The Writer

Yoga

only rock is real

This summer has been hard.  I’m very out of character or at least feel like I’ve regressed to some 19 year old time when I was dumpster diving for food, grabbing clothes out of the free box, getting my jukebox privileges removed at the Buckhorn Bar for playing the entire ABBA album.  Those were fun times but now some of these actions seem empty.  Its like I’m forming my full self through intense and deep loss of meaning. I’m not sure if I have regrets because I’m not sure what to regret.  I regret fighting so violently with my (former?) partner.  Anger turned into self-doubt and I figure what better way to process than to write.  I’m scared to write this blog because I don’t want to be a whiny mcwhiner pants but goddamn, its gotta come out.

I was asked to leave my job in June.  I go around town saying “it wasn’t a good fit” or “now I’m at the Open School”  but I still feel my heart and chest lurch.  I had these sneaking feelings I just wasn’t going to make it and would cry in my office to my coworkers.  I had no mentorship because I had lost my shit earlier in the year and got angry at a person, not a situation.  I was so overwhelmed in my tiny corner of the world not doing school counseling at all (or at least what I learned to be school counseling in my masters program) lost in gray ethics, lost in the role of a paraprofessional when I felt prepared for leadership, lost trying to figure out how to report out for my grant funded position. I fell to writing reports after school trying to define my role and my goals for the next school year.  I ignored emails where folks were trying to unravel me.  I sucked back my tears and did my very best.

I do think that the Open School will be a much better fit.  During the interview process, I kept hearing “we know you are professional, but how will you fit in?”  And I think I’ll do just fine.  Turns out, at the Open School, they are already doing exactly what I had tried to create in the tiny corner called “Stepping Stones.”  Place-based learning, afternoon adventures, trauma-informed classrooms.  I had a couple of interactions last year that left me defeated and I suppose I did receive some mentorship.  “Jen, when you are on the front lines, you are going to get shot.”  And I watched the bullets fly as I tried to create community wrap around programs for summer.  Lines in an email stating “this is a very conservative community and we will not create dependence on the system.”  But, these kids don’t know what that means.  All they know is I am an adult in their lives trying to create unconditional positive regard.

So, I won’t be dependent on that system that shames children for getting free and reduced lunch.  I won’t be dependent on a system that aggravates presenting issues of personality disorders.  The true reason I lost my job is that although I was a good employee—and I can show you my evaluations—I wasn’t able to please those in power. I couldn’t wrap my mind around doing family therapy in a school setting.  I couldn’t wrap my mind around a parent recording our conversation and the principal backing her up.  I still have significant worries about the kiddo.  One of those who will shoot up the school. I can understand why someone might be reluctant to hire me even though this wake-up call makes me committed to being the best family engagement counselor ever. But I would say we all have regrets, we’ve all been given second chances.   And now I have one. I am a good employee.

I’ve never been fired.  I’ve always been accepted to any program, have never received an “F” on a paper.  I’ve always been at the top of my class and for awhile had a streak of obtaining every job I had interviewed for.  But I’ve failed at many things.  I’ve failed at keeping my cool this summer with my partner after dealing with toxicity for years now.  But I have not failed at standing up for myself.  I’ve swallowed my emotions, swallowed insults, swallowed unfair treatment, resigning myself to a world where those in power will always have more power.  Its been a little freeing to be able to blame some of my minor problems on bigger problems in the system.  I ask all the time “how do folks just take it?’  And maybe that is my strength.  I’m a thorn in the side of “just taking it.”  And I’m a thorn in the side of giving up.

My biggest job now is to cultivate my best self.  Anxiety is running high but I’ve already made some changes.  My worst fears have been realized—losing my Dad, losing my job, losing myself.  And now I’ve got some fire underneath me.  I’ve pushed away individuals who simply do not like me, want me to fail, or in general aren’t going to build me up.  I’ve pulled toward me a support system that might be on the phone, in yoga, or in a book.  I’ll start running more, faster, and harder.  I’ll start preparing nourishing food, find more community.  Now is the time to heal and be well, recognizing that I was whole the entire time.  I am whole.  I will reflect and put into action what I have learned in this mountain town.  I’m not sad, or defeated, but willing and ready to take accountability for whatever has caused me to lose important jobs, people, and ideas.  And I will continue to fight the good fight against a system that will more than likely put me in my place again.

“Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear-the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break….I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.”

― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

Yoga

knowing nothing–musings on the Grand

This much I know—that I know nothing. I went on a 9 (10?) day trip on the river where the only way I was able to keep track of the day of the week was to count back from the day we launched. Dates weren’t important but it felt like July. The great equalizer had been activated. Not schooling but a pivotal, life changing experience on the river. I sucked at most things—couldn’t tie a half hitch knot to save my life. Most often I caused the other swamper trouble watching her skinny frame like a spider skittering to re-tie my knots. I became frustrated with my inability to be more effective. Agitated and completely out of my element.

Let me back up. I went on a 288 mile trip on the Colorado River from Lee’s to Pearce Ferry through the Grand Canyon. One of the seven wonders of the world. There’s this Jimmy Chin quote about how folks who haven’t been there won’t understand. Man do I feel that vibe. I’m trying to capture as best I can in a tiny little insignificant blog post. Since I’ve gotten back some things have swung right back where they were, and others are less hasty to slow down the pendulum. I guess I’m back in the social media swing of things. That pattern not so easy to break but I took about 5 days to post and I’m almost 2 weeks back and able to write about what happened.

What happened? I really don’t know. Life became different sleeping on a boat underneath the stars wrapped in my sleeping bag snoozing on my back which I hadn’t really done before. Life had always curled me into fetal position. It was the most precious rest after working 15-hour days. Back singing in pops and stretches as the wind licked my sand covered face. I picked up the habit of smoking rolled cigarettes again—finding so much solace in hunching over to save the tiny tendrils of tobacco in small gummed paper while the canyon gusts blew heavy and hard with no regard for my habits or vices. But, oh river, you are a new vice, I want to make you a habit. I stopped taking pictures right away because nothing can capture the feeling of being so insignificant.

I find the words pouring from me and I want so much to be eloquent—to do justice to what I saw, what I felt. The walls of the canyon would rise three thousand feet and any blog or anything I had to say really didn’t matter. I will die, and the Colorado will flow on spitting white caps and swirls of frothy waves mixed in with chocolate milk water of a recent flash flood. Deltas the great anxiety of life churning water tumbling through a small side canyon joining the main vein creating rapids that will capture my dreams and soul stuff. Water will move. Its not a choice. That’s the beauty of the Grand—choice is an illusion. Boatmen may go right or left but the river always dictates. Great power, great beauty.

I came back to a situation that feels like a river through the canyon of my heart. Jimmy Chin was right. I won’t be able to explain what I saw or felt until I encounter others who have been there. I find myself paying $85 in therapy not to talk about money, family, relationships, but to really process the transformative power of the river. I find it super energy sucking to have a partner who discounts everything I say and considers me a threat. I’ve stopped talking about the rivers of my mind a long time ago. He cannot navigate the wave train of my inner thoughts. And so I left them on the sandy beaches of a muddy river. I cried one night after a hard, salty day and blamed it on the wind and sand. They are so infinite they don’t mind. I stop even worrying if he understands me or not. There’s my shit, there’s other shit, and there’s collective shit. This is river shit.

I find friends falling apart around me and I keep saying GET OUT get out in nature stop the thought festering. Work so hard that your body and brain quit stewing on the small shit. It’s all small shit. Even death. The walls of the Canyon are millions of years old and watching the layers for 288 miles really helps to melt away the anxiety I create in my life. I’m a little bothered by letting my partners friend come stay with me. But once she got here I could see the shadow of her thoughts rise up like stifling canyon walls. She’s been hurt. She’s dealing with a Lava Falls of the heart. She’s so human and if I could somehow buy her, her friend, and her son a way on the Grand—I would. Its so hard to relate the healing of the river other than through experience.

And I suppose in failing at words, in mostly failing at living a conventional life—that is my wish for all. Get out. Feel small. Feel stupid. Feel tired. Feel the sand in your teeth, your hair. Feel the rapids move your spine like a noodle, feel the water rush between your toes, feel the sun softening its hot kiss as it moves around the corner of the next cliff. Feel as if you couldn’t possibly do anything as well as nature and perhaps know that its true. Let go of spinning thoughts and let the rapids churn the rocks of your mind into beautiful formations and then let them go. Let it all go. And know that knowing nothing is a fucking excellent place to be.

“It’s like trying to describe what you feel when you’re standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or remembering your first love or the birth of your child. You have to be there to really know what it’s like.”

–Jack Schmitt

Capitalism, consumerism, Higher Education, individualism, Non-Fiction, Self Reflection, social class

capitalism, consumerism, and individualism

Capitalism is the idea that folks can invest their assets (not just income or monetary assets) into projects and products they feel are worthwhile.  The individual can generate and distribute his or her wealth.  The assets are used with knowledge of self, family, culture.  Lets say a landowner is sitting there and notices a pile of wood on his or her land.  The landowner might decide to trade this wood for milk from the farmer down the road.  They both decide on a fair trade (price) and both are happy to receive the product or project from the other.  There is a human element, and the wood and milk were readily available to each party.

