I love how the Universe works when I am centered and tapped into flow!
Yesterday (November 19th) was one of my ex’s birthday. I used the occasion to do some inner work around gently removing (with love and gratitude) any remaining energetic cords between us that were constrictive and celebrating the ones that were expansive. I also did some inner work around forgiving myself for my choices, replacing shame with compassion and grace.
This inner work ‘celebration of sorts’ wasn’t at all what I had planned for my day. But, there it was, front and center and my heart asked me to do it, so I listened. I wanted to write here, because it was an important part of my journey, but then the day unfolded and completed.
Imagine my surprise, and delight, to be reading Vidya Sury’s most recent article “Turning Troubles Into Triumph” this morning and seeing an invitation to participate in a blog link-up with the theme of finishing this sentence (either literally or within your article): “The hardship I am most thankful for….”.
Well, there is Universe gently nudging me to share with you, so here I am, sharing. Maybe yesterday it was too fresh and I was still processing the message but, today, it’s settled and I am open and ready to keep creating *grin*.
One thing about Universal messages and signs: People often ask me ‘how do you know a sign is meant for you?’ Well, this is a perfect example: the sign is an affirmation of direction or an answer to a question about something currently in my realm, it feels very light-filled and clear and I can logically understand what it is referring to. Part of my way of intuitively moving through each day – and ultimately, my life – is to be attuned with my heart whispers and aware of whatever is resonating with them in the physical world, which includes being open to notice and understand Universal messages and signs.
To be clear: I don’t ever think in terms of *hardship*(although people who are familiar with my life experience will tell you I’ve moved through quite a few of them). I can, however, feel something as challenging – a stretch physically, emotionally and/or energetically – but I’m truly so grateful to be alive that I’m celebrating the blessing of being in this moment even as I am processing and moving through ‘hardship’.
With that, I would say my greatest hardship has been (and might still be) living in abuse from childhood on, then living with patterning from that abuse for the rest of my years. While I’ve done tons of research and study on abuse (and the dynamic of pain and the energy of how patterning works and how to re-create patterns), it’s taken years of dedicated presence and awareness for me to understand my own patterning (passed on through generations of women in my lineage who were abused).
Along the way, I share my experience, because even if you’re not in external abuse, there is a great chance that you are in some way abusive to yourself in thought, word and/or action and maybe something in my words and experience will inspire you to make a different choice.
My greatest blessings, then, have directly unfolded from this study and research, which began about 18 years ago when I chose to become a mother and knew I wanted my child (then children) to experience a life full of peace and possibility. I did the work to learn about how to create spaces that were peaceful and comfortable and then how to be that peace and comfort to them, later with clients and now with myself as well.
Enter: ex-boyfriend who celebrated a birthday yesterday. I call him ‘sailor man’. He came into my life at a point of great transition, right as my almost ten-year marriage was unfolding to an ending that my heart knew would ultimately be a blessing but my being had zero idea how to process. After being at home with my kids for their life (at that time five years) I found myself needing to work to earn money, so I took a job at the local harbor cafe, then would take daily walks at ocean’s edge after each shift, wondering will I ever feel peace, did I deserve to feel peace?
Ah, well, you probably already know the type: he was tall, dark, handsome, a charmer. At the time, he was the sailor man that many girls wished to spend time with. However, he was quite a loner – a man hanging on to past hurt, causing current pain and drama and quite addicted to numbing that pain in specific ways (none of which I knew at the time). What opened my heart to connecting was this:
- One day, he asked me what type of art I liked. I told him something about loving my children’s drawings and he responded with something like ‘that’s awesome, but what type of art do you like when you’re not in your mother role’. What?! Do I exist outside of my mother role?! I remember in the following weeks asking each mom that I knew the same question. They were just as surprised as I – what an eye-opener for each of us!
- My daughter was about to have surgery (one of many at the time) and he asked me how I felt. I explained that I felt calm and faithful for her. As he did with the art question, he asked me how I felt as a human being, beyond being her mother. What?! I could have feelings outside of mothering?!
