Friday, August 18, 2017

Milestones

Tell the truth and tell it fast. 

My daughter started second grade on Wednesday. We walked to school and talked about how to make the day and year a good one. How to be kind to others, to be inclusive, to make new friends, to focus on reading and writing. We talked about race, and disability, and stranger danger. New year, all new pep talks. 

After I dropped her off in the sea of children, I walked home and cried all the way. Another milestone. This stone is heavy. 

A milestone marks where you are and also where you've been. This summer was a voyage. My daughter and I crossed so many milestones that I feel we've moved into the deep sea. I know how to swim. She's still learning. 

I was born in a lower income home to a single, young mother, living with retired grandparents. We were heavy on love, light on money. I was born a girl. I was born white. I am very aware of my privilege now but no more so than this week talking to my daughter about race. 

My daughter is colorblind. She's doesn't fully know that she's white.  She doesn't understand that because she's white, she has privileges that kids who are not white don't have. She still calls people of color tan or brown skinned. (I'm working on that but damn it's complicated.) Explaining this to a six year old is daunting but not as daunting as saying so. 

I get to choose when to talk with my daughter about race. This is not true for families of color -- I am aware that many families have to talk about race every single day, or at least have to question if something happened or was said because of their skin color alone. 

As our society changes and melds more, my daughter is a poster-child of a white American female. She's fair, and tan, and blonde, and blue-eyed, and perky. A near stereotype of a surfer or cheerleader. I'm her proud, loving mother (not blonde or perky.) She is kind, and funny, and smart, and dear. She's my favorite kid in the world, hands down.

How do I teach her about race? I want to know. How do I tell her about hateful people with torches and murderous rage? 

How do I protect her from the world and teach her about it, and teach her in a way that she will really understand?  Can I protect her anymore? Do I let it hurt and hold space?

What's the way to teach her respect and difference? Not to be colorblind but to be aware that there are many people in this country (and world) that have to fight daily for and are unable to reach the level of privilege that we have just by being born white? 

How do I tell her that the game is rigged? Rigged so people of color can't win. That we are all asked over and over again to trade a piece of our humanity to participate in this game of white patriarchal governance. And we do, because it's the only hope of change. It's the only game in town. 

And how do I teach her that there is nothing wrong with her? That she is a perfect child of god just like all children. That being white, that privilege, is something that you can't control.  

How do I teach her that it's the ways privilege translates into blind entitlement that is so disgusting, and morally wrong, and so easy to ignore? 

And how misusing privilege is criminal?

How do I forgive myself that she doesn't know already? 

This game may be rigged but I'm playing. I'm all in. I'm an accomplice in this fight for racial justice, for racial equality. 

I'm playing for freedom, for gender equality, for women's right and bodily freedom, for trans rights, LGBTQA+ rights, for human rights, for love and peace and harmonious equality for all people. 

I will learn how to teach my daughter. I will make mistakes. It will not be easy. I will use my privilege to help others leading the way. Our leaders are in place. I will follow their lead. 

I will not allow my neighbor to tell racist jokes, not to me, I will tell him so. I will not allow the kid at the pool to call his buddy a "pussy" on the diving board without rebuke. I will stand up and speak and show my daughter by example. I will sit down with her and talk about what's happening in the world and what she can do to help. 

What else can I do? I will find out and get back with you. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Lovers' Rock

I don't regret being married. I don't regret marrying the man I married. I don't regret knowing him, or loving him, or having a baby with him. I don't regret our life together even after our divorce. I'm grateful to know him now and then. 

During the end of our marriage, which in hindsight seems too close to the beginning, I took walks. I walked at night, in the morning, usually twice a day, sometimes at lunchtime too. I needed the air, the light, the dark cover of night, the movement. I needed the space where I could think my own thoughts. And walk. 

Sometimes, closer to the end, I would walk just far enough away that I was out of our regular neighborhood, out of the regular flow of our daily routes to and from our home, to this little park. No playground or picnic tables, just a green space and a rock. 

I would go to the rock and sit. I would smoke. And I would sit. [I regret smoking, if I have to name a regret, but I digress.] I named the rock, Lovers' Rock. I wrote stories about it in my head -- about the teenaged lovers who would sneak from their houses to meet late at night, to kiss and hold hands, and talk of all the things they had yet to be. Stealing every second away from sleep, from the safety of their homes, their beds, their families, to be in the presence of romantic love, to become the lovers they saw on TV, away from the eyes of the watchers. She would show up early and hide slightly in the shadow the tree cover. He would walk fast and look for her shining eyes among the branches. They would embrace. So close. Inhaling each other. 

The other story I told was the dark version of that. The old, beaten, dilapidated version. The story of two older lovers, who've left their families at home. Who, also, meet under the cover of night. Both hiding in the shadows. Quick and dirty and rougher than our young lovers. More to the point. They embrace too, but it's not to inhale, it's to exhale. The only place they feel like themselves anymore, raw, free, alive, when they are finally able to steal away from spouses, from work, and the kids. They can only meet in the car, at Lovers' Rock, an occasional quickie in the garage (it would be too weird to come inside, wouldn't it?) when everyone's at soccer practice. 

