A Human of All Seasons


As I photographed this glorious butterfly sipping the last nectar of summer, its invitation to focus led me to also take a shot of my inner landscape. Only a few days ago the excitement of biting into my second spring was filling me with excitement and anticipation, and yet I now found myself adrift in a blurry picture of sorrow mixed with gratitude and joy. There I stood, newly confirmed in the community of empty nesters, feeling both elation at my children’s independence and sadness at their absence, swinging between the highs of mature freedom and the lows of returned aloneness. All. At. Once.

The Bible tells us, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to weep and a time to laugh…a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-5).  As wilting flowers easily yield to the fiery shades of autumn, I’m wondering what we, transient beings, are supposed to do when we come to realize that all times, all seasons, move upon and through us at once. We laugh and cry in the same sentence; in our hearts flow both hope and grief; our lives sing the songs of the dead and the living. Everything is right now, in this instant of potential and regret, in this breath of opening and closing.

Like winter’s ice protects the triumph of summer’s blooms, like fall’s bounty feeds the promises of spring, we each harbor every one of life’s seasons. When we open to them with acceptance and reverence, without forcing their presence or wishing for their retreat, we get to feel there’s enough space for them all. Always.  Pain doesn’t negate joy. Bliss is not meant to erase heartache. Emptiness doesn’t cancel the wonder of belonging. Together they shape the true form of human experience at any given time. Together they gift us with a depth of perception and a longing for more. When we finally choose to own the richness and echoes of this truth, we are offered a chance to taste what it means to be whole, authentic, and without end.

“He has also set eternity in their hearts…” – (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Maryse Godet Copans © 2015

My Bold Truth

This is a response I posted today for a 10 day photography/writing class I’m part of. The prompt was “truth”.


Yesterday I came very, very close to dropping out of this class.

I started last week full of enthusiasm at the idea of growing and creating with both words and photography. Five days later, anxiety symptoms had returned and I was once again filled with self-doubt.  Surely, real depth came from darkness if I were to trust the vibes permeating the class. Most posted about their pain and struggles. Captures of moments of joy and light were few and far between, timid exceptions to a sad rule. “This is not my truth”, I thought, “not my tribe.”

Every human journey is unique, yet we all share the same pain and challenges through the simple facts that we breathe the same air and feel the same emotions. We all taste loss, unworthiness, and fear. We all, sooner or later, touch the bottom of our humanness. It teaches us about humility, compassion, and resilience.  But we also all hold the capacity for joy. I too walked the walk of the wounded, trapped in the pit of my own sorrow. I too created from that space when it was the only relief in sight. It made room for healing and new possibilities, and little by little, the light returned.

There’s power and nurturing in this light because it knows the darkness well and like roots planted deep in the soil need sunshine and rain to grow into all they can be, I now choose to create from that space of hope and love. Love for my journey, for myself, for you, for Life. I choose Joy. I choose to celebrate every moment I get to embrace who I am and be a grateful witness to all that life has to offer.

This is my truth and today I boldly stand up for it.

Maryse Godet Copans © 2015

Wildly,Horribly Irritating Mind (WHIM)


Back in the corner you go. You know the one. That’s what you get for deciding to write on a whim. Look at the lines on the wall and listen to those playing in your head: “Who needs another writer? What do you have to share that hasn’t been said before? Who do you think you are?” You love your mind, I know you do, it’s a beautiful tool and it’s saved you a few times from falling feet first into mouthfuls of embarrassment. And today is no different. It’s keeping you safe, aren’t you grateful? You’re not ready to show yourself. Don’t you feel better knowing the corner is there with its right angle?

It’s the wrong angle, you say? You choose to turn around and face the sky? You know who you are and it’s not your mind? You are bold!

You want to create with your Wonderfully, Happily Imaginative Muse. You want to let the voices in the corner speak and invite them to look at the view on the other side. You want to paint your walls all the colors of your experience and create a picture that others will be inspired by. You want to be seen and own your space, not to push others to seek refuge into their corners, but so that both your strength and fragility can become beacons of encouragement for all.

