abuse, Addiction, Anorexia, Archetypes, Bulimia, character study, Christmas, Colorado, Death, depression, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, Relationships, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Yoga

softening of the sap

I’m going to make up some of the piece for effect.  Sometimes, the metaphor unfolds from the writing but this one I’ve sort of planned out.  I use symbols and images to feel more real–to create something I can’t just vent over the phone while staring at refrigerated biscuits in the store after work.  Symbols and images creating the here-but-away glazed effect of the internet where one’s soul is felt in tiny comment bubbles but the vulnerability of immediate physical proximately can be easily avoided.  Instead of what I could say easily in person (and no one likes raw truths in person) I say elaborately through words, details, pictures, creations that ebb in and out of my control.  In these spaces I feel safe. In these spaces I am in the moment. There is one heartbeat, there is another—no need to coregulate.

_______

My dog once got tree sap on the tuft of fur located on his back, towards the tail.  That spot where dogs love to be scratched and will saunter underneath two blue jean tree trunks to feel the finger-branches of their owners.  One paw up, another paw up, tongue dangling from mouth, breath heaving.  A rhythmic ritual caught short on this day as the sticky, nostalgic smelling sap wraps around my fingers with black wires of fur and deformed pine needles.  I examine the spot now a cow lick of small chunks of tree bark, shiny in the light of the kitchen.  I thought about the hike where this had happened and how hikes sometimes start to look the same not because of being jaded or well-adventured but because the breath remains the same.  The steps, just like the dogs, back and forth in rhythm and ritual.  But the sap—this sap.  It was stuck.  It was hard.  It was amassed in a dark forest, off a path, a break in the flow.

I got stuck about 3 years ago.  There were moments when the sap would loosen, when I could start to work on the problem, but then in the dark forest I would find more resin.  I would stop looking up and become so focused on one thing that my back too became sap covered.  Tree-glue painful to pick off my own skin and oozing from trees in suspension, like a still shot of puss from a wound.  I had career hopped then which always come with a new creation of meaning, a way to make sense of purpose out of current circumstances.  With each move from mountain town to mountain town I would lose confidence, I would become painfully aware of my own personality—able to be friendly one moment, withdrawn the next.  The sap would harden and crystallize.  I felt frozen.  I felt trapped.  I felt suffocated.  There was one winter when we cut down Christmas trees and I found one for my own home.  I hosted a Christmas party.  The sap was soft then, the heat of friendship had loosened the sap.

Our neighbors gave us a Christmas tree this year and it looks much like the one I had cut down a few years ago.  I took it down yesterday and put it in my truck and a little fish thought swam through my head—I’ve already been here.  I’ve done this.  I’ve cut a small tree and let it dry up and scratch around in the jumper cables and bottles of oil in the dark belly of the truck topper.  I wondered how long the tree would stay this time and remembered a few years ago riding in the back after dumping the tree, noticing yellow pine needles feeling them stick in my legs as I smiled and watched the boy I had a crush on.  Softening of the sap.  Like teenagers that day in our laughter and I wonder when I will tear down dirt roads again in my truck hardly noticing sap as I chase waterfalls and peaks.  This Christmas brought its own patch of sap—a new problem that brought old problems, a folding of time in which I felt smashed in the middle.

Because of time, because of my tendency to never give up—the sap came out of the dogs fur.  We got a hairdryer and the look on the dogs face said I was an evil torturer.  I was ready to ban bacon from his world, outlaw walks, throw all the balls into the sea.  I wonder if I get this same look too when someone is trying to help me through something really painful.    The dog had worked for the clump of sap, I had worked for my pervasive depression and abusive interpersonal relationships.  Don’t take it away so soon.  I live like a preserved mosquito within this resin–I can’t annoy you here.  The dog yelped when the sap finally became soft enough, olive oil was massaged through his fur and lots of pets and kisses followed.  Then a bath.  This time he looked a little more forgiving—he knew now I was helping him.  I feel my heart starting to soften in the soapy warm water, things are melting, the crust of a loaf of bread has been cut into revealing the stretchy puffiness below.  I am moving through, with, and into this depression.  I am moving through, with, and into this light.

