Together Again

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The ping of a text notification sounds. Glancing at the phone, I see it’s my best friend asking which day might work for us to coordinate schedules for a warmly anticipated Meijer Garden trip with an out-of-town high school friend. Smiling, I respond to the text with possible dates.

About a week later, I pull up in front of Anna’s House to greet my two friends sitting outside holding our place in the long reservation queue. Because this is such a popular place to gather for a meal, I had to park quite a distance away in the bank parking lot nearby. Deeply inhaling the scent of spring blossoms around me, I walk toward the restaurant excited to join my friends.

As the three of us enjoy brunch together, we catch up on each others lives; kids, jobs, interests and “girl” things. One of these friends and I are reconnecting after many years apart. In high school we knew everything about each other. As adults, life took us each in different directions. As I look into her beautiful eyes, watch her familiar mannerisms and listen to her heart, it is as if I am transported back in time. Though we need to learn about who we have become as adults, I sense a connection unaffected by time.

Leaving the restaurant, we head to Meijer Gardens. It is a beautiful spring day and the gardens are a perfect place to enjoy flowers, nature and one another. We have the chance to discover if or where we fit in this familiar, yet, new collective friendship. As our time together continues, I sense joy rising in me. This rhythm of the three of us together is life-giving for me. Because we are very different as people, there is much we can learn about and with one another.

Glancing at a clock, we realize our precious time together is ending and we must transition back to our individual lives. After saying our goodbyes, I walk back to my car and notice a place inside of me is soothed. It is the place formed over 40 years ago when these two women first entered my heart. All those years ago, we supported each other as we were trying to discover who we were. We shared many victories and defeats together. We talked about boys, fears, insecurities, family, friends, hopes and dreams. Though the details are different now, we talked about and shared the same type of things happening in our lives as adults.

Through this past year, I have come to understand the richness and depth available in rekindled relationships.  I have discovered parts of me were tenderly held in shared history with friends. Aspects of my true identity have come back alive because of what dear friends remember about me from decades ago.

In order to experience resurrection, there must be death. Last year at this time, I felt like so much of me was dead. Through the steadfast intervention of the Trinity in and around me, I have been resurrected. I am still me, only better because of what I learned through great loss, debilitating grief and choosing to love unconditionally even through betrayal. The gentle embrace of Divine love continues to bring healing to my shattered heart allowing me to trust again in a new relationship and enjoy the familiar comfort of faithful, loyal friends.

Relationships are risky yet essential. It is the conduit most often chosen by God to bring growth and change. Reconnecting with my high school friend offers possibilities for both of us to learn and grow together once again.

May you find connections, old and new, where you will give and receive gentle comfort, gracious challenges and mutual joy.

 

 

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Transitions

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Yesterday, I attended a bridal shower. Viewing the RSVP status of the attendees online, I knew I would be seeing some old friends. This was an exceptionally hard and emotionally draining week. The one year anniversary of Richard’s passing is approaching, the dynamics of a valued friendship changed dramatically, my writing is stalled, professional decisions need to be made and household projects are in various stages of completion. I was looking forward to celebrating with some old friends and meeting some new ones.

“So, Jean, how are you doing?” asks a friend at the shower I hadn’t seen in a few months. “Doing pretty well.”, I reply. “Working through some transitions.”

As the guests continue to arrive, I start thinking, “Transition” is a good word for it. It seems like this entire year has been one transition after another. Watching Richard live out his final days, grieving multi-layers of heartache, engaging with new friends while connecting with old friends, trying to make the house mine instead of ours, making decisions without my favorite sounding board, taking care of the dogs alone while engaging in life away from home, writing our story without falling apart because of the emotion it continues to stir up within me, daring to consider loving again, wondering if I will ever trust another man and most significantly, how these last few years have shaped me. Whew!

Thinking about all those changes, I ask myself, am I becoming a better me or am I reverting back to old patterns of survival? Each week, I see flavors of both. Certainly the shift has moved toward being a better me more consistently. Life lessons learned the hard way need not be repeated.

I want to know how this whole metamorphic adventure turns out. I remind myself, wanting it doesn’t make it happen. I wanted to know the end of my story with Richard every day for over a decade. I didn’t know until it happened. The only way I thrived and not just survived through all the insanity was to remember the presence of God is always with me and works in and through circumstances.

Though I was blindsided many times, God was never thrown off when a betrayal, diagnosis or crisis surfaced. He invariably carried me through every trauma. I didn’t always trust Him. I was often afraid and felt alone. Even so, I trusted the trustworthiness of the Creator. Gently I remind myself, He is with me now though every transition.

Re-engaging with the party, I press into the beautiful moments my friends are experiencing. They will soon be committing to a lifetime together, starting a new journey filled with possibilities and challenges.  I am truly grateful they have found love and are committed to loving each other well through life’s transitions.

The hopeless romantic in me wants to know if my story includes someone with whom I will share life and love; someone who will fight for me and along side of me as the uncertainty of life unfolds. The fear of heartache wrestles with the longing to love and be loved again. Once again, the answer only comes as it is revealed over time.

