THE SILENCE OF MORNING

“I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind.
Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.”
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

This is a book about the mystery of existence, a book that transports the reader into many dimensions. Here, there is much to explore about how we find our way when circumstances feel overwhelming, even impossible. We are all on the same journey; this deeply intentional memoir illuminates that very journey. Even if loss is not part of your life today, The Silence of Morning bridges moments and events that time carves out for all of us … one way or another. Just over the next hill, who knows what we will see or encounter. Who knows what we will experience. The unexpected always awaits. D.A. Hickman, author, poet, publisher, and founder of SunnyRoomStudio  

“Daisy’s book is a comfort to a shattered soul…. Only mothers are able to understand the all encompassing love they feel for their child. No poet, no writer yet has been able to articulate the dynamic of how it feels in the seconds that a mother’s love is intruded upon by unbearable agony. Mothers are supposed to be able to handle everything right up until the second they cannot. We expect that of ourselves. The loss of a child is not just hard, it’s impossible. Our losses take many forms: death, mental illness, addiction, abandonment. The darkest of hours come and go, and comfort can be elusive. Waves of second guessing and unbearable grief wash over a bereaved mother at unexpected moments. The Silence of the Morning is a wonderful companion in those most unmanageable of moments. Thanks, Daisy, I love your book. Peace.” ~ Deborah Twiss Ervin

Since this is Mother’s Day weekend, I wanted to share a few of the incredible reader comments from Amazon regarding my memoir about the loss of my son: THE SILENCE OF MORNING: A Memoir of Time Undone. The absence of a son or a daughter is more noticeable on days that focus on parent-child relationships. Yet, curiously, everyone feels that absence differently. I try to do something positive with calendar dates, because, after all, nearly everyone out there is coping with “something.” It may be unspoken, it may not be conscious, it may not feel quite as devastating as loss, but in the end, suffering is suffering. And being there for others is one of the best ways to contend with personal pain. It may take time to find that kind of energy again after we lose someone we love; it may take longer than we can even imagine. But … when we are patient, the urge to share hard-earned wisdom and comfort returns.

I am the mother of a 19-year-old son whom I lost to an alcohol and pill overdose (possible suicide) in 2014. After the tragedy of Michael’s death, I read several books about the loss of a child but I couldn’t really find one which captured what I was feeling … until I read Daisy Hickman’s book! To quote a phrase from this remarkable book: ‘The searing pain of debilitating sorrow.’ There were so many feelings put into words that I felt she was speaking things I couldn’t describe. This is definitely the most heartfelt, honest, and inspiring book which I have ever read. One does not need to be a bereaved parent to benefit from reading The Silence of Morning. Truly amazing. ~ Kathy Conway Rath

When Matthew’s life came to a close, he was 27. It is 10 years later; and yes, he would be 37 now. Difficult for me to imagine, as the passage of time is so ghost-like. Saying I miss him, is true, but saying we “get over” grief or loss, or “move on” isn’t true. These are popular phrases that sound cold and out of context; they are words we say when we don’t know the deeper story of life and loss. What actually happens after loss is that we learn how to bring the person along with us.  Through our work, our creative energies, our gifts to others, and through our stories. THE SILENCE OF MORNING was written over a 7-year period; it was exhausting … it was joyful … it was incredibly meaningful and moving. 

“D.A. Hickman’s book, THE SILENCE OF MORNING: A MEMOIR OF TIME UNDONE, is beyond revealing. An exquisite account of a young life that ended all too soon, the story includes the events leading up to, including, and the aftermath of her son Matthew’s death by suicide. In the unfolding narrative, the reader steps as close as possible to surviving tragic personal loss and ensuing anguish, without having to possess firsthand awareness or experiential footing.

When the unthinkable happens—a phone call delivers the news of her son’s death—a detonator pin is pulled, causing an emotional implosion that sends shock waves slamming through the author. The aftermath is much like learning to live again without a vital organ, only it’s much more devastating—it’s learning to live again without a son.

Not succumbing to social norms—pat remedies, mind-based attempts at closure, and getting on with one’s life—it’s in the hollowed out spaces that Hickman is able to find solace, strength to process, and slowly and quietly nurtures, curates, and finds herself again.