A writer sits on a rock. 

A writer whose marriage is troubled sits on a rock and smokes. 

A troubled writer smokes while sitting on a rock and imagines generations of doomed lovers. 

Today, I walked to that rock. Not on purpose at first. A regular morning walk before I sat down to work and work and work. 

As I approached a family of deer were walking through the park. I approached slowly with an open heart. I sat on the rock. The doe and four fawns watched me approach the rock, watched me sit, watched me sit and smile. Then two fawns approached me very slowly, with the doe following close by. I reached out my hand and the fawns sniffed. They stepped closer. I pet both of them. Just a quick pat on the fur. A love pat. We were all satisfied and the doe led her babies away. 

I sat on the rock. A little in awe. A little wishing someone captured a video of me being freaking Snow White (COME ON!) And also somehow, not at all surprised. It felt right. Man, Lovers' Rock really changed for me. I pet deer here. I just do that now. 

I used to wish that I was inside the story of the lovers -- either story -- that I was able to live outside of my life, to invent another story and step into it. Could it be me walking to meet my lover? Could I live in a moment stolen from the rest of my life, to kiss and talk and fuck so hard and out of breath?  I will do anything for you. 

And now? 

I am the lover I meet in the night. I am the one that I race to. I inhale me. I love myself. I steal moments (like this one) to be here now with myself, to dive in, to leave it all behind for a time and have this. Just me. I realized that I was always meeting myself at Lovers' Rock. I was the one that I wanted all along. I would walk to meet me, right where I sat smoking, imagining stories. I am the one. 

And now, friends, I am one with the deer family of Lovers' Rock. No more smoking though. It's horrible. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mo' Money ≠ Mo' Problems

Horrible things I’ve said about money:
I hate money.
Fuck money.
Money’s stupid.
Stupid people care about money.
Forget money.
Who needs money?

I have ignored money. Regretted money (losing it or spending it). I have lost money, found money, spent money, and stolen money. I have I have even ripped a dollar bill in half (gasp.)

Would you come to my house if I told you that I hated you? or if I ignored you? or if I ripped you in half? (I hope not.)

It’s time to change my relationship with money.

Money is an exchange of energy. It is not good or bad, it's a tool to measure value of exchange. You made a necklace. I give you money and you give me the necklace. It took me time at work to make money; it took you time to make a necklace. We exchanged your energy with mine.

When I think of all the beautiful things that money can do, when I think of using money as an exchange of energy, I like money more. Money helps people in need, money buys water, food, shelter, travel, life. 

I welcome money into my house. But maybe I should apologize first.

Dear Money,

I’m so sorry that I’ve spent four decades ignoring you, berating you, and wishing that you didn’t exist. I was not sure that I was worthy of you and every time you came around, it made me feel sad and unloved. It's me, not you. 

I know we have had a nasty relationship in the past but I would like to work on foraging a new, healthy relationship with your help. I will do my part to make amends and rebuild your trust -- I'm working on my issues so we will never be in such a nasty place again. 

I now know that you are an exchange of energy and a wonderful tool for a life filled with possibility and freedom. I want you and need you to live the most beautiful life possible. I love you because I love myself. 

Please come to my house. Feel free to come and go with ease. You are always welcome. I will meet you with a warm embrace and the deepest gratitude.

Here’s to the next five decades of our renewed, ease, fun, happy, loving relationship.

Always,

-->
Heather


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Let's Talk About Money. Right Now.

I am a badass at making money. I love money because I love myself. 

I am just practicing. 

I have a very complex relationship with dolladollabills y'all. Once a boyfriend told me told that I had "mysterious finances." And now, after spending time thinking about my relationship with money, I know he was right. 

We all hold deep, weird, unrealized ideas about money. In my family, hard work was always valued. We worked hard. All of us. Hard on our jobs, hard in the garden, hard at school, hard at life problems. Overtime at church. Nothing in my family was ever easy. And although we worked hard, and hard work was valued, money was not valued, not really. No one talked about money except when talking about lack. We never had enough money to live well. We usually had just enough money to live basic, unimagined lives, to meet our basic needs. We occasionally did not have enough money to live basic, unimagined lives. We were poor and hard-working. 

What were we all working so hard for? Fame? Nope. Honor? Maybe. Pride? Maybe? IDK. But we weren't working to be rich, to have an abundance of money to live fully, to vacation annually, to have regular haircuts, to pay all bills on time and in full. Full living came from an idea of church and family and friends and books-- came from love not from money. We worked so hard to get by. To get by. To get by what? 

Multiple times in my life I have worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. I have worked anywhere and everywhere that would hire me so I could pay rent and utilities and not afford to pay my student loans and eat low-quality food and hope that my friends would buy the wine since I was always broke. I do better than that now but for years I lived hand to mouth. That's what I knew how to do. Work a lot to live just beyond my means, paycheck-to-paycheck. To get by. 