 

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” — Madeleine L’Engle

Archetypes, Body Image, character study, Christianity, Church, Colorado, Death, desert, Dharma, Dichotomies, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Faith, Family, Fear, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, mountains, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, object, poverty, privilage, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Trailrunning, Universiality, valley, Yoga

turning of the canyon walls

I’ve been waiting to write in my blog about all the things I’ve felt as I move to Colorado after 32 years in Wyoming.  16 in Gillette and 16 in Laramie, half grown up in the belly of coal country, half deconstructed in the belly of precambrian granite and feldspar crystals.  Every part of the journey brought huge questioning and regret.  I said goodbye to my best friends—the few friends I had let in during the 16 years of trying to reinvent myself.  And now I reinvent myself in the San Luis Valley.

I moved here for many reasons which bring about all the reasons I had stayed in Laramie.  I’ve run into a few folks here and they always say the same type of stuff—oh it’s not for everyone here.  They say its isolated.  Nothing to do.  I’ve become the patriotic Wyomingite, talking about how Alamosa is Laramie moved south six hours.  Yes, Laramie was three times as big but I make my life very small.  I hear I may get bored in winter and I think of my writing, reading, or yoga—I know I won’t get bored just cold in the arid winters of the high desert.

I climbed part of Mount Blanca yesterday and am starting to realize what Colorado might mean.  Mountains are bigger.  Instead of my hour jaunt around Pole Mountain in the Medicine Bow National Forest, I now embark on hours long journeys I stop in the middle because it’s becoming clear I will not make these 18 miles.  Plans begin to be made—have I become the lusty adventurer going after 14’ers?  They are just where we all start—I want to become immersed in the microsystems as well. I want to find the desert parts of this place, to run in the greasewood and think about spiritual shit.

I think that’s why I came here—spiritual shit.  Not to seek the Ram Dass ashram just down the way in New Mexico or attend the Course in Miracles group I found in the local gazette—but to take a leap of faith.  To let go of the narrative that I’m a fifth generation Wyomingite, that my blood runs with the buffalo, that my soulmate is in the aspens of Happy Jack.   Turns out aspens are here, too. I’ve not felt that connection yet but I know the petals of my heart will peel and shake away as I uncross my hands from my heart and let the wind of the valley sweep things clean.

“Life is too short for grief. Or regret. Or bullshit.”

-Ed Abbey

Archetypes, Asana, Bible, character study, Church, Death, depression, Dharma, Dichotomies, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Higher Education, introvert, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Trailrunning, Wyoming

chicken wings 

My blogs have been scarce lately which usually means I’m doing super okay just chugging along with no existential strife to whine about, or I’ve given up on something I know I’m good at to head into survival mode. I’m surviving, baby. 

I’ve been researching my personality type like crazy (even though the research shows its often flawed) because it’s the best validation I can get for being the person I am. It’s so silly how I internalize things with such gusto I feel like the negative thoughts become a knot in my tummy, a cloud over my head, a tightness in my chest. I’m scared of this little anxiety baby gestating inside of me. I often try to name this red-faced feeling that comes over me like I’m in 3rd grade and I’ve peed in my plastic school chair. I feel so little. 

Lately, I can’t identify anything I’m good with or at, or anything I feel good about. In writing this sentence I’m like welp that’s a classic depression diagnosis if I’ve ever heard one. But, it’s not that, or I don’t want it to be that. I have meaning. I exercise. I meet goals. I eat healthy. I engage in service work. I think it’s the experience of growing up and seeing my own insignificance in the world, the ever present existential crisis that takes up much of my critical thought. I am not a student services professional. I’m not an adjunct college professor. I’m not a yogi. I’m a grain of sand, a speck of dust, a mound of flesh.

I try to find the special life glitter, the allure, the feeling of a kiss with someone who’s energy is like liquor to the soul. But those special moments aren’t there. They come fleeting in the completion of a ten mile run, or a smile from a child, maybe a really good meal or the way the sky looks in Wyoming. Perhaps because I cannot see it I can talk of it and I seek out folks who I know will go there in deep conversation and the universe keeps sending the message—it doesn’t matter. None of this matters. Stop dreaming of glitter and rip up some tin foil. Life is what you make it. 