Though we bloom briefly, then fade, the universe always returning to itself, when we allow life to touch us deeply, even in sorrow, somehow, it extends our mortal view, and our glory. —D.A. Hickman

A timeless journey, THE SILENCE OF MORNING: A MEMOIR OF TIME UNDONE offers light where there’s dark, courage where there’s fear, peace where there’s distress, and hope where there’s none.” ~ Laurie Buchanan, PhD

We are more than our losses; we are resilient. And loss, when understood at the level of soul, transforms us. If we allow it; if we dedicate ourselves to understanding the path of life; and if we find the courage to explore the deepest life mysteries that inevitably become more compelling during times of profound grief. The invitation to explore anew the aspects of life we have always shied away from is part of the grief-experience. But it is only an invitation. Noticing it, accepting it, and growing with it … those things are up to us as individuals. I hope if you are feeling the pull of the universe to better understand the deeper aspects of existence that you decide to explore those feelings. Your intuition will guide you. The love for those you have lost will also guide you. 

“How does one deal with the death of a child? Author and mother, Daisy Hickman, explores addiction and the deep, inner entanglement she found herself in when at 27 years of age, her son Matt, took his own life. Through intense grief we follow her on a journey of looking honestly at addiction and suicide, asking difficult questions, and looking for answers that only a quest for spiritual connection can bring her. A must read for those dealing with children who are crossing the line into drug and alcohol use.” ~ Joan Z. Rough

As I was working on this book, I was also working on a book of poetry. Slowly but surely. Feeling drawn to a genre that allowed me to explore everything I was learning and experiencing along the way was a gift, I’m sure. Creativity opens many doors to the things we are thinking about or feeling on a variety of levels. Poetry, with its brevity, gave me yet another way to dig more deeply into time — its power and allure, its firm, halting nature, its constant chiming in the background. Like a train moving in our direction ever-so-slowly … we can always sense our own end days on some level, can’t we? My book of poetry will be released in late June. Soon I will share the title and the cover. I have a feeling you will find both intriguing and, hopefully, beautiful.

“As a memoirist, I’ve read my share of memoirs. The Silence of Morning accomplishes what every writer tries to, but not always successfully. D.A. Hickman’s story is brutally honest. She takes us to the bone of her personal tragedy and the journey to not only live through it, but to learn to thrive again. We’ve all suffered losses, some bigger than others. When we’re told by well-meaning people that time heals all wounds, yet, we know they are wrong and hope they never have to endure the same. Time and depth of character might provide us with insights and tools to get up every morning and live the life we’ve been given. We may never know why we were chosen to endure the worst, but in Hickman’s case, it may have been to rise above her personal and private pain and share her hard-earned insights with others who may not have made it to shore. I recommend this book to everyone.” ~ Camille Cole

So, Matthew, know that you are always in my thoughts … not just on special days, or holidays stipulated by the calendar. You have been with me since the end … and since the beginning … if that makes sense. You inspire me to write and to share your story with love and concern for the human condition and all that that implies. My book of poetry has several poems written about you or about the experience of your loss. Though you aren’t here to read them, our lives are forever intertwined, and I’m quite sure these poems would not surprise you or puzzle you. You were never a “big reader,” but you had a gentle heart and an old soul. You also had trouble fitting those qualities into today’s world. The same thing happens to so many other people. We are all born into the confusion and angst of the human condition; finding our way can be extremely challenging when external circumstances don’t fit our perceptions.

“I highly recommend Daisy A. Hickman ‘s book, The Silence of Morning. Daisy shares with us the excruciating loss of her amazing son (a suicide) and weaves in the raw truth of the influence and complicity of our addictive society. Addiction in its many forms touches far too many families. The wake of addiction’s destruction calls us all to come together for transformational change. I hope you will purchase Daisy’s book, read it and then reflect as I am on what is possible.” — Audrey Denecke

As I wrote in the book: “So what, after all, is left to be said after a sudden death–when everyone departs and you are frightened and alone like never before? Only this. ‘Your voice, my friend, wanders in my heart like the muffled sound of the sea among the listening pines’ (Stray Birds, Tagore). A spiritual voice that seamlessly finds expression within mine–not only in this book, but during each moment. A voice that, one day, will merge with eternity, providing the elegant continuity nature seeks and displays, as if perpetually eager for the next second, the next ray of sunshine, the next apple blossom. And I am comforted by this miracle of life, overwhelmed by its exquisite beauty, soothed by the bright and brilliant love a young mother once knew (and still knows) for her newborn son named Matthew. An indestructible force that, yes, is nature’s secret.”

