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day one-the story behind my blog

I started my blog originally because I fancied myself a mildly talented non-fiction writer and I often am my most artistic during my darkest times.   The boyfriend I had at the time and myself named the original blog “New American Exile” as we both felt marginalized from American culture.  The blog went in conjunction with a zine we had started by the same name.  It fizzled out in one issue.  And that relationship got real abusive, real fast, and went down in flames more than fizzled.

I rose from the flames and wanted to bring back the blog because writing to me is so rhythmic, it helps me to notice all the details around me, to capture the face of a lover, to smell what only bloodhounds know of, to feel like a newborn baby.  It helps me to heal and to show others the rawness of human existence.  I started the blog under the name “fire or phoenix” in April of 2014 after I, the phoenix, had burst, once again, into metaphorical flames after ending a period of sustained sobriety.  My first entry:

i live in fear.  i live in confidence.  i chew the skin around my nails to shreds thinking about how i fucked it all up.  but we’ve all fucked it all up.  we are all fucking up together.  i’ve lost my words for months now and my yoga practice has fallen to the ditch where the beautiful wildflowers of summer grow, healing yarrow and miraculous dandelion.  there is much to be said for falling to the wayside with the wayside dwellers.  my life is not to overanalyze or to feel hurt by her or him but my life is to connect to others like misplaced branches of veins spurting blue and red blood because what is real is not gross.  what is felt is not wrong.  i am not here to feel sorry for myself and hate my existence because my thighs rub together.  whats really important, here.  whats really going on with my privilege.  whats most real right now is the rhythmic panting of my breath and steps as i run, run, run in no direction but simply closer to who i might be, who i really am, and the essence of us all.  today is the first and the last day, the beginning and the end.  today is god. 

This entry highlights my journey into trailrunning and my journey into recovery in which I allow myself to fuck up, to drink, to eat hamburgers.  I still find myself ashamed and embarrassed at my lack of self-control, but that is the old bird conceptualizing her life from a different space.  And so, as I constantly reinvent myself, I am a great many things.  I am the flames.  I am the bird.  I am.

“A mythical bird that never dies, the phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space. It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it. The phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration”.

Master Lam Kam Chuen.

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I am in recovery, and I drink

An article about me recently came out detailing how I was able to recover from addiction to meth using yoga as a tool of recovery.  I used the drug almost exclusively intravenously everyday my senior year of high school and on into my twenties.  Mix in some blow, some pills, a bit of heroin.  All of this is true.  Another truth is that I’ve not used meth, pills, coke, or heroin in more than 7 years and I’ve not touched needles in as long.

But, I do drink.

In fact, I got pretty shitcanned on Christmas and spent yesterday hating myself watching as others posted this article about me detailing my three DUI’s and how I use yoga to help others.  I felt like a fraud and the folks from AA might have a thing or two to say about my version of recovery. But, I also knew where the desire to get schnockered was coming from.  My family became very fragmented in 2008 and I’ve spent almost every Christmas since alone. This is my work–to find peace in this space and create my own family.

So, to create forgiveness I googled the term “recovery is not abstinence” because this is what I have come to believe, this is one truth I have come to know.  This is true for me, and might not be for you.  That’s the thing your realize–truth can be relative.  And I think this is what has propelled me into living the most meaningful and vibrant life I’ve ever known.  Yeah, life has been crappy at times, and I own that I created it that way.

I found an article called “Reason” by Stanton Peele subtitled “Sobriety isn’t an abstinence fixation, it’s about having purpose.”  When you have purpose, stuff just falls into place.  I’ve never before had so much purpose in my life, I’ve never thought so much about the big picture, and I’ve never been so comfortable living in the gray. Through yoga, meditation, running, and writing I have found a way to express myself inwardly and outwardly.

What got me in trouble in the first place was living in extremes, maintaining all or nothing thinking and I became extremely uncomfortable in AA thinking I was one cocktail away from jail or death.  When in fact, I had maintained some moderate form of drinking for years until the death of my father which resulted in overuse of that same coping skill I had cultivated for a long time.  Looking back, it seems I was more suicidal than anything.  My Daddy had been ripped from me.  I did what I knew, I did what I could to feel better.  I drank, I smoked, I shot up.

