Posted by: maria | June 20, 2018


My mind is full of memories, my house is chock with souvenirs. The tiny picture of the church in Palestine, hangs next to the painted metal mirror from Oaxaca. The tile from Ecuador, poignant with grief, subdues the bold colors of the batik print from Tahiti. Nearby is a vivid painting of the crowds in Haiti, purchased for a dollar one hot day on the streets of Port Au Prince so many decades ago.


Many moments are captured in the colors of the room, many stories of people and places and a life filled with travel and exploration. I have brought back a bit of each place, like a stone from the beach, just to add that one more tone to the orchestra of my memory, rounding out the fullness of what I have seen and done and appreciated.


This last trip I told myself- no more- I will bring nothing back- there is no space for anything but pictures in my head. I have room in my heart for more memories, but I can’t fit one more single thing on my walls.


So now my souvenirs are the smiles of children, etched in my mind. I have the friendship of people who I met and bonded with. I keep the songs I learned and the poems that touched me to remember the feel of a place or a time.


Trying to capture life in something tangible and lasting is like putting an animal in a cage. Life is the experience, feeling the rain come unexpectedly and hiding under the banyon tree laughing with a friend. How can you keep a souvenir of that long talk about love and family that made the climb up the mountain seem like nothing and the view from the top like everything?


Our souvenirs can clutter our lives, if we cling too much to the past. We can be clogged with the detritus of what has gone if we can’t let go of things that no longer have meaning or value.


We keep things sometimes, just because we have forgotten how to let go and move on. There is always more wonder and more life to be lived, and we need to make room for what is to come by releasing that which has gone before.


Memories should remind us to make more memories, to instill joy into each exquisite moment so that we want to remember this time. This is what matters most, being here to see this precious unfolding. All of the heirlooms and souvenirs only matter if they remind us to live deeply, opening into the present, and bringing forth our next beautiful memory.


This letting go and letting in is a part of the Metal Element, in 5 Element theory. We are going to explore this deeply in a retreat in September. We will discover ways to turn grief into nostalgia and to let go of what no longer serves us, including those voices in our head that want to hold us back. The Metal Element is about evaluating and finding worth. It teaches us how to make compost of our life, creating the rich soil for the seeds of our dreams, so that we can grow forward.


Come and learn the ways we can blast the past to make way for our dreams. Sept 28-30. At Sacred Groves on Bainbridge Island. Be in community with other women as we release, celebrate and renew.

Maria Cook

June 20, 2018