For Who’s Benefit Are You Telling Your Story?

When I first came back from Gold Lake, Colorado, after spending a day and a half on the land, in a mystical experience that took place outside of my normal understanding of time, I had to integrate this spiritual experience with the regular, ongoing experiences of my physical existence, of my life journey.

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My sanctuary site at Gold Lake, 2009

One of the ways of doing this was through sharing the story of my experience with others. There were a few people who knew I was embarking on that sojourn. Some, not all, also knew that prior to going I already had experiences with non-physical guardians and guides. I had been learning to connect with my guides in healing work. And I could, when asked, help other people connect with their own guides, learn to access them and to work with them in their own journeys. I was not, am not, the messenger as much as the connector.

Story at workWhen I arrived home, I began to share the story of what happened at Gold Lake with people, tuning into what they wanted to hear. For some, to hear I went to Gold Lake and came home again was enough. For others, to hear the high level overview was enough. And for some, they wanted full details of as many moments as I could offer. And it was surprising at times who wanted what. It was discernible by the questions they asked and the attentiveness of their listening.

Slide1It was important for me to discern why I might be telling the story to any given individual. Was I telling the story because of my own need to share it, to understand it, to integrate it? Or was I telling the story because for some reason, the other person needed to hear it? If it was just about me, I would have babbled on to anyone in hearing distance all the time. But I had enough people willing to hear and witness my story, I did not need to visit it on people unwilling or unable to hear. And it is a sacred story to be shared in the right moments. Stories hold “medicine” and healing for others when they are ready to hear them so it is a gift to also share experiences, which is what I am relearning now as I have hesitated to share more of the mystical/spiritual stories in my blog. One friend, who wanted to hear the whole story, at the end shook his head and said, “Well, whatever happened, it is clear it was real to you.” It was real to me, although I cannot tell you how many times I have asked myself the question, “Is this real or am I making it up?”

This realization was part of why I wrote my memoir: Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness – not just to share the spiritual journey but to share my own ambivalence with my spiritual journey and the on again off again nature of my relationship with it. And it is also the story of grief, resilience, perseverance and joy – of embracing all the strangeness of who I thought I was (or think I am) and the vulnerability that comes from openheartedness. The stories of being fired from a job, marrying and divorcing, not once but twice, finding out later in life I was adopted, becoming the health care advocate for both my parents and my mother’s journey with dementia, in long term care and her eventual death in 2012.

Life is full of the bitter-sweetness of discovery – sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and more often both at the same time. We are not in bliss the whole time, neither are we in grief or sorrow the whole time, if we choose. When we meet life with the expansiveness of the soul journey lens, our stories become healing for us and others who are inspired by how we meet the path that rises up to greet us.

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Intuitive Knowings

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A pathway in Gold Lake Colorado

In 2009, I found myself standing on the side of a mountain at Gold Lake Colorado, drawn inexplicably to this place as if by a magnet. I was there to meet myself. And, I was there to meet the ancestors. Ancestors I had an inkling of but did not yet know intimately. I was there to walk on a land that resonated with every single footstep I took, taking me back to a vision in a drumming circle nine years beforehand. A vision where I “flew” over a land on the back of a lion, arriving at a huge bonfire, to join the ancestors who were dancing, chanting and singing around the fire in wild celebration, permeating joy through every cell of my being.

Kathy Sacred Tattoo DesignNine years later, walking the pathways of Gold Lake, the lion reappears instantly and every footstep reverberates in the beat of the drum only I can hear, growing louder in my soul with each passing day, on a land I had seen in a vision that I did not know existed until I was there.

I was called there through an invitation to an Art of Hosting training, hosted by good friends. I had no role and no need to be a participant in a training having become a skilled practitioner in my own right. And yet, time after time, I could not resist opening that invitation and staring at it longingly. The appeal made no logical sense. Eventually I understood I just needed to go. In making the commitment, one of my friends on the hosting team invited me to stay longer to do a vision quest on the land with her. That was how I ended up on the side of the mountain, in time out of time, visiting with ancestors and other guides not visible to physical sight, being told how much love I am capable of, embracing parts of me I did not know – the stranger in me – with the journey to openheartedness becoming more apparent, conscious and intentional.

This is a dramatic story and example of intuitive knowing. More of that story is shared in Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness. Not every intuitive knowing is so dramatic. They happen in everyday occurrences and in subtle ways. Recently my twelve year old son and I were crossing the street on a cross walk at an intersection. A vehicle pulled up on the inside lane to make a right hand turn on a red light just as we were reaching the vehicle. I had my hand out to hold back my son even before the car started moving. Involuntarily, I said, “Whoa.” The driver’s window was open, the driver was startled to see us there. But I knew, I sensed, this driver was going to make the turn without seeing us.

How many times are you driving in traffic that you can sense the intention of a driver near you – that they want to change lanes or make a turn, even before they indicate their intention, if they do so? Or you need to pay a bill, have forgotten the due date and just before or on the due date, it is so on your mind you know you have to check? Or, if you didn’t, later you wish you had?

How about when you sense what is going on with someone even if you haven’t been in touch with them in awhile? Those times when you just know you need to pick up the phone, reach out in an email or go visit? Or maybe you have received messages from a loved one who has passed on? Some people know this with certainty and others hold it with caution, as if afraid to hope it could be true.

We have been trained out of trusting our intuitive knowing in favour of rational, logical ways of knowing. Yet when we open ourselves to what we intuitively know, we also open ourselves up to a more expansive experience and tap into the subtle realms – to see what cannot be seen with physical sight, to feel the energies all around us, to converse with beings and entities that are readily available, wanting to support us but limited in the ways they can do so when we do not see them or acknowledge their existence.

This is not something that is restricted to special, gifted people, which was a belief I carried for a very long time. This is a part of the natural continuum of life that is available to each and every one of us. We need to stop questioning ourselves, allow ourselves to believe what we experience is also real, suspend logic and judgment, bring curiosity and compassion and be in co-discovery with others willing to be in the exploration because it amplifies the experience and gives us someone else who can “verify” our own experience.

Trusting your intuitive knowing offers beautiful expansiveness and access to far greater wisdom and knowledge than is available simply in the physical realm.

Compelling Journey: Responding to the Call of Life

Gold Lake, Colorado

Gold Lake, Colorado

Sometimes, things are so compelling we have no choice but to respond, for not responding is akin to crazy making. In 2009, I had my most convincing experience of acting on my intuitive knowing when I decided to go to Gold Lake, Colorado, ostensibly for an Art of Hosting training, hosted by beloved colleagues, but really to deepen into my journey to openheartedness in ways I couldn’t possibly have comprehended.

In this interview clip I connect the dots between several points in my journey, including a period of intense conflict that was also a time of healing, a compelling urge to travel to Gold Lake, Colorado for reasons beyond rational sense and a growing awareness of the power of storytelling to make sense of our lives.

The clip is about seven minutes. Enjoy.