I do often wonder if I am justifying, but I know in my heart that so many more folks with addictions might be able to find recovery were it not the constant pursuit of something that seems unattainable.  Even AA knows, we are only as sick as our secrets.  Those of us who have overused substances are far from saints.  But, we are not social pariahs.  We are not diseased.  We like to feel good.  And that’s the human condition.  We all have disassociated in one way or another to get away from uncomfortable feelings.  This is how humans work.

On April 25th, 2014 I broke my sobriety streak and had a beer after a close friend had hung herself.  Perhaps not the best coping skill but a completely human way to cope.  I let myself begin to drink into summer particularly after long runs and I would refuel with a Coors and a burger.  It was actually very relaxing and rewarding.  The running had become like meditation for me and to chill and have a beer after the run gave me space to see what moderate drinking felt like, what it looked like, and how it can be a very normal process.

I had been told in AA how NOT normal I was.  Oh well Jen, you drink, so clearly you are immoral.  You have no control.  You are an addict.  You can’t handle life.  I don’t really think of myself as an addict at all.  It’s no longer a part of my identity and not how I like to refer to myself.  I am a yogi, a teacher, an aunt, a sister.  But I’m no longer an addict.  Or alcoholic. This is one of the many reasons that I don’t find much solace in AA.  There are other reasons of course, but I am an empowered woman.  I am no victim of alcohol, drugs, or my circumstances.

Alcoholics Anonymous, while one of the most successful recovery programs in our recent history, has appropriated the term sobriety.  The program dominates our thinking about addiction and the only way sobriety is achieved is through complete abstinence.  To me, this seems like a complete set up.  For most, it’s an unattainable standard that may be reminiscent of why many of us started using in the first place.  To try and be something we were not, to try to maintain a facade.  It aggravates all or nothing thinking.  And it causes huge fall outs and huge relapses rather than just a shitcanned Christmas.

To me, recovery means that I love my body enough to realize that I cannot drink all the time.  It’s listening to my belly when it says that hard liquor is no good for me.  It’s having water with beer because I’m using the liquid carbs to recover.  It’s having purpose at my job I value enough to not show up hungover.  Its service work to others in my community who are in the grips of addiction.  It’s my values, my plans, my life goals.  I’ve come too far to fall victim to the fuzzy life I lived previously.

There is more than ample evidence that shows addiction is a solvable coping problem rather than a chronic recurring disease.  Being positively engaged with life encourages better coping skills and natural recovery. A number of long-term studies support this idea. Some positive engagement in my life includes a few beers at the local pub.  Sometimes wine with a fancy dinner.  I don’t have to wear a scarlet letter.  I can choose moderation.  I’ve often felt the only space where anyone is shamed for drinking is the rooms of AA.  It’s AA that plans the seeds of distrust and doubt.  Your own mind becomes the enemy when it is the exact tool that can heal you.

And so, I tell folks I’m in recovery.  I attend counseling to manage my anxiety and depression that have led to substance abuse in the past.  I perform service work at least once weekly to help impart tools that keep me healthy and engaged in life.  I create space for others as they work through relapses and we all begin to cultivate forgiveness of ourselves and others.  And, to me, recovery is simply self-love.  It’s the highest form of grace.  It’s accepting ourselves exactly where we are.  And then we can begin to change.

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song of survival

Exploring spirituality is such an intimate act and I find myself frustrated lately as I reflect on my childhood spent in Christianity.  I feel defensive because folks see it as a complete left turn when I wish I had lived with faith long enough that they thought the behaviors of the last ten years were a left turn.  But I get both sides.

Jen, you are a nerd.  Jen, you are a hustler. What are you doing exploring religion?  That’s not a thing in your life, is it?  Perhaps I have worn my cards too close to my heart and don’t want to risk being judged.  If I talk of God I become one of those crazy people at those awful meetings.  This is a safety mechanism and I act tough to be tough to survive.  Folks don’t cry in cowboy country.  Nothing is wrong.  Avoidance coping has its benefits. 

It’s hard to try to be nice all the time, to try to live by morals and codes that might not resonate with the larger universe.  Do we always speak the truth even with the knowledge the truth will seriously hurt someone?  I choose to do no harm.  I enjoy being the interpreter of moral code but see the danger in this as my compass lost its true north in the past, sometimes in the present.  We all disconnect sometimes. 

