It was a balmy 18 degrees at sunrise in Lake Geneva, so I did a t’ai chi move to help my circulation get moving. Suddenly there was a HUUUUUGE cracking noise, the ice was shifting, so I began to blow kisses to my mom, because this is her lake, and I miss her a lot xx
I wasn’t always afraid of the water, I grew up in Crystal Lake, Illinois, swimming in the crystal clear water and other area lakes at every opportunity and truly loved being a mermaid. But then came the dawn of JAWS and my swimming career was effectively halted. I remember trying to drown out my fears by singing to myself as I swam, in an attempt to not think about that shark and it’s reign of terror, but I sank in the fear of it all. One last swim in Crystal Lake at summer’s end, a snapping turtle poked it’s head up in front of mine and snapped at me — it was officially over. More sea-terror movies were rolled out, which effectively sealed the deal: Barracuda, Piranha, JAWS 2, JAWS 3, JAWS 4 (*cough*), Creatures, Tentacles, Titanic, ETC., I became content to stroll along the shores, even in the most docile of waters. The fear was big and silent and I gave into it.
Because if I swam, it would look like this:
I sometimes get a little embarrassed that so much of my life became unhinged (and is still unhinging) after my mom’s death. I hear a voice back there “yeah get over it already, it’s been two years now, do your thing whatever, stop talking about it!”
I understand grief knows no bounds, yet why am I quick to scrutinize and criticize myself when I find myself still grappling with it? Oy, the personal pangs that tug at me in the wee hours of the night when no one is looking, oy oy oy.
It’s true, I still struggle with grief and the confusion from everything that is now different in my life — I am mostly okay with my evolution, but some confusion remains. I’m certain many of these changes were inevitable because of my age ta boot; as I approach 50, I understand with more compassion than ever that many women simply must re-invent, re-discover or re-up, or literally lose themselves. I have found many of Dr. Christiane Northrup‘s books and workshops have helped me sort my way through this with better clarity and assurance I’m not losing my marbles. My mom’s death was perhaps the the dime I turned on, bringing with it new opportunities and exciting adventures, although — in hindsight — I can see it was going to happen no matter what. I was ready to shed my skin.
On Mother’s Day, 2013, I put my mom’s ashes in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin on a brutally cold and windy May day. Her ashes flew up and around me like a tornado before they landed in the lake. It was surreal, for real. I was surprised to learn there’s a boat service available for people to put ashes in the lake, and I sometimes wonder how many people are in that lake?? Ashes-to-ashes, I don’t really care, but I do like that my mom is there. She wanted to be in Green Bay because of the Packers and I decided that was too far; I wanted to keep an eye on her in Lake Geneva. So began my frequent visits to the lake.
There is an amazing 22-mile walking path around the entire lake and as the cold spring turned to summer, I began to sink my toes into the water. And then I dangled my legs and stared deeply at the water. One day I jumped in and cried. This happened several times. I had lost so much… jobs, addresses, people, things… it was terribly scary because I had no idea how I would climb out of this hole, but I had faith and this lake helped me. I felt tingly energy all around me and something about my existence had been elevated — it was hard to explain, but everything was different. By mid-summer, I was helping myself to absent-summer-resident’s personal boat docks and full-on jumping into the cool waters of Lake Geneva and feeling the calmest I had ever felt in my life.
The summer of 2013 was an amazing, amazing summer and I am forever be grateful for all of it’s lessons.
I left Illinois mid-November of that year and life became very, very different. I had made a promise to myself that the rest of my life would be “magical”, although I wasn’t even sure what that meant, except that it was fodder for jokes — and I love good jokes. Guess what? My life has become magical in many ways, and while there are still mundane and challenging things about it as there should be, I am totally enjoying what my life has become. Call it magical or intentional, I love they way I feel in my skin these days. I miss the Midwest and my days in Lake Geneva — Chicago too, but life has carried on, as it should, and my dreams keep me close to it all. Someday I will be back.
I am having the good fortune of spending this winter in Mexico with Reed; first at the house in San Miguel de Allende, and then traveling through Central Mexico while he attends to business. Situated in a lovely situation here in Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico, this past weekend we made plans to spend the day on a boat with Chica Locca Tours that promised whale watching, water activities, food and drink, snorkeling, cave diving; a day out at sea on a very comfortable boat. This group completely delivered and we had an amazing, amazing day. Well I did, for sure.
