My Boxes

This initially was to be a post about something I mentioned in my previous entry.  But My Boxes happened.  That story will follow.  For now…

This was taken months prior, but doesn’t it go well with the story???

Last weekend I attended a spiritual retreat.  My randomly assigned roommate was a woman who remembered me from last year when, during our final session, I commented on my ‘boxes’ and how I know they are there, that I will open them someday; a day when I am ready and feel safe enough to do that.  This stayed with her and helped to reveal a little more deeply what was going on inside her.  I was touched by the knowledge that I had helped someone.  We instantly connected and our weekend was full of sharing our own personal journeys, without judgement.  

This year during my final session, she was not with me.  Unexpectedly, one of my boxes was pried open;  a box I had been quite unwilling to open.  The facilitator was a naturotherapist whom I have worked with in the past.  I trust her entirely.  Gentle guidance and support gave me the courage to blast the cover right off.  As when any box initially opens, the feelings inside are difficult to endure.  The guilt, shame, and anger that erupted brought my now cold and shivering body to uncontrollable tears.  Truthfully, in that moment I regretted opening it.

Following the session I took a walk around a nearby nature trail.  I felt awful.  Abandoned.  Alone.  Unworthy.  I decided to go straight home to avoid our farewell sharing circle.  I was an imposter, I didn’t belong there.  I hoped for my roommate to be in the parking lot upon my return so I could say goodbye and craft an excuse for my early departure.

Seconds later someone was walking towards me.  The only other person on the trail that day was her.  We came face-to-face and I tried so hard to stick to my plan.  One look in her eyes and my raw truth came spewing out.  She held me tightly as I sobbed, giving her shoulder a good watering.  Among the many words of encouragement, she reminded me of my boxes.  That was all I needed to hear!  In my darkness I couldn’t see it.  She explained that this was just another box.  It didn’t define me.  I was ready for it.  I can’t express enough how badly I needed to hear that.  Arm in arm, she led me to the closing circle.  As the group of beautiful women I shared the weekend with sang, there was a single fleeting moment when I felt I belonged.  It felt real, reassuring, and restorative.  Enough.  

After walking me to my car, my roommate and I embraced for our final farewell.  She whispered, “We left that box by the river.”  I knew I could.  I knew I would.  I knew I did.  

During the drive home I grieved the loss of the box, all the while welcoming this void inside me that I now had the power to replenish with forgiveness and compassion.  That emotional freedom wouldn’t have happened so quickly if not for my own words being spoken at me when I needed them most.

We are our own saviours.  We all have our own courage to open our boxes, and our own wisdom to console the inner self as the emotions surface.  But like any work in progress, we also need a toolbox.  The most effective tool is the love that surrounds us.  Before our boxes, we need to open our hearts first to trust those who are there for us, those who will not judge, those who will hold us when we least feel we deserve it.  Last weekend, mine was someone I had known for days.  

This reminds of a scene from the movie Apollo 13. (click for video)  “Well I suggest you gentlemen invent a way to put a square peg in a round hole.  Rapidly.”  Followed by one of the engineers emptying a box will all the contents accessible to the endangered astronauts.  And they got to work.  Sometimes our own rescue can feel that insurmountable, but with the support of those who care most, it is absolutely achievable.  

What about you?  Do you have a toolbox?  You may find some tools are rusty and others are brand new, ready to be used.  Do you have a box to open? If so, you may want to meditate, sit in silence, go for a long walk, seek the help of a professional, write recklessly, or talk to a trusted friend.  I promise you the experience is difficult, all-encompassing, and down right easy to avoid.  But if your heart is beating a little faster right now, if your thoughts are circling, if you want to stop reading, it may mean that a box really wants to open. I send you, whoever you are, the love you need to just try.


