On Whose Shoulders Do You Stand?

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When I decided to move from the city to the country to live and work with the herd, it took me several years to find Flying Moon Farm. At one point, rather discouraged from the search, two good friends offered to help. Not to go see places – to help me search from the inside out.

One friend offered up the “home” of her business, ThinkSpot, an environment designed with incredible care and artistry to nurture our brilliance to come forth. Another offered to walk me through her strategic planning process. I know those words don’t elicit creativity, however, the first question she asked when we gathered at ThinkSpot sure did … “As you hold the vision in your mind’s eye, whatever it is right now, On whose shoulders do you stand?”

It was a question that cut through the logical mind and straight to the heart. ThinkSpot held us both so that the answer could safely flow. 

And what came up, caught me totally off guard.

 It was a story my mother told at my grandmother’s funeral. It’s probably right that you know up front that as a teenager, I hated my grandmother. I rarely say that – hate. But it’s how I felt. My mom is the eldest daughter in a large family and again and again, I’d seen my grandmother dismiss, put down, and berate my mom despite all she tried to do to please and care for her. The hate had softened a bit by the time grandma died when I was in my early 30’s but it was still there unresolved. 

And yet, when a story of her life suddenly appear in answer to my friend’s question, my heart broke open.

 This is the power of being with people we trust in safe spaces – what needs to flow does. For me, it was so much more than a healing moment – it was the appearance, in clothes I would never have recognized, of inspiration, curiosity, and a new door opening where none had been visible before.

The story was from the family’s passage emigrating from The Netherlands to Canada post WWII, 9 children in all ranging from 20 years to 18 months. At one point on the open seas a huge storm came up and my grandmother had gone down into the bunker, calling all the children to head up to the ship’s deck (except the baby, who stayed below with grandpa). She wanted them to feel the power of the storm, the energy of the waves, to know they could stand with it as they prepared to meet a new land and a new life.

The story and my grandmother came to me that day, even before I knew we would call ourselves The Courage Herd. They gave me a barometer to find the farm. And, they’ve settled in as the herd and I began making Home.

My relationship to grandma has transformed since then. (More on that story in upcoming posts on the power of trauma to ignite growth.) I feel her with me every step of the way with a love as deep as an ocean.

We’ve had three herd members die since we came here and each death has given a lifetime of gifts, as good deaths do. And we’ve learned that when someone dies, they are not lost or gone. And the power of a place well loved, nurtured and properly regarded matters in tending to what continues, what cannot die.

The herd seems to know this. I don’t know how or why, but with every step they walk on the ground of this place, the shoulders we stand on become more deeply felt and enlivened.

Christina Turner