January 6, 2015

year in review, word of the year, blah blah

the light, just right, on a pile of words

this whole year in review thing has been weeks in the making and i just figured out why...
i don't really want to do it. not in the traditional, wordy sense...

last year was t o u g h.
and awesome.
and just.

i can't even.

to write about it like i used to, to explain, in detail? so unnecessary.

i went back to my roots in many ways...i started writing. so. much. poetry. last fall. i needed to say things clearly and quickly. i needed to write it all down and i cannot even tell you how fast the last four months have gone by. i couldn't even begin to go back and highlight last year, month by month, because everything before august is just all the other stuff. the growth that's occurred since then has been organic, necessary, but immensely fast. put to the test, 35 years in the making.

i didn't even just save the hundreds of words i was
going to share instead of these ones.

that's progress.
deletions, letting go.

like, no fucks given.
let's do this thing.

it was the first year in many that i wasn't
dragging still in spring
carrying leftovers from
the depression of winters past

it was the year i learned what creating
boundaries actually looks like

after lifetimes of practice, it was the year i stopped
needing my mother's approval or anyone else's

the good i sought and the good parts
i held on to weren't a lie
but i was still telling the sad tale
and i didn't want to anymore

so i started writing and i finished looking
in those last journals, the hard ones

much harder than the ones filled with the spirit of my past
and the trauma in my dna
the truths that i have never denied

because they contained the truths of my present
that i did not want to see

it was the year i took to my own bed again
something i hadn't even had since childhood,
having had a baby or child next to me since that
first night in january when i came home from the hospital
with my first baby and put him in his crib
then started crying at how tiny he looked
there in the center of a vast and cold
plastic covered mattress, no matter that
his crib was outfitted with looney tunes
bedding i'd saved for, all i could think about
was the mattress and how could
i let this baby who had grown inside
of my sixteen year old body
lay anywhere but in my arms?

so, after 19 years of this boy next to me thing
i took to my own bed, in my boys' room,
and they're still next to me, but it's mine
and i can eat rice cakes in it if i want

it was the year that another one of those things
i wrote down over and over again came to pass

or all of them
all of the things i have written about have come to pass

it was the year i stopped being afraid
of becoming the story

i am the story
nothing but the story
and i'll call her

it was the year i was able to say
you know that i am not my upbringing
and most importantly i am not a hypocrite
because that's what matters to me
and that's all that matters

it was the year i got over the one
having come to the conclusion
that he never could have loved me
more than i could love myself
which was not at all back then

it was the year i got over my marriage
which did nothing but mirror the black hole i brought with me
because marriage isn't a cure for loneliness
infinity times infinity is the same as zero

it was the year i came back to myself
stopped looking homeless

it was the year that people
once again took notice

i did behave in ways i could be proud of
and when i didn't it wasn't the end of the world
it was just another chance at this life thing

which is all we're here to do
we can't figure it all out
but we can be gentle
with ourselves and others

last year, finding a word, was hard
eventually i chose wild or it chose me
but in reviewing what i'd written at the start of 2014
i had written that free/dom was the word
and only in retrospect can i see how the
two were tied together, for i could never have
been free until i reclaimed my wildness

in this year, on the continued path
of forgiveness and being human
the word that will guide me is:


November 11, 2014

think about the children

let the world break your heart

get devastatingly broken

then get up
you can't stay there

i wrote that down a couple of weeks ago when i was thinking about how my current circumstances might have once left me in bed for days but, so far, have not. it's true that the last time my heart was devastatingly broken, i was in my twenties and now i'm a bit closer to my forties with more than a dozen years of trying to be zen under my belt. so while i can say i'm pretty sure what i've felt in the last few months has been both devastating and heartbreaking, i'm moving through with a bravery i didn't even know i possessed.

i am not afraid. i am not afraid. i am not afraid.

that is something else i've been writing down a lot, lately.

this isn't going to come as a surprise. it shouldn't, really. we had a fifty/fifty chance. same as anyone. but after three-ish months of what i called an emotional separation, the decision to divorce became clear.

it wasn't one thing or another but ten years of all the things and finally admitting that we veered off course a few too many times trying to meet each other at least halfway. we were always on different paths, often facing different directions. we lost ourselves in the process of trying to keep it together and manage expectations that neither one of us really ever wanted to fulfill.

recently i ran into an old friend. i congratulated him on his newlywed status and he mentioned that he was on his third wife. 

