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The Christmas letter.

It was the first Christmas that my dad would not be with us.  He wouldn’t be there to make us laugh with goofy stories and facial expressions.  He wouldn’t be there to blink in irritation as travel plans went awry.  He wouldn’t be there to help me design my annual gingerbread house.  And he wouldn’t be there to give us firm hugs full of love.  We wanted to find a way to honor and remember him, but how?

We did various things that first year, like donating toys we thought my dad would like to kids in need, but one activity stuck:

Letter writing.

My mom asked my brother and me to each write a letter to my dad, seal it in an envelope, and put it in my dad’s stocking before Christmas morning.  She assured us that no one would read them and shared that knowing we’d taken some time think about him would mean a lot to her.

So each year I pick out a favorite note card or nice piece of stationary, find a quiet place to sit and I write a letter to my dad with the smooth blue and silver pen that used to flutter across the paper in his hand.

This tradition is a sacred opportunity to reflect on the year that has passed and tell him about what he’s missed.  I cry, I laugh, and often times, I run out of words to express what lies within my heart.  But no matter what happens, it feels good to connect. I feel honored to remember.  And writing makes it possible.

(Excerpt from the Heart-Mending Wordsmith course, June 2014)

If you’d like to join us in doing some letter writing of your own, please join us for The Heart-Mending Wordsmith. It all begins January 23rd and I look forward to seeing you there.

Much love to you, now and always,

Caitlin

P.S. We’ll also be doing some letter writing on this week’s journaling call as a way to practice self-compassion and allow the love we generate from within to spread out into the world.

You can join us for that here.

 

*This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission that will help me keep the site up and running and beautiful as ever. Thanks so much for your support!

 

The thing that changes everything.

I woke up one morning feeling so special.  Not in an arrogant, better-than-everyone-else sort of way in which this statement might normally be taken, but in a genuine awareness of how special we all are.  You.  Me.  Everyone.

And it is this deepening awareness that so strongly makes me feel the need to tell you so.

You are so special.  Prized.  Cherished.  Treasured.  Adored.  And your soul, your love, and your life matter so much more than you can possibly imagine.

Those of us that are lucky, have parents, family members, friends, and teachers tell us this as we grow up.  But to we really believe them?  Do we know it to be true as surely as we can feel our own heartbeat?

Why do we resist this?  For fear, as I mentioned before, of falling into arrogance?  The irony there is that at this moment, I can’t think of anything more humbling than to honor the magnificence that is all of creation, recognizing and celebrating the love and goodness and gifts within ourselves and others.

How strikingly beautiful would the world be if we all really knew how special we are and wholeheartedly lived our lives from that understanding?

There is a quotation from Holocaust survivor Jay Sommer that I always felt captured the essence of my mission as a public school teacher.  It goes like this:

“Inspiring students with a sense of their own worth gives them the confidence to express themselves more freely, to explore and learn through their mistakes, and to regard learning as an adventure.”

Perhaps we’re all just students who need to be inspired with a sense of our own worth in order to regard LIFE as an adventure.

May you know the depths of how truly special you are and allow that knowledge to be the spark that changes everything.

With love,

Caitlin

(June 25, 2015)

Photograph by: Morgan Sessions on Unsplash.com

Healing through forgiveness.

Earlier this week, I sat on my bedroom floor, Dino curled up in his bed…my mind returning to lamenting some of the decisions I’ve made… the kind of thing where, just as you get to a new layer of forgiveness, it seems to pop back up–the judgments of others cascading or ping ponging, or whack-a-mole-ing back into your mind.

And I said, that’s enough. In my mind. And aloud, I said, “you know what Dino, I think we need a Forgiveness Jar.”

And with the slap of my legs, I hopped up, grabbed a 32 oz. mason jar, a stack of post-its and started writing.

Now this is a variation on an exercise I used to do, where I wrote aspects of my situation or current experience down on little slips of paper (lovely varied color card stock, to be exact) and put them into a lovely glass vase…they were beautiful. And they helped bring me back to my present experience. The act of writing them down, and declaring how I was feeling, honoring my experience in that way, and then putting them into the vase held serious healing power for me.