I love love! I do. It's wonderful. Hugs and kisses and emotion and space and kindness and bunnies are amazing. None of that pays for trips around the world. I want to travel with my friends and kid and see and do things without debt or fear. 

I love money. 

I love myself. 

I am reading a book, You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. I'm all in. So, I will do my homework here because I think WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT MONEY. I think women especially need to talk about money. Why is money a dirty mysterious secret? Why?

I have no idea how much money my friends make. No idea. 

How do I know what I am worth? 

It's rhetorical. I will answer my own question slowly. This is the work I'm doing here. Unpacking what I'm worth. And then asking for that and taking nothing less. 

I am a badass at making money. 

(And PS this is true. I have made hundreds of thousands of dollars in my lifetime, maybe close to a million at this point.) 

#1: Make a list of all the reasons why you deserve money. 
I'm brilliant. 
I'm a great problem solver
I'm a deep, compassionate thinker. 
I'm kind. 
I am generous. 
I am a mother. 
I share; I'm generous.
I perform good and kind acts, volunteer, donate. 
Why not me? I am as deserving as everybody else. 
I work hard. 
I care. 


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Jet Lag and the Sweet Moon and Sun

Jet lag is narcotic sleep laced with missing hours, missing moments, with slow waves that weave waking and sleeping. Time is slow when jetlagged -- it refuses to be rushed. The days and nights are strange and endless and beautiful, like a good acid trip, where too much light is let into the eye (oh, those tattletale dialated pupils) to reveal the crystalline opalescence of incandescent bulbs even when swinging from a tattered rope.

I keep moving from one to the other and getting lost in between. The missing time is so strange. How sensitive I've become to all the cues of day and night, of time, of hours, minutes, and seconds. How programmed. The tick of the second hand is so present -- alive for each click -- very present and calm and sleepy but not asleep, sitting on the edge where I could, at any time, close my eyes and find dead, sound, glorious sleep.

If only I could hold on to this strange new place -- jet lag is so interesting. The way time is reframed even though it's the same that it always was -- or almost the same-- the light is longer now, in the last two weeks, spring has moved into my home. The sun comes earlier and stays longer in the room, that too is a difference that I not only see but can feel deeply.

Without getting too wildly deep, time is a construction -- a manmade order to make sense of the change from night to day, from dark to light, sun up to moon up. Time isn't real. Days and nights are. Someone (who, I wonder?) invented seconds and minutes that make up the hour, and then hours that make up a day. Calendars too are mostly manmade, some of the days on a calendar are days that people noticed over time -- full moon, new moon, shortest sunlight, longest -- the cycles of the moon and sun inform the calendar, but it's more of an outline --way less rigid than what we all subscribe to now. Month follows month and then another year passes by. We are older.  If we only lived by the sun and the moon our days would be very different.

Maybe I'll try it.

My head still swells and retreats like the ocean that I spent so much time with. Like days and nights the sweet surrender of light and light and dark and dark, a dance of passing. The dance, the dance.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Elephant Blanket (a poem)

The elephant blanket still smells like the sand, like the surf -- even though I washed it--
like the little bits of dried up oceanic life that came out of the ocean dead riding a casket wave to a sandy burial
or came out alive and toiled for awhile, picking out nits from the sand, then meeting the maker, face-to-crustacean-face.
The elephant blanket smells like sunscreen (lavender, coconut, biodegradable), like sweat, like our bodies, mine and yours
like rain from Napili, like wine spilt at Makena, like nakedness on Little Beach -- my breasts smashed into the fabric, ass up, free to the breeze,
but mostly like the sun.
The elephant blanket smells like the sun.
I will wrap it around my body tonight to see if I can feel its heat dive deep into and through my skin, to make me feel alive again, to feel whole under the eye of God.
To drive away the cold rain and gray of the sky we live under once again.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Let's Dig In: Q & A [How to Own, How to Forgive, How to Become Wise, How to Love Myself]

There has to be a balance between holding myself accountable (for my thoughts, words, and actions) and accepting/loving my imperfections. This is an exploration of those two things (which I think I've decided are NOT opposites -- at least for now.) 

In what ways am I accountable? How do I own my shit?

I write about it here. I live through it. I don't drink through it (most of the time). I don't hide from it. I face it. I take it to the mat. I sit still with it. I stay in my discomfort. I make amends. I apologize to my people. I turn over the rock. 

What happens to my accountability if I let myself off the hook too soon or too easily?

When I let myself off the hook too soon, I don't spend the time investigating myself to know more about my whys, whats, hows, and whens. When I'm too easy on myself, I miss out on learning. I squash my curiosity about myself.  

Is there a threshold where I am brushing off my failings disguised as acknowledgment of my imperfections? 

Yes, there is a threshold. The borderline comes from a place of hurt. When I fail, I go to extremes --either I beat myself up, take myself to the cross, talk about it; or I hide it, lie to myself, and keep it secret. How bad was it? The threshold is measured by the quality and depth of the sin. 