This is the perfect angle. For me. Right now.


Maryse Godet Copans © 2015

Writing again…?

This is a short entry I wrote as a response to a five why assignment for the Literati Writers’ online group led by Dave Ursillo. It feels like a cool way of re-entering the world of written creativity now that my two masterpieces have left the nest (yes, yes, my children). 

This morning I decided to join the Literati Writers. Why? Because in the last two days I have become an empty nester and I’ve been feeling the need for taking even the tiniest step towards my life as a new “long distance mom”. Why is that step important? Because it helps me shift the pity party into a pool of possibility. I may be a writer, I may not. Time will tell. But today, as I type these words, I’m reconnecting with a part of myself that’s been kept quiet as life immersed me in the art of motherhood instead. But today my shoulder hurts and if I’m to believe Dave, it means my creative self is asking for immediate attention. Why do I choose to actually pay attention? Because if I don’t I will end up like my mom who, after raising 6 children, lost all sense of direction once we moved out. She died many years later, a prisoner of dark thoughts and emptiness. In her name, I want to discover the joys of my second spring, with my heart leading the way and nothing to prove. Why am I following the joy? Because I’m not my mom but the love I feel for her demands I heal this pattern of fear and depression. To honor all the love she gave me. To honor myself. And to honor my daughter’s right to a bright life journey.

As of August 18, 2015

This piece is not mine but my son’s. It is about his spiritual and healing journey. If you feel it can help someone navigate a chronic illness, please feel free to share. Thank you.

Last December, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. For those who don’t know, ulcerative colitis is a chronic illness for which there is, as of yet, no cure. What it means is that if you are a little too stressed out or you eat the wrong food, you will have to deal with an inflamed colon, which is as bad as it sounds. At the time of the diagnosis, I was 17 years old and midway through my senior year of high school. Like many high schoolers, I thought I had life all figured out: social media, party, lift weights. I was cruising through my last year in high school with all my friends and I knew life was going to be smooth sailing into college. So it posed a few problems for me when I learned that, with ulcerative colitis, I could not drink, I would have to take time off from the gym, and, as I would later realize, I did not have life figured out at all. As it played out, I wasn’t well enough to go to school for a while. I stayed at home recovering for the second half of my senior year. I slept, ate the same low-inflammatory foods all day long, played video games, and repeated. I was a kid who wanted to party and get other people’s approval who couldn’t party or go out to get other people’s approval. So aside from beating a few challenging video games, it was not what I’d call a good time. A part of myself that I seriously valued could no longer exist, something that took a few miserable months to come to terms with.

But sometime, months later, a part of me realized that if I was willing to give up my high school ideals and commit myself completely to getting better, it was possible to not live the rest of my life as a victim of some disease. I didn’t know it at the time, but this idea would completely change the way I live my life. Around the time of my 18th birthday, my parents finally got me a dog, which I had wanted my whole life. Walking out of my room every morning to find a little animal celebrating my arrival always put a smile on my face. Those small, happy moments gave me the energy to start getting myself back together over the next few weeks. I started accepting my new diet and lifestyle. I began exercising lightly and stretching daily so that I could slowly work my way back into the gym.

One day, one of these stretches left me in a position where I was looking at a bookshelf upside down. There directly ahead of me, upside down, was a book I had never seen before: Courage by Osho. It seemed interesting, so I read it over the following week, hoping to find out what someone could possibly say in a whole book about courage. In the pages of that book, written by an Indian man who passed away in 1990, were the same thoughts that had been running through my head for the past few weeks. He described the thrill of the unknown, exactly what I had been feeling since I had committed myself to changing and accepting myself. He was someone who knew exactly what I had been through, yet our lives had never even mutually existed. This book, written by a spiritual guru, inspired me to explore what spirituality and religion actually were. For the first time in years, I had a deep sense that I was on the right track in life, which was the only thing that mattered. Shortly after, I found a book by Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, that compared every myth and religion and showed that they all shared a common structure. They were all the same story, written in different ways by different people since the beginning of human civilization. Reading Campbell’s work helped me truly understand the significance of spirituality, because for the first time, I could personally relate to myths and religions. Their messages made sense to me. Viewing religion in this way was liberating for me, and it changed the way I saw life itself. I began to see and feel an underlying order in the chaos of life. I was no longer afraid of failure, because I realized that in every failure there was a lesson to be learned and room to grow. I felt like I had the power and freedom to do anything, and, more amazingly, that I’d had it all along.

