It’s Because of the Trees

I love him, a little bit. I think there’s a part of him that believes that my love is parsed out among too many other contenders. I know that I can see the most beautiful parts of people, and as such, it can be very easy to love them. 

I’ve never told him I love him, (a little bit), because I know he’d dismiss it. It’s not a big deal; it’s a truly manageable kind of love, born out of who he is, rather than what I think I need from him. Every once in a while, I flirt outrageously and he jumps out of the way of each serve. Most of the time, my affections bounce uselessly out of bounds, but then he occasionally lobs back one or two serves of his own. It’s our little game.

I am perfectly content to be his friend. I’ll even make a toast at his wedding when he finally finds someone who fits into his personal definition of what he needs and wants. Maybe he’s a reminder that I can love a man in a way that has nothing to do with sex and complexity.

I’m not surprised when, at the beginning of our wander, I find a blue jay feather. It’s matted and dirty, but I put it in my purse all the same. Last year, as I began my spiritual journey, I discovered automatic writing as a means to connect with my guides. They have repeatedly told me that they will appear to me as blue jays. When I hear them, I must listen with more than my ears. When I see them, I must see with more than my eyes.

In my last attempt at a serious relationship, we would each find blue jay feathers at pivotal moments of our disconnect and attempts at reconciliation. Reconciliation, I’ve learned, should never be pluralized. 

This friend who I love is happy to wander through the woods with me. Had I worn better shoes, I could have walked all day. I realize this is exactly why I didn’t wear great shoes. It’s just easy with him, to be myself. To laugh until I think I might pee, to see and be seen. He tells me more about his heart than he ever has on this particular walk. I know it’s because of the trees, and how their leafy boughs create a sense that they can hold onto anything.

When we finally decide to head back out of the woods, we get halfway through the park when I discover one of my magic-women on a picnic blanket with her girlfriend. I knew she was on a picnic because I’d reached out to her earlier to see what she had planned for the day. I had no idea that she’d turn up in the exact same place. 

We get invited to join the picnic. She’s amazed because just moments before we spotted them, she’d texted to see if I’d like to meet up. I’m amazed because I realize that the blue jay feather was a signal that I was stepping back into the magic.  I’m aware, down to the marrow of my bones, of the abundance of love and laughter in my life.

There is beauty everywhere I turn. 

A Kind of Half Sleep

It’s Sunday morning. I wake up slowly, and the apartment is warm and full of birdsong. My big male cat, Taku, is doing the combo meow-purr that tells me he’s simultaneously hungry and itching to get outside. I am neither of those things, so I lay in bed for a little while longer and invite candle-lit flickers of the night before to lull me back into a kind of half-sleep.

I wasn’t sure it was a date. We’d done the dating thing briefly, years ago, and the only thing that stopped us from moving forward back then (as far as I was concerned) was bad timing. Ever since we’ve been friendly. I continued to feel interest and attraction. I suspect that he did too, but the timing continued to be off. 

The night before, he came to see my new apartment. I spent a lot of time getting ready, and that ritual of preparation and pampering always puts me into the sweetest state of sensuality. We ordered take out. He looked great (he has impeccable fashion sense) and he smelled like fresh water and line-dried laundry.

I like so many things about him, and I’m curious to know about the way he thinks and feels through the world. It quickly became clear that it was, in fact a date. There were things about him I’d forgotten that I was delighted to rediscover. I had a thoroughly wonderful time, and could have made it a very late night. I did, in fact, stay up much later after he headed home.

And now it’s Sunday morning. I’m in the dreamy space of ‘what happens next’. I throw on a minimal amount of clothing because the sun blasts directly into the kitchen window. I fry some eggs, make some coffee and reheat some garlic naan from the night before. This feels like heaven; the birds, the warmth of the sun on my freckled shoulders, the ease of having nothing on the agenda today. 

I wonder if I would have been happy to share this with him, or if I’m happier savouring it all alone?

