The Decision to Feel – Syllables of Swathi

I was recently a guest of Priya on the beautiful book blog, Syllables of Swathi. I shared my thoughts on the choice to allow myself to feel emotions and feelings.

The Decision to Feel

I had a decision to make. I could continue to be stuck in a place of self pity, of feeling like I’m not one of the chosen who gets to have a peaceful, abundant, and joyful life. By no means was this an easy decision to make. I struggled on and off for more than 20 years with a core belief that people like me do not get to have an easy, peaceful life.

A charmed and privileged life of knowing what one wants, how one wants to contribute to society, and for this to effortlessly flow into one’s experience. No, as much as I tried to affirm the opposite of that belief into my consciousness; I found the “people like me don’t get to have it that way” belief still lurked in the dark hidden crevices of my mind.

I’m not one of those who knew as a child what she liked to do and stuck to it. In fact, I have no memories of any interests or leanings during my childhood. In my mind’s eye all that I see or remember are like snapshot photos, like a polaroid instant photo. I don’t remember my childhood as if it were a movie with the scenes replaying in my mind. The things I do remember are frozen in time.

Having a gratitude practice has been the shining light during times when it seemed there was only darkness. Many times it appears as if I have nothing for which to be grateful. With practice, I have learned to dig a bit deeper than what seems to be happening.

On the days in which my mind is swirling with the heaviness of circumstances; I can bring my will power to the table, allow myself to feel the heaviness, and then move into that for which I have to be grateful. There can be a seemingly never ending stretch of time between moving from feeling the heaviness to a gratitude practice. Yet, it’s worth the wait for me to do it in this way.

I can look around me and find dozens of things for which to be grateful. The clothes I’m wearing, the furniture in the room, the laptop I use to pour out my heart, the food in the kitchen, indoor plumbing, toilet paper, a comfortable bed.

Then I can shift my gaze to the window. I am grateful for the window itself so that I may see and have nature within eyesight. Gratitude continues for the trees, and grass, the fresh air, the warmth of the sun, the shade of the clouds, and the delightful bird song.

This is just the beginning. I then close my eyes and bring to mind more images for which I am grateful. My two kids come to mind. I see each of their faces, their smiles, and my heart swells with love and overflows with gratitude. These two wonderful beings have brought deep lessons and incredible joy as they were the catalyst for my arriving at a different destination than I had imagined and shifting my entire view of this thing called life. You bet I’m grateful for these two.

When my daughter, Lillian Darnell, was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with a rare chromosome condition called 18p-; which affects 1 in 56,000 people. Was I grateful for this diagnosis at the time? Absolutely not. I cursed the harshness of it, I cursed life, I was angry and I felt betrayed. Do I feel the same way 15 years later, with an 18 year old Lillian? Absolutely not. …….. Well, let’s be honest. Yes, I do at times. That’s where feeling the emotions and then the gratitude practice shine their amazing light and lend a hand.

In the past I did, in fact, bypass allowing myself to feel the cruddy stuff that called for my attention. I went straight to the gratitude practice without first acknowledging and embracing the unloveliness that had risen to the surface. These days I only bypass when I can’t possibly focus on what needs to be released or I just don’t have the energy or will power. Otherwise, I dive into the abyss and hope I come up for air some time soon!

This gratitude practice and connecting with emotions works best for me when I pour my feelings and emotions into my digital journal. First, I get it all out. Feel what I need to feel as I’m writing, from numbness, to anger, hopelessness, and despair. While at the same time either sobbing or laughing at the ridiculousness of it. For me, this is a critical first step before even entering the gratitude practice. If I did not take this first step, I’d simply be stuffing the unlovely feelings to resurface later.

In all honesty, I forget many times to come back around to gratitude. I am in a hurry, I don’t have time to sit reminding myself of all for which I have to be grateful. By allowing myself to first feel what I need to feel, I can then experience a pivotal shift by acknowledging that for which I am grateful.

At 14 years old, Lillian’s younger brother, Thomas Darnell, has gone through a year or so of being in the throes of puberty and has his own set of challenges. This single parenting journey of raising two kids who each have challenges has been a wild ride. I turn to writing in my digital journal, following with the gratitude practice.

I am not meaning this to sound as if my challenges are any more important or deeper than another’s challenges. At this point I have come to realize each one of us has shadows and struggles. Some of us have perfected bypassing all this jazz, living life seemingly to the fullest. Some of us have perfected diving into it and living life to the fullest. And, some of us are patiently making our way through the diving in part and doing the darn best we can at living life to the fullest. We’re all in this together. Just in a different way.

