With Grace

Lee Welles
5 min readMay 5, 2019


This morning I find myself thinking about my cousin, Will. he departed this earthly plane around 2006 (damn, I’m getting old and losing dates!) It broke my heart. I lost one of my best good friends.

Will and I were the same age, he the oldest of three boys, I the youngest of two girls. Each summer, “the cousins” would arrive to our family farm. Nothing made my young heart leap like looking out the kitchen window and seeing their station wagon with Michigan plates parked across the field at my grandparent’s house.

Yep. I grew up here. Welles Farm / Seven Pines Farm Big Flats, NY

Although all five of us gathered for karams and cartoons and afternoon swims in the pond supervised by a mom or two, we inevitably split into two camps: Will and I, my sister and the younger two boys.

I wish that every child could have the experiences I did with my cousin: skipping rocks, swinging on the rope in the barn, catching crayfish, playing cards while perched high on a hayloft beam, building forts, launching missions to discover where Ann and the boys had built their fort. The very definition of idyllic.

Free Image from Pixabay…but that sure reminds me of Will.

I find myself thinking of Will as I close out a four year romantic relationship. I know I’ll miss this man the way I miss Will, the way I miss all the men that brought out a certain quality in me.

Because that is the through line, the consistent theme of wonderfulness that runs through all my relationships that mattered. I opened up. I blossomed. I feel safe enough to allow my inner radiance to come out.

Sound great, no? It IS great, until you that brightness deepens the shadow of the other. In live-together situations, you will invariably see your partner’s shadows, and they will see yours.

What a person DOES with the knowledge they are being seen is what has caused every relationship’s demise. I didn’t know it at the time. Hell, I really didn’t even know it until this morning, as a bit of Bhakti found it’s way into my awareness.

I credit my yoga and meditation for how I’ve handled the unwinding of this relationship that was so damn dear to me. Historically, I’m one that’s prone to being swept away by emotions, both “good” and “bad.” I can have a meltdown to rival a tired two-year old in Wal-Mart. Well, I should say, “could have.” This is the calmest quietest ending I’ve ever experienced.

I no longer have the old hurts and wounds and mis-wired reactions. In each of the four long-term relationships I learned and grew, changed, evolved perhaps. My partners clung to the shadows, threw emotional punches, built walls of justification and judgment. They all refused to do the work of becoming an genuinely happy human being…regardless of relationship status.

Each ending, I felt like a certain feminine shame for failing to “rescue” them. For knowing what it takes (ultimately a high level of self-care: nutrition, sleep, exercise, clarity via journaling or talking, deeper bodywork — yoga, martial arts, acupuncture, even massage — to loosen the memories and programs that we didn’t ask for and cause us to stay small and in pain.)and failing to have persuaded my beloved to join me in that space.

Because when I’m healthy and happy, I love to play. And yes, for me that still means skipping rocks, and swinging on a rope in a barn. It is curiosity and cleverness, wicked puns and cheeky asides, adventures in the woods and taking an afternoon to build a fort and settle down for some stillness.

Back to the Bhakti. I was doing my morning practice with YouTube providing the sound track, when “Radha Rani ki jai, Maharani ki jai,” started playing. It struck a chord. I danced about, singing along, feeling lifted and happy and playful with myself.

(The first three minutes are an introspective warm up.Get up, breathe deep, start moving At three minutes, get ready to really move! This is less than 10 minutes long. It may sound very foreign to you. Drop the judgement, smile, and give it a whirl! I PROMISE you’ll feel lifted!)

Not a drop of guilt that my now ex-beloved is upstairs snoring off a late night of Kentucky Derby celebration. Every night there is a reason for such self-harm. And I can’t save him. I can only commit to maintaining the conditions for radiance.

After my dance-about, I looked up the meaning and found that Radha Rani was the best good friend of Krisha. You don’t have to be a polytheist to see the heart of what is represented: male and female, playing, dancing, in harmony, radiant.

Krisna & Radha rockin’ the good times!

Do I want that? Abso-fuckin’-lutely. However, it is now so blindingly clear to me that it is not to be found simply by seeking out the next man, a better man. It is the continued deconstruction of all that has ever dampened me down, given me reason to play small, dulled the shine.

I’m think I’m now willing to shine all the time, knowing that it is bound to deepen other’s shadows. I do a disservice to turn it down simply to make my partner more comfortable in their denial and dysfunction. It has never helped. it never will

But, when a partner’s wattage is consistently high as well, the cosmic dance as old as time can commence.

I think of Will, not because I have some unresolved attraction to my cousin, but because this last round of exploring/healing my shit while “failing” to have a partner resolve theirs, has left me feeling surprisingly happy and whole. I haven’t failed at all.

I AM that playful, inventive, happy person. And yes, historically I feel that most keenly when I have someone to play with. It’s always with me, though. My partnership is actually with the great creative potential, that unspeakable unknowable some call God. As a yogi, I experience this, a union that allows me to be me in the best way possible.

Thank you, Will, for being the first one to provide me that safe, open space in which I experienced such grace, the ease of me. I’ve got this now.

******* This piece is 3/365, one part of what I’m calling “The Peony Project.” Click Here to check out how it started. It is simply an exploration of various disciplines and what fruits they may bear. I typically take about an hour to write, a half hour to proof, as little time as possible selecting an image, and then before I can talk myself out of it, send it on to you! Thank you for reading.*******



Lee Welles

Lee Welles is the author of the award-winning Gaia Girls Book Series, an ex-three-term city councilman, and a music-playing, tap-dancin’ fool.