What he – and you as you are reading this – didn’t know was that for much of my life my voice was silenced. As a child, I wasn’t asked what I thought or how I felt and when I volunteered that information I was often criticized or disciplined. I was so distanced from what I thought and how I felt, that as an adult, I didn’t consider it at all. (Knowing me now, isn’t that so odd? I intuitively feel my way through life *and* in my energy work with clients, my first questions about understanding the energy in your space is “what do you think and how do you feel?”)
He also spoke to me about his love of sailing, including following the current, being ‘one’ with nature, feeling such peace on the ocean. All of my life, I had wanted to live on a boat; listening to him speak sparked my passion.
Eventually, he taught me to sail.
But, more than that, he taught me to ‘be the captain of my own ship’. Having been raised to be subservient, to be the ‘gift’ to the man and allow him to lead always, the idea of captaining anything wasn’t in my realm of being. However, there I was a single-mom, and learning to captain my ship in all ways was something I needed to do. It began there, on the ocean, and spilled over into my life.
When you are the literal captain of a ship, you have trained to be in that spot through reading but also many hours of experience. You understand everything about this mega-ton ship and the weather and the relationship between the two. You remain calm in heavy weather, (if you’re good) you understand your passenger’s desires and make sure that they have a wonderful experience, you lean into the conditions not away from them.
That went against everything I had been taught in life and opened the door to everything I understand and am, now.
He was (and probably still is) an excellent sailor. I was out there every day, while the kids were at school, first with him, then with other teachers and finally on my own. Through a sailing club, I had access to all kinds of boats from really small, simple sailboats to the latest and most beautiful big cruising sailboats. I began to charter trips for others. I began volunteering as crew on race boats.
I began learning to feel currents and wind patterns. I became one with the ocean and nature. And, yes, I felt that blissful peace of being just me, the blackness of night and the sparkle of stars and the presence of Source energy, out in the boat on the ocean at night.
After about two years of sailing, I was in the marina office, when a person came in with an ad for a boat they were selling. I bought it. And, I lived on it (by myself with the kids) for almost five years. At the time, there were many families living aboard boats but I was the only single mom on our coast from San Francisco to San Diego, Ca. living aboard.
While sailor man was around during the first part of my journey on the boat, by then, our ‘true colors’ were shining and I realized I was back in this abusive dynamic. Blah. I think many people there assumed that he helped me, but I did the boat thing on my own (at first, he did help but he created bigger messes so I learned to say ‘no, thank you!’). He was far too gone in his own stuff to have been there for me in mine.
But, first, from those years on the boat, my kids and I learned so much that enriched our lives and made us each who we are today as individuals and as a family unit. I personally learned the depth of unfolding and trust in flow and source that eventually evolved in this current work I do now through Facets of Joy. I had two life-changing, amazing relationships (with guitar man, then traveling man) after him that also opened my heart and led to now, but those relationships, and this work, wouldn’t have happened had I not known and shared with him many years ago. So, thank you, sailor man.
Now, for the hardship. You may notice as you read, that I share paragraphs of specific blessings, then a short blurb on the general feeling of hardship. In general, I don’t like to pass pain along. But specifically, his part isn’t mine to tell – although it was what created then exacerbated the feeling of hardship in my life.
In general, I can say, when I moved on the boat that changed the dynamic between us and there was lots of drama and emotional and physical pain. At that time, I had the boundary of not allowing him to interact with my kids (but I also understand that when my energy was re-directed to healing myself from the latest over-the-top dramatic experience, it wasn’t then fully on, or with, them).
I don’t share specific examples publicly, because as I shared above, I’m only one-half of the experience. As the recipient, not the giver, I don’t know how to share examples without mentioning his part. You would be shocked, perhaps horrified, if you knew even one event – several together required lots of energy to process. A big event would happen maybe every two weeks, then take lots of energy to heal and center back into my faith around my daily life – so it felt like it was on-going for quite some time. Since it was only one part of my life, the balance from the beauty and goodness in all other areas helped offset the pain in this one.