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend filled with meaning and the eagerness to explore the deepest life mysteries … no matter where the search takes you. It certainly took me to places unknown.  

“Through our mortality we all share the burden of grief, along with its inevitable light. Thus, to speak of healing is to speak of something that impacts humanity as a whole, and despite the seemingly haphazard nature of everything, I sense we are all growing toward something ineffable. Even my awareness feels sacred, undeserved. Letting go of notions of ‘personal healing’ is to embrace a much bigger idea by looking within for a boundless essence that, containing everything, needs no healing at all.” ~ The Silence of Morning (from the Afterword)

AUTHOR INTERVIEW : “We Need Memoir” (posted by author Richard Gilbert on his wonderful blog: Draft No. 4)

FIND the book on Amazon (print or Kindle): The Silence of Morning: A Memoir of Time Undone

“I cannot cause light; the most I can do is try to put myself in the path of its beam. It is possible, in deep space, to sail on solar wind. Hone and spread your spirit till you yourself are a sail, whetted, translucent, broadside to the merest puff.”
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Thanks for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits.
See you again in a few weeks.

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NOT THAT MYSTERIOUS

IF you could go anywhere … do anything at all … where, what might it be? Does the notion of a “fantasy land” intrigue you? A nirvana, or a utopian culture, perhaps? The desire, overt or implicit, to escape “whatever is” absorbs a great deal of humanity’s energy. I wonder how this could be quantified. I have a feeling statistics would reveal a great deal if this sentiment were truly measurable.

So this fine month of May, what are you wishing to escape, or change, or somehow avoid? Too many things to count, perhaps?

The endless political drama is at the top of many lists right now. The comedians are having a great time with all of this, and though clearly funny and important (comic relief is a necessity during stressful times), it really is more information on the very same topic. Escape, in this context, is short-lived and perhaps not terribly constructive over time. Other “escapes” can be equally superficial, less than inspiring, or clearly unsustainable.

For me, the secret is finding or creating meaning in whatever context I find myself in. By choice, or otherwise. That is the real key, isn’t it?

When personal meaning can be identified, amplified, or shared, we automatically open ourselves to a more peaceful way of being. We also tend to live from a deeper perspective, overall, while anxiety, depression, or a heightened interest in conflict/drama/controversy often dissipate. Patterns of old are boring, in other words. We then seek new ways of being, new ways of perceiving and engaging with others.

Often those “others” in our lives don’t understand the shift. A personal shift toward greater consciousness and deeper awareness is lost on those who are clueless about such things. And when others remain firmly mired in age-old values or highly commercialized mainstream priorities, the gap between people can become enormous. I see this happening in our world all the time. Yet, we never seem to see this dynamic for what it is — instead we imagine and use curious and inaccurate labels, which only complicates things.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
Voltaire

The one thought I want to leave you with today is just this: Don’t give up on building personal meaning into your life. Don’t settle for chasing trends, pleasing others constantly, and getting bogged down in all things irrelevant. Many out there will NEVER be happy, or content, or peaceful. Never ever. They haven’t been motivated to shift to a broader vision, one built on a deeper life perspective. Many still think happiness depends on all things external, but some of us are coming to understand that most (if not all) of the work of happiness occurs within.

Contentment can’t be purchased at the local store; nor can joy or peace.

It can’t be forced or demanded, because it flows from somewhere deep within.

But once you tap into a deeper spiritual awareness, you will more easily find meaning in every life moment, and when that happens, a more profound contentment arises on it own accord. Have you experienced anything like this? The shift can be subtle initially, but it’s definitely something to build on to see where it takes you.

“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”
[The Science of Second-Guessing (New York Times Magazine Interview, December 12, 2004)]”
Stephen Hawking

Thanks for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits.
See you again in a few weeks.