And now, I found myself in need of that healing again.

My road down the lane of forgiveness…or perhaps we shall call it a river, has been flowing for quite some time.

Sometimes it’s like raging rapids asking to be calmed with the power of pure intention and a loving heart, and other times it seems to flow along peacefully with a light blue energy of Mother Mary…and a knowing that “they know not what they do.”

There are times where these, to me, feel like some of the most peaceful words ever spoken. A soothing salve for the wounds of the soul.

And sometimes, in fact most of the time, the one so often in need of forgiving, in need of our pure loving and infinitely giving and abundant presence, is our very own self.

I have needed to forgive myself more times than I can count. And it seems just as I reach a new layer, more things will surface…so the journey goes, I suppose.

But every step of the way, we know we’re going deeper, we know we’re getting closer and closer to the light of our true selves.

And that is my hope for you today as I share these prompts…

That in offering yourself any tidbit or sliver of forgiveness that you are able, that a bright shining part of you will be able to shine through all the brighter, and light this world with love.

Because the very first person in the world, who always deserves more love…is you.

So love yourselves hard today, dear ones. Hold your sweet little child self close and whisper to her that it will be alright. Tell her she is doing a good job, reassure her that all is well…

And if she asks, be willing to speak the words, “you are forgiven.”

For as you forgive yourself, you open the pathway to being able to forgive others with such tenderness and grace.

And let’s be honest…I think the whole world can use a lot more of both of those things right now.

Oh! And if you want to create a forgiveness jar…

This is what you do:

  1. Pick a jar or container (coffee can, vase, cookie container…whatever you can find) and declare it your FORGIVENESS JAR.
  2. Place a stack of post its or pieces of paper nearby. (I found that writing on the post its upside down and then folding them in half so that the bottom half sticks to the back works well.)
  3. Whenever you notice yourself feeling hard on yourself for something, or notice a regret pop into your mind, write it down… “I forgive you for…(and fill in the blank for whatever it is you feel needs forgiving),” fold it in half, put it in your jar, and let the worry and burden of it fall away.
  4. You’d be surprised how quickly this can bring relief! When I did mine, I wrote several all at once, and then the next morning when one regret that I’d written about the night before popped into my mind, my immediate thought to myself was “I forgive you” or “you’re forgiven” and I went about my merry way.
  5. I hope this works for you as well as it did (and does) for me… and if you try it, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below…

Much love to you always,

And may forgiveness radiate through your heart to bring healing to all in sight,

Caitlin

 

The power of connection in grief and loss.

When I lost my dad, I didn’t feel I could connect with other people my age anymore…
What did other 20 year old’s know about caring for and helping to support a dying parent after college?

Everyone else was off living their dreams…
While I was stuck in a grief that it felt no one could understand.

How could they?

They hadn’t been through it. It was so outside of the scope of their reality of what they knew in their own lives.

But through that experience, a star was born, right here within my heart.

I found my way through. Even in such isolation, I found a way through.

And writing was part of that solution.

So I’d like to share that with you…

But more than that, I craved a group, other people my age who could understand…

It felt painful to feel that the only people who could understand my reality were the elderly and those so much older and in a different place of life than me.

How was I supposed to deal with this on my own, or so it seemed?

I did find a couple of other girls, one at first and then the other, who had lost their dad’s too. One had been in high school, the other, a few years out of college.

And connecting with them was worth everything.
It helped me know that I wasn’t alone. That even though our experiences were different, there was a common thread.

I wasn’t the ONLY one to have lost her dad at such an age.

That connection was priceless.

And so I have learned…

Connecting + Writing = Magic Healing Superpower

And that’s EXACTLY what I’ve created here in this group for you.

Connection with others to help you know you’re not alone.
And writing experiences to connect you more deeply with your inner self, your navigational guide and source of love when all else fails or seems to have fallen away…

So I guess it’s all about connection, really.

Connecting with others, to help give you full permission to connect with YourSELF.

Because you are worth it.

You deserve to feel connected.

And you deserve to feel loved.

Join us, and know that you’re not alone.
Connect to an inner strength you never knew you had, and make some new friends along the way.