Please, remember, this wasn’t new to me – this was a repeat pattern, so while it sucked, it was also familiar and while I didn’t then have the skills to extricate myself from the complete pattern, I did have the skills and knowledge to disentangle from the surface ties that bound me – even though, the huge inner knot remained and needed to be dealt with, I felt enough freedom and joy to at least ‘survive’.
However, this time was the first that I could clearly see how my relationship choices mirrored my experience with my dad. It became very clear to me that I had lots of inner work to do. From what I had learned about peace and possibility for my kids, I knew something different (‘better, more resonant with love’) was possible for me to learn and experience, too. I was scared. And, I was full of determination, courage and faith.
My friends and loved ones knew what was happening – I would share specific experiences with them – and they all kept helping me apply band-aids. Like Taylor Swift says now “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes” but I very much appreciate the love and support I was feeling then. I could tap into that and find the inspiration to keep creating.
Because, remember, I was busy learning how to be a single-mom, living on a sailboat (which was its own big transition), loving the beauty and joy of living a dream with my children. This relationship that I was in was so incongruent, it was pretty clear.
On the same weekend my dad was hospitalized for attempting suicide, sailor man threatened it as well. Talk about a sign!! That coincided with a very close friend telling me something no one else had in my whole life, along the lines of ‘hey, I love you and I’m not going to watch you hurt yourself and I’m not going to help you fix it – after you’ve been out one year, connect with me and I’ll be there.”
Those two Universal nudges were what I needed to remove my presence from abuse and begin the deep process of healing, which for me included learning self-love, self-appreciation and self-compassion – all of which I had shared naturally and joyfully with others but hadn’t ever turned inward. You see, if we look at the energy of abuse (in very general terms), if my base is love and I speak with love and compassion and am supportive and encouraging of myself, the energies in abuse don’t resonate and are really easy to deflect (because they aren’t in the realm of your being). So, self-love is essential as a tool for removing your presence, and healing from, abuse.
I spent the next few years with the kids on the boat, practicing all of this while learning to love myself as much as I loved (still love!) them. What I share through my work now, years later, that I am told inspires others and changes their lives in wonderful ways, all flows from that hardship. For which I am thankful for.
(And, to be very clear, there is no blame toward sailor man. I understand how a person can feel such pain and why they choose to share it. I share only gratitude for the blessings and wish him well – may he experience the peace of ocean in his daily life.)
Thank you for reading! I invite you to take a cleansing breath and then to share: As you consider the concept of blessings unfolding from hardship, how does that feel to you? Is it something you’ve experienced or something that feels unfamiliar? Please do share whatever you’d like from your own journey. And, if you have questions about something I’ve shared here, please feel free to ask.
I recently (last week) recorded a video interview with my friend Jenny Griffin from The Power of Change.me for her series on the dynamic between empaths and narcissists. I spoke about the importance of boundary work, trusting flow and the power of love. If this topic interests you, please do listen – here is the link: Jenny Talks to Joy Holland. Jenny shares the series links on this page on her site: An Empath’s Guide to Narcissist Interviews.
I use the concept of a sacred container in all of my work. For me, honoring my body as a sacred container really helps support my healing and growth in miraculous ways. I share this concept in my ecourse “The Sanctuary of You: Understanding and Appreciating Your Body as a Sacred Container“. The next session begins December 1, 2015 (I intentionally timed it to coincide with year-end/beginning and the holiday season).
My heart thanks your heart for your presence!
Much peace and abundant love,
PS. For context, the bulk of this experience spanned about 4 years beginning at the end of 2004 through 2008. The kids and I moved aboard the boat in 2007 and continued (are still continuing) to celebrate the unfolding of life from that beautiful experience on. If you ask them now, they were so far removed from my dynamic with sailor man that if you said his name, they would remember he existed, but because he wasn’t involved with our daily family life or our close circles of friends on the dock and in the harbor, his presence isn’t part of their memory and they would be greatly surprised to know of the intense drama.