movement, freedom, grief and gratitude


"Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think you've been buried, but actually you've been planted." — Christine Caine

In the past two weeks, I have traveled 1,700 miles (give or take) and my heart feels like it's gone that far on its own and then some.

I backpacked in the Great Bear Wilderness of northern Montana. I drank wine with good friends in the woods and we played cribbage and swam in a glacially cold river.

I packed up yet another apartment and drove across the country with my dog and all of my belongings...again.

Our intended campsite in Idaho had a locked gate that night, so I slept in the back seat of my Corolla snuggled with the pup and our giant down duvet (it was surprisingly warm and comfortable).

In the last week, my office has been a porch, then different small town coffee shops, curled up on a bed in an Airbnb, an actual office, a window bed, a couch and then a different porch again.

I got to spend several glorious days in Salida, CO camping by the Arkansas River with close friends, two of whom got married on a beautiful, stormy but dry day. The ceremony was authentic and funny and fully encapsulated these two humans I care about.

That night, we hit the wooden dance floor hard, laughed much and I went to bed happy and full of heart.

(Importantly, I kept myself well hydrated that night and the following day, so I remained happy and full of heart rather than hungover).

I holed myself up in the sleepy little town of Crestone, CO to recharge and release.

The dog and I went on a sunrise hike up steep switchbacks to feel our lungs first thing in the morning. To ground our legs and our minds.

For quiet introspection and guidance, I turned tarot cards, listened to meditations, journaled and read.

The time for deliberation was over and I had to steel myself for action.

I began a conversation and ended the long chapter of a deeply heartfelt and familiar relationship.

I felt the tenderness of endings, and I grieved.

Still, I knew my heart had already made the decision for me long before.

Just because grief is there does not mean the loss what not worth the new possibilities that will open up to you.

Grief does not mean anything is wrong with you or your decision-making process. Grieving means you are human. Grieving means you have a deep capacity for caring.

I woke up at 5:00am to drive yet again, to meet my people in Boulder, CO, a place where so many of the women I care about live.

I showed up for them, in my rawness and my openness, and asked them to show up for me in my time of need.

They hugged me. I cried. We laughed. Snot dripped from my nose and still my heart was full.

We gathered around food and nourished our bodies and our souls in each other's presence.

I spent two and a half days at a yoga retreat in a barn temple with fifty other women of all backgrounds and ages, exploring practices of the embodied feminine, meditating, writing, howling, singing, dancing, appreciating, fully seeing and being seen.

In my particular state, my sensitivity was amplified. I felt fragile, but available to the richness of possibility.

I sat in an outdoor amphitheater at dusk, sandwiched between two entirely wonderful, soulful women and we felt the honeyed voice of a man and his band sing into our bones.

I spoke to the man I left behind. We had conversations that should have already happened long before and we spoke with honesty and mutual compassion.

We bridged our difference of opinions and reached an opportunity to compromise within this grieving process.

I continued to call on the people I love for support, just as I have always let them know that they can—and should—call on me.

Then I drove to the first home I've ever known, where now I rest and I breathe and I decide exactly to move forward next.

Why share these experiences of my wild handful of days? Of my miles traveled, my reveling, my heartache, my profound joy and sadness and growth all at once?

To acknowledge that sometimes seasons of movement and change and heartbreak and wholehearted engagement are exactly what is needed to feel like you're living the life you want.

To point out that sometimes we overbook ourselves, and there is that period of monumental chaos, yet somehow we always seem to get through it.

To recognize that all women are here to experience pain and drink from the well of it, as though thirsty for more, just as they know there will be time for pure joy.

To know that there is gratitude within grief, because it is the profoundly human experience of being alive.

To experience both deep camaraderie and the freedom to move forward exactly as your soul calls for.

To support one another and allow yourself to be supported.

If you enter into each situation with the attitude of wonder, each moment is an opportunity for expansion.

If you, too, have been experiencing times of intensity, question now where you can soften into each moment with curiosity and ease.

If you have been in the midst of a lull, consider what choices might you make that inspire new moment and freedom.

Whether experiencing ease or difficulty, sweet sadness or immense joy, this moment too shall pass. The idea is not to try to hold onto that moment or push it aside.

The idea is to embrace exactly as you are, right now, and welcome the next change.

Iris Rankin

Soulful questioner, exuberant organizer, here to find the balance between discipline and delicious relaxation. Iris Rankin is the founder of Project Intention, a values-based community focused on living day-to-day with purpose, planning, and heart. Iris encourages women to adopt the self care practices that make them feel divine, the planning tools to hone in on their essential wants and needs, and the emotional resilience to express their most authentic selves.

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