It’s all here waiting for you.

All you have to do is say yes to the whisper inside that says, maybe things can be different…

And I’m here for you. Every step of the way.

Namaste.

Much love and many blessings to you always~

Caitlin

 

P.S. You can sign up for the group here: http://eepurl.com/dLCLWc

P.S.S. Anytime past or present. If you’ve experienced loss in your lifetime…this golden ticket is for you:

 

jpg of golden ticket

The Sunday Post: You are enough.

Hello, beautiful souls,

I’m going to play with offering a Sunday Post. An email or blog post of inspired goodness for you each week, something to help lift you up and hopefully feel less alone.

I love Sunday’s. They are so quiet.

And today we had the privilege of some sunlight peeking through after the rain, so I got to see one of my favorite things…

Leaves with water droplets on them, glistening in the sunshine! All different shapes and sizes and colors, all shining in different and unique ways depending on their size and shape, the way that the sunlight passes through…just like our great big Human Family.

May you be wrapped in love as you read through today’s Post:

 

Walking towards the sunlight in the rain is hard…

 

It’s muddy and mucky and ucky and sometimes we can wonder if we’re ever going to get there.

But I have hope for you today…

Because each step we take MATTERS.

 

Every step we take towards the light, and all that brings us happiness and peace and joy, COUNTS.

It counts for something.

It counts for EVERYTHING.

 

So I’d like to share with you, these video clips from the Lion King.

Watch The Circle of Life all the way to the end and see that sunlight streaming through.

CIRCLE OF LIFE

And then, watch at the end, where he returns to the land he once knew, shattered, tattered, shamed and destroyed.

LION KING FINALE

It’s like this for each of us, the shame and pain, the anguish we feel within our own hearts. (And in our world)

And to make our way to the bright shining sun of restoration we so adore, and desire and deserve, we have to be willing to take those first few steps…

To climb that rock in the rain.

To remember WHO WE ARE. And know that IT IS TIME.

 

May you remember who you are,

the light of your being,

 

and just like the light of the stars

shining through

whispering

you’re enough, you’re enough, you’re enough.

 

And in this enoughness, you

are ALWAYS worthy of taking

steps in the rain to help you get closer and closer

to the light.

 

This week’s journal prompt is:

What helps you remember that you are enough?

 

I’d love to hear in the comments below, so we can create a beautiful collection of loving ideas for everyone.

 

And in the meantime, may you be so infinitely, and abundantly blessed.

 

Much love to you always,

Caitlin

 

P.S. Would you like a BE OUR GUEST Taste Test of the Heart-Mending Wordsmith Program?

*You can sign up here (just click the link above), play with the course, and then simply PICK YOUR PRICE and send in a payment amount that you select through Paypal. ( I recently did this for a lovely woman who purchased last week and it was beautiful! And she is loving the course! And I am so thrilled! 🙂 )

P.S.S. Would you like to receive a copy of my Sunday Post in your inbox each week? This is a new idea I’m playing with and it will include a little love note from me, some inspired goodness like this, and a weekly journal prompt for you to play with that week…and submit some of what you uncover in the comments if you like. Sign up for the Sunday Post here.

You are a brave soul.

 

“You are a brave soul,” she said.

And something within me

sat upright & at attention,

so now I want to share with you

that you

are a brave soul too.

These are the words down a blank sheet of paper upon returning home from an acupuncture appointment.

I can still see the desk now, my dad’s slanted art desk, white on top, with black trim…

and the gold, permanent, Sharpie marker I used to write these words down in my notebook.

You see, I had just experienced a devastating loss…and after a really horrendous Uber ride to my appointment that had my nervous system misfiring even more out-of-whack than usual, I found myself a sobbing wreck upon arrival.

I was immediately taken to my usual treatment room, where I lied out on the treatment table and allowed myself to cry while I waited for my appointment time.

In my sobs, a quiet woman came in. She was a Chinese woman with a soft demeanor, a gentle presence about her.

Memories of being in this very room, with the person I’d lost, a supportive friend who had been there with me in that very room on a treatment the time before…

I could see him there now. The memory so clear and vivid.

