She Wanted to Fly…So She Flew

A few years ago, on a cold and snowy night in Northeast Ohio, I picked up a pen and my journal and words spilled from my hands.  As I wrote, I thought I was writing my story, the story of how I lost my wings as a young girl and found them once again in my 20s.  What I realized later on was the I was writing the story, in poem format, of most women I know.  A year later, my sister and her boyfriend turned my poem into a video that has now been viewed by thousands and seen at The Trail Running Film Festival.  My poem has now become the story of women rising.

She wanted to FLY
Artwork by Sandi Nypaver

She Wanted to Fly. . .So She Flew

Once there was a little girl.
She wanted to fly…
So she flew.

She flew over rooftops,
And skimmed the tops of trees.
She flew so high that she soared with the birds.
She flew even higher than the clouds,
She flew among the stars.

Her wings took her anywhere she wanted to go.
Her wings were only visible to her,
And that is how the problem occurred.
She told others of the her magical flights,
And how her wings rose with the wind,
Taking her higher than the mountain tops.
But those who couldn’t see her wings told her this wasn’t true.
They said her imagination was playing tricks on her,
She had no wings,
She couldn’t fly.

At first she didn’t believe them, and she continued to fly.
But they grew more persistent.
They told her she needed to start growing up,
That it was best to keep such silly dreams to herself.
Then one day, a few years down the road,
She tried to fly,
But never left the ground.

She remembered those voices who told her she couldn’t
And figured they were right.
She couldn’t really fly.
Still, she worked hard in school and got good grades.
She dreamed about her future
And about what she wanted to be when she grew up.
However, when she told others of her dreams
They told her she was foolish.
Some said she was not pretty enough,
Others said she was not smart or creative enough.
They said she should be practical
And to keep such silly dreams to herself.
So, she believed those voices too.
Her world became gray,
Rain fell every day.

But then, on a seemingly un-extraordinary day,
A soft breeze blew at her back.
At first she ignored it,
But then it grew stronger.
It lifted her feet right off the ground!

Suddenly she remembered all the times she used to fly.
“Yes!” she remembered, “I flew so very high up in the sky!”
As a young girl, she had flown over rooftops,
Skimmed the tops of trees,
And soared with the birds.
Without any doubt,
She knew her memories were real.
Her dreams could come true,
If she just believed.

And with that thought,
Her broken wings were healed.
Suddenly, she was flying above the clouds,
Higher than the mountaintops,
And found herself among the stars.

Once there was a little girl.
She wanted to fly…
So she flew.

Grasping at the Clouds

Why do we always want to tell others how they hurt us?
Most of us knowing we would never get an apology, or even recognition that we have wounds. My own experience is rarely an acknowledgement of my feelings. Usually, it’s a complete lack of a response and I feel abandoned all over again.

Maybe it’s a wish things could somehow, miraculously, fantastically, work out. Maybe the hard parts could be undone, erased. Less from a feeling of sadness or anger. More from love- back to the denial of a love lost.

Even when we know its fantasy, even when we know we want to be loved differently. By someone who hears our needs and does more then speaks words, but takes appropriate action.

What to do when left with our own hurt?

Acceptance… yes, of the situation. But more so, of the fact we are still grieving.

From there, the only other answer I have found is to sit or walk with the hurt, even as it lingers. To keep showing up for myself and my pain that few others in my life ever could. To stop grasping at the clouds. To witness myself “I see your pain, and I am with you.”

And then I hug Pacer extra tight.

Pain & Freedom

Rarely does my therapist let me go into existential crisis mode. And rightfully so- I could theorize and deflect all day.

But last session was different. She let me go there, probably realizing it was intertwined with my pain. The physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual pain, all wrapped up into one.

I gave my “fuck you” to god. “I feel so much pain, why can’t you just give me this one thing that lets me feel free?” My dance. My connection. My flight. My stride.