Having a gratitude practice has been an integral part of this journey for me. I am blessed to remember to appreciate life’s delights, nature’s art and beauty, the kindness and compassion of others; balanced with diving deep into the unlovely feelings and emotions that rise to the surface, ready to be embraced, loved, felt and released.

Breathe in, Breathe out, Feel it …. One breath at a time.

Follow the link to see the post on Priya’s blog …

Guest: Camilla Downs on ‘The Decision to Feel’


Throwback Post: This is Life With All the Feels

(I recently changed the hosting company for this website, along with all other websites I manage. In the aftermath, my draft posts got deleted. Oh no! Fortunately, they were in the back up and could be reinstalled. However, the original draft dates were deleted. I’m taking that as a sign that it’s time to do cleanup and housekeeping. Here’s a throwback to almost a year ago!)


May 9 2019:

This is life. This is feeling all the feels. For anyone else in the midst of feeling all the feels. Sending love ….

I’m exhausted. My body aches. My back aches. My shoulders ache. My neck aches. My hips ache. I’m sad and I’ve been sobbing on and off all day. I’m deeply tired.

And, I’d just really like someone else to take care of me and everything else for a week or two …

I know that this too shall pass … However, in the midst of this crud, is definitely an unlovely place to be. Here’s to feeling all the feels … May they move on through … And, so it is … (PS … This is definitely not how I look today … I took a photo but not brave enough to post it … HA!)

**Editing to add the morning after thoughts … Thank you so much everyone for your love, hugs, and beautiful comments … You are all a blessing … I am feeling much better this morning.

Having been reminded before falling asleep to embrace what I have been resisting. (Well, that and having a lovely dream in which a lovely person held my hand, held me, touched me gently in all the right places … and other steamy, beautiful things!!) If I’m not meant to have a romantic relationship in the flesh, I can certainly do it in my dreams!

I have a mind that ruminates at times about situations … over and over and over. I forget to breathe into these situations and live through them … They seem to pile on top of me like a stack of wooden blocks … the car needs a new radiator and windshield, money owed for dental work, Lillian’s graduation tassel, diploma, and announcements that need to be ordered, the life insurance bill that is due, vitamins and oils we are out of, this body of mine needs a massage and other body work, getting Lillian’s craniosacral therapy going again as the place that took her disabled medicaid no longer offers it, getting my book finished and ready by the 1st of July, Lillian’s issues, Thomas’ issues, and I truly just need a good, long, relaxing break as I haven’t had one in 13 years …… When all of these begin to swirl and need attention at the same time …. I lose my footing in the knowing.

Thanks to your lovely attention, embracing these things rather than resisting them; and breathing into where I’m at; I feel much much better this morning and have regained my footing. Much love to all of YOU!! 💜💜💜

May 10 2019:

To follow the post I made last night …. After delicious Sumatra coffee and breakfast this morning, I went for the first swim of the season in our community pool.

I am Pisces and I’m pretty sure partially mermaid (as well as partial gypsy) so being in the water is pure heaven for me. It washes things away, it resets and recharges me, it soothes me and energizes me. Then I soaked this aching body in the hot tub for a bit, letting the jets massage my back. I floated back home and had a lovely shower. Ahhhhh … it was perfectly perfect!

Spent most of the day creating a new website that I am incredibly excited to launch! Here’s a wee hint … It has to do with books and authors. Can’t wait to share!

After dinner, I visited Mittens & Jack (two cats I care for when their human is gone) and then enjoyed a peaceful walk around the little lake.

Plus, if you read the post yesterday, I mentioned trying to get craniosacral visits going again for Lillian. I received a text from Lillian’s previous CS therapist that Lillian can come for once a month, 30 minute visits for gratis. I am so relieved as craniosacral therapy was deeply beneficial for Lillian. And a friend is going to gift us the oils we’re out of at the moment. Thank you friends and the powers that be! Hallelujah!

**Update – May 2, 2020: I remember this with love and compassion in my heart for the experiences I moved through, sat with, and let shape and empower the me of 2020. What a beautiful thing to let ourselves experience the shit of life, without trying to sweep it under the rug. For if we do that, things are sure to get messy and stinky for some time to come. Best to sit with it, clean it up, and be on the other side of it. Here’s to living life, with all the feels. xoxo

See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

“Words of Alchemy” has arrived, December 2019! A free-verse poetry memoir covering the last 6 years of my life. The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love, in one beautiful book.

Amazing news! My 18 year old daughter, Lillian Darnell’s debut book, “Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories” was published January 2018. Learn more and order here

Wonderfully exciting news! My 14 year old son, Thomas Darnell‘s book, Biggest Little Photographer is published. Be inspired! Learn more and order here.