I feel like a burden to folks around me and set up this awful cycle where I need so badly to be alone and with myself during the times I’m not at work where I’m constantly around people. I need some time to seep in the people, let the people tea leaves steep in the water of my mind before I can slowly consume the tea. This is meaning, this is how I process life. But when the time comes to be social or let someone into my life—I am all alone. I marvel at folks with roommates or in volleyball leagues or those who go shopping or camping in more than groups of two. I feel my mind go into a tiny world war at the thought of being more social and yet the war continues at the thought of feeling so very alone.

This blog won’t end with some shit about how it will all get better or pray to gawd and receive solace because I know both these things to be true. They will help. I also know that shit might not get better and I could turn my back on gawd and wouldn’t matter. This is the critical mass, the point, where I can choose to create meaning or choose to know whatever meaning I create is inherently meaningless. Fuck it. I’m eating chicken wings. 

“No matter how many years you sit doing zazen, you will never become anything special.” ~ Sawaki

Archetypes, Asana, Bible, Body Image, character study, Church, Death, depression, Dharma, Dichotomies, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Faith, Family, Fear, Health Issues, Laramie, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, mountains, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, PTSD, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Suicide, Trailrunning, Universiality, Verse, Wyoming, Yoga

cracks and stripes

Sitting in the plush couch across from Asian decorations staring at large red plates and sticks of bamboo creating geometrical patterns and shadows creating the backdrop as I relate the geometrical patterns of my life. I blandly tell my counselor how life is a dream, a projection, a fuzzy version of reality. A veil has dropped. Maybe it dropped a long time ago. I watch the plot, the characters, the scene, the story line with only mild interest. Mostly apathetic.

A familiar story for the thinkers, the depressed, the analyzers. Life a dream. Waves of light, color, emotion, people. A familiar story for those in trauma. Unable to fully open up to life undulating between numbness and extreme pain. I’ve told my story a hundred times and it’s really nothing special as folks die and individuals reinvent themselves over and over again, purifying in the fire. In each reinvention, the dreams, the disassociation becomes greater and greater and I go to matching lengths to ground down, to find the soil of my existence once again.

April 25th, 2014 a friend hung herself and I once again sank down, went deep, and struggled to decide on the appropriate response, the appropriate way to be with myself, to be with the world. And so I ran. I went into the physical body and the breath for stability, balance, to let the power of my thoughts dull in the burning light of my physical being. On Pole Mountain every day, moving slowly over rolling hills stopping to smell, take pictures, dance, stare at the sky, stare at the ground, and sit in the mud. I would bring friends, we would bring drink, I would bring drink alone. Playing with that point when the substance can enhance physical awareness and open up the senses to deep experiences while dulling the mind just enough to justify the tall bullets of barely pop.

I let go of expectations for myself. I walked away from the holistic practice of yoga doing only what felt good—run, lift, stretch, drink, sleep. I would push myself at times but found in the letting go of the practice of yoga I was able to truly practice yoga through direct experience, an opening up to the trails of life, the trails of my own veins. I felt like a crucible with ashes in my belly, appearing like clay but red hot on the inside. And so I buried myself in the cool ground to recalibrate what this all might mean and how to find my meaning.

On the trails, during the runs in forward motion and in the tiny catches of slowing down, I begin to see the patterns of nature. The times, ways, and slopes where the wildflowers grow. The ripple of the snow from the way the wind blows, the creak of the trees, the sound of thunder near and far. I begin to feel the sunrise and sunset and anticipate in some familiar way what to expect in this place and on these runs. The weather becomes a part of my system the breeze my own breath.

It becomes harder and harder to come back and to see the patterns in others’ behavior, the same patterns of nature. Only to know the patterns will not be seen. They are obstructed, fuzzy, blended with lies on the part of the person who has not yet accepted his or her own behaviors. They do not see what I see, and this is just perception, this is just human nature. They are not who they think they are. I am not who I think I am.

On the hikes of the human mind, I feel the wind of thoughts, the dark clouds of brooding, and the creak of the heart. Anticipating the seasons of the soul from unspoken words and intense observation I feel the sunset coming knowing that it may go unnoticed, go unfelt. It does not matter. All experience, good or bad is grist for the mill. Fuzzy, painful, manufactured, in nature, all a path to spiritual growth, a way to God.

