In the past three months I have traveled physically, mentally, emotionally. I have unpacked my bag of family and school stress laid it out on my bed and evaluated it. Then I repacked my bag with neatly folded and tucked layers of uncertainty. Replaced despair with question marks. There’s a new grip on my sanity. It’s always seems to be a different version of the same fist doesn’t it.
Treatment plan- trust.
Early this summer I kicked off two weeks of release with a one night camping trip with my baby girl. It was hands down the sweetest moments that we have shared maybe ever. Ev is her father’s daughter, she loves all things outdoors and is relentlessly handy. Ever-v-Woods I’d put my money on her every time.
We put up our tent at dusk. Walked to the lake, stood breathless at the infinite perfection of our Earth. Came back, set up the rest of camp by lantern. Ate raw s’mores and tucked ourselves into our tent sans rain flap so that we could take in the sky.
When was the last time that you were in the middle of no where and looked at the stars? If it has been awhile, clear your schedule, just go, do it. It’s unbelievable. More than stars, the galaxy. Perspective. Guaranteed dumbfounding beauty.
We laid there in that tent on the waters edge, lulled to sleep by the croaky growl of bull frogs. Directly above us perfectly framed by our tent poles hovered the big dipper. I took the opportunity to share a Lakota story that I had learned the weekend prior at a sweat lodge about a Lakota female ancestor spirit that lives in the very center of the big dipper. I will proceed to butcher what is truly a beautiful tradition because I don’t remember all of the details and the oral tradition (thankfully) evades the powers of Google. This ancestor spirit acts as the gate keeper of all souls. Souls travel to new babies born on Earth through a portal of sorts in the middle of the big dipper and when we die we all return to that place. A shooting star is the soul traveling across the sky, a baby being born.
And just then, in the middle of the constellation- brilliant and tactile as we lay simply in awe, the brightest most distinct shooting star that I have ever seen blazed directly across the stary ladle.
“Wow! Did you see that Mommy?!?!?”
“How could I not”.
It still gives me chills. Hums a low this place, your place, our collective being is bigger than you can ever conceive. And for 9 hours and counting every day our world goes still and quiet begging for you to look up. To witness the spray of magic breathing and burning in perfect unison with all that is. To swaddle you in her spangled darkness of destiny.
I took Astronomy one summer.
I would read one line of text
then blankly attempt to defragment my existence
in the off-white texture of cheap rental walls.
A black hole rang in my ear,
the accelerating universe numbed my tongue.
String theory. Gravitational lensing. What’s a quasar again?
As it turns out there are 146 moons in our solar system.
Yet, somehow I am just now getting to know one.
To appreciate the agony of the scorpio moon,
to release and recite my intentions on the full.
The harvest moon, the blood moon, the waxing moon.
My moon and I, we’ll call it complicated.
In all of those years did I ever look up and think
I’ve only ever seen the near side of that moon?
That in just one thousands year’s time the earth
tethered the moon into a promenade of tidal lock
earth always taking the lead.
I, mere mortal, gawked at the crescent moon
a crisp smile in the belly of the whole
with it’s same whole face
accommodating the shadow and shine of it’s host rock
and molten star
with no reverence for my mood or ambition.
I believed like you that the phase of a moon
from new to newer took 29 days.
Oh contraire mocked the stars
try 27 days, aren’t you wise
aren’t you waxed and wained.
We’ll call you simple.
I knew a boy who ate kiwi rinds.
One who apologized with Coldplay songs.
One who played singing bowls.
I knew a boy who hid chocolate bars behind soup cans.
One who filled our garage with dumpster dives and stolen goods.
One who declared- you are so beautiful- every day.
I knew a boy who took his maple syrup cold.
One who could massage away the world.
One who would carry me down the stairs on a whim.
I’ve known boys.
I’ve had boys.
I’ve held boys.
How sweet it is to have a man.
Cover photo cred: Caitlin Shearer
Are we living in the post Christmas era?
I could go on about the capitalism of Christmas. The loss of the true meaning – giving and thanks- but I’ll spare you.
Family – that’s really the problem. Eight and a half yeas ago I stood dumbfounded as my personal Christmas spirit was lowered six feet into the ground. Honestly, Christmas died years earlier with a family rift and a collectors addition Barbie given a year late. The sting of heart break on the holidays never really dulls. (Also, apparently 6 feet is a myth it’s totally not that deep anymore).