I need to distinguish between failing and imperfections. Or maybe not. What does it mean to me to fail? It means that I've gone against my own beliefs with purpose. I've done, said, or thought something that is against my own system of well-articulated, deeply researched beliefs. 

Imperfections are what make me beautifully human. Imperfections are the things that make us unique, that makes us loved, that make us different and special. But we are also taught, raised, programmed to be like everyone else. Deprograming. Guess what? We are like everyone else in that we are all perfectly imperfect, we are all misfits, special snowflakes and yet (the paradox) sharing the same experience, the experience of being human. 

How can I accept that I am imperfect while making myself an owner of mistakes and wins?

I am just like everybody else. We share the same breath. We are all imperfect and human and will fall and rise again and again. I accept this. I forget this. I remind myself and you over and over again. 

Now back to owning my mistakes. Now back to owning my successes. Taking responsibility, becoming an owner in my own life is what this whole experience of mine is about.  Moving from passive observer, from being the person who says, "why do bad things always happen to me?" to saying, "why am I making bad things happen? How can I shift my thoughts, speech, deeds to make better things happen?"  

My brain knows that mistakes breed invention (and reinvention.) I believe that. I would tell you that if you came to me and said, "H, I fucked up." I would say, "Where's the lesson here? How is this an invitation?" 

WIP

Can I raise myself up to higher living by pouring in self-compassion?  

Yes, I can. Will I? Yes, I will. It's a practice like all others. Be a friend to myself. Love myself. Be kind and give myself a soft place to land. Let me learn my lessons without harsh, critical, hateful, negative  self talk. Be my own coach. Own it with compassion. 

I'm really proficient in negative self-talk. Can I move that needle to elevate self-love without allowing bad behavior? 

Not all judgement is a negative thing. Judgement is a thing that keeps us alive by giving us discernment to pass up dangerously spoiled food and helps us to skirt dangerously spoiled people. Judgement is necessary. In the movement to be less judgemental of others I am also moving to a knowing place where I see my judgements as valuable, necessary, important, life-saving, life-affirming. As long as my judgements of others are NOT focused my limitations, my un-learning, my hubris, pride, jealousy -- it's wonderful to value my own voice, my own gauge, my bullshit detector. It gives me clarity, it's deeply honest, and it knows me very well. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 


I want to hold space for others and for myself. To give myself a soft place to land when I'm trying to learn something the hard way, by failing, by fucking it all up, by making a mess. I want to be nice to myself, to love myself, to have positive, friend-like self talk. I also want to keep that judgement in tact. That voice that says, ok sis, now you've landed softly, you've been coached by your inner friend, now, let's get to work and suss this out. Why are you re-learning this lesson? Now that you've been through this, what are the consequences and are you ready to own those? Can you sit in this knowing and come up with a plan for more work, reformation, attention (not detention), and lessen attrition? Can you then ask yourself new questions, regain your curiosity, and openheartedly move forward? Where's the invitation?

Move the needle. Elevate. Self-love. 

Now what?

Stories written, stories released, stories forgiven, become wisdom. Explore. Write. Forgive. Become wise. Repeat. 

Now the practice begins. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Go Back In (I Am Never Done)

I worked through feelings of worthlessness and isolation and profound loneliness, my feelings of self-betrayal, self loathing. I've read, danced, laughed, cried, and yoga'd my way to a safe, sound, foundation of self-love, inner peace, and freedom. And yet... when left alone, instead of feeling full, surrounded by my gurus, my god, my love, my loved, I fell back into the shame, fear, worthless frenzy of me before I started the work. The old me. The old shell. The old script. 

In my Christian family, this was called "backsliding." It means simply that you found faith, and then lost it. That you found God, found The Way, and then, lost your way to Him. In judgier circles it also meant that you drank beer again, or smoked pot, or danced on tables, or fornicated -- but whatever the thing was, you had heaven in your grasp and then you turned back on heaven and moved toward the depths of hell. 

I traveled alone to a town where (almost) nobody knows my name. I worked and happy-houred and dined and slept. And then I found myself alone, in a city, invisible, isolated, off-course, far from the people and places that keep me honest, and I slid right back into that old script. The one that I've written about too many times, the one that I thought I burnt, I buried, I wrote and reread so many times that I exorcised it. And then, there it was. Drink another. Drink alone. Try on danger. Do it. Feel alone. Revel in your loneliness. After all this work you are still a scared, drunk, stupid, danger-seeking, little worthless piece of shit. Boom. [The inner critic lives.]

All it took was taking myself out of intention, out of breath, out of my light, and I was back into thoughtless, reactive living. I looked away from heaven. I looked away from what I hold that holds me accountable. My mat. My loves. My yogis. My family. Me. 

Then I inserted the self-loathing. That old comfortable beat-up, worn-through boot. You know the one. Even though I've bought new boots that are comfortable and beautiful and feel great to walk in for miles, I have that one old pair in the very back, dark corner of my closet and they just feel so good when I slip them on. (They do, don't they?) 

Downward shame spiral. Self-loathing. Self-admonishment. Shame on me. I know better. Why are you doing this to yourself? Who are you? How quickly you lose your way? What the fuck, H, what the fuck?

I'm so hard on myself. Can you imagine me saying this to you? Can you imagine that you had a bad night, and old-script night, and that you came to me to confess? I would sit you down and shame you. Nope. That would never happen. 

I would say -- this is the work. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, "Go back in." 

But, I already did this work. I already re-wrote this script four times and it's done and I'm done and I'm all better, see? Nope. Go back in. This is the work. 

I'm going back in. I broke my own heart again (but no one else's this time, thank God.)  It hurts as much as always. This time I have so many ways to sit with it. So many ways to forgive it. So many new skills to cope through the pain and the pain and the pain again and again and again. 

Go back in. Burn off the impurities, tapas. Light the fires and step into the flames. Here I am. Here I go. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Embarrassment Is a Cute Word for Shame

In one of my favorite yoga classes, my beloved teacher sometimes calls out to her yogis to riff on a class topic. A few weeks ago, she asked me: "how do you mend a broken heart?" I answered, "ice cream."

I don't even like ice cream. I was very embarrassed. I know deeply that food cannot mend anything. Food is not a place of solace or comfort or recovery. In fact, I've been working on the shame and connection/obsession with food for months now. And when given an opportunity to raise up my class, my teacher, myself, the old ancient shit bubbles right back up to the top and out of my mouth - ice cream. 

At first I thought the lesson was to forgive myself quickly and move on. No one in the class thought I was an idiot, so why did I? Who cares what you said when put on the spot in a yoga class anyway? What does it matter, even if I looked stupid? What do I care what others think of me? 

Then I let that sit. And sit it did. Then it festered and blistered into a wound that I replayed in my head. I would worry over it like a stone in my pocket. Bring it to mind from time to time as if to prove that I'm still the same sad sack that I used to be -- all this hasn't changed me. I'm no better. [cue violins]

Then the blister popped. Raw and sore, rubbed down broken skin. And the relief of the ah-ha! Shame on me. 

I allow shame to hold me. Shame throws his arms around me and I snuggle in. Tighter. It's nice to be held, I think, even by shame -- so comforting, so human. I can look around in any place, in every place, and see and hear people being held by shame, conversing with shame, shame flooding from their mouths.   

I ate two doughnuts. By myself. I swear to God. 
Twist my arm, and I'll have another glass of wine. 
If I gain any more weight.... 
She thinks I'm mowing the grass or cleaning the garage. 
I'm a terrible mother -- losing at momming. I love her but.... 
Why did I say that ice cream heals a broken heart when the answer is love or light or time or dancing or laughter or fresh air. 

Today, I'm here to tell you that I'm sick of shame. Now that I can see it everywhere, in everyone. I'm not having any of it. No more shame. I will break the embrace. I will free myself. 

Tell the truth and tell it fast. I may be in part who I am because of shame, but I will not allow shame to raise me anymore. Shame may have built my last home, but I burnt that one down, I remember. I still stink of smoke. 

If I turn away from the light for even a moment, the darkness nips at my heels chasing me further into the dark. Come back to me, my pretty, let me wrap you up in fear and shame and doubt, let me hide you from yourself and from your infinite light and love. Come back to hate - hating yourself, hating people (I used to have a bumper sticker that said "I hate people"), hating the world.

I do all this work. Read. Write. Practice. Talk. Listen. Love. Sit in my stillness, the seat of my personal power and listen deeply - meditate. And shame is the thing that brings the dark cloud over my head. If only I was better. If only I was kinder. If only I was more selfless. If only I was a more compassionate friend. [Insert shame talk here.]

Shame on me. Shame on you. That's a phrase from my childhood. 

No more. 

I'm blowing the doors off. I think Brene Brown's work on shame and vulnerability is epic. I'm re-reading and listening to every podcast now. Also work from Glennon Doyle Melton and Elizabeth Gilbert is keeping me upright. When the shame comes, look to others with light to cheer you. I acknowledge, yes, you are here sitting on the edge of a crumbling precipice. Take my hand, my words, and guide yourself back to the solid ground. 

I will not hang my head. I will lift it up. 

What's wrong with being vulnerable? What's wrong with living honestly and not perfectly? Everything I need is already here. Can I lean back on myself, on the deep knowing, and allow gravity to hold me?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Yesterday I Was Alive, Today My Heart is Beating Me Awake

How many yesterdays have I had at forty years old? Looking back at yesterday, ignoring the present, smothering the future. 

Yesterday, I went to the rec center pool with my daughter. It was crowded with other parents and children. Winter break, the week after Christmas, and all of us hanging on by threads - anticipating the future return of school's starting bell. Bye, I love you, have a great day. [quiet sigh] 

The indoor pool is beautiful. Mostly clean, open, lofted, ceilings with huge wood beams, and low lights. The din is roucous. Windows from floor to ceiling. On the southwest side of the pool, the windows look out to a wooded area beyond the playground. Yesterday, the sun was brilliant, the sky blue. I rested my arms at the edge and turned my face to the sun coming through the southwestern window. My view all trees and low golden light.  The usual piped-in music was off. The pool water lapping through the deck drain. I could feel the sun warming my skin. 

