The Gift of Presence

A year ago, I wrote a short article on grieving through the Holidays, sending out the message of permission to be with the flow of grief during this season. In this article, I shared about the ways that I have coped with the Holidays after an immediate loss and again seven years later. Grief met me where I was at. I didn’t have to push it away or try to fake my way through it, I simply let myself be and do what felt right for me in the moment.

I would like to share from an authentic place of where I am at this year. I find myself in the magical dance with grief again, but this time it is more of a waltz. When I think of a 16th century waltz, I visualize two people taking long rapid strides, while remaining in close proximity with one another. I have found myself in a waltz of this nature, however instead of another person, I am dancing with my body.

About six months ago, I developed some physical issues within my body that seemed like they would go away after the course of a strong antibiotic. Well, much like a long and elaborate waltz, my health has molded into a sometimes sloppy, yet finely choreographed dance. It’s felt like a mini version to hell and back. Pain my friends is no joke.

I arrived to visit family a week ago and unfortunately my body has roared with pain. With my physical body in acute and uncontrolled pain at the moment, I get the extraordinary opportunity to be with my suffering. I believe life is a perfectly blended balance of suffering and bliss. Which can often be called ecstasy.

So here I am, in this sleep-deprived, physical pained state, and I am taking it in strides. Admittedly, I have not been the gentlest with myself or others on this pain journey, however I am also accepting that pain sometimes just requires a surrender to the somatic and emotional experience. One of the great teachers, Pema Chödrön, once shared “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be thrown out of the nest.”

Friend, I am out of the nest, falling into the limitless possibilities of what this Holiday season will bring. It’s the eve of Christmas and I can almost bet that I will be snuggled up with the cat, binge watching Netflix, and reminding myself that it is perfectly alright to honor myself and where I am at, even on a Holiday that only rolls around once a year.

I’m beginning to wonder if I removed the pressure or obligation of the needing to spend my Holiday like this or like that, perhaps the physical pressure in my body would also ease up some.

My friend and teacher, Frank Ostaseski, often advises people to, “Find a place of rest in the middle of it all.”

My Christmas wish for everyone this year is to find a place of stillness and rest wherever you are. Be it with 30 of your relatives and friends or cuddled up on your couch eating takeout while binge watching Netflix. Find the place of stillness and rest, and you will uncover a sweet gift. The gift of authentic presence.

For more information on my journey of grief, you can visit my website

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