soulcollage

On Letting Go and Expanding

On Letting Go and Expanding
photo: http://shroomer83.deviantart.com/

It’s been an interesting summer so far. I’ve been taking part in a 22-week online course called The Magic of You with transformational coach, Jocelyn Mercado which began mid-June.

In part, because I want to expand my reach and offer more of the SoulCollage workshops I facilitate, online. I’m also taking the course because I want to offer oracle card readings, incorporating the wisdom of animals, as a way to help guide others through life’s bigger questions. 

The hardest part for me, and what the course helped me greatly with, was deciding whether or not to let go of the name of my website, Joyful Paws.

As many of you know who have followed me since 2007, I’ve been gradually expanding from my work with my wheelchair dog, Frankie. And while I don’t believe I’m done writing books and there will be at least one more book I’ll write, I’ve decided to set writing in that capacity to the side for now.

When I sat with my feelings about letting go of Joyful Paws, I just couldn’t do it and honestly, I didn’t want to. But I was so torn because I really want to expand my reach and help more women live fulfilling and meaningful lives. Could I do that with the same domain name? While I’ve talked about this before on my blog, the course has really helped me to finally see that it is a part of me and always will be. That made my heart sing!

Joyful Paws, which began as an outlet to share my writing, which expanded to my books and my advocacy for dogs in wheelchairs, then expanded into my wanting to teach workshops. And for many years, I’ve also dreamed about offering oracle readings to others because of my love for them as a tool I use in my own life that has helped me greatly.

Joyful Paws….at the heart of the name is how my dogs taught me to appreciate so much about life…the simple things…that we only have this moment…that it’s our birthright to experience joy. All pauseful moments of reflection that I came to see as vital to living a meaningful life. In a world that glorifies hurry and material things, my dogs have, and continue to help me see what is truly important.

All those teachings expanded to really tuning into, and appreciating the healing energies of nature, observing other animals in the world, and exploring all the many parts of myself to step into the authenticity of who I am.

Joyful Paws is so much a part of who I am…which Jocelyn helped me to fully embrace and know that I didn’t need to let go. I realized I was resisting letting go of Joyful Paws in part because I didn’t want to buy into how things “should” be done in the world of how marketing can instruct us to do. And more than anything I wanted to trust my intuition.

And so it is…Joyful Paws will stay!

Which leads me to the other part of the story to this post today…

Last week, John and I took the plunge and bought a 2018 Chevrolet Exquinox. Well, we actually leased after weighing out all the options. Our GMC Envoy is seventeen years old and she treated us well. But it was time.

In preparing to sell the Envoy, I cleaned it out yesterday. I also knew I had to remove the website decals and the “in memory of” Frankie and Joie decals off the back which I saved until last. It was bittersweet.

The Envoy, for over five years, had become what I had dubbed as “The Frankie Mobile” when Frankie and I traveled to schools and libraries in Wisconsin sharing the message to “Always be positive, make a difference and keep on rolling!” We were also so fortunate to have a few local TV interviews, too.

As many of you also know, on June 21st, the five year of Frankie’s passing, I scattered her ashes around my writing cottage. I will do the same for Joie’s ashes on August 22nd – the day she passed four years ago.

Two things I’ve really come to understand: grief is something one always carries with them and it becomes a part of who you are. And there are moments when you are called to take another healing step in that journey. This is how it has been with expanding Joyful Paws from what it was, to what it now is, and what it will be as I continue to move forward.

And so it was with removing the decals off the back of my car. While the decals are gone, the memories of my dear wheelie dogs are not. They will always be a part of me – without them I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Just like Joyful Paws – it lights me up – it is so much of who I am – and always will be.

I took a photo before I removed the decals:

I removed most everything except for this:

It was my way of having a silent moment and quietly saying thank you once again to my wheelie dogs for all the joy they brought to my life before I finished peeling the rest away – a joy they gave me that remains – and always will.

In sharing the photos on Facebook, two ladies offered to make me new decals which I thought was very kind and sweet. Though I won’t be replacing them.

Another said it is “an end of an era.” While in one way, yes it is, I really view it as an expansion of an era. Because in my heart I believe I am carrying on the teachings of what my wheelie dogs taught me. 

And I couldn’t help but think as this all unfolded that the Envoy is seventeen years old and Frankie would have been seventeen on August 20th. And for the time I had her I had it stuck in my head that I wanted her to live to be seventeen. In an animal communication reading with her that my friend Dawn did the day before I helped Frankie cross over, Frankie shared with us that she felt seventeen.

Perhaps…just perhaps, this was confirmation from Frankie that buying this new car and letting go of the old was the right time.

And why Joyful Paws as my website will stay the same. And I finally feel very good about this decision.

And to add to the magic of the number seventeen I shared this with my friend Dawn recently who said that seven and one when added is eight, which turned on it’s side is the infinity sign.  

Infinity…which symbolizes eternity, empowerment, and everlasting love.

Now that gave me goosebumps!

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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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Finding that Meaningful Life

Finding that Meaningful Life

I think it takes courage to live a life that feels meaningful. To not live the status quo, but to live from that inner space within that yearns to trust that inner voice, while at the same time not knowing what that may really look like as we try to move toward it and what we believe it is that will bring us joy.

I feel like I’ve been down this road hundreds of times – and no doubt it will surface time and again as I grow and evolve. Though I am much stronger in my convictions which feels liberating. But isn’t this what being human is all about?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my almost 54 years is that happiness isn’t outside of us, though it can feel like an uphill battle because it is what is in front of us constantly in TV, ads, etc. if we allow it to be.

So when I hear of a breakthrough from someone who I’ve shared the SoulCollage® process with that I facilitate in my studio and online, my heart overflows with ecstatic happiness. To know another person on this planet is learning to accept who they are – well – it is very rewarding. 

Kathryn, who is part of my online SoulCollage® True Essence class is a beautiful example of taking the steps necessary to move toward living a meaningful life. I was so touched by a recent posting she did on our private Facebook group that I asked her if I could share it with you. She graciously agreed. Thank you, Kathryn.

This is a recent SoulCollage® card she created for her altar: 

Kathryn wrote, “It (the card) was created intentionally, the image of the woman had a quote by it and the woman said that she loves who she is just the way she is. The locusts represent my fear of bees and wasps. This is the first summer in many years where I no longer feel afraid of getting stung. The card is about being proud of who I am today, stepping into my power and releasing fears that no longer serve me.”

Kathryn’s insight for herself not only no doubt freed her in many ways and brought deep meaning to her life, but in sharing with the group, she made my life (and likely others in the group) feel even more meaningful. 

Finding a meaningful life takes work and is truly an inside job. And why I continue to do my own inner work too so that I can support others on their path to a meaningful life. This summer I’ve devoting myself to a 22-week online course to help me grow in who I am and expand my workshops online which began this past Monday.

Because truly, it’s moments like this that Kathryn shared with me that are food for my soul – me as facilitator guiding others toward deeper meaning for their lives, in-turn makes for a meaningful life for me. Win-win not only for me and participant, but a big win for the planet!

If you’d like to learn more about the SoulCollage® True Essence online course details are here.

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