I have stories upon stories of the stuff I’ve done in the past, things that surprise even me and some of these things I speak of with a flat affect, no emotion, too much to engage.  But that’s it.  They are just stories.  Stories that have been told for ages.  Parables of life.  Sermons of the heart.  Songs of sorrow.  We all share the same underlying passions and fears. 

Each human heart a music box of life that plays a special tune.  Listen to the notes, hear them altogether and don’t get stuck on the b flat and don’t think your c sharp is somehow wrong. Sing your song, sing your life, live in a way that you stop worrying about what other folks think.  This is your song. Maybe only God can judge you, and maybe there is nothing to judge.

 

Do you know who I am?

I say “namaste” because I like what it means, not because I am Hindu.

A lot of people here think I am Christian because they think I talk about Christian values, but the truth is I am really talking about human values. 

I’ve been asked if I am a Buddhist, just because I have discovered inner peace. 

A lot of my friends are Pagans, and they think I am one, too, because I say that being in Nature is my idea of going to church.

Do you want to know what I really am?

I am awake.

Anorexia, Body Image, Bulimia, character study, depression, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, poverty, PTSD, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality

an open letter to my body

Dear Body,

I am very sorry for the way I have treated you lately and in the past.  I want so much to have a good relationship with you but I become jealous.  I become insecure.  To come to intimacy with you I must practice unconditional love.  I’m not there yet.  I stare in the big mirror in yoga class and words HATE HATE HATE HATE just keep popping up over and over as I notice thighs like trunks of trees and flat saggy bottom pulled down by gravity.

I ask you how many squats I must do, bottom, to make you like a shelf and you say that is not how it works, you say you are like my ski slope nose and are just a part of me.  And you ask me, why must I change when this is who I am?  I turn away and avoid looking at you in the mirror but sometimes see you flopping around in my shadow as I run and I despise you for hurting my ego.

I know the shape of my skeleton is only slightly different from the shapes of bones around me but when I got a DEXA body scan and saw pillows of fat around my hips I cried.  I cried myself to sleep 30% body fat even as I restrict my diet and workout four hours a day.  Please leave my bones, fat, please go away and help me to sleep better at night with your weight lifted from my hips.

And you, small breasts, what of you?  I thought you would grow and yet you remain the same small shape, barely a handful, appearing like small bumps in comparison to my thighs. I have no trust for the man who says he likes my huge bottom and small breasts.  I cannot believe that. You are a sociopath anyway and this just compounds the problem as the external world validates what I already think—no one could possibly love this body and he is lying.

Then others speak of body acceptance and these are the same folks who have bodies of fairies or who are so obese that to continue to accept means horrible medical consequences.  It’s very hard for me to hear them say breathe, love, change your thinking, eat for nourishment.  I do these things and yet the feel of any bra or pair of pants sinking into pockets of fat is enough to drive me to punch the walls of my home. I see these holes knowing where they came from.  Self-hate. I fix the holes until the next time I become so irritable with weight gain i scream and cry and punch. Do you hear me yet, body?

I meet men who say they love me but manipulate me telling me how very unattractive my insecurities are and I sink deeper and deeper and tears become more and more frequent as I tell him I am human, we are all insecure about a few things.  He walks away saying I text too much and he has worked on himself too long that my unhappiness with my body would make him feel uncomfortable.  I know the faulty thinking in this, body.  This has gone beyond knowing and my soul is bruised.  I let my spirit become deadened by the weight of you, body.

You, body, have always been my enemy when you grew out of control when I was just a 12 year old girl.  Growing, growing, out and up over six feet tall.  And no one was like you, body, no one was as tall as you or wore the same size jeans.  The dysmorphic tendencies grew worse and worse and when I see another tall female we are strange cats.  And I feel she is always skinnier than me.

I know the faulty logic.  Skinnier is not better.  Overtraining is rough.  Counseling is to manage the myriad of problems I create for myself outside of body image (there are many) and I keep close to my heart the things I do to you in private outside of just screaming at you.  I write this public letter to you not for pity, not to be told I have a problem (this I know) but so we can begin to mend, forgive each other and grow healthy again.