"marriage," he said, "is something i've never been afraid to fail at."

it was an a-ha moment. we hadn't failed. for ten years, my husband and i had done the best we could with what we had. we did our best and it wasn't enough and that's okay. we could put in some more effort. we could keep rehashing old subjects or addressing newer ones. we could probably even create some more. but it's exhausting. 

the day i verbalized how seriously we should consider divorce, i later came across this vintage-y metal sign. i'd always wanted something similar to a hand-embroidered "recipe" that long hung in my grandmother's kitchen and later in my mother's. lately i've also been more than acutely aware of all the signs and "reminders" i keep around the house and how i've got to be better about reading them and putting them into practice before letting frustrations and low-vibrational responses get the best of me. this sign wasn't romantic, nor was it unrealistic, it seemed like something our family could truly focus on throughout the day during this period of transition. i hung it eye-level for the kids in our dining area and i find myself taking pause in front of it several times a day.

i keep hearing these imaginary people saying "think about the children" and i keep reminding them that i have. it's all i've thought about. our children are the only reason my husband and i have stayed together this long, we acknowledge that. it took a few people telling me that kids know and it's way better to divorce than stay in an unhappy or unfulfilling marriage for me to admit that i used to say the very same thing, before i was married with children. for many years it felt complicated, selfish, and scary to consider separating, how could i dismantle my family just because i wasn't happy? it can be said that staying together for the children is a noble cause but it can also be more damaging than divorce. in the process of exploring my ideals, i dug deep and the answer was still that simple: it's better to divorce than basically uphold a lie out of social obligation. happiness is an inside job, anyway, but i had to really consider what kind of example i was setting for my children by staying and repeating the same patterns, ad nauseam. i don't want them to settle for less than they deserve or to think they don't deserve much, in the first place. i don't want them to be so selfless that they lose sight of themselves in order to try to keep a broken relationship together.

see next: it is out of love, not hate or anger, that we are choosing this path. a strong love doesn't meet all needs, it doesn't guarantee open communication, and it doesn't always look ideal. at the risk of sounding like a wimp, sometimes love isn't all there is, sometimes it doesn't have to be this hard.

of course, there is some sense of sadness and grief. it is most definitely a loss, if only of ideas and a promise made to our children, but there is a lesson in all things and the relationship isn't coming to an end, only changing. we will, of course, continue to co-parent and also co-habitate. we want to slowly transition into a situation that doesn't just work well for us, but also the boys, since they have the least amount of control over the situation. we're sort of making the rules as we go along, with as much peace and grace as possible.

and so it is.

September 18, 2014

"she'll tell you she's an orphan, after you meet her family..."

i am holding hard truths
with only my own weak weight to catch the fall

i get up and start over...

grandmother's love did not look like
homebaked treats and nourishment
it was are you hungry are you sure let's go get something to eat
and sometimes it was sit down and expensive
and other times it was gas station pizza

mother's love did not look like
anything that ever existed for me
it was you're not good enough what's wrong with you leave me alone
and sometimes it was pretending to care
and other times it was embarrassment

your love felt the same
another comfortable lie that this was safe
until the wound, in search of light,
could no longer be contained

.  .  .

an incomplete poem about an ever-pressing journey to self.

sometimes i just want to run away and never come back, find neverland, start over, as in books, in a new town. as if people can just slip into new lives...

i do all sorts of things to escape and all sorts of things to stay stuck, but engagement doesn't come easy. mostly all i can say is, "i don't know." but that's probably not true. it's probably easier to feign indecisiveness and certainty than the core of my own truth.

.  .  .

in other news, instead of doing something drastic to my hair, as i often do during times likes this, i'm undoing my dreads. it started out as a mess, friends suggested i just shave them off, how liberating it is to just cut it. i've been there and done that. valency saved the day by offering to give it a go and she managed to take my largest dread out without issue...after a deep conditioning, you can't even tell that all that hair was a tangled mess for the better part of a year.

i'm undoing them slowly and gently (got three small ones out last night) and finding the untangling process to be way more liberating. i'm not cutting loose of the pain and the grief, of the could-have-beens and lost causes, i'm sitting with and shifting through them.

every now and then i hear my mom telling her friend, "oh, she thinks she's dreading her hair." as if i hadn't just shown her the actual dreads already in place, as if i wasn't standing right there.

she also used to tell me i wouldn't like them. years before i went on my short dread journey, even. in honesty, i do like them (but mostly on other people.) dreads are more high maintenance than i ever imagined, pulling them apart was a bunch of no fun, and the lumpy, big dreads really harsh my shavasana and other yoga poses where a flat neck and back are crucial. and so on, with the logic...

i started this little dread journey out of love, as a way back to myself and while there are times when hacking at the roots is absolutely the most legitimate response, i am choosing to honor this current passage with a gentleness and patience that feels brand new. i am getting unstuck, and finally choosing slow and steady over sharp objects.

