Author Archives: Barbara Techel

Life Lessons from First Time in a Kayak

Life Lessons from First Time in a Kayak

Early Sunday morning was my very first time out on a kayak. For three years I’d been feeling this nudge inside to get a kayak.

It was mid-winter last year when I mentioned this to my chiropractor and friend, Cindy. And that’s when she told me about inflatable kayaks. I never even knew there was such a thing!

As the weather warmed and the trees began to bud, I answered the call of that nudge and took a leap of faith and invested some money I was gifted to purchase an Advanced Elements Firefly Kayak (with a periwinkle dragonfly and periwinkle stripes), a life vest, a paddle, a pump and a lumbar seat.

There was a small part of me feeling a little resistance to it because I’ve never been taught to swim. In a pool, I feel okay and can “swim” as long as I’m along the edges.

But I didn’t want this fear to stop me because I really wanted to be out on the water in a kayak. Everything about it I’d seen seemed so peaceful and a way to experience nature in a new way.

So for my maiden voyage Sunday morning my friend, Cindy, met me at a beautiful, small lake about five minutes from where I live.

With her guidance and a gentle push from behind, Cindy had me floating in the water within minutes as she followed behind. And away we went!

There was a bit of wind as we started out. She coached me to sit back and straight against the lumbar seat (just like a chiropractor, huh?  🙂  ), and not to dig my paddles too hard or deep into the water and it is all about using your core in a left to right motion that the paddling works best.

It felt awkward at first – just like anything one has never done before. A part of me was wishing we had no wind and perfect conditions for my first time out, as I felt like I was struggling to move ahead in the wind.

But then I remembered what I had taught in the Walking Sticks and Mindful Walking Meditation workshop I’d done the day before with my friend, Rachel.

In mindful walking it is about bringing your mind into the present moment – and just walking without anywhere you need to “arrive.” And when in those moments of just being, taking mindful steps of being present to what is right in front of you, letting go of worries, concerns and struggle…and simply walking with no agenda, but just to walk and enjoy being one with nature.

It occurred to me to do the same while kayaking. I was fighting and struggling against the wind, which caused my body to lean forward and I was digging my paddles into the water harder as if that would help.

But when I let go of the struggle, sat back, and paddled with ease, the ride became so much more enjoyable. I didn’t need to prove anything or strive to make it around the lake in any given time.

While I still need practice with paddling and navigation, once I let go of trying to be perfect my first time out, I simply opened to the experience of what I was going to learn…and thus ended up enjoying the ride so much!

And it didn’t occur to me until several hours later that fear of the water and my not being able to swim never entered my mind while being out on the water. What a lesson in surrendering and trusting!

When I got home about an hour and a half later I was as high as a kite! At one point John said, “You are so happy!” And I was. It felt like such a huge accomplishment to me to do this…and the new found energy had me cleaning out and re-organizing my writing cottage an hour later which I had no previous intention to do!

But time out on that kayak was another lesson about life that to follow the flow is what it’s all about…and when you do how much more your life can flow with ease.

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The Perfect Ending to a Deeply Personal Day

The Perfect Ending to a Deeply Personal Day
Visiting Frankie’s statue at Bookworm Gardens

It was the perfect ending to  such a sacred, deeply moving, magical day as I laid Frankie’s ashes to rest on the 5th anniversary of her passing yesterday morning. On Tuesday I wrote about how I came to this decision for this special day, and yesterday I shared how I followed my heart and how the timing of how this private ceremony would unfold. 

It became obvious to me as the last two days have unfolded that I have touched what my friend Diane said, as the collective heart. There was a small part of me that hesitated in sharing such a deeply personal experience because a part of me felt vulnerable. But now I have nothing but gratitude for doing so.

So many of you here, and on my Facebook page, shared so many beautiful thoughts and love that it truly only enriched this special moment in time for me. Also hearing from many of you sharing that I’ve helped you by being open with my heart about this experience, well, that means so much…and I know Frankie is so proud of that.

There are moments in life when you look back and you are able to really see the synchronicity and perfect timing of things – how life just flowed – and you were being guided by something bigger than you.

Such is the case the last two days – and really even before this. Last week I had gone to a second hand store wanting a new (or rather, I should say, pre-loved) casual dress or two. And it wouldn’t hit me as how perfect it was the one I found when my friend, Jessica sent me the pictures she took of me yesterday afternoon with Frankie’s statue at Bookworm Gardens.

I wasn’t even sure I was going to go to Bookworm Gardens on the anniversary of Frankie’s passing, but after scattering her ashes I knew I wanted to. And it just so happened I was having lunch with a lovely young lady, Jessica, who is my neighbor, and just graduated from college and will be getting married later this summer.  

The serendipity of us having lunch together near Bookworm Gardens, never really knowing each other too well all these years we’ve been neighbors… well, that is a whole other story I’ll write about some other time. But I have no doubt that God meant for her and I to be together yesterday, and for her to be the one taking pictures of me with Frankie’s statue.

While my love for Frankie and what we shared so deeply between us is something that will be with me always, being at the children’s garden yesterday, seeing her statue there, knowing her message lives on – touching new lives each and everyday – well, now I’m at a loss for words. 

