The Colors of Floyd
I called him dad, but his buddies knew him as “Floyd,” and though he rarely worried about ruffling other people’s feathers, called it like he saw it (like it or not), and lived life on his terms with no apologies, this self-described “surly” soul was utterly adored by his best-friend-soul-mate of a wife and managed to pack the house at his tribute celebration with a diverse crowd of people who loved and appreciated every facet of his colorful being.
Florian “Floyd” Sowinski had far more to him than meets the eye. On the surface, he could be quite gruff, and his past self had most certainly not just burned, but torched a few bridges into virtually unrecognizable ash. Yet, Mr. Surly was also one of the most brilliant people you could ever meet (a champion Cribbage* player ranked #13 in the United States), an avid history buff with a passion for civil war history; an incredible storyteller; a truly adventurous spirit who loved his road trips; a loving, kind-hearted soul who would do things like find a box of seeds that fell off a truck and pay to post an ad in the paper to be sure to get them back to the rightful owner; AND, together with his lovely wife, Irene—my “BoMom” (“Bonus Mom”)—care for his ex-wife full-time in her final days.
*BTW: Cribbage is a card game that will twist the brain of most human beings into knots, so even just getting through a single game is an accomplishment!
Dad: Part One?
My mom and dad had little in common except for ME. They were both in different stages of their personal development, each finding his/her own way in life, and each with very strong, intense personalities. Yet, if they had not come together at that pivotal time in Southern California, the unique recipe that is me would be very different (or even nonexistent!), indeed.
I spent my formative years and beyond with my mom and older brothers and, honestly, could not have asked for a more supportive, loving and even deeply spiritual parent to help pave the way to my path of self-discovery. She always saw my core self, encouraged my passion for music and the arts, and spent many a night burning the midnight oil while my teenage self sought to unravel the great mysteries of life, the universe, boys and hormones.
At the age of 12, I received a phone call from a person I had never known: A man named Florian who revealed that he was my father.
Though I knew I must have had a dad (I had taken sex ed by this time, so I knew how the process worked), this was the first time that having a dad was more than just an abstract idea. We exchanged lovely letters for about a year, and as we got to know each other in written form, we started to plan a way to meet in California. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), when it came time to meet him in person, something within me was just not ready. While there was a very strong possibility that I had simply tuned in to my mom’s energy and apprehension (due to their tumultuous past), perhaps my soul also knew that it was not quite the right time to make that connection. In any case, the door was left open for the day that I would be ready to learn more and meet the man who helped bring me into being.
In the fall of 2009, while I was getting ready for a gig, a fun wisp of inspiration came wafting in that moved me to ask my husband, John, for his help in finding my dad sometime soon. Knowing the process could take some time, I went off to work for the evening with no expectation of anything happening on that front for a while. Besides, it would all fall into place when it was time, so no worries.
When I arrived home that night, John had not only found my dad, but two sisters who also lived on the West Coast of the United States! I was stunned and amazed, and my heart knew that there was no question—THIS was the time!
The Evolution of a Beautiful Relationship
The first conversation with my dad was so incredibly beautiful.
He had intentionally kept a P.O. box in a city he didn’t even live in anymore in the hopes that someday I would pick up his trail.
I also discovered that he had just mentioned the idea of finding ME to his wife, Irene, and that once the holiday madness was over, the two of them would do whatever it would take to pick up MY trail!
There was no doubt that we were most certainly off to a great start, and so, from this point in time, the journey of two adults who were both moved by the same desire to create a new, healthy, happy relationship began.
During our visits and phone calls, I would catch glimpses of Mr. Surly, but the great majority of the time, I found a big-hearted, teddy bear of a man; and in 2012, he and BoMom journeyed to Sedona, AZ, to have him “give me away” (part two!) at an intimate 10-year vow renewal ceremony with my hubby at Crescent Moon Ranch by magnificent Cathedral Rock. It was a beautiful, happy and fabulous time had by all.