I know I can love you again.  I know we can grow or shrink and that these small steps are what matter.  I took off my shirt in yoga the other day wearing a sports bra to cover my tiny breasts and pulled up my spandex over my large hips and I closed my eyes.  You, body, are the shell.  I’m fortunate to have you in the transient lifetime so let us make peace.  Let us love each other again.

Jen

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver

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the most selfish person i know (a biography)

Every day is filled with tiny baby setbacks and tiny baby victories and I’ve been putting off blogging about it because I realize how much I exist in my own head.  My head is not in the bell curve, it’s not appealing to many folks, it would be cancelled after one season.  I am so very selfish and spend so much time alone.  My world is all I have.  My thoughts are my friends, my thoughts are my enemies. As I work to share my world I create experiences to validate that which I already believe—I don’t understand intimate relationships.  I don’t understand friendship.  And I certainly don’t understand the intimate/friendship combo of a long term relationship.

I set the stage for my lonely, tragic, existential play at a young age, ready to be analyzed over and over like an awful Shakespearean play that I have to pretend to like because it seems to be what I ought do.  What ought I do?  It was Valentine’s Day and I was sixteen.  We skipped school and filled a brown, sticky, stained bong with snow and took rips of the dirtiest ditch weed a kid could get their hands on.  We skipped from house to house where parents would have us or where parents were gone and we could drink stolen brandy or Bud Light and listen to Tom Petty.  We would often drive around the dirt roads that connected coal mine to oil rig to ranch to old schoolhouse.  As we passed the same plastic bong around I thought—this is it.  This is all I need.

We arrived home and my parents had tried to show me love.  They sent me flowers only to find I had skipped school and had come home smelling of booze and weed.  My parents had never sent me flowers, all of us had trouble understanding these human relationships.  My face felt hot and I bit the pieces of skin around my fingernails that smelled like Marlboro Reds.  Harsh words, questions, and raised voices.  I swung my hair over the tie dye shirt I was wearing and told my parents:  I wanted to spend the day with someone I love.  That one is drugs.

Drugs won’t purposely miss your call.  Drugs don’t give you an STD.  Drugs don’t say that you text too much.  Drugs don’t call you insecure.  Drugs don’t avoid eye contact with you but stare at your overdeveloped thighs and hips.  Drugs don’t tell you that you remind them too much of an ex and would-you-just-quit that.  Drugs don’t stalk you for seven years.  Drugs don’t punch you so hard during sex you lose your hearing for three days.  Drugs won’t fuck you only past 10 pm because you are the other woman.  Drugs won’t take money you left on the counter.  Drugs won’t ask you to suck their dick for blow.  And yet, drugs take you all these places emotionally.  Maybe I ought treat them like an ex.

My uncle once told me that my brilliant grandfather experienced setbacks in his career because of the fire.  The crazy.  That which runs in our family which I have seen firsthand and experienced even more deeply firsthand.  I knew I was round the bend when I seventeen and I shot up a half gram of meth that had been cooked up hours before.  I lost my vision.  I lost my hearing.  I barely made it up the stairs.  When I had finished lying on the bed staring at souls circling above me, I walked to the bathroom and looked in the mirror.  I had switched, something had turned.  There goes the screw.  Like Alice, I had gone to the other side.  Manic.  Depressed.  Crazy.  Gifted. Touched by fire. Out there.  Ridiculous.  Ludicrous, preposterous, risible, farcical.

Will I ruin my career?  Will my soul mate be crystal meth?  I don’t believe in either of these things, because maybe I’m crazy enough to understand that while my attributes aren’t valued by all, or many, or a lover, I am not unworthy.  There is no manual of human contact and we create just miniature projections of ourselves.  Some cells want to be with others.  Some organs stand alone.  But no part of the human body is wrong, and no part of me is wrong.  I am selfish.  I am crazy.  I am the most beautiful person you will ever meet.  I say the ugliest things you will ever hear.  Will you still love me?  Because I sure do.

“I do a lot of crummy things, and I do a lot of beautiful things, and I’m neither good nor evil, I just am. There is good, and there is evil, and here I am.”