Consumerism is the idea that folks desire to consume and own products for his or her gain or to elevate social status.  These products are not necessarily needed, nor provide long term wealth.  While the products may feel worthwhile they are consumed in excess or sold in excess.  The assets are used to partake in a social structure.  Let’s say that that same landowner saw the wood on his land.  He decides to put the wood in bundles and sell them for $8/cord at the gas station. The same farmer down the road takes his milk and sells it at the same gas station for $5/gallon.  They create labels and intense marketing strategies and the consumer starts to think this has to be the best milk and wood ever–even if they don’t need it or can’t afford it.  They must consume!  Now the value of both products is strictly monetary and sold through a third party who also profits.

Even as I write these examples, it is hard to separate the two ideas.  And the inherent problem or catch in each example is capital.  If I am not a landowner, I have no capital.  If I have no capital, neither system works.  Or both systems work incredibly well to keep those who invest, not necessarily those who consume, in a position of social or inherited power.  I found myself in this predicament during college.  I amassed debt not through the actual education (my entire college career was paid for through tuition scholarships) but through taking out loans to rent a home, eat, buy books, etc.  I did not take out these loans because I was lazy or lived a luxurious lifestyle.  I did so because I had no idea how to engage in economics or investments.  My ability to make sound financial decisions was affected by my lack of capital (resources).  I did not subsequently ignore bills because I was a criminal, or financially inept.  I simply did not have the funds.

Eventually, I earned my graduate degree and now pay bills on time.  Still have a lot of debt.  However, it wasn’t my academic talents or grit that got me out.  I had some help.  I was born into a white (lower) middle class family and was able to ask family members for help at times, although I learned nothing of investments.  I may have some inheritance but in the meantime I’m not a land owner, I know nothing of procuring property.  I’m not a home owner.  I cannot partake in the rentier economy I see benefit so many around me.  And I’m not sure that I would.  I’m not a hater of capitalism or consumerism, necessarily, but I see there may be a different way to do things.  I like capitalism because it encourages me to trade veggies and herbs I grow in my garden for other things I may need.  I get to evaluate my own needs within my own culture and acquire or sell/barter products and projects.  I purchase from local growers and vendors at the farmers market.  I like this.  Its personal, its enriching.  Its easy to demonize capitalism if one is not benefiting.  I’ve found myself in this pickle.  Now I see its more complex.

I think where I most get hung up is our identity connected to work.  The first question most folks will ask is “what do you do?”  Well, I’m a therapist.  But I’m also a gardener.  A runner.  Sometimes a scientist.  I have a wide skill set.  And I also get hung up on the phrase “he will make more money than you ever will.”  Yep, I know.  But that’s not my objective in life.  Yeah I want to buy things I need, live in a nice place, but I don’t need much more.  Of course I could amass wealth for “noble” causes and give away my wealth or I can give away social capital and my time.  All equally valuable to me.  With that, I understand that all folks are not like me and each person knows themselves best.  These are the individualistic principles upon which capitalism was founded.  I don’t want to get away from the unique needs of each individual or his or her decision to buy or consume what is best for his or her needs–independent of me.

I could be considered an expert in a few fields.  Only through the framework of public higher education so this is faulty at best because this is only one modality of knowing.  I can see someone’s situation objectively and perhaps provide some reflection to lead to insight.  But I never will,and never have, known what’s best for someone else.  I can guess at what products or needs folks might have and try to fill these needs through work (paid or unpaid) that I enjoy greatly.  But again, I do not know what is best for another person only being a true expert at being myself.  This form of individualism celebrates the capacity of each person to make their own decisions.  I can decide to not buy a home.  I can decide to find a financial advisor to buy a home.  This becomes tricky territory with the idea that all individuals are valued at the same levels, and that there choices are considered acceptable within the dominant framework.  They may not be.  But that does not take away from the individuals right to choose.

I suppose then, on the fourth of July, I write about American ideals witnessing very viscerally all that could be deemed wrong with our political or public values.  But,  I do believe most folks have the freedom of choice and as we advocate for immigrants we advocate for these folks to choose to come here legally or illegally and that his or her right to profit once in the country are the ideals upon which capitalism was founded.  It’s perhaps America’s own trend toward consumerism that causes us to pay wages that are unfair to continue to create a culture of scarcity.  One can choose to work at a job at a higher or lower wage with or without great benefit or risk.  But these jobs and choices have much more meaning when we are creating things we need, directly selling to one another, creating humanity.  When we find a task that is, as they say, our life’s calling.  And that is capitalizing one’s own inherent worth.

