Exodus

It’s pouring rain as I write, and the geese are making a racket outside, probably discussing preparations for their annual fall exodus. It may be only August, but the sunshine and blooms of June and July blinked, and here we find ourselves in the rainy season where there are clean scents of cool in the breeze, the beginning turn of the leaves, and a sun that is taking much longer to rise.

Everything is changing, myself along with it.

Part of me wants to flee with those geese in mass exodus, after the claustrophobic grief of last winter, I cringe at thinking of plunging into another season of darkness. But a bigger part of me is ready to immerse myself in the change, knowing this season will be different, it’s our last winter here, a finality that makes everything seem more precious and heightened when you realize you will not pass this way again. And it’s the latter part of me who has spent her summer reveling in the change, contemplating how sacred and precious each and every day is.

We live life sometimes like we are waiting for something big to happen, waiting for those moments that make it all seem worth it. But lately I am realizing that every moment is the moment that tells us it’s all worth it. That life is a gift, and even on gross, gray days like today, it is a privilege to feel and breathe and be, to embody what it means to be so human.

It is the All of our experience, the Full, that makes us who we are. Not just the big moments.

Having said that, there are big moments coming up, our move to Kauai perhaps the biggest one of all. It has taken a great deal of courage to get to a place of recognition that if I want to ungroove myself from the deep ruts that sometimes feel like life in Anchorage, I am going to have to manifest that change myself and trust Life to support me in the process.

We forget sometimes that Life isn’t happening to us. That instead, we are in a relationship with Life, and as such Life sometimes sits and waits, giving us free reign to make choices, prepared to meet us and work with us when and where those choices are made. The steps we take in our tomorrows created by the decisions we make in our todays.

In February of 2015 my husband and I were vacationing in Kauai, and we made the decision to move their someday. It was more than just a- paradise is so nice we never want to leave- kind of whim, but a decision rooted deeply in a felt sense that Life had something planned for us on that island. We both kind of sprang to life there. He like a plant, withering in the dark of Alaska, coming back to life, growing big and strong in the heart of the sun. Me like one of the island’s tropical flowers who felt a sense of fruition and bloom and color in the magic of that place.

Kauai is rich with life, and with a yearning to pour life into the world with my creativity, writing and art, I can’t think of a better place to support that process. Or to cradle our family in sunshine and warmth as we start new and build a home together.

Then we came back from vacation with these good intents and fell back into the pattern of daily life. Our 3 year plan turned into 5 years turned into 7 years. The responsibility and security of my private practice seemed like too much to give up, our newly purchased home an anchor to hold us to this space, the familiarity of this town easy. Convenient.

Then last winter came and both of us suffered the dark so severely in December the move date started shifting back to sooner rather than later in our minds.

Then my brother died, and I started to wonder what I was doing with my life. Why I was trading security for my dreams. Why I was living out of alignment with the truth of what I feel called to do.

And so we decided next spring is what it is. Even with all the unknowns and uncertainties and details of how it’s going to happen, it will happen. A prospect that is terrifying and exhilarating and absolutely feels right. And now that our intent is set and plans are being made, part of trusting the process is seeing how Life will meet us in the process and carve out a way.

Though there is a great deal before us that feels daunting, what felt impossible a year ago now feels realizable. The intentions and decisions we are laying down today, paving the way for a new tomorrow. We are our own powerful agents of change, when we let ourselves be.

In the meantime, the rain is falling; and I am cramming in all the Alaskan experiences I can; and we camped by a waterfall last weekend, absolute magic; and books are beginning to spin out of me when I have the time to weave; and I accepted my last brand new client yesterday then officially closed my practice to accepting any more new clients, ever; and I cried the other night when I realized that if I make it to 80, I will have spent half of my life without my brother; and the full moon is beginning to wane; and the geese are still nattering in exodus; and there are candles burning bright as I write, warming the chill that has come with this morn; and it is a privilege to feel and breathe and be on this tired Tuesday, to embody what it means to be so human.

And it is the All of our experience, the Full, that makes us who we are.

exodus

Writing Wright

As a writer, it is an interesting decision to keep a blog. Now granted, at the moment my writing is on a small scale, the odd article here and there, plenty of poetry scattered about, keeping this blog, writing the occasional reflective facebook post, but that is going to change over the next few years.

