Both the passing of my mother, as well as beginnings of a beautiful journey to become an author bring up tremendous gratitude in my heart, and personal transformation.
It’s August 8th as I write this – a bittersweet day for me. A year ago, my 93 year-old mother passed away. Also a year ago, a few days later, I began my journey of writing a book, which releases this week (August 15th).
Quite an intense combination of grief and joy. This last year has been an initiation of sorts. My mother’s passing ending one chapter of my life, and beginning the next as an adult without parents. She had been declining for several years, both mentally and physically, and I was ready for her departure; yet, no matter how prepared you are for a loved one’s death, you still grieve the fact that you’ll never be able to hug them or hold their hand, never be able to have conversation or look into their eyes.
So strange that simultaneously, I embarked upon one of the most powerful journeys I have ever been on – the process of bringing a book into the world. It has been amazing to now have something in print that was created through me, but’s much more than that. Writing and publishing a book shifted the trajectory of my life and has opened me up into a greater sense of purpose. It has transformed me.
Below, I share with you my reflections on this journey from last November – when I had finished my manuscript and was simultaneously (once again) attending my in-person writer’s workshop for promoting my book, while also honoring my mother’s passing, visiting family and sorting through her belongings. Ending and beginnings together, grief and celebration, and a welling up of gratitude in the process.
From Last November…
I’ve been on the East Coast for almost a week, on a trip with dual purposes. On the one hand, I spent a few days in an intensive for authors that I have been learning and writing with for the last two months. We absorbed a tremendous amount about what it takes to finish editing and publishing our books, and what it takes to make them (and ourselves) successful.
It was a process that pushed me to my limits (again) and beyond, opening me up to new possibilities for sharing what I have with the world. Tears were shed on more than one occasion… both from the stress of being asked to step out of what is comfortable and be more of who I truly am, and also for the wellspring of gratitude within me that emerged. I was so thankful that Spirit had guided me to this writing program, for the mentorship of Angela Lauria of The Author Incubator, and for connecting with the other amazing individuals who also committed to this journey along with me. My heart felt so full, yet also emptied out.
Diving Into My New Self
I had to empty out the clinging to my former self. The part of me that felt much more comfortable being small, hiding behind how I’ve always been, content with a very slow and steady progress. Times call for more radical change, and the need for healing and transformation is at a fevered pitch. If my work and my book are going to have an impact, I need to dive into the cold water for a change, rather than my preference to wade in oh so slowly (and perhaps never dunk my head under).
No, I need to dunk now. To leap off the Divine diving board. To trust that I know how, I’ve always known how, to part the water with my hands stretched out before me, to glide through the depths and swim, emerging joyfully to the surface.
The second part of my journey on this trip took me to my mother’s storage locker. Two months since her death, I returned to her town to begin the process – and it is a process – of settling her affairs. My break-neck speed of needing to ramp up my work in the world was met with the opposite force: slowing down, taking my time. Pulling out boxes of old photos, and one by one, returning in memory to my earlier life, and further back into my mother (and father’s) history.
I discovered things I didn’t know about my mother and myself. As I looked at my baby pictures and throughout my childhood, I had a renewed appreciation for my family. They weren’t perfect – I spent much of my adult life dealing with the issues I had from my youth and “imperfect” parents – but they loved me. I was cared for, and it showed.
Not to mention that my Aunt Rosemarie and her husband Grant were by my side, gloves and masks on, pulling filthy boxes out of the unit onto the gravel alley and sorting through things. Sharing memories, and supporting each other in our grieving of my mother.
The Grief and the Gratitude
We sat at lunch after hours of work at the storage facility, and my eyes welled up. Not from grief so much as from gratitude. How blessed I was to have my Aunt and Uncle in my life, so loving and supportive of me in all my quirkiness.
I felt this overflow of thankfulness for this moment and everything in it. The food I was eating, my warm clothes on this cold November day, and the fact that the sun was shining. The last week with dear new friends, these last few days with dear family. My husband, daughter, and cat back at home in California, who enrich my life everyday. The rental car I drove and was blessed to have the means to acquire. My parents, whose love and zest for life revealed itself in photo after photo. My health, which allowed me to make this trip. I expanded out in gratitude for everything and felt it all at once, powerful and poignant.
I knew that everyday is filled with more things than I can count to be grateful for. That realization in that moment was the profound power of gratitude, coursing through me. It filled me with love, spilling over to the people sitting at the table behind us, our server, the heater that kept us warm.
When we open to the gifts around us, gratitude is endless.
Now, a year after this whole process began, as I embark upon the next chapter of this journey with my book release this week, I continue to feel the deep gratitude for the beauty of life. Spirit blesses me as I practice, again and again, diving in and transforming my sense of who I am in the world.
What is the Divine transforming within you? What losses have you had that revealed more to feel grateful for? How can you expand into a greater sense of who you are? It’s time to dive in!