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”

-Viktor E. Frankl

Addiction, Archetypes, Asana, Death, Expansion, Faith, Fear, Health Issues, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, PTSD, Relationships, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Yoga

thank you, india

I didn’t start doing yoga because it was trendy or I wanted to shame folks into being “mindful” or more in touch with the breath.  I started using yoga because I didn’t want to die.  I was suffering from horrible anxiety and had maintained sobriety for 2 years.  I did my first yoga class August 15th of 2012.  It was hot yoga and I had no idea what to expect.  I’ve written on this 1000 times before, but I cried that first class.  By October of that same year, I had quit cigarettes.  Sobriety sealed in.  Vices gone.  Stripped of any other cause for my struggles, I realized that my anxiety was apart of me.  Then, I upped the ante (I was fighting for my life) and I started running.  I started spending time in nature.

I moved to Colorado in 2016 to continue of this path.  I wanted to become more spiritual. I wanted to explore the mountains, find the rivers and trees that mimicked my breath and helped me get back into my body.  This was a move to continue to chip away at the anxiety.  Not to become a feathery light yoga teacher and drink kombucha, talk about chakras, and judge others who weren’t wearing LuLuLemon.  Yeah, I fell into those patterns at first, downing homemade kombucha with chia seeds, drinking rose-water flavored kefir, buying mats, straps, and blocks.  But it started to change me and change for me right away.

I started teaching yoga in May of 2013 and soon realized that I wasn’t quite like the other teachers.  I said “fuck” a lot in class.  I was really inflexible and was mostly embarrassed of my practice but I had to give it away. I encouraged folks to wear whatever pants they had on hand—we wouldn’t be trying to stand on our heads.  We would be trying to keep hold of our sanity, our lives, our precious time sober whether that be a day or years.  I had stiff men in blue jeans coming to my class hiding in the corner but happy to have an alternative to 12 step meetings.  One man, Brad, is now dead.  He took his own life.  Brad most likely didn’t want to die either.  This medicine was so important.

With a strong, steady, albeit unconventional yoga practice, I began to identify my true issues.  I was lapping up religious texts, reading BKS Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” tediously moving through the Bhagavad Vita.  I no longer thought of myself as a cluster B type.  I didn’t think that I was crazy.  That was and is my truth.  I was a seeker, doing everything in my power to heal myself and give this healing away.   I was teaching yoga to folks in drug court, I was teaching myself about how we all face the battlefield of inner conflict like Arjuna in the Bhavagad Gita.  I was starting to learn how all religions, when stripped of the dogma, teach peace and self-work.   The anxiety was still there, but it was more of a friend.

Now, I’m feeling the overwhelming brevity of life again.  I do not want to die.  I find myself wanting to write again on what has happened this past year but realize its ego.  I’ve fallen into ego, I’ve fallen into some traps, and I will take accountability for my own actions.  The anxiety is back like a giant monster under my bed and now sometimes is expressed as depression.  I don’t think I have to convince anyone anymore what I experienced was real.  For over a year now, I’ve been taking in some bullshit that I’ve started to believe.  You suck at yoga.  You suck at running.  You suck at life.   But, I want to live…but I do yoga to live…please see that I run to live.  These hobbies are more than just trying to stay thin or flexible.  They are my medicine.

I think when one dives into the yogic texts the practice just becomes one limb of a life changing process.  Yama, the first limb of yoga, teaches us of Satya.  It encourages us to think about what is true for us and how we know that to be true.  Is this truth based in someone else’s belief or is this truth personal?  And then there’s Ahisma, or non-violence.  Showing compassion to oneself first before all others.  I have experienced my own truth in yoga, running, and life.  My truth tells me that I’m a human being with addictions, faults, and a lot of love to give.  Yet, I run away from love.  And so I do yoga.  I run.  I get down on my knees and cry.

All of these are such personal experiences for me that it would be like saying someone sucks at praying to say I suck at my own self-healing.  I do what I do to be better for the world, to be better for the people around me, to see my own ego in all this stuff.   Lets practice compassion with one another and let each other pray in a way that brings us closer to ourselves, to others, to God.  One doesn’t have to believe in God to see how violence separates us.  I will continue to seek truth, practice Svadhyaya (study of the ancient texts and one’s self) and Isvara Pranidhana–I will surrender to God, to gravity, to my own truth.

