Naming the Struggle

I'll be in my writing corner today. Updates soon!My studio feels cozy with the late afternoon sun streaming in to leave shifting patterns across the carpet, perfect for settling into my big armchair to write a long overdue letter, while the soft whir of the fan keeps me company and the room cool. The Sweet Man naps in the next room and I just left the cats in the kitchen munching on their early dinner. Goodness abounds. And yet, just a while later, I hear the news of Michael Brown’s shooting death. I feel my heart add a new fissure to the map of heartbreak written across it. With every new bit of information, I swallow hard to keep the tears from rising up, I take in deep breaths not meant to come out in an easy release. They’re the kind that squeeze through my constricted throat and come out in raspy spurts because letting go means feeling it all- anger, sadness, outrage, grief. I struggle.

Two days later, with that struggle wrapped tight in my belly, I curl up in the corner of the couch and try to read. My husband calls to me from across the room and I feel a disconcerting rush of brain chemicals – his voice has that tone that warns me he’s about to tell me something he wishes were not true – “Robin Williams committed suicide.” A sob lodges in my throat, and before I can swallow hard, tears flush into my eyes. But I take that constricted breath, find that hard swallow, and put myself in that bewildering state we call “keep it together.”

Over the next couple of days, I tell my husband and others I’m struggling with the sadness and anger. T­hen, in a Facebook exchange with a friend who tells me she’s also struggling, I remember that it’s not a struggle with tears or venting anger – the struggle is in how we avoid them. I tell her we’ve tried to dump a load of asphalt over our feelings, but they keep struggling to the surface like hearty weeds that we keep pulling up as if we could yank out the roots of everything that hurts. The whole ritual leaves us worn down and that friction between asphalt and weeds causes knots of pain in our stomachs, shoulders, throats. I suggest we let ourselves cry and vent because a sweet and funny man took his life, because a young man lost his life to unbridled power and racism. Yes, it would be o.k.

Like I’d done a few days before, I sit in my studio chair, this time hugging my knees to my chest while I watch the afternoon light through the leaves of our Sycamore tree. I take a deep breath, let my throat open to let it out in one big sigh. My face softens, with each subsequent breath the tangle in my stomach begins to unravel, and the sunlight diffuses into a blur as the tears come. I let that sob that had lodged in my throat, and all the ones lined up behind it, have their voice. It doesn’t make everything o.k., but it does break up the asphalt – extra layer of pain caused by resistance.

Although I don’t recommend attending to all the suffering we can learn about on any given day, it’s important for us to let our hearts crack open to the painful realities in our own lives and in the lives of others, not just because of the cliché that tells us we can’t experience joy without the pain. As true as that may be, there’s so much more to it. Without allowing ourselves to feel sorrow and injustice, our compassion is stunted and we can’t offer it with sincerity. When we allow our hearts to break open, all that energy we’ve put into squashing our feelings can  route in the direction of serving the causes of love, kindness and justice. Otherwise, we get further and further away from our truest self, get lost in a maze of hiding places and run the risk of forgetting the way out.

I know finding the rhythm of when to turn off the sources of news, even news from family and friends, and when to let it in is difficult and sometimes confusing. I’ve felt overwhelmed, other times found a balance. No matter where I find myself on that continuum, I try to remember to take exquisite care of me. I hope you will too – we need to find the ground beneath our feet.

I hope, too, that from that grounded place, you’ll offer what only you can to the causes of love, kindness and justice. It doesn’t matter what form that takes, it all counts.

New Moon Weekend Chronology

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Resting Enfolded in Wings

The new moon comes when the moon hides inside the glare of the sun. A time to rest, assess, begin again, let go of mistakes and celebrate all that went well.

Saturday:

Early morning yoga – it’s chilly, my muscles tighten with resistance and then the warm rush of muscles releasing. I lose the rhythm of my breath, find it again in the stillness of child’s pose and the scent of Sweet-grass helps remind me of my feral nature.

