Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Unexpected Bliss of Magpie Girl Rachelle Mee-Chapman

Returning from a week at Kripalu places a specific demand upon me: Rest and Integration. For this to happen, I need to go deep inside. So this week I am honored to present a series of posts by some wonderful writers about their experiences of Unexpected Bliss.

Rachelle Mee-Chapman is a soulcare specialist, writer, and mother(ish) to several. You can find her at Magpie Girl, follow her at Twitter, or friend her at Facebook. You can also join her mailing list for more information about her on-line soul spa, Flock, forming in January.

Unexpected Bliss in Denmark
by Rachelle Mee-Chapman

I am not one of those people who eagerly latches on to the idea of “Bliss.” As a chronic pain survivor, Bliss is often in short supply. Even when I know what my Bliss is, I cannot always begin to reach for it. I’m stretching, though, to sink more deeply into the concept. So when Christine suggested the idea of writing about Unexpected Bliss, something coalesced for me right away.
Lately, I have been submerged into the Unexpected Bliss that comes with Solitude.

I am a spiritual director, and most spiritual directors are pretty gaga about Solitude. They go on silent retreats. They spend time in their “quiet closets.” They walk for hours alone in the heath. Not me. My natural proclivity is for the group, the pack, the tribe.

In our former house in Seattle, our biological family of four rapidly expanded to become a household of seven. There was our long-time housemate Sharon, who will forever be the soulful center of our children’s early memories. Then there was our son-adopted-by-affection, Souren, who started out coming to dinner and ended up with his own room on the ground floor. Finally, there was our beloved housemate Rebecca with her downstairs room filled with bookshelves and the soft glow of the fish tank. Add to this clan the dozen or so folks who came each week for dinner at our Thursday night soulcare group, along with the endless stream of playdates, tea dates, potlucks, and impromptu wine tastings, and our big house was rarely quiet. I adored it. The community that surrounded me was my pride and joy.

And then, I moved to Denmark.

Denmark does not have a reputation for being an overly gregarious nation. Expat friends tried to warn us. But like most people ready for adventure, we blithely ignored whatever we did not want to hear. We were skilled community builders. Didn’t we have lots of evidence of our ability to create soultribes? Surely we could overcome cultural biases and build a new community amongst the Danes.

As it turns out, not so much. And after a year of trying, I pretty much gave up. As a fellow ex-pat friend put it, “I am tired of always saying ‘How are you? How is your family? How is your cat?’ I think I do not have to try to be so nice if no one is reciprocating.” It’s exhausting, to host all the play dates and make all the dinner invitations and never receive any in return. Eventually you give up. Eventually, you give in. And then the days pour out before you like a large, silent lake. I resisted that reality for a long time. Then I realize that I had to sit by that lake and wait for it to tell me its name.

“Solitude.” It whispered. “Solitude.”

In Solitude, I found out how strong I truly am. In Solitude, I faced loneliness, illness, and confusion – and I survived. In Solitude, I sat in silence and found out – not what my community wanted me to do – but what I wanted to do. Solitude asked me to type for endless hours until I found my voice. Solitude led me to the work I love most.

Solitude introduced me to my Bliss.

Perhaps there is something in your life that is not your favorite. Something that has come your way and landed straight in your lap. Something that is not your first nature, but is nonetheless quite real, quite prominent—quite a big part of your every day.

What would it look like if you sat beside it and waited for it to tell you its name? What might happen if you patted it down, ever so nicely, to see what gifts it might have hidden in its pockets? What if it is holding on to something for you until you are ready for it?

What if that thing is Bliss?


paris parfait said...

Lovely post! It's really true that one's expectations about a place are often erroneous, but we don't know this until we're experiencing firsthand the local cultural differences. It can be lonely and daunting. But we do find our strengths (and celebrate our differences) while immersed in another culture.

Eco Yogini said...

i had no idea about that aspect in Denmark. I had similar expectations for BC- expecting it to be a happy, eco, spiritual place. Instead, like you, I got tired of always being the friendly one...
so we moved back to Halifax lol.

I loved your story- and solitude is something I need, but often rarely seek out...

Sandy said...

Fabulously written and insightful. This helped me a lot as I am trying to settle in and face some uncomfortable, "I don't like this and I don't want to go through this", kind of stuff. Thanks.

jelly said...

i've seen magpie girls website, such cute goodies...

solitude is good, we need that in our lives sumx. it helps me put things in perspective.

Kavindra said...

Thank you for this deeply intelligent and soulful post. Really beautiful.

Tess said...

Great post, and you're right, it's in what is not our favourite that growth (and bliss) can sometimes lie.

I'm the opposite way round to you, I could quite happily spend weeks alone indulging my borderline misanthropic tendencies. I resist people, I get irritated before going out socially every single time - to this very day. But often it's when I spend time with others that I end up enjoying "the tribe".

Anonymous said...

I liked reading about this new-er insight about your time abroad. I guess I never thought about the stereotype of spiritual director types being ga-ga over solitude. Amusing to reflect on that and the contrast you've seen in your proclivities. Susa

cypress sun said...

beautifully written ~ thanks for sharing this! i have found myself in a similar situation without ever leaving town. i think it's time for me to give it a little more acceptance rather than calling it failure.