“Sometimes I reason my life is a hideous illusion, and I dream of disappearing into the wilderness, leaving behind my past, my present, and all plans for my future, the hustle and bustle for a materialism I care little for, propaganda, politics, phonies, and all the patterns I’ve encountered from their words unspoken, that alert and alienate me to believe that this surely wasn’t meant to be my playground.”

-Unknown

Archetypes, character study, Death, depression, Dharma, Dichotomies, eccentric, Existentialism, Faith, Family, Fear, Laramie, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, PTSD, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Trailrunning, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

a letter everyday

I didn’t save the letters, but Grandpa sent us a letter every day for years.  Different topics, different pens, different paper, but always the same strangeness. Sometimes I would barely read them.  They came so often and just as often I could not understand them.  I would write a obligatory letter of small talk here and there.  The thoughts of letters I box up and add to the pile of subjects and folks in my family that give me unbearable guilt.

The letters were a bit like Grandpa as he began to age. Often incoherent. Full of receipts from the Co-Op in Burns, Wyoming where Grandpa had lived since he was a little boy.  The family homesteaded there and bought up 146,000 acres of land while running a cattle company.  Wyoming roots.  In the roots of the Wyoming tree were also roots of the eccentric side I recognize all through branches manifesting in my own mannerisms.

Grandpa had his own workshop down in the basement of the huge house my sister is still convinced is haunted.  The new tenants that are renting are convinced of this too.  Perhaps a little of the madness of my Gpa has stayed there lingering in fumes of paint and metal.  I never felt the ghosts my sister claims, but I was eccentric like Gpa.  A quiet connection I found in his pillow when I realized it contained the same smell as mine.

Sometimes the letters contained dead bugs.  A spider smashed by the manual typewriter.  A dead bee scotch taped to a yellow paper of a legal pad.  Brown juice of flies in corners of cartoons he would draw shakey and small protruding from the margins. The cartoons always of someone running or the laughable folly of a heavy object falling.  Gpa and myself not aware of any falling, falling, although others might see the eccentric slip as a painful one.

My uncle commented perhaps his eccentricity compromised his career and that may be the case for us all but instead my Uncle meditates everyday, I blog everyday, Grandpa wrote a letter everyday, my sister parents everyday.  Sanity and strangeness just perceptions, socially coded, dynamic, changing, different everyday.

In Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangenesspsychiatrist David Weeks explains that eccentrics are physically healthier and significantly happier than “normal” people. He notes that eccentrics are wildly diverse yet share common characteristics. Here are his 25 descriptors of eccentricity, listed in descending order of importance. (Dr. Weeks says the first five are the most significant characteristics.)

  • Enduring non-conformity
  • Creativity
  • Strongly motivated by an exceedingly powerful curiosity and related exploratory behavior
  • An enduring and distinct feeling of differentness from others
  • Idealism
  • Happily obsessed with a number of long-lasting preoccupations (usually about five or six)
  • Intelligent, in the upper fifteen per cent of the population on tests of intelligence
  • Opinionated and outspoken, convinced of being right and that the rest of the of the world is out of step with them
  • Non-competitive
  • Not necessarily in need of reassurance or reinforcement from the rest of society
  • Unusual eating habits and living arrangements
  • Not particularly interested in the opinions or company of other people, except perhaps in order to persuade them to their contrary point of view
  • Possessed of a mischievous sense of humor, charm, whimsy, and wit
  • More frequently an eldest or an only child
  • Eccentricity observed in at least 36% of detailed family histories, usually a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. (It should be noted that the family history method of estimating hereditary similarities and resemblances usually provides rather conservative estimates.)
  • Eccentrics prefer to talk about their thoughts rather than their feelings. There is a frequent use of the psychological defense mechanisms of rationalization and intellectualization.
  • Slightly abrasive
  • Midlife changes in career or lifestyle
  • Feelings of “invisibility” which means that they believe other people did not seem to hear them or see them, or take their ideas seriously
  • Feel that others can only take them in small doses
  • Feel that others have stolen, or would like to steal, their ideas. In some cases, this is well-founded.
  • Dislike small talk or other apparently inconsequential conversation
  • A degree of social awkwardness
  • More likely to be single, separated, or divorced, or multiply separated or divorced
  • A poor speller, in relation to their above average general intellectual functioning

Eccentric doesn’t bother me. ‘Eccentric’ being a poetic interpretation of a mathematical term meaning something that doesn’t follow the lines – that’s okay.”

