4.21.2010

Behind the Scenes: Turning Setbacks into Opportunties for Greater Understanding

silver bee angel charm jewelry braceletBee Angel, Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): silver bee angel charm

A year ago today my cat Saskia passed away. For me, the last month is what I and other people would affectionately call a setback.

My kitty Saskia was the first love that taught me about unconditional acceptance and understanding. Losing her was a profound step in my life. This blog post is about seeing grief and the setbacks that may accompany it as an opportunity for greater understanding.

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A week after Saskia died, I was tooling around town doing errands, and as I hopped into my car to drive from one store to another, there on my windshield was the cutest little bee. She seemed familiar and had the most wonderful, full rounded figure. I said a quick "hello" and "goodbye" and then swiftly started my car off to its next destination. The bee stayed along for the ride. Atop my windshield, sitting in front of my face, while speeding down the road was this tiny bee hanging on for dear life. "Why don't you just fly off?" kept screaming through my head as I was thinking my car was going to make this bee another traffic casualty. Then I heard myself saying a small prayer, hoping that she made it to my next stop without getting hurt.

I parked. Like a bee with super powers, she looked up at me as if nothing had happened -- piece of cake. I promised myself that if she was still sitting there when I came back from shopping, then it was definitely Saskia. Well, of course she didn't leave. She was stuck to my windshield like glue. Blubbering with all sorts of apologies, I coaxed my little bee angel onto a piece of paper and gently placed her on my backseat. She rode the whole way home with me like that -- completely content. When I got home, I lifted her out of the car and looked for the most beautiful tulip in our yard. There she slowly lumbered off the paper onto the lip of the flower and then disappeared inside.


silver bee angel charm jewelry braceletBee Angel, Beth Hemmila (Hint Jewelry): silver bee angel charm

All summer long I looked for Saskia -- my bee angel -- feeding scraps of dinner to friendly insects, imagining one just might be her. Sometimes a flirtatious fly or crafty spider seemed a little extra fat and cute like her, and I would smile, thinking that she was still around our house. Of course, bully for me, this is when my newly redesigned bee angel charm took shape and started getting more attention in my shop. It was an exciting time.

I'm not sure where magical thinking fits into the grieving process, but I definitely dove in head first and experienced this amazing blissful period where everything I looked at had new meaning and beauty. Possibly denial? Bargaining maybe?

Well, bliss didn't last long. Soon I was mired in a bog of moody grief that vacillated between denial, bargaining, depression, and anger. Sometimes happening all in one day like I was hoping for some kind of award. I was going to kick this grief in the butt like a champion rodeo rider...Woohoo!

Come to find out this gung-ho grieving method can really tire a person out.

Enter stage left -- setback

My creativity took a nose dive and stopped short. I've seen this happen before so I'm not completely perplexed. It's like a knee injury. It just needs time to rest and heal.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do while you've been barreling your way forward to a new level of understanding is just stopping and sitting awhile. It forces you to pay attention. My grief was done with all my demands and needed a softer touch.

As I pondered my creative setback, I realized that this word no longer worked. A setback is a "step back." Like stepping back from the most wonderful painting so as to get a better view of what's truly happening. A setback is your most loving Self saying, "hey, you're about to miss out on the Grand Canyon here, let's pull over for awhile!" Setbacks are moments when you open yourself up to greater understandings that will create a more expansive you.

I must have been a pretty funny sight scurrying around last month looking for the hidden message behind everything that was happening to me during my self-imposed convalescence. There is nothing worse then a impatient type A personality on a treasure hunt. I was relentless. What am I trying to tell myself? What is it?

I can't say how it happened or why it arrived when it did, but I know I couldn't have gotten there without a step back. One day as the spinning thoughts died down in my head, I heard a voice inside me say "I'm okay that you're okay without me."

Now I see how painfully obvious it all was, but shame and guilt are tricky feelings. They lurk in the shadows and cloak themselves as other needs so as to confuse you. The shameful pain that you are ready to let go of an attachment in the physical world is all wrapped up in the false belief that you are abandoning someone and in doing so somehow denying that this love ever existed. To let go and move on is one of the most frightening experiences because two beings are really searching for a way to say, "I'm okay that you're okay without me."

