In the introduction to her book, Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach tells the story of a woman who was unconscious on her deathbed. Her daughter sat next to her for many hours saying kind and loving words to her. Early one morning, the woman suddenly opened her eyes, looked intently at her daughter, and whispered, “All my life I thought something was wrong with me.” Then she shook her head slightly as if to say, “What a waste,” closed her eyes, went back into a coma, and died later that day.
This story brought tears to my eyes. It resonated. Because I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize it could have been so much more if only I hadn’t held back so much, believing I needed to improve myself before what I had to offer was worth sharing.
Self-Love is Real Love
This week, our culture celebrates love. Romantic love is but a drop in the bucket. There are so many other forms of love, and self-love is one of them. Let’s not forget to include ourselves in our circle of love! Because we still can, and it makes a great difference in our quality of life and the lives of those closest to us.
Nobody is perfect. We’re not supposed to be. We’re not supposed to be like anyone else, either, so forget about making any comparisons.
Can you love yourself exactly as you are and have tenderness for ALL parts of yourself, including everything you’ve done or not done? Doing that pulls you out of the trance of unworthiness and the limiting beliefs you have about yourself. Loving yourself like that transforms your life and allows you to love others better.
If you think it sounds silly, naive, or selfish, then you don’t understand what I’m saying. I’ll use the language of dreams to paint a clearer picture.
“We’re Taking Away the Supports”
A few months ago, I dreamed I was at a large retreat to kick off the mindfulness meditation teacher program I’m taking with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. My friend showed me her sleeping accommodations, which felt like the inside of an airplane with no room to move around, and so close to others! I didn’t know what my dorm looked like, but I couldn’t handle being in such close quarters!
Next, I was in a large auditorium not paying attention to the presentation because I craved chocolate. I’d seen a bowl of it earlier, but it had since been taken away.
Then I stood in a doorway at the back of another auditorium. Others stood next to me, and I felt a little “less than”, lacking in some way. Tara Brach came up behind me and whispered in my ear: We are taking away the supports. I didn’t know exactly what she meant but trusted her.
When we came out of that space, we saw that all around the circular auditorium we’d been in, the event organizers had set up cozy spaces for pairs to be together, kind of like tents without roofs. For each pair, there was a small fireplace, two cushions on the floor, and an elegant pitcher of water with two glasses. We were to go directly to our space-for-two. I felt anxious about being up close and personal with someone when I was tired from traveling and hadn’t had an opportunity to touch up my appearance. It was nighttime, and I wanted to retreat to my room and get some sleep.
Over the loudspeaker, a voice asked us to consider the most cherished possessions we hold on to. It wasn’t referring to physical objects, but the excuses we go to in our minds that hinder us from engaging or being more fully ourselves. The things we think we need in order to be okay. This blew my mind, and I started to cry. I wondered: Is this program too much for me? They were going to take us to the depths of our excuses so we could let go of them and be more present. Really present.
They referred to our excuses as possessions that are separate from us. Our deepest, most cherished supports. These would all be exposed, and we’d learn we don’t need them after all. Who would you be without your most cherished beliefs about what you can’t do or who you need to be around others to be accepted? These beliefs are possessions. They are not you. You do not need them to survive.
I woke up from the dream and considered: What do I feel self-conscious about that compels me to keep a certain distance from others? Why does it take so much energy to be around people? (And does it really, or is it more about having boundaries?) What underlies my food cravings? What uncomfortable feelings do they mitigate? What flaws do I feel I need to conceal to be more attractive to others? How do all these things keep me from being my True Self?
This dream showed me clearly what my self-limiting crutches are. It spelled out all the things I feel are wrong with me and unacceptable to others and how I try to hide them and soothe the discomfort. It revealed lots of opportunities for growth.
What Will I Say?
A few nights ago, I dreamed I was in the audience in another auditorium. It was an event for the hospice house in which my mother passed away. When the speaker finished talking, she came up to me and whispered that I was next. That’s when I remembered I’d agreed to be a speaker. But I hadn’t prepared anything to read! I’d forgotten about it entirely! I began to panic.
