If you could see the trajectory of my life from childhood to now, it would look tradtional and very conservative. Fourth child of two depression-era parents, hard working, sober, Christians in a ranch style home with a yard. Dad, an ex-WWII POW, hand pulled the weeds in his American lawn, was disarmed for transport to the hospital when he had a heart attack in that same front yard on his last day. Mother, small town girl, raised four kids and managed the house and meals for decades.
Today I am an educated mother of one, mother to three overall, married to my second husband, a hard working, Kansas born, self-made man. I manage our decorated home, do laundry, make dinner, exercise and have painted toenails.
But turn up the volume, step in closer and see three siblings, the suicidal addicted sister, a brother, the former marine, dead by suicide, another brother, severely afflicted with mental retardation. But before all that, a little tow-headed girl adored them all, contemplated Abbey Road, listened to Ike AND Tina on LP, smelled incense, had love beads who remains, at heart, a hippie today.
My soul wears moccasins, smells flowers and responds to most things with
or "beautiful, man..."
My reality is I use essential oils, listen to humpback whale calls and Born Free tattooed my life. My dream since childhood is to visit Africa. Long walks are my church. I have an animal totem. Or two...
I went on a rehabilitation slash restoration trip recently to Southern Utah. I packed hiking shoes, wool socks, hiking shorts and four Life's Good tees, all brand new, a journal and my camera going to walk and reflect.
I thought I would journal and nap, walk leisurely and
let go of grief on mother's first Deathday....
My first hike on the first day included a near 2000 feet ascent. I nearly died of respiratory distress. Seriously, I showed up, looked around at my hike-mates and thought "oh yeah, I can do this, I can take any of them." Roughly 85 vertical feet later and I was bent over sucking air, unsuccessfully.
After an ugly, puffy, red time, I made it to the peak, wheezed "I kick ass" and walked the remaining four miles in the freaking sand.
I was too terrified to show up for the hike the next day, opting instead for a leisurely walk to look at 7000 year old peteroglyphs with Boma Johnson, an archaeologist, geologist and former Federal government liaison for Native Americans, whom he referred to as Indians. It was a rousing lecture in the 90 degree heat.
The third day I fearfully took another hike in Snow Canyon State Park with a group, sure I would be the last one, heckled with "come on, lets go, hurry up..." I was at the end of the line but mainly because I wanted to stop now and then to look up, not only down at the trail. By the time we climbed into Scout's Canyon, I was kicking ass and taking names. Feeling more confident. Feeling good.
Feeling whooped. No journaling, not even energy to write my gratitudes at night before bed. I did however take a nap in a hammock as bees fed on fragrant bushes, lush, noisy, living the fecund life.
I had no time to think about grief or my dying mother or my dead mother or my good-as-dead sister, both of whom I saw for the last time on the same day one year earlier. Somehow my story, my own little tired story really didn't matter. All that mattered was vermilion vistas and moving my feet, even if it was to find a spot to lie down.
On my last morning the alarm sounded at 6 am, shit, this is a vacation, I am exhausted, I won't go...later that morning I had crawled up this rock, at 3800 feet. I buzzed aorund that red rock saying "I feel great, seriously, I feel high" with my arms outstretched overhead, leaping at times.
Who is that girl? The hippie in the center, at peace via exhilaration.
I found my thing.
I found my rehab.
I found my center.
The final act was the Medicine Wheel walk with a Shaman. Later, alone, I walked the labyrinth in a true meditative bliss grateful for the lessons and struggles yet to come...
I think the soundtrack to it involved Led Zeppelin.
I coud smell a little sage.
I offered Holy Water to the Earth.
Now do I tell any of this to you?
Or just go ahead and make a video of my favorite beauty products for April?