The Day I Thought Would Never Come: Letting Go to Move Forward

This is the story of the day I dressed up in a Ralph Lauren designer dress to go on a hike!

March 8th Selfie Before Releasing Dad's Ashes

For the past seven months, my father’s ashes have been in my apartment. That is where they have belonged, with me. My dad always wanted to spend more time in my apartment, with me, but his Parkinson’s did not allow for that. He saw it once, and that proved to be too strenuous for him. So he’s been hanging out happily with me, in my place, through the holidays and into the new year.

Then, a couple of weeks before his 70th birthday (February 15th) everything changed. I got an undeniable sign that he was ready to be free. He was ready for both of us to move on. The message came through loud and clear, and with love. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain the mysteries of my heart, the depth of the secrets that led me to the moment where I knew he wanted me to let go. I just knew the time had come.

Before I took him to his final resting place, he and I had a few adventures to experience. I took with me to yoga one Monday morning in Marina Del Rey. He hung out with me in that hot room for 90 minutes, inspiring me with his spirit. His ashes rested in my Harry Potter backpack in the front of the room. Two of my friends dedicated their practice to him that morning. Most people, though, had no idea of the contents of the backpack.

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One Tuesday we went to the Dermatologist together. My dermatologist had known my dad for almost twenty years, and it meant so much to me to be able to share my dad with him. And it touched my heart to hear Dr. B express his love for my dad.

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I also took my dad with me to the Bikram studio in Downtown L.A. I still remember the moment I learned he had died. I had just finished a class and was in the locker room when I saw my mom had called. Even before I listened to her message my heart knew what she would say. I can’t explain how I knew, but I did. It was the first time I practiced at that studio. August 6th, 2013. I made new friends that day, people who had never met me were so nice to me in my moment of distress.

I took my dad with me, so he  could feel the vibrations there, friendly vibrations that keep me coming back. In so many ways, my practice at Downtown L.A. is a beginning and an ending combined, intertwined.

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I introduced him to a couple of my friends he hadn’t had a chance to meet. I took him to Starbucks—he loved the pumpkin spice lattes they’d have at Christmas time. We went to Barnes and Noble and hung out. He’d always love to do that. He came to work with me. I took him out for ice cream—his favorite treat. He came to the Apple store with me. He loved the Apple store, and on one of the last outings we had together, last April, we went there and he bought me an iPad mini for my birthday. Whenever I use it I can literally feel his presence with me. We had other adventures, he and I. We danced around my apartment. We talked. We cried. We sat in silence. I spent time just being with him in the best way possible.

The first weekend I had planned to take his ashes to their final resting place, it rained for the first time in months for three days straight.  Serious rain. But this turned out to be the best blessing I could have ever hoped for, for I knew that meant the ground would be moist and I when I’d leave his ashes, they’d be able to soak into the ground so that what was (his ashes) would become a part of what will be (new growth). With that rain, the universe gave me the most magical gift, and confirmed my decision that this was the right time, the right decision.

So yesterday, Saturday, March 8th I woke up, took a shower and dressed in my new Ralph Lauren designer dress. I prepared my dad’s ashes for their final journey. I did set asides just a bit which I put in an antique Prince Albert tobacco tin that my dad loved. He appreciates that gesture. My heart knows that.

Then I went and bought some roses to honor his transition, picked up my mom and we took his ashes to their final resting place. Before I released his ashes, I read the poem I selected for the prayer card at his memorial: “When I Must Leave You.” After I scattered his ashes, a lone butterfly appeared out of nowhere, flittered about and flew off into the freedom of the sky.

With each passing moment of the past few weeks I could feel my father’s presence growing stronger within me. I understood finally what it meant that by letting go, he’d actually be with me more, in my heart. My heart and his, freely intertwined in earthly and ethereal worlds. A daughter’s life becomes a celebration as her father’s presence continues to propel her forward into the magical light of life.

I love you Dad. Thank you for releasing both of us to soar to even greater heights than I ever imagined.

