Guest Post by Karin Vanhinsberg, Retreat Attendee/Mentor & Circle Member
Both my Grandmothers loved Hyacinths, one for their scent and signal of Spring; and, the other for the fabulous colour.
I think back to my grandmothers now and all the tools they taught me. My paternal grandmother taught me practical things like how to sew clothes, make candles, take care of a garden full of flowers, to polish and clean a home, to pick berries and make jam; and even, how to swim. One of my enduring memories of her is the baking we did together. Once we baked gingerbread men cookies during a thunderstorm and that became a prevailing request from me whenever she asked, “What would you like to do today?” To me now, I think what a wonderful way to teach coping and resilience…bake cookies in a storm.
My maternal grandmother taught me both internal and big picture things. She was involved in her local church choir, and took jobs in grass roots local stores like one called ‘The Dented Can’. She was involved with her neighbors, her family, her friends and I believe- did countless meaningful behind the scenes things for all of them. A connector of people, she was always writing letters to people she had met and sending little gift packages in the mail. Also, it was her unwavering policy to pet every dog, every cat and put out breadcrumbs and seed for every bird in her general vicinity. My favorite memory of her is her appetite for adventure, she said ‘yes !’ to any and every road trip or opportunity to see new places and things. We went on many walks too to visit friends and family. And, I can tell you this always included her suddenly sticking her foot out and tripping me as we walked along! “Grandma!” I would yell as I stumbled and felt a fool for yet again being tripped up; but, she could not help herself from adding in silliness, bringing me down to earth, reminding me to not take myself so very seriously and to see the world from the odd angle of a stumble.
There are other characteristics about these two Grandmothers that place them on opposite ends of the spectrum. My paternal grandmother for example, was quick to anger, ready to judge and hold a grudge; my maternal grandmother was forgiving and trusted everyone she met. I appreciate and celebrate the distance between those two points because when I notice those traits in myself I have such a broad spectrum of choices to respond from now. The word diaphysis (the shaft of the long bone) came to me when I was reflecting on what it is to navigate the distances between ourselves. It speaks to me of the lengths we go to maintain our comfort, our comfortable view of the world, our personal narratives and the distances created that foster misunderstandings. It is from my Grandmother experiences and tools that I see that navigating and growing through our relationships is our life’s work and our spirit-work. This work is grounded in our human-ness, it is in our bones.
Diagram of diaphysis of the ‘funny’ bone
Recently I have met another Grandmother, a Spirit Helper who seems to be as ancient as our original Ancestors. Her medicine is laughter, she sees through all stories, all happenings as if they are merely a play on a stage and the play is always a comedy. My first encounter with her was during a receiving of an energetic healing session of ‘causal realignment’, when I was journeying within my womb; (there I met a whole group of ancient grandmothers who have been holding wisdom right there in my womb). All morning before the session I had been feeling the sense of tears coming, my body already in tune with what the healing session held for me. When the session began, I felt the tears begin to swell, I said something serious like “Wow, there are so many Beings in the room right now”. There was a short silence and then the tears evolved through the sudden appearance of this Grandmother in the Spirit Realm. She was laughing uproariously, and running around the room high- fiving all the collected Beings there! The rest of the session was a series of repeated outbursts of this knee slapping, tear wiping, raucous laughter.
From this wise Grandmother I hear the call to add laughter first into all the tools from my grandmothers, from spirit journeys and from dreams. So calling in the circle for communion and community would look like this:
Yes, Moroccan goats in a thorn tree!
Honouring the layers within ourselves I offer a story vignette:
All these thoughts of Grandmothers and tools, it helps me to reflect practically on what tools I have and how they have been supporting me. Lately I have been asking myself each time I am feeling stressed or worried, ‘how can I support myself’? This might look as simple as being organized, getting enough sleep, going grocery shopping today instead of tomorrow, or calling a friend; or as important as working towards clearing a misunderstanding; downsizing my fears or taking a step into the unknown. Recently in my workplace, I met the spouse of a patient who had the diagnosis of a brain tumor. Some of what this meant for the spouse was a huge amount of watching over that person, enduring erratic behavior and embarrassing moments in public places in which the spouse might look like the cause of a problem. I had a moment to ask the spouse if the patient’s support group also had one for family. I asked the spouse to consider what all the things were that could support him because it would ultimately support the patient as well. This was a new idea to him but resonated when he understood it would help him care for his partner too. To me this is a tool, to discover and implement all the ways we can support self, un-barrier self because in doing so it ripples out to the greater whole and moves us all forward in a good way. Thank you for listening, these sharings have been co-created by spirit, the life lessons from the Ancestors and from the multilayered experiences of being in the way of the circle.
As spring awakens, what is it like to walk outside connecting with the thawing and freezing happening around us? Where within your bones, muscles, joints, organs, and blood, do you feel the thaw of expansion and the freezing of contraction? Where within your relationships are you expanding and contracting?
What would it be like to embrace the sweetness and silliness of the grandmother’s laughter, helping us receive support and nourishment through the ebb and flow of our lives?
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