The Only Life Lesson You Need To Know

Love, soulfood

Maybe what you need right now is NOT a motivational speech. Maybe you don’t need an inspirational meme. Maybe you don’t need a Bible quote or the trusty, “Life only gives you as much as you can handle”. Maybe you just need to pat your self on the mofo back. Because: one-you got up this morning, two- you’re personal hygiene is on point, three- you cleaned your entire house today, four- you went to work, five- you read your child a bedtime story, six- you did your homework and, now seven- you’re writing this. That’s seven big things.

That’s a lot. Is it the most productive, the most together, the most thrilling that my life has been before or may be in the future? No.
But it’s honest, it’s good.

I’ve been seeking a lot of big answers lately. The ones that are slippery and elusive. Like why is this happening to me? Where do I go from here? Questioning the feeble nature of life itself. Those extra difficult questions that make you pray for ignorance, why am I behaving like this? What does loyalty mean? Can a selfless act go too far? Is it selfless? What actions will I look back on with pride, which ones will I regret? Can I ever actually know those things?

Today I was yet again pondering a big career question that I’ve been struggling with. For months I’ve reached a conclusion and then immediately reneged on it by the next day. Today, as I reran all of the scenarios I asked myself, is it good? Is it honest? Does it hurt anyone? Subsequently, I think so, yes, no. Litmus test passed.

Here’s the truth, [most] no one cares what you do with your life as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others. Granted those lines are quite subjective. But if you can honestly answer those three questions satisfactorily, then you’re on the right track or you done good or somethin’. And I think that’s as much as we need to know about it. That is definitely as much as anyone else needs to know about it.

From the hamster wheel of devastating grief and day-to-day reality I have learned that today is day one. And tomorrow is day one. And the day after that: day one. Having these grandiose plans and worse slowing down long enough to realize that it’s ten years later and your plans are all muddled and still very much in progress isn’t serving anyone. Feeling like a failure, just makes you feel like a failure. Never once have I leapt out of bed thinking wow I’ve really derailed my life can’t wait for the next twelve hours of self-judgment and doubt. Or worse having to articulate those shortcomings to people who want to see something go right for me, or for me not to have to go through this.

Sometimes things are just fucked. Yes, perspective is everything. For instance objectively my life is pretty crappy but tonight I read Harry Potter to my baby and then played with her hair until she fell asleep. I was taken away to this divine place of knowing that this child was given to me so that I could know this love. So, that I would not be alone. Those are all very selfish reasons to have a baby, but I didn’t choose to have that baby. That baby choose me. There are those moments that pulse in your blood all day they keep you alive but they don’t change the fact that life is hard and unfair. Or the worst, beyond your control.

That’s why every day is day one. Because you-I- have to stop fighting it. Have to stop rationalizing it. Have to stop plotting the next move and just survive. Do your best. Pour a bowl of cheerios and thank God that the lights are still on. You just keep showing up and figuring out how to be good, honest and not hurt people today. Wash, rinse, repeat. Just let it be simple.

Real Free Christmas Gift Ideas That Don’t Suck

create

Are you B-R-O-K-E and feel like you have been emotionally steam rolled by 2016? Is Christmas a surprisingly pleasant distraction except for the piles of money that you need to have to keep up with the Joneses? Okay the piles of money that you need to not feel like a total failure asshole? Yeah me too.

Thus far my Christmas shopping has entailed picking up a couple of super cheap slightly damaged items from the TJMaxx clearance section for Ev, because she is still the age where quantity is much more important than quality. And I sent out Christmas cards, which suffices because stamps ‘aint free.

But other than that, no one is getting anything that cost money because I have none to spare #reallife.

So I complied a list of gift ideas that don’t suck for my poor comrades and well those of you who don’t want to go into Christmas debt or buy more shit, yay consumerism!

 

First and foremost Regifting:

This gets a little complicated for me because I generally don’t hang on to things that I don’t love for very long because I move every other year and am the purge queen. So here are ideas for gifting things that you actually like, but can live with out that- surprise-someone else will actually like:

-An (alive) plant.

-A favorite mug, dish set, knife set, small kitchen appliance (let’s be real you never
actually use that juicer…. And Ari your Vitamix is actually just taking up room and your friend Reagon would really love one ahhemmm. )

-A winter prep kit, gloves, hat, scarf, window scraper, snow shovel.

-DVDs or CDs that you don’t use anymore because it’s 2016 but your older relatives still think are cool.

