Days of Sheringham: Part 1

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Once upon a time, not very long ago, a rogue puffin was spotted on the east coast of England, in the county of Norfolk.  This may not sound very exciting to your average person, but to me, learning this was like finding out Big Foot had just moved in down the hall and was going to be my new neighbor.

I adore puffins. Something about them feels magical to me. Shaped like a penguin, but smaller and more colorful, these beautiful creatures bring a smile to my face every time I see one. Seeing one in the wild has become a bit of a bucket-list item for me.  So to arrive in Sheringham and hear that one was seen not far from here just a few months ago, made my heart skip with delight. Far from home and away from its family, this puffin made its way to Norfolk.  It wasn’t supposed to here. It went rogue. Clearly, we are kindred spirits.

Puffin overlooking the ocean while perched

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m thousands of miles away from my family and friends. Needing time to write and reflect, I booked a two week vacation in England. Much like this rogue puffin, I’m not supposed to be here.  I should be back in the US with loved ones, over-indulging on high calorie food and counting my blessings.  But here I am, on the east coast of England, eating fish and chips and indulging in the gluttony of time-spent-alone.

In a world that moves so fast you can barely remember which version of the iPhone is the newest, taking time to yourself is the ultimate luxury – a betrayal to our role as women.  A woman my age should be married with kids, struggling to pay the mortgage and trying the newest fad diet to lose weight. A woman my age should be recently divorced and worried she might never marry again. A woman my age should be wondering if it’s too late to run away and start over as she sits in the waiting room of yet another job interview, in a field of work she hates. A woman my age should be devastated that she’s single or angry that having children and a family isn’t working out like she planned.  A woman my age should have it all figured out and be happy.  That’s a lot of shoulds.

One thing that’s true in all of those statements, in all of those shoulds, is that women (this goes for men too) are not supposed to slow down and evaluate our lives. We should be this and we should be that, but we are never taught that what we really need to do is slow down and breathe.  Slow down and take stock. Slow down and get to know ourselves and figure out if all the shoulds in our life align with what it is we really want for ourselves.  Who is deciding the shoulds?  Is it us or is it them? And if it’s “them,” who gave them the right?

I’m 35 years old and for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m starting to really understand myself.

The majority of my life I’ve felt like a fraud. A failed version of who I’m supposed to be.  Not really sure who I’m meant to be, I’ve gone from one situation to the next, trying to figure it out. It’s only now that I’m starting to get at the truth:  I’m not supposed to be a certain way.  I’m supposed to design my one life to the best of my ability, and squeeze every ounce of joy, pain, loss, and gratitude from each new experience.  I’m meant to feel.

That’s all for now.  To be continued… Part 2.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  Each part in this series is written by whim, not necessarily in chronological order or any order for that matter.  Enjoy!

Super You on the SuperMoon

There are a lot of articles circulating about the SuperMoon and how to harness the energy for personal growth and the highest self. I don’t follow astrology much, but I can tell you that I personally have a connection with the moon and pay attention to its phases.

Regardless of what you believe, it’s always a good idea to pause and reflect. To contemplate what is working in your life and what is not.  What you want to stop, start and continue.

The past few months have brought about a lot of change in my life.  I had a romance end, a new career opportunity rise to the surface, the illness of a loved one and many loved ones in my life struggling with changes in their own lives.  Any change can trigger past hurt and insecurities, but many changes taking place at once can really put you through the ringer.

This is exactly what happened.

With the help of my therapist, my yoga practice, mindfulness, meditation, journal entries, talking to loved ones and a whole host of other self-care techniques, I have done my very best to process all of this change and look for areas of growth.  What do I want? What is important to me? What would I like to change? And perhaps most importantly, what would I like to release?

moon

Since this SuperMoon is all about release, it’s no shocker that today it has come into sharp focus: I want to release my intense desire to control the outcome. While this serves me in many ways, it also really holds me back and keeps me from experiencing the beauty that is found in letting go.