Life is always in transition one way or another. My transitions will continue, whether I like it or not. I will not know the answers until they are made known. I can choose to be worried about the ending, or just enjoy all that is present. I know my focus must be on embracing the Divine gift being offered: Resurrecting Larko.

I will follow the lead of my beloved Richard who showed us how to live in today. He embraced sacred moments as they came along and chose to make every day a GREAT day.

May you find peace in the storms of life, gentle reminders of love each day and rest knowing each day brings another opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Choices, Choices, Choices.

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A few weeks ago, I decided to not schedule clients today. The plan was to meet with my spiritual director and spend the rest of the day hanging out with the Creator. There were some grief issues I needed help sorting out. Last week, those issues were resolved leading me to postpone my session. Now, I could take an entire day to focus on embracing my connection with God.

Late last night, a progressive wave of grief surged from deep within me and felt like it was going to take me out. This sorrow presented as overwhelming loneliness. Emptiness of this kind does not come from me being alone. Measured time in solitude is something necessary for me to recharge. There was something stirring in me needing attention.

Knowing my schedule was clear today helped me remember Divine Love works mysteriously and often with simplicity. Holding on to Love, I stayed up very late pressing into deeply painful emotions. Allowing and inviting every painful memory of loneliness to surface enabled me to release them. Trusting the One holding all of eternity together allowed me to sleep peacefully knowing this process would continue the next day.

Instead of trying to figure out what happened last night, today was the time to listen; just as planned weeks ago. This afternoon, some of the pieces starting coming together. Last night, I thought the loneliness was coming from thinking I will be alone the rest of my life. Today, I know it has nothing to do with the rest of my life. The loneliness was coming from the past.

When we love someone who is emotionally unavailable for whatever reason, it is profoundly lonely. Though Richard and I were together for 17 years, over 15 of those, he shut me out. He blocked everyone out. Last night, I was finally strong enough to make room for the embedded emptiness to be recognized and validated.

The grief was not related to Richard passing away and no longer being with me. It was sorrow from the years of being alone while we were married. In order to stay with Richard, I had to minimize and deny the excruciating pain of loneliness. Today, I can see it for what it is and gratefully allow acceptance, forgiveness and pure Love to cleanse and fill the void.

As for the rest of my life, I would like to share my life with someone again. We are created to love and be loved. There is comfort knowing, though the desire is there, it is not mandatory. Having a life partner who is “present” would be spectacular. For the time being, my life is full of deeply satisfying relationships.

May you offer yourself the space and energy necessary to explore what might be lingering inside of you because of painful experiences from the past. Allow the greatest Advocate to be your guide, paving a road of compassion to liberate parts of you held captive. In so doing, may you discover strength, contentment and the peace that passes understanding.

Thanks for stopping by.

Let’s make this a great year!

 

 

My Kind of Town

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Chicago is one of my favorite places to visit. Growing up in St. Joseph, MI, Chicago was close enough geographically to enjoy long day trips and far enough away for weekend getaways.

Some of my favorite memories of Chicago were made with my best friend. She and I have been friends since junior high. Exactly how many years ago that was isn’t necessary to know for this story. Suffice it to say, we know what a disco ball looks like on a Friday and Saturday night.

As young adults, we used to enjoy girls weekends away in Chicago. I remember taking the train in together talking about life, love and frustrations. These days we go there to enjoy the bustle, sights and sounds of the city and to visit her delightful son who lives downtown.

We are opposite in so many ways. She is model thin, literally. Professional model is on her full resume. While l lived in Paris, she came to visit me for a week or so. We ate similarly and participated in the same physical activities. She lost weight and I gained weight.

She is an accomplished high-end interior design professional. When I say high-end, I mean multi-million dollar projects. I struggle to know if the curtains in my dining area match the wall covering. Her personal space is meticulously contemporary. My space is…ummm…eclectic.

When it comes to life experiences, we are very different. She has two very accomplished adult offspring. My experience with parenting has been with four outstanding step children. For a period of time I was a Licensed Minister. She would be content never stepping foot into a church ever again.

Musically, give me a sappy love song and I am happy. She wants more upbeat dancing music. She prefers a thick, rich beer. Give me a pale ale. She is a cat person. I am a dog person. The list is long.

What is profoundly rich about our friendship is our differences. We do not judge each other because we are different. It actually makes us laugh at times and makes us better together all the time. We know each other really well yet we continue to learn about the other as we learn about ourselves.

This friend is priceless to me. When we share our struggles or victories, we view them through the eyes of the other. We remember the things important to us aren’t necessarily mutual and that doesn’t matter. Primary importance is “seeing” the other. Whether it’s entering into pain or excitement, our focus is meeting there and bringing both of our strengths together offering support, encouragement and courage.

Who are you journeying with through life? Are you with people who celebrate the uniqueness of you or do they try to get you to conform to their preconceived idea of who you should be. Worse yet, are there people who are trying to make you into them?

Treasured friends do not ever make us feel insecure about who we are. They encourage us to be an ever evolving better self. Best friends know only you can find your true self and they do not want you to settle for less.

May you be and find the type of friend who joyfully embraces the differences.

If you have not experienced this type of friendship, consider how you can be and find an exemplary friend who will purely love at every stage of the emerging self.

Thanks for stopping by.

Let’s make it a great year.