Wednesday, February 10, 2021

missing you

 

on days like this

the bird song

the rain drips down the glass

the soft breeze

i dream that just maybe

we are not so far from another

maybe our seasons have collided

my waning summer day

unseasonably chilled

clouds blanketing us

and yours

a warm winter day

where sun embraces you

and puddles form

and the bird calls ask if it is time

on days like this

i wonder if our souls are skipping

holding hands

splashing in the wet

sweat collecting under our rain coats

creeping down from my scalp

carving a stream on my face

where my tears 

that water our separation

have previously flowed

on days like this

i hope this connection i feel is not 

my imagination

but that force they speak of 

that connects people in the here and there

across the planet

into the beyond

i think they call it 

love


Friday, January 22, 2021

I'm not better yet: presidential trauma & what we need to heal


Talk about a juxtaposition (yay, an opportunity to use that word correctly).

My citizenship in this world.

For the past (almost) 10 years I’ve resided in New Zealand.

I was born and bred in the United States.

I am a US citizen. (and yes, we still pay our taxes)

I am a New Zealand citizen. (taxes here too)

During the first tornado season in the US, after we moved to New Zealand, the view from afar taught me a profound lesson about how those on the “outside” view the United States.

Having lived in areas that were relative tornado allies, I was shocked when I observed, from afar, a tornado warning in the area where some of our adult children lived.

Making mad contact with them to take appropriate shelter, as well as the unsettled feeling in my gut, highlighted the dynamic that was unfolding.

When you live in the path of tornadoes, it’s necessary to rest in a state of denial. “Odds tell me there will not be tornado in this area.”

Or as I counseled one panicked 10 year old after being caught in one, “odds are that another would not strike your street.” But one did the next week.

The tornado denial is much like the denial an American has to live with regarding the fact that a large faction of people are packing heat.

The first time I returned after that legislation was put in practice and was reminded by the no guns allowed visual, at the rest stop on the way to my family and at the cinema, a deep sense of unrest rose within me.

What you don’t consider while you are living in the midst of these impending catastrophes is that your psychological/emotional self works overtime to process or deny these unpredictabilities so you can continue to walk in your world.

It isn’t until you spend some time looking, from afar, at your old self or your current loved ones negotiating unsafe terrain that you understand the magnitude of living in that type of space and time.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — security and safety are basic needs necessary for humans to live a functional life.

Unfortunately in an unstable environment of conceal and carry and the navigation of an emotionally volatile sociopathic narcissistic personality, everyone has felt unsafe. (hey, I have a license to use those descriptors; I’m not being rude, it is my clinical assessment based on four years of observation)

Unfortunately, trying to find that sense of security and safety that has been deconstructed to a greater degree in the last four years, frightened even more people to seek their sense of safety and security through weapons.

Quite a juxtaposition indeed.

The rate of gun violence rose.

The rate of mass shootings rose.

A sense of safety and security continued to decline.

Facts that are quite evident to the greater world looking on; especially a peace-loving mama who still has adult kids and grandkids living in the states. A situation most US residents are so enmeshed within, they may not be able to look at it objectively.

Typically leaning towards news-fasts, since the marathon news viewing I engaged in from election night on, I’ve been riveted and greatly stressed by the news coming from the US.

The day after the election, my husband was on a flight to San Francisco to support some of our kids in the aftermath of a personal covid crisis that coincided with a new baby’s arrival, allowing him to support multiple family at once.

That left me and our 16 year old in New Zealand for seven weeks to look through that lens from an even more anxiety provoking perspective as the covid surges in the states were reported.

If he became symptomatic or, worse yet, positive for covid, would he be allowed on the flight home?

The travel insurance wouldn’t cover covid. Could our life savings be eaten up if he ended up in an ICU?

If positive, he’d have to wait months for a return flight as all the mandated managed isolation beds had been booked.

Finally home on Christmas eve, it was acknowledged that it had been a beautiful journey of loving connection and support for him and our loves, notwithstanding those challenges to our basic needs of safety and security, much like everyone around the globe is experiencing across the board.

With the constant negativity and fraudulent claims being made and anger ramping, I sat watching the final congressional acknowledgment of the electoral college votes and a day of my life disappeared as the riot on the Capitol unfolded while I sat, eyes glued, heart hurting, recalling the disbelief of the election day four years previous–– which taught me that even the unimaginable could happen––until the final count.

Living in a state of waiting for the next tragic foot to drop; we didn’t need that step to be taken by the person who had taken an oath to protect their citizens. This type of instability which had been on repeat over the past four years caused great cognitive dissonance or as I politely remove my clinical hat: mindf*ck.