The only word I can find is GRATEFUL and grateful I’ll always be.

It was the perfect ending to a day filled with such love and peace that I will carry in my heart forever. And thank you again to each of you for being a part of our journey.

When we share something from the true depth of our souls….and touch that collective heart…I truly believe we all heal.

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Scattering Frankie’s Ashes – on the 5th Anniversary of her Passing

Scattering Frankie's Ashes - on the 5th Anniversary of her Passing
Altar with Frankie’s ashes

The sun streaming through the blinds woke me at five this morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but Frankie and the releasing of her ashes began to swirl through my mind, which I wrote about yesterday.

I lay in bed a bit longer thinking about her. It then occurred to me that in August she would have been seventeen years old. This is significant for me.

The day before I made the decision to help her cross to the other side I had a reading done by my friend and animal communicator, Dawn. I shared with her that I had wished Frankie could live to be seventeen. I don’t really know why I wanted that. But communicating this to Frankie, Dawn shared that Frankie felt seventeen – meaning she lived a full life and was ready to move on. That was very comforting to me.

I can’t help but link the significance of that to today being the five-year anniversary of her passing and my being ready to scatter her ashes.

I didn’t make any sort of plans for today. All I knew was that I would scatter her ashes around my writing cottage. I followed the flow of how my heart was guiding me.

At five-thirty I climbed out of bed and did my normal routine of feeding the dogs, etc. Eventually I made my way out to my writing cottage, twelve steps from my bedroom patio doors across the deck I walked. My heart in some ways felt heavy with knowing what lay before me.

I lit a candle and decided to pull out of my SoulCollage card deck the card I made of Frankie during the winter solstice two years ago. A card of her and the reminder of her gift to me – to always look for the light in dark times and to be the light as an example for others.  While I didn’t know if I’d write about my experience today of releasing Frankie’s ashes, I knew in that moment I would. 

Frankie taught me so much about the joy of living, but also that death should not be feared and to trust that our spirits live on and we can connect with our loved ones whenever we want.

Following my intuition I decided to also randomly choose two oracle cards. Joy and Dragonfly presented themselves. The universe definitly with me this morning. Joy is my favorite word and what joy Frankie brought not only to my life, but thousands of others in our work together.

Dragonfly had a message too and what Frankie taught me – to be authentically who I am – and Dragonfly card says, “You know who you are.” I do now… thanks to Frankie.

I smiled through my tears.

Continuing to follow what felt right, I did my Yoga practice. It was moving through my poses that I knew I’d sit with the box of Frankie’s ashes afterwards and listen to our song, Landslide, before I took the final step of scattering them.

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought it down
Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
 
Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older, too
 
My time with Frankie doing the work we did together was so incredibly rewarding that the words in this song, ‘I’ve been afraid of changin’ çause I built my life around you’ would often move me to tears…it was hard five years ago to imagine my life without her.
 
But time has made me bolder and I’m so much stronger because of Frankie – and getting older and time passing has certainly brought me to a new place of understanding.
 
While we never ‘get over’ a loss and what I’d often say is that we have to be gentle with ourselves and allow ourselves to ‘move through’ grief, I’ve now come to understand it now as that we ‘live with’ it – meaning that it just becomes a part of who we are. It changes us because we can never be what we were before – but hopefully we can rest in a deeper place of peace and a knowing that to love so deeply means we will experience great joy – and to bear the pain of loss is worth it to have this experience.
 
When I took Frankie’s box of ashes off the shelf yesterday I heard a rattling inside. Not sure what it was, I decided to wait to open the box until I was ready this morning.
 
The sun streaming through the east window of my writing cottage warming my face, I took a deep breath and opened the box. The mystery to the rattle brought a smile to my face – it was a stone I had placed inside with Frankie’s name and the date of her birth and death I’d written on it. I’d forgotten all about that.
 
Holding Frankie’s ashes in my hands I realized I was holding my breath. I knew it was because I was preparing, in a way, of letting go – of taking this final step. And though I felt some resistance, I reminded myself that this wasn’t really Frankie I was holding, but that her spirit was alive and well today and always – and here for me whenever I choose to connect with her.
 
As I walked across the deck and down the stairs the stillness and quiet of the morning took my breath away – it just felt so incredibly sacred that the earth seemed to be holding me with such a beautiful gentleness.
 
As I dipped my hand inside the bag holding Frankie’s ashes my hand shook slightly and my knees felt a bit wobbly. But something guided me as I released her ashes to the ground below…and step-by-step I moved around my writing cottage releasing her back to the earth to be among the stars, the universe, and the creator…
 
As I made my way to the east side of my writing cottage the honeysuckle plant I planted after Frankie’s passing came into view. You may recall my sharing here and in my book Through Frankie’s Eyes, that Frankie visited me as a hummingbird two weeks after her passing.
 
Well, I knew in that moment, the remainder of her ashes would become one with that honeysuckle and my heart smiled.
 
We are expecting rain later tonight which feels comforting to me to know that it will help in moving Frankie’s ashes deeper into the earth.
 
The morning flowed just as it was meant to be. While I shed a few tears, I feel at peace. Very much at peace.
 
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