Taku is perched in the window, taught as a wire and chirping at the birds. He wants so badly to get out there. To be fully immersed in the wild wonder. He never hunts, but he loves to feel and smell it all. We both want something we can’t quite put our finger on.

My new place is coming together slowly and sweetly. It’s a personal sanctuary from corner to corner. I received the best compliment the other night: it looks enchanted, like the set of a fairytale. That whimsy and quirky elegance is exactly what I’m going for. After my first mug of coffee, I pad upstairs and collect the evidence of my maybe-definitely-date. Will he message me today? Will we do any of it again? 

I know I won’t reach out first. It’s part of my commitment to me, and my commitment to living as much in my feminine energy as I can. I am soft and open. I am ready to receive. I’m here to witness what is meant for me and observe how it shows up in my life. I will not chase, but I will gladly yield when it feels sweet, and soft and safe.

Maybe what I want isn’t the way things are done anymore? I see a trend towards brief encounters at a certain level with a variety of participants, even in the midst of this pandemic.  I’ve done that. I find it lacking. I want deep, and real. I want something that will compliment my expansion, where I can carry on my spiritual exploration on a deep, physical level. I can only do that with one person at a time. 

Dating when you’re full to overflowing is the only way. Fill yourself until you’re spilling over before you look to add to the well.

I settle at my desk and work on my novel edits until the French press is empty. Then I walk along the river for an hour listening to an audio book. The day is like a dream; I am beholden only to my whims. 

My good friend Paje, introduced me to Human Design way back at the beginning of this COVID life (I’m a 6/2 Reflector). Learning about my design type has been nothing short of life-changing. Paje tells me that in order to live authentically in my design, I must release expectations and open to surprise. At first, I believed this to mean I had to release my expectations of other people. 

On this particular Sunday, I realize that I must, first and foremost, release my expectations of myself. I may know where I’d like to end up, but it’s impossible to know exactly how I’ll get there, or with whom (if there’s to be a consort in this story). Sunday is a surrender to surprise, and in this exercise  I learn that the unexpected can only appear when I release my desire to know the outcome and surrender to the divine feminine flow.

I am soft and open. I am ready to receive.

Pandemic Saturday

The sun is determined to shine here today, even though the temperature has barely made the double digits. It’s not quite noon, I’m in sweatpants and my hair is still damp. I was hoping it would dry in pretty waves. Half my head cooperated, the other half decided a scraggly, limp situation was all it was going to manage. It’s Saturday, I understand the desire to phone it in.

Our restaurants, bars, public spaces, and theatres all continue to be shut down here in Southern Ontario. We seem to be failing at pandemic management, and I’m not going to start pointing fingers. The fact is, I don’t know enough to know how to do this right. I survived COVID, which for me was like a mild flu with about four days of rather intense body aches. The worst part was being separated from my kids while I quarantined.

This weirdo time is teaching me some things. I suppose I’m not special there. We’re all learning, I hope. The biggest lesson for me has been how much I need myself. How I need to be clear on what I want. That I can provide most of what I want on my own. Anyone else I invite in should also appreciate what I want. I need to be absolutely alone every now and then to be aware of what I actually feel.

There are a few big concepts I’ve been working on. Self-abandonment is one of them. It’s a buzzword, but it’s also something I’ve been guilty of my whole life. Human Design is another one (I’m a 6/2 Reflector, in case you’re into that sort of thing). Codependence and Ego. This is the cocktail I’ve been mixing on the daily to get through this pandemic. I need to garnish it with patience and a steady reminder to stay in the Feminine.

Be careful about how much I drink, attentive to how many herbs I’m using. I now realize I have to get my carbohydrate consumption in hand. Write every day, sit in intentional silence every day. Stretch and walk every day. I forget this, I feel awful, and then I adjust. Over and over and over.

