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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not always happy, no, but always grateful-My story

    I suppose what happened to me a few years ago was a kind of rebirth.  In ones mid-forties things can kind of fall apart beneath the weight of all the responsibilities one has willingly and unknowingly taken on.  I was plodding along my spiritual path, taking care of the family and doing some painting.  Then suddenly two things happened to "disrupt" my road.  My teacher started a three-year retreat that could be followed either in the main center in France or at home in local centers, and my mother decided to have a major spinal operation at the age of 72 in a city far from home.  She has severe scoliosis. I am the nearest daughter.

Mom's operation was in August of 2006, one month after the beginning of the three-year retreat.  I had to learn to balance assisting her with my committment to more meditation practice and caring for the family. It was grueling.  She could have died, but hung on with a will  made of steel wire.  But she never quite recovered fully.  Instead, she became progressively weaker and more forgetful.  Ten-hour operations are traumatic for older people.  

In my sadness and outright despair I turned to my faith, of course, and I also reached for a book written by Martha Beck, The Joy Diet, and then another called Finding Your Own North Star.  I'd found her through a weight loss program, and her philosophy was vehemently cheerful and outrageously joyful.  She suggested writing down all the things that made you happy—all the things that made you sad.  I did.  I discovered that yoga, playing guitar, and being on retreat with my teacher were my happiest activities.

So I scheduled guitar lessons, enrolled in a local yoga school, and continued my home retreat.
Started to see the light. The stress lifted more and more.

Then Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Eat, Pray, Love, hit the stands, and I fell in love with her and her search.  Her determination to follow her bliss, not even knowing at the beginning of it what her bliss was, was heart-warming and encouraging. I started to try things I'd never done before to see if I liked doing them.

I started a blog and I started making malas for others, which I'd always done only for myself.
I love, love, love, doing both.  Meeting all the wonderful people I've met online and through making malas has been, well, wonderful.  I see more and more how connected and well-meaning we all are.

Since then I have followed my own lead and learned to do more of what makes me happy. My teacher says "learn to be your own best friend" and I have done that.

So when I write that I am so happy and so grateful, it isn't that I'm shoving anything beneath the rug or trying to psych anyone into thinking I'm perfectly adapted, it's just that:

I still get mad, still make stupid mistakes, still crave chocolate and coffee and way too many books, but there's more equilibrium now.  It has been a rebirth of sorts.

What's your story?  We all have them, don't we.

Follow your bliss!


Anonymous said...

What a lovely, compelling post. Thank you so much for writing and sharing it Laura. I enjoyed it a great deal.

elsiee said...

eat pray love is one of my very favorite books of all time - i hear that julia roberts is going to play the lead in the movie, that should be fun! i can't wait for her next book - loved this post!