I’ve always liked science, so testing this new mindset, this new hypothesis about how life works, was my next step. I couldn’t do that alone in my house, so I first had to get better and get back out into the world. From then on, instead of feeling sorry for myself and worrying about how this illness could ruin my life, my thoughts and attention stayed in the present moment. Instead of getting upset about them, I recognized any symptoms or problems as temporary challenges to overcome, and focused on staying calm and not letting them control me. It took one month of thinking this way, after 6 months of little progress, to get back on my feet, out of my house, and back into school in time for final exams. I now knew that my new view on life could guide me through being sick, but the real test was when I finally got to test it outside of my house. And it worked. In every situation. Every time. The night I successfully graduated high school, a night that hadn’t been guaranteed just a few months earlier, I sat on my deck and watched the sunrise. In this moment I realized I was a completely different person from the kid who left high school in December. That kid could never have done the things I had in those short few weeks. I felt like a new person, but I had never felt more like myself. It didn’t seem real or possible; it felt like I was living in a dream. After having pulled an all nighter, I fell asleep on my deck at 6:00 AM, as my dad was preparing his breakfast. Later that morning I woke up to the same dream. From that day on, my life wasn’t about getting out of bed and getting through the day anymore. I realized that my life is temporary, and feeling like it is a dream is not crazy, it is the truth. Every time I woke up I was ready to put myself into new situations from which I could grow stronger.

Now, as I sit writing this, months later, I believe that attitude is the essence of really living. If you can find a way to see every day, every month, every moment as a new adventure with a new lesson to teach you, it will completely transform the way you live and set you free from all the limits you consciously or unconsciously place on yourself. When I realized this, what I wanted the most was to share my new excitement for life with everyone. I quickly realized that it wasn’t that easy. Telling people to live in the moment and follow their hearts is anything but effective. I know if someone had told me those things when I was in high school, I would have responded with “I don’t know, yeah, sure.” I came to understand that everyone has their own unique way of finding this state of mind, where anything is possible. Every life is a story that can only be written by the person living it. The common theme being that every great story includes facing fears or overcoming challenges or slaying dragons. Without these struggles to break us down, there is no room for greatness to grow out of what remains. Life can be heaven and life can be hell. But every time hell is at your doorstep and you choose to say “try me” instead of “why me?” you develop something that nobody can ever take away from you: a deep sense of purpose and the knowledge that you’re living your own life on your own terms, and no matter how horrible things seem to be, it is always worth fighting until the end. Not for some reward, not because it feels good, but for what you will learn and who you will become. I have found that this idea has been around since the first civilizations, and is at the core of what makes us human. My invitation to anyone that reads this would be to honestly try and figure out what makes their life an adventure worth living. Right now. There is no tomorrow or next month or next year, there will only ever be a right now. So go out and seek your adventure. It isn’t easy, success is never guaranteed, and no, everything won’t always be fine and dandy, but if you can own and accept your life, you’ll never doubt whether or not you’re worthy of living it. Life is one mysterious eternal moment where there will always be good and bad, pleasure and pain, light and dark. I believe that every individual has the capacity to accept it and dive in head first. If an 18 year old from Westchester can do it, so can you. And by doing so, you will realize the significance of your life and the true freedom and power you hold in any situation, and that sense of purpose will guide you through anything life throws at you.

Jonathan Copans © 2015