Then I remembered that I did a trust fall during our last Hidden Treasure weekend, and it reprogrammed me at a cellular level. I’m stronger than I think I am. Maybe I didn’t need notes and could just speak from my heart. Well, I was going to have to do that because I had no notes! I tried to come up with a general idea or a few points I could jot down, but nothing was coming to me.
There were lots of people mulling about. I wanted to use the bathroom and touch up my hair and makeup. All the bathroom stalls were in use, and I didn’t have a chance to look in the mirror because it was so crowded. But deep down I knew it would be better to have a quiet moment alone to get centered. Inspiration was more likely to arise from quietude than in a crowded bathroom or lobby.
When I walked out of the bathroom, the lights were turned down, and the we’re-waiting-for-you music was playing. As I made my way through the backstage area, my mom walked towards me looking for the piano so she could wheel it on stage. My heart lurched because I wasn’t there to play piano! I told her that, and she said the piano was for somebody else. She knew I was there to give a talk and not play piano. Whew!! I felt relieved because I wouldn’t have to play in front of the audience (which would have been much more stressful than giving a talk) and because my mom wasn’t pressuring me to perform to make her happy. She understood that’s not what I’m here for.
Then I stepped on stage, and all of a sudden, I knew what to say. I’d talk about how I found a new relationship with my mom after she died, and sharing my stories would offer hope to people who were bereaved. My talk would be a message of hope that would ease people’s suffering. And I didn’t know that until the moment before I started speaking, and after my mom relieved me of any pressure to play piano. Then I was able to let something arise from deep in my heart that could help others. It was the difference between performing and being real. Impressing vs. connecting.
I didn’t need to look a certain way to be worthy of being seen. I didn’t need to impress anyone. It wasn’t about my hair, makeup, or clothes. I didn’t need to feel guilty for letting my mother (and myself) down for not following through with piano earlier in life. Those beliefs only get in the way of being my True Self and set the stage for end-of-life regrets, like the woman in Tara’s story.
Both dreams revealed the importance of being present to others without worrying about how I look. The purpose of my life is not to impress or please anyone, even though that’s how I was conditioned. It’s about connecting with people heart-to-heart with the intention of easing their pain.
In waking life, it’s time to cut through the limiting beliefs the dreams spelled out so clearly so I can live more fully, shine brighter, and love better. It begins with loving, forgiving, and accepting myself like my life depends on it. Because it does. And nobody else can do it for me. Or for you. It’s inner work we can only do ourselves. In the poet Rumi’s words:
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
How about you? What self-limiting beliefs and habits are holding you back? How can you love yourself into the radiant fullness of who you are and shine, shine, shine?
© 2019 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, Reiki practitioner, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.
There have been some mighty strange goings-on in my world since my dad died three weeks ago. This post is just in time for Halloween, although the timing was not at all intentional. I’m sharing my experiences in as straightforward a manner as possible so you can draw your own conclusions. Be sure to read all the way to the end!
1. Technical Difficulties
There have been a plethora of problems with electronics. (And no, Mercury hasn’t been retrograde.) Three different keys to two different cars haven’t worked at certain times, and I’ve had unprecedented phone connection issues. While creating the photo slideshow for my dad’s funeral services, I experienced a series of at least 20 bizarre technical glitches that I’d never encountered before. And last week, this very blog sent out a post from several months ago to email subscribers without any action on my part. I didn’t even know it was possible to resend an old post and was surprised to see it in my inbox!
2. Lights Out
My daughter and son were in town for my dad’s funeral two weeks ago, and after the service, we met at my house before they went their separate ways, back to Georgia and the NYC area. As they were leaving, I turned on the light on the side of the house so they could see better as they drove away. I went to bed just before 10:00 and fell asleep instantly. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I glanced at my phone to see what time it was and noticed a text my husband sent at 10:22 PM asking me to turn out that light. He was sleeping in the RV, and the light was bothering him. So I went downstairs to turn off the light but saw that it was already off. I assumed he had come inside and turned it off himself. The next morning, I asked him about it and explained that I didn’t receive his text until the middle of the night. He was really surprised because no sooner had he sent that text, and the light went out. It went out so immediately that he found it odd because he wasn’t even sure he’d had time to hit “send”. I also found it odd but didn’t want to jump to conclusions and suspected the lightbulb might have blown out at an uncanny time. So I went over to the light switch and was surprised to find it in the “off” position. As soon as I flipped the switch, the light went on – so it hadn’t burned out after all. It just happened to turn off at the exact moment when Jack requested that I turn it off.