“Thank u

How ’bout getting off these antibiotics
How ’bout stopping eating when I’m full up
How ’bout them transparent dangling carrots
How ’bout that ever elusive kudo
Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence
How ’bout me not blaming you for everything
How ’bout me enjoying the moment for once
How ’bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
How ’bout grieving it all one at a time
Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence
The moment I let go of it was the moment
I got more than I could handle
The moment I jumped off of it
Was the moment I touched down
How ’bout no longer being masochistic
How ’bout remembering your divinity
How ’bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out
How ’bout not equating death with stopping
Thank you India
Thank you providence
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you nothingness
Thank you clarity
Thank you thank you silence”
–Alanis Morissette

Yoga

ideas like worms

Where am I at—in my life?  Agitated. What’s been most upsetting is losing myself.  Hiding myself.  Making myself so, so small.  I’m not a narcissist—I think folks in leadership positions worry about this, folks who challenge what’s always worked will always question.  That’s how we learn—we wonder, we cultivate curiosity.  Heck yes, I like the attention I get just being me, but I give away that attention—that is to say I draw attention to my work to give that attention to the issues (the people) that really matter.  I’m working all the time –9-5 is a fallacy.  I’m always living my dreams because it’s all so connected.  My free time is my work is my free time.  My career feeds me in ways that plants know so well—I’ve got ideas like worms, visions like only the best soil amendments, relationships like the perfect deer fence.  A gatherer, I’m a hunter, too.  I’ve got huge fish to catch and fry.  I crave systemic change like I crave an abusive ex.

I have been hiding my resume, my accomplishments, who I really am for awhile now.  Why?  Why do I have to squash my resume into two pages when I know my life is a million pages long.  I am big.  I stand six feet two inches tall.  I recall a gym class in eighth grade after finally deciding that I didn’t have to always turn the other cheek, I don’t always have to be the “Jenabler.”   My religious upbringings had taught me that I ought just be humble.  Ball chucked at my head, and I narrowly dodged the stinging pain of being bullied for my intelligence, my body, my person.  The girl at the net yelled at me for being human, unable to catch a horrible pitch.  Her only intention to humiliate me.  I feel that same feeling at 34 years old fully aware of the balls being lodged at my head by the same type of folks.  Turns out, my own insecurities create a level of unhealthy empathy.  Like, wow, I’m sorry we’ve both been bullied.  Whatcha doing with that now?

What I’m doing with that now is shoving myself into realms that I don’t feel fit for, places that I’ve dodged.  I’m in a full-on professional position, practicing some pretty heavy boundaries and healthy behaviors during the day and listening to raunchy rap at night.  I find that to be an excellent balance. I’ll listen to songs of really icky stuff but I know that it’s icky stuff.  I seek validation from some pretty easy places, but I understand that often the life of a person with deep integrity and dignity is a lonely path.  It took me a whole lotta personal work to finally feel capable of being a counselor.  I’ve chosen the easy path for too long.  And I’m ready to reap the rewards of discretion.  I’m so tuned into play therapy right now.  The children who I work with are so much bigger than that middle school gym.  I’m in the field of life and I’ve trained for this game a long time.  I’m playing for the first string of life.  Coach done did put me in.  I’m playing. I’m reflecting, I’m planning, I’m doing, I’m being.

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”

–Ray Kroc

Addiction, Anorexia, Archetypes, blue collar, Bulimia, character study, Death, depression, Dichotomies, Divorce, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Facebook, Faith, Family, Fear, Health Issues, introvert, Jail, Laramie, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, PTSD, Relationships, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality, Wyoming, Yoga

doing good time

“Jen, I cannot talk to you right now.  I was sabotaged today.  I have to go.” 

I hang up the phone and sit at the counter for a moment thinking about what’s unfolding all around me.  A good friend in the hospital for mental health issues and other friends who feel much like me and the waves affect us all.  Who can I call now?  I can write.  I can go into my mind and sort through what it feels like to be two inches tall.  I think to myself about how we all have those we love and how we all hold back to cradle them gently in a heartspace that keeps them around.  Listen.  Just listen.  Eventually they come to that very idea that’s been gnawed by bottom teeth on a bitten tongue and lip.   I didn’t say what burned in my throat because it had to come from the choked throat of the love object.  The times when the words don’t come, when the lip becomes raw and red, are the times I write.  Wondering the whole time how many red and raw lips I’ve created around me.

I’m embarrassed and ashamed and become aware of my own stigma and the mountain I climb as one of my best friends does a stint in ye ol mental health jail.  She’s locked away somewhere in Massachusetts pumped full of drugs and unable to hear me when I tell her about “good time.”  Good time is doing what they say, not putting your paper towels in tiny bags, reusing your towels, asking to talk to a lawyer every 5 minutes.  Good time is nodding, taking your meds, remaining as quiet as you can stand, reading a book. Saying thank you.  But, she knows this.  She coached me through my longest stint of sanity this year. I read an article at 3:16 am about how it takes 11 times to leave an abusive relationship.  How do I start and stop to count when, like the mental palace in Mass, I’m in my own crazy farm of relationships. Forever going back to the big house of love pumped full of drugs.  I’m certainly not doing good time.