-Crispin Glover

Archetypes, Asana, character study, Christianity, Church, depression, Dharma, Dichotomies, Existentialism, Faith, Family, Fear, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, privilage, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Yoga

i close my eyes. i close them again.

I close my eyes. I close them again. Again. And again. Until the gaze is completely inward. There lies the work. There lies accountability. Instead of blaming the oppressive paradigm of society or of being misunderstood because of my education, I take accountability.

When I look inward I am able to face the demons of what I might not want to know about myself. I am controlling. I am pretentious. I am insecure. I stay after the class I teach at the local community college to answer questions about children and psychology. The parent always knows best. Each family situation is so different. I begin to realize with ruddy cheeks that I have not given this space in my own personal life. I thought I knew best. And now I know the value of of patience and acceptance.

I look inward and realize I still do not love myself enough to receive unconditional love from another. My value is still intermixed with other factors that are changeable and dynamic like my sense of self.  As long as I continue to rely on outside sources for a false sense of control I will be fragmented. And now I am alone and see that I co-create all of my experiences and until I create love and compassion for myself I will not create it for others. Instead of being so mystic about it all it boils down to folks likening to be around someone who has a sense of self that doesn’t require too much work on their part. A steady energetic presence.

I lie. I lie about how I self soothe and I lie to others to avoid always feeling so awkward. I tell my story to thousands of people.  The truth is not always wanted or needed, though, and I can’t seem to get the love and affection of one. Today instead of overanalyzing my actions in a freezing bathroom with singing malfunctioning pipes I ought just let some sleeping dogs lie.  Because I’ve beat this dead horse into the ground. 

“I close my eyes in order to see.” —Paul Gauguin

Archetypes, Asana, Body Image, character study, depression, Dharma, Dichotomies, Divorce, eccentric, Existentialism, Family, Fear, Health Issues, Laramie, marriage, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Sex, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

state of solitude

Picture summer. Those movies set in the dog days of August where the kids are out of school and have found an empty swimming pool to slide around, maybe skateboard, whatever kids in movies do. That empty pool stark white, maybe with dripping rusty tears around portholes and some brown branches scattered here and there. This empty pool is dating in Laramie, Wyoming. This empty pool is dating for me.

I’ve picked up every stick from the pool trying to make it a tree that will grow, blossom in spring, sing to me in the wind like tall trees of the mountains. That all happens, for about three months. Sometimes more rapid fire depending on the seasons and the ebb and flow of my passion and anger. With each potential love and each break up the white cement pool turns into a horror movie scene filling with brackish water and foul smells.

Underneath the dark waters of this dating pool and are the hidden stuff that has been tucked away neatly in the bliss of a new lover, the pain of all the others who rejected me, insecurities drip dripping like water from the garden hose that filled this place. And I dive right into the pool at the conclusion of each person to find myself suffocating. Each break up like a heart attack. Each attempt at love a nose dive into the shallow end.

I thrash around in the pool for a while trying to survive on what I tell myself are my redeeming qualities “you are good person.” And like a struggling drowning victim it only gets worse. Positive affirmations are junk from the eighties that I can’t always jive with. No, I’m not always a good person. In fact, I think some pretty shitty stuff about some folks.  And in that pathetically human way, I think worse things about myself. I positively and negatively affirm that yes I’m in this human experience suffering in this mound of flesh right along with others.

In all these dating stories the narrative is the same—he stopped talking to me, she ghosted me, what could I have done differently, I’m a nice engaging person why can’t I land a keeper? People are fickle. Sometimes it turns out they are gay. Sometimes it turns out they are in love with their former spouse. Sometimes they don’t find you sexually attractive. Sometimes they are too deep in drugs and alcohol to chill.

This cement pool, this space, full or empty is just a perception. There’s no reason to stay and skateboard with these kids and let this empty place take up space in the head. There is nothing for rent in the human heart, especially a place for disturbing thoughts that stop the divinity from shining through. There is choice in dating and while the suffering is great there are things that keep us all in Laramie. We are Wyoming tough.  We are ready to be in isolation for just a minute.  It don’t bother us none.  Do what has to be done. Live each day with courage. Especially this Valentine’s Day single or in love–human worth does not change.