-Ram Dass 

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on your (my) worth

This post might resonate more with women but we are all sharing this experience, as humans, and it might ring true in any situation. Often, I hear women demean themselves in many ways, subconsciously or not. Our society is built in such a manner than anything that isn’t pleasant, immediate, and effective we dismiss. I can be any one of these traits on a good day, but most days it’s enough to wear a bra that makes its presence known, gripping and scraping the skin around my armpits because I’ve gained weight. It’s not pleasant.

I don’t think I’m fat. But I wonder. Sometimes, the universe aligns in shitty ways and the day I tell myself I’m fat is the day I’m told I’m fat. It is this perfect shitstorm of synergy and BAM I’m neither effective nor immediate. Pleasant is not in my worldview. The story starts to spin. Not in an empowering way that says “oh I wonder if I could nourish myself in different ways besides numbing myself with food” but it’s “you stupid fat fuck if you had any self-control or if anyone liked you, you might be skinny.”

This becomes my belief system and soon my vibe attracts my tribe. I begin sleeping with men who I know are no good for me. I begin to distrust everyone because I’ve let so many in and I’ve become so out of touch with my system, I don’t know what feeds me or what depletes me. I still want to assume good of people so instead of listening to the strong, beautiful, woman who says “this is not good for you” I seek to be liked no matter the cost. Here, have this body I trash anyway.

I let others deplete my energy, my life source. I create that. I’ve found that if I give myself space to forgive myself–to let myself know that I seek love just like any living being and that I will mess up–I can begin to see my worth. Okay, so I sought love. Big deal. I’m safe. We’ve all done it, and wow did I create an elaborate situation to feel loved! Isn’t that neat? I create a different narrative because I know this much to be true—I am worthwhile.

How will I respond to life now? Am I going to treat myself like the divine, wondrous, person I am so I become that person? Or am I going to create another story of lost love and addiction where the ending is always tragic? In any moment I have the choice to make my life show others what my heart has shown me—I am divine, you are divine, and we are all worth so much love.

“Cells are energy efficient because they use their energy to the fullest extent to survive. We waste our energy all the time. When we waste energy, we are throwing away life; because energy is life. That’s why, when it comes down to it…the real question is, “How do I respond to life?” Looking at how cells maneuver and live in their world supplies a template for us, teaching us how to move and live in our world. If we understand how cells do it, and then treat ourselves in the same manner, our cells are going to prosper. And if our cells prosper, then by definition we are having a rich and full life.”

Bruce H. Lipton

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the art of life

Sometimes I distrust the morning if for nothing other than the light. Harsh blue light creeping from the east casting a shadow behind. Feeling cornered in a smoky room I found through swinging western doors after a journey I wasn’t sure I should travel. Hyper vigilant and jumpy staring through silvered almond eyes that become smaller and less sure, less open in the early dawn. Light drifting upon gravel roads, sparkling from the periphery atop tall grass and yarrow arching, flicking plant hair of dew and little black bugs.

I see a man walking in the afternoons wearing a long sleeve, button up plaid shirt. Faded and worn from the James Cash Penney department store in some small town in Wyoming, maybe Kemmerer, or so I imagine. A gentlemen walking now in the warm afternoon but lost in hot time when clothes were wrapped in brown paper and string. A man displaced finding himself not at a tent revival he thought he’d finally found but on the scoliosis spine of Laramie sidewalks. Maybe its own tent revival, rural, a button up shirt is Sunday’s best, Laramie’s finest. He is looking fine as frog hair. Hymns falling off mouths now pearl buttons, flannel thread a new verse to the same old song, prayers like solid brown slacks. Slight hunch in his back and a bible in his left hand. Head down, hair long past his chin and a long gait staring forward and down, down.

Evening the time of theatre-in-the-round. Tonight the playwright, the designer, the director, the sky. Wearing a gown of deep purple, glowing orange, soft pink swaying in brown-shoe-roads with stockings made of green. Symphony directed by the wind–cottonwoods and aspens flutter, creak and sway, deep bass sounds of thunder and soprano of neighborhood children screaming create the score for the epic of the unwinding evening. Breeze gentle, smells gentle, touch gentle, as the play turns toward the bedroom where spoken lines becomes sighs and the music fades with the gentle breath of sleep.  What dreams may come, said another playwright, and what dreams may be.  Dreams of morning, noon, night, now.

