Midlife Dating Problems

My cousin had his 50th birthday celebration last weekend, and a new guy showed up. Instant click. I asked why I’d never met him at our family parties, where Jon and Jenny’s amazing friends are always in attendance. They’re co-workers, and rotating time-off prevented such a happy meeting. (English professor, for god’s sake. I’m in love.)

We hung out and talked, laughed, drank all night. He stayed for the duration, and helped with venue clean-up at 2am. I got home to a Facebook friend invite and decided, “Hell. Go for it.” I asked him out.

“Oh,” he answered. “I enjoyed your conversation, too, but I’m married.”

Hahahahaha!

“Oh, man! I knew you had a son, but I didn’t even check for a ring!”

“Uhhhh, I take it off to exercise and forgot to put it back on.”

“Bastard! I OWN you!”

We went on, as effortless as the moment we met, and closed with me inviting him to join us for future family gatherings, and to bring his wife and son. “It’s a family affair. My cousin’s have the best friends. I look forward to seeing them as much as my own family at these things. I love to observe happy marriages, too, so bring yours! Also, I feel entitled to crucify you for this.”

It happens when you’re old and single.

SOLD! (in half an hour!)

Since I started making drums, my cousin has been talking about buying one. Yesterday, I posted my most recent and she messaged on the spot, “That’s my drum!”

It was really interesting, because I had only that moment got a sense of the drum’s energy, and added that thought to the description of my experience with it. The moment I saved the edit, she messaged. I think it was her energy I felt! I really do. It was thrilling.
moon-drum
13″ on wood frame, w/ mallet
$200 (family discount price $100)
(You could talk me down, too. Order yours today!)
1.11.17

This is my first departure from the original sun/ sunflower center (sort of), and I’m really happy with it. I struggled deciding what colors to tenatively map out. Usually, I can picture how each color option will look on each round, how it will “speak” to what came before it, and how it dictates what remains. I could not get a picture in my head! This is no small thing. I was in fits and couldn’t proceed for over a week. Ultimately, this one ended up completely surprising me, and it was so exciting!

I also didn’t “trance out” as much with this drum. What’s happened with others is a mindless escape that I don’t notice until … well, until I notice it, I guess, and then that drum has its signature somehow. Their personalities really come out of absent imagination. This drum was exciting in a very cerebral way. I concentrated and stressed quite a bit, but I feel more proud, almost. I have that satisfied sense of hard work paying off.

There is a feeling to it. Except for that spectacular lavender burst, it has a softness. Mostly, I just think it’s beautiful.

SOLD!!! To my cousin JoAnna!
I KNEW this drum felt gentle! It suits her.

drum corner.jpg

I love this little corner!

I was going to clean the house yesterday and run some errands. Instead, I decided to eat marijuana and have a day of ceremony and dancing with my cousin’s drum. Oh man, I had some visions! Or I was stoned. Whatever. Powerful, wonderful, hilarious, joyful day.

(P.S I didn’t “trance out” with this drum because I didn’t eat funny brownies making her, haha! I haven’t quite recovered from that deathly flu – A MONTH AGO, grrr – and felt lousy. Didn’t want to waste good communion on a body with no strength or energy. I didn’t mention that on that description above, because I post those on Facebook and my sweet Mormon mother sees me there. She knows, but, you know. )

(Btw, the flu triggered a son-of-a-bitch of a Fibro flare. Like, one of the worst that just will not relent. I have no time for it, because I’m rehearsing a show and I don’t pace myself there. OWWWW! Marijuana helps, a lot, but I can’t walk around talking about Spirit all the time. People think I’m crazy enough with a filter!)

Sweat Lodge

I was so gratified to meet the woman I wrote about last week. I had failed at Thanksgiving not to respond to the hate-mongering chatter that accompanies every family gathering, and I felt it: Failure.

Meeting hostility with anger is useless and stupid, but what the hell am I supposed to do? I asked politely. I teased. I asked again. I got mad.

This woman explained the difference between suffering in complicit silence, and going within to meet hatred with love. I’ve been trying for 15 minutes to capture the epiphany I had in a 2-minute conversation, but it was almost funny how simple it seemed.

Of course, the practice of it will be a different story, marked by many failings, to be sure, but it moved from theoretical and seemingly-impossible to entirely practical and doable. There’s a huge difference between angrily holding one’s tongue, and actively holding a space of “non-duality,” she called it. The silence of love is not the silence of restraint. That’s a game-changer for me!

