Dearest Readers,

Yesterday I went out to visit a friend who lives about 45 minutes away to celebrate a milestone in her life. We went for a cross-country ski on the frozen lake that is her front yard while the bright sun hung in the sky behind us illuminating the mountains to an almost impossible white.

For the rest of the afternoon we lounged on her couches, talking and laughing and resting in the quiet peace of the country. We ate a magnificent meal cooked for us by her partner and we celebrated together in the evening with more friends, stories and gifts. I drove back to town in the dark singing out loud to Johnny Cash, Neko Case and Jakob Dylan.

When I got home I entered the bedroom and there on the beautiful, pure, white quilt that covers the bed were two piles of yellow barf. The cat had coughed up a couple of fur balls. I immediately went into despair.

Now because I am devoted to the kind of inner work that demands self-searching I had to ask myself, “What is this really about?” Can it be that a little thing like a stained quilt so easily throws me off kilter? Sends me from joy to hopelessness in the blink of an eye?

No, something else was afoot.

After scrubbing and soaking the quilt I went into the little room (more like a closet) I use to pray and meditate. This was not a sitting-cross-legged matter. I got down into balasana, the Child’s Pose, on my knees and folded to the floor. I began to pray, seeking answers, going deep, investigating my extreme reaction. What was going on with my emotions?

The answer came.

During the evening I had been sharing about something and one of the friends in our circle had laughed at me. I had continued to speak as if his laughter hadn’t affected me but the truth is, it had. And I hadn’t connected to it until this moment.

Why would someone laughing at me trigger such a reaction? Such despair and such complete and utter defeat? Searching back into the memories of my life I discovered the key.

My grandparents had a little farm about an hour outside of Toronto and after we left the Yukon we would often visit them on weekends. My grandfather grew vegetables and for some reason his zucchinis grew to outsize proportions. We all marveled at the size of these green beauties, which would expand to become as large as newborn babes.

As a little girl newly arrived in the big city of Toronto from Whitehorse I thought bringing one of these giant zucchinis to school for show-and-tell would be an excellent idea. Weren’t these anomalies of Nature worth sharing?

When I got up to the front of the classroom to share my excitement with the class, ready to thrill them with the wonder of this earthly gift I was greeted not by awe but by ridicule. They did not look at each other and say, “Wow, that is AMAZING.” They laughed at me. They laughed at me for bringing in such a ridiculous, embarrassing thing.

This was a inner-city school. And by that I do not mean “poor”. I mean downtown, urban, upscale Toronto. I was from somewhere else. I was different. I didn’t live in that neighbourhood. My sister and I walked 45 minutes to get there every morning.  I was weird and the zucchini was weird and the kids were uncomfortable and so they laughed.

I was shocked by their reaction. Stunned, actually. And I’ve shared that story a lot over the years. I’m still good friends with my best girlfriend from those early school days and even she brings up the story for a laugh. But I didn’t know how hurt I’d been and I certainly didn’t know I’d stuffed the hurt away, hidden it inside me in the darkest and most distant of places.

Once I connected to this memory, now an uncovered wound, I was able to connect to the grief and let it flow. This, in turn, helped me to release some deeper grief over the death of my grandmother, whose farm I had so loved as a child. She died last weekend. My grandfather died just 3 months earlier.  Their lives are over and I miss them.

And so today I feel fragile.  I shed a bunch more tears this morning. But I am feeling so thankful that I was able to discover the trigger and the hurt underneath it. This kind of work is not easy but it’s so much more productive than blaming a little cat for having a hairball in the wrong spot.

In my prayer last night I once again thanked the cat, who sometimes feels like an insatiably needy child, for giving me yet another opportunity to know myself a little better and to heal a little bit more of the turbulent past. And thanks to the God of Fur Balls, too.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When I am triggered by a seemingly mundane occurrence I will take the time to go within and discover the deeper Truth. I will trust that this kind of healing work will bring me the Peace I so desperately need to live well.