-Pass on some jewelry, Okay so you don’t own the Hope diamond or anything
that wasn’t bought at Claire’s but that’s okay. I’ve been wearing one earring all week, please send the bottom of your jewelry box.

-A carefully selected dress, outfit or pair of shoes, from your closet that you know a friend would look great in. I have let friends borrow clothes and inevitably they fall in love with something and I decide you know what keep it, I may wear it once or twice but you love it. Then every time you see them in it, it gives you warm fuzzies. Dawwh.

The absolute laziest free gifts that people will actually love:

-Your password to a subscription service: Netflix, HBO Go, The New Yorker Online, Spotify, the options here are endless.

-A music play list, dare I say a mixed CD if you have a CD burner still I’m jealous.

-A youtube play list of videos, spoken word poems, ted talks, bloopers, what ever floats your boat, and you can email it.

-A piece of art from your wall, will you really miss it that much? Bonus already framed.

-Give away your kids school projects. You know that they came home with 101 Christmas ornaments this month, pay them forward Grandma will think it’s adorable.

-Do you or your kid have a rock obsession? Is it only me who has tons of beautiful stones and rocks lying around their house? I  blame Ever. Sort them into collections, bless them with positive vibes wrap them in a pretty scarf, box or other vessel and give them away.

-Regift some beloved books or unused journals and a nice enough pen.

Free gifts that require you to exert effort: 

-Offer to do some free lawn care, gardening, snow shoveling.

-Offer to babysit, just don’t be an ass and actually never come through.

-Make a funny picture of you and your friend, or your friend and a T-rex. There’s an app for that. Print it, throw it in a frame you have lying around. Or just send it to them digitally, they can set it as their screen saver.

-Offer to take their family photos, I mean we all know that you know that your Instagram is poppin. There’s nothing that a good filter can’t take care of.

Creative gifts that keep on giving:

-Write a thoughtful letter.

-Write 12 nice cards for someone to open every month, put in a box with instructions about opening one a month. I also think it would be cute to do 12 date night envelopes with an idea and a gift card to somewhere but ya know that requires money. 

-Write a poem.

-Make some art, or regift some old art that you made once upon a time.

-Have a bunch of old art supplies laying around, compile them in a box or container and give them as a gift of creative inspiration.

Ideas for kids:

-Have a baby, just re-wrap things from the bottom of the toy box they’ll never know.

-Get on a Mommy board on Facebook or where ever else on the internet people do those things and see if someone is giving away free things or is interested in swapping gently used toys, clothes, gear. Win win.

-Make them non-toxic yummy smelling play-dough. Here’s a recipe for peppermint but one year my mom made a bunch of fruity ones with kool-aid that were amazing. Throw in some cookie cutters and bam.

-DIY mobiles for all ages, these ideas are super crazy cute, just looks like it requires patience. I can’t choose!

-Printables. There are so many great free little paper gifts that you can print on the internet for all ages of children. Here is one of my favorites, printable cards that they can sew with. Include needle and thread, done and done.

DIY super hero costumes from old t-shirts. These totally work for any gender!

-A hand puppet tutorial, print this off, add a flashlight and spend 30 min with your kid. Ev can’t be the only kid obsessed with making shadow puppets.

And those are just the ones off of the top of my head. Happy gifting!

Pivotal Conversations With Women

soulfood, therapy

I sat at her table drinking a cheap glass of wine,
The sweet hum of laughter and old times in the air.
I said, he wrote the most beautiful thing,
Women on both sides of me transfixed by poetry, declarations of love, the promise of commitment

He said, I want to marry you, there is no game, let’s have children.
I watched the long lost sensation of being desired well up in their eyes.
And it was all for me, alas a man who sees clearly.

 My best friend’s mother tempered, girl you’re not going to save him in the eleventh hour.
I swallowed that pit,
From which a sapling of love grew and twisted through my esophagus,
Peaked out of my throat,
Tickled my tongue and bloomed
Bore fruit for three years.

 1,095 nights I feel asleep knowing that I deserved this,
1,095 morning of waking up, reaching, just out of grasp.
The eleventh hour comes with a cold bed and a mounting pile of medical bills,
Overdue.

 We were in the car,
I recounted the inexplicable interactions of the past two days,
But he didn’t even want to have sex with me.
All of these months,
So much tension,
And nothing.

 He called it getting to know you,
Not jumping in,
Being a gentleman.

 

My eyes shellacked rose, maybe this is just different?
Like a good different? Maybe? Please?
The red haired M.D. from the back seat reported a cold hard
Best case scenario someone lives for five years after starting dialysis.
Wow, what a fucking buzz kill.