I talk about energy all the time. Everyone knows what it is to walk in a room and feel it. The silence she described isn’t passive at all. It’s energized! It’s silly now that it seemed such a unattainable concept, when, really, it’s a straight-forward product of choice and action. It can’t be mistaken for tacit approval.

Suddenly, my need to act as standard bearer seemed silly, too. It’s not as if my family doesn’t know me. If any of my nieces or nephews is different, in any way, they know there’s a safe place for them. I don’t need to do that anymore.

I’m ready to graduate!

It does hurt that I don’t matter in my family. At best, I’m a joke. My point of view is the minority, so it’s dismissed. No one cares that that hurts me. They know. They continue.

And I’m strong enough.

“I will love, even here. How can I love, even here?” I trust Spirit to answer, if I truly commit to trying a new way, and I’m ready.

(Whoa! I just got really scared again!)

I AM READY.
non-duality

****

I brought a new, blank drum inside the lodge, which was borrowed by a leader and praised by her for its tone. That felt great! It was plenty soggy and bleak-sounding by the end of 4 long rounds, but bounced right back in the cold night air.

[I also made a killer leftover-turkey casserole for the pot luck following the lodge. It went like gangbusters! Jax is teaching me how to cook. We take Mormon comfort food – primarily based on Cream of Chicken Soup – and turn it out! This dish contained organic, home-grown tomato puree and chili powder. And cheese. Lots of cheese.]

My personal drum stayed out on the altar by the fire, to soak up and sing with our prayers and come home to bless me when I dance and meditate. So far, it’s attended a Love Rally and this prayer for Standing Rock, for water, the earth, and all of us. I love my drum!

Here’s my most recent. (So much detail is missing in this grainy shot!)drum-5
13″ on wood frame with mallet
$200
Nov. 23, 2016

I have a few more color incarnations to realize before I’m finished with this design, and more drums than I can paint right now (including 2 with rawhide lacing).

****

This was the first lodge that I didn’t really go into a trance-like state. Usually, when the heat starts to rise, I’m transported to the plains in a covered wagon. I don’t know that any of my ancestors came across in a covered wagon, but that imagery is powerful for Mormons, and it would be a no-brainer for my ancestors to get my attention in that way, to signal very clearly who it was I was feeling. The first time it happened was one of the most alarming and powerful visions I’ve ever experienced. I saw the faces of the Native people my ancestors would have encountered, and recognized that they were the brown-skinned ancestors of the the people I was praying with! Then, “Oh my god, they call the stones ‘The Ancestors.’ Our ancestors are here!” It was overwhelming.

I try not to expect repeat performances of my experiences. I try to be in the now, and learn what new thing is available from each event. But it was hard not to hope for that impression again when I went to my second lodge. And they came. Again and again and again. It was the same wagon journey into Spirit at every lodge, except this one.

Abigail, my favorite pioneer ancestor, did pop to mind in the 3rd round. I smiled. I love her. I thanked her for being with me since we “met” when I was ten, and then I had a thought of Sarah, who doesn’t come to me often. I don’t feel her strongly, but I have had a sense of her quiet, and it would make sense for me not to get it. What’s quiet? I truly don’t understand quiet. In fact, quiet people scare me. I think they hate me.

But Sarah did come to mind, and I had the thought to pray around her voice. “Please come as a signal for when it’s appropriate to act differently. Help me discern between the time to speak and the time to turn inward and LOVE, even here. Come in when it’s time for me to honor the place of neither right nor wrong, and just love, fiercely, quietly.”

I’m excited to see if I recognize her as I begin to practice non-duality. I think I might. I have recognized her energy. It’s harder, but she has a distinct feeling, and I’m excited to imagine I might a foster a relationship with her. Especially if it leads to healing. Especially for my mother’s family. Sarah is my mother’s family.

not-the-end

Not The End, by Julie Rogers, depicts my ancestor, Sarah Ann, on one of her 32 crossings of the icy North Platte River to carry Saints to safety.

Tell My Story gives a detailed account of this episode of the Martin Handcart Company’s ill-fated journey to Salt Lake City. I’m really proud of Sarah. Scroll down and enjoy!

I Needed That

new-moonI finally made it to a New Moon Sister Circle. It was just what I needed to snap out of it! We discussed what the new moon in Virgo might look and feel like, and my friend Bonnie said, “I’m just glad Mars is out of retrograde!”

“Is that what’s been going on?” I asked.

All of the women laughed and exclaimed. Everyone, it seemed, had an example of how she was either contrary or useless.

I’ll take it! I’m content to chalk it up to the stars and let it go. I’ve been beating myself up trying to demystify and define that months-long funk, but now I don’t feel so much pressure to learn something from it. It’s done. I’m fine.