As we continued feeding our connection, I began to notice a rare and beautiful trend that was quite atypical of family relationships; the utter absence of any sense of obligation of ANY kind. My dad seemed to intuitively know that I was a different bird who focused passionately and who had an incredibly full life and schedule. He knew that any lack of communication on my part was due to me devouring a project and doing what I do in my many expressions as an introverted extrovert, and the fact that he honored me and the flow of my life so fully in this way only made me appreciate him 10 times more.
When I did come up for air to connect with him and BoMom, the only thing I ever received from them was a genuine outpouring of love and support. They were always happy to hear from me, never belittled me in ANY way for however long it had been since our last conversation or visit, and seemed truly proud of the work that I was doing and the woman I had become. This remained utterly consistent from the moment we reconnected in 2009 to the last conversation we ever had in 3-D in March of 2017.
When my dad, AKA “Floyd,” made his transition in May of 2017, his loving presence manifested in more magnificent ways than I could ever have imagined. While there were far more experiences that I have time to list here, a few highlights include:
- A magical, visceral encounter and “conversation” by way of my willing husband John.
- SEVERAL mind-blowing hummingbird encounters.
- A relentless fly.
Sharing our flight to California with the most extraordinary renaissance woman of Polish descent and then being driven home by a lovely man FROM Poland (My dad was always extremely proud of our Polish heritage).
Being led to a beautiful off-the-beaten-path winery in the mountains that we found “by chance” (www.SoaringHawkVineyards.com), where we met the most extraordinary couple (the owners and artists behind the wine!), and were invited to stay after hours, treated to tapas and more wine (their Tempranillo is gorgeous!), shared in an intimate acoustic sunset music experience, and were treated like family.
A walk through Sequoia National Park with a raven guide EVERYWHERE we went who would land and ascend so close to us that there was no way we could not hear the beating of his wings every time it was time to view another great wonder.
Being utterly moved to travel to California at a time when it was extremely short notice and utterly “impractical” so that I would have the incredible gift of meeting my awesome uncle Larry, an amazing, loving, deeply spiritual, like-minded soul, who would only be there during a small window of time.
…a song (of course there would be a song!) called “I’m Free**” that my dad shared for and through me that I would somehow find the focus and strength to be able to play and sing live for his beloved, his favorite little brother, and the many friends who attended his life celebration ceremony.
**For the lyrics to “I’m Free” visit http://allowingyoursucces.wixsite.com/terezfirewoman/news–blog
Finding Balance—and Gumption
When John and I returned from California, we managed to walk right into the arms of what felt like multiple hurricanes: In addition to processing the powerful waves of emotion that were flowing around my dad’s transition, our home had suddenly commanded major attention, my physical body was experiencing all manner of craziness, other intense family things were playing themselves out, and there was still much work to be done to complete a very big, highly detail-oriented, but deeply soul-feeding project. ONE of these things alone was more than enough for a human being to handle and stay sane, but ALL of THIS happening NOW was just… wow.
Though I gave myself some time to completely unplug for a good solid week after being back in Florida (which was, for sure, VERY good for my spirit), I knew that life and all of these various challenges and “focal points” would still be there when I came up for air. But rather than jump right back into the fray and continue to wait for things to change before I would allow myself to find my balance, I decided that somehow, some way, I would find my center and allow my fire of serenity and joy to burn REGARDLESS of the tempest that roared around me.
With the amount of momentum that had gathered on these many subjects, I knew that it may take a bit more than a few meditation sessions or walks in the park to turn things around: This was indeed a job for a whole lot of love and…
And few souls were more well-versed on this subject than the one and only Floyd, AKA Dad.
Gumption in Action
First, John and I would roll up our sleeves to do what we could, hire good people to fill in the gaps and, through our joint efforts, bring our home back into balance and full functionality.
Next, I would dive back into a project that was truly making my heart sing and, as a result, revamped, revisited, and then used my OWN tools to shift my vibe and get out of my own way.
Then I would decide what to do about the unresolved state of things with my mom. Oh boy…
I loved (and love) her and wanted her to be well and happy and, like it or not, knew that she was following her path of least resistance to her greatest well-being, but, ugh! After a brief conversation about not being ready to have a conversation, followed by more non-conversation, though my logical mind loved that she was honoring herself in this way, my inner child was foaming at the mouth and standing at the gate, ready to run at full-tilt into one heck of a self-deprecating crazy-fest. BUT, fortunately, another wave came flowing in…
A calm and loving presence washed over me that seemed to say, “Wo, girl,” and in that moment, I could feel the love AND gumption of my dad flowing to and through me.
Just as my dad allowed himself to be who he was—surly or sweet, short fuse or kind, mischievous or thoughtful—anyone who was in his life loved and accepted him exactly as he was, and those who could not were no longer in his life, and that was okay. When the timing was right, even rifts of earthquake proportions, such as his many-year, self-imposed estrangement from his brother and sister, were healed and replaced by rewarding, healthy relationships standing solid and firm on what was once the shakiest of ground. This got me thinking and asking:
What If I remembered that everyone—including those I know and love and those who are experiencing me for the first time—can and will only perceive me based on where THEY are emotionally and who THEY are able to be in the moment: That there truly IS no amount of hoop-jumping, political correctness, or doing the “perfect” and proper thing when all the planets align that can keep me in ANYONE’S good graces if they are NOT ready and willing to connect on a level of clarity and harmony?
What if I chose to focus on the true core of love I feel for my mom, all those who matter to me, and even the good aspects of humanity, while no longer worrying about their view of ME?
What if I went forth into the world, bold and brazen like my dad, and let myself BE and express the many colors of ME without apologies?
What if I remembered that there always would be happy, aligned people who DO and WILL share common interests with me, so rather than try to force connections with ANY person who is not currently on my wavelength (for WHATEVER reason), I just followed my inspiration and connected with those who ARE a match?
Even though these were not new ideas to me, when I connected with the presence, love and resolve my dad was projecting in these sweet moments of recognition, it was as if a very big gate had opened and a wave of joy and utter knowing like nothing I had ever touched before was flowing like a waterfall: How ironic and beautiful it was to see that my dad’s song and message of “I’m Free,” was now a song that MY soul was singing back to ME…
Feeding the Fire
In the days and weeks that followed, I have continued to feel my dad’s loving presence and unmistakable pride as I’ve taken more and more bold actions to inhabit my next level of evolution. While there is still work to be done and journeys in progress, having a new perspective about all of it has already changed so much.
Who knew that even in the midst of wind, rain and storm, that I would get to allow my fire to blaze to new heights, revel in the exploration of a whole new world of possibility, and have one heck of a freakin’ blast being f-in’, unapologetically ME.
Thank you, Dad, for love, gumption and everything.
The Bottom Line: Love & Gumption—Gifts from Floyd
I could not even imagine what my life would be like had I not followed that spark of inspiration and opened the door to what my dad and I have created (and continue to create) together. He was and IS an incredible gift in my life, and his example of love and gumption has been a catalyst for far more good than I would have ever known without his powerful presence.
So my dear fiery friends, no matter what you may be growing through in your life, please remember that you too have a fire within you that is wanting to blaze in all its glory and, if you’re open to it, you also have a “Floyd” who loves you and who will guide and cheer you on every step of the way.
Whatever YOUR style, dreams or desires may be, may you know that with the power of love—and some gumption—you too can set YOUR spirit free.
Terez “Firewoman” Hartmann,“Your catalyst for all things Fab-YOU-lous,” is the author of Allowing Your Success!, a proud contributing author of Transform Your Life! book one and two, a professional Keynote Speaker/Workshop Facilitator, Singer-Songwriter/Recording Artist, “Allowing Adventures!” & “Savor Vacation” Facilitator, and true Renaissance Woman, and Visionary. She keeps her fire lit by embracing and promoting a lifestyle of “Allowing,” and by using creative expression to elevate and ignite the human spirit, a passion that she shares with her husband, soul-mate and creative partner of over 15 years, John Victor Hartmann. Together they share “Allowing TRUE LOVE” workshops and experiences designed to help others attract, allow, and maintain extraordinary relationships, and create custom jingles and voice-overs in their studio, THE Creativity Express. Visit: www.TerezFirewoman.com