By this time next year I will have 4 books out, and I have 3 more in the wings of my mind that I can already feel taking shape and trying to pop out onto paper. No longer working from a place of uncertainty and fear where I lack direction and confidence in my writing, now all I lack is adequate time to quiet my mind, get my ideas down onto paper, and do the work of making words into sentences into paragraphs into pages into books.

It takes a lot of courage to own your truth, even more to be willing to write it. Sometimes when I’m writing personal essays on this blog, I am so wrapped up in the voice of writing I don’t stop to think about who reads it or connects with it or judges it or dismisses it or feels it. I just write whatever is on my heart that day, and I have found as long as I let that be my writing compass, I end up focusing on the things that matter.

It used to be that Sunshine In Winter was a hidden corner where I was anonymous. Then, 3 years ago around this time on a similar rainy August day, I published my first article on Elephant Journal, and in my author bio I gave the name of my blog. The stats showed that I had more traffic the day the article went live then ever before, and I felt horribly vulnerable and exposed.

I was unprepared for how naked I would feel to have my truth be on display, to have so many faceless visitors stop by and look at these words.

Part of me wanted to shut the whole thing down, but I pressed on reasoning that writing from an open, honest space of personal truth was what I felt called to do. That the only way to do that was to continue to hold myself to a standard of authenticity in my words, to not hide behind the masks of the computer and a nameless blog, and to just keep being me. And I found that a few new people dropped me notes and said nice things about the article, and I made a few new connections, and I had a little more courage the next time I had something published.

This week I changed my About section, posted my real name, BethAnne Kapansky Wright, owned it. No hiding or pretense of being faceless. These are my words, this is who I am, and yes, some of what I choose to share is personal and vulnerable and so achingly human I want to crawl through the screen and give myself a hug over some of the posts of days past, but I wrote them to stand in my truth and in the hopes that the right people will stop by, connect with something, and find a word or two that helps them on their own journey.

Sometimes I still feel a little vulnerable, a little exposed. Despite the fact that I had 206 hits on this site at 6am Tuesday morning?!, (I have no idea how or who or what that was all about since I usually only get 2-10 hits per hour) it’s usually pretty quiet around here. I don’t get a lot of external validation, usually just a few likes, sometimes none at all, but I have a sense that someone is out there reading anyways.

Connecting with the words. Contemplating their own journey. Leaving with something that was perhaps good for their heart or made them think or gave them a sense of encouragement, because we are all in this together, no matter how much it sometimes seems that we aren’t. We truly are. When one of us hurts, we all hurt. And when one of us loves, we are all a little better for it.

When I write, it’s my way of putting more drops of love into the world. My way of making an active choice to live life from a place of honesty and the light of truth and compassion. My way of sharing the journey from my point of view in the hopes that someone, somewhere out there, finds courage for their journey as well.

Finds the courage to speak their truth as an act of self-love. Realizing we are always stronger for the speaking and weaker for withholding the truth of who we are. Realizing our voices matter, no matter how we choose to express them, even when it seems like nobody is listening, because the truth is- somebody is ALWAYS listening.

Because we are all in this together, no matter hos much it sometimes seems that we aren’t. When one of us hurts, we all hurt. And when one of us loves, we are all a little better for it.

covers all

You do not have to be good
or prove your worth in order
to prove you are something-

My dear one, you have always
been something,
you’ve simply forgot from where
you came.

Throw out those misconceptions,
those false notions that lessen you,
and diminish the starlight
that glitters inside.

Do not be afraid to take your place
in the space of the sky and let
your light shine exquisite.

You do not have to be good
or perfect or anything other
than what you already are.

You simply have to try
to recognize it is already enough,
so you can find the love
that covers all.

enough

yes!

My dear one,
it doesn’t matter what
they say or what they
think or who they tell
you to be-
stop trying to fold yourself
into others’ shapes
and sizes.

What matters is
what you love and how
you love and how you
choose to be your
brightest self in a
world clouded
by gray.

And the only way,
my dear sweet girl,
you are going to find
your bright
is by learning to keeping
saying yes!
to that still small voice
inside yourself until
she becomes a roar.

And you a burning shooting star
who can’t help but light
the night.

sky-space-galaxy-milky-way
*image courtesy of pexels

All

I had this realization this week that life, in all its shapes and forms and moods, is all spiritual. And if for some reason that word doesn’t resonate, swap out the term spiritual for the word Love because really when it comes down to it, the heart and purpose of any true spiritual path is simply to help us come closer and closer to understanding the nature of Love.