There’s a Box By The River

There’s a box by the river

The lid has long disappeared

Unexpectedly pushed open from the inside

Shaken until it popped


It’s empty now

Contents released by the river,

carried by a cool westward wind

towards a setting sun


I didn’t want to leave it there

by the river

She told me to

I trusted her


Gentle thoughts I have of the box

by the river


cradling it from afar


Its colour will change over time

tones of umber

Eventually it will rust away

by the river


Maybe one day I will forget about the box

by the river

Maybe I won’t

Either way I am forgiven


– Paula Courage

     November 2017

Today I Give Myself Permission

This is the first entry of my first blog.  I write this with a deep sense of gratitude for even being here in the first place.  When I look back I see how I had been trying to arrive for a while now, but as with life sometimes, I took the long way.

I am quite dreamy by nature and things constantly come and go in my mind.  Some go for good, a passing thought.  Others stick around and poke me intermittently until I can’t ignore them any longer.  I have journaled for years and figured the covers of those journals would perpetually house my most inner truths.  Until I finally fully embraced a truth about me – I like an audience.   I like to teach, learn, inspire, get inspired, and connect with people.  This is a perfect place for that.  So here I am, nervous that maybe no one will want to read my blog, excited that maybe someone will.

All too often we manage to talk ourselves out of our true desires.  But three things happened today that brought me here.

The first was in yoga class.  I was the last person in the room and as I walked back towards my mat, the sole one now left in the room, I saw where I practiced today.  It was the place I held during that class.  “Carve out a place for yourself everyday,” I thought.

On the way home, number two ensued after I checked the mailbox.  Pure excitement and curiosity bubbled up inside when I saw the key to the larger mailbox.  I wasn’t expecting anything.  It was a fairly large box to boot!  A peaceful smile warmed my heart when the return address revealed the sender was a dear friend and artist, Karen C.  The two minute drive to our house was full of anticipation for I knew what was inside.  After anxiously opening it with my husband I said, “I am full. It’s not even noon yet, and this day is full.”  I yearned to share that experience with everyone I know.  It was a life moment.  It deserves its own blog and that will be my second entry.  Stay tuned:)

I recently discovered the online meditations of Tara Brach.  That led me to her book True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart.  While reading that today, the third and final push occurred.  I was reading about the importance of allowing and observing all our emotions without judgement.  One of those simple, hard truths.  As a good student does, I practiced in that moment and asked myself what the root of the anxiety was that overcame me as I read that part.   For me personally, I have that reaction when I am doing something other than what I truly want to do in that moment.  But how could reading this book be the ‘wrong’ thing to do?  I was confused.  Instead of walking away and ignoring the feeling, I sat with it.   What I wanted was to tell my story about the box I received.  I wanted to start a blog.  Immediately, I told myself I couldn’t.  I went a step further and wrote down what was preventing me from having a blog:

  1. I don’t have time.
  2. I don’t have the money.
  3. I don’t want what inspires me to become a chore.

Wow.  Once on paper I rewrote them:

  1. I will have a blog with a free schedule and write when I can.
  2. I will start a free blog; I paid $60 for this one, but I am worth $60.
  3. What truly inspires me is always a pleasure to write about.

With that, I dove in without delay.  I figured out enough to get this far and to publish my first blog.

What I genuinely experienced today was the power of getting out of my own way.  I learned in yoga to carve a place for myself, the arrival of the box gave me a story to tell, and the anxiety I felt told me to do what my heart was asking me to do.  I gave myself permission to do what made me feel alive.  By reading this entry, you honour my courage to do that.  Thank you.

There is a lamp behind a chair in our living room.  About a month ago my husband set a timer on that lamp to come on in the early evening and to go off around midnight.   That light became an invitation, drawing me to the chair in that corner that I have ignored for a while.  I have been reading here, writing here, enjoying this space.  Today I create and write my first blog from this chair.  I saw an invitation in that light and accepted it.

May you recognize and accept the next invitation that comes your way.

In the meantime, I invite you to join me as I get the hang of how to write a blog, how to customize this site, and learn all that lies ahead of me.  I believe that when we are on the right path things will naturally fall in place.  A special person, who didn’t know I was writing this, happened to send me this video on the same day I started this blog.  I’ll never say it as eloquently, but, this video encapsulates everything I feel and write about today.   It intensifies my desire to be here.   I have a vision, I have a dream, it starts here.

Warm Wishes,                                                                                                                                  Paula