Last summer I needed to shake things up a whole bunch. I didn’t know that at the time; it wasn’t a conscious decision. But now in reflection, t’s a very clear realization. It’s what needed to happen, on the exact day and time that it did. Thankfully, I was attuned to my intuition and higher guidance enough to be listening.

If you pay attention to a woman’s hair, you can almost always tell when she’s going through something big. You know what I’m talking about, ladies - for every major break-up, catastrophe or kick-in-the-ass from the universe, there is a corresponding change of hair color or length. Like a metaphor for shedding the weight of the emotional garbage we are suddenly carrying, we attempt to shed the weight IN our head by shedding the weight ON our head by getting bangs or adding layers. We go red or brunette or maybe pink or platinum. It’s a way of redecorating our exterior to mirror the interior renovation we’re undergoing.

I may have gotten a tattoo (or more than one) at these intersections of “what it was and what it is becoming”. Or maybe more accurately, “who I was, and who I am becoming”. The word sattva (Sanskrit for harmony) inscribed in permanent ink on my upper inner arm as my marriage started to unravel; the word Bliss carefully inked over my right shoulder following another breakup. Most recently I added a spiritual third eye encased in a pyramid surrounded by rays of illumination on my 54th birthday, and the word grace. Grace is written along my forearm on my left side, following the energetic line of the heart chakra.

Grace has become my creedo for my code of conduct, and it reminds me to respond to hurt with forgiveness. It is my guidance when I don’t know how to react or what to say in situations that have me feeling conflicted or upset. As you probably know, my ex-husband of 17 years died a few months ago following a two-week Covid illness. What you don’t know is that I found out about his catastrophic health collapse and his death through Facebook, rather than from family or friends. It was confusing, infuriating, gut-wrenching, and horrifying to learn of it after casual friends who hadn't seen him in years. The way people react after the death of someone close is always unpredictable, and even more amplified when the death is unexpected. The grief, the hurt, the ‘what if’s’ come in huge tidal waves. Sometimes the grief shows up as sharp arrows slinging in all directions, and unfortunately I was the target for a couple of these sharp darts from some women in his family who were fiercely protective of him. It was made clear to me that me and my son were not welcome to grieve with the others, as though all of the good years spent together were erased and our life with him never existed. I have chosen to respond to this with grace, deciding that those who joined hands to form a tight circle around celebrating his life and mourning his death needed each other’s company more than I need theirs. Nothing has taught me more about grace than death, the greatest teacher of all.

The time and space I have had in the desert since my arrival has been pivotal in allowing me to heal. The opportunity to begin a new life with a blank page allowed me to reflect on all my past loves and losses, my growth and my missteps. After my first few weeks of processing my grief and confusion, I got antsy for all of the new blank space to get filled up. It didn’t happen. More blank space. I wondered if I had somehow misread that this new place was where I was supposed to be after all. And then I realized that the blank space itself was the gift; the wide open landscape, small city with much less traffic and fewer people was what was giving me the opportunity to reflect, empty out all of the past hurt and attachments I was supposed to shed, and make space for what I’m supposed to create next.

I’m surrounded by magnificent mountains and rock structures that I swear some days are talking to me, giving me spiritual strength and fortifying me from the outside-in. There are 12 million years of history in these rock formations, some of them stacked up as if aliens had been playing some ancient form of Jenga here (and who are now sitting back and watching now to see just how far the humans will go to fuck up what has been built and bring it all crashing down). I am awe-struck when I go to these rocks and feel their energy. It’s given me some much-needed female warrior vivacity.

I have gotten stronger every year (mentally, emotionally and physically) and this past year was the biggest yet, facing things I never imagined. Thankfully the universe was taking care of me and guiding me, because if I had known what was coming, I would have evaluated the magnitude of both of these things - the move and a death - as being far more than I would be capable of processing in a 24-hour period. I’m not certain I would have been able to execute the move.

I probably would have stayed in California and gotten bangs.

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