3. Swirling Mist
My dad passed away in the morning. That evening when I was at my parents’ house with one other person, we saw a swirl of mist traveling around the kitchen, followed by a significant drop in temperature in the room we were sitting in. At the funeral service at the church a week later, something caught my eye as I greeted the continuous line of people coming to pay their respects. Again, I saw a white mist moving around high above us. It was an overcast/rainy afternoon, and it wasn’t caused by sunlight coming through the windows.
4. Clock Works
Last night’s experience took the cake. After spending the whole day at my parents’ house with my sister, I was alone there in the evening finishing up some work on my laptop at the dining room table. The chair I was sitting in had become uncomfortable, so I moved to the couch in the living room. When I sat down on the couch, I looked at my dad’s empty chair – the chair he always sat in – and said out loud sadly, “There’s no more dad here to talk to.”
Just then, the grandfather clock – which hadn’t worked in years – made a soft, chiming sound from across the room. It was not on the hour (6:05 – not the correct time), and I hadn’t heard that clock all day or for a really long time – months or even years, for that matter. The chime sent chills down my spine. Alarmed, I texted two close relatives, and right after sending my text, the clock chimed again. Then I noticed my cell phone battery was getting low, so I got up to retrieve my phone charger. When I walked through the kitchen, I heard a fast, ticking sound that I hadn’t heard before then. It sounded like it was coming from the direction of the cuckoo clock in the family room. When I went closer, I realized the cuckoo clock – which hadn’t worked in decades – was ticking! Again, this was a clock that had been dormant for a long time, and it just started ticking all of a sudden. At this point, I was quite spooked! Not just one, but two clocks had come alive simultaneously!
Even though I was startled and shaking, I sat back down on the couch to see if I could become still enough to pick up on any messages that might be trying to come through. I said, “OK, you have my attention!” and became still and silent, imagining white light surrounding me and filling the room. Then I heard my dad’s voice inside my head. He sounded happy and spoke in the voice he used when he was relaying a funny story or a story of something peculiar that had happened to him (like when my mom’s grandfather came to him in a dream shortly after he died, and when my mom came to him in a dream some time after she died). He said he was with my mom…AND THEN THE CUCKOO CLOCK CUCKOOED FROM THE FAMILY ROOM!!!!
It seemed he wanted me to pass along a message to my sister, who was at his bedside constantly for the last 14 or so hours of his life and was quite shaken by the whole experience. I said out loud to confirm, “So you want me to tell her…” And then the cuckoo clock cuckooed again!
At that point, my shaking hands texted another relative to ask if she’d experienced anything at the house, and she texted me back, saying she had experienced something with the cuckoo clock and her cell phone playing a tune (ringtone) she’d never heard it play before when she sat in my dad’s chair, which really freaked her out.
So it wasn’t just me.
Even though I still felt alarmed, I had to laugh because it was comforting to feel that my parents were there with me and to think of how entertaining or gratifying it must be to make the clocks go off. It seemed to me that making the clocks sound was like making the telephone ring and wondering if somebody would pick up and answer at the other end. And I did.
I continued to have a conversation with my dad in which I told him that I’ll do my best to listen if he tries to get in touch with me and that dreams are usually a good way to communicate if he knows how to do that. Then I told him that I’m going to get going now…and the cuckoo clock cuckooed again!
When I stood up to leave, the (landline) phone rang, and I was afraid to answer it! But I did. Nobody was on the line when I answered. No clicks or anything. Just silence. I said hello at least three times before hanging up. I had been at the house for more than eight hours, and the phone hadn’t rung a single time until that moment when I got up to leave.