“Recognize that you are enough, and that all external gifts are simply extra blessings.”
― Bryant McGill

Archetypes, Bible, Business, Capitalism, character study, Christianity, Church, Death, depression, Dharma, Dichotomies, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Faith, Family, Fear, Higher Education, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, poverty, privilage, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Trailrunning, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

the lies we tell

So, I’m single.  I’ve been in some committed relationships but I messed those up just like I tend to do with things of an intimate nature.  I don’t know how to shut up.  I don’t know how to keep things to myself.  I don’t know how to always keep the peace.  But I love these things about myself.  I am authentic. I am genuine.  I am Jen.

I cried the other day, the chest collapsing, stomach folding, breath catching tears because I realized I am simple and I am like everyone else.  I want to be loved. I just want to be the love of someone’s life.  Or one of the loves of someone’s life.  I want to at least be an important part of someone’s life.  I want to be worth the risk for someone.  I want someone to tolerate the anxiety of growth, of riding a huge wave of uncertainty.  I think I am worth it.  But I always question this and retreat back into my salty, crusty, self.

I will lie about some things.  I will pretend to be happy for someone because my real feelings aren’t appreciated.  I become so frustrated with the lies that people live to be part of the status quo, to be perceived as hip and contemporary, as totally normal yet edgy.  The marriage. The house. The car. The child, or children.  The investments. The 401k.  Store treasures in heaven, I say.  Store them in the heart.  Because we all die alone with nothing.  An inheritance is just sentimental perceived power.

I am poor in terms of American capital.  I have what could be perceived a middle class salary but I’m a product of a generation ridden by debt, paying tens of thousands of dollars for degrees that are marginalized daily.  I’ve been accused of spouting psycho-babble if I discuss theories of change.  I’ve been told I could never fully understand how to work with children because I am not a parent.  I still try to defend myself.  To what end?  I have stopped practicing clinical counseling because I don’t know if people change.  I don’t talk about books despite having a degree in English.  I am rich in my mind and heart but no one wants that currency.

I thought I had changed at one point but really I feel I floundered from who I was and then came back to the same person who would argue with teachers on principle, share my faith and religion to others with bravery and compassion, work hard and play hard.  I used to say I was like black licorice and hard to handle.  Why do I have to take on others insecurities because I stir up shit for others?  It’s exhausting being called a strong woman, which as all feminists know is a cover up for bitch.

I feel self-involved for writing this.  I am feeling spiteful today.  Yet, as I run to contemplate and meditate, I realize the world owes me nothing.  Folks may not love me.  It’s my job to love myself in order to create a loveable person.  I certainly do have some pathological tendencies.  I could be called a narcissist.  I have created the life I want.  I am a teacher. I am a writer. I am a friend.  And I can tell you even without the house, the car, the husband, the kid, the 401k, my legacy will last far into the future.

Folks don’t remember the quiet, well-behaved individuals who they have come across, just as they don’t remember the boring paintings in the dentist’s office.  What is remembered is the art that moves, the art that disturbs, the art that pushes buttons.  My life is a painting and with each stroke I will offend, I will repel, I will love, I will welcome, I will be.  And it’s the choice of others to love me, and it’s a choice I have already made for myself.  Salty, crusty, and loveable.

We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.

-Tad Williams

Archetypes, Basketball, Bible, Death, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Faith, Family, Fear, Health Issues, Higher Education, Jail, Laramie, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, privilage, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

day five and six-my proudest moment and what I’m most afraid of

I missed yesterday. That will happen! I went to the UW basketball game and its always neat to watch the sport I used to love so very much. (I used to make my dad VHS record every and any game in the college men’s championships, and lose my mind in the basement watching).

I was going to try and cleverly tie the two topics but I don’t have to be clever at all. My biggest accomplishment is directly related to my biggest fear. I thought about detailing my college degrees—I’m a first generation student and it was a good thing to get done but I didn’t walk in commencement for either my bachelors or masters. It’s not something my family really values. I’m not upset about that—these degrees are to leverage social currency to help others, not to tack on my wall.

After the two paragraphs of porch talk I’ll get into it—my proudest moment was graduating from drug court. Well, Albany County Court Supervised Treatment Program. Nothing has been harder in my life, I’ve never failed over and over so many times trying to get something right, and I’ve never been so happy to have my life back.

