Before I left for a concert in West Virginia, I scribbled on a little chalkboard:
 
Please remember to:
eat salad and fruit
wash dishes
recycle
wipe off counters
and signed it with “I love you. Mama”
 
My sons, who are 16 and 13, didn’t need a reminder. They know all of this. And they are becoming very independent and responsible. Leaving behind a little something with them was for me a tangible way to leave a part of me with them – not so much for them, as for me, because it put my ‘mama’ heart at peace.
 
As I wrote, I paused for a moment and thought how I still feel torn inside when I leave for a gig. They are bigger now, I have good friends who will stay with them, and I am lucky to have a job that’s also my passion – singing and playing music and inspiring people. But a part of me still wants to stay with them all the time and not miss anything.
 
‘Torn inside,’ I thought… ok… maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration. Being torn inside is REALLY painful. (I often pause and reflect on expressions like this one. What image comes to you when you think about being ‘torn inside’?)
I gathered a few last things for the trip thinking about this…
 
It’s an expression of the emotional pain we experience when we are physically separated from the people we love. Perhaps the reason why this separation hurts like something inside is tearing apart is because of the memory of past separations we had experienced (with someone who had passed away, a community that rejected us, losing a sense of belonging, or being rejected by someone we loved who didn’t love us back, etc.). We remember how much we were hurting.
 
Often, the memory of emotional pain causes us to fear separation (Who would want to be ‘torn inside’ over and over again?), and we choose to ‘stay put’ and give up our dreams – the paths that were meant for us to walk on.
 
As we drove away from Nashville, I remembered times when it took all my strength to leave, and how I’d literary shake from separation anxiety. I also remembered times when, because of my panic attacks, I turned down gigs when my kids couldn’t travel with me.
 
It become so bad, I had to seek professional help. Through my therapy (and many years of deep inner work), I learned that in order to heal, I had to change my mindset. Instead of focusing on how I am NOT physically with my children, I focus on how we ARE connected – via text, phone, through the shared air we breathe, the sun and the moon, Grace and Love… (I was so happy when, a few years ago, I listened to Science Friday and learned about ‘quantum entanglement’ 🙂 )
 
When we do shift our mindset – and instead of seeing the separation, we see the whole – everything changes. The emotional pain will still be there, but we won’t be afraid of it.We will know that we really aren’t ‘torn inside’… that we are only experiencing pain because pain is a part of love – and both are a part of the whole 😉
 
I texted a few emoji kisses to my boys. Then I felt how freeing it was to be able to go do what I love to do and trust that all is well. 

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