Now, I cannot promise I won’t be a plotter and a planner, always working toward the next big idea (that’s just who I am), but I can relax into the journey more.

I want to release the need to analyze every situation in my life and what it means, relaxing into the gifts it brings, without always questioning its greater purpose.

I want to release the fear in my heart and lead from a place of love and acceptance.

I want to release the idea that I am anything less than completely whole.

I want to release the belief that I know best and live from a more humble place.

I want to release the fear of failure and judgment and pursue the life of my dreams without hesitation.

I want to live fully, with an open heart, an open mind and to love with a sense of wild abandon.

What would you like to release?

Your truly,

Erin Terese

 

 

The Growing Process

How long has it been? Nine years?  Thirty-four years? Maybe a thousand glasses of wine, two thousand miles of coastal exploration and fifteen gallons of tears? Who knows.

However you choose to measure it, what’s most surprising to me is the cyclical nature of growth.

I’ve been analytical for as long as I can remember.  My loving mother spent many a nights with me as a child, listening to me vent, helping me talk through my confusion, stifling a smile or laugh or look of horror as I explored the corners of my mind.

I have always been curious.  But it was about nine years ago that I was brought to my knees and was forced to look at the world with new eyes.  Forced to see how my choices, my view of the world and the people I choose as my tribe impact every facet of my life.

We want to believe that once we learn a lesson, we can check it off the list and move forward. Ah-ha! I have learned to have patience.  I was patient in that situation, therefore I am now a patient person… check, check, check.

Sadly, this is not how this works. It is not that easy.

All of our lessons and areas for growth will loop back around.  We will be confronted with choices and situations that will make us rise to the occasion again and again.

Can you be patient in this situation? Can you be loving in that situation? Can you show compassion to that person? Can you exercise healthy boundaries now?

Let’s unpack this a little bit more.

For most of my life, communicating my true feelings was not easy for me.  I had so much fear about what people would think, who I might offend, not to mention I often didn’t know how I was feeling.  Years of mindfulness and meditation have helped me understand myself better.  Writing has helped me articulate myself better.  Having hard conversations where I feel like I might throw up or faint, run away or cry, has helped me grow and create better relationships, with both family, friends and lovers.

growth process

But is it ever really easy?  It is ever really done?  Do we ever really know exactly what to say, exactly how to say it, when to say it and what actions will validate our best intention-ed words?

Hell to the no.

We try. We try again and again. And it does get a little bit easier. You learn that you can and will survive these scary situations, but it doesn’t mean you enjoy it or that you don’t mess up.

The same can be said for confidence, worthiness, self-care, mindfulness, authenticity, vulnerability, courage… we learn what it is and how to do it. And then we learn it again. And again. And again.

Each time we will be tested differently. Each time we will respond a little bit differently.  Each time will learn a little bit more.

And hopefully along the way, we learn to offer ourselves some compassion. Offer and acknowledge how far we’ve come and how well we are doing. Knowing that we all make mistakes, we all have greatness and we all have so much to learn.

The best thing I can offer myself today (and maybe you can relate) is to cut myself some slack.

We are all doing the best we can. I honestly believe that. We will trip and fall, hurt people and hurt ourselves, impress others and exceed our own expectations, time and time again.

I think what is most important is that we are always true to ourselves.  That we honor our values and uphold our integrity.  This way, we can always hold our head high. And if, er’ when we mess up, we know exactly where to go back to.

We go back to our true self.  The one that wants to love and be loved.  The one whose hopes and dreams pulse through our veins. The one who hears this with their heart.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

P.S. Happy 11:11 ❤

The Act of Letting Go

Well, I did it. I released him.  I won’t call it “saying goodbye”, as I had previously written;  I will simply say I released him.

I went to say goodbye.  I walked his ashes down to the water with the intention of saying goodbye, but as the ashes scattered in the wind and drifted down to the waves below, I knew it was just me releasing him, and that he would always be there whenever I wanted to visit and say hello.

