As our 5 months around the world (10 countries hand in hand) finds us returning to the most foreign of places....home....I find myself reflecting on what I can only coin as "nude explorations".
Now before y'all convince yourselves that I've been living in nudist colonies or can currently be found with a Frida Kahlo mustache and a banjo playing 'Crosby, Stills and Nash'....let me clarify:
Life...feeling alive...usually comes as a by-product of being our truest selves, our most vulnerable.
After Michael died in Iraq, I realized just how much a human can feel/suffer/loathe breathing....but man, was I alive.
Since I was at the point of feeling there was nothing left to lose, I felt that I could do anything(for better and worse). Jump out of a plane? Why not! Start a non-profit based around what I felt was lacking for my own grief as a military widow? Let's do it. Get a plaque on a bar wall for trying all 75 of their beers? Cheers! Book a trip to Spain and do a month long pilgrimage through who knows where, with no electronics or references in sight? Sure thing!
Was I crazy? Totally.
But I was naked to the world....
All that I was feeling, struggling through, interested in, were now things I didn't want to shove away for a rainy day... Whether because I felt like I might not live another year, or because the fear that once encroached so many of my decisions had dissipated with losing a person I loved more than myself.
Fast forward to nearly 8 years later.
I saw that the fearlessness in the beginning had manifested into beautiful things: wanting to live. wanting to love. wanting to support as many fellow widows as possible. Wanting to explore spiritual realms and practices....and the list goes on....but with time came that little creature, fear.
Suddenly I feared losing loved ones again. I feared anything happening to an organization that had become like my own child. I feared making mistakes and not staying true to my hearts calling...and with fear, came another layer of clothing on my once naked soul.
So when the opportunity came to travel the world with my best friend, teacher and smoochie partner....I shut out the fears and said "yes".
I said yes thinking that I still was a bit unclothed, but man was I wrong.....
The seclusion of Norway.
The sights and suffering of India.
The sickness in Nepal.
The beauty of Thailand, yet feeling like I was not doing enough back home.
The polarities of Vietnam.
The spirituality of Bali.
The nature of New Zealand
And finally, a slight return to reality with Australia.
Each country equated in a long played out game of soul strip poker....and man was it painful
When you're grieving, the pain of the heart hides the pain of the shedding....the vulnerability...
But when awareness arises and grief has taken a backseat, and you feel like all is good just as it is .....then (damn you timing) you see there is more you can shed to be truer and more open.....and well...that shit is straight up torture at times!
And that is what this trip has been (not the torture part...though there were the belly issues in Nepal)....learning how to live naked without relying on the proponent of loss or grief to spur it.
Learning how to really look at myself as more than just me....but we...and us.
Learning how to release fear and her many branches (anger, frustration, insecurity) to know true peace.
Learning how to let go and let God.
And with each learning, each layer of "clothing", I had Luke there to hold up the "hamper" and say, "You may feel cold. You may feel scared. You may feel lost.....but you're not...you're growing. You're here."
So I return home naked...
It wasn't easy.
I, at times, refused to "undress".
I went into panic when things back home had me feeling helpless.
I sometimes even dug in the "dirty laundry" to throw back on my "old favorite shirt"....
But I'm getting on that plane, and walking out of the "Arrivals" door, as naked as the day I truly arrived.
Not naked because of circumstances, but naked because of choice...
And it feels good...it feels free...a bit breezy at times...sometimes inappropriate....but I've got myself...I've got his arms....I've got my angels...
I've got this.....
Rock out with your...soul out ;)