When I was younger, I didn’t picture myself living past the age of 29 and “live fast, die young” was a lifestyle for me. I truly feel like drug court changed my life. It was really new to me to be so crappy at something—I’m hardly the best at anything I try but with hard work and guidance I can complete most tasks. Not drug court. I relapsed all over the place, finding myself smoking meth with other drug court participants all of whom are in prison now.

When I graduated I wrote a few lines about each person in drug court and the people who helped me graduate—including my probation officer who became human to me, the bailiffs who were always more kind than necessary, my counselor, lawyer, and even the judge who I had gotten crosswise with on numerous occasions. I now count many of these professionals as colleagues and friends. They helped me to see my own worth.

And now to my worst fear. I fear I will relapse heavily and go back to jail. I fear I will decide one night of fun is worth throwing my life away. I fear my job will find me out and let me go because I am a liability. I fear that I am bat shit crazy and I am just kidding myself that I could ever be a professional and help anyone. This is why I am not using my degree to be a counselor. Who am I? Who am I to help folks when I feel I am walking a life tight-rope? I’m afraid of being alone forever, in a cell, lamenting what I could have been.

But, I refuse to let these fears motivate me all the time. Of course I’m human and they pop up here and there. I have shown myself and others I am capable of rising from my own ashes. I am capable of my version of recovery. Fear is no motivator and I’ve been crippled too long by what others might think. And so I blog about my past. I blog about my future. And I give thanks for the now.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

-Fran Herbert

Archetypes, Basketball, Bible, character study, Christianity, Church, Death, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Faith, Family, Fear, Health Issues, Laramie, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality, Verse, Wyoming

day three-my favorite quote

“For broken dreams the cure is dream again. And deeper.”

-CS Lewis

 My Dad printed up this quote in purple and blue ink and put it up behind his most prized possession—the computer.  It sat next to several quotes from the bible and I was always sure who our house served—the Lord and Dad.  Dad invoked a more visceral vengefulness than incomprehensible God.  He was the patriarch.  Always quietly in charge.

He bought a Gateway computer in the 90’s and I remember shivering with excitement as the cow-print box showed up underneath the verse inscribed door knocker.  Dad must have spent months researching what computer to purchase studying bent copies of the Consumer Report and watching with darting eyes as folks from the neighborhood bought computers.  He wanted to best one.  And here it was on the doormat.

He gingerly unpacked the computer like the leg lamp from the iconic “Christmas Story” movie.  That computer may have caused the same family strife as in the film.  We watched our obsessed father spend too much time with an inanimate object. I listened from my room to the creak of his green swivel chair as he took financial risks he would never take emotionally.

Dad had printed up the quote right after I had fractured my right foot, oddly enough, in the shape of a cross.  First one vertical crack, basketball camp, and another horizontal crack.  I had plans to play division one basketball and was heavily into Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  I had my life planned out.  I wore a promise ring, I prayed for my future spouse.  I excelled in academics.  I was president of any club I joined.  I had so many dreams.

I felt God was behind this plan as I read over and over Jeremiah 29:11: “I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering.”  I knew God wouldn’t let me down.  But here I was, in a stinkin’ cast, for six weeks.  It put me behind just enough in my training to take away my edge and the pain shook my faith enough to break my dreams.

My father knew how much my dream of playing basketball meant to me.  He knew how early I would wake up as we drove in silence to my three-a-day practices and how late at night I would study away at my devotions looking for answers in the Bible as to how I could use basketball to serve the Lord.  He knew I had been shattered.

I walked away from basketball.  I started playing piano.  I got into drugs.  Life became a dream.  Drug addiction like deep, deep, sleep taking away the edge of walking away from my faith.  I didn’t care if God had plans for me.  I didn’t care if I never shot a free throw again.  God had let me down and I was going to let Him down as well.

Years later this quote means so much to me I’ve not only memorized it, but I feel it, I live it.  My dreams have been broken over and over and they will be broken again.  But C.S. Lewis is right.  Dream again.  Dream bigger.  Dream deeper.  These are the words I feel my Dad sent me in prayer even if he didn’t have the words or emotions to say them.  He understood me on a spiritual level and he accepted me just the way I am.  And so, I dream again.