A few weeks ago I went on a trip to Europe.  This trip was planned as part of a personal quest to get to know myself. This trip was something I wanted and needed.  Something to push me outside of my comfort zone, test my character and give me the time alone to explore who I am, what I want and where I want to go in my life. And to have some fabulous adventures along the way, of course!

I knew the trip was going to be special. It was not going to be be just an average “holiday”, but rather a turning point. A new chapter.  Perhaps even the beginning of a new story all together.

With this in mind, I knew it was time to let him go. The morning before I boarded my flight to Stockholm, I took the small wooden box containing his ashes down to the water.  With my black leather boots protecting me from from puddles and my polka dot umbrella shielding my face from the rain, I rounded the back of the pier. Luckily there were only a few fisherman out that day, so it didn’t take me long to find a corner to be alone with him.

I stood there in the rain. I had my ear buds in and listened to a sweet, slow melody as I reached into my purse and removed the small box. The wind calmed and the rain slowed to a drizzle. I collapsed the umbrella, resting it against the metal guard rail and held him in both of my hands. Then the tears came. But these were new tears, not the same I had shed for him time and time again.  This time, the tears were letting him go – releasing him. The tears leaked out, rolling down my cheeks, salt kissing my lips and continuing down to pool around my neck.

let-gooooo

I held him tight it my hands. I felt the box, the ridges and grooves where the inscription was carved. I slid back the cover and removed the small packet of ashes.  I snipped the top with a small pair of scissors, looked inside and saw the pale gray dust start to move in the breeze. I held the bag out over the railing, tipped it upside down and watched as he caught the wind and gently floated to the waves.

***

I returned from my trip this past Monday.  It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Still basking in the glow of time spent reading on the beach in the South of France, meeting a psychic in Amsterdam, meditating with Deepak Chopra in Paris and all of the people I met and realizations I had along the way, I spent this week slowly integrating myself back into daily life, trying to carry with me all that happened while making sense of some of my personal reflections.

Today was the first Saturday in three weeks that I woke up in my own apartment.  Instead of rushing to get out into the world to explore or be productive, I took it slow. I savored the morning, just as I would have if I was on holiday. I declined an invitation to meet up with a friend and opted for a day of solitude, choosing instead to read, write, stretch my legs in the sunshine, take a long afternoon nap and have a quiet night at home.

Outside, the sun beat hot upon my face. San Francisco is known to be overcast, with autumn-like weather the majority of the year.  Today was unusually warm. On a day like today, the water beckons and you must obey.  Heeding the siren’s call, I made my way to the Bay and stood there thinking Do I go left or right? Left or right? I chose left.

I chose to go and say hello to him and see how his new spot was.  Today it was bright and sunny and hot – the pier filled with people.  There were men fishing and families picnicking.  There was a man sitting on a bench, playing his guitar and getting lost in the sound.  A couple leaning against the building, taking shelter in the shade and giving their dog a bowl of water to drink.  And right in front of where I spread his ashes, two men sitting on a bench drinking beer out of glass bottles – no brown bag. Proud and happily defiant. He would have liked that.

I squatted down to look at the aqua water and snap a picture of the beautiful day. The woman standing about twenty feet behind me, watched me closely.  When I turned to leave, she didn’t even attempt to avert her eyes, she just watched. Her observing me, me observing the others, and him floating along the water, watching it all with a smile. There were no tears today, just peace.

This is the first time I have written about him without crying. I have finally let him go. I have let him go both literally and figuratively, evidenced by my sense of peace and lack of salty tears.  He will always be a part of my past.  Knowing him and loving him has shaped who I am today which will certainly impact who I will become in the future.  But this next chapter is mine. Mine to write as I wish, carrying with me all that I have learned and all that I wish to experience.

And should I ever wish  to say hello, I will simply walk my feet down to the Bay and watch the waves lap against the pier, where he dances on the water and observes the passersby – just as he always has.

