When I was spending a weekend in the mountains at a friend's condo near Silverthorne, CO, I saw this Moose calf chewing on some shrubs. If you look closely, you can see the outline of the calf against the white snow, just left of center. Often, when we take the time to look carefully at our surroundings, we discover the beauty and wonder that is present every day and are blessed with a pleasant surprise from our natural world.
We are now mid-month and it is week 28 of our year-long journey. We are in the Relation Stage of the journey from heartbreak to empowerment and Moose joins us as encouragement "to lighten up and give ourselves and each other a 'well done!' " (Medicine Cards, p81)
Moose medicine can provide the foundation needed to build healthy relationships - with ourselves and with others. Moose reminds us that "ego can ruin our sense of accomplishment." (Medicine Cards, p82)
My outward successes in life would most likely bring others to conclude that I have a pretty healthy dose of self-esteem. I was an outstanding student and athlete. I played on a state champion basketball team in high school and went on to be a 4-year starter for Princeton University's Women's BB team and also played for the Princeton Women's Volleyball team my senior year. After graduation, I played 'professional' basketball for two years in London, England.
I keep busy. Currently, I am looking for FT work, starting a yoga business, managing an Air BnB business for my home, writing this blog (bi-weekly at best - try as I may to get one published weekly!?), and working on finishing up my yoga teacher training course work to be officially 'licensed' as a yoga instructor. Whether I like it or not, I keep busy. Get shit done has been my underlying motto in life and I've recently discovered that this mantra stems from avoidance. If I keep busy enough, if I have enough to do, I don't have to feel the pain that my body is carrying from the trauma of my youth. The pain that was so great that my body shut it away so that I could live a 'normal' life, so that I did not long for death on a daily basis. I could be happy and I could attend to all the things that needed attended to in day-to-day life.
Life has a way of bringing unaddressed issues from our past to the forefront. We often subconsciously work pretty hard to leave them unaddressed but when we decide to believe in what cannot be seen, when we decide to build the life of our dreams - those subconscious issues come to the forefront. At least that is what has happened in my life.
It was during my first year of law school that I remember becoming very aware of how little self-esteem I had. When I returned home to Colorado for the summer after attending Pace Law School in White Plains, NY my first year, I remember sharing these words with my husband, "I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't have any self confidence. I need words of appreciation and admiration." His response, "You know I'm not like that. I don't understand. I haven't changed." My ex was less than stellar at sharing his feelings and even when I asked him point blank and said I did not know what was wrong with me, he immediately made it about him - he wasn't like that, he had not changed, he did not understand.
I guess we could agree on that much - we did not understand each other or ourselves. At the time I thought I had 'lost' my self-esteem. Later, I wondered if I ever truly had self-esteem. I had enjoyed lots of outward success and gained status in the eyes of society but did I actually like myself? Did I even know myself well enough to make that call?
There are times that I am not all that fond of how I am. I don't like that I am so damn sensitive. I don't like that my emotions can be so strong and can escalate very rapidly at times. I am beginning to accept and be OK with these parts of me that I haven't necessarily chosen. I can look to Moose and be inspired to feel the joy that comes with a job well done and to share that joy with others by providing encouragement and praise when warranted.
In week 28 of our year-long journey, I will ask Moose to "Help me honor the gifts I can give, and recognize my worthiness long as I live." (Medicine Cards, p80) The trauma of my dad's accident has affected me deeply, it affected my whole family deeply and no one magically appeared to help us process the painful feelings and understand how to grieve the ambiguous loss that comes with severe brain damage. We were told our dad was alive and we were told we should be grateful. This was only part of the picture, however, and while the physical presence of our dad remained and perhaps his essence also remained - the dad we knew was gone and there was no one, there is no one, to replace him.
As a small child I was not able to reason through the loss and the fact that I was left on my own to process these painful feelings was translated into a subconscious belief that ultimately I was not worthy of love. With the help of Moose medicine, I can understand where these feelings of worthlessness come from and I can know that they are not truthful. By connecting with the stillness within, I begin to understand that I am worthy of love - all of us are. "It's our god-forsaken right to be loved, loved, loved, loved, loved . . ." to quote my favorite Jason Mraz song - 'I'm yours."
We're just one big family . . .