As many of you know from the last post, I’ve recently returned from Stratejoy Summer Camp, hosted by Molly Mahar. It was 5 days of ridiculous fun, light-heartedness and deep reflections – just my kind of vacation!
The timing of the trip was very interesting for me. In a way it was just right, as I was dealing with a very recent death in my family (more on that here), and needed some space to sort out the vast array of emotions I was feeling. But it was also a rather difficult time to be on vacation as the guilt of not being at home at such a hard time kept rearing its head.
It took me the first night and next morning to begin reconciling my guilt over the death and my joy for being at camp. It was one question asked at our first morning reflection session that helped me bring peace to my tumultuous heart. The question Molly asked was, “Where am I not allowing myself to be a juxtaposition (being and “or” instead of an “and”)?
At the time I couldn’t answer it and left that space in my journal as a “TBD” entry. Then we had our “quiet hour” where we couldn’t talk to anyone else and just had to sit with whatever thoughts or emotions the reflection session brought up. I have to say I LOVED quiet hour!!
(ASIDE: As a naturally quiet and contemplative person this was probably my favorite time of the day and I highly recommend everyone to start instituting something like it during your day. Even a quiet 15 minutes will bring more peace to your life.)
Anyways, during my first quiet hour, I felt something unresolved in my heart and had to figure it out before I could be completely immersed in the joy of summer camp. I finally realized that it was my conflicted feelings of my grandmother passing.
Obviously, I was horribly saddened by her death and couldn’t believe she’s really gone and at the same time I was glad she is no longer suffering. I was also glad to be enjoying my time at camp rather than waiting and watching for her final breath (as I had been a couple weeks before).
For some reason my head couldn’t combine all those feelings in to a coherent concept. I thought that if I was glad at her passing then I was a horrible person for wishing her dead. But if I’m only sad at her death then I’m completely selfish for wishing her to still be in this world but in great pain. How can you choose between that?! Either way I sounded like a total bitch.
Then I had a moment of clarity and decided to just talk to grandma and let her know what was up. I spoke to the wind, knowing she hear it, and said something to the effect of: “I’m so sorry you’re gone but I’m glad you’ve moved on to the next world. However, I can’t focus on that sorrow right now as I have this thing to do and I want to enjoy it while I can.”
And not so surprisingly I heard her reply (she always was one to get the last word in). She told me to do what I had to do and not to worry. I had permission to be both incredibly sad and deliriously happy. It was all okay.
It was okay to be “and” instead of “or”. I didn’t have to choose then and I don’t have to choose now. I can be saddened by her passing and glad that the agony is over for both our sakes. Other contradictions I now reclaim are: that I can love being in nature but not a hard-core nature girl. (Five days of camp was quite enough for me, thankyouverymuch!)
I can love to sit and watch tv or read books for hours, but also love getting up in the morning to do yoga or walk or dance even. I can be sentimental and keep all these little keepsakes but also detest clutter and keep a clear and organized home.
As Amin Malouf points out in his wonderfully complex book, In the Name of Identity:
None of us has to choose to just be a mother or an employee. A wife or a daughter. A businesswoman or an artist. We are always all of these things. Yes, sometimes one will take precedence over the other, but they don’t ever exclude each other entirely.
So now it’s your turn… where have you not been allowing yourself to be a juxtaposition? What “or” in your life do you wish to turn in to an “and”?
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