I miss a few people. I’ve kept most of my core humans close, but there’s a handful of them who I’ve been thinking of: my troupe of Toronto peeps, that unassuming girl with the incredible voice and capacity for epic porch chats, the blue haired girl who felt like my little sister, the brash young mama who stole my heart by farting loudly and unapologetically while a bunch of us hung in her backyard shed, that sage who used to help me start my day with meditations and prayers, my sweet friend with the big heart and the woodlot getaway.

Dating has been largely unsuccessful, but I haven’t given up. I’ve connected with some people who I know are kind-hearted, but our lifestyles don’t really align. Others show promise, but not enough capacity to create space to connect. If there’s one piece of dating advice I could give, it’s work on yourself until you are in a space where you really, truly love being alone. It’s from this place that you’ll understand what you’d like in a romantic relationship.

I will never feel like I am chasing someone again.

Meanwhile, I know there’s someone out there who can appreciate being a parent, understands their own values, loves nature, has time and the desire to nurture a relationship, is a great cook, and can enjoy a bit of hedonism while still making their health a priority. I’ll tack on responsibility, emotional intelligence, and a strong sense of purpose.

I’ll never close my heart, but I can see now how full it is without anyone else occupying it. I know this theme is repetitive, but I also know that there are many of us who haven’t arrived at this yet. I just want you to know that you can get there.

And so, I’ll do a bit of housework now. I’ll dial up a cheery play list, and burn some juniper after everything is tidy and clean. I’ll cut the 6″ excess off those new wide-legged jeans and try to do something with this hair. I’ll venture to the grocery store and choose some wine and an exciting cheese and then have a visit with my crush from the bar I used to frequent. I’m excited about a conversation that doesn’t involve us shouting at each other over the noise.

Let’s all stop shouting at each other over the noise.

A Year Ago

Do you remember who you were a year ago?

I was frustrated. Impatient. I felt like I could see all of my dreams like puzzle pieces, but like a dream, I couldn’t get any of the pieces to fit together. Deep in my gut, I knew how fully I loved, but on the surface a lot of it wasn’t making sense. I kept forcing the pieces together because I wanted the big picture.

Now, I am the big picture. The whole thing from start to finish. I’ve lost lovers, friends, co-dependent connections, homes. I’ve moved three times in a year. Three times. Every twist and turn my life takes pushes me closer to myself. I feel this in a way that’s so clear, I can surrender to the disruption and uncertainty, because the outcome is always my own autonomy. 

You won’t have a solid romantic relationship, but you will have a burgeoning journal therapy practice and do the work you were always meant to do.

You won’t be able to live out some Golden Girls fantasy life with a roommate, but you’ll have the means to have a lovely home for you and your children.

You won’t be able to keep all of these friends and lovers, but you’ll be so rooted in yourself, you won’t be lonely.

I was driven by a longing to find that one, great love. Now I feel like a Whitney Houston song. 

Have you ever heard of a twin flame? No, it’s not another cheesy 80’s ballad. It’s the notion that there’s a relationship out there that mirrors your own soul. This other person doesn’t complete you (because we are all complete when we are connected to self, and source) but they hold a mirror up and invite you to do some of your deepest healing work. If both people can recognize and embrace this, it can be a deeply powerful connection. 

If they can’t, well, they continue to mirror each other’s deepest wounds.

My last serious relationship (also a year ago) was exactly this. Why else would I have felt such a deep, safe connection at a soul level, and total confusion and frustration on the surface? He’s a good person, not malicious in any way, I just think we kept showing each other where we still needed to heal. Not a very useful thing, if we’re not ready for the healing.

So, I took all the information I received from that connection and I’ve been working on my own to mend and understand those places; the need for validation, the co-dependence, the attention-seeking, the fear of focusing on my own talents and passions, my understanding of how I can experience other people’s energy, my sexuality, the filling of my own cup. 

