Crying with Strangers: Part 2

 

It was a Friday last month.

Not long after Crying with Strangers: Part 1 happened.

I meant to sit and write this down for you earlier, but then Christmas happened, and then that slow slide into summer holidays, and I’ve been bobbing along that stream of gentle days ever since, reluctant to get out of the water.

But the light is gold shards today and the sky an impossible blue, and we spent all day at the park and then in the garden, and my mind is so full of greens and blues that the only place to turn is the page to write.

It was a week or so before Christmas. One of those weeks that feels bordering on child mayhem with two kids insistent on jumping off surfaces for the most part of the day.

I decided to escape the house and have a cafe date. I loaded up my handbag with novels and journal and pens, set for a quiet break of nothing but my own thoughts for a spell. A reprieve from children who joyfully, irrepressibly fill every moment with voice and noice. A reprieve from a head that thumped too much with worry and pain, not of big things gone wonky, but a culmination of little ones.

I thought I’d go to the bookstore first. Start off this micro retreat with some solid bookshelf malingering. To get there, I had to manoeuvre by the cafe. But before I could go any further: there was my favourite seat. Open and ready for me.

I thought it was a sign.

So I shrugged my shoulders, left the book whispering for later, and slid into place.

The next table over, there was an elder woman. I notice as she tries to talk to the table on the other side. The women there smile and nod their heads, but don’t engage.

She looks over at me, and echoes the same line:

“Do we order here? Or at the counter? I’m not sure. I’ve just had a really shit day. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

I look over and up. Just as before, there was a decision to be made. When a moment unfurls with a stranger, do you choose it?

My heart had already been cleaved open a week or so before by a stranger. I knew the path to take.

I made eye contact. I smile.

I’m here for you, I try to tell her with my eyes. I’m open and ready for this.

I scoot over on the long bench seat to be closer to her. I show her the menu, and we talk about what’s best to eat. I show her how to order.

She orders, and she sits down beside me again. We laugh a little, and her eyes brim with tears.

“I’m sorry. I’ve really had a shit day. I’m sorry for swearing. I know old people shouldn’t swear, but I do.”

“You’re in the right place for swearing, I bloody love it,” I tell her.

“I shouldn’t be crying. But it really has been a shit day. My phone hasn’t been working all week, and I’ve been so anxious about it. And then I forgot my pin for my credit card. And maybe it’s just the season, but my husband died a few years ago, and I still miss him so much…”

She begins to cry, and I do to.

“Oh no! Now I’ve made you cry too!”

“That’s okay. That’s what other humans are for, isn’t it? That’s what we are made for.”

We hold hands, and cry about how hard shit days can be, and we do it together.

Her lunch comes, the one I (and Leslie Knope) recommended: pancakes with ice-cream and blueberry. We drag our tables together. I drink my chai tea and lemon pie beside her. We share lunch together, and I ask her to tell me her story.

And she does. She tells me the miracles and the tragedies of her eighty years. She tells me in vivid detail about the night her mother died when she was 10, and about the day after when she was put in an orphanage. She tells me the night dancing in a decrepit hall when she met her husband 50 years ago. She shows me photographs of him: the strikingly handsome young man in uniform, and him before he died: still handsome, thick black hair streaked with moonlight. “He drove me batty, you know. I was ready to kill him sometimes! But then he made me laugh again. It was a good life, with him.” She tells me the date of their anniversary, and the ways he tells her he’s still around, still loves her from the Great Beyond.

“I’m sorry for putting this on you…” she tells me, when she runs out of story. I tell her it was the best part of my day.

When it is time to leave, I tell her my name. She gasps “That’s my sister’s name! I can’t believe it!” She tells me hers, and she shares half of my sister’s.

I hug her when I leave. She curls her head on my shoulder.

Sometimes we are each exactly what the other needs.

Here’s to another year of miracle moments with strangers.

 

Tis the season for healing + dreaming + childhood regressions…

Possums,

Merry Ordinary Christmas from me and my family to you and yours.

And if it’s been a shit one, even more hugs and love to you. We have had a quiet Christmas as always… one filled with LEGO and books. Low-key is our style statement.

I asked my husband on the day if he had any Christmas feelings coming up that needed processing. You know the kind: guilt, grief, sadness, unmet expectations, longing, pain, pressure, worry, overwhelm, exhaustion. His was only about a 2/10 this year. Mine were about the same, so that’s a win. We’ve certainly had years when those feelings were much bigger and needed much more attention.

I share this because I’d like for all of us to know that not being 100% merry is totes normal.

We can craft our own season, free of expectations, and more able to acknowledge the full breadth of our feelings.

Here’s a pie chart of Christmas feelings this year:

And now the holiday season REALLY begins!

My favourite time of year is here… the post-Christmas gentle after all the expectation and pressure-cooker build up gone… the days between now and January’s end ready for reflection, dreaming and planning.

Today, I pulled out my workbooks that I wrote a year ago and read through it all… the closing ceremony and the goals I made. It’s amazing how things have changed in one year, and I’m so grateful I have these written reminders of who I was, how I’ve healed, and what I’m becoming next.

So many dreams came true this year – most I planned on in those goals workbooks, others I didn’t (i.e. the beautiful surprise of homeschooling). It’s always a miracle to meet with my Past Self and Future Self in these workbooks. I can see the random threads of my life weaving into a tapestry. What a blessing.

Tis the time to review last year’s goals workbooks… and start filling in next years!

And then dreaming up what is next…

Over the next few weeks (right up until January’s end), I’ll be ensconced in my own dreaming process.

I wrote and illustrated these babies for myself a lifetime ago before I was a mama… thought I’d share them with the world as an afterthought… only for them to become a cult hit used by over 400,000 beautiful souls around the world (!!!!)

Even if I’d just kept them for myself though… they would still be my favourite creation. Such an essential part of my own process for crafting my own life and business.

But I’m glad it’s not just me that’s doing it… that I get to share this journey with so many of you… it makes my heart so happy to hear of YOUR dreams and goals coming true as well.

Haven’t got your 2018 goals workbooks yet?

You can now buy the printed books on Amazon:

Biz printed workbook: http://amzn.to/2z9CuaZ

Life printed workbook: http://amzn.to/2xRaVll

You can also order DIGITAL EBOOKS to fill out digitally or print here: http://shiningyear.com

If ya love ’em, I’d gratefully love a review to help other souls know they are worth their time.

In the meantime…

Let’s go gently.

It’s been a massive year globally. The Tower is falling in so many ways, systems falling apart and old modes of being being exposed to be consciously healed. Needed – yes. Cathartic – yes. Painful, scary, stressful – yes. All these things, all at once.

And we can only do it with self-care and self-compassion, first and foremost. Tend to our wounds so we can tend to the wounds of the world. Tend to the wounds of the world so we can tend to our own. It’s so intrinsically connected.

Come home to our centre, grow within us light, love, compassion and understanding. Then: radiate that out into the world.

I think we can start feeling like our dreams are selfish… and yet they are essential. We must make our dreams and plans for how we want ourselves + the world to heal next. One can’t happen without the other.

We are each needed in this big, beautiful world, with our gentle, loving hearts, and our sky-wide dreams.

Tenderly,