Life Breathes In and Out


Our friend and castmate, Libby passed away a few days ago. Her doorway was cancer. She emulated Alice Paul, depicting a strong character full of fight for what she believed in. She was dedicated to embracing strong women and standing in their shoes demonstrating the power of one’s spirit.


We met her on the arc of her life, as she had already been walking on her feet for decades. She brought her passion to us and we celebrated our passions together. We miss Libby and know her heart and tenacity, along with her chutzpah are in the leagues of angels on the other side. Now in a position to view it all, we welcome her into our life as we breathe Libby in and out.


Life Breathes In and Out

by Shirley Riga


Dear friends are departing

New ones are arriving not yet known

Brand new in their bright packages

Life breathes in and out


I let go of one and welcome another

I let go of a want and discover another

I let go of my day and sleep to another

Life breathes in and out


Fears visit and I open the door or not

Joy knocks with a flurry and my visit is brief

I like order amidst the chaos

Life breathes in and out


With practice I recognize the fear knock

It has a familiar rat-a-tat-tat

Light and airy like it’s a friendly visit

Life breathes in and out


Slamming to a halt fear comes to visit

Blindsided occurrences happen less now

Is it because I’m older and wiser?

Life breathes in and out


Surreal moments of normalcy

All around me in masked visions

Moving with a hustle and bustle

Life breathes in and out


People are heeding the warnings

People are ignoring the warnings

Free will free choice

Life breathes in and out


What I know resides in my toes

I can look down and see where I am

Which way am I going I ask?

Life breathes in and out


I am a witness to my choices

In these toes I have travelled

From one age to the next

Life breathes in and out


Gratitude to my toes as they are steady

Witnessing me breathe in and out

Through loss and fear

Through pain and sorrow


Through joy and success

Through wonder and awe

My life breathes in and out

One step in front of another


Participants Reflections:

  • I want to acknowledge the loss of your friend. She sounds like she was a powerful and courageous loving woman. I was so moved by feeling about life and my choices as breathing in and out, especially now during the pandemic and preparations for Thanksgiving. People are not quite themselves around me I’ve noticed. It helps to know it is about a rhythm and to return to that natural rhythm we all have inside.

  • I wanted to share I see this time of isolation as a collective breathing in, a long-term breathing in. I see it as a time when I am taking in everything I can, and hopefully in a year or two when I have enough skills to breathe out and share it.

  • Thank you, that was so powerful. A beautiful poem. Yesterday, I was talking to my rabbi friend who I work with. I was wanting solace from her to help me get through my grief. She was in her own grief. We had another friend pass away from our group. She was talking about how so many people are dying. I realized, as I listened to your poem, that I was in a wanting state. It’s never good when I am in a wanting state. I realize I need to comfort my rabbi friend. She needed my help and I couldn’t give it. It’s better to be in a being state to be there for each other. That’s what your poem is about, accepting life, breathe in, breathe out. We have lost one of our cast members, but one of the cast is having a baby. It’s a cycle. It’s good to remember that no matter how hard it hurts.

  • Someone said “Grief is love with no place to go.” I truly believe that those who leave here go to another place. We can’t see it and therefore we can’t know in our minds where it is. So I picture our friend and send love to her. It is a solace to do that, for anyone I’ve lost.

  • I know I’m not wanting to share, so I need to say this. I felt a little scrambled in listening this morning. What I heard was about our feet and toes and looking at them and breathing. This morning, I walked in the woods and I tried to step over a fallen tree and I fell again. On the other side. Recently, I had two ribs hurt on one side. I was healing from that and then I fell on a stake into my back. The fall today reinjured the other side again. I felt this flash of anger. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do, why is this happening? I kept thinking just breathe with it, there’s something here, figure it out, be with it. But today, this morning, it doesn’t make sense, it just hurts. I can’t breathe without pain. I will keep surrendering and look at my feet. All I can hear is surrender, surrender.

  • I have this book called Doing Nothing. I’ve never read it. The idea of it is surrendering and stop trying to figure it out and stop trying to control it and manage it. Stop trying. It’s a hard thing to do. Maybe I’ll pull it out and look at it today.

  • Thank you. I was thinking about our president-elect. As we breathe in and breathe out, we can breathe in and out for the new cabinet and administration members. Keep them in our thoughts and prayers as we breathe in and out, that they have wisdom and do what they need to do. I believe as we love other people, let me breathe in and out through you. Let me take your pain. That’s what we do when we love. I’m thinking about my friend who died this year. She’s in a different place. I don’t know where she is. The only words I have around it is that she still lives within me. She’s a part of me. I am so thankful that she is still in my life in whatever form she is in. So we breathe for you.

  • Spiritual teacher Matt Kahn teaches that as we lose loved ones, we don’t lose them. We merge with them. They merge with us. They are in our hearts. It’s a merger. I love that.

  • I want to remind people that I am giving a free virtual webinar Feel the Fear – Down to the Wire. There will be time to ask questions, and it will be a webinar on-demand. It will be recorded if you can’t make it on that day. You have to register to access it then or later.

  • Remember that Jean Houston is giving a free webinar on Nov 25.

  • Thank you for choosing to spend 15 minutes of silence to represent the respect and honor you have for yourself and your process. · Thank you for being in this community and adding to the breath, in and out. We are a microcosm of the macrocosm.

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