 

But we were there to celebrate,
And I love a good party.
I rallied. Plastered smiles over my crumbling infrastructure.

 

This reality was best left on the back burner,
Simmering on low for as long as it lasts,
Turn the fire down, pray that the gas doesn’t go out.

 

This woman- this woman, she has great friends,
Friends that withstood the fire, simmer and boil,
Steadfast, a hand placed at the bottom of my spine,
Keep me upright,
Hold me together.

 

I called my soul’s fraternal twin,
A customary, Hi how are you, to be polite and then straight into,
There are no wrong decisions.
You can’t make a wrong choice. What makes sense today may not make sense tomorrow.
And vise-a-versa.

 

She clutters my inbox on every front,
Filled with musings, tangible love, firm advise and big questions.
The woman is a push when I’ve slowed down,
A corset of words lacing me together when my insides have fallen to the floor.

And one day it all clicked.

 “In closing can we both- men and women- stop acting like the bare minimum,
being alive, not being fugly and not being abusive equates a good man.”

 The next day, I sat in a restaurant, lap full of babies,
Over a bowl of soup a waitress named Jessica or Jenny maybe,
She said, I have two boys 3 and 6 and a boyfriend who’s basically a child.
I’m leaving here to go to my third job, thanks I’ll take your check.

And I just couldn’t fucking do it anymore.

 I said, I see you hustling.
I said, I see you.

And I saw me.

 The eleventh hour is a cold bed,
Backseat commentary,
A well placed testimony of your strength,
A timely Instagram caption,
A woman refilling my breadbasket that I’ll probably never see again.

The eleventh hour is an internal hell,
Guilt and self-worth in the balance.
And I’m not going to save him,
I’m going to save me.

You’re Rubber I’m Glue

domestication, soulfood, therapy

I’m a jacket with Velcro closures, stuffed into an over packed front load washer. A detergent of Do The Right Thing carefully measured, poured atop. Fabric softener skipped, we’re cutting back on household expenses.

This damn washer screams a piercing beeeeeeeeep, at the end of every cycle. Okay, okay, I hear you.

Pulled out, heaved in to the dryer above. Stuck to me- the sock, the scarf, all of the soft things. The tear of fibers enmeshed akin to nails on a chalk board.  Torn apart, heaved and hung. I’ll dry out. I’ll keep you warm then.

And you’ll breath in the soothing scent of the freshly laundered made even sweeter, because you didn’t do the washing.

________________________

Today I was reminded that the spoken and written word are always open to interpretation. Try not to be too attached to them. Let them from your fingers and lips freely. Hush your ego when it want’s to jump to their defense. Those words are no longer yours, they live outside of you. Just observe.

 

 

 

Under Construction- Please Be Patient

Love, soulfood, therapy

What happens when all of your titles are stripped away? Titles, hats, roles, life purposes, they’re all synonymous. What’s left?

I pendulate between seeking answers and just letting it be- being. I’ve asked why hundreds of times lately. Is this question constructive? I can’t be sure. I often come up with new versions of old answers. But today a new one came to mind.

Why? Why am I choosing to sacrifice things that keep me comfortable? Those things in a nutshell, my job title, my role as a daughter, my role as a sister, my role as a family member, my role as a lover, my role as a romantic partner, my role in nearly every front except for that of mother.

An answer. Not THE answer, but what came this time:
This defines you. These things that so many of us cling to, relationships, worth, being needed, belonging, are not guaranteed. This is the time to get incredibly clear about who you are and most importantly what you deserve. Is that right?

Nothing is guaranteed, but we do create our reality. Maybe this is your chance for a do over. A blank slate.

A few weeks ago a classmate pondered, do we have to get to zero before we leave a relationship? How long can you hang on to ten percent? This stopped me in my tracks. I’m the ten percent queen. Here’s the problem with ten percent. When two many facets of life are subsisting on hope and prayer it becomes too much. Something has to give. Is it rock bottom, a launching point, or simply a different way of being?

My rock bottom looks a lot different than a lot of peoples, mine was/is shared with very few people. Mine has been managed through anxiety medications, extensive therapy and a heap of soul searching. Mine has to be managed because I refuse to let two things unravel: my daughter and school. Everything else though, when I stopped forcing them they all dissolved. Those have been excruciating decisions but they are clearing the slate. Space for new things that do work. Space for happiness. Space for new meaningful connection created in awareness and intention, two things that aren’t a birth right. A life build.