The next day, I went to my niece’s wedding and had such a lovely visit with my family in Idaho. The reception was at my sister’s house. It was a dream country wedding, with hay bale couches covered in denim comforters, kids running everywhere, and chickens clucking and crowing in the background. I can’t think of a more pleasant time I’ve shared with my family. I got to hold my first grandniece, all of 2 weeks old and only 6 lbs!

My roommate and I went back to his ranch for Labor Day. It was a wonderful follow-up to my own family visit. His family made me feel right at home, and we spent the evening singing Broadway hits, old classics, and camp-style rounds.

Yesterday, we went to the Mountain Man Rendezvous in Ft. Bridger, Wyoming. Today, we canoed, rode horses, and I chopped wood.

Oh, and I finished my drum!mandala

on casper

Casper the Friendly Horse got a little feisty, especially when Bella kicked in front of us!

riding horseschopping wood 4

Aug. 28th, we climbed to Timpanogos Cave National Monument.stalagtitesdripping rust

Here’s one from my artist niece’s Blessingway on Aug. 12th. blessingway
5 days later, Violet arrived! ~ August 17, 2016 ~violet
On Sept. 2nd, my sporty niece married a fellow marathoner.kolten-and-em

I Forgot Again!

I locked my keys in the car for a second time in 3 weeks!

At least there’s a method to my madness, irritating though it may be. It took a second lockout to get it. Having been chauffeured for the last decade, I only had to worry about throwing down gas money and not how to get back in the car.

Whenever I go camping, hiking, anywhere I don’t want to carry my purse, I have to take special care to see keys in hand when I lock up. I stopped at Crystal Hot Springs yesterday on my way home from Idaho and didn’t think of getting back in the car until I took a few steps and decided to go back for lip balm. Doh!

The locksmith was quick and cheap – and covered by insurance – so I wasn’t delayed too long getting into the highest mineral content waters in the world. Aaah…

****

It was such a great visit! My nephews are the cutest! I played for 2 days straight with the 2-year-old, and cuddled the 1-year-old during movies I hadn’t seen in decades, “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo.”

I’m pretty sure the neighbors were glad when I left. I brought my drums. 🙂

My sister and 2 nieces were there. They’re always fun to tease and the little boys adore them. I love my family when Melanie’s husband isn’t around.

While we colored eggs, my dad and brother got talking politics in a nearby room (i.e. denigrating Democrats and the President). “Obama is an amazing leader…” I hollered, “who would serve this country and the world in ways you couldn’t imagine if the Republicans wouldn’t block him at every turn just for the sake of tanking his Presidency!” [and who has accomplished great things in spite of their efforts]

They razzed me with no acrimony and my niece asked, incredulous, “You like Obama?”

“I absolutely do!”

During clean-up, I found a forgotten egg. Dark as the dye could stain, it emerged clear as day – no need for adjustment, a message arose from the ether – “Obama blows.” I belly-laughed, hard, and praised my brother’s forbearance.

“I could never hold out that long for pay off. Well done!”

****

Obama rocks.

Valentine from Mom

Oh, I am a wicked girl!

I just sat down to report the glad, rather cute news that I think Mom and I are going to be pen pals. I got a Valentine from her with no mention of how I ought to behave, just a report on her goings and doings, with copies of pics of us after my show last Fall. I was prepared to write how sweet it is when the angry voice in my head screamed, “After TWO years?! TWO YEARS!!?”

OK. I’ma just have to suck it up and be gracious, but let me confess: it’s a concerted effort. Over Christmas, she mentioned that 2 of her sisters are fueding and it’s weighing heavily on my sweet Grandmother. That’s the only reason she cares that we have no relationship? Not because she loves me and wants to be in touch with me? I know she’s thought about me, but for TWO YEARS she has refused to speak (even when I required medical info or to tell me dad was having heart problems!!!)… why? Because I was bad? She’s teaching me a lesson? I have to pay for not sitting quietly during Holiday Hate-Mongering Hour?

Why now?

Two years! I want to scream, “Too little too late!” But I have to be the grown up. Again.

I never had a parent. She wasn’t the worst. She was a provider, and I had extracurricular blessings – piano and dance – by some financial miracle (Mother’s sense of duty and determination, and Teacher, who let me dance a few years for free). I applaud her survival and strength, but I was hated and chastised for being a child when the only one whose childish behavior should have caused shame or scorn was HER! I’m so sick of having to accept… everything!

Now we’re just buddies.

OK. OK. That’s something. It’s real. I’m not being judged or reprimanded. I’m being accepted on my terms. