#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)


#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.

#reverb10 Day 17: Lesson Learned

22 12 2010

PROMPT: Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I learned that it’s STILL raw and that, as far as I feel I’ve come, it’s not hard at all to step back into that space..

The thought of you allows me to hate my body, hate myself all over again.  As long as you were married, I was safe.  Safe from wondering, remembering, caring, judgment – safe from going over all of it again in my head.  I’m afraid that I still haven’t learned to speak up for myself – i still haven’t learned that I deserve it.

There has to be a reason that I feel the need to go through this.  I liked it better when you were locked up and she held the key; it prevented the illusion of choices.  There’s no fear when you are locked away from your own decisions and they don’t have to be made or even faced.

I’m looking around and seeing how cluttered my inner rooms remain.  I fear you seeing the mess.

#reverb10 Day 16: Friendship

22 12 2010

PROMPT: Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

“Take care of yourself. Take care. Hold your heart gently. Pick your food the way you pick your shoes – with care – ’cause you’re going to end up wearing both. Take care, be careful, get assistance, It’s ok.”

Don’t give up. They reminded me not to give up: on our friendship, on the ability to overcome, on change, on them.

They showed me the outstretched hand reaching for the complacent one that I used to draw. In my sketches, they never touched. These friends forced me to see the importance of those two fingers, hands, lives touching and hanging on tight.

Madi was admitted to the hospital a couple of months ago-pancreatitis. She almost died. Really. She kept moving up the floors until she landed in ICU. Tubes, semi-conscious, bloated, pain, scared, we were all scared. I’ve never felt closer to this girl than I have this year. We have history and have let each other into the deepest parts of each other. She knew I had her back and I finally trusted that she had mine and that our friendship DEEPLY mattered to both of us.

I walked away one day from visiting her in the hospital and gave up.

I’m not that person that “never gives up”. I’ll let him go before he has a chance to let me go. It’s a defense. It’s not knowing when to fight for someone and when to let go and let them fight for themselves, not knowing that balance. So, at the first sign of trouble comes the letting go, the release, the backing away.

As she moved her way back down the floors out of ICU and to a regular room, I knew that SHE hadn’t given up. That SHE was fighting and needed me, needed all of us, needed us to really have her back. And we did. And she reminded me NOT to let go. That I don’t always have to move into “protect dayna” mode. I can stay and risk being hurt and feel the pain, if necessary.

When I realized that Smitty & Belva, at 88 and 89, would NOT outlive me (I know, I know), the visits stopped and voice messages were not returned for well over a year. Who wants to hurt? Who wants to say “good-bye”? Until the day that Belva called in February, her voice weak and she said that she needed me.   For the next 8 months, I drove about an hour each way once a week to spend a day with them, taking care, giving me, not giving up. Belva and I talked, really talked, about life, death, regrets, no regrets, frustrations. Smitty and I spent a day traveling through time and small Wisconsin towns, back to his old schoolhouse and forward to the remote graveyard surrounded by cornfields. All of this missed if Belva had let me give up.

Jim went through a divorce a couple of years ago. That is SUCH an understatement. Jim fragmented a couple of years ago. He was my supervisor and friend. It wasn’t a slow breaking apart, it was a smashed windshield, the causality of a head on collision. The driver thought that he was innocent, but we all take a part in our accidents to some extent, don’t we? At first, we all saw the broken pieces, but thought that they would somehow stay together, bonded by the thin plastic film that protects the glass from splattering. But they didn’t. The pieces slowly fell off, sometimes one at a time, sometimes whole sections. It was hard to witness. I didn’t have enough tape and was getting cuts whenever I tried to put some order to the mess.
And he didn’t care. But I did.
Last year, I gave up. I walked away from the scene of the crime and left it to the professionals to deal with.

But this year, he started to put a few of his own pieces back together. He laughs again. He doesn’t break down quite as easily and his brilliant gem ideas are buried under a bit less cow dung. He says that he still doesn’t care, but I was able to get him to the doctor. He lets me do things for him once in awhile (even when he thinks that HE’S the one doing something nice for ME).

They all taught me this year not to give up, not to walk away too soon. There’s a difference between setting healthy boundaries and still remaining open and vulnerable and supportive. I don’t always know the difference, but this past year I was reminded not to be too quick to jump back behind the concrete safety of my own walls.

#reverb10 Day 14: Appreciate

16 12 2010

PROMPT: Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

(Since my community tree has already been covered and lots of the other biggies, I’ll tell you about a couple of very intense relationships I encountered, and still very much appreciate, this past year.)

“I’m in love again,” I told my officemate (and close friend). “I can’t believe that it took me this long to find him.”
(Pause) “And this is for real, not like the fling I had with the Killers.”
A long drawn out “Okaaayyyyy” cautiously streams from the other side of the room. “Who is it?”
LEONARD COHEN! Do you know him?!” I ask with just a bit too much eagerness.
(In fact, I asked everyone that day the same question with the same excessiveness.)
“His voice-it reaches into me and fills me up, the notes from his throat dancing into my blood to cradle every cell.”
She said that he was “ok” with a patronizing smile.
“OK?!?!  Just listen!”
“Yeah, he’s ok.”
I listened for weeks to the same CD-Live in London-and the best moment was when I learned that I could play “Suzanne” on repeat-just that one song-for a whole day without pushing a button each time on my ipod.  You know that feeling when you’ve been in a crammed, stuffy airplane for 4 hours and the first moment that you step into the walkway to the airport and you breathe deep in fresh, crisp, cool air smelling of spring water & columbine and you know that you will be able to make it to the mountain of you choice and everything will be ok?  It was that for 8 hours straight and everything was right with the world!

About a week later, I stumbled on Rufus Wainwright’s “Wonderful World“.
I told my officemate: “I’m just crazy about this guy!”
She asked if he was my new love.
“No way, ” I clarified. “He’s just a fling.  Leonard has my heart and always will.”

That was a couple of months ago.  I’ve since had an affair with Michael Franti.  I can’t help myself. He’s beautiful and energy where Leonard is solid and sure and secure.
I will play around the world with Michael knowing that I can come home to Leonard.
The poet Ezra Pound did it. He had his wife and his 50 year lover.  I understand (not sure that his wife did though).  Now that’s one cat that I WON’T be crushing on!

#reverb10 Day 11: Things

12 12 2010

PROMPT: What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Really, all I need to do is have you click on and read this blog post by DancingWaves and then say:

“What she said.”

Because she captured it all and with a beautiful eloquence and there’s no reason to have two blogs posts out in Cyberland when one says it all and there’s really not much that I could add to that.