Your truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  Thank you for taking this journey with me. Your readership, friendship and support makes all the difference in the world. xo

 

How Do You Say Goodbye Without Saying Goodbye?

I wish there had been a funeral or a memorial service.  Something. Something ceremonial or commemorative.  I feel like maybe that was the plan at one point, but the way that everything unfolded was too unpredictable and bizarre.  I don’t think anyone knew how to handle it, or wanted to handle it, or wanted to really face what happened and how much was left unknown.

I think that there is something to be said for communal grieving.  Funerals are not something that anyone looks forward to or wants to attend, but there is something about the gathering of loved ones to help usher and acknowledge the end of ones life.  I remember my grandfather’s and grandmother’s and uncle’s and cousin’s husband’s and friend’s brother’s funeral all vividly. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast two days ago, but I can remember those days like they were yesterday.  They are significant and something I know now to never take for granted.

The thing about my ex boyfriend is that he had been missing for two months.  You can’t have a funeral or service when you don’t know if someone is dead or alive. You have to hope and pray and wait. And then when his body was found, it was so badly decomposed that it was shipped from coroner to coroner throughout the state, each one trying to determine the cause of death.  I don’t think any of us expected it to take so long and everyone was hoping to find out why he died.  To know for sure.  Maybe that would offer some closure. But alas, it came back unknown.  Almost 8 months after he was found and 10 months from when he died, his remains were finally released.  Perhaps there should have been a funeral then, but there wasn’t.  And it wasn’t my place to push.

My most vivid memory is the day after his body was found. I took the day off work and went to his mother’s house.  I sat with her as she made calls to friends and family and as she spoke with the local coroner about next steps.  We drank tea. We went for a walk and sat on a bench under the elm trees in a nearby park.  We shared stories with his grandfather, and we also sat in silence. So much silence.  Later in the evening, his aunt, uncle and cousin came by the house with dinner. We all sat out on the patio, trying to make sense of everything and watched the sun slowly slip below the horizon.  Spoke logically about next steps and reminisced on when he was a boy and all the things we’d wished for him.  I didn’t cry much that day. Perhaps the hours of crying the day before or the countless hours to come kept them at bay that day. Or perhaps it was too real.  I left feeling exhausted, but at peace.  It was nice to have the warm embrace of those that loved him and to share our sadness and confusion.

But that was the only time we gathered in his name.  Nothing formal was ever planned.  When his remains were released, they were divided among his family and his sister graciously offered me some as well.  So now I have this small packet of ashes to spread. And I don’t know what to do with him.  Selfishly, I want that damn ceremony with his friends and loved ones where we can laugh and cry and share stories until the wee hours of the morning.  But we don’t always get what we want.  And I suppose it’s fitting, since I never knew what to do with him when he was alive.  Makes sense I wouldn’t know what to do with him now.  Keep him close or let him go, free to dance on the wind and the waves.

I will never again take for granted the opportunity to grieve together.  To know what happened.  To have a large group of people that want to celebrate and mourn you and mark the end of your brilliant chapter on Earth.

And I don’t mean to sounds angry or resentful that he didn’t get a life celebration or memorial or funeral, I just mean to highlight how beneficial it is in the grieving process.  It helps to look it in the face, feel it in your bones and share the experience with others.  There is a reason you find these ceremonies in most cultures and civilizations across the globe and throughout the centuries. Major life events deserve to be acknowledged.  This was just too bizarre and too painful and unfolded in a way that made it easier to put off, and off, and off. And so the grieving has been long, and drawn out, and long.

sand

I normally tie my writing off with a nice little bow and “here is the takeaway”, but there really isn’t a nice bow on this.  It’s still not closed.  I still have his ashes on my shelf in a box that says Love, waiting to meet their final destination. Now where-oh-where do I take him?  Where-oh-where do I lay him to rest?  Where-oh-where do I choose to take my tiny piece of him and say goodbye, in my own to-be-determined ceremony of my own?

