I am standing on a plateau of red rocks in the desert of the Southwestern U.S. as the sun is setting. In the dwindling light the saguaro cactus with their imposing shadows stand like sentries at the gate of some mysterious opening that I cannot pass through.The red rocks grow a deep rust, the same colour as the bloody foam that came from deep inside my mother's dying body. I feel something welling up inside of me that needs to come out and I fear if I don’t, I too will die without speaking my truth.
In front of me I am watching the colours of the sky turn from orange to red, to purple. I begin to dance, whirling and twirling to the most hauntingly beautiful melody ringing in my ears. I spin faster and faster as the sky turns to indigo tinged with the deepening fire of the disappearing sun. Suddenly, I am no longer bound to Earth. I am whirling and twirling higher up into the sky; I am a whirling dervish of ecstatic motion. My clothes fall away and I am naked. The feel of the midnight blue sky on my bare skin is magnificent. I am skinny-dipping among the stars. I've never felt so free. I rise higher and higher and the stars become a gossamer gown of sparkling light. Then I become the stars and I disappear among them.
It was a wondrous dream. Soon after, I began to see the colours of the desert everywhere, and was wildly attracted to them. By the third time I had this dream, each time more vivid, there could be no doubting it — the desert was calling me. In those dreams I became my truest self. I was returning to life.
Sometimes we need to die to be reborn
In February of 1993, I was walloped by a terrible bronchitis that kept me in bed for an entire week. I felt alone, a lost orphan. When I was sick, it was the one time I had my mom all to myself and I missed her terribly. In my delirium, I felt the soothing of her gently cooling hand on my forehead. Night and day blended into nothingness in my darkened room. The fireplace in the bedroom of my apartment became the setting sun as my dream of the desert turned dark. The saguaro sentries stood towering over me, blocking me from seeing the desert sunset, and bound me to the earth. I could not dance, nor twirl, nor rise above them to join the stars as I longed to do. I awoke, soaked in my own sweat, sobbing inconsolably.
By Friday of that week I was finally able to sit up. The weak Vancouver sun was peeking through the clouds. I noticed birds were singing. I needed to be outside and feel its glorious warmth on my face. I called my friend Penny, a writer who worked from home. She was always up for a coffee and we met at our usual spot. It was warm enough to sit outside and although I had used all my energy on a shower and getting there, I felt alive for the first time in a very long time.
I told Penny I had the dream again and as I bathed in the sun, we began to weave a story of adventure with me as Thelma and she Louise. We would ride into the desert in the van we slept in, letting nothing stop us on our quest for me to meet and bed the famous flamenco guitarist and she the writer on writing, who both lived in the Southwest.
HERE’S WHAT I KNOW TO BE TRUE
Sometimes we need to die to be reborn…
My mother’s death when I was 31, propelled me into action. It gave me the courage to accept that I did not want to lead my life in the stress-filled position of production manager in the advertising business. I knew if I stayed I would never pursue my dreams of being a promotional writer. I was creative and I wanted to do work that made my heart happy and had meaning. I did not want my life to depend on a half-percent rise or fall in the market share of a brand of toilet paper.
I gave myself a year to prepare. I sold everything that no longer served me as I readied myself to travel to the southwestern United States. I wanted to believe that my friend Penny would be coming with me because it helped me to keep moving toward my dreams. But, when my job ended and I moved into her place until it was time to go, she finally told me she wasn’t coming. And so, gathering all of my courage, I loaded up my car and set off to the border. It took two tries, but I finally got across. My adventure had begun.
To this day, I have never returned to live in Vancouver, but that solo trip gave me the courage to be the writer I was meant to be, live in new places, and meet the man I was meant to marry. Imagine all the the things that had to happen to bring me to the life I live now. It still astounds me when I think about it!
While she was living, my mother never pressured me to settle down or have children. That wasn’t the life she wanted for herself and I think she saw a different life for me too. And her dying gave me the courage to see the life I was living was not the life I wanted. She gave me permission to begin my life as hers ended.
Journaling has helped me to see this. It’s what I call Turning the Prism, and what Byron Katie calls the Turnaround. I will not be so presumptuous to say that my mother gave up her life so I could be reborn, but honestly, it feels that way. It feels like it was our Soul Contract (the agreements we make with our soul family before we were born into this life), because her dying made me discover my own life, my unique strengths and finally become the explorer I've always been meant to be.