I was present. I was full. Happy. I marked that moment. Come back to this. Back to this breath, this calm in the wild, this sense of equanimity, this peace. 

We rush to remember all the monumental moments, the births, matriculations, firsts of everything (tooth in, tooth out, potty, crawl, walk, run, swing, dance, sing, knee scrape, birthday after birthday - marking each new year),  holidays, graduations, anniversaries, new births. We like remembering the big stuff. It feels big. Take a picture. 

I want to remember the small stuff. The little finer moments. The unhurried. The uncaptured. To document the undocumented the mundane the ordinary the extraordinary. 

I finally figured it out after all these years. I am special and I am just like everybody else. I am paradox. I am human in the most beautiful denotation of the word, meaning that I am full of feeling, thought, insight, foibles, comedy, desire, life. I am fully alive. I want to remember the moments when I feel alive. 

I will write to this. 

Today I woke to hear my heart beating. The thum-and-drum. Breathe in. Breathe out. I slowly filled up with breath and exhaled. Listening to my heart. Fill up. Let go. Beat. In. Out. Beat. 

Meditation is deep listening. Mediation is not the absence of anything or the addition of anything. Meditation is just listening deeply, acute listening, listening and nothing else. Enraptured listening. What will happen next? I can't stop. I must know. What is happening now? It's a metaphysical cliffhanger. Who knew mediation could be so stimulating?

Beauty in every day, beating me awake. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sometimes it's too heavy for Superman to lift. [replace "Superman" with "me"]

I've been very hard on myself recently. Blaming myself for all that's wrong with this world. As if the hatred and disgusting politics and water wars and racism and sexism and missing pieces are all my fault. As if all the light and love I've sent out was going to be enough to fix all this. My actions cannot be measured by the results. 

A few weeks ago, I took my daughter to a pet shop. We fell in love with a puppy brought her home. My heart filled with love and then dread. Another mouth to feed. Another creature to love. Another creature to hold, and help, and play with, and clean up after. A loss of freedom. Another living thing that I am responsible to and for. Dread. Panic. Delight. Love. Despair. What had I done? Haven't we lost enough freedoms this year? 

I knew that I could raise a puppy. I know that I can do anything. Haven't you seen me do everything? Haven't you seen me do anything? Why do I hold myself responsible for all the weights of the world? How can I be accountable for every thing and everyone in it?

I can't. I won't. I'm not. 

I can't get time back and last week I spent time in my head admonishing myself for rehoming a puppy. A puppy that a bought to make my daughter happy. A puppy that I thought would fix something broken in my kid. My kid feels alone in this life. My kid has single separated parents and no siblings and no pets. My kid loves dogs. She loves people. She loves animals and wants to play with one every day. I wanted to give that to her. She is perfect. The puppy is perfect. I am not. 

I am overwhelmed by my living right now. I am overwhelmed by my monkey brain and how the dark the slips in even when I'm working in the light. I notice myself feeling grief and loss and exhaustion, self-pity, self-hatred. I spent too much time judging (thinking) myself for feeling and not enough time feeling my feelings. It's okay. I'm reminding myself. Feel the stuff. See it there? Feel it here? Ok. Then those feelings move on or sometimes just hang around. Can I sit in my discomfort? Yes and no. Can I add in more self-love? Yes and no. 

Keeping the puppy was too much discomfort. Many years of me being alone in my responsibility for a living creature. Re-homing the puppy is yet another source of discomfort. How could I? What kind of shit mother am I? What's the big deal, it's a puppy--can't you at 39 years old handle mothering a puppy?

As I sit in my truth and wear my discomfort like a cute new scarf, I know the answer. I want to give S everything. I cannot. I hate myself when I cannot. I need to love myself when I cannot. I'm practicing that now. It's a tough practice, let me tell you. 

I want the world, this country to be great, peaceful, healthy. I'm despondent when this world is so ugly - hate groups, local terrorism, people turning against each other. I cannot fix it. I'm practicing loving myself knowing that I can't fix the world. It's a tough practice. 

I have been working with individuals and with my daughter to hold space, to give love and light. To have hope for myself, for my kid, and for this world -- or at least for the loving people in it. I'm pouring in the self-love hoping that that alone will drown the self-hate. 





Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What the Fuck, Abdul Razak Ali Artan?

A man named Abdul Razak Ali Artan crashed his car into a crowd of people on the Ohio State University campus and then lashed out with a knife stabbing people until he was shot by police. Artan was known as mild mannered, soft-spoken, and thoughtful. Artan was interviewed earlier in the school year by the OSU student newspaper. Artan was concerned that there wasn't a place on campus for him to pray. He was afraid to pray in the open, afraid he would get shot. He was aware of the world and frustrated by the way it worked, but showed no signs of violence or fundamentalism, only signs of a man looking for a home for his faith. He was concerned about Trump becoming president. 