My realization happened yesterday when I was in a space of feeling decidedly unloving. Ironically, I was attending a mindfulness seminar for continuing education credits, and despite the grateful, joyful, be present and go with the flow theme of the class, I was extremely resistant and crabby.

I don’t particularly do well in groups. I definitely don’t do well in classroom type settings. And the combination of burn out from all those years of grad school + my extremely introverted- highly sensitive- overly intuitive- being around high volumes of people drains my energy because I pick up on too many emotions and psychic feedback + my free spirited, don’t fence me in man!, abhorrence for structure and order and others planning the time line of my day =ed me sitting in the back corner in ripped up jeans and a rocker tee (a silent rebellion on my part from having to look professional) mentally scowling.

I wasn’t feeling mindful. I was resentful, not grateful. And no matter what I did, I just wasn’t able to choose positivitiy and change the stream of my thoughts, as the class suggested, and get myself in a better frame of mind to embrace the experience.

So I decided to practice self-love instead. To validate and embrace the utterly human reaction that occurs when we don’t want to do something and we force ourselves to step up anyways. To honor the fact that this particular experience  was not gelling and meshing with me in that particular moment. To roll around in the mud of my feelings and simply accept them for what they were- an experience of self, no more no less.

Which is how I eventually, somewhere between mindfully eating a raisin for the span of 10 minutes and taking a mindful walk where I was supposed to notice the tendons in my legs and feel the feel of the feel of my feet- I started to think a little differently about the day.

We have this tendency when we are being our better selves- our loving, kinder, gentler, more patient selves- to feel like we are being good. The best version of self. More presentable and acceptable. More spiritual in a sense.

While I am all for continuing to learn how to access our better selves and reach towards our own sense of light, I am coming to realize we lose so much that is authentic, real, and raw; we lose so many opportunities to practice self-love, and in return to learn to better love others, when we invalidate the experiences of self that feel ugly, dark and less.

Self-love is the fundamental footstep to the sacred path. It is a path that we are all on, whether or not we are aware of it; all of us trying to return to a space of love, all of us seeking love to help heal the wounds in our lives. And the only way we can learn to find self-love is to embrace all our moments. The beautiful ones. The ambivalent ones. The ones where we are sitting at the back of the class angry and churlish and scowling.

When my brother died back in January, I learned what cessation truly means. I vividly remember realizing that he no longer had the chance to be better. He no longer had the chance to suck. He no longer had the chance to choose good or choose bad or create his own labels as to what those things mean.

He didn’t have the chance to hate Alaska or look for a new job or to move to Hawaii or to play video games with his friends or to sleep in too long or to drink too much or to eat prime rib or to have an extra bowl of Rocky Road or to yell at me or to love me or to open presents on Christmas or to watch Lord of the Rings with me or to know what his future would hold.

To have good days and bad days, sorrow and joy.

He didn’t have the chance to strive for new possibilities. He didn’t have the chance to roll in the mud and be stuck and wait for things to turn a corner. He didn’t have the chance to reach for the light or to choose to live in shadow.

We no longer had the chance to be better or worse than what we were.

That is the meaning of cessation to me: the realization of how absolutely finite it all is.

And in that sense of finite, I have begun to see how sacred is the whole journey, because if we are HERE- here in the beautiful, difficult, finite, possible space of this place- it means we have chances. Choices. Possibilities. Regardless of what we choose to do with them.

And chances, choices and possibilities are an inherent gift. Inherently holy and hallowed and precious and cherished and prayerful and revered and sublime and divine and all the words that usually get relegated to religion, but really shouldn’t, because they are simply adjectives that describe the gift of being HERE and the opportunities that are our lives.

That is what I mean when I say it is all spiritual, all sacred, and though I definitely prefer some moments to others (eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies out of the oven anyone?) I can no longer separate one moment from the other and judge it as better or worse, more valid or less valid, more spiritual or dark, when I have begun to see the gift itself is the whole.

Even sitting in that mindfulness class feeling spiteful and grumpy and bored and restless, once I embraced what I was feeling, I couldn’t help thinking what a gift it is to be so utterly human- to be in the space of HERE- that I can revel in those emotions and have the experience of feeling them. Of choosing where to go from there. As is my nature, as is all of our natures, I chose to move towards love.

We were never wrong. We were never bad. And even in our darkest of places, there is always something divine to be found.