This kind of work is the work of a lifetime, but I feel tremendously rooted in what I’ve discovered. I’ve found outlets for some of my behaviours and needs that are powerful and useful, and in fact, can serve others in an entirely healthy way.

I’ve abandoned the story of finding my other half in favour of embracing my wholeness. 

My love remains, but I can hold it with gratitude for the lessons and release everything that isn’t meant for me.

Do you ever try to imagine returning to a packed bar or restaurant, filled with the people you used to see? When I entertain this fantasy, I imagine that nobody will recognize me. I’ll be familiar, yet strange. I’ll be a wizened, tested version of myself, simultaneously older-looking and more compelling. Maybe they will come and say hello, or maybe they’ll turn too fast and I’ll know they’re avoiding contact. 

It won’t matter now. I have a seat at my own table, and no matter who joins me, it always feels full.

My Name, In Lights

I shouldn’t have agreed to go.

To the couples’ therapy session we’d waited a month for, I mean. A month that felt like years. A month I couldn’t make it through because I was so exhausted of trying to bridge the gaping chasm that grew so wide between us.

But I agreed, even after I said I couldn’t remain in the relationship. Have you ever had to set a boundary like this with someone you loved deeply? It’s one of the hardest things. 

He’d never asked for anything like this. I was surprised when he did. 
I realize now I was still waiting for him to meet me. To give me a little piece of something to hold on. Instead I saw that he was done. Instead I saw our pattern play out for the last time; when I don’t feel seen, I am activated. When I am activated, he de-activates. It’s a cycle, and it’s brought us to a stalemate.

I know that I was loved, but I know too that love is not enough. I need deep intimacy and communication, and this cycle we fell into made it impossible for both of us. I tried as hard as I could until it felt so lonely that the only thing that made sense was to try to heal myself.

Someone told me I shouldn’t yearn for little pieces. That from day one my name should be written in lights.

A breakup feels as raw and deep as grief. Even if you know the relationship isn’t working. The love remains, and it doesn’t know where to go. What do you do with everything you wanted to believe? How do you extract yourself from the story?

I’m listening to a lot of podcasts. One particularly useful one suggested that I frame the entire relationship from the first moments to the very end as being predestined. That the ending was as certain as the start, and that all of it has created deeper meaning in my life. I like this. It feels less like I’ve failed, again. More like the Universe wove something beautiful and complex and painful in which I can discover, more deeply, myself.

I have discovered that when I am the one who takes all the initiative in the early days of a relationship, I set myself up to always feel like I’m chasing someone. I have discovered that my subconscious beliefs about love are that anyone I open myself up to will inevitably betray me and leave, and so I select and create circumstances where it is impossible for me to be as vulnerable, as empathetic and as connected as I yearn to be. I have discovered that this betrayal and abandonment began long before I entered the realm of romantic love.

I have discovered that when the sobs wrack me so hard I can’t produce sound, it actually works to hold myself in the fetal position and stroke my own hair.

The trees will continue to remind me of all that is wild and beautiful inside me. I can miss him deep in my bones, remember how sweetly I would sleep beside him, remember how the morning light seemed to create a halo in his messy curls, and I can slowly extract the threads that belong to me and weave them back into myself. 

There is someone out there who will love him so much better than I have been able to. The same is true for me.

I have never felt like a half-life. I don’t need someone to help me feel whole. I just wanted to love and be loved. I still want this, but the idea of being open right now feels absurd. I need tending; gentle, daily reminders of how worthy I am. I know I can manage this task myself. I have always enjoyed my own company. When I’m lonely I have an army of witches, healers, mothers and warrior-women to reach for. I have my beautiful children, and my family.

With the new moon I set an intention. I asked to ‘receive’ and I will mend my heart and sink deep into the Feminine and open myself to everything that is meant for me. I will not push, pursue, lead, demand, beg, plead again. I will rest, and I will unfurl like the sweet ferns in the deepest part of the forest. 

The light will find me. It always does.