Free now, and another loss of meaning.  Deconstruction and analyzing pretty useless at this point.  In this present moment I feel pretty clear and I’m clear on what really helps me feel good.  Doing yoga.  Being quiet.  Reading.  Writing.  Helping others by listening.  Hearing a kid say “you are SO LONG!” Running so early in the morning.  Running more than 10 miles in the morning.  Not worrying about who I choose as my friends—mental illness ain’t mean nuthin.  Appreciating the weirdness in tiny spaces.  My truck and all it’s memories.  Doing good time is reading books about travel, discontinuing the hate of everyone and everything that is assumed to have created despair, diving inside, writing letters, moving the body, playing cards.  I can choose what I might do right now because there are a few feelings with which I can empathize. This unfolding is its own imprisonment and I can relate to those four walls.

I have to go.  I have to go away from whatever mental space has brought me here.  I don’t want to live my life scared of what one silly man thinks of me. I can still be so vulnerable and say I get so, so, anxious and angry.  I play the ice queen.  My closest friends are very odd and eccentric.  I really mess up with money stuff.  I yell when I get angry.  I grab cell phones, I posture. I’m embarrassed that I’m not smarter on paper. Most of my lovers do not please me.  I don’t trust anyone.  I’m working so hard on that last one.  Trust and love just melts away that anxiety and anger (rooted in hurt and fear), when I trust I become a goofball that’s excited for any time together, I listen and empathize, seek to understand, remain curious, speak clearly and softly, love gently and loyally. I’m very odd and eccentric, living in poverty, have a hole in my wall from punching the drywall in frustration, am worried about writing these words, but I know I am not sabotaged.  I can talk.  Right now.

“Calling it lunacy makes it easier to explain away the things we don’t understand.”

― Megan Chance, The Spiritualist

Addiction, Anorexia, Archetypes, Asana, Body Image, Bulimia, character study, Death, depression, Dharma, Dichotomies, eccentric, Existentialism, Faith, Family, Fear, Health Issues, introvert, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, mountains, Non-Fiction, PTSD, Relationships, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Universiality, Yoga

dark soul forest

I won’t save you, and I’ve lost myself.  I draw attention to my own ticks over the weekend swirling my bottom teeth with the tip of my tongue and slamming back beer incessantly posting shitty pictures along with poetry.  Trying to capture what it feels like to have folks say they missed me so much—and to ask me to stay.

My sick motivation to write is to be noticed when I can’t go out into the world.  Even tonight, at writing group, I felt my eyebrows furrow parking close to a bush in the parking lot–too many cars. I want so bad to hide away but to still be seen.

Let my writing be greater than I am in real life.  Crying, brooding, salty.  I have no sword or staff, no moral superiority.  Right now, I’m a bit of a neurotic.  The feel of my bra against my skin is awful. I’ve hero’d my way through my own life so many times that I’ve run out of characters to play.

My niece scoots up to sit behind me on the couch and grips my arms to press my middle back into her tiny frame.  In the pressing she finds comfort, waddles off to return with a plaid wool blanket so I can wrap her up like a tiny burrito.  More and more blankets appear and she winds up a pile in my lap crushing against my knees and thighs.

I become a rocking chair always back and forth rocking myself into my own mother’s sweetness and breath in an extended hug.  My own blood strong with genes bearing pronounced cheeks. Teeth floating in a pink case tasting of mint and nostalgia as I plop them in my mouth to skip to the living room and grin at niece and sister.

I walk into mom’s bedroom to smell her perfume and take so much comfort in the body shape of both her and my sister.  Loving gaze.  The bodies of our tribe.  Family my own complexity of the hero and anti-hero, thesis and antithesis of a human tree.  Family the underbelly of why I write.   All their fault and not their fault at all.

My stomach screams at me in anxiety to go vomit.  My fists demand that I slam them into a ripe pillow case crumpled by last nights sweat-sleep.  I write because I cannot connect.  I write because I am selfish.  I write to trick myself into thinking I am good at something, and to find sick pleasure in my own voice-in-writing.  The anti-hero of okay.  The death of an anti-warrior with no corpse.

“Your soul is a dark forest. But the trees are of a particular species, they are genealogical trees.”