Yesterday morning, instead of beginning my inaugaral watch at 5 am in New Zealand, I had to get the green light from media outlets that violence hadn’t broken out before I could tune in, not knowing if my mind-body was up for immersion into more civil unrest.

After the all clear, as I watched the inauguration unfold, I was disappointed that I wasn’t feeling an overwhelming sense of relief.

Finally we were hearing uniting rather than divisive words. Plans were being made to systematically approach the pandemic. Healing was a theme.

Emotional literacy was returning to the White House as we were hearing of President Biden’s thoughts in expressions that were not described in extremes- — very very good or very very bad.

And then his honoring of those who had died from covid happened and it opened a floodgate within me. Sobbing, I was overwhelmed at the visceral effect the White House lacking heart and soul for the past four years had on me.

As my wise mama raised me saying, don’t tell me, show me.

Finally, we were being shown heart and compassion within the context of the President of the United States.

Not the first criteria we usually think of when voting for president and a quality I didn’t realize I’d missed so much until seeing its return during the inauguration day proceedings.

And, finally, this day had come. We had a new president and he wasn’t heralded in by bombings or shootings or massive discord as we’d feared.

Equal parts disappointing and understandable, today has not brought a euphoria, because these emotionally connected, openly expressive messages that were shared yesterday highlighted what we were robbed of the past four years.

When President Biden would speak, from the heart, of his deceased son, Beau, or the many who have suffered and died in this pandemic, or his flare of anger when he insisted as he was swearing in staff that if anyone ever disparaged a co-worker and did not treat others with dignity and respect, they would be fired on the spot, it felt like a leg I had been missing was being reattached.

Is it possible that we can now stand stronger and more united? Time will tell.

Yesterday highlighted the energy that is now being disseminated into the pores of the White House, while evicting the negative energy left behind.

This healing energy has been far too long in coming.

And we suffered for its absence.

No, the relief has not yet landed within me because the grief of what we were without during the previous presidential term, and the trauma left in its path, glows like neon.

We are a people whose basic sense of security and safety was held hostage for an entire presidential term.

No matter what your political persuasion was, the recent occupants of the White House robbed Americans of their basic need for security and safety within their own borders.

My family has long leaned heavily left and I know that our new president probably seems too centric for many of their political tastes, but when we see how extreme the right had yielded, it seems a law of physics that the only way we could have voted in change was for it to be born from the mid-ground.

And with this vantage point, far across the Pacific Ocean, what I know for sure is that I needed a U.S. president who holds the capacity to lead from the heart.

I’d be remiss if I did not mention that I have witnessed compassionate leadership through New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, as I enjoy the freedom that comes from a systematic approach to the pandemic with no current community covid cases.

We need a United States President who has the capacity to hold the attention span and temperament to do the same for the US.

Who has a command of emotional literacy and can acknowledge joy and pain, triumph and failure and all of the colors in between.

Who has known loss, acknowledged it, and felt his feelings so deeply, his core is led to ease that type of suffering for others if at all possible.

Who can sit with discomfort and the unknown and not incite panic or distrust of each other.

Above all else, a president who openly expresses the desire for all of these things and expresses, foremost, a goal of mending the wounds that the last four years have torn asunder.



WRITTEN BY

The Death Dialogues Project

a project created by Becky Aud-Jennison after loss eviscerated her — story heals

find this on deathdialogues.medium.com







 

Monday, December 7, 2020

the longest hour


Yorkie sees her sitting on the mounting block, mired in her anticipatory grief

she's wondering how could her brother, her rock, be dying

Yorkie ambles, stopping at the gateway of the makeshift arena sitting high in the hills, the sea in the distance

she's wondering how she will go on living if her brother, her rock, dies

Yorkie pauses, enclosures go against his nature– those that went before him were not restrained but roamed freely in herds, avoiding any situation that might make them vulnerable to predators

she's in her own world, seeking respite, eyes gazing downward unable to give anything any mind except the fact her brother is dying 

Yorkie enters the gate, the enclosure and slowly, quietly, sidles up to her and touches his velvet lips to the top of her head and leaves them there

she feels the touch and wants to startle yet chooses calm and she wonders if he can possibly know that her heart is splintered as she tries to breathe into the fact that her brother, her surrogate benevolent father, is dying

Yorkie steps forward until his chest rests against her, his neck forming a protective arch over her, his head hanging on the other side of hers, fully enveloping her body 

she feels the whisper of his damp breath, exchanging a language unspoken, as she frets about arriving in time to be with her brother as his life energy exits his body

Yorkie stays in that sheltering position for the longest hour as if attempting to keep all that aches away from her

she's never felt this held in her entire life, except, maybe, when she was three and he was ten– her brother



Saturday, November 21, 2020

Emerging


Today I write from a place of feeling like the existential Drano is finally making its way through my pipes and allowing me to come back to myself.