My fear of open water is still pretty HUGE and when we arrived off the Marieta Islands (“there’s only one way to get there, and that’s to swim for it!“), it was up to us to gear up and swim to the island, where the fun would continue. I did not read this bit in the brochure and my heart sank a mile or two when this was mentioned. I put the fins and snorkeling gear on and became a blubbering, quivering lip awash in a terrifying wave of fear. Everyone was jumping in the water and I stood at the edge of the boat, trembling — NO I could not do this. It was too far away and it was OPEN WATER for Christ’s Sake and surely I would be eaten alive by some monsterous sea creature before I hit the island. This was the OCEAN, did they not realize??! I whelped to the guys I could not do it, no way, my heart was going to explode out of my chest and I was not strong enough. I waddled to the back of the boat to take off my gear and pout it out.
I looked over to the ladder on the side of the boat and said, “fuck it, I will hate myself if I don’t do this.” With that, I jumped into the terrifying (not!) waters and swam to the island. Holy Moley it was gorgeous!
It was a gooooooooooooorgeous adventure and I am sooooooooooo glad I jumped in! We swam to the island and explored the caves and tunnels and dark holes that I thought for sure electric eels lived in and were waiting inside to kill me or eat me and guess what? They were no electric eels waiting in darkness to kill me nor eat me because they couldn’t care less about me! I was the happiest clam in the ocean this day!
After this awesome adventure on Gilligan’s Island, it was time to swim back to the boat. Oh shit….. who moved the boat soooooooooo far away?? It’s even farther away now because some dumb law says it can’t be too close to the island. I was never going to make it and oh my gawd I can’t breathe and so why not kick wildly and claw at the water as if there’s a magic rope to lead me home …
I totally panicked and gasped for air as I attempted to swim for several minutes; holy Mackerel I was scared! Wait. Stop it Meag!
I put my goggles on and looked down into the water and saw holy mackerels but no sharks. I knew I had to stop this panicking and rolled onto my back and looked up at the sky. I needed to breathe more normally and take myself out of the equation. A song came to me that I sang in the temescal a year ago; we sang this as a way to pass the time while sitting in pitch dark, soul-cracking, sweltering heat:
- One little, two little, three little Indians
- Four little, five little, six little Indians
- Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians
- Ten little Indian boys.
- Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians
- Seven little, six little, five little Indians
- Four little, three little, two little Indians
- One little Indian boy.
Whad’ya know, I made it to the boat safe and sound!
Again, I was the happiest clam in the ocean! I have been walking on my tippy-toes ever since this glorious day, even though every muscle in my body is sore, but it is a good sore, a sore I am grateful for; a soreness that reminds me I swam to the damn boat, RAWR!
I realize there are people in today’s world who are facing much bigger fears and maybe not by choice, but by fire and I by no means intend to compare to anyone’s challenges. This was a first world challenge, for sure. I believe I become a better person, first to myself and then to others, if I take an opportunity to break down any personal barriers that have held me back in life, or have kept me feeling fearful. There is a freedom that has grown within me in the past two years that has altered the course of my life and I, for one, choose to celebrate all of these personal achievements, great and small.
Here’s the thing: tell someone you believe in UFOs and that’s perfectly acceptable. It’s out there, it’s controversial, it’s vague, it’s elusive, it’s relative, it has hard evidential proof, it has changed some people’s lives forever, it’s got a slew of groupies…. and it’s perfectly acceptable to most if this is what your floats your boat and what you want to devote your personal time to.
But mention you’re having a “spiritual awakening” and people may give you the side-eye and back away slowly. Because that’s crazy — or I’m crazy because I am starting to see and feel some results (wow that’s a lousy word to use in the context of spiritual awakening!) of all the personal work I have been doing. The meditation. The yoga. The breathing. The walking. The reading. The energy experiments. The changing of my diet. The re-routing of my normal thinking patterns (Lordy this is HAAAAARD). And the silence. Ohhh the loads of silence I have come to adore and require now, just as I require air to breath.
