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Death Roses

My grandmother called roses “death flowers.” Seven years ago, I was reminded that they were only to be given and received at funerals when I was picking out flowers for my wedding day. I discarded roses from list, thinking that this was merely due to tradition; a sign of an older time, or perhaps based on the Victorian flower language that carried a symbolic message of sympathy. Seven years later, as I dwell in the City of Roses, I’ve come into my own, deeper contemplation of the meaning behind death roses.

I started the New Year preparing to separate from my husband and life as I knew it on the East Coast to return to my family, friends, and the feeling of “home” in the Pacific Northwest. Soon after my journey West and settling into my new house, grief and loss arrived on my doorstep like long-lost distant relatives. I recognized their names but my memories of them were hazy and mostly forgotten. My being quickly became enveloped by sadness and loneliness; my body shut down to its basic operations for survival. I waded through weeks of lonely depression and entered Spring tense, irritable, and numb to experiencing any sense of pleasure.

I recall walking my dog and catching a faint smell of roses a few days ago. My senses came alive in an instant, as if someone had flipped a switch. I stopped in my tracks, eagerly hunting for the source. Finding the bush, I held a dense handful of pink in my palm, closed my eyes, and buried my nose deep in its velvety petals. I inhaled slow and deep, and was immediately planted back into my body. My heart opened, slowly at first, like a cracked, barren landscape soaking up the first rains of the season. I could feel my entire being soften with each exhale. I realized I was feeling pleasure and I almost wept tears of relief. These beautiful, fleeting moments had sparked my sensory receptors and I was starting to unwind from the confinement of grief.

This is the power of death roses: a reminder that whatever we may be going through, we are still alive. Their prickly thorns and rich aroma are catalysts for sensory nourishment when our bodies become too weary to feel and emote. However small it may seem, they have a natural ability to bring us back to ourselves when we have forgotten our way. My grandmother was right. Death roses are Heavenly gifts to the soul and they are not to be used lightly.

<artwork “Soul of a Rose,” by John William Waterhouse, 1908>

 

InstaBlogs, Uncategorized

Welcome Pele

welcome pele

raging hot

deep down in my soul

come and crack me open

under this Red Moon

let the salty sea of change

lick my wounds

the storm only makes the tree roots stronger

deep down

there are tiny seeds

waiting to spring forth

through this black lava bed

~Tiffany Waddell, Feb. 2017

<artwork is “Pele” by Susan Seddon Boulet>

InstaBlogs

Featured: Happiness Is…

Happiness is:

Embracing change and living in the discomfort long enough to heal your wounds.

Opening your heart and welcoming new opportunities.

Softening after Life has given you a run for your money.

Trusting the messages from your inner cheerleader and the compliments from those who have your back, no matter what.

Believing you deserve greatness.

That crisp #sunglow that lights your path and whispers in your ear, “It’s time to shine.”

Metamorphosis

Featured: Metamorphosis I

Metamorphosis I

Poverty. Rape. Abuse. Adultery. Divorce. Miscarriage. Abortion. Cancer. I come from a long line of women who handled huge caseloads of trauma gracefully and I feel obligated to follow in their footsteps. My mother struggled with addiction and chronic depression. Even though we were close and I considered her my best friend, I learned from a young age how to read her mood, tread lightly, and anticipate her needs better than my own.

At 34, I’d like to come out of the closet and admit that I am a recovering people pleaser and feel a sense of duty to put on a happy face when Life gets hard. I dance with my own depression and feel ashamed of the regularity in which I experience negative thoughts and sadness. I will go out of my way to not cause anyone stress, discomfort, or unhappiness by my choices and I censor myself in interactions with others, being careful to catch and fix any mistakes. Wait, that sounds an awful lot like perfectionism.

I only feel comfortable expressing my true feelings when directly asked about them. And no, I’m not talking about unloading on the sweet cashier who’s helping me bag my groceries and asks how I’m doing to make small talk. I’m talking about speaking vulnerability out loud in the safe container that is at my grandmother’s grave, in my best friend’s living room, or driving in the car with my aunt. My most precious confidants hold space for me, all of me, especially when shit gets R E A L.

This past year has been rough. I’m talking life-shattering, soul-awakening rough. The kind of rough that when you look back on your life for longer than a hot minute with your special 20/20 hindsight lenses, you realize this “growth opportunity” looks a lot like a tsunami and has been building speed for years. Why did it take so Goddamn long for you to stand up for yourself and call bullshit?

When you are served up relentless dishes of shit on a regular basis, before you know it you’re deaf to the whimpers of unhappiness, reacting only to the earthquake-like events that bring you to your knees. Chronic stress becomes acceptable. After long enough, the body and mind make room for it; it slowly seeps into your every being and manifests first in weight gain and functional depression, but with time progresses into high blood pressure, anxiety, and sleepless nights. You start to wonder if you’re making things up and then you question your privilege and think maybe you’ve just had it really good for a long time and now you’re actually experiencing normal levels of stress. You tell yourself that no one graduates high school with a manual on how to survive in this big, bad world but can’t help but wonder if everyone else you share this planet with goes through times like these. Just remember, you are strong; you can handle it. After all, we all wear our pain and suffering silently like a badge of honor… don’t we?

This time last year (almost to the day), I finally hit my threshold. Like, I’m the Indian goddess Kali and starved for some radical overhaul kind of shit. I was exhausted from just barely keeping my shit together and scared of the rage quaking in my gut. I waved the white flag in surrender and sent out an SOS to my precious confidants. Each of them held me in their own way, but they all responded like they had been practicing their part in my rescue mission for a very long time. A dear friend asked me if I wanted to hear the hard truth and in that moment time stopped for me. I was at a crossroads, mere seconds away from embarking on “another fucking growth opportunity.” I accepted her offer and wept as she got R E A L with me and held space for me to get R E A L with myself. My essence was hemorrhaging.

Her words were a Divine mirror into my soul. They reverberated deep down in my bones and exposed my best kept secrets. There is no going back from there. Ever. For the first time since my mother’s death I was able to give voice to my deepest, darkest fears. Why hadn’t I been warned? By simply saying Yes in a moment like this, I was actually laying out a welcome mat for a dark night of the soul.

To be continued…