I often think about when I was younger and our frequent family summer trips to Lake Michigan. I would always hope for waves big enough to climb into and ride to shore. Under that water it was peaceful and exhilarating all at the same time. With my eyes closed, I trusted that wave would carry me to shore, and every single time it did.
Since the fall of 2016 there have been a series of traumatic events in my life. For a window of time it seemed like right when I would catch my breath the next event would hit.
The biggest of these traumatic events would be my dad and mentor in life being diagnosed and passing away of brain Cancer on September 11, 2020.
And the last straw was, in the winter of 2021, my friends Buck and Sheri lost their beautiful son Tate in the Oxford school shooting. I share this not to exploit them but to mark the impact this event and Buck’s words had on my life. At Tate’s Celebration of Life, Buck bravely stood on stage and asked us all “what light will you carry into the world in Tate’s memory. What trait of his will you carry and allow to live on.”
As I was driving home from Oxford I was feeling such deep grief and sorrow.
It grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. I thought how many more- how much more and how will I handle the next big wave.
It all became very clear. I have to adjust how I am experiencing the ebb and flow of life.
I am not alone in experiencing traumatic life events, no one has found the secret constant peaceful stream. The question in Buck’s words is the guiding force, “What light will you bring from it?”
I have been fighting the big waves for a while now- trying to stand up to them, facing them, silently screaming, “you won’t take me down”, holding my breath, thinking this one is going to be big, Each one brought me down in a crashing roar. Sand in my mouth, wind knocked out of me, angry, anxiety ridden, I was in survival mode yet again fighting.
The ebb and flow didn’t care about timing or my wishes, it had a plan ahead of time and nothing was changing that… the waves are coming.
It took me 50 years. 600 months I have been alive feeling this entire ebb and flow. It took me 600 months to get it.
I know from living through these tough years, that this is life- this ebb and flow will be constant- I can still stand in the water, BUT NOW without fear, I go back to my childhood and put my back to the wave. I lean in as I feel it touch my shoulder blades, I ride it to the shore and trust it.
This is the story, this is where the power is, wild and free rising after riding each wave fully to shore and knowing I can’t avoid it. I have to feel grief fully, fear fully, joy fully, love fully and sometimes all at the same time.
I ride this flow into the smooth beach to find comfort and it greets me with a reminder to get back up, catch my breath and fully feel the sunshine of opportunity on my face. Something larger than me whispers so loud my whole soul hears it, “what are you going to do with this?”
“If you worry too much about what might be, and wonder too long about what might have been, you will ignore and completely miss what is.” Let’s bring the light to this world and embrace what is.
Some light from the darkness:
☀️Foundation and youth mentorship program bringing light to the world in memory of Tate Myre, #42 Strong
Follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/42strongtate even if you don’t live near Oxford you will be incredibly inspired following this Facebook page.
☀️The James D. MacPhee Leadership in Community Banking Training Center, Lansing, Michigan- training future leaders in community banking in memory of Jim MacPhee
☀️The Miracle League Field, Schoolcraft Michigan- allowing ALL to have a little fun every day through athletics. https://www.facebook.com/swmimiracle
☀️My new world - find me online at heallingheartwork.com
Online art workshops that calm and provide clarity at any chapter of life. facebook.com/healingheartwork
@healingheartworkonline on Instagram
💓Some Healing HeArtwork For You:
I painted this in my watercolor journal, using a variety of watercolor paints, including one of my favorites metallic gold, a white acrylic paint pen, black fine point pen, map of Michigan paper and text paper from an old book, and typewriter sticker letters. An art journaling workshop will be offered soon.
Free online wave and water painting tutorials that I thought you might enjoy are linked below- use any materials you want, cut paper, watercolor, acrylic paint, colored pencil, pastels- you pick!
I highly recommend that you sit with it for a minute and really add your own style, make it your own, there are no rules. Use this time to get lost in the flow of painting waves.