It is all spiritual.

All sacred.

All a chance to Love.

moments

Learning to accept who we are begins with learning to accept who we are in each moment. No matter how lovely or awful or mundane our moments may seem.

We are here to experience the full of what it means to be human: to love how we love, to sink when we sink, to make it through the days as best we know how. And to grow from it all. There is always something to be learned, to be found, to be realized, wherever our feelings, experiences and moments take us.

We are all doing better than we think we are, we are all more loved than we may realize, and the journey of the heart always begins with a single step of self-love.

moments

Forgiveness

At some point we have to begin to forgive.

Not just others, but ourselves. For not meeting our own expectations. For being different. For doing life in a way that didn’t go according to the plan- maybe the result of that is someone bumped up against us and left a few bruises as they were busy figuring things out, or maybe it is us who bumped up against ourselves as we were busy figuring out our own stuff, and we are our own cause of bruise.

Either way, we all carry hurt.

At first it is necessary and important to tell our stories of hurt from the point of the wound; to honor and own the pain and anger, rage and sadness, breaks and aches done to us. Not only does this process require the fortitude to sit with dark emotions, but this is not a process that can be short cutted or short circuited. For without allowing ourselves to fully feel these emotions, we will never find what we need to move through them and release them.

As times goes on and release begins to clear the wound, it becomes helpful to tell our stories from the side of healing. Stories of resilience, courage, how we made it through and what it looks like to find the guts to live bravely and truly in a world that can cut so deep and so hard. These are the stories that help us speak our truth and empower us to own our experience of self, that enable us to find our personal authority and claim our own space. And it is significant that we tell these stories if we want to learn how to show up and be present for ourselves.

And when that work is done- when we are able to own our stories, when we learn not to defer our personal power to others, when we learn to accept that just because another person has a different perspective does not mean ours is not valid and important and true- then if we wish to grow further, it is time to tell the story from the eyes of love.

And the eyes of love would acknowledge that people are doing the best they know how with what they have to work with at any given time. Most of all, including ourselves.

There are things in my history I feel really good about: situations where I feel I acted from a place of integrity and love, and I am proud to look back on these moments.

Others I feel more neutral about: situations and relationships along my time line where I didn’t get it exactly “right,” but I feel things came out okay in the end given the circumstances, and I can reason away my reactions and see the lessons I’ve learned.

Then there’s the mess. The times where I didn’t act with love or integrity, and in trying to figure out my own life, I am the one who bumped into somebody else. These are the places where I would go back and do things differently if I knew then, what I know now- except I didn’t know. And that is an important key.

The mess is usually where we get stuck. It’s the place where we often judge and condemn ourselves. It’s the place where we beat ourselves up, the place where we rehash, ruminate and redo, and the place we return time and time again in our darker moments, making us feel bad and sad and squirmy and uncomfortable and avoidant and all those rough feelings that come up when we struggle to face our own shadows and sense of not being enough.

But the more I learn about the nature of love, the more I am coming to learn that love- the kind of powerful LOVE that binds everything together in this Universe- simply is.

Love loves to love.

Its existence isn’t tied to our preconceptions of worth, warrant, accomplishment or merit. It is perfect and complete and available. All the time. In all our various states and traits and shadows and struggles.

I am always loved.

You are always loved.

We are always loved.

All the time.

The real work is not in the mess, not truly. It is in learning how to begin to receive this fact of Love within ourselves. To throw out the conditions we attach to love and tap into the true spirit of Love within our lives.

When we learn to find gentleness and compassion for the times we are messy, complicated, ugly and don’t get it “right,” we begin to practice self-forgiveness, and we come to better allow love into our own lives. And you can’t live life like this- in a state of grace and self-love- without learning how to eventually begin to offer this to others, and begin to find forgiveness for the whole.

If Enlightenment is about learning to turn the lights on inside ourselves; to find our better natures and learn to live with more compassion, connection and love, then Becoming is what happens when the light shows us all the shadows and dirt and dust in our lives and we begin to clean house. Becoming is the place where we dare to let our wounds bleed, to find what we need to begin to mend them, to share our stories of healing. Becoming is what makes us bigger, what forces us to dig deeper, what helps us discover the true nature of love.

If we want more love in our lives- more real deal, pie in the sky, passionate, enraptured, joyous, freeing, wild hearts can’t be broken, kind of love- at some point we have to begin to forgive.

Starting with ourselves.