Now we've proved that anyone can be president. You don't have to be good or a politician or know anything about American history or government. You don't have to like women or be a Christian. You don't have to like "retarded" people or old people. You don't have to go to college or know about making policy. You don't have to be kind. You don't have to try to say nice things. You don't have to believe in God. You don't have to get the most votes. 

Anyone can be president. 

Maybe in four years we should all run. Who would win if millions of people ran for president? Who would win if it was an open market? Maybe if Abdul Razak Ali Artan could have found a safe place to pray he would have found a healthier way to channel his anger and frustration, he could have been a change maker and then become president in 16 years -- probably not, but just maybe.

Remember democracy? That's gone. Remember capitalism? That's gone. Do you know how lost we are? Can you find us on the map? I do not accept this election. I do not accept the candidates or the result. This was a shitshow. The whole thing felt like a badly staged joke. 

I have a light. I have hope. I hold it close and feed it every day.  I have a voice. I give a shit. 

I won't leave this country. I will stay right here. I am your witness. I am your recorder. I am your hope holder. You belong here. So do I. All of us. Trump and Hillary. Artan too. How do we do this now? 

Not that long ago I would have been burnt at the stake or drowned to see if I could float or hanged. I am a heretic, a witch, a hag, a woman who believes in herbs and tinctures and prayer and yoga and the power of women communing. I believe in congregation. I believe in witnessing. I believe in safe spaces for prayer. I believe in safe spaces for education. 

Like all of you, I am trying to figure out just what the fuck is going on. 

What the fuck? 

Today I don't have any answers. Today I have only questions. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Don't Wait. Stay.

What happens when we stop waiting and stay?

We wait when we know something is coming. Looking out of the window as a kid, I would wait for my grandparents' car to pull onto my street. Looking and waiting for them to arrive, I wasn't present in that moment except in my anticipation bordering on agitation to see them, to have their gifts and kisses and rapt attention. But when would they come? What if there was an accident or they were late or stopped for a sandwich?  How long could I suffer anticipation? Until I saw the Oldsmobile pull around the corner, until I was wrapped in their arms. Sigh. I can relax now. 

We are taught to worry, taught to anticipate, so many outcomes to predict that we miss what is happening in front of us.  In life and in practice, what are you waiting for?  What happens to your sense of self if you stop worrying, stop waiting, and stay where you are, stay in that breath, in that moment, in that pose, in the center of your mind, in your experience? 

Worry, anxiety, and fear, my old friends... I was taught by everyone I know how to model my life with your clays.  I was taught that worry is how we show love. Anxiety is what we feel when we look to the future. And fear, well fear is what we see when we look at the past or future. A steady dose of fear for breakfast every day, fear of catching a cold because my hair is wet, fear of dying in  a car crash driving to school or taking the bus, fear for the future world under the next President, fear of going back to a new version of the same unsatisfying past already lived.  No wonder I couldn't breathe. Who could?

Without the past, without the future, stay here in this present, without worry about what is to come, without judgement about what came before.

Instead of waiting, can we stay? Let's hunker down. Find the middle of this moment and stay. Not looking to change the future. Not looking back at missed opportunities, lost moments. Sitting right here in the middle of this word, of this thought, this posture, this conversation, this moment. Can we stay in the discomfort of our impatience as we look forward? And then up the ante and stay in our present and completely skip the anxiety about the unknowns of the mysterious, unpredictable future?  Just have this breath. Fill up. Let it go. Repeat. 

The present is here now. The gift of life is here now. Full stop. 

Can I balance my mind, my breath, my body in a challenging posture and stay in the middle of this experience? Wobbles, discomfort, and all? Can I do this in my life? When life challenges me, can I accept that challenge and sit with the discomfort of it? Without reaction. Without any action. Hold the discomfort. Maybe even welcome it enough to find some ease in it?

Can I stay a little while longer in each moment? Make each breath count. That cliche doesn't sound as cliche to me all the sudden. It's like I heard it for the very first time as I typed the words. I am here in this moment. I am alive. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Center of Gravity

Are you doing the work?

In therapy, in Alcoholics Anonymous, in couples counseling, in tv shows (e.g., Project Runway), in yoga or other energy fields--all puns intended-- there is an idea of work. Personal work, deep work, intuitive work that keeps you alive and healthy, but more than that, work that makes you succeed and thrive and excel. It's work that asks tough to answer questions and the more honestly you answer the closer you get to the real work. 

Who are you?
Why are you here?
What do you want?

I've always been a deep well. Clawing my way to the light (it gets dark down there). I started the work wherever I was. And it came in fits and starts, mini breakthrough, major meltdown, in waves until I committed to the work. I decided to be all in. Really, at this point in my life, what did I have to lose? I lost my marriage and family and had to rebuild another model of family. I lost my old self, that one that I could count on to be a total fun-ruining depressed shit, full of angst and woeisme bullshit, the self who felt entitled to something better because, after all, I am so exceptional, so special that this mundane pain is not something that I thought I needed to feel. I lost my ideas about parenting, my birth plan was flushed, placenta and all. I lost interest. And in all the losing, I found the greatest thing. 

