My Leap List

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Graduation Love and Light

     I was so proud to walk with these people at graduation.  It was the proud culmination of over four years of intense highs and lows that only they understand.  This moment completed a life-long goal to get my doctorate degree.
     As a child I used to love to swing.  I would close my eyes for a few minutes so when I opened them, everything looked so amazingly bright and colorful and new.  One day I did this and saw myself as an adult standing next to my granny and my paternal grandmother that had passed away.  They didn't speak to me, but I heard the voice in my head say I was going to graduate with my doctorate.  I didn't know what that even meant, but it stuck with me as a goal I needed to accomplish.  I started this journey six years ago without a clear understanding of what I wanted to do with it or what I wanted to get a doctorate in.  I didn't want to be an administrator, but thought I might open a school for at-risk kids.  When Jameson committed suicide, I left the doctorate program and went to another school to get my administrative license.  The job I didn't think I wanted seemed to be the best way to help as many kids as I could.  After achieving that goal I returned to school to finish my degree.
     It has been one of the biggest challenges of my life, but has made me a better person.  I've learned that I am my own worst enemy.  My perfectionism makes me procrastinate until the last minute because I know I will need to spend hours to get it right.  My self doubts and feeling it won't be good enough keep me from giving it my all.  There were lots of dark moments when I thought of giving up, feared failure, and wondered why I was doing this.  I still don't know why this was something I needed to do, but I've learned not to question the quiet messages that come in silent moments.  Life always has a way of working exactly the way it is supposed to be when I stop trying to force my will on it.  I have a different idea of myself and what I am capable of doing.  I have a deeper understanding of commitment, perseverance, and, hard work.  I think more deeply about things now, and I am more compassionate for people doing hard things outside of the parts of the days I share with them.  I also feel proud of myself and that is a feeling that has been fleeting before.
Mandy says I look different now.  I think I see it in this picture with my sister.  It's one of the only pictures I truly like of myself.
     Mandy and John went with me to the Lantern Festival that night to thank the angels, send love to Jameson and Marissa, and wishes for the future.  It helped heal the places in my heart that I had kept too busy to grieve.  Joining thousands of people sending their thoughts, wishes, and hopes into the night sky was a powerful moment that changed me.  There is power in community and power in sharing symbolic moments together.  Watching all of those lights illuminate the darkness was a sacred moment that touched my soul.  It was the perfect ending to honor the journey and people that brought me here and celebrate the beginning of the next chapter of my life.

Out of the Darkness Alchemy

    In ancient times people were fascinated with the idea of alchemy - the ability to create gold from baser metals.  We were looking outward for a secret that is only found within us.
     The moments of darkness and light make us human.  No matter how we try to avoid them, they are inevitable parts of being alive.  It is scary in the darkness.  Sometimes it seems so real we forget who we are and that there is anything more than these powerful emotions.  The darkness and base emotions weigh us to the Earth until we forget we are spirit with wings to fly.  I have lost loved ones in this place.  I almost lost myself.
     These times are blessings in disguise because they lead to deep transformation within.  Without the forge, we cannot become more than what we are.  Our challenge is to transform the darkness into something bigger than ourselves.  When we choose to illuminate the darkness and learn its lessons, we become spiritually aware.  A spiritual transformation to gold.  Our light becomes a beacon for others struggling in the darkness.  
     It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking to join thousands of others who have been affected by suicide in a walk to raise money and awareness.  We share the heartbreak of losing someone we love in the darkness.  Rather than joining them, we shine a light and transform our loss into a beacon to lead others out of the darkness.
     This picture represents my transformation.  The shirt represents the efforts of my friends and family to raise $175 to help others know they are not alone.  The feathers were found yesterday during my walk.  They represent the angels in my own story.  You can read my story  here if you don't already know it.  The beads are also symbolic.  All of us selected the colors that represented our path to this place.  Mine are blue, green, and purple.  Teal represents my family members who struggle with depression and suicide.  Purple is the loss of my friend and of my students.  Green shows my own struggle as a teenager.
     Joining  a community brings me healing and a greater understanding of what I need to do in this life.  I am thankful that Mandy and John were feeling well enough to walk with me this year.  Although Nick was not at a place where he could join me, I know he was there in spirit.  I was also blessed to be joined by my friend Robyn who experienced this loss a few months ago.  There is nothing more powerful than hearing people's stories, holding hands for a moment of silence, and feeling the overwhelming power of love.