After leaving the house, I called my daughter to share the experience with her, and she reminded me that the only other time she’d heard the cuckoo clock sound was right after my mom passed away. I’d forgotten about that. But at the time, it seemed like a big deal.
So, how do you explain THAT? I’m not committed to the notion that hearing my dad’s voice inside my head was actual after-death communication, although that might be the significance I ultimately attribute to it. It could be me working things out inside my own head. Conversations with my higher self. Wishful thinking. Or…who knows what? The way I see it, if you can arrive at some kind of resolution, answer, or insight that truly feels right in your heart and leaves you feeling at peace, it doesn’t matter where it came from. It is part of your healing and growth. I can’t claim to fully understand what I experienced. I certainly know what it felt like and am open to other explanations and possibilities. But in the end, the meaning I make of it is my own, and all I know for sure is that it’s part of my experience and that it left me with a sense of hope, comfort, and peace once I got over the initial shock.
5. Dream Time
On the morning of that same day, I had an intriguing dream in which I was standing on a bridge and was drawn to stunning orange foliage on trees across the river. Then I noticed the trees moving together in a strange way: First the branches stretched out to the sides and then moved upwards so the foliage was a little higher up from the ground. The trees went through the same movements a couple more times, and each time the leaves traveled higher up toward the sky.
When I woke up from that dream, I felt a little peculiar. I recalled three other dreams I’d had of nature acting in a bizarre way that captured my attention and felt that something was attempting to get through to me. I sensed it might have had something to do with my dad. It wasn’t until I told my sister about the dream later in the day that I realized I was standing on a bridge in the dream. The dreams I’ve had of contact with deceased loved ones always have some kind of boundary like that.
So when I had the experience with the clocks later that day, the dream felt even more significant. I told a couple of friends about my experience and explained, “Well, it’s the time of year when the veil is thin” and recalled writing an article with that title last year at this time. This morning, I pulled up that post and was astounded to read about a similar dream that also began when I noticed beautiful autumn trees.
To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking of sharing these experiences until I read that post from last year and remembered that sharing my experiences is something I need to keep finding the courage to do without worrying about being judged because that kind of sharing is my path. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions and theories, and I’m just sharing my experiences without any embellishments or exaggerations, in case it’s helpful to anyone. I’ll let you decide what to make of them.
© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this article, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.
Earlier this week, the vascular surgeon said it would be a wild ride, and has it ever been! I spent a couple days this week crying and rebelling against my current realities and have the puffy eyes to prove it. This week has been exhausting. Illuminating. Clarifying. And so much else. But today is a new day, and I have quite a story to share. One I hope you will find inspiring.
My dad underwent emergency bypass surgery two days ago to fix a severe blockage in his leg so he wouldn’t lose his foot. It was no simple procedure, given all his medical issues. I stayed with him in pre-op, and when it was time to leave, I looked in his eyes and saw how frightened he was – of losing his leg or worse. I assured him that he was in good hands and had the easy part because he’d be out the whole time, and as far as he’s concerned, I’d see him in about two minutes, post op. I held his hand, told him I love him, gave him a kiss, and left the hospital with his wedding ring in my possession and my mother’s voice in my head telling me that I am a good daughter and that everything will be alright.
Hearing her voice brought tears to my eyes. Remote mothering, but mothering, nonetheless. Two family members have had “very real” and vivid dreams of her in the past two weeks convincing them that she is still around and watching over us.
Before my dad went to the doctor because his foot pain had become unbearable, my husband, Jack, dreamed that my mom and dad were dancing together, but my dad didn’t seem to realize she was there. He was in black and white and seemed very down, whereas she was in full, vivid color with a big smile on her face, dancing all around. Aware that she had died, Jack exclaimed, “But you’re not supposed to be here!” With a big smile, she replied, “Well, I am! And I always have been!”
That was the first time he had ever dreamed of her or experienced a dream that felt “so real”. The same was true for my daughter, who dreamed my mom came back one more time and told her that she’s been watching over her and is aware that she has a daughter and really wished she could meet her but wasn’t able to.