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IN HASTE

WE all do some things a bit too quickly. Our timing is “off” … we rush to complete something, to get somewhere, or maybe we speak so fast a genuine conversation is impossible. Examples abound; it’s not difficult to see this dynamic at work, is it? I notice myself doing this when I’m overly focused on getting to the “next moment,” as Eckhart Tolle often calls this subconscious rush to the future. Once you pause to consider how this subtle force works in your life, you may decide to slow things down.

Consider the moments you don’t really “see” because you’re already halfway to the next moment. How about the people you don’t actually “hear” because you are locked in your own mind, pushing the moment to complete itself so you can rush forward … once more?

Going to an art museum or spending time with nature are great ways to test yourself on this dynamic. Feel uncomfortable with a slower pace, running to-do lists through your head at the same time, checking your phone? Looking for a few brief seconds then “moving on” or skipping entire sections of the museum or the garden so you can quickly get to the next thing you want to say or do?

But … you may wonder … what’s the real harm in this? Isn’t life a race that requires selective attention and effective time management? Sometimes, yes, we simply have to hurry. No way around that. However, accessing the deeper side of life (the very mysteries of existence) and possessing an ability to reflect, meditate, and contemplate are linked to the ability to stay in the moment. FULLY.

While haste can feel natural to us because of the world around us, dare to challenge this. Dare to walk a path that creates an opening in your awareness, allowing for fresh insights to emerge. Otherwise, the race we’re quietly running may end badly. Otherwise, and probably. There is no medal for getting through life more quickly than the next guy. There is only a final breath waiting for all of us. That’s it.

So drag your feet a bit more. Don’t let subtle pressures to hurry impact your peace of mind, your sense of purpose. Imagine a world that isn’t half-crazy with visions of “getting to the future” just as quickly as possible. Experiment a little, see what happens. When I’m writing I can feel myself wanting, for example, the “complete the project.” The book, the article, the story, the poem. But I try to catch myself. Remind myself that a belief in time is at the root of this strange dynamic.

Spring is a good opportunity to let go of false notions. To see what life feels like without time calling all the shots. It is an illusion. And there is much to be discovered right here, right now. Thanks for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits. See you again in a few weeks!

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DEGREES OF GRATITUDE

We’re all just walking each other home.
― Ram Dass

THIS TIME of year various themes arise in conversation. Gratitude is one of them. And while there are many reasons to feel grateful, today I want to mention the boundless contribution of spiritual leaders who have graced our planet. The lovely contrast they offer to all things mundane and superficial is a priceless gift. When the world is focused on overworked media stories, for instance, enlightened voices remind us of the “big picture” … the poetic, silent realm that is unseen, undervalued, and underestimated. Like joining an instant spiritual retreat, we can sit down and open the pages of a book by Eckhart Tolle, for instance. Or maybe read a little Ram Dass. There are so many others: Dalai Lama, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Thomas Merton, and so on. xmasfence2013 Plus there are a multitude of voices not associated with spirituality, per se, that also uplift us with communication that inspires and resonates deeply. Poets, musicians, authors, artists, and all the people out there who see something more, something seemingly hidden from view.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’m going to be seeking out those voices more than ever before. Even though I’ve experienced a profound spiritual journey myself, written about it in depth in my memoir The Silence of Morning, I will always challenge myself to grow in wisdom. To transcend the daily experience we call “life.” To focus more completely on the underlying story, the one that speaks quite loudly despite the incredible “noise” of existence. As I wrote in my book …

  • Thoughts can be as empty as barren land, but living through hardship connects us to our soul like a laser. We must know pain firsthand. Innocence must be relinquished to grow spiritually.

And once we begin to develop and grow in spiritual ways (often committing to a path of growing awareness and presence), there is no turning back. Even when we feel out-of-step with the world around us, it can’t be helped. We look through a different lens, one that has less to do with the roller coaster of daily news, the glitz and glitter of a ridiculous celebrity culture, the dark and troubling political games of the moment, the warped definitions of “success” that flutter almost aimlessly through the air.

So … I wish everyone, especially during this season of gratitude, the willingness to stretch and expand in the spiritual sense of things. Once we perceive life events and destinations with greater depth and equanimity, we will have more to give others. A poetic cycle of renewal and growth begins to dominate our days. It’s certainly worth a try, right? ~ dh

What spiritual voice can pull you along until you find your own?
What kind of gratitude do you want to know and experience?
What kind of lens do you want to see the world through?