Why is it that an actual spiritual awakening is somewhat mistrusted? I’ve seen eyebrows go up and felt the proverbial, “ah boy, we lost her.” sentiment because I’ve mentioned, in my joyous exaltation, that my beginner’s mind is starting to see and feel some magical new ways of thinking — and I could NOT be more thrilled about this. These ways of existing in the world have always been available to me, just as they are to you, but I am discovering for the first time because I am practicing new principles. And I became ready. But it’s not perfect nor pain-free! Ahh but it IS perfect for right now.
This reaction… well it’s ironic if you ask me, because many people strive for a more spiritual way of being; in their personal relationships, in their careers, in their every level of life — because it’s cool, and I completley agree. Twitter is rampant with quotes and retweets of our spiritual leaders and beyond — because it IS COOL to talk about being spiritual. It’s not cool to be religious; but spiritual is awesome — because religious is crazy, right? And don’t even think about getting crazy about being spiritual, because that’s just nuts!!
Although when it arrives — if it arrives, it may perhaps change the way you tweet, change the way you participate in the world, rock the very core of your foundation, make you burst out in tears for no other reason except that the love thumping in your veins can’t be contained; it may force you to spontaneously hug people and trees, walk around on your hands at the beach and then blow your head up right off your shoulders.
This is what I have been experiencing lately. And I like it. Except the bit about my head blowing up. That has not happened. Yet.
I spent my late twenties and early thirties searching for a spiritual awakening and never found it, much to my chagrin. I worked with shamans, I became a diligent student of religious science, I participated in drumming circles, had soul retrievals, spent countless hours on a therapist’s couch — because I was convinced that something was wrong with me and that a spiritual awakening would be my way out of it.
But it has occurred to me: I don’t want to read the biography of a person who has not lived a full life; where they’ve not crawled through their own personal never-ending hell and survived, not celebrated to excess and beyond when success was achieved — and survived; and everything in between. Perhaps no one is allowed to have a spiritual awakening until life has been lived in all corners of darkness and light. I don’t think I’m anywhere near my end, nor sampled all corners, but I have done my fair sharing of crawling and celebrating. Perhaps not in that order.
I sat with my mom when she died and was with my two twin uncles when they died — separately — as well; all within the past recent years. I saw things happen to them as they were “transitioning”. I had emotional conversations with each of them that seared my core; my mom knocked me out of the park with her parting words for a couple of weeks. I saw “someone” come get them, “be” with each of them and even shine a light on my mom’s face when there was no light. I absolutely HAD to change the way I participated in my world because of these experiences. It was very different for each of them — I can only sum it up by saying their spirit was delivered by whom it should have been delivered. errrr something like that!
My Three Holy Ghosts:
I have also been fired from three jobs in the past year as well — I even quit one job, so these past few years have completely made my head spin round and round and round. And cry and cry. Although I shed no tears for this last job — I was on my way, so the feeling was mutual.
I’m currently living in Woodstock, Illinois (although I watch the sunset in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin when I can) and I have honestly made peace with this town that I once despised, and even thanked Mayor Brian Sager for a job well done last week. I met him at Woodstock’s festival nod to Broadway; he and his administration have really opened up theater options in Woodstock, as well as welcoming more new businesses in town. The day was much like a day right out of the pages of “Waiting for Guffman.” and I was tickled! I no longer have angst for this little town and have honestly enjoyed my time here. The aforementioned silence can be found in this town, as well as in the surrounding area towns I once hated while growing up, but ahhhh no longer 🙂
I was hoping to leave Woodstock now that I have made peace with it, but with the recent lose of yet another job, I find I must stay put a while longer. Apparently I have not yet learned what I have come here to learn in my little hometown neck of the nape, and OY please don’t make it last forever! Because I hear the call of the West.
I recently stumbled upon this video and it stopped me cold in my tracks because….. well because I have experienced ALL of these things in the past few weeks — and I’ll be honest, it’s a bit scary at times. Somedays I have no idea who I am and where I’m headed, but I have faith. I have faith!
… so ask me if I have any idea who I am right now.