“The art of life is to live in the present moment, and to make that moment as perfect as we can by the realization that we are the instruments and expression of God Himself.”

Emmet Fox

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the unspoken anne shirley

I’ve been struggling to know what to write lately—even how to approach blogging stylistically, which I’ve always thought was a strong point along with attention to detail and honesty (what do I know—not much!). I regularly delete posts on my Facebook wall along with blog posts I’ve deemed too scandalous. There’s a few haunting me right now, including one in which I mention my dick. No, I don’t have a dick. Yes, I want to work proactively to diminish binaries that separate us including mostly arbitrary ideas of dicks and vaginas. I have daily self-talks in which I shame myself for my past, shame myself for my thoughts, and wish I understood more of these social conventions, these unspoken rules. I’m perpetually offending. Wikipedia (crowd-sourced, dynamic, in the gray) defines unspoken rules as:

“…behavioral constraints imposed in organizations or societies that are not voiced or written down. They usually exist in unspoken and unwritten format because they form a part of the logical argument or course of action implied by tacit assumptions.”

So, what the heck is a tacit assumption? What are we assuming?

“A tacit assumption or implicit assumption is an assumption that includes the underlying agreements or statements made in the development of a logical argument, course of action, decision, or judgment that are not explicitly voiced nor necessarily understood by the decision maker or judge. Often, these assumptions are made based on personal life experiences, and are not consciously apparent in the decision making environment. These assumptions can be the source of apparent paradoxes, misunderstandings and resistance to change in human organizational behavior.”

This is the paradox of my life. Somewhere, along the way, in my own personal history I missed the boat about 7 billion times. I didn’t realize I was not supposed to invite people into a business or endeavor that is not mine. And unfortunately, people can choose to be very hurt by the things you don’t know. I lost a job and my passion over it. (friggin yoga, another blog post). I didn’t realize that I cannot talk candidly, expressively, or truthfully around most professionals. It’s not wanted, needed, and it really doesn’t matter.

I spent my graduate program in near remediation because I was perpetually docked in the professionalism area. Folks wrote about me on a survey after a conference saying I was bothersome, got up too much to pee, talked too much. I really throw some people off.  Yet, the exact (non)skill that hurt me during social interactions helps me inter-personally in counseling sessions.  Thank gawd these unspoken rules go out the window in therapy where saying that which hasn’t been said is suddenly healing.  My clinical work pulled me through my graduate program (watch as I invoke ego to feel better about paradoxically falling short).

Where was I during the development of these unwritten logical arguments, courses of actions, decisions, and judgments? I was doing drugs, drinking. I probably might have been having sex. Most likely, I was reading a book to try to connect to folks on my own terms. Books where unwritten rules are more explicit and develop through words, words I know. In a book, often the thoughts of the character are exposed, and I suddenly understand why Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables) keeps bullying Anne Shirley even though he likes her. Her red braids swing and her bangs puff out as she smacks him back which she wasn’t supposed to do not according to any rule but because she was a lady.  Gawd forbid.  And gawd bless, she did it anyway. She imagined her life and she created it exactly how she wanted to be. A few people upset along the way, but this Anne, she’s an archetype. One that I will continue to live.

“It has always seemed to me. ever since early childhood, amid all the commonplaces of life, i was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never draw it quite aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I caught a glimpse of the enchanting realms beyond-only a glimpse-but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile.”

-Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

Asana, Body Image, character study, Death, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Laramie, Mental Health, Mindfulness, mountains, poverty, privilage, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Sex, Suicide, Universiality

the uncut hair of graves

I keep the phone squished between my shoulder and ear driving to Corona Village to pick up fajitas I had ordered before my dear friend called.  She is dead now.  She hung herself.  I wish I could say I don’t picture her body there hanging, owl tattoo on her right shoulder.  Hair blonde, maybe more brown, jutty cut she had surely given herself to frame her beautiful thinned out almond crystal eyes.  We talk about so many things on the phone.  She hears my voice for who I really am. She sees me for me.