This is life.

Beautiful. Messy. Real.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

 

 

 

 

Unarmoring My Heart

It wasn’t until the death of my ex-boyfriend that I realized how strongly I had been guarding my heart.

It should have been evident from my inability to find another partner, but I couldn’t see it. I had grieved the death of our relationship, the future we planned for ourselves, and his presence in my life…  But when I grew weary of mourning, I shut it down – and the remaining pieces that needed examining, laid quiet within me.

unarmored-heart

The past few months have been a blur for me.  From the moment I was notified of his disappearance, I felt it inside me – he was gone.  But with lack of a body and no evidence to support it concretely, I had hoped for the best and went through the motions of searching for him and discussing all the possible scenarios with his family.

Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned myself spending so much time with his mother and the conversations we have had.  She and I have been a support to one another in ways that words cannot begin to describe (but of course, I will try).  The stories we have shared with one another have shed light on parts of him that neither of us saw.  It has helped to connect the dots.  To answer unanswered questions. To see the man we both loved so dearly in a much broader sense.

When I received the news that his body had been found, it was as if the whole world stopped and came crashing in. There was a reckoning. Every thought and feeling and emotion that was left unaddressed came bubbling up and pouring out. I was unleashed.  Consumed by feelings of loss and regret, I knew I had to sit with it.  I had to allow it to surface and to acknowledge every tear and fear as it arose.  And I did. And I grieved the loss of him – heavily.

And it didn’t take long before the truth came to me and looked me square in the face: ever since our breakup, I have been dating with a guarded heart.

In some ways I had known it all along, but I hadn’t realized how strongly I had it guarded until that moment.  Yes, I have learned to embrace life and friendships and my passions in life with a kind of fierceness and unbridled sense of adventure that is easy for myself and others to see. How confusing then, for men who try to date me, when they can see how open my heart is for the rest of the world, and how armored it is for them.

How completely unfair of me to expect that I should find a patient and open-hearted Knight in Shining Armor to unlock the chains I placed, when I wasn’t even willing to hand them the key.

So now I must remove my armor.

In order to receive the love I so greatly desire to feel again, and to build the family I long to have, I must remove the barriers I have built, and allow space for love to enter again.  I must be willing to place my heart into hands that promise to hold it gently, and trust that it will be cared for and tended to, the same way I will tend to theirs.

And so begins the next chapter for me, of unarmoring my heart. Of learning to love again, unbridled, without fear of being broken.

I can only hope, and try one day at a time, to allow my tender-heartedness to be my greatest strength and not my weakness.  To remember that love is worth the risk and that it is always good to have it stretched open, even if it has to close back up for mending.  Like a beautiful flower, it can always bloom again.

Here’s to unraveling the chain, one link at a time!

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

Listen to your Heart

There is so much talk about paying attention to your breath.  Your life force. The way your feet hit the ground when you propel yourself down the path. The way you react when someone or something triggers you.

You must pay attention to your thoughts.  Pay attention to your verbal response and to your initial instinct.  Pay attention to what triggers you, why it triggers you and how you consciously choose to respond – then change the course of your conditioning.

But what about listening to your heart?

listen to your heart

Can you feel it open when you are with someone that makes you feel safe and understood?  Can you feel it flutter when you have stumbled upon something that excites you?  Can you feel it constrict when you feel threatened or misunderstood or wronged?

Have you ever placed your hand over your heart when something moves you?

Have you ever laid your hand over your lover’s heart as they share their story with you?

There is a power there.  An answer. A blessing.  A key to understanding.

I do agree that we must pay attention to our breath. To our body.  To our mind.  To our word choice and to our actions.  Absolutely.

But, I also think we must be aware of the rhythm and the state of our heart.  I am beginning to feel as if it is our greatest compass.  The ultimate litmus test. Our advocate. Our confidant. Our guide.

From my heart to yours.

 

Yours truly,

 

Erin Terese