It’s not easy. It hasn’t been easy and it won’t be. Renovation always looks messy at first.

 

What’s really going on inside a Trump Supporters head:

social awareness

You think you’re better than me and I’m insecure.

I don’t say this as some left wing, liberal space-cadet. I say this as a girl born in a rural Kansas town of less than 3,000. As a girl who spent most of her Thanksgiving dinners seated across from a racist. As a woman who has had to cut ties with the vast majority of her immediate family because they embody hate. Simply. And yes I’m sure that many of them are reading this. Hi fam, eat a dick- still.

Last night my troll of a biological father crawled out of the social media woodwork to accost me on  Facebook in a way that was entirely unprovoked and covert. It seems that despite all of the privacy measures in the world Zuckerburg can’t save you from those who are intent on exercising ill will. He commented about having sex with my mom on a post where nothing of the sort was solicited. This vague memory of why and how he contributed to my conception is something that he’s thought appropriate to make lewd remarks about since I was a child. So strange that, that’s trigging for me.

My knee jerk reaction was to tell him to take a flying fuck, because that’s what the 9, 12, 16, 21 year old me didn’t have the courage to say. But first I took a moment, weighed the pros and cons (including that any response is an open door for more disparaging remarks) and decided to go ahead with it. My response wasn’t kind. It didn’t represent my best self. Wasn’t even necessary if I’m being honest but it was important for me to be explicit in my own defense in that moment. It reinforced that boundary that I have firmly established and been called to defend over the years.

So, “Get the fuck off my wall Walt.” Spilled from my finger tips.

He responded with the following:

final-text

 

The first thing he brings up. I voted Trump, I did. 

Because he knows that, that’s a personal dig at me. The most hateful thing that he could think of to throw back in my face:
Hey look at me perpetuating malice, misogyny, racism, and backwards social policy!!! Loud and proud! Happy to rub it in a liberal’s face. Let’s also remind her while we’re at it that she’s, “Not as smart as she thinks she is”.

Because let’s be honest that’s the problem isn’t it. That I threaten you. Somehow even though I go to great lengths to have absolutely no contact with you, to engage with you in no way you are still threatened. Threatened by an educated, articulate, empowered, informed, vocal woman who doesn’t take a back seat to anyone’s shit including when it comes from those she should be able to trust and rely on the most intimately. She’s willing to have those hard conversations. To call a spade a fucking spade, even when the spade’s other name is Dad or Brother.

You’re hatred is not safe with me. I’ve been calling this sort of person out in person for the vast majority of my life. Imagine a 10 year old toe headed wide-eyed Reagon on a crusade to defend her friendships with Black kids over breakfast. Imagine a pregnant 20 year old girl standing up to the finger in her face from a Bill O’Riley watching Republican dream fiercely defending that her history books at the big university weren’t lying, this country was in fact founded on exploitation. Imagine being the odd man out at every family function for twenty plus years and not being able to bite your tongue.

In the past three years I have made agonizing decision after decision to no longer have relationships with those people because they are toxic. I’m not an evangelist. I’m not going to convert these people, I’ve tried that. What do I do now, that they’ve showed up in droves to the polls and put a giant hex on our country? I’m working on that plan.

I’ll tell you what’s not going to help though, saying nothing. Taking it. Passivity. It doesn’t work with them. As much as I want to get on the unity bandwagon, think that maybe everyone is just one documentary away from a personal revolution towards love and kindness I know that I’m kidding myself. These people have a 8 year jump on buying up all of the bullets (literally and metaphorically). This may be war. Are you ready?

May I always be a thorn in the side. If nothing else I will proudly wear the label of- bitch that thinks she’s so great. Damn fucking straight and I’m bringing friends. I will not retreat quietly into the night. Snuggle up to your insecurity, I’m not going away.

Tough Love

soulfood, Uncategorized

I’ve thought a thousand things today. Said a hundred. And then I sat.

I drove home tonight listening to My Sweet Lord, my personal anthem for the past few weeks. Hands at ten and two. Through the familiar dark streets, green light, green light, green light. At least I’m pretty sure they were all green. I feel myself hovering outside of myself, like I was watching the opening scene of a movie. Well one that’s actually quite boring I didn’t slide off of the road or come to a screeching halt. Just observing how incredibly blank that I was.

And then just this: Tough love.

I realized that this is what my therapist is referring to when he leans back in his seat and matter of fact-ly says, “Well sure given your history”, and, “Let’s not forget your history”. We spent three hours on said history, and tonight it all came crashing down in two words.

