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  • Writer's pictureSherise Schlaht


As Christmas nears, it is accompanied by a mix of conflictual emotions. The holidays are the truest reflection of the paradoxical nature that is life. On one hand there is an experience of excitement, cheer, gratitude, and generosity. Yet, on the other, there is an experience of obligation, financial strain, and apprehension. Given that I am infatuated with analogy, a snow globe comes to mind. In my not so humble opinion, it accurately depicts the microcosm of duality. Within any globe, there exists a being in an environment. For the sake of story and entertainment, this being shall be named Doe (a deer, a female deer). Yes, my mind went straight to the Do-Re-Me song as well. The next line would read, “Ray, a drop of golden sun,” but unfortunately that doesn’t fit into my snow globe story, yet. Doe is routinely carrying out her day, as any deer would. She wanders the serene snow-covered ground in search of hidden greens and fallen berries. After an afternoon of fruitful grazing, Doe recognizes the need for a rest. She stumbles upon a poplar tree, dusted with a layer of feathery white flakes. Pawing the ground, she sculpts a nest-like bed to curl up in. As the sun shifts west, snow crystals gleam in its rays; such an enchanting moment to slip into a slumber. Despite Doe’s dreamlike state, nature has its own agenda. A tyrannical mix of hurricane winds, quaking earthquakes, and blistery snowstorms erupts. This illustrates the shaking of the snow globe, by an enthusiastic five-year-old. Doe’s fall from slumber is not graceful nor gentle. She rouses to a violent display of nature. The only option is that Doe weather the storm, which in this case is both literal and figurative. Amidst the sheer chaos and panic, Doe recognizes, “This is it. There is absolutely nothing I can do.” There is awareness that nature must run its course and Doe’s behaviour has no influence on nature, only her experience. Doe fought and resisted for a time, but acknowledged it got her nowhere. Doe accepts her fate, “Come what may.” In this surrendered state, time slows and a cool stillness washes over her. Here, it is as if Doe is witnessing nature’s wrath through new eyes. Beneath the harsh presentation, there exists a captivating and reverent wildness; Doe is awe-stricken. As this new perspective permeates, the storm begins to calm. Snow continues to fall, but now gently. The scene is picturesque; glittery and dazzling. Every cell in Doe’s body is vibrating, she has never felt so connected and alive. Nature’s dance settles back into homeostasis. Hunger growls, reminding Doe it is time to return to her search for sustenance. Doe saunters on, back to the normalcy of the mundane. However, this is done with a thread of wisdom that was not present before.

This depiction is the by-product of working with incredible individuals in an emotionally intimate setting. I am continually reminded of the suffering that each being experiences; profound, yet painfully common. Regardless of the scale, life continues on with the next hurdle pending. Although it can seem like life negatively favours some (I can say that I have felt this way numerous times), no one is immune from the pending hurdle. This may paint a bleak picture, but as is evidenced by Doe above, it can also be soothing. The ego, also known as the “I”, is rooted in our feelings of injustice. “How could this happen to me?” “Why am I facing one explosion after another?” “No one has it as bad as me.” “I can’t handle another challenge.” I initiate this conversation because I have and will continue to become trapped in and by my ego. These thoughts are not drawn from a database, but are pulled from my own mind. The moments where patterns have shifted were born out of recognition that the common denominator in all of these experiences was me.

When I came to this awareness, I pulled my pin off the corkboard. I recognized that the only area of my life not in disarray was my relationship with my family. I spent much of last year not participating in life. The logic was: if I don’t engage in the same activities and patterns, then I won’t produce the same shitty outcomes. You may be curious what life looks like when someone does not participate? It looks like relocating and being completely unknown and anonymous, sleeping whenever the opportunity presents itself, limiting social interaction to those that are supportive and safe, avoiding social contact whenever possible, and hiding out in the security of home while working at home. Since this was my experience, it was needed; there are no do-overs in the past. But, I was hurt and confused. I lost trust with my intuitive radar; it was poorly functioning at its best. My mentor described me as a turtle, which is so accurate that I laughed hysterically. Even as I left home, the shell was with me in the case I needed a quick retreat. The slightest perceived glance in my direction led to a camp-out in shell land. I assumed the stance of an outside observer; a form of dissociation. The pendulum of my life swung from impulsivity to complete risk aversion.

How does this relate to now? I am rediscovering how to exist in intensity, with awareness. Much of the harm previously occurred when I engaged in impulsivity without awareness. Throughout my turtle phase, I found the energy to endure by following flow; experiences that pulled me away from my ego and brought soul enjoyment; the majority in solitude of course. As you can likely predict, the passive energetic presence of flow is not always enough to face life and its pending hurdles. At times, boulders are rolled in your direction. Vitality is required to push against them. This vigour emerges from intensity, which surfaced for Doe in her surrendered state. Intensity arises when decisions are founded on the basis of aliveness. In entering the holidays, it is my intention to choose paths that elicit an undisputable yes from my soul.

May your holidays also be a blessed mess,


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