We talk about how she will move to South Carolina soon and I watch the brightly colored tiles that decorate the walls of the restaurant nd wish she were back in Wyoming.  Phone sill squished, I drive home to eat my meal.  To talk to my friend.  To heal my soul.  I dip a chip into guacamole and taste the tiny individual pieces of salt visible on the triangles and she tells me when she admired me for talking about performing oral sex in our English capstone class.  Tells me I used the phrase “sucking dick” and that had liberated her.  I remember that self that wouldn’t wear a belt or a bra and talk frankly of sex in class because I wanted so bad to accept my body and to accept sex and to be a part of something that carries so much power.

My mind flashes back to a care package she had left at my house and I watch as a drop of runny salsa hits the floor and puddles out while I remember what was in the box.  Corsets, bras, whips, and other kinky shit she felt safe enough to give me.  I look at the spot of salsa and smile about how she thought I was something more than I think I am.  In her eyes, to her short choppy hair, I was a sex vixen.  I crouch down and wipe up the blood like salsa with a napkin and shove it back in the takeout bag.

Pushing carrots, celery, and mushrooms around in the foam container soaked in grease and dark red sauce made of chilies and cumin she tells me about how she had to cancel her Facebook account for slugging too much wine in the evenings and writing provocative shit.  That wasn’t her or mine assessments but her graduate program that had broken her down like I had been broken down in my own program.  I drop a tiny spoonful of sour cream onto beans and put them into my mouth while tears start to fall down.  She gets me.  She sees my spark and I see hers and we want to drink wine and perform oral sex on whomever or wherever we feel like.

I’ve wrapped my tortillas in foil and slopped the food from foam into plastic containers.  Organize. Compartmentalize. Anything to give myself the illusion of control.  We get ready to end the phone call and I tell her to keep pushing forward, to give her writing to the world, and I tell her I’ve saved all of her writing.  Even her e-mails.  Nothing can happen more beautiful than death for the awareness of life it gives to all who suffer its consequences.

Hey jenn,
Im getting that piece to you sunday night hell or high water.  I found this article about throwing around words to look learned n after our talky talky bout the mfa boys club n tim like people i thought u might like it too:
http://rhetoric.byu.edu/figures/groupings/Vices.htm
Im usin my phone so pardon all the grammar bad ju ju
Jodi

J. P. Corley

Anorexia, Asana, Body Image, character study, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Fear, Health Issues, Mental Health, Mindfulness, poverty, privilage, PTSD, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

yoga and the wounded healer

Coming back to the subject I’ve thought about over and over. My falling outs, meltdowns, burning of bridges, loss of friends, passing the point of no return, crossing the Rubicon, nailing my colors to the mast. I’ve dealt with some shit. I’ve caused some shit. Acute conflict felt from the edges of my heart into the corners of my soul.  I caught myself in a moment with another when I began to talk about this stuff. Eyes glazed over and the gaze becomes distant like trying to talk to my father right after work, staring at the coal dust in his eyes know he might not hear me through his own clouds and questions.

I’ve sometimes heard that being a leader comes with people you love hating you a little more each day. No matter what decision is made, there will be an angry soul who is convinced the devil is running the show. Then I wonder if it’s not just my silly little ego to call myself a leader to protect me from the thought that people really don’t like me. That I’ve been banned from spaces, from hearts.  Big, universal, hurt.

I also know it takes two to tango. Yoga attracts wounded people. Every person I talk to in yoga has come to the practice because of abuse, a crappy family life as a child, their own or others’ mental illness, social isolation, family life as an adult, bereavement, life-threatening physical illness and a whole wide gambit of crap. These wounded healers, these who take issue with me, have their own wounding experiences and two wounds don’t make a healer.

I wonder, too, at the lack of integration in yoga and search for the old souls, the professionals, the ones who have spent years letting it all sink in. Then I get caught up in teach more, achieve more, get more students, buy more leggings. What if we all took a class, sat on it for a few days. See what happens. Or what if we fight, let it runs its course, and tolerate the anxiety of growing together. What if we stop being ashamed at the way we treat each other, acknowledge our wounds and evolve toward greater cohesion and solidarity.

Instead of wondering when my soul became less human or less beautiful, I can wonder how another’s wound has affected vision and perception. And through the vulnerability of suffering and universiality maybe we can self-reflect, look outward, and meltdown in a way that leave puddles of our own gorgeous human essence.

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam’s curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

T.S. Eliot “East Coker,” from *The Four Quartets*