In the Tall Grass

An Unknown Path in the Tall Grass

There are times when we all walk alone—down paths that are unknown.  I find myself walking on one of these paths now, grappling with the “who am I,” after my last parent has died.  These days I am finding that walking on literal paths helps me come into the present moment of my grief journey, like nothing else can.  Everywhere else the temptation to run and hide, distract, numb and deny is fierce.  On the trail it’s like my body is drinking in something essential in the fluid movement and soulful connection with the only place where life happens on a larger scale.  This path in the woods offers my mind and heart an opportunity to be seen and held, but also to be reminded of the larger cycle of this life—where change and death are all around.

And it was here yesterday amongst the tall grass and stormy skies, where the Fall landscape laid itself bare before me, that my feet and legs found purpose as it orchestrated a much needed connection with my mind and soul.  This walk reminded me how I recently asked a client to get in touch with the story of their grief, and to do so in a way that included the body.  As soon as I gave the assignment I recognized my own desire, resistance, and NEED to do just this.  Funny how this happens in life—coming into connection with just the right people at the right time.

If you are walking down an unknown path and you find you need support, like we all do, may this personal account from my own life, inspire you to look at what hurts in yours and listen to what you need most.  Your “need” list may look very different than mine but here is an example of what mine often includes when I am feeling stressed, challenged, or in pain:

  • Solo time away from others & work
  • Move my body—walk, hike, dance, yoga
  • Listen to music that sparks my heart to open (check out Wakes, Mindfulness Musicians—who are my favs!)
  • Write down my feelings in any messy vulnerable way it needs to spill out on the page
  • Talk with a friend who will listen to me with full attention, hang with the pain, and hold me if needed

I also want to acknowledge that we all have another list—the shit we habitually do to avoid pain list!  This is the one that includes all things comforting or distracting, or derailing, or even numbing!  And YES I am deeply human and so there are always a couple on this list that happen when the pain of life meter is off the charts.  Maybe you recognize a few here also?

  • Eat—Mac & cheese + chocolate cake (perhaps even when not hungry)
  • Drink—booze of any kind it doesn’t really matter
  • Binge watch anything—it’s a binge and the content isn’t super important!
  • Run & run & run some more—sign up for a race or book travel to “get away”
  • Overbook your social calendar and stay as busy as possible with other people’s stuff while avoiding your own (a personal fav!)

So now what…

Do This Sequence For YOU: (and for your kids, partner, parents, clients, pet children, friends & neighbors)

  1. Gather up your deepest intention to care for the life that is your own.
  2. Write out these two lists for yourself:
    1. What I Really Need List
    2. Shit I do to Avoid the Painful Truth List
  3. Post these Lists on your computer, steering wheel, or fridge!
  4. Every time you catch yourself doing something from the “Shit I do to Avoid List” let that be your mindful PAUSE…stop right there and take a few breaths, or 100, to actually be with what you are trying to cover up.  See what’s here?  Don’t judge it, just FEEL IT.  (It may take time to even recognize the truth of what’s going on, if you are masterful at habitual avoidance—keep pausing and recognizing, this practice will pay off!)
  5. Finally see if you can insert something from the “What I Really Need List” instead.  See how this feels?
  6. Rest in the awareness that this sequence happens to all of us, you are NOT ALONE, and we are all on this journey together.

Even on my unknown path, I can find comfort in knowing that others have blazed this trail in front of me, and even more will walk it behind me.  Everyday as I rise to meet the day, I remind myself of my intention to care for me, for the me who is tender and vulnerable, for the me who is finding her own way—in the tall grass, called life.

With the Deepest Gratitude for this Life & this Community,