What were there blockages?

So many.

Family death, family crisis, pandemic and all the chaos surrounding it, the country my heart lives in with our adult children, family and friends appearing to implode.

After my brother was found dead at the beginning of October, my mind/body needed a bit of a break from the death project to do my personal work. Not that it will ever be complete– as those who've experienced close loss know– but there was personal space that needed to be made to respect the process.

As I prepare to release the next podcast episode which is the first episode of season three, I feel myself becoming energized again by sharing through the project. It's a welcome return.

Do you ever find yourself wrapped in magical thinking after you've experienced a huge blow or all the sticks have broken the camel's back? Thinking, there then. Phew. That won't happen again. 

But the thing is "it" does. That's what was going on when this brother died. There was so much already happening in the world and in our family and death reminded me that it waits for no one.

So now, emerging from the darkened self-care cave, my eyes squint, I tentatively look both ways as I ease out, hoping I can avoid walking in the path of another barreling bus being driven by a crisis that isn't following the rules of the road. 

I long for a reprieve from "the hard."

Then I feel tremendously guilty as my loves are working towards a year of a severely limited lifestyle because their fellow citizens cannot find it within themselves to pull together and work towards a solution. 

Survivor guilt kicks in on this hill in New Zealand.

Who am I to be feeling the hard when others have so much to carry?

I remind myself there is no competition for who holds the most or who is having the hardest time. 

Right now, in this small window of time when Mr. 16 is with a friend and there are no demands but dogs looking at me, wondering when they will be fed, I take a moment. 

I pick up the keyboard and feel a full body exhale; a welcome home.

I organize the episode for the beginning of our third podcast season (to be released next week) and feel the energy behind listening to this transformative story from a mom whose 21 year old son died after an eight year odyssey of brain cancer; the beautiful-horrible of it all. So many lessons in this episode.

I see the miniature horse out of the corner of my eye and hope he does not kick the glass window and awe that I have horses in my garden; that I am living this life.

Thoughts of the personal losses and challenges breeze through my mind and I say to myself, yes, that is also my life. What will I do with it?

Today I shall rise.


(find out more about the podcast on the page labelled "podcast." please consider subscribing so you don't miss any of these moving stories, you can find it on your fave podcast platform: The Death Dialogues Project Podcast)                                            

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

too-muchness


I come to you, once again humbled by Death, and how we can wake up one day and find that this day will be a day where everything changes.

Right now, this day, we are approaching a crossroad of potential change.

Those traumatized by previous outbreaks of violence will be trembling with worries of civil unrest and deaths, holding rational fear of what the coming days might bring.

Being told that the covid crisis is "turning a corner" while seeing the statistics of infections and deaths rising and watching as, one by one, countries in Europe begin to reinstate more safe guards to protect their citizens creates a shaky foundation for us as individuals.

It does not matter what side of the political fence you are on.

It does not matter whether you've been unaffected by covid or have had covid or have loved ones who have died of covid, and it doesn't even matter if you don't believe covid exists. Your body-mind knows. 

Your soul knows and at some level registers the pain of the collective.

If your family is like mine, there's been no damming of the stream where crisis floats along during these times. 

Life still happens. 

People still die; my family had another family member die recently.

Stress still becomes a weight too heavy to carry at times. I'm hearing stories of people struggling to cope on the daily.

And beautiful babies continue to born; as we had happen in our lives in mid-October.

The thing that we are not talking about, the elephant in the room is the "too muchness" of the last months. 

When we are living in the midst of a futuristic dystopian reality, that we could never have imagined–– pandemic, civil unrest, inconsistencies from leadership, rampant hate–– there is little room to hold our personal life-changes and stressors that arise.

We need to all recognize that on the scale of easily handled to too-muchness: all of our systems are registering too muchness. 

Again, whether you acknowledge it or not, your cells feel it. Your soul feels it.

Today could be the day you get the phone call that changes your life forever.

Would your foundation be strong enough to hold that news?

I encourage to look around at your day to day life and find the spaces where you can squeeze moments of pause in.

Making space within the moment. 

Connecting with what sets your heart on fire.

Sitting in a space that overwhelmingly replenishes you and serves your own and the greater good.

The antidote of too-muchness starts very small.

It can be as simple of taking a moment to regulate your breathing . . . maybe adding a thought if your mind continues to race about the external stress.

Find playlists of relaxing music that resonates for you, occasionally taking five minutes to just listen and breathe with it.