-Marcel Proust

Addiction, Archetypes, blue collar, Body Image, Capitalism, character study, Colorado, Community organizing, Death, depression, Dharma, eccentric, Existentialism, Expansion, Faith, Fear, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Mindfulness, mountains, Non-Fiction, PTSD, Relationships, Running, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection, Yoga

go off on them

I sat washing dishes wondering how to make the start of this blog different. The 4:00 am wake up time, the smell of coffee, sweeping my house, dragging in the dumpster.  But, maybe that’s the thing.  Life isn’t meant to be so gosh darn dramatic and I wonder why I create it that way so often.  I woke up prepared to peruse social media profiles and realized that trap—I’ve shown my insecurity in this area and it will always be attacked by the random human predators that exist all around us.  So, instead, I looked at pictures of the kiddos I work with.  Throwing rocks and sticks in the river, cutting trees, dragging said trees up a hill—this is what I live for.

Just ended a sentence with the word “for” forever feeling I’ve mastered grammar enough to start to be creative.  I find others using words in text “mebbe, afosho, fer, yer” and others that I use to enhance my communication hiding behind an accent that doesn’t exist—at least not here in the Rocky Mountain west.  I am told of a woman who has some crusty toward me because her partner took a “in a relationship” designation off of Facebook and started to like my posts.  Took me awhile to even figure out who this person was—all profile pictures cartoon characters and abstract drawings.  I didn’t even know.  I feel empathy at this point—I have plenty of men in my menagerie unknowingly causing strife.  I wonder if I would invite a man to my home even if I was in a relationship.  This is not what I live for.

I’m feeling especially at peace during my most recent break up cycle.  None of it matters anymore.  Screen shot my shit, hateful man club.  Try to get me fired.  I can save time by speaking of my poor behavior here on the electronic page.  Slamming my fist on the door like a cop threatening “if you don’t want a shit show on your front step you better answer your phone.”  The shit show starts with a fist and then escalates to me screaming the first and last name of the aggressor along with a date of birth.  Screaming like  mad woman, acting incredibly immature.  Back in April when I was in Laramie I woke up to my best friend screaming “fuuuuuuuuuuck you”  and I remember feeling such pain in his words.  No excuse for me but in my life sometimes it ends up I feel I need to scream to be noticed.  Go off on them.

Will I lose weight this time?  Will I become a better runner?  Will I start to see a local more or head to Flagstaff or Fort Collins to see others?  I’m so excited this time because the insecurities have melted away.  Can’t fire me.  Can’t intimidate me.  So some have a negative experience in my yoga class.  That’s not about me.  I can adventure now with the best of teachers who don’t have to describe their accomplishments—they live them.   And now I know the mountains and trails won’t change anyone.  The quiet soft heartbeat of the earth chugs along no matter where one may be.

“Those who travel to the mountain tops are half in love with themselves, half in love with oblivion. 

-Robert Macfarlane

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titanium spoons

I’ve been wanting to write lately but notice I speak of the same things over and over in blog posts.  Losing a friend and lover, creating meaning out of the loss.  Gardening as a metaphor.  I went to writing group the other evening and was excited for a friend who is really shining in her writing.  There’s a few older eccentric men that come to our group and harsh her for picking out a little tavern to host our writing.  Small talk deemed a distraction, people turning into mosquitos.  I found myself in tears in church on Sunday listening to her sermon about riding her bike across the country.  I don’t feel the need to compare us any other way other than we are both on a journey.  Both writers.  Both searching.

I want so much to go down the rabbit hole of analyzing my past cycle with the old flame.  I think awful theories of subconscious creation of pain through other women, attacks, lies.  I think what was different this time was giving in a bit more to the freeze reflex.  I laid first on a plastic mattress on the floor and then a futon mattress and kept whispering “light as a feather, stiff as a board” while hands pressed all over my body.  I told myself to be quiet, that this might make things better.  I did not touch back.  I did not kiss.  I let it all happen and felt my stomach curl into knots.  I remembered parties of my youth sleeping on a carpeted floor in a trailer while some stranger pressed against me.  Paralyzed.

Instead of trying to make my demise all about cheating and lying, I can just default to values once again.  I don’t have many possessions and call myself a minimalist but I think survivor is a more fitting term.  I spent money like crazy in college and will forever suffer the consequences of my need to feel good…right now.  I sit on the couch in anxiety and watch an Amazon cart fill up with materials for solar power, titanium spoons, objects.  I stop to put down a spoonful of hillbilly beef soup I had made and laugh.  Why on earth won’t a regular spoon work?  Why do things need purchased?  Why so much time spent trying to figure out what to buy?  I see the cycle of capitalism and consumerism played out right in front of me  under the guise of “my land, my tiny home.”  Ownership.  Possession.