And I will say I AM MEAGAN BURNS!! My eyes are open and I love it! These experiences with death have showed me a beautiful side of life, even if I can’t stop getting fired! I have never felt more sane in my life…
I feel tremendous gratitude for all the people that have helped me through these past few months and I keep meeting more and more of these kindred souls; I am excited to learn more through them and with them. Below is a list of a few of the books that have also helped me through some of these issues, but don’t forget about being silly and laughing! Because really, why else keep plugging along if you can’t laugh about it? xoxo
Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet
Marianne Williamson: A Return to Love
Marianne Williamson: The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles
Cheryle Strayed: WILD
Doreen Virtue’s Angel Therapy
Denise Linn: Soul Coaching
Gerry Gavin: Messages from Margaret
Sabrina Reber: How to Raise Your Vibration
Caroline Shearer: Raise Your Vibration: Tips and Tools for a High-Frequency Life
Dr. Christiane Northup: Lightening the Mother Load: Healing Strategies for Daughters
Dr. Steven D. Farmer: Animal Spirit Guides (I AM A TIGER RAWWWWWRRRRR)
Pam Grout: E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments
Hard to believe it’s been six months since my mom died; some days it feels like just minutes ago I was with her in her hospital room, trying to pry her hands off of her bed rail because they were turning purple. Yet other days it feels like she’s been gone for ages. I have learned so much in the past few months; the lessons have come in all sizes and shapes and I honestly hope this journey continues to reveal itself. I feel like I am finally growing up but not in a snore-bore sorta-way. In a way that has eluded me for years but somehow is tapping open my heart now. I’ve paid off some old bills as well, so I suppose that’s rather snore-bore but it felt tremendous to take care of some old financial haunts. I’m almost there!
I am 47 and both my parents are dead. Many of the things I used to care about; I don’t anymore. Some things have fallen to the wayside; others have become more omni-important. I am less afraid in the world. To be less afraid has been a very powerful gift and I’m so very grateful for this gift of confidence.
I was terrified of the water. I was afraid to be out in the country all by myself. I used to call the police when I was out in the country and they would say to me, “do you realize that’s the wind?” I used to be afraid of silence because of all the voices I could hear.
One of my most favorite things now is to be out in the country, sitting in a lake all by myself, listening to the silence and wise voices that I hear. It’s true!
I took a new job two months ago because I believed so much in the product; the problem is, is that I did not believe in the company. And it turns out they did not believe in me, so we have recently parted ways. As shocking as this may seem to some, it really felt like the absolute right thing to have happened. What now?
This will be very hard for me to do but I have been instructed not to do anything for a week. This goes against everything in me — because I want to poke around and completely over-analyze the situation. Instead I am going to focus on raising my vibration.
Raising my vibration. It’s happening. I am clearing my chakras. Raising the roof. Awakening the heart. Mindful meditation — I am finally getting it where I don’t think of sex the entire time! Breathing from my toes. Reaching for the stars. Feeling the gratitude. Sharing kindness. Sending love. The Grinch when he discovered the true meaning of Christmas? Yeah, me. I wasn’t a hater like him, but I swear somedays I think my heart is going to burst of my ribcage.
I feel alive on a level I have never experienced before and I want to devour the world. I have taken a break or pause from social media but I am ready to be visible again. I am also taking a reiki class and studying angels since they have decided to visit me. Yes, angels. I no longer care if that makes me sound crazy because it makes me happy.
It’s really my mom’s criticism I hear when I decide I want to pursue things that make me happy. My mom never understood my pursuits but in the end she apologized for being mean to me and wished she had been nicer. Her gift to me was realizing she had been wrong about me. This has changed something deep inside of me. I have walked around my entire life thinking my mom thought I was crazy – or didn’t like me. This is not the case, she loved me and only wished she had the expression that I have always had. This realization has changed everything about my life. In turn, I am going to be nicer to me and not criticize my pursuits.
It is an amazing gift when a parent apologizes before they die. I understand that many people do not get this gift and I am completely grateful my mom had the heart to say something to me.
I am committed to making the autumn and winter of my life magical. An angel appeared on my arm by way of a rogue doodle and told me to believe. I believe…
May has finally warmed things up in the Midwest after a never-ending winter, and now the buds, blossoms and green fields are singing everywhere — I have even spotted a real live elbow or two (a sure sign of spring) while out and about. I am on Month Two Point Five of my “time out” from the city and I continue to make good on the promise to myself that I would not get bored. Outside of work and school, I intend to find new people, places and things and interesting things to do. People live here for a reason, right?
I’ll be honest; Northern Illinois bores me to absolute tears. I know I am not long for this area because I am here for a reason and I am dedicated to discovering things that I had not known while growing up, nor back for ocassional visits. I’ve officially made peace with Woodstock, but c’mon you all drive me crazy Illinois.
When I go to grocery stores and ask if they have organic vegetables, they look at me as if I am the Creature from the Black Lagoon. A produce guy said to me, “I’ve been eating these pesticides my whole life and nothing has happened to me!” I laughed, said “me too!” and sashayed away. We’ve all been eating them but now it’s time to stop, Bubs! I don’t expect it to be Organic Town USA here, but I do enjoy the conversations it can encourage. Northern Illinois has a huge resistance to it.
I have never understood McHenry County and probably never will. I went to the local community college because I heard they had a map of all the county trails but when I pulled into the main parking lot, I almost fell out of my car. Literally. They had created a mock-cemetery in the front yard of all the babies aborted. There were vicious signs everywhere. I was aghast. At the community college. eeee-gads. I’ve often commented that it feels more like Texas here than Texas.
There is something about this county that just does not want to be budged.
So be it, I am only a visitor.
My temporary explorations must carry on! The curious mind has pushed me across the border to Wisconsin, once again. My ex-sister-in-law Wendy and her family live in Linn Township and we have long considered each other as family, even though technically we are no longer. Wendy’s oldest son, Jackson, now five, has autism and recently they added Inka, the German autism service dog, to their rowsy family. Inka was trained in Germany and continues her training locally yet has a fairly substantial bill to support her services. Wendy and her neighbors are really good about creating events to support each other and a few weeks ago they hosted a partial-walk around Lake Geneva to raise funds to defer some of Inka’s training costs. The walk ended at Foley’s Bar & Grill where they offered a special Reuben sandwich for the day and sponsored a meat raffle. yes a meat raffle, say what?! Tables & tables of meat were raffled off, I’ve never seen anything like it. I won a huge a Wisconsin salami.
So this was not only a great event to be involved in, it totally sparked my memory that there is a 20-something-mile path that goes all the way around the lake and it’s open to the public. Over the past two weeks, I have hit this trail and it is SPECTACULAR.
As you make your way around the lake, homes that are not visible from anywhere but the lakefront are visible, as are their gorgeous landscapes and lake-faring accouterments. No two homes are the same and the path is varied and semi-rugged, by going through golf courses, flat beaches, endless green lawns and beautiful lakefront patios and so on. I recommend remaining very respectful because you are very close to people’s homes, but there certainly are areas you can sit back and take in the views. I sat at William Wrigley’s boat slip to take in the sunset — very serene indeed.
More information in case you want to plan this thing out a bit more than me:
Naturally I made a Vine:
I look forward to learning more about Lake Geneva this summer, especially because this is FREE! Things just taste better when they are free, yahvoh!
I am completely grateful my health has returned (WHEW!) and my legs are strong once again and ready to hike, hike hike. Ever since I read Cheryl Strayed’s “WILD” when I was in Lake Tahoe a few weeks ago, I am feeling compelled to plan a super-big hike, but not entirely the same as Cheryl Strayed’s hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.
I back-packed through Northern Arizona several years ago and hiking with a monster-backpack is very hard work — I felt very tall and my legs were never stronger. It’s hot and dirty, dusty and smelly but I absolutely loved the experience — even though a mountain lion growled at me and I thought I was going to die right there. I didn’t.
That was an experience a woman should experience in her twenties, and that’s about when I had mine. Except I think I was 32. I am looking to do something different now and will continue to research and plan.
My legs are ready to climb things again, this much I know. A treadmill will not cut it.
Next up, mom’s ashes are going for a swim.
Thank you for reading my words, I do appreciate it. xo
I grew up in Crystal Lake, Illinois, which meant that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was just a hop, skip and a jump to get across the Wisconsin border, where things were a bit more readily available in my younger years. It also felt like a world away from the cornfields and cows of Crystal Lake because the town has always felt like vacation, with the availability of taffy, fudge and paddle boats in the quaint and cute little downtown.