September 7, 2014

sunday reflection

and remember how i was worried that bad shit would start rolling in?

well it did start rolling but instead of dampening my spirit, it became the fertile ground needed to grow just a little bit more.

life is a constant state of celebration and grief, always fluctuating between experience and emotion. sometimes they conflict and it is often a sign of what needs our attention. i'm putting these words into practice: even in moments of grief and loss there can also be thanks, gratitude, and love.

life as a constant state of grace.

wild was my word of the year and wild this year has been.
the last six weeks were no exception.

i've been hanging on by the seat of my pants, acting from a place of love instead of fear, wanting only the highest good and the best possible outcome (but attached to none), ready to confront and heal what keeps coming up...

i found myself back on the yoga mat, answering, though still somewhat resisting, the urgency to get back in my body, to listen to myself and to stop ignoring my intuition. not just again but from now on. always.

today i am walking in gratitude for the friendships that provide just what i need, in just the right way. the created family, fashioned of broken bits, made stronger as we walk together in our healing work.

i am also thankful for the broken bits that fell away, as painful as it was or maybe still is. i am thankful for words and stories and the breadcrumbs i have gathered, for being brave enough to face the truth, even at the cost of people and places i have loved the most. it's the price of admission for pushing through and out of anger and fear and denial.

i  have some scars to show for it and my face is weary. the sun hurts my thirty five year old eyes and they can no longer see as well in the dark, but i hold fast.

incredible things are happening.

July 27, 2014

people are strange when you're a stranger...

i have put this blog post off for a few weeks because i'm not really savvy on how to share good news while life sort of goes on and not awesome shit also happens. i'll simply say this: since returning from california, all efforts to clear old patterns and old energy have been amped up, whether i liked it or not.

it's been worth it, though. all that clearing has made space for new things to emerge and the bottom line is: growth.

i realize i haven't yet shared my word of the year because even now, end of july, i'm still easing into it.


it chose me and i played hard to get, knowing full well a word like that would not fail to live up to my own ideas about being more natural and unabashed, centered in truth, unencumbered by expectations. this year was about embracing and stepping into who i really am, okay in my skin, okay in my world. though it has not been without loss and as it goes on i am more and more convinced that loss should never be quantified. each grief is its own thing and requires individual attention rather than comparison and every ending also brings with it empty space waiting to be filled. that cliche is true.

it's how it works, this constant state of letting go...

when you surrender and get out of your own way, they say miracles happen. and they do, but also, in the middle of all those miracles, life still happens. you may receive confirmation that you're on the right path but may also consciously or not-so-consciously wait for the punchline, in which it will be revealed that the joke is on you. oh? you wanted this lovely thing? well, you don't get it, you don't deserve it, something bad's around the bend...

incidentally, as i was writing up this blog post, my middlest was watching a video and they mentioned cherophobia, a legit fear of feeling happy because you're afraid something bad will happen. this article pretty much sums up my experience with that, though i might also add that part of my difficulties around good news is how awfully people have responded to it, with insults or warnings or reasons why good things never last. through practice, i've gotten pretty good at accepting the mixed bag that is most days. some are full of blessings, some full of junk, and most have a little bit of both (and also, nothing lasts, that's sort of the beauty of it).

you take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both and there you have the facts of life....right?

i'm down with change and growth and also to authentically experiencing joy in the moments meant to be enjoyed. so, life's happening, things are not under my control, and good things are afoot.

recently my work has also experienced a growth spurt, and as i settle, post-shift, i feel less all over the place. i've not been as likely to share my works in progress as i've been in the past, but i'm liking the quieter spaces i find myself in as i paint and move in a clearer direction. i have decided to start signing my paintings differently, as well, outgrowing what now feels sophomoric. there will be some sales and some giveaways as i part with old art, too, so stay tuned...

new WIPs and old works with new elements
all stages of progress

and now, drumroll please....

in getting out of my own way, my dream job sort of just materialized and fell into my lap. of course there was a bunch of behind-the-scenes action, as well, but through the magic of intention and the wonders of social media, i got a job at stranger factory, a toy store/gallery that's been at the top of my dream list since the wife and i went there on my 33rd magical mystery birthday tour. i knew i wanted to get my work in there but knew it wasn't ready at the time. in fact, even until, like, right now, i'd been too intimidated to take my artwork in and show the owners or director.

i wasn't even looking for a job but was looking at what i could do to generate more art income. i had a plan and some of it included things i wasn't sure i wanted to do and definitely didn't feel ready to do, like hosting art parties and developing an e-course, as well as things i was ready to do like seek out more local venues and galleries to hang my work.

i'm still walking around in shock and it's been two weeks. i really get to work for and with kathie olivas, her husband, brandt peters, as well as the super-fab, valency genis?!?! i mean! *pinch me*

okay. and this is just adorable...i stumbled upon valency's blog and her last post (a few months after i went in there the first time in 2012) just so happened to include her happy announcement about starting at the stranger factory, too! whoa synchronicity.

totally in love with this collab between kathie and valency.
and saving my pennies!

anyhow. yeah. wow. i attribute much of the legwork to valency, actually, and i thank her for keeping up with me on instagram (even while she was in the UK for a year) and putting in a good word for me. i am super stoked to be part of such an amazing group of creatives - the energy, the opportunity, i'm just so grateful for it all - life does not get any less strange and i kind of love it!

signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...
this is on the sidewalk near the gallery ! ! !

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