There was one person in my family that held everything together. I suppose we all have them. The one who hosts, cooks, wraps, chats and makes all things cheer. When the babies grow up, the children move away and our loved ones die so does the spirit of Christmas. Thus is getting older I suppose.
It’s three days after Christmas 2015 and I can guarantee that Ever is excited for Christmas 2016 already. She starts a serious countdown to her birthday and Christmas about July. I’m envious. To be fair this was a good year for my personal fervor- two time in particular, once this fall for Mexico and again for my the birth of my precious baby nephew. I should chalk it up to a good year.
Also, note worthy this holiday season were all of the times that I rejoiced in the early morning shrills of Ever finding Snowey doing something silly. We read The Night Before Christmas a few dozen times in an attempt to memorize a few more lines. I made ginger bread houses with my baby and sat idly as she decorated the Christmas tree all by her self. Yesterday as I prepared Santa’s packages I added a few more ornaments that I found in her backpack haphazardly to the branches. Our little ten dollar plastic tree draped in popsicle sticks and cardboard ornaments is absolutely beautiful. I’ll miss our sequined stockings, the lights, the anticipation until mid October when it will surely be back in full force. For a few more years at least.
My embittered spirit must be partially because my daughter looks at least three years over reality. To sound clichè just yesterday she was toddling around the Christmas tree. This year each of the little milestones felt less and less like soccer mom duty and more and more like the good days flying past me. I drop her off places and watch from the sidelines as she carries on like her own autonomous human. Da fuck. It’s true time is speeding up.
This Christmas I dropped in to see my baby for 30 minuets or less (she was at her other grandparents house), like you would an old high school friend turned acquaintance. My heart broke. Not because I won’t see her in a week and not because she doesn’t need to spend time the rest of her family but because she is my portal to the magic and merriment of the season.
Ahhh well I feel better I just blamed my Christmas blasè on Ever. Done.
But really it’s so much more. It’s not belonging to a family. It’s not having a family of my own. Yeah- yeah- family are the people you choose. Yes, I have choose some amazing people to share my world with. Some of those people I was able the spend the last few days with and that was and is always the best part of coming home. But still I can’t shake the bah humbug.
And *ahemmm* me. For not making some fucking lemonade. Short of one family’s holiday that I crashed a couple of years ago everyone else has gotten it wrong. It seems at all of the other family Christmas function that there’s a sliding scale from just barely tolerating each other for dear life to the exchanging of mildly amused times. No one is really having fun. Experiencing each other. It’s just fucking lame.
One day I’ll have the privilege of family again, if I have to birth them myself.
Yesterday I had the great privilege to go to an all day mindfulness retreat that capped off the 6 week mindfulness course that I took this summer. Today has been a very sobering day filled with information that affirmed that I am so blessed with abundance, this experience the least of which. I shall indulge.
I drove to a seedy unseen part of Albuquerque decorated with old hand painted tire shop signs and road side abandoned appliances. At the end of a long stretch a little two lane road wove onto a Norebertine Abby, (I’m a bad source for dets on Catholic sects, surprise) it was beautiful. Truly felt like the desert. It sounds silly but in the day to day shuffle of my life I forget to look out. To see the landscape. To appreciate the mountains. Somedays I forget that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Not this day. I gathered up all of my meditative accoutrements, a giant bag full of blankies and pillows and walked into the sanctuary (? again not an authority on monastic life). There was my old familiar teacher, there to communicate that which can’t be taught, to the masses. I situated myself on my mat, inhaled, cleared my mental space for what was sure to be a moving session that blew my mind just as all the ones before it had. Instead she said no teaching, no eye contact, no speaking, follow my lead.
Most of the day was silent meditation. And not just for the 20 minutes that I can barely get though on a regular day but for hours. Uhhhm. I really struggled. I have given mindfulness the ol’ college try and have grown spiritually and mentally leaps and bounds. I am more in tuned to my physiology than I have ever been before. I have stopped myself dead in my pissed off– judgmental– negativity tracts many times. Which may not sound like much. But, trust that truly letting go of something that is very upsetting (I have a pretty high threshold) takes serious mental stamina.
Michelle (the instructor) said time and again over the course that if she had a way to let people know how they would feel after a constant sustained meditative practice that every single person would. That sounded a little like smoke up my butt for the first few weeks. And then I got it. I’m an infant in the world of mindfulness, I don’t honestly have the resolve at this point in my life to dedicate hours of my day to silent meditation (or even 1) however mindfulness in some form- guided, chanting, yoga, walking, brief spouts of silence is a necessity for me every day. I’m a shitty person without it.