I haven’t had such a “dream” in a while but have been hearing my mom’s voice in my head quite often. It is the most loving, compassionate voice. Maybe it’s actually my own voice growing stronger, but it sounds like her, and I’m grateful to hear it.
But back to my dad…
He was in the operating room for six hours. And what a journey those six hours were! Understanding that the surgery would be quite complicated, I left the hospital in a bit of a daze. While he was on the operating table, I felt like an orphan. I felt so lonely and drove around longing for a warm hug and a few kind words. I parked my car, and when I got out, there was a single white feather on the ground right next to the car door. I associate white feathers with deceased loved ones, so I immediately thought of my mom and felt her love.
I cried a lot over the next six hours. And reflected. Heightened, ultra-real moments, such as when you’re waiting for a loved one to come out of surgery, carry a special power to cut through illusions, break spells, and offer the gift of clarity. I was able to see more clearly what was most important, what was missing, and what needed to change in my life.
I realized that for a long time, in some ways I had only been seeing what I wanted to see, not what was really going on. It was like when I accompanied my parents to my mom’s oncologist appointments, and when we left the doctor’s office, they agreed cheerfully that the news the doctor gave them was hopeful – though I heard something entirely different. And when my dad managed to convince himself the day before his surgery that the vascular surgeon didn’t really intend to give him a bypass the next day even though she stated it clearly and gave him instructions to prepare for it. It’s like when someone tells you they love you, and you want to believe the words rather than the actions, which indicate otherwise.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but when clarity emerges – even if it brings somber revelations – it is always a blessing because at least you know what you have to work with and can move forward, blinders finally removed. Even after my dad’s surgery was successful, I continued to cry for virtually the entire next day because what I realized in those hours of clarity was hard to bear. And I hadn’t gotten enough sleep, which never helps matters. All I could feel was the pain of the great void of loss that felt like it was growing and threatening to consume me. I missed my mom terribly and wished my arms were long enough to pull her back from wherever she is. Even if she really is closer than we realize, it wasn’t close enough.
Where did everybody go?
My mom and grandmother are gone. My son will leave for college in two weeks. My daughter and granddaughter have moved to Georgia. That’s a lot of empty space that used to be filled with activity and face-to-face interaction with loved ones!
So yesterday was Crying Day – I Miss My Mom Day – from start to finish. But when I went kayaking in the morning, there were white feathers scattered all over the river for as far as I paddled!
This morning, I opened my eyes and was called to the dock by the colors of the sunrise. I sat on the dock listening to the cicadas, crickets, and birds and feeling the cool, morning air on my skin as a single dragonfly zipped around, and the sunrise colors developed. After a day of crying and lashing out against all the empty spaces in my life, I was able to wake up in the morning and “be here now.” Be at peace with what is rather than vehemently oppose it. And that’s how I realize I will need to proceed: One mindful moment at a time. Focus on what I already have, rather than on what is missing.
There have been too many goodbyes lately, and sometimes it feels overwhelming. But that’s life. People will come and go, often before we are ready to release them. And the spaces they leave behind can feel like vast, haunted caverns of sadness and loneliness. But in what feels like empty space, the Universe has created an opening that holds glorious, unlimited possibilities.
Yes, there are some gaping spaces in my life – and perhaps in yours, as well. But there is also so much love and nourishment in our world if only we can look through the lens of the present moment and its wealth of possibilities rather than try to prolong the past. And embrace our wholeness! When we feel ourselves craving more or wanting something or someone out of our reach, we can take a deep breath and remember that we already have everything we need. Focus on that. The miracle of gratitude.
My dad made it through his surgery. The sun rose again this morning, and the sunrise was quite beautiful. The water lilies floating on the river are irresistible, and the large clusters of Queen Anne’s lace give off a sweet, subtle fragrance. I am married to a man who is the personification of peace and love and who has transformed himself in ways I never imagined possible. My son is about to embark on the next, exciting chapter of his journey, and I can connect with my daughter and granddaughter via video calls. I have wonderful, healthy friends who have stepped forward and filled some of the empty spaces with empathy, caring, and wisdom. Their nourishing presence has helped me to make it through this week.
So I offer this advice for you and for me: Accept the love and blessings that show up in your life. Focus on that. When someone hugs you, for instance, be present. Feel the loving, caring energy that is wrapping itself around you. Melt into it, and connect with that instead of ruminating on who or what is missing or what is causing you sadness. A mindful hug or conversation can transform your mood, your day, and even your life.
And because I’ve done it myself and have witnessed others doing it, I ask us both to consider: How are you pushing away the love that wants to flow to you and then calling yourself lonely? Who is right there dancing with you even though you aren’t even aware of it? How does love want to enter your life? How can you open yourself to it?
After my mom died and I had quit my job teaching kindergarten, my wise son realized I was feeling down and remarked that he thinks I need to find “something precious to care for.” After more goodbyes and empty spaces, I suspect that precious thing might be me. Because for so long, I have been busy caring for others: My children. My family. My young students. A troubled friend.
As I sat on the dock this morning witnessing the sunrise, I realized that in the gaping emptiness, my book is waiting for me – the one I am going to publish once I finish writing it. A precious thing to care for. A glorious possibility!
A new day. A new opportunity to integrate the lessons of yesterday into cultivating greater wisdom, kindness, and love and bringing our best selves into being. May we forgive ourselves and others for how we have fallen short. In other words, for being human. Each of us is a brilliant work in progress, and the possibilities are endless.
© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness teacher whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.
We just went through a really cold spell with temperatures I don’t recall ever seeing before! When I woke up Sunday morning, it was -20°F without wind chill! Over the weekend, the temperature recorded at Whiteface Mountain (a two-hour drive away) with wind chill was -110 degrees!
When it gets that cold, your attention turns to maximizing your home heating efficiency. You notice where the heat is going and determine the vulnerable spots where the heated air leaks out and the frigid air slips in. You figure out which areas are most important and close off non-essential spaces so you can direct the heat to where it’s most needed. You might find yourself placing a fan strategically at the top of the stairs and putting duct take over electrical outlets that allow cold drafts in. When it’s really, really cold, you take a good, hard look at where your heat goes passively out the window and do whatever you can to concentrate it where it matters most. You become more mindful.
This morning, I woke up around 4:00 thinking about my work. I couldn’t get back to sleep for about an hour and a half because my mind was busy wondering: How do I make all this work? In the process of thinking, the metaphor of heating a home during winter came to mind.
When we first moved into our current house, the main door was very old and made of wood. In the winter, it let in so much cold air that it wouldn’t have made much of a difference if we left it cracked open. When the cold, winter air set in, it was the first improvement we insisted on, and it was replaced with a new, much more energy efficient door that reduced draft greatly.
Heating our home is a metaphor that can apply to how we use and focus our energy in many areas of life. For example, when money is tight or you’re sleep-deprived, you need to take a hard, honest look and consider how to use your energy most efficiently and effectively. So I consider what activities and influences in my life are like the old door and how I can replace them with better alternatives. Am I investing my energy and attention in reaching people who don’t value my work? If so, then I need to reclaim that energy and put it into a more fruitful channel(s).
Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a good use of my time and energy to wake up at 4:00 in the morning consumed with how I’m going to make it all work. It would be more beneficial to get rest so I can wake up with the energy to keep doing the creative work I love to do while also learning about the “other” piece. Staying awake at night thinking seems like spending frigid days in an uninsulated room and attempting to heat it with a space heater, whereas sleeping is like installing insulation or moving to a room that holds the heat more efficiently.
Realizing this, I called on the angels to guide me – turned it over to them. Then I fell asleep for a couple hours and woke up feeling rested. As I slept, I had a dream in which a little song came to me. The words were: Do what you love without worrying or wondering. It all will be alright. In the dream, I was tapping it out musically, over and over, and then a friend joined in on a hand drum. I was awakened from the dream by the sound of a text from my sister. It seemed that kind of repetition and turning the words into a rhythmic song was necessary for me to remember them upon waking. And the text alert was perfectly timed because I woke up in the middle of the musical repetition.
It seems the angels always deliver when I call on them for help.