A week ago I made a visual representation of my sexual “blueprint”. I pinned it to the wall. I’ve been looking at it seeing if anything new comes up.


A couple of things did, one of them is this idea that we (women) seek out our fathers. In the broader sense that we seek to recreate our early attachment relationships. So what does that mean for a girl who never had a dad? Does it mean that we seek out our mothers?
In that case. I have sought out ambivalent attachment and a whopping dose of tough love. Mission accomplished.

For two hours tonight I tried to find words to put to what do you want?. I realized that I don’t have any idea. I want comfort I think. Security. But all of this is a big maybe. What is obvious, tactile, is that I want instability and that’s what I find every single time. First I make this very elaborate bed and now I lie. The rest isn’t great let me tell ya.

The Humpty-Dumpty Notion

social awareness, therapy

Disclaimer: I go to hippy school. Which is a choice that I have made, because I’m not interested in having mainstream indoctrinated methods of helping people shoved down my throat. So, in addition to reading the DSM 5 we also read all of ‘alternative’ philosophies about everything including that psychotherapy is a myth. Here’s the paper that I want to turn in but won’t.

Both chapters (required reading) were like riddles, tongue twisters, Fanny Dooleys. My favorite was this Humpty-Dumpty notion that Lakoff and Johnson refer to. Of which I may be completely misinterpreting. But interpretation is really just a cultural construct and after all there really isn’t such a thing of objectivism.

Here goes, Humpty-Dumpty walks into your office- yolk all over your couch, bits of shell everywhere, in short- he’s broken as fuck.  But doc, all of the kings horse and all of the kings men, even they could’t put me back together.

So, what do I say: Sorry Humpty, this psychotherapy business is all a myth. Wish I could help ya bud. Wanna chat? That’s all we’re doing any way. But, side note, that will still be 100.00 an hour, mama’s got bills to pay ya hear? Ohhh, no we don’t accept Medicare. Even though I’m quite sure that you would qualify for some kind of disability. Yeah, no I couldn’t help you fill out that paperwork, the federal government doesn’t actually recognize the validity of my licensure.

Listen, man, here’s what you need to understand: all of this, I mean ALL of this is a societal construct. We’re all prisoners, baby, we’re all prisoners. Then maybe we exchange recipes, he knows how to make a killer Denver Omelet. I wonder if that might be a suicidal ideation. But fuck a safety plan. Safety, that’s pretty objective.

So, what cha doin’ later Humpty? Got any love interests? Wanna watch youtube? That’ll cheer you up.

57 minuets later, end session. I’ll see you next week, take care sir!

Altruism

Love, social awareness, soulfood

This is the part of the year where I start posting revised class work on my blog, #sorrynotsorry. In a rather elementary yet still somehow tear jerking fashion I was asked to answer this question yesterday:

What is altruism? 

I am so far detached from myself right now- well recently- that I can barely define anything for myself. I’ve been lending my words, my expression, these things my essence to the that which I already know. The past lessons, long learned. These new experiences- my version of reality, yes as I perceive it- those are still zapping through my mind. Zapping like little sparks of static electricity when the night has fallen and the bed is made. The sheets tearing apart. Is it liveliness? Is it clinging? I don’t know. But I do see and feel a show of instantaneous sparks of fire. A fire that won’t catch. Doesn’t hurt. But you feel it still and you kind of wish it would happen again.

That’s the only conclusion that my writing has come to lately. I’m back at this place again. Again. Home. Inner-childhood. Deeply ingrained, damn it girl you weren’t careful enough. The undertow of the ocean that was my life for 26 years. Chaos. Pain. And now I have to loose my breath and be thrown back to sea. Again.

Focus Reg- what is altruism to you? Doing good.
What is doing good?

It’s like a little strip of rainbow in the clouds. Not rainy clouds but clear beautiful sky clouds. Despite the fact that you are going through the motions of life- stressful, mundane, thrilling- your eye keeps going back to that spot. Because you don’t want to loose it. It’s magic. And it must have been put just there in your path so that you can experience it or- it you.

Doing good is a default state for me. Sometimes I consciously go out of my way to do extra and that is rewarding. But altruism- externally- is who I am. Who I strive to be. Who I have to make more space for.

Internal altruism that wax and wanes. That is work. That is the first thing to get axed on the priority list. That’s the hole in my wellbeing at the moment. The hole that is leaking anxiety, grief, regret, mis-steps, miss-words, missed opportunities, into my life.

Altruism is both automatic and my never ending task for the day, moment, for forever. It can’t wait.