This kind of letting go is like training wheels being taken off a bike or lifting your hands from the handlebars. It's faith in yourself, others and the universe. It's also a person trusting that your love is never ending even when you're okay without them. It's Big Love.

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I have a lot to be grateful for in my life. The moment of bliss I experienced last summer, which produced this bee angel charm is one of them. For when someone purchases a bee angel they always have a story of loss to tell, reminding me of our universal human connection.

I am also deeply thankful for this step back -- perhaps a final gift of learning from Saskia. Imagining those words bestowed on me from another has taught me to say them silently to the people in my life who deserve freedom from ties that bind.

No one is abandoned. No one is ever left behind. Nothing can extinguish love that once flourished for it's always there and flows no matter if the physical remnants remain or you have let go.

I am okay that you're okay without me, and I am blessed knowing you are too.

12 comments:

  1. That charm is sweet... And what a tribute to Saskia... I looked at your post on her and what a gorgeous tortie she was... I remember having a bee attaching itself to the windshield of my car too... We definitely learn alot from our fur babies!.

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  2. I read this with tears running down my cheeks, remembering my beloved four-footed friends that are gone but are still such an integral part of me. Thanks for sharing your amazing insights :)

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  3. You've shared a beautifully human experience. I too vacillate between the stranglehold and freedom-letting go is so complex, but I won't give up trying.

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  4. ...Loving the way your words flow... I resonate so much with your story... It warmed my heart to read it... thank you... ♥ ...I feel the love and transformative energies harmonizing... ~*~ full circle... spiral of life...

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  5. Thank you for a beautiful post. Healing from any loss takes time. We need to give ourselves permission to feel sad, angry, rejected, left behind, cheated, guilty, lonely. Every mood, every feeling, is a way to heal.

    I love that you created this sweet charm as a tribute to Saskia.

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  6. I also read this with tears, you have a beautiful way with words Beth...thank you for sharing your thoughts during such a hard time in your life. What a fitting tribute to Saskia!

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  7. Beautiful post, I had tears in my eyes too. Thank you for such a heartfelt post.

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  8. Thank you all so much for connecting with my words and my experience of grief! It means so much for me to hear your understanding and relate to your own moments of loss. I am so grateful for your presence! Many blessings to you and the loves you have lost :)

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  9. beautifully said Beth, thank you for sharing your journey.

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  10. This particular part of your article made me bawl, open, gasping sobs.

    Now I see how painfully obvious it all was, but shame and guilt are tricky feelings. They lurk in the shadows and cloak themselves as other needs so as to confuse you. The shameful pain that you are ready to let go of an attachment in the physical world is all wrapped up in the false belief that you are abandoning someone and in doing so somehow denying that this love ever existed. To let go and move on is one of the most frightening experiences because two beings are really searching for a way to say, "I'm okay that you're okay without me."

    We lost one of our horse last year, after a odd illness both him and his pasture mate had. It came right on the heels of my personal gelding recovering from a non related major illness.

    Your article made me realize I've been scooting around grieving but haven't really taken the time to sit down and just be.

    I am sorry for your loss, loosing our friends is always incredibly hard. Strange things have been happening around here and I think it's telling me to let go, as hard as that is.

    Thanks for this wonderful caring post.

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  11. Beth, you are a deep well... I love how you share your emotions, tribulations and thoughts with us on your blog. I come to look at your beautiful jewelry, and leave much more thoughtful. And the stories behind your work make me realize how therapeutic making art - and having it around you - can be. Thank you.

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  12. Susan, Thank you so much for tuning into this post and sharing in this connection that art can be healing :)

    Valentine, I'm deeply touched that you shared the story of the death of your beautiful horse friends. That must be utterly painful. I'm so glad this post has brought you an opening to see something new in your loss. Thank you for sharing your gift of presence here!

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I'd love for you to share your ideas and stories on my blog! Please know that I may not always be able to e-mail you a direct response, so be sure to check back to my blog and continue the dialogue. Many blessings for connecting with me through word and image :)