Today the temperature is expected to reach 50°F. Above zero. Go figure. But the brief snap of frigid weather provided a new metaphor. And when I find myself becoming impatient with the pace at which things are moving, I look out the window at the river that appears frozen solid and am reminded that, down below the surface, things are moving along just fine.
© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.
This week, I did a photo shoot with my very pregnant daughter, whose baby girl is due on February 2. I envisioned photographing her in front of my dad’s living room windows with the afternoon sun shining through the sheer drapes. We stopped by his house after her midwife appointment, and he wasn’t home. So I transformed the living room into a photography studio, and we created some feminine magic. My dad returned home just as we were leaving, which made it feel like the photo shoot was timed perfectly and meant to be – just the two of us in our own private, sacred space.
Here are a couple of my favorite photos from our session:
I envisioned all the images being black and white, but I loved how golden this one looked, so I left it in color (although it looks great in grayscale, as well):
Isn’t she beautiful? A twenty-something vision of hopeful, glowing anticipation.
While the two photos above are my favorites, I found a third one compelling for different reasons.
I love how one of her hands is touching her belly, and the other is touching the sheer curtain. It makes me think of a veil between our human world of physical form and the mysterious realm(s) beyond our understanding. Her daughter is less than three weeks away from passing through that veil, and when she is in labor, I plan to be (as she puts it) her doula, photographer, and mom.
About a year and a half ago, my mother passed through the veil as she slipped out of our world, and I assisted her, too – although she exited in the middle of the night when I was resting in another room. I think of how difficult it has been to adjust to life without her physical presence and how painful the grieving process has been. But the universe doesn’t just take away. It also gives back. And now we are awaiting the arrival of a baby! A new ray of light making its way to Earth. For the past year and a half, I have grieved the loss of my mother’s loving, nurturing presence in my life, and now it is time for me, the new family matriarch, to love and nurture a brand new generation. Rather than seeking love, I am undergoing an amazing process of becoming love as I prepare for this new role and imagine my mother and grandmother (who died six years ago) standing invisibly behind me.
The image of my daughter touching the sheer curtain that allows the light to pass through reminds me of an image I captured when my mother was less than three weeks away from slipping through the veil.
This image was photographed in the same room as my daughter’s pregnancy photos, and I love how the light shines through so brightly. It is an image of my daughter playing “Hallelujah” on the piano for my mother on Mother’s Day. At the time, we didn’t know how much longer she would remain with us, but we knew it wouldn’t be long.
Similarly, I took the pictures of my daughter, not knowing how long it will be until she gives birth. But it won’t be long.
There’s another element in the images that is worth contemplating: They both take place in the living room, which is the room (in my house) in which my most vivid dreams of my mother take place. I had one such dream last week, although I’m not sure it’s accurate to call it a dream because it took place within 15 minutes of getting into bed, and I don’t think I had fallen asleep yet but had drifted into a dreamy, in-between state. All of a sudden, I was downstairs in the living room and heard a knock on the window. It was nighttime. I looked out the window, and my mom was right outside. Her face was close to the window, and she looked just like she did when she was still healthy. I moved closer to the window and realized I could hear her voice. She was trying to tell me something. Then I noticed the window wasn’t all the way closed. It was open several inches so only the screen was between us, which made it easier to hear her. I leaned close to the window and asked, “Do you have a message for me?” At that point, it seemed she faded out, and I couldn’t hear her anymore. Then I woke up, feeling exhilarated because it seemed she really did just visit me.
Perhaps my mom doesn’t speak to me in dreams because I can hear her when I’m awake – but first she needed to get my attention when I was in a receptive state. I sensed that was the purpose of this dreamy visit, and I got up, intuitively knew what to do, sat quietly, and tuned in to hear what she had to say.
Whenever I’ve “dreamed” of my mom lately, it’s taken place in the living room. And there’s always some kind of barrier that she’s either on the other side of or passes through for a brief time before returning to wherever she came from. So the living room and the window that separates the living room from the world beyond is something I’m really drawn to in the images above. To see them together strikes me as greater than the sum of the parts. I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.
© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.