I didn’t need anything at the store that day, but the snow was piling up around me and I was only half-way home.
I ducked into the section of the store that sells vitamins and herbal tonics and perfume oils. I lingered by the sage smudge sticks.
Next time, I think to myself. I know they have something to do with restoring balance.
Our home is a bit out of balance. Like a three-legged stool missing a leg, we are shaky. Missing a leg takes some getting used to. Since our daughter left for college, we have been a bit unbalanced—after all, we had been a trio for the last 17 years—becoming two again required new skills.
I hear a voice behind me ask, “Would you like a chakra reading today?” I turn to see a woman dressed in purple and dozens of beads, her silver hair pulled into a loose bun. My fingers are still numb from the cold—I’m pretty sure I don’t want one, but the snow is coming down harder now.
I hop up into her chair. It’s an effort with my big snow boots. She stands behind me looking at the strengths of my chakras; I try to be very still and think clean thoughts so that nothing bad shows up on her radar.
I should probably say that I know very little about chakras. I know that there are seven of them and each one has a color. The ideal would be to have them in balance.
She is quiet behind me—I am thinking about clean water and blue skies and kittens.
She walks around and faces me. She pronounces me quite well balanced except for one area. She says, “I could barely see the green at all.”
Green is the color of the heart chakra.
The woman becomes a blur of purple and silver as she explains my heart chakra is out of balance.
My mind races. I will do more for others, I’ll give more to charity, I’ll be nicer to my husband. She tells me I am so afraid of being vulnerable that I have closed myself off; she tells me it has nothing to do with what I give to others but how close I let others get to me.
She has a point—I don’t want people getting too close.
She tells me I am lacking vulnerability; I tell her that being vulnerable leaves me open to all sorts of injuries. I have a litany of injuries I am ready to recite.
To allow yourself to be vulnerable is the biggest strength.
She sells me an oil to dab on my heart each day to help open the green chakra. To help me become vulnerable. It smells bad and after a week I stop using it.
I think about her often—I think about the relationship between being vulnerable and being strong.
I know I am not there yet.
Nearly a year later, I am in the same store. Over the loudspeaker I hear, “Free chakra readings in the health and beauty department, today only!.”
I head to the check-out with my 10 items or less. I have thought about her words for almost a year now. I know I’ve made some progress, although I know I still guard my heart more than I should. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop, or the friend to pull away. I know I still wear my armour, but it’s a smaller size than it was that winter.
I think about the connection between being strong and being vulnerable nearly every day—because every day, it’s bound to come up somewhere.
Whether in my friendships, my relationship with my husband, even in my yoga practice.
I notice it, and I take baby steps, every day.
It’s not easy being green.
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Assistant Ed: Karissa Ostheimer/Ed: Bryonie Wise