How often do you seek inspiration from within?

cropped-cropped-IMG-20121225-00790-2.jpgWe’re all just walking each other home.
― Ram Dass

Thanks so much for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits. Next post, early December.

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A POWERFUL GIFT

at the end of a long political drama, what can we do to salvage our peace of mind?

Some of the most important distinctions in life are subtle. Very subtle. We sense these distinctions on an intuitive level … when we are aware, mindful, and paying attention to something beyond our own mind chatter. But, sadly, these subtle distinctions are often ignored, missed, minimized. So how can we become more aware of subtle differences that point to something we actually need to know?

For one thing: read. Books often draw on important distinctions — fiction and nonfiction. Even poetry.

The book you don’t read won’t help.

Jim Rohn

Yes, I know. We hear about a world that doesn’t read all that much anymore. We hear about technology and its grip on our time. We also hear about shortened attention spans due to a constant barrage of snippets of information found online, via television or smart phones. But we don’t have to accept this troubling trend. We can continue to read real books, the kind that draw subtle distinctions … make us think … and give us pause. We don’t have to join those who insist there is “no time to read.” Make time in creative ways! Even a page a day … eventually gets us through an entire book.

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.

–Marcel Proust

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JUST as the trees of autumn only show subtle differences of color at first (eventually the colors deepen, turn bright and artistic-looking), subtle changes in our daily lives noticed early on, before they hit us over the head, can be quite helpful. Perhaps they alert us to something critical in the offing. Perhaps (if our health is at play) we can prevent a major health issue from developing further.

A book is the only place in which you can examine
a fragile thought without breaking it
.
–Edward P. Morgan

Besides reading books of substance more frequently (making it a regular and important part of each day), what else might we do to increase our ability to perceive subtle, but telling, distinctions?

WHAT about tapping into the stillness within, so we can hear or sense more on an intuitive, knowing level? Do you feel it’s difficult to become truly silent, the mind running on like a wild river? Of course. We all feel that way sometimes. But if we are willing to work at learning about the merits of internal solitude and quiet, we can grow in awareness. We can deepen our perspectives. We can begin to discern the subtle aspects of life that are all around us and often pointing the way.

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I’m reminded here of the close of chapter one in my memoir, The Silence of Morning: A MEMOIR OF TIME UNDONE. I had only a day or two earlier learned of my son’s loss … it was dawn, the morning of his funeral, and this is what I wrote: “Dawn arrived as a fuzzy continuum of then and now. Vague resistance was all I could manage, as harsh, unrelenting circumstances penetrated my awareness. Walls, draped in shadows, the cave I never wanted to emerge from. And, across the room, fragile flowers. Their colors sadly depleted. An unspoken mission–to console, to soothe–laid bare by this glaring day of black and white. The silence of morning, a cavernous, mocking echo reveled all of this, and more. Viscerally, I felt its cold, eerie precision: its force. Merciless. Absolute.”
  • Silence speaks to us quite loudly at times, doesn’t it? Sometimes underestimated in importance, it is usually trying to tell us something if we will only tune in. Listen. Try to grow in awareness. 

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. –Thomas Hood

Have you identified anything in your life to help you stay more alert to silence? Have you experienced profound insights when silent? What have you learned about trying to quiet the ever-chattering mind?

I encourage you during times of stress, pain, and confusion to consider leaning on the silence within. The quiet distinctions may bubble to the surface. The gentle nudge may be heard above the noise of life. Answers may come. Ideas may flow. Creativity is nurtured. Peace of mind may seem possible once more. Perspective may be regained. Your sense of purpose, compassion, and personal strength also can be enhanced. Though mysterious, learning to trust silence is a powerful gift. –dh

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When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with it fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze. –Thomas Carlyle

Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. –Henri Nouwen

Even in the most beautiful music there are some silences, which are there so we can witness the importance of silence. –Andrea Bocelli

  • Have any memorable experiences with silence you would like to share here? 
Thanks so much for stopping by this sunny space for kindred spirits. See you November 4th, when I’ll share my interview with author Laurie Buchanan. Her new book, Note to Self, releases on the 12th.
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