Remember love.

Send love to all of those you adore, here and in the beyond, with each exhale and feel their love coming to you on an exhale.

Give yourself space.

And be gentle with yourself.

If you are not feeling overwhelmed at times, you are not human. Let yourself feel the big feelings. 

Mindfully attempt to create a structure that provides your cells, your soul and occasional respite.

Take good care.



Sunday, August 30, 2020

tipping point


This was recorded as a bonus podcast episode on The Death Dialogues Project Podcast. You can listen to it HERE.

Whether people are consciously processing it or not, our reactions to life under the glow of the covid pandemic wildfire has been greatly influenced by the fear of Death.

And fear of Death is what usually lies beneath clinical anxiety symptoms- sometimes buried very deeply, sometimes floating on the surface.

Right now as university and other school children are being sent back to school, prepare for an upswing in stress and anxiety symptoms. 

I know this is a time of heightened anxiety for everyone and it doesn’t take much more to put us into a tipping point during these times. 

When you look at the concept that change is stress, and we can all only handle so much stress/change before it starts taking a toll and then look at the massive amounts of change that’s being brought by covid— as well as other stressors in our world and lives.

No wonder so many are really struggling.

There are so many layers to it: worry about the health implications and you and your loved one’s safety. 

Concerns when you must venture out because you can’t trust that everyone else is taking the necessary precautions or that they are not infected. 

What the current state has done to our support structures. 

All this to-ing and fro-ing that our school aged kids are going through. 

The list of what is coming up for people is really endless.

On top of their workloads, students sent back into the educational environment have autonomic nervous systems stuck in overdrive, sympathetic drives revving. 

They are in a state of hyper-vigilance. 

Always having to be on guard, never really being able to exhale, unwind and rest in a sense of security. 

This state wreaks havoc with our mind/body wellness for sure.

And remembering— even for people that think I’ve got this, in times like these, our mind/body keeps the score and we can’t just deny the stress away. 

If we don’t do what we can to manage our stress, it will manage us.

First of all for people stressing out: YOU ARE NORMAL. 

It would be abnormal NOT to be experiencing undue stress/anxiety at this point. 

But now that you’ve seen the signs and know that’s what is happening, it’s smart to do everything in your power not to let that wear your overall health and wellbeing down. 

Keeping in mind that in my private practice I worked with many teens and adults who had severe panic attacks and were able to follow this type of guidance and treat them (even without meds) here are a few primary things I would focus on to start out with the goal of getting rid of severe stress symptoms including anxiety attacks:

1. Practicing quick coherence breathing 10 minutes before you get out of bed and 10 minutes prior to falling going to bed at night. This foundation practice is best done at times when the anxiety isn’t high so it helps lower that sympathetic drive that is stuck in high. Think of it as your regular medicine. That said, doing it throughout the day whenever you feel the need to center and immediately on feeling any sort of lead up to heightened anxiety is also important and will just feel good. 

Steps for quick coherence breathing:

- focus your attention on your heart area (like a yoga technique)

-breathe in and our your heart area— 5-6 counts in and 5-6 counts out. The amount of counts doesn’t matter as much as the evenness. Athletes even do this during performance so it can be less counts in and out— or more.

- activate a positive emotion (a good one that I use is sending love to people; you are trying to keep the thinking brain turned off and just sit with that emotion). If you find it too hard to stay with the emotion have a phrase or mantra that is positively focused such as: I am calm on the in-breathe, and relaxed on the out-breath. 

2. As just discussed, try thought substitution when you find your mind traveling off with stressful thinking: do the nice even breaths and replace your stress thoughts with pleasant thoughts that resonate: I am loved; I am at peace; this too shall pass.

3. Look into mindfulness. The short premise to remember is that if our mind is stressing out over the past or future, we are missing what is in the present moment. Let it be a cue to stop and look around, what do you see, hear, feel? Can you walk outside and sit by a tree, look at the grass, revel in the nature you see in the present moment. I sometimes even narrate to myself to keep the other thoughts at bay. I’m washing this glass and feel the smooth texture and water on my hands.

"worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength"
- Corrie Ten Boom


4. With increasing mindfulness, you will notice sensations that might be leading to heightened anxiety or an anxiety attack. Let that be your signal to go back to your breathing and centring technique. 

5. Consider journalling— keeping a notebook where you can write your concerns and feelings down and you know they are there so you don’t have to keep mentally reviewing them. The act of writing may give some relief and have you unravelling some issues and that could be helpful. If writing doesn’t resonate, that’s ok too.

Recall that the difference between the ongoing practice and just saving it to treat anxiety attacks is the difference between eliminating them and just warding them off when they are coming. The goal to feel best would be the elimination of them.

If you could really really invest in practicing just these techniques religiously for two weeks and notice the difference, that is where I’d recommend starting.

I hope this helps. 

My philosophy when seeing clients was to work on the symptom control first before digging deeper because too much talking and processing when acutely symptomatic can actually lead to more rumination and an increase in troubling symptoms. 

Many times on the other side of the practice people would report— yeah, my mind was just doing its own thing, now that I’m not so anxious/feel better, I can see those things I was worrying about aren’t really the issue. 

OR they would have more clarity of what was really lying beneath and the exploration would not heighten their anxiety since they now had a way to manage it. I was always cautious about that threshold of not having the cure complicating the symptoms— giving tools first.

If this feels like too much or your symptoms are worsening, do consider getting into your medical practitioner for a good overall health review. 

Remember: one day at a time; this too shall pass. 

All things good,
Becky

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

opening to magic



The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
–– WB Yeats

Magic.

It's the word I land on when I can't quite explain what is happening but it has meaning, seems to come from the ethers, has a synchronicity one cannot replicate, feels it is born in the depths of the Universe where we begin and where we will rest.

As woo-woo as I've been accused of being, over the years, being human, I have always held a healthy amount of doubt. 

Yes, I might declare a big OMG and retell a happening with the awe of a child, but I'd never fully given myself over to the truth of Magic.

After the death of my father in 1983 me, my mom and brother witnessed a profound visitation from him the second morning after his death. (you can hear this on episode 9 of The Death Dialogues Project Podcast). That should have been enough to dissipate any doubt about connections to the beyond. 

I've remained open, intrigued and a tad doubting.

After my sweet brother and mother's deaths I started keeping a list on my iPhone notes of instances that felt like notable "contact." But as I've shared with others, until they come sit down and have a cuppa with me, I'll always hold some doubt.

More recently with all the unrest in the world, I've been making an extra effort to try to stay centered; I have more motivation than many because my health absolutely depends on trying to stay balanced.


Maybe that's why, more recently, on the daily, I keep getting intense signs of, er, Magic. That's really the only way I can describe it.

Presently on a solo writing retreat, in the middle of nowhere New Zealand, I awakened this morning, remained still, trying to rest in that liminal lucid space where I'm present yet still floating in the ethereal land of slumber. 

I had a vision of Ram Dass, a teacher of love, who died last December; I'd had a profound dream of being in his presence, in another realm, the night of his death.

This morning, in awakening, I was imagining a scene from his movie where his friends roll him into the ocean on a wheelchair, with big balloon tires to negotiate the sand, and as he is in a depth to float they unleash him from the chair and support him floating. His ever expansive smile widens and deepens and he exudes even more pure joy than usual.

I'm lying in bed imagining how freeing and soothing that must have felt on his body that had been rendered still and partially paralyzed from a stroke decades ago. 

I let myself imagine floating in the sea and recall how supported that feels. How that action literally renders one held by the Universe, the Earth Mother. 

I remind myself to feel that support. 

I send him love. 

I send all my loves on the other side love.

When I pick up my phone and go to Instagram, this is what I see, I kid you not:




It is occurrences such as this that act as a lightening bolt to validate: there is so much more to our living than meets the eye. 

As you may have heard me say if you listen to the podcast: I'm totally down with the Great Mystery.

I don't need a doctrine to follow or a belief system to wrap it in or to know exactly what will happen at the moment of Death and beyond, but I have witnessed enough to know that it's all Magic. 

And we can choose to walk in the Magic while here on earth, have a thread connected to it, until we join whatever that space may be on our final walk home. 

That space that caused my mama's face to light up in a full face gorgeous smile (far from what her affect had been) as her spirit left her body. A face that said–– there you are; yes, I knew you'd be here; this, this is what I was wanting. 

A face that had us cheering her on, you've done it mom, you're there, well done

A face that had my husband lean over and say, we love you Wanda, go give Max a big hug for us.

One of my latest turning points, to release doubt further, was my experience with my podcast guest Marisa Meddin, an unlikely medium. She's just your average young woman, the age of our oldest daughters, who wasn't looking to find her gift, but it found her. 

We have a two part episode where we hear her journey in Part 1 and then, so convinced of her authenticity, I engage her services and in Part 2 we unpack that profound experience. You can find part 1 and 2 of my chats with Marisa below. And if you are intrigued about my father's visitation you can find that episode below as well.

Consider noticing the "coincidences." 

Consider making space for quiet and connection to the beyond.

Consider having conversations with your loves who have died and crossed over. 

Consider love. 

Always Love.