Yet, him, so anguishingly absent.

And I sobbed.

So much so that they sent this kind woman in to greet me, to sit with me, to wait me, and to help me find my own inner calm.

I don’t know what anyone expected, but I received a priceless gift that day…something that far outweighed any treatment I’ve ever received.

She gave me hope. And she, in a very real, and tangible and physical way, gave me the gift of knowing that I wasn’t alone, and helped me to feel the love, the softness within my heart.

She took my hand and gently placed it over my heart.

Then I believe she told me to feel, to feel the love within my heart, saying that it was always there for me.

And this gesture, this putting my hand over my heart that has meant so much to me over the years, found a new layer of good fortune, of treasure for me.

And as my cries began to quiet, and I allowed myself to soften and to breathe, she said, ” You are brave soul.”

And something within me did, truly, did sit upright, and at attention. Something within me sat up very clearly as if to say back, “yes, that is me.” And perhaps even on so say, “I’m so glad you finally realized, that you’re finally calling me by name, recognizing WHO I truly am. YES, that is ME.”

She helped me to believe in myself.

She helped me to know that I would be okay.

She helped me tap into a part of myself that even through the grueling years prior to that still remained untapped.

You see, we all end up in places in our lives where no matter who we are or how much we’ve grown, there is always still another level deeper…

Another level of peace.

Another level of skin to shed…to come to know our true selves more fully than we ever have before.

And that’s what this was for me.

A recognition of a part of me that had been there all along, just waiting for me to call her name.

To tell myself the truth about who I am:

That I am a Brave Soul.

And that knowing couldn’t help but come with the desire to spread the word everywhere, as far as I could reach that day…if only at first, from that golden scribbled message on the tattered piece of paper I’d written on that day.

So now, I finally have the opportunity to declare, to tell you how brave you are.

To say that you are a brave soul, too, and to let us join together and sing in nature’s most beautiful and glorious song, the song that lives within our hearts.

And that’s what writing is all about for me, uncovering the voice that wants to sing, the love that dwells within our hears just waiting to burst out.

So I hope you’ll join me, on this blog, in any one of my offerings.

It would be an honor to sing with you, in whatever form that takes.

Much love to you, now and always,

Caitlin

 

I’d love to hear from you in the comments…

What helps you remember your bravery and helps you feel connected to the love within your heart?

For the love of peonies.

I glance at the peony on the window sill, and admire its loveliness.

It is a large bloom, a light and delicate shade of pink in color.

I’ve known others to rave about peonies but I never quite understood. Perhaps because of never actually seen one in real life.

Now I get it, I think to myself.

There is a softness to them. And a fullness. Which, together…just feels right.

I remember a quotation from a dear friend of mine. It’s funny, because she too had the same softness, yet fullness of life.

Anyway, she said,
“Life is a leap of faith; a bold declaration of hope.”

I can’t count the number of times over the last few years since she left my life that I’ve thought of this quote. And that I’ve found myself thinking, she was absolutely right.

Just being here is an act of courage. Our very presence is a gift of grace.

And I do not say this lightly.

I know the heart wrenching anguish of this life. I know what it’s like to be at the brink, to be in such agony that all I want is a break from this life.

But I also know what it’s like to listen to a song, hear a simple harmony and have it break my heart wide open, as I cry and cry at what a holy and magnificent privilege it is to be alive.

And how is it that we were created to hold such depths? To be able to FEEL such depths?

This is not something that everyone can do. But my guess is, if you’re here reading this right now, you can.

Not everyone can face it all. Not everyone can allow themselves to feel it all.

Let alone face it and feel it at the depths that we do.

And while this may feel like an absolute curse to you, you’re right, because sometimes it is!

It is also one of our greatest treasures.

It’s what makes us fully alive.

It’s what helps us to bring new life into a world that so desperately needs it.

So.
You are magnificent.
Your softness and your fullness are to be celebrated–and they are.

Today, I hope you’ll join me (and the angels and all of life) in celebrating the wonder and the miracle that you already are.

You are held and loved in each moment, dearest one.