With My Dad at Work:

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With My Dad at Starbucks:

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With My Dad at Barnes and Noble:

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Releasing My Dad’s Ashes:

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“When I Must Leave You”

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Nancy Versus the Volcano

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my last full day in Maui last fall, the day I hiked through Haleakala.  I remember waking up that morning to the sun shining so majestically through the window of my hotel room.  My body felt flooded with exhaustion from all the activities I’d participated in during just a few short days: parasailing, zip lining, swimming in the ocean, to name a few, so my mind engaged in an internal dialogue that went something like this: “you’re tired. you love this hotel. there’s nothing wrong with staying around here all day. you’ll enjoy it.”

But, for some reason, I felt driven.  I had to drive to Haleakala.  I had to hike in the volcano.  I didn’t have a choice. I had to fulfill my dream.  When I was in Maui 19 years ago, I did not have the physical stamina or strength to do much more than walk across the parking lot at the top of Haleakala.  I had come too far not to realize another moment that was years in the making.

Around 9a.m. I set off.  It’s only 37 miles from the hotel, but the road up to the top is windy with switchbacks, so the drive takes about two hours, not an easy task when one is already tired……..Near the base of the volcano, I stopped at a small stand for a veggie burger and the cook was wearing a shirt that read “I’m from Hell.” An interesting omen……

Driving up the volcano, I kept thinking there had to be a treasure awaiting me, had to be a reason I felt this urge welling up within me to hike through this volcano.  A reason beyond fulfilling my dream.

As I drove up Haleakala, and reached the point above the clouds I started to sense an inner peace growing within, a sense of wonder, a sense of calm so deep nothing could ruffle it. I started to feel as though I was on top of the world, at the edge of the precipice of this thing called life.

When I reached the top and started walking around I could feel a transformational shift begin to stir.  After finding someone to take some pics of me at the top (one of which is banner image for this blog), I began my hiking journey.

I don’t know how many miles I hiked, but that’s another number that doesn’t really matter. With each step I marveled at the sight before me: mother nature’s majestic canvas, a beauty unlike any other.  A beauty that also exists within me, if I choose to see it.

After several hours, I could feel the exhaustion begin to overwhelm me.  I wanted to stop and go back to the hotel, but the same inner voice that propelled me to drive to Haleakala told me to keep going, keep walking to the top of the ridge in front of me, and when I reached that point and stood overlooking Haleakala, high above the clouds, I understood; I got it; I knew why I had to hike here on my last day:

For all of my life I had been chasing rainbows.  It took the warm and embracing power of Haleakala to let me know the time had come for the rainbows to start chasing me…………..

Me at the top of Haleakala with "baggage" I won't be traveling with again......

Me at the top of Haleakala in 1993 with “baggage” I won’t be traveling with again……

Me at the Top of Haleakala 2012

Me at the Top of Haleakala 2012

Another View from the Top of the Crater!

Another View from the Top of the Crater!

My favorite picture of the volcano!

My favorite picture of the volcano!

Above the Clouds!

Above the Clouds!

Standing at the Horizon of Life!

Standing at the Horizon of Life!

With the Wind of Life Blowing through My Hair 2012

With the Wind of Life Blowing through My Hair 2012

The Path Less Traveled

Just steps from my apartment I have access to miles of trails, some of which lie on Native-American land.  There’s one trail I’ve always had a hankering to explore but haven’t had the time, the energy, or the physical stamina.  But I decided today would be different.

Buoyed by a jolt of energy from having started my blog yesterday, I set out on my mini-adventure.  As I approached the bottom of THE trail, another path started to mesmerize me, so, without hesitation, I changed course.  After all, isn’t that what life is all about–living in the moment and not staying stuck or fixated on a particular destination?

This new path, the one less traveled, wound around a hill, and, if I made it all the way to the top a hidden treasure would no doubt be revealed. I climbed the path with giddy anticipation and when I reached the other side the vista did not disappoint, for I could see much of Simi Valley: homes, hills, a water reservoir and so much more.

But all of that paled in comparison to the real gift: for in making it to the top I strengthened my fortitude and determination to keep making my life happen my way, and I know when I return to this same area and take the other path, I’ll uncover another piece of myself when I reach that peak.

Photo # 1: partway to the path

Photo #2: partway up the path

Photo #3: me at the top of the path with Thousand Oaks in the background

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