That’s right, I have spent the past 27 years of my life being a mindless person marching though this universe. That’s unfortunate.
So here I was within sacred walls, pushing the time restrictions of my good posture seated on my mat with out any training wheels. No Ommm Shala’s, no Depak Chopras, no flowers to gaze at. Just me and the back of my eye lids.
Obviously I dove right into a meditative trance and achieved enlightenment. The end.
Obviously, I floundered. Like a baby with bound legs in the deep end of the pool. Gasping for air in the rip tide of my mind.
Essays to write, letters to mail, floors to mop, shit when does Ev start gymnastics?, I really need to call my insurance company, mental countdown to Mexico carry the one 52 days until vacation!!, how are we going to get back to Kansas for Christmas?… Ommmmm, Damn it Reagon focus.
1 second of nothing. Hey look I’m thinking about nothing, shit if I’m thinking about not thinking about think about doing nothing than I am thinking, I’ll never win. Honor the thoughts that pop up then come back to center. Note to self do more yoga old age is a bitch. No focus. Think about something meaningful at least. I compromised.
Though externally silent I chanted in my head. I chanted over and over for good health and safety for Julius and Ari. I went back to those same tears that welled up in my eyes the day before listening to this story about two Syrian boys and their mother that drowned on their journey to Greece. The line about the little boy being so excited to get on a boat and go to a new place. I’ll never get over that. I spent a lot of time studying the architecture of the rafters. Thinking about what it would be like to devote your entire life to your religion. Thinking about the desert. Thinking about the journey that I have been on. Thinking about how nature has been revealing itself to me lately or is it that I’ve been looking though wider eyes?
The sweet ring of bells. We moved into the body scan. I passed the f out. Instantaneously. Technically I have never gotten past my hips on the body scan, so this was no surprise. I should donate my brain to sleep study science. Just as soon as I figure out how to bottle it my immediate sleep response, it’s yours ye old restless.
Ahhh, that panic of waking up in the middle of class in a pool of your own drool. In shock and mild vertigo I stood up and transitioned into my walking mediation. The desert be known, it was hot as hell and I was woozy. Walking meditation requires that you move like a zombie. But it’s really awesome. I have seen more lizards, beautiful birds, insects, flowers, rays of light arranging its self artfully in my path in the past two months than I have in my entire life.
I wander about. Walked though a war zone of goat heads (sand burs for my non-New Mexican friends) to contemplate a patch of sun flowers. It was teaming with bees and wasps. My mind drifted to our environment and landed in the hallow place of despair where I store all of the facts about global warming, extinction of species, pollution and the human responsibility in all of it. Dozens of stingers buzzed by and not a single one payed me any attention. To be a flower, vessel to the nectar, in the eye of a honey bee.
Life: the motivation to be one of those two parties and yet today I am a silent observer. There’s so much growth in that step into the invalidated. Everyday it feel a little less foreign, but it’s still not easy.
I walked back as a bed of angry spikes dug into my soles. I pulled them out one by one thinking about the concept of pain as I often do when something is trying its hardest to get me to react. I zombie-d around some more, eventually turning back for shade as this scene from the greatest animated film of all time looped in my head.
I survived and no mirage. Then I saw the most vibrant patch of cacti. I sauntered over to them and then reached out and petted one of the flowers (not so keen on cactus anatomy) it looked so smooth that I had to touch it.
The cute little dots on the flowers, yeah those are microscopic little daggers. In my finger. I walked down the path debating if I should pull them out or just leave them in. Suddenly, I had a very real awareness of the tip of my right index finger. I left them in for a while, eventually sitting down and carefully pulling all but one out. That last one’s going to emerge when it’s good a ready.
In the midst of all of this (it’s funny how a simple walk feels like so much) my awareness shifted to my mother. That bitch is every where 🙂 I thought about how I wish that I knew the plants of New Mexico. About how through osmosis I absorbed so much botany from her. In Kansas all of the little creatures, the song of the birds, the grasses all had a name, here they’re all brand new. I won’t find another person on this Earth with fifteen spare years to slip all of the wild flower’s name into conversation. We get one home. One set of things that come naturally. The rest is work.