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A new moon bath – sinking into the water, light reflects off the water and the sliding glass door in blue and green tinged white, the ‘plink-plink’ off water dripping from my wet hair, the scent of Clary Sage soap rises with the steam of the hot bath.

The rest of the day – long naps with intermissions of journaling, reading poetry in the new (to me) Catamaran Reader, rambling conversations with the sweet man.

Sunday:

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Morning swim – Floating in the pool looking up at the June cloud cover begin to break apart leaving trails of blue and white ripples across the sky, the glide of water across my skin, drying in the sun with my extra big yellow sunglasses reading Jenna McGuiggan’s article in Bella Grace.

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Organizing – bits of writing notes, making a list of the next steps for the projects I’m working on, noting, with a deep breath of satisfaction, the check-marks by the things I’ve accomplished so far.

Monday:

Writing- the soft ‘tap-tap’ of my fingers on the keyboard, new posts, new poetry, the soft whir of the fan in the background, inspiration rising up out of the hum of my thoughts, backspacing, rewriting, the “yes, these. This.” when the right words move across my screen, the dash and splash of color in my art journal.

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At the Keyboard

Cooking – onion, tomatoes, mushrooms sizzle in the skillet, the bubble and steam when I add the chickpeas, chicken baked with the sweet man’s oh-s0-good blend of spices.

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In the Kitchen

Cleaning – everything propped off the floor, pulled away from baseboard, the roar and whir of the vacuum, the cats scurry up to their secret resting places, the sweet smell of orange peels.

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Bertie

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Miss Nikki

And now, one good and messy day at a time, we live into the fullness of the moon to come. Saying yes to it all.

Much love.

 

Summer Portraits

summer When Summer Solstice came around this year, I greeted it with contradicting feelings – I love trips to the beach, swimming and the delectable melons that arrive in our CSA boxes, but when the heat pumps up over 85 degrees or the humidity dips to single digits and then within a few days jumps so high I turn into an aggravated little puddle, that’s when Summer and I have a hard time working out our issues. Even though I’m a Fall/Winter kind of girl, there’s always something to delight in no matter the season.

Summer

Found MaGICRR

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After a Vanilla Honey Sugar Scrub

 

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Wishing you delight all Summer long!

I Am Gorgeous. Not Kidding.

“Women try to tame themselves as they get older, but the ones who look best are the wild ones”
- Muiccia Prada
       Capture

 Nothing changed – I haven’t lost weight, changed my nose or dyed my hair. I still have all my curves along with lumps and bumps. Still, when I looked in the mirror this morning, my wild self winked back at me – pure gorgeous!

I’ve written a short bio for a project I’m working on and I can see that age has brought with it the advantage of experience, so many crashes and stumbles from trying to follow rules I didn’t believe in along with the tiny and huge moments of breaking free. But I’m also recognizing that I’ve been living into this gorgeous freedom from the moment I first noticed that not everything made sense in the formula for living that I inherited from my family or my culture.

When I turned seven, I got retainers to straighten one little old crooked tooth. It made no sense to me – I liked my crooked tooth, the damn retainer hurt and eating ice cream wasn’t fun anymore. So I did the reasonable thing and buried the unholy apparatus in my grandmother’s vegetable garden.  That didn’t make me bad, it just made me seven years old and up against some stubborn adults with crazy ideas about what smiles should look like. Sure, I ended up with another retainer, but to my credit I never told them where I buried the first one. Looking back, I’m sure that my grandmother must have found it eventually, but she never let on.

My life unfolded and I often found myself bucking against circumstances more baffling and painful than dental equipment. I’d feel helpless, but eventually I had to bust out of whatever straight jacket I ended up in even if I didn’t always think it through and ended up on my ass. With practice, it happens less often. For some things busting out happened within hours, days, a few months. A few traps took years.

Writing the bio has shown me that my wild, gorgeous freedom didn’t just pop up one day and say, “ok, you’ve weathered all the storms, you’re free now.” I’ve always been this gorgeous.

Let’s all step outside all the things that don’t make sense to us and experiment with following the pull of our heart’s intuition. We are all gorgeous. I promise.