Fields of Grief Growth and Gratitude

By: Michelle Lange 


(6 mins. read)

As the sun streams its gentle rays through my windowpane, I glance at the brilliant blue hues against the prestige of a mountain—my backyard, Maunga, Mt. Olympus. I am in awe. There are drizzles from this distance of white perfectly laid upon the land like soft blankets as the evergreen poke their head tall toward the sky. I am grateful.

I am grateful for what I see and how an appreciation of the view warms the cockles of my heart. I am equally grateful for memories that burst into my mind of bygone days. My childhood was jam-packed with many fun-filled adventures like climbing trees to feel the wind whisper in the leaves or sneaking to a corral to sit and talk to the horses who nibbled the sweet grass from my hand. Then there was the time I taught myself to ride my  “Raleigh 20” bike no-handed – the sheer exhilaration of it was like I was floating.

I lived in an era when it was safe to explore life outside your own yard, your neighborhood, to be free to go and experience the paddocks at the end of my street where grass grew three feet high and brought a new world to young, resourceful, inventive minds. In this place, I spent quiet, long hours dreaming big. My imagination ascended on wings of possible, and in those moments, I allowed my thoughts to wander into fields of wildness – moon travel, inventing flying cars,  walking on clouds, exploring uncharted lands not yet discovered, and strange creatures from the universe.

We were unencumbered until the whistle was heard, our reminder that the imagination session had transformed into reality – it was to return home. The signal was received, and it was time to run as fast as our legs could carry us before the third whistle reached our alert ears. I think my Dad was training us how to become great runners.

On those long summer days, either in my family yard or down the street, conversations amongst our young selves were hard to grasp 50 years ahead and what we would see and experience. As I calculated to fifty years from my birth, the number 2016 seemed ominous because all I knew was what was in front of me now. Rolling hills, tall grass, blue sky, puffy clouds, swings over rivers, the distant sound of a plane’s churning engine soaring overhead, and life seemed splendid and magnificent to me then.

 As I come toward my 58th year, I see a tapestry filled with Grief, Growth, and Gratitude. Grief, in its most difficult form, has been, for me, the loss of loved ones and, in the minor parts, things I tried to create and lost the battle. Washed away in tears, those childhood tragedies that were much simpler then were nothing compared to what would harrow up my soul and strengthen my shoulders in adulthood to bear the mantle of life.

I recall a childlike faith that was immersed in dreams and hopes as I clung fearlessly to a vision of what I thought life held for me in the moment. Think of those times when we had little reservations, decided we could conquer it all, and held no judgment because everything was possible. Let me stop here and paint my possible for you.

As an 8–10-year-old, I discovered a maneuver on the jungle gym bars called a death drop. This was a precise move where you swung your knees on a horizontal bar, completing a 360-degree circle and landing right back where you started. Sitting on that horizontal bar, I watched, learned, and participated after a few practices. This movement left many breathless as they witnessed those who had mastered it with profound exactness—fearless possibilities without judgment.

These days, although vastly different from my childhood, it seems the longer I traverse life, I have come to know we all have the possibility to accumulate stronger resilience muscles. I discovered mine through my grief, loss, and life lessons, which brought wisdom. Wisdom is the stronger stitching in the thread of my life tapestry. Lessons learned to bolster my muscle memory to find the courage and strength to endure and surprisingly connect to that inner child who helps me see the beauty of the present and reminds me of who I was – fearless, willing, unafraid, trusting of myself, and a deep knowing about possibilities. As  I look back over the decades,  despite the many things I have experienced, I am grateful for that 5-year-old who reminds me to explore life with gallant awe.

She has been my constant companion, letting me know that in hard times, there can be joy. She has soulfully shared a meaningful experience that comforted and lifted me with renewed enthusiasm. You see, I haven’t grown up completely yet, and I don’t think I want to because there is that childlike energy that is curious, shouts with joy when new things are found, laughs at bad and funny jokes, sees beauty around her and carries her soul to the heavens to look upon life with hope and most of all divine imagination.

An imagination that still invites us to see life through the lens of zest and zeal. I am keenly aware that growth has come at a cost, and having the tools to expand your horizons is key. Being a student of life, I have come to know that we are much like an apple growing on a tree. In time, through adversity and challenges, we, like the apple, must ripen from the inside out. To become a delicious morsel of beauty, love, joy, growth, maturity, and wisdom. We may like the “Immovable Feast” to feel like this is the best of times or the worst of times; however, there is always a Spring. With Springs, we can renew and learn to shed what no longer serves us so that we can blossom where we are planted.

To grow where we are planted is to leave behind with grace those experiences and stories that are no longer for our good. Growth is for our good to afford us the capacity to engage again and again in life to fulfill the measure of our creation and purpose. Without this, we are stagnant, lost spirit beings in a perpetual cycle that has no traction. Opposition in life is what is a catalyst for both gratitude and joy. We cannot know the expanse and beauty of joy without appreciating hard things.

Let me give you an example. I came to know grief very personally when I lost two sweet infant boys. Their brief journey placed a deep appreciation for the gift of life and a greater understanding that we all walk the path and will experience grief at varying degrees. Grief arrives without announcement when it pleases, and it teaches us the precious nature of life, and in time, that deep oceanic expanse heals when we permit ourselves to move forward one moment at a time. May I say, like joy, each person experiences grief very differently, and no two journeys are the same. The lens through which we see grief, growth, and gratitude is also customized based on what we have lived through.

Don’t you just love the thought that life is customized based on our life know-how and that, as spirit beings having a human experience, we are each exquisitely unique individuals? Let me take a moment to share some wisdom about individuality and worth.

Depending on how you see God in your life space, know that you have a divine nature and destiny. I believe we are each incredibly special, created with love by God’s hand. Hands that crafted within us all we need, and he has not withheld any good in us. The thief of our divine energy is comparison, and in these times, many of us suffer from the onslaught of a new childhood dis-ease called “social media.”  The daily barrage of images that tell us who we are to be, do, or have. Soon, we get ensnared by a condition called comparison. I have found a greater purpose for comparison. When we learn, we compare textures, tastes, sights, sounds, colors, hot, cold, warm, sweet, bitter, and spicy. These very words action our decision to form what we come to know as the foundation of who we are as far as likes and dislikes. Remember that moment when you discovered something new? We need to get back to that purpose decision, our decision. Do I like chocolate, “hokey pokey” or vanilla ice cream? Let’s get back to simpler times and see what enthralls our souls with giddy excitement.

PS. My ice cream is hokey pokey – that is another Michelle’s Moment blog.


Michelle Lange
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC

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