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  • Writer's pictureGrace Sequoia

Challenges of the Heart

Closing The Year With Grace & Embracing Feelings


I don't know about you, but I think this past year has been full of emotional highs and lows, challenges to our minds and hearts, and tasking us to find balance in ways we might not have considered otherwise.


In my life, I have watched friends and family walk through many a trial and tribulations, losses and gains, each challenging the heart space, and each time finding the grace to smile while shedding tears, as they take steps to move forward.


Finding inner grace and learning how to embrace what challenges us versus raising our fists at what pushes back at us, takes courage and depth of character. We have to sit in the moment and find what light we can hold on to as we take another breath and then stand to the task at hand.


Loss can be disguised as willed strength, anger as fatigue, and ill-health can be hidden behind smiles and carefully worded responses. This is when we need kin and kind to step up and embrace us, look us in the eyes, and authentically share the truth we have closed our eyes to and hope no one asks about. The courageous souls that hold space for us, task us with healing, and walk beside us, are what we need. We need this individually, collectively and nationally. Perhaps even globally. Yes, I dare say globally.


As I walk though the wintery month and into the season that used to not be named winter, but the darks nights, an empty time, or the liminal space between harvest and spring, I am in review of the seasonal changes of my life and experiences. This time my heart is challenged by grief. Especially this year, as the loss of my father two years ago is joined for some reason with an emotional collage of past losses of a husband, parents, several pets, my own near death, and cancer survival.


No one knows why grief does this or how we carry our grief forward into our future. I'm not one to ignore my grief but I am good and used to walking tall and shouldering other's before attending to my own. I have gratitude for my kin and kind. They have embraced me, shouldered my tears, steadied my steps, and listened to my ramblings of past memories. They understand, they see me, they walk beside me. They remind me of my offerings of the same, though I don't remember this in the way they do. But I am sure, what they felt then must have been as heartfelt to them as I feel in my heart about their offerings to me.


As we age, we begin to learn the power of perception. What seemed emotionally and spiritually important in our early years and even into our forties, now shifts as we set the stage for our next life phase. I find myself in review and rather than archive my struggles, my wins and my challenges. I have learned to see people over their stories and behaviors.


This year I have learned to not just sort through the year's surprises, challenges or events. I have learned to find grace in honoring my past experiences and how that can help other's struggles of friends and family. As I step into the role as a family matriarch, I can see how my parents and grandparents used their own experiences with life's challenges to expand their heart space, find the grace to see past the story and embrace the person. I've learned how the loss of a partner and parents bring and emptiness of connection I couldn't have fathomed before, but now I can hold a hand, listen to someone's story and not need to place myself into the moment. I can hold space and not take it within, just be there knowing the feeling, the challenge to breath, and the time it might take to heal. I have learned that creating ways to honor what was before and embrace the hope of what might follow, comes from the little things we do, the ways we close our year.


This year I have decided I will light three candles on the Solstice. The first in gratitude for the opportunities to experience life and the magic it brought, even if it took a while to realize or see it. The second for the challenges I faced and either continue to move forward and heal or can now share what healing looks like, the verity of survival by choice and inner will to still live. The third is not for me at all. This candle is for those that have the challenges of the heart, a prayer if you will, that this single candle with its solitary light, be the one light that shines for them as they close this year and need someone to believe in them. Someone they don't know, to send grace and comfort, to lift the ceiling long enough to breath and not be weighted by the events up to now, or to come, before the clock surrenders its face to the new year.


In closing, I hope you all find ways to close your year, whether in a big moment or something private and personal. To remind yourself that your presence is enough, even if you don't see it, that someone does, even if they haven't yet shared it. I hope you believe that like the small blue butterfly in the picture, you still have wings to rise above the din of the emotional weight of the world. You still have magic and a light to shine and share with others. That even if you don't believe you are seen or prayed for, there is someone who does. And that the dark nights and storms will give way to spring. maybe not today, but the light will shine again. You will heal someday. That grief doesn't need to be hidden or have a time to leave. I hope you find the grace of your own heart space, embrace your self as counted worthy, regardless of the challenges and tears you may be shouldering. I offer you hope through one lit candle.




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