This past spring I took an incredible trip out west with my daughter, sister and sister’s partner. Our destination, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. It was A…MA…ZING. The picture here was taken right behind our first camp site. The Tetons are exquisite and Yellowstone, well, it’s Yellowstone. There’s nowhere like it anywhere else on earth.
I’ve longed to return to this area since first visiting nearly 20 years ago. At that time, a dear friend of mine gifted me a trip to Jackson Hole, WY to spend a week on a dude ranch. I was fresh out of college, had recently stepped away from the competitive equestrian world and just went through a painful breakup. I had been in recovery for a few years but it was the first time I was writing regularly and coming to understand this life as a spiritual journey. Another friend had given me a Winnie the Pooh journal a fews weeks prior to the trip and it went with me. I poured my heart into those pages every morning and night before and after our three hour trail rides through the Snake River Valley. It was a big time of discovery, healing and growth.
As I packed for this recent trip, it dawned on me that I still had that journal. I dug it out and took it with me thinking how cool it would be to enjoy mornings on the mountains and evenings by the campfire reflecting on the past and reveling in how far I’d come, how much wiser I am now.
Insert hysterical laughter here…
This is NOT what happened. Instead, I flipped through the pages in irreverent awe. I’d read a bit and thought, “Huh, still working on that.” Read a little more, “Huh, still working on that.” Read a little more, “Huh, still working on that.” I was surprised, humbled and in a weird way relieved. I was firmly reminded that this journey is anything but linear, anything but organized and in no way is it within our control. I often share in sessions and classes the expression, “We’re all working on the same shit.” Ya know, the biggies: self-worth, self-love, healing trauma, following our heart’s desires, etc. This experience showed me that the work never really ends, rather it continues to deepen, to call us to open more and more fully into our truest selves. It’s all we’re here to do really, live into what shows itself, to what we’ve chosen or created. To keep accepting the lessons even when they’re hard and familiar, even when we think we have all figured out.
Upon returning, I felt different in the life I had chosen for myself over the last five years. I could see clearly how old patterns had bled into my marriage. It was hard, so hard, to look at. For 2 weeks I sat with this new awareness. I tried to deny truths that were not in alignment with what would keep me comfortable in certain ways and that would force me to own pain I was afraid to feel fully. I did not want to surrender control (rather the illusion of it). At some point in the sitting with it, breathing with it, being IN it, something broke through my mountains of resistance and brought clarity on what I needed.
As I write this, my husband and I are living separately. It is hard but it is right. The space is allowing me to keep working on my own shit and for him to do the same. We hope that in doing so, we can create an even better version of us. In this “brutiful” (as Glennon Doyle says) time of death and rebirth a simple mantra has emerged for me: feel and love. That no matter where I am, what is coming up, what is falling apart, what my mind says, what others think or say…feel and love. It returns me to that sanctuary inside that these sacred places mirror back to me. It reminds me we’re all in this together.