May you feel and rest in this knowing, now, always, and forever.

(March 12, 2017)

Thank you for honoring my story.

A blog post I wrote a year ago that was never published…my intention is the same, pure and true.

And yes, it is true…our deepest pain often does hold our greatest treasure.

May you enjoy and be blessed as you read every word.

Much love to you,

Caitlin

. . .

As I set out on this fresh start, I want you to know that when I share my pain, I’m not sharing it as a cry for help or in an attempt to seek counsel.

 

It’s just that often times, it is our greatest pain that holds our greatest treasure.

And most any pain that I share here, I’ve already had a long, nurturing chat with–we’ve likely shared a cup of tea and I’ve likely held her as she cried, reassuring her that I’m with her, that I’ve got her, and that she doesn’t have to face any of it alone.

So I share my pain as an act of service, that it may become a doorway that leads us to the most remarkable collective treasure.

I do, however, still appreciate you receiving my stories with kindness & compassion:), honoring my lived experience and perspective with the respect that it deserves. You are wonderful. Thank you for this.

May you be blessed with all the love and compassion, kindness and courage that your journey requires. You can do it. Remember, you were born for this.

 

Sweet little bird.

From March, this past spring…

A lovely moment to bring you some peace and uplifting ease.

Much love to you, now and always,

Caitlin

. . .

Sitting on the floor today with Dino, one leg bent, the other outstretched–Dino snuggled up in the little crook of my knee, sweet eyes looking up at me.

Offering myself the sweet quiet space my body so desires.

Nurturing and love, relaxation & freedom. Freedom to create space. Freedom to enjoy space.

And in this moment of savoring, my head quickly turned to the right.

Right there, not any more than three feet from my door–my wood floor merged with the wood planks of the deck as I saw a sweet Little Oregon Junco through the glass.

The glass seemed to melt as I felt fully captivated and connected to her. I was amazed by how large she seemed, how sturdy and strong. Not what you typically think of for a little delicate bird.

But she was strong.

I noticed the way she tilted her head, and then three feet behind her I saw the sweet little bird I call Mama Hen. She’s small, like the junco, but with the coloring of a hen. So as she shows up here and there, a sweet little mothering presence when I feel I need it most, she earned her name fair and square. I think that she’d agree.

I just feel so thankful that she’s here to watch over me. All of them. Their cute little beaks and sturdy, steady feet. Dainty, yes. Delicate, perhaps. But also steady. And precise.

I just love them!

And I laughed with delight, like a little kid exploring something new for the first time. It was the energy of play; two toddlers jumping in a mud puddle after it rains!

And I felt connected to the peace within myself. And felt that it was an honoring of how far I’ve come–a celebration of the peace within me, knowing that birds would not come that close if they did not feel the peace and safety within.

So here I am. A sweet little moment, expanded for you today.

I hope that you find some sweet little signs from nature to guide you on your way–to bring a smile to your face and peace to your heart, helping you to know how infinitely and abundantly you are loved.

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering our wings.

Almost exactly a year ago in 2017, I started a new beginning.

Here’s how it went…

(May we sing together, and unite in song, and together, set the whole world free.)

Much love to you, now and forever,

Caitlin

 

. . .

A friend sent me a card in the mail several years ago–one of those craft paper style ones from Trader Joe’s. On the front there was a delicate illustration of a bird on a branch and along the side, a quotation from Victor Hugo was typed in a lovely italic:

Be as a bird,

perched

on a frail branch

that she feels

bending beneath her,

still she sings,

sings,

knowing

she has wings.

There have been many times I’ve identified with this little bird. Feeling stuck in a whirling storm with nothing but a frail branch to cling to. And sometimes I still feel this way. But I also believe that life gives us these storms and frail branches so that instead of looking to the branch to hold us, we discover the strong, steady, graceful wings that have been there to carry and guide us all along.

So as I set out on this new journey, reclaiming my voice and freeing my song by sharing the thoughts of the moment from my heart, may whatever pours forth help us remember our wings.

And may the strength and comfort of these wings support us, no matter how fierce the storm or how weak the branch beneath us.

Always, these gorgeous, magnificent wings.