Despite the new rebellion against materialism the consumer mentality it still very much alive.  Still worried about kind and quantity.  Two titanium spoons, one for the ex and one for his guests.  Security sought in numbers all motivated by the anxiety that there may be some missing out of what’s going on.  Someone else might build a better tiny home, be more sustainable, have the best batteries.  Researched  lifetime warranties a little more lying naked on the couch in the morning.  Throw away cactus plants, throw away male marijuana plants, throw away people.  I learned most about what’s important inside a concrete room for three months.  One spoon works great and takes on many uses.  A toothpaste box becomes storage, toothpaste becomes a whitening agent for v-neck tees.  Stripped of identity and objects, my thoughts become my only possessions.  A true shift from the inside.

I still am teetering on that rabbit hole wondering if I was used for sex, unbending like a 2×4, noiseless like a spider.  As I shower I feel my heart jump as I mistake the soap bubbles for a spider.  I remember a game I created called finger spider so I could crawl my veiny hand tendrils all over the body of that same dude.  Not frozen all the time.  But still scared, seeing paper tigers and toy guns.  The last nail in the coffin became a pair of skis.  I watch the crazy eyes emerge–the same ones contained in a video with all actors high on acid.  Folks sure do get crazy over the things that help them escape.  I’ve gotten pretty crazy, too.  The skis were traded back and forth until eventually they have ended up in my truck bed.  Its hard to bicker over possessions (skis) not giving a shit about skiing.  Its hard to admit I’ve been fooled again.  And so I write.  About the same things over and over with or without distraction in the tiny tavern of my heart.

“To live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, and not love things and use people.”

― John Powell

Death, depression, eccentric, Existentialism, Mental Health, Micro Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Nostalgia, poetry, PTSD, Relationships, Self Growth, Self Love, Self Reflection

each man kills the thing he loves

MERCUTIO And, to sink in it, should you burden love;

Too great oppression for a tender thing.

ROMEO Is love a tender thing? it is too rough,

Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.

MERCUTIO If love be rough with you, be rough with love;

Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.

A tender thing, not I.  Let me detail the many ways I beat down the oppression of love.  I think my way out of everything but have a hunch that some events of childhood made me hyper aware of my surroundings.  How folks acted, what was important. What started out as survival turned into manipulation once there was no real threat to my person or environment.  I have this bad habit of having a possession war after some of my relationships because I feel so hurt I don’t know how else to take back what was mine–a chunk of my heart.

Too rude and boisterous, love sometimes feels like an infatuation with the harvest of fruits, flowers–shades of green and pastel sweaty in the morning dew shimmering by moonlight.  But there is much importance in the dried out brown stalks of fall droopy in meadows and hidden in pines.  In the wet, heavy snowpack of winter helping to smother and decay the grass below.  Death is only a part of the cycle.  And I have a hand in the creation and death of my own garden of love, sowing lies and pain.

It happened again the other night.  I flipped my lid (see Dan Siegal) and slammed a huge container of dogfood onto the table and went after my e-cigarette clutched in an angry hand.  Yelling, screaming, dog scared.  Like lungs being pierced, gut punched, splashed with boiled water, fingers numb and frozen, I cannot exist here.  Fight, flight, or freeze.  All happening in a cycle and I pray my wings can keep me far, far away from the tiny thorns on bushes all around my path never forgotten with teeth seething and biting.

Namaste.  Not just the light, truth, and beauty in me honor the same in you.  The anxiety, insecurity, darkness, pain, disappointment, vengeance that reside in me are also in you.  I know I have many shortcomings and give plenty of reasons to stay away.  I don’t quite know how to say I’m not into this, this isn’t working and so instead I create drama and pain and slip into that familiar pair of anxiety slippers, feeling the paranoia fuel my default mode of operation.  Even now as I type I start to worry about the fallout of my tactics this time.

I hope the pricking, I hope the beat down is enough this time.  I hope I’ve shoveled out so much space around my heart that it can weep and grow.  I hope that I have shown my most ugly side and that the darkness it brings can be protection.  A shroud of light and dark, all archetypes represented in this safe space.  Burning of sage and sweetgrass, sprinkling of elder berries, incense, meditation.  It’s all symbolic and perhaps self-manipulation as I convince myself its all right and remember to breathe in and breathe out.

“Yet each man kills the thing he loves,

By each let this be heard,

Some do it with a bitter look,

Some with a flattering word,

The coward does it with a kiss,

The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,

And some when they are old;

Some strangle with the hands of Lust,

Some with the hands of Gold:

The kindest use a knife, because

The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,

Some sell, and others buy;

Some do the deed with many tears,

And some without a sigh:

For each man kills the thing he loves,

Yet each man does not die.”

 

–Oscar Wilde