What is Shifting in Your Life?

4 11 2011

Last weekend I went to a funeral for my dad’s wife, but ended up mourning
the relationship with my siblings.

My brother, who I haven’t seen in years, sat in front of me without saying a word. My sister was a seat away to my left with the same level of intimacy. And I struggled to keep the tears from dripping as I realized that things really had changed and yes, I WAS actually being ignored by both of them. The first reaction was mentally probing what I could possibly have done to these two people to deserve the treatment. Once my thoughts got past myself ;o), the root cause became pretty clear: my mother. The situations are different, but my mom is at the heart of it all.  I don’t say that with blame, but rather just as an understanding. Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Credits

4 05 2011

We as humans, or maybe just Americans, want to eradicate evil. We want the credits to roll with the villain dead or neutered. It’s the old westerns, Star Wars, history text books; it’s the “climax” and “ending” in just about every screenplay. But this is not a movie and the credits don’t roll and Evil isn’t so easily taken out because Evil is an ideology and ideologies don’t die swift deaths. Partly, or especially, because those that hold them, by nature, feel that they are “right”. There is no right. There is no one evil. Nothing is as clean and simple as “they” would like you to believe. And sometimes we are the Evil.

I don’t know if he did or didn’t deserve to die and don’t care to make that judgment, but his death WAS symbolic and not simple. I will judge that it was pretty shitty for him to put his wife in place to take a bullet for him (if that is indeed what happened).

I’ve purposely NOT been listening to the news or pseudo-news about this, but instead have been listening to my friends, co-workers, acquaintances. I’ve been listening for sincere thoughts and talking points. They’re not too difficult to discern.

Let’s let him rest, let’s let this rest, let’s let our troops rest, let’s let the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan rest. Let’s let our own inner Evil rest and just take a break, shall we? The closing credits could read completely different.

#reverb10 Day 24: Everything’s OK

29 04 2011

PROMPT: What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

Every year, sometimes even before the last bit of slushy snow has sponged its way into the ground, and certainly before the last clumpy wet snow fall, the daffodils begin to push their way out of the ground.

#reverb10 Day 23: New Name

20 04 2011

PROMPT: New Name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

Sylvester sat in front of me in my history class in high school.  We were doing our family trees and he showed me his.  My cousin was also in the class so I copied half of her tree and my other half was empty.  I didn’t know the names for the sperm side of my tree.

Sylvester’s great-grandma’s name was “Alynia”.  The name instantly resonated with me and I wanted to be an “Alynia”.  I would imagine Sylvester’s great-grandma as always a young, beautiful woman with a wide nose, angular face and long, graceful body like Sylvester’s.  Her eyes, like his, carried smiles and kindness.

In my history class fantasies, she and my grandmother were friends.  Eventually, they merged to one: Alynia Irene, my grandma’s Italian blood mixing with his great-grandma’s African roots to create the most beautiful dark brown almond eyes to hide a quick fiery temper.  She didn’t let anyone take her for granted and didn’t care who tried to define her.  She knew her strength, she knew her path, she knew her heart.  They could turn, twist, manipulate to fulfill whatever inner angst needed to be fed, but it would never cost Alynia Irene.  Instead, she laughed and shook her hips and put marigolds in her hair.  She and I danced through history as Mr. Whinna spoke of wars, winners and timelines.

When I was pregnant, I dreamed of giving birth to Alynia Irene. The dream ended with the ultrasound that had an arrow pointing to the little extra bit of white, not-finger-not-toe.  Afterward, Alynia became my unborn daughter, my guardian angel, my goddess, my existential best friend.

When my thoughts drift to her, I find myself  wishing for the big cosmic soup where all souls blend together so that when I die we can meet, and she can hold me and tell me that I am HER unborn daughter, that there was a mistake, dear, let’s just try this whole Life thing one more time.

(Photo by Charles Perry)

Finish Line

3 02 2011

Come on sweetheart
Let’s adore one another
Before there is no more
of you and me.” ~Rumi

The first day she sat in a circle of women and one guy who seemed a bit awkward and didn’t stay.
The room was cold and had a nursery rhyme rug and a piano.
And she wrote-never much and never a very far step away from a bunch of cliches-but she wrote.

And she listened-
to relationships ending,
pieces being picked up,
sometimes pieces just being moved from one pile to another.

She witnessed fragile beginnings,
at times watching the sapling grow into a strong beautiful tree
and other times getting mowed over before the roots could really sink in.

The safety
the prompts
the non-judgment
the space
allowed her to dig into her own pieces
and rooms
and dreams
and dark places
and relationships.

Crying was ok,
laughing was ok,
not responding was just as ok.

She thought when working in the nursing home that people were so much more real right before they died. There was a vulnerability and a lack of needing to prove or protect oneself. The relationships were fast and deep and cut to the meaningful shit real quick. She used to mourn that that only happened at the end, when the person was dancing or stumbling out of their (and her) life. She wished to find that without the death.

That space was her writing class for 3 years.
Or was it 4?
Who knows, really?
It’s one of those things measured in experiences,
not duration;
Quantified by how deep it penetrates and changes,
not how many classes have been attended.
I was told that the truest truths have no words and, once again, I don’t have the words for what this class and teacher and my fellow students have meant to me and the impact on who I am today.  I wanted to write and hand them a diamond, but this feels more like a couple of pebbles in comparison to what is in my heart.   But I have reached a “for now” finish line.  I’m ready to not run, but cautiously and reluctantly cross that line and be open to what is on the other side.

#reverb10 Day 22: Travel

26 12 2010

PROMPT: Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

bike: around town
(mostly back & forth to work)

car: around the area
(visiting friends/family in WI/IL/MN)

plane: around the country and to another one
(Ireland and PA for work and Mexico for fun)

writing: around the mind
(a future trip to India and back into some of those little closets)

books: around the world
(Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie took me to The Thing Around Your Neck in Nigeria, V.S. Naipaul was my escort to A Bend in the River, Wally Lamb took me inside York Prison and Harriet Lerner led the tour through Anger & Intimacy).

2011 will consist of the same modes of transportation, but new destinations and travel guides added to the old.

“…any life I might have anywhere…would only be a version of the life I lived now…I knew there was more to me than my setting and routine showed.  I knew there was something that separated me from Ferdinand and the life of the bush about me.  And it was because I had no means in my day-to-day life of asserting this difference, of exhibiting my true self, that I fell into the stupidity of exhibiting my things.”  ~V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River

#reverb10 Day 21: Future Self

26 12 2010

PROMPT: Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Future self to Current self:
Get outside and walk more
Start taking steps now towards all of those goals
Stay involved

Current self to Past self:
Get outside and walk more
Start taking steps now towards all of those goals
Stay involved

#reverb10 Day 20: Beyond Avoidance

24 12 2010

PROMPT: Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I didn’t run the marathon and didn’t stay-in/find a serious primary relationship and didn’t go back to school and didn’t do a bunch of other things.

But it’s ok.  There’s always next year.  And if I don’t have next year, it’s still ok, ’cause it just wouldn’t matter then, right?

And besides, lots of other really cool stuff that wasn’t planned or spelled out in a goal was experienced. And I didn’t do any of the less than optimal things like randomly quit my job.

2011?  Maybe, but even if not, there will be lots more cool, crazy experiences that can’t be imagined right now.

#reverb10 Day 19: Healing

24 12 2010

PROMPT: Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

(Wednesday night in writing class, the prompt was “say Goodbye”.  I was feeling a bit annoyed and had already recently written about that for reverb10, so after venting through my pen for a few minutes, I focused on the next reverb10 prompt.)

I spoke-up-to-out-for-solid-truth-my truth.
Without drama, without explanation, I said “no” or “yes” or whatever it was that was needed.
I told her my boundaries so she could quit expecting my friendship.
I told him my concerns-turns out that they were his also-and he altered the path a bit.
I explained my view and she eventually admitted that how I was treated wasn’t right.
I spoke and each time healed and looked that scared teenager in the eye so she would know that she matters and has a say in this whole bloody journey.

That was emotional healing.  I found an amazing massage therapist, Joe Dunn, for body healing.   He pushes DEEP and really works the muscles and connective tissue.  He’s into mind and body healing and tells me about his latest read or other therapies and has just a really accepting, giving energy.

The writing retreat on Linda’s Farm was healing, as was discovering that people actually would buy my old crap on Craigslist. (I love Craigslist, btw.  Not as much as I love Leonard Cohen, but still…love.)

Seeing Shira & Caleb and sending them off into the next part of their journey after their mom died: that was healing.  If I could wrap two kids into my heart and protect them from ever being hurt again, it would be Shira & Caleb.

OK, well, crap, I hadn’t realized how many ways I was healed last year.  There were just so many small things that could make up a mighty long list.  At the time they just seemed like “what happens” or the thing to do or whatever, but well, crap!
That’s just kind of cool.

Doing reverb10…healing.

(My son just suggested that I write a post about the music that he has introduced me to.  Makes me smile.  It’s coming…with links.)

#reverb10 Day 18: Try

24 12 2010

PROMPT: Try.What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

Every year is the year that I am going to travel, run a marathon, go back to school, landscape my whole yard, pay off debt, slow down, get more grounded, find the “true love”, lose weight, blah, blah, blah.

And at the beginning of every year, I pick a theme.  The theme for 2010 countered almost everything in the paragraph above: Home.  In the midst of a winter of extending myself in ways previously unknown as possible, I decided that once the project, relationship, travel, work, spending were complete I would stay Home.  Home became my garden, my bank account, my friends, my son, my body, my heart as well as the house.  This is very out of character.  Home has always been first on the neglect list.

And it worked.  I feel solid again. The base is there to stand on to start reaching out into those various directions.
I didn’t travel (after March), but I did save money to book a trip to CO in Feb2011.
I didn’t run a marathon, but I did just complete a 10K.
I didn’t go back to school, but I do have a better sense of what I want to do and found a tool to help my brain function a bit better.
I didn’t landscape the yard, but I did keep up on the maintenance and planted a little herb garden and 2 pots with flowers sat outside the front door.
I didn’t pay off all of my debt (those student loans are quite the ball & chain), but the house did get refinanced for a lower interest rate and the credit card (was) paid off and I actually MADE A BUDGET!!
I DID slow down and get more grounded (literally).
I DID find a true love, but let her go, knowing that I wasn’t her true love.
I DID lose weight, but more importantly, I finally went to the Dr and found out the numbers.  With the focus on health, the weight is coming off.
And I DID do blah, blah, blah…and it was WONDERFUL and CALM and FUN and FRUSTRATING and NOT WHAT I EXPECTED and OK.

I didn’t intentionally pick this theme, but FRIENDSHIP became increasingly important.  In January2010, I would hear a song and think of someone that should hear it.  And then another person and a couple more tunes.  And later another song would prompted the same thoughts.  I started writing them down in my planner in hopes that one day, I’d make one of those cheesy mixed CDs that no one else really wants to hear, but the maker LOVES!!!  It’s December, I’ve been adding to the list all year and the CD is in the works (there’s actually one burning as I type).  It’s going into some of the (late) holiday cards destined for homes where they MAY POSSIBLY not end up in the trash BEFORE being listened to. 😉  I’m being kind of snarky, but while it will feel good if I get a couple of “loved the songs-thanks”, really, this is about me and feeling good about getting a message of gratitude out there.

(Sidenote: The CD ends with “Angelus”.  That’s the one song not about friendship, but about my 17 yr old passing into adulthood.  When he was a baby/toddler and would wake up in the night or have a hard time going to sleep, I put “Angelus” on repeat and just rocked him.  It worked every time and today links me to that time and place and the feel of his face in my neck and his little butt resting on my arm and feeling his body calm, loosen, weigh down with each rock.  It links me to the time when I could do that for him.  Since then I’ve had to let him find more and more ways to rock his own soul.)

Theme for 2011?  Don’t know yet.  Maybe Integration.

As a special “Gratitude to Reverb10”, if you want a copy of the CD (yes, you, even if I don’t know you, and no, you don’t have to be doing reverb10), just send me your name & address.  (I’ll delete any comments that contain name and address after the CD is sent.)  I’ll make about 25 extra copies.  It really IS one of the best mixes (IMHO) and I would really love to send these out – free, no strings, you don’t even have to say “loved the songs-thanks”.  😀 The world just seems to be a bit better place when we share what we love, and Reverb10 is a prime example of that.