Monday, July 26, 2010

dreams and visions

It's funny, what I thought I understood at 35 I am living at 50, with depth and a wide-angle lens. I'm not exactly sure what happened or when, but the result is humbling. Sometimes I feel as if I am living on the surface, as my work used to involve hands-on, physical connection with people. It was an undeniable connection where energies merged, feelings were exchanged, and presence was paramount to the healing to take place. I would emerge after a massage session, feeling energized, alive, and grateful to take part. I lived life from my senses, especially touch, and was in tune with the subtle, and not-so-subtle, energies of emotion, mood, spirit, and life-force. I was in the deep end treading water, inviting others to come in. I truly believed this was the only way to know life.

After my divorce in 1991, massage healed me. I gave, received, was touched, and touched others. I embraced connection and sought ways to deepen my life. I had a vision early in my massage training, seeing myself as proprietor of a healing center. The creator of healing space in which others could embrace their creative spirit, practice their art and soul. It was clear and vibrant in my mind's eye, set in the mountains, in cabins that were spaced far enough apart for privacy, but close enough for sharing. And there was a main cabin with a kitchen, dining room, meeting room, living room, and a round glassed-in space for yoga/movement/dance. Around the back of this building were treatment rooms for massage and healing work. Healing practitioners included doctors, naturopaths, nutritionist, massage therapists, yoga instructors, and others so inclined to participate. In my heart I felt a sense of collaboration and synthesis.

In my naive enthusiasm, I expected this healing center to magically appear. Why else would I see it this clearly? What would be the purpose of the vision, one that I have seen again and again over the past 19 years, if it was not destined to materialize? Is this the nature of visions and dreams? To tease and taunt us into believing in possibilities? Or do our visions and dreams act as beacons to guide our journey? From my experience, I say they are both jokester and hierophant.

From an outside perspective, someone looking at my life might see I have bounced around from place to place, relationship to relationship, job to job. I have met many interesting people, tasted love and laughter as well as pain and struggle. I have life-guarded, coached swimming, performed massage, sold cars, processed financing, assisted in property management, counseled both psychiatric crises and chronic pain patients, returned to massage therapy, and currently am managing a resort spa.

During this journey I have also helped to raise two amazing children. I say helped, because their father was instrumental, and their grandparents were too. My children have inspired me, motivated me, grounded me, and taught me. They continue to do so, as I am honored to share in their lives.

So, back to life at 50...

At age 35 I acted from my senses, not necessarily a bad thing, as it led me through some interesting life experiences. Yet, over the years I have become more balanced, respecting both instinct and knowledge. I have come to understand that just because we can see it, does not make it so. Dreams take dedication, and stamina, and work. It is not enough to say I have a vision, or dream. Seeing it is the teaser, kind of like a movie trailer. It shows you the most beautiful, or moving, or funny parts to get you interested, but it is only a glimpse. Visions are like this too. They say, "Hey, look at me! This is what you are destined to be, do, or have!" They don't necessarily show you the road to get there. They don't usually give you a time frame either. And for those of us who see something that 20 years ago was so on the fringes, staying on the path, knowing what to do next, making the right choices can be daunting.

So here I am in this place, at this time. The vision of the healing center has not faded. Sometimes it gets shoved to the background in order to focus on the task at hand. Sometimes it races forth in my dreams, or a memory, or a conversation. At these times I am awed by the persistent notion that my life may be leading me to a beautiful, creative, healing place. And at times, the dissonance between what is and what may be can be frustrating. I can easily begin to feel at odds with work that I actually love and by which I am challenged. The same may be true of my relationships, place of residence, get the picture.

The fact that remains is that I am closer to this vision today than I have ever been. The work I am doing is directly applicable to "owning" a healing retreat center. I have acquired healing experience, management skills, planning skills, negotiation and mediation experience. People come to my place of work for healing and respite.

I am more in love and awe with the creative spirit today than ever before, as I know the sacrifice it takes to keep getting up and sharing your heart and soul, even when you would rather crawl into a cave and rest. I know what it is like to face rejection, adversity, ridicule and ignorance. How the slightest word or look can sometimes break your heart. I am moved deeply by words, music, connection, and art...those life-giving pieces that add depth and dimension and meaning to our otherwise practical lives.

Sometimes I want to jump back into the deep end, swim in the waters of that physical connection, feel the charge of it. And rest in the warmth of a familiar place. Today I am content to remember and to wonder what is next.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Beginning at 50, well okay, almost 50

On this, the 50th anniversary of the day before I was born, I am fighting the urge to curl up in the fetal position for a day of cocooning. It occurs to me that life is not what I expected it to be. Don't get me wrong, in some ways it is more and others, less. For instance, when I was five years old, I thought I would be a nurse when I grew up. And at seventeen, it was a psychologist. I have lived what seems a lifetime since then. Married at nineteen, two children by age twenty-four, I thought my life would progress at a natural pace, that I would fall into some sort of groove and find my "calling" while raising children and attending PTA meetings. Yeah, that didn't happen.

By age thirty-one, I was divorced and floundering, looking for that sign of "this is it!" The funny thing is, while you're looking for your life to become clear, it keeps coming. My life, though at times exciting and others depressing and full of fear, took a route that meandered through alcoholism and recovery, letting go and embracing, finding my pack and taking the less-traveled path, to finally (or should I say most recently) in a place that feels both focused and unsettled.

I live and work in a beautiful place, steps from the Pacific Ocean in sunny southern California. My work is challenging, incorporating many of the skills I have acquired along the way and some new ones too. My children have grown up and married, and are living their own lives. I recently married again and am embracing this partnership with open eyes and an open heart. We recently began dance lessons, which is fun and frustrating and beautiful.

Dreams I have accomplished include completing that graduate degree in Counseling. Seeing my children graduate college, get married and pursue their own dreams. Marry the man I love. Live authentically and with purpose (at times this is easy, at times not-so-easy). Pursue work that is meaningful and challenging. I have also completed a half marathon, a mountain triathlon and a 150 mile bike ride. Delivered two babies naturally. And sustained a live-within-my-means budget for over a year.

Yet there is more I have not accomplished. I have not seen Europe (don't even have a passport). Have not written a book. I have not completed a full marathon. I am fifty pounds overweight, out of shape, and still live most of the time waiting for the other shoe to fall. And almost twenty years ago, I had a vision of running a retreat center in the mountains. A place where creative folks came to embrace their work. This is still a dream of mine. And though my current work comes pretty close, the depth and freedom and healing is lacking.

So, today I am writing. I am starting something new. Something with heart and soul and reflection and depth, and hopefully humor to balance out the edges. At fifty, I am embracing the wisdom years and letting go of the seemingly endless pursuit of the elusive "it". I realize I am here now, in this place with a half century of living to share. I could keep chasing "it", or I can stand here today and know I am loved, I am accomplished, and I am not done.

So here goes!