being, if you ask me. And yes, love can hurt. Yes, love can bring anguish and suffering like none other, it can cause us to lose our senses and inflict and experience pain we never knew we were capable of. But that falls away. The tears stop falling too. And when you once again open your heart to grace, to love, all goodness will be yours.

So as a reminder to myself and to anyone reading this who's heart is hurting for any reason, there will come a time when it doesn't any more. There will come a time when you will heal your heart. Choose your soundtrack lovingly and honestly, and grace will prevail.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thirty and feeling reflective. . .

So today I turn 30. For me, this is a great thing, a welcome transition from one life stage into the next, and, as with any transition, an opportunity for reflection. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this birthday, excited to leave my 20’s behind (30’s sound more adult, which has always been my thing) and to celebrate (I’m always up for plenty of that), feeling deep inside that there are big and wonderful things in store. I don’t know what those things may be, and I’m pretty sure that they won’t all come wrapped up in pretty bows, but that’s just life and I’m excited for it all.

And speaking of life, during this past week, life has afforded me the chance to have one seriously condensed experience of the human condition inside the span of just a few days. My world was touched by birth and by death, love beginning, ending and being redefined, falls from grace and beautiful redemption, acts of deception and of loyalty, tremendous joy and tremendous pain. It is with great reverence for each of these experiences that I sit here and reflect, in gratitude and in awe, on the close of my 20’s and the start of my 30’s, on this life that I am so blessed to live and on the incredible souls journeying through it with me.

What has me most in awe at this moment, as I sit on the beach, soaking up the sun, having spent my day thus far meditating, practicing yoga, getting a massage, being showered in love and all around enjoying the heck out of turning 30, is just how quickly it all can change. We humans are capable of so many varied emotions, and very often they rise up, fast and furious, completely changing the panorama in the blink of an eye. My phone could ring right now with the most devastating news I could imagine, and just as sure as I’m sitting here feeling all blissed-out and happy, my joy would instantly fade away so that grief, despair, fear or whatever emotions were appropriate in response to that hypothetic call could take their place. I certainly don’t walk around expecting anything like that to happen, and I’d venture to say that most of you are with me there; however, it doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t.

This happened to one of the people I love the most very recently. From one moment to the next, vacations and celebrations were being planned, joy and excitement were in the air, and then death, pain and grieving took their place. I was devastated just bearing witness to my treasured friend’s suffering, so I can only imagine how she felt. So I did the only thing I could, which was to hold a space of love and light while the dark cloud of hurt hovered. This phenomenon of emotions rapidly shifting goes both ways, however. While death touched one friend’s world, new life touched another. The strain and worry of a drawn out, complicated labor were instantly replaced by the unparalleled joy of the birth of a healthy, beautiful baby. Light illuminates dark.

We are privileged to have a human birth, privileged to experience the human condition, privileged to feel this amazing array of feelings that each of us possesses. While some of us may be more connected to those emotions than others, be assured that they exist within us all. I say feel them to the fullest. Explore them to their edge. Savor them and share them. You never know when your next opportunity to love with wild abandon will be, so do it while you have the chance. You never know when the next time to grieve will come, so experience it, release and heal through it while it is in your life. If you yourself have a fall from grace, don’t judge yourself harshly. Instead, be honest with yourself and learn from your mistakes so that you don’t repeat them, which would only lead to hurting others and yourself in the process. If you realize that there are relationships in your life that have run their course and no longer make you feel good, let them go. If there are relationships that you feel are worth nurturing and tending to with greater care, what are you waiting for?!? Our emotions are our guides. If we allow ourselves to experience them fully and listen to the lessons they contain, they will lead us toward our highest good.

Here’s to trusting our hearts and our inner voices. Here’s to feeling our feelings fully. Here’s to my 30’s. Here’s to all of you. Cheers!