My Junior Prom was held at The Abbey and I have attended many of public and private events there over the decades, all with very fond Wisconsin memories, but none recently until I was invited by Duong Sheahan, of Live Healthier & Happier, to spend a complimentary weekend this past June to get to know the new & improved Abbey Resort and Avani Spa in downtown Fontana, Wisconsin on Lake Geneva.
The Abbey looks just as I remembered it from years gone by when driving up to it, and especially the atrium dining room that gives it an old world feel. But that’s about where my recollections stopped because it has been spruced up and remodeled to accomodate all your comfort and technological needs to enjoy a peaceful stay. There is wifi coverage in the rooms but not so much in the lobby, which is fine, unless you’re there for a heavy online stay. But this is Wisconsin so why not relax a bit and enjoy the sights and sounds.
Just as you may find it difficult to find margarine in butter-rich Wisconsin, you won’t have a hard time finding a New Glarus Spotted Cow beer, as it is only sold in Wisconsin, and many of us Flatlanders are quick to stash some in our suitcases when headed home because it is that delicious (also the allure of having something that’s hard to get is brilliant on New Glarus’ part).
So after the drive up from Chicago, a delicious and huge brunch spread at the Fontana Grill, I was ready to relax and see what the Avani Spa had to offer. I opted for the Aromatherapy Retreat Wrap and yowzah it was delightful. I could barely walk afterwards, I had apparently released that many toxins, which is the point of it. After being scrubbed with salts and then massaged with oils, you are then wrapped in hot linens and a foil blanket and then left alone to bake. Because it can be a little claustrophobic, the masseuse does not leave you for too long to make sure you don’t go berserk. I did not, thankfully. I then slithered to the indoor pool and enjoyed some cucumber water until I was stable enough to carry on with my day. It was a much needed and delightful treatment, I would like it have it every week if possible.
There were four of us in the group and after our spa treatments, we all went our separate ways to explore or relax or whatever we wanted. I chose to grab a bike from the recreation center and rode around the lake until I was informed that no bikes were allowed on the path; it was a walking path, so I jumped off immediately and rode the back streets of Fontana. Again it was lovely and I’ll always be grateful that this little peach of a town is in Chicago’s backyard, yet far enough away to feel like you are in Germany or something. ha.
After a rest-up and refreshing, we all met for dinner at the Fontana Grill and it was a delicious meal that stretched over about three hours. It’s moments like this you realize you are not in a big city; the courses are parsed out and you’re forced to talk to your friends or family; whomever you are dining with. All of our instincts were to say, “c’mon let’s move this thing along!” But instead we rolled with the punches and enjoyed a fabulous seafood dinner and delicious wine suggested by our server. And for some reason we acted like silly gooses before we went in for dinner, I suppose because WE CAN!!
The remodeled rooms are beautiful at The Abbey and of course the free wifi kept me there probably a bit longer than if there was not, and after a good night’s rest — something powerful about that Wisconsin air that knocks you out — we met for a yoga class with Julie, the Director of Events at The Abbey. I t was lovely to start the day this way, and we were all super hungry by the time we got to The Waterfront Grill for lunch and a trip wrap-up.
It was fantastic to spend this weekend at The Abbey and to see all the efforts they have made to enhance and beautify your stay with them. They have also made some great strids in jumping into the world of social media; they hold photo contests on their Facebook page, where you must guess where a photo was taken to have the chance to win a gift certificate for the spa, and they have joined Instagram, where they post gorgeous photos of the property and events. This past week on Twitter they held a “Your Experience Photo Contest” where you had to capture the best of your Lake Geneva experience for the chance to win a night’s stay at the resort. They boast a lively Pinterest board and also have a Youtube channel, highlighting events and reminders that even in winter you can have a blast in Fontana.
I heart Wisconsin; always have always will. It’s a great get-away from Chicago and there’s something for everyone to do. My sister-in-law has recently purchased a house just off Linn Pier in Lake Geneva, so I look forward to spending more time up there in the coming months. I want to see it in the winter as well!
For me personally, a country drive is sometimes the best meditation of all….
The Abbey Resort & Avani Spa
269 Fontana Boulevard
Fontana, WI 53125