A year ago, I decided to to start loving myself.
I had been on a journey to discover self-love for a long while it seemed, but one day something just changed. In what felt like one day, I turned 30, knew my marriage was over, and realized nothing was going to save me. I cried until I laughed, and somewhere in the middle, a part of my heart started to glow.
When you fall in love with yourself, you see the truth. That is what real love is—freedom in the truth of imperfection and humanness. Truth in the light of wholeness, and lightness which includes the darkness.
When you start to love yourself, you have to remind yourself again and again to be gentle with your new lover. You are a spirit here to experience this flesh and these bones—you are not meant to be perfect.
So in this time of finding my way—walking side by side with my Self—I started to be drawn to a place I have gone to for years, never quite knowing why. I always came back.
Now, I know why.
I drive myself here, again and again, to come home. I invite energy to move through me and in this place, life flows so freely. So I keep coming back. I walk and swim; I cry and fall in love. I sink my feet into the mud and stub my toes on the rocks. I sit so still and run as fast as I can. Here, the old trees and animals talk to me. In this place where life and love move freely, time is an illusion. The song gets more beautiful with each passing sunrise and sunset. The connection back home feels closer with each moon phase.
So I keep coming home here.
This life is overwhelming. We have the plans, the lists, the goals. We walk around carrying the darkness of the world on our shoulders, and somewhere along the way, someone told us our light was not worthy of love.
But we are worthy; we are more than worthy because we are love. This earth, she will hold the darkness; she will hold you. And the sky will always be there guiding and protecting you. Remember who you are.
When you feel unlovable—unsavable even—go to your place. Maybe you already have one and do not even realize it’s your healing place. Find a quiet place, invite love to move through you, invite the spirit to guide you, sit and get still. Let your heart start to sing. Listen to the song of your soul; your greatest teacher, your greatest lover lives here, within you.
The Healing Place
I keep going to the healing place. Each day, each step, the path seems new.
Roots, growing from my spine and feet, reach deeper with every step.
Big puffy clouds, putting on a show, dancing with the wind.
Some days dark and heavy, crying, their tears soak my skin and hair.
Some days I search and they are nowhere at all.
The dragonflies are always there, carrying their secrets of the universe.
And the red birds too, singing your song.
Some days, my great grandmother visits as a butterfly floating along the path with me.
She twirls around me, fluttering up into the trees and back to my feet.
Other days, a serpent waits in the path, reminding me that when faced, the monster will retreat into the cactus.
Four seasons and fields of wildflowers; new blooms and seed pods every day.
Life bursting before your eyes. Perfume filing your lungs.
Then, hibernation. Brown, grey, everything looks dead.
The reality is the growth is happening. Roots growing deeper.
Seeds burying themselves, growing in the nourishing and dark soil.
When the hummingbirds sing the spring song, they trust and crack open completely. Exposed.
Just as it looks like decay, the colors return again, more vibrant than before.
The prairie does not question itself, but follows nature’s laws.
Darkness, lightness. Death, life. Neither is good or bad, it just is.
And, it is all beautiful.
First, I smell the water, then my ears rejoice in the sound of the stream.
I go further still. My skin vibrating, ready to be back home in the water.
I step off the dirt path and onto the stones.
My bare feet touch the big, smooth, hard earth connecting to a time long before the dinosaurs that once walked here.
My heart strings are tugged into a timeless and placeless space before this stream was the sea.
I keep walking. I step into the cold, healing waters. Schools of fish sing hello. The moss hums.
I step on sharp rocks; here, pain is not tangible, it’s just another beautiful part of being alive.
My spine catches me when my feet find a slippery rock.
The water keeps moving. The earth keeps spinning. I keep walking. Slowly.
I find a place to sit and sink and become still. I listen to my heart beat.
The water keeps moving. Each moment is new and fleeting just the same.
I’ve watched these falls become flooded, the waters muddy and unforgiving.
Uprooting small trees, moving rocks from their homes; no plans just moving.
The dragonflies search for a place to land.
Slowly, the waters start to clear and the mud settles to the bottom again.
The waterfalls’ roar softens.
The tall grass growing on the edge starts to stand back up, reaching toward the sky.
The dragonfly finds its rock again. We sit there.
You, me, the universe.
Author: Ashley Shelton
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Nicole Cameron