As a prideful person, it has taken courage on my part to allow others to help, support and love me through this painful experience. When I became aware of the analogy that my refusing help was like having a child that wouldn’t allow you to love it, I was finally able to open up and let others help me. I grew up believing to ask for, or God forbid need help, was a weakness, and when it was offered it was to be politely refused. So, when my friend Julie who is a spiritual teacher and healer called to ask if I wanted to do an exercise to release my husband, in this new spirit, I agreed.
The same is true for my colleague at UC Berkeley who reached out and offered to be my business coach. We met two years ago, when she hired me to teach in UC’s International Program for Entrepreneurs. I immediately accepted her help as there is no one more experienced to help me launch my company at a very high level than her.
I had a very intense week last week, and then everything happened on Friday. I had a follow up phone call with Brigette regarding our Monday session, and then Julie showed up to do the releasing exercise, this was followed by an annual lunch with my college friends Sue and Kim.
Earlier in the morning, I had talked to Brigette about the excitement and fear inherent in giving up what is safe for something we love. She told me, as we climb the mountain in our life to our highest goals we cut through the undergrowth and finally at the top of the mountain we have a choice. We either trust in our wings or we make the sickening choice to go back from where we came. For me this would be as a Product Marketing Consultant in San Fransisco, seriously not a bad life, but unlike my work, the death of my husband gave me no choice in terms of going back from where I had come from. As much as I’ve lamented and replayed all of the memories of our 22 years together, nothing I could do would bring him back. If I could rewind my life and place myself in 2009 and change the course of the past seven years, I would. It’s not that I choose not to go back down the mountain, the mountain is no longer there.
After hanging up with Bridgette, Julie and I started the releasing process. I took four pictures of the happiest times with my husband, the ones that represented the person I loved the most. One was of him when I first met him, one of us together when we were dating (above), the next one of us after we were married and and another of him at our older daughter’s seventh birthday party (below).
I took a cord and tied two knots at each end, one for me and one for him. Then I cut the cord in the middle and said a prayer to release both of us. Julie and I were both crying. We walked to the park with his half of the cord and I wrapped it around a branch of the tree my daughters used to climb when they were little.
The girls had a system for climbing this tree and they named each branch they used to get to the top. And being a tree climber myself I trusted their ability, and allowed it, even though my wiser mom friends threatened to call the fire department to get them down.
At the time I thought of this tree as the place my daughters found their courage, so it felt the appropriate place for his cord to fly away.
The song that plays when I get in the car is Fly, by Maddie and Tae, and the lyrics go like this:
Keep on climbing though the ground might shake
Just keep on reaching though the limb might break
We’ve come this far don’t you be scared now
Because you can learn to fly on the way down
You won’t forget the heavy steps it took to let it go
Close your eyes and count to ten
Hold your breath and fly…
Over the weekend, I went skiing. The past few weekends I’ve had trouble skiing, as my boards would chatter and slip out of control on the icy trails. In fear I would revert to my bad habits of the Mount Bachlor years sitting back on my 185 K2’s, forgetting everything I’ve learned over the last nine years skiing Tahoe and training as a ski instructor at Northstar.
If you want to be pushed skiing there is no better way than to ski with ski instructors on their day off. On Sunday, with dread, I followed the expert Dory down the mountain. And finally, it all came back, I bent low in my turn feeling my edges dig deep into the icy snow and I was again in perfect control.
It felt like flying.