Here I am. Freshly burnt, emerging from the fire, expanding into the person that I've always been. It's so fucking strange when you realize that you've been here all along. I've been here inside waiting for me to drop all the shit. To embrace the mundane pain, to embrace and revel in it. To let it go. To let me out. 

Are you doing the work?

I see patterns emerge. The more I see us, all of us, as being alike, the more I see our similarities, the more grateful I am. I used to think of myself as an outcast, an alien, someone so unlike anyone else, that I was truly, uniquely alone. What a sad idea for a young woman. When I looked up and saw that there were others like me, other uncertain mothers revolting against the mommy-cult, other women who struggle in everyday life with jobs and husbands and kids and wine, that gave me comfort. Maybe I am not alone. 

Then once I started doing the work, I found more than similarities. We are the same. We are cut from the same cloth. We share the same air.  We are one. What separates us? How are any of us truly different?

I'm trying to teach this to my daughter. Of course she is in a place where she wants to be different, special, and unique, and she is, of course, in my eyes the most special and wonderful child who has ever lived. I want her to know that she feels what all people feel. She thinks her own thoughts but others can think them too. That she is deeply a part of all of the wonder and stardust and living, breathing earth and air. That she is part of the fire and light from the sun. That she is as much a part of me as I am of her. That she will always have connection to all of this if she wants that, it's here, in her all along--that deeply grounding sense that you are not alone, but living in the midst of yourself at your most magnificent in each moment you feel alive, supported, connected. I am alive. You are alive. 

Doing the work means that my center of gravity changed, again and again. That I spent years building up a sense of uniqueness because it gave me a wall of protection from emotional pain. If I was alone, no one could hurt me. If I was special, I was exempt from the pitfalls of life, I was different than everybody else. Now, I'm vulnerable, raw, open, exposed. I feel it all. I crave the feeling. I can't not feel. 

I hurt and it is beautiful. I love and it is beautiful. I make mistakes and yell and fart and laugh and snort and it is so honest and so beautiful. I'm all in. 

Now that I'm here, I feel so connected to you, to everyone. I feel us all as one heaving mass of life. Your pain is mine. Your splinter, is mine. Your laugh rings in my ears.  I don't have to sympathize or empathize, because we are the same. You know what I know. I feel you. You feel me too. You do. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Elements in Processing, Part Two: The Demolition Queen Bids You Adieu

My truth is not a condemnation of yours. - Cheryl Strayed

You don't need to eat all the pizza in Italy to find yourself... ask yourself what you are willing to risk or change, in order to find a sense of freedom, joy and reanimation within your own life. - Elizabeth Gilbert

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes. - traditional folk song, unknown

My path is not for everyone--it's not for anyone, it's for me. I don't recommend divorce. I don't take heartbreak (mine, yours, or anyone's) lightly. Measure for measure each person has to live in his/her own life. Feeling restless is not a reason to fly. Restlessness may be a reason to hop on one foot or take a dance class or practice kundalini yoga or learn the art of beermaking or to try a new hairstyle/color/outfit. I wasn't just restless. 

When you look at your life in the quiet moments, what do you see? 
When you're alone, can you be still? 
Are you happy to spend time with yourself? 
What are you here to do? 
Who are you? 
Do you like yourself? 
Can you stop and stand firmly on the ground and look into a mirror and praise yourself, lift yourself up, love yourself, and breathe? 

My truth is not a condemnation of yours. My parenting is not yours. My love life is not yours. My childhood is not yours. I do not live inside your skin. But you have to live inside your skin. I have to live inside mine. 

I have a new house. My skin is refreshed, reinvented. I burnt my house to the ground, remember? Torched the fucker. I rebuilt, over time---it took so much time and energy and there were pitfalls and I ran backwards and tripped over the beams and hurt myself and others and cried a lot. I was frustrated and impatient, god, I was so, so patiently impatient. It was ungraceful, awkward. But the whole time, I knew. 

I didn't know the outcome of the work that I was putting in. I didn't go in to demolition mode knowing what the new, improved building of my soul would look like at the Grand Opening. I just knew that if I stopped and asked myself really hard questions and answered honestly the really hard answers all along the way, that I would be right. I would arrive. And then i would stay. 

To let something go, you have to stay. 

We have never stayed home long enough to experience the truth about ourselves. -- Enrich Schiffmann


I feel like I ate the shell of my old life and old self and that shell fortified and fostered my growth, my regeneration. I am still here. This is my journey. And my journey took another (totally unforeseen) direction. My footing is sound. I am happy and calm and sure. 

I have so many metaphors. The queen of the dragons, the queen of metaphor, the queen of demolition. The Demolition Queen bids you adieu.