Fuckin elitedaily.com, uhhhh. I love-hate you. Because every 10th article was actually worth reading but more so that the 9 others were inciting enough for me to open and then proceed to shake my head in shame. G-damn. This is my generation.
The most liked comment after every article is this,
“Clearly a 20-somehting that has no idea about reality talking about things that they are mostly unqualified to discuss making an ass of themselves. Lowering the bar of journalism time after time”.
Yup. It’s what we were all thinking, even me a 20-something making overstatements without the experience to back them up time after time.
Here’s the latest rabbit hole that I got click-bated into:
6 Reasons Why Beautiful Women Are Also Insecure Women.
I’d like to take a moment to pat myself on the back for clicking on it in the first place. Does that sound like the most narcissistic thing that you’ve heard all day? Well good. I am a beautiful woman and I said it. Let me explain. I spent a solid 11 years of my life hating the way that I looked. Nit picking every single part of me: my fat ass, my Jay Leno chin, my belly that never gets completely flat no matter how long I go hungry or the number of crunches I do, every freckle, my huge feet, my man hands. These are all real things. And they didn’t magically disappear. They’re all there more present than ever. But that’s okay. It was a very very long, winding, emotional path to get to the place that I am now: my body is the beautiful external reality of who I am. A very large part of my new-ish sense of self-acceptance is thanks to this lovely lady.
Maybe it just takes one person to bring to your attention that you shouldn’t be your own worst enemy. That you are worthy of your own love. I survived puberty, cat calls, attacks by other women and girls, the incredibly surreal process of growing and birthing a baby for the first time and the body that you’re left with afterwards before I learned, accepted, that I am okay.
The external me has been all of the shapes and sizes. I’ve been sick and well. I’ve been skinny and fat. I’ve ran races, I’ve laid on the couch eating cupcakes. I’ve spanned the gamete. Haven’t we all. Maybe it’s all just getting to be old news. Yeah yeah, this month I’m not crazy about my external appearance in three weeks it’ll be better, or worse, and eventually it’ll get better or worse. I just decided to get off of the emotional roller coaster that comes along with it. That’s a choice that you get to make. WHAM. You’re welcome.
Any who, back to the girl that wrote this upsetting article. Lauren Martin, darling. Here’s the thing. You are beautiful. I actually am hard pressed to remember a woman that I’ve met that I didn’t think was.
So, I get it. Every point that you made was founded in a reality. The reality of way too many.
The following quote was prefaced by: We’re constantly paranoid and always comparing with a bunch of becuase’s this is one of the strongest arguments.
“Because it’s the primary adjective you describe them by
She’s not smart, she’s beautiful and smart. She’s not hilarious, she’s “decent looking with a personality that makes up for it.” The first adjective before any others is about her beauty. All her other qualities come second, as a definer.
When your entire life is based on a single adjective, you begin to think that’s all you’re defined by.”
I catch myself doing it to my daughter. Well, because she IS beautiful. It seems to be the first attribute that slips from my mouth on a regular basis. To be honest though, she could look like a total ogre and I’d still think that she was the most incredibly breath taking creature to grace this earth. Let’s take a moment to appreciate that she is in fact stunning:
It’s hard not to mention. It’s also hard not to mention that she’s scarily brilliant. That she is more cleaver than is healthy for a 6 year old. That she lets out this laugh that makes you smile from three rooms over. That she’s amazing in every way and almost every single one of those reasons is the direct result of who she is as a person. She’s six. This only gets better, I am a little scared and a lot taken a back.
So, Lauren. Maybe one day you’ll be blessed with an amazing little human to call your own. Maybe then you’ll see the world through a whole new lens. Maybe then it will all make sense. You are beautiful. Everyone is beautiful, standards our not.
Here’s what get’s me the most. Ever’s eyebrows, totally unsemetrical— those are mine. Her checks those are my mom’s. Her nostrils one a differentiated sister of another, my own reflection.
The 8 pack that she rocks, definitely from her dad. Those feet, I think I saw them once on her Grandma Carol. ‘Dat booty tho, yup I’ve tucked that same one in skirt after skirt. The 4 and a half feet that she already stands, must be a great grandparent that we never got the privilege to meet.
Maybe it takes creating your own human to realize that we’re all just the product of genetics, some traits dominant other recessed. So yes, you are a beautiful girl, woman. Yes, you are insecure, because you haven’t been taught yet, or you haven’t fully learned. You are a woman your beauty is inherent. Please own it.