Of course I know God/Spirit/The Universe has given me many things, such as Pacer, a twin sister, friends and family, etc.- but any time I travel down that rabbit hole I’m led to feeling guilty for not feeling grateful enough, and that’s a whole different part of myself I need to work on. My higher self reminds me not to conflate gratitude with guilt, that I can feel many things at once: pain, anger, sadness, and gratitude.

The funny thing is that trying to stop the physical pain has led me to unraveling my emotional pain.

After running on and off in pain for years, I finally decided to call it. Annoyed because I had already worked on this and accepted I may never run fast again. But not run at all? I felt all the stages of grief, often multiple stages at once: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

I try no to let my negative voices belittle myself. “It’s just running, after all.” Truly, I (choose to) identify more as an explorer than a runner anyway. But I can’t deny that running has always been my best and favorite way to feel free, the feeling I most crave in life. Each stride, grounding and flying in a single second.

I’m not quitting. I’m just surrendering. Accepting. Realizing I can still try to heal my pain while accepting the pain my never go away. But I’m not going to force myself to run in it anymore. Which is a whole other type of healing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui8kUKuLBaU

The devil in me

When I can only access the lower, insecure self, I feel like life is a game I don’t know how to play. The rules are written in an unknown language. Maybe that’s the devil in me.

When I’m allowing my Higher Self to come through, I can see that I only have to follow Mother Earth’s guidance- surrender to the flow of life, be kind to all living beings, stand tall and true like the trees. Then there’s freedom. Maybe that’s the god in me.

The Land of In-Between

Here on Earth, we wander in the Land of In-Between. Between Mother Nature and Father Sky, soil and stars, between joy and pain. I think this is really what was meant when people first spoke of purgatory, the space between joy and pain, but Catholics made it something else. Something “bad”, that’s really not bad at all. It’s a land of growth. One where we will all surely make mistakes. Suffer. Cry new rivers. A Sacred Beauty, really. As I type those words, I can’t help but think of the passing of my older sister passing away from cancer at 36. My family was gathered around her. The experience brought us to our knees. As my teacher said, the “sacred is whatever brings you to your knees.” My sister went Somewhere Else. Her body in the ground, and her spirit, I believe, to the Heavens. Wind, the Great Connector, connecting us to all worlds, Mother Nature and Father Sky, all living being and all beings who ever lived.

Normalizing Rain

Rain.
One of Mother Nature’s greatest gifts. Earth’s life flowing. The source of our food and spring flowers. A gift we often complain about. We stay inside and close the shades.

Tears.
One of greatest gifts. A release of emotions, born to flow. Forthcoming gratitude and growth. This rain to is often shunned. We turn away and choke back the rising energy in our throats. Shunned.

For as long as humans suppress their tears I fear that Mother Earth will suppress her rain, leaving all of us to burn.

Where I live in Northern Colorado, our relationship to rain is changing. With wildfires now a yearly occurrence that has no seasonal bounds, many of us now praise the late spring snow and perform rain dances weekly in each of the other seasons.

All of us have stopped in pure awe of a miraculous mid-summer rainbow, born only after a late afternoon thunderstorm. “Let if fucking rain” we all scream, curse, and pray simultaneously.

I wonder too…what would happen if we started to praise our own tears? Thank them for their magical healing powers. Let them just flow…I wonder what type of rainbows humans could create.

Driving to the canyons of southern Utah a few weeks ago, I came into awareness of how many times I had felt my throat tighten over the past few months. The energy it took to dam those tears up. The damage it cost me to dam them. Now when I start to feel my throat tighten and the energy start to rise, I consciously remind myself to surrender to my emotions and let the tears happen. There’s nothing to be ashamed about by my big emotions. When I limit my emotions, I limit myself. And I want to. be. free. expansive. serene.

A list of my rain in the past week…

-Leaving my dog when I left for a trip.
-Searching my sister’s Spotify for a workout playlist and finding one for my (grad school) graduation in 2019.
-Missing my older sister, and knowing my Mom was without a daughter on Mother’s Day.
-Accepting (grieving) my Achilles injury may never go away AND all the times I ran through the pain.
-Learning about a friend who lost her dog.
– Watching a close high school friend get married, then watching her dance with her unabashedly joyous dad, the dad who at one time expressed displeasure when she came out as gay.
-Realizing my shame and fear could be the end a relationship that never had the chance to flourish.
-Saying goodbye to my parents before I returned home to Colorado.
-Giving space for my voice during my therapy session.

My tears are what happen between the joy and pain of life. Between Sky and Earth. They let me know I’m alive.

I want to fucking live. So I let it rain.

Big World

Little ity, bity me. Big, big world. 

Somehow comforting.

My introversion: In cities, at parties, I feel lost.

My extroversion: In Nature, surrounded by mountains, I feel part of it all. 

My work: To find harmony in each part. 

My gift: To find beauty in each piece. 

My struggle: To find harmony in my own parts and the beauty within me.

My help: Wind, the Great Connector.

My truth: Love is at my core. 

Our truth: Love is at our core.

Scarcity is a Myth

There is enough food for every mouth.
Enough wealth for every wallet.
Enough room for every woman at the top.
Enough love for every child. Adult. Dog. And living creatures on this Earth.
And you, my darling, have always been enough.

Scarcity is the child of fear and misguided power.
It holds us back. Sets up traps. A perceived lack.

Hope is infinite.
Kindness is infinite.
Beauty is infinite.
Love is infinite.

Acrostic Train Poems: Drops of Jupiter & Hey Soul Sister- Amanda Rose Nypaver

I don’t think my twin sister Sandi would mind me saying (and would agree with) that our older sister Amanda has always been the best writer out of the three of us.  For Christmas 2019, me and Sandi received Train (the band) t-shirts and wine from Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co.  Following those gifts, we received the most special gift: acrostic poems by Amanda using Train songs “Drops of Jupiter” & “Hey Soul Sister”.    I hope you as much strength and inspiration from the poems as we have.

 

Determined to be more than just survivors of life, we 

Reach for a ray of sunshine in the darkness, and

Out pours strength from those here and gone who love us most.

Peace will find us in our weakest moments and help us

Sail across the sun.

Overcoming our obstacles, we reach the top of the mountain, free and

Fearless!

Journeys of 1,000 miles start with a single step forward, and we find

Unwaivering support from all that surrounds us. but we still

Pray we can live up to and fulfill all expectations.

In times of both turmoil and 

Triumph, we

Explore what both amazes and humbles us, ultimately

Realizing not all who wander are lost!

Merry Christmas Ray!

      All My Love,

“T”*

*Neither me or Amanda could remember how I came up with the nickname “T”, though I’ve been using it for at least 20 years.

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Hope is rejoicing in times of suffering, for we know

Everything happens for a reason.

You still find yourself asking God “Why?”, but are you really ready for His answer?

Savor the unanwered prayers, for they don’t belong in our stories,

Our paths are discovered as we look to the sky for guidance.

Under the stars we can even find light in the darkness, and we remember

Life is beautiful, even when it isn’t.

Strength, our saving grace, is a state of mind,

Inspired by those who love us and those who came before us that left too soon.

Side by side, we can conquer anything,

Tomorrow is not always promised, so today we must live!

Embrace the little things that bring you joy, for someday you will

Realize they were the big things.

 

Merry Christmas Sandi!

      All My Love,

Your Big Sis’ Amanda

 

(Christmas Eve from a pre-cancer year)

On Grieving: Pieces on Anticipatory Grief

On Friday, August 7th my twin sister and I were both in different places, camping and exploring the mountains.  When reaching cell service in our separate place, we received a text from our older sister, Amanda (36), that we needed to call her together.  We both knew what this meant, she has been battling cancer for the past 2.5 years. I was able to largely distract myself until we managed to meet  in the middle at the Mineral Belt Trailhead in Leadville, CO.  We called, and Amanda told us in a raspy voice due to the cancer affecting her vocal cords, that it was “time for her to be with Aunt Barb and Uncle Ronny” (relatives that both passed away from cancer, who have always held very deep places in our hearts.). All 3 of us were weeping, so we hung up, and Sandi and I slid down from the bumper of the car to the ground, where we sat, crumbled, and wept at the feet of Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert.

These pieces were written in the aftermath of the news and (currently) while taking care of Amanda.  At this moment, I sit next to her as she uses her nebulizer to help her breathing.  Otherwise, she is doing “well” right now…still able to eat (requesting blizzards from DQ), still able to smile.  If you’re reading this, I ask that you send energy, prayers, etc to the Universe, Mother Earth, God or Whatever/Whomever, first if a miracle is possible, and if not, that she has a smooth transition from this life and into the arms and paws of family and friends who have already made the journey to Somewhere Else.

If A Girl Cries Alone

You know the quote “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well I wonder if a girl cries alone in the trees, does she make a sound? Is anyone listening?

I’d like to think so. The earth soaking up her tears. The trees offering their strength. Chipmunks offering their comfort. The flowers offering their beauty. Mother Earth softy saying “You are not alone.”

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Smoke

The smoke from the wildfires are a perfect metaphor for how I’m feeling.  I’m in a haze.  I’m not sure if I don’t know what’s real…or if I’m just lost.  Meanwhile, the trees keep burning.  And while the trees turn to ashes, no hole will be left deeper than the one left in me.

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Sad Girl

It’s like I wear a giant “S” on my chest

No, not like Hester’s “A”.

My “S” stands for SAD.

I imagine everyone staring at me, saying

“That’s the SAD girl over there

Don’t get too close

She’ll infect you with her sadness”

But I don’t want to pass it on

I just want a shoulder to lean on

A hand to help me up

Just a bit of light

To enter into my open wound.

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The Holy Fucks

I’m not a big user of curse words, although I’m not against them.  Mainly, I use “fuck” for emphasis when I’m really upset about something.  It wasn’t until I found out that my 36 years young sister was dying that I started putting “holy” before the word.  During the times I couldn’t stand because the pain was too great*, when she asked my mom “did hospice say when I was going to die?”, and especially when she gave my cousin’s little girls Winnie the Pooh blankets and said she’ll always watch over them.  This is when the “fucks” became “holy”.

*A professor of my defined sacred as “that which brings us to our knees.”  I’ve been to some beautiful places, waterfalls, mountaintops, deep inside canyons, and never have I ever been brought to my knees so much as during this time.  Which, perhaps mean the most sacred thing in the world is our love for others.

These are the holy fucks.

“Holy fuck, why is this allowed to happen?”

“Holy fuck, if there’s a God or something greater out there, you better be with us right now.”

“Holy fuck, how can one person hold this much love and this much pain?”

“Holy fuck, this is too much.”

“Holy fuck, how am I going go on after she leaves?”

“Holy fuck.”

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My Daily Gratitudes

  1. The she is still alive
  2. That she’s not suffering too much
  3. That she has been my big sister for 32 years

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If I Were A Tree

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If I were a tree

I’d be a willow tree.

A weeping willow tree, to be exact.

Although sometimes I imagine myself as the small, scraggly tree

growing between the rocks on the canyon wall.

Or perhaps the last pine, right at tree line.

Once in awhile, when I grow weary of the long mountain winters,

I imagine myself as a palm tree.

And sometimes, a glowing yellow aspen tree in the fall.

But I always come back the the willow tree.

Simultaneously weeping at the beauty and ugliness of the world.

My roots digging deeper, trying to stay upright despite the changes.

Branches hanging long in attempt to shelter other beings

from the harshness of it all.

For You, to sit under.

To pause.  To think.  To reflect.

To make your own meaning,

even as darkness sets.

Yes, if I were a tree, I’d be a Weeping Willow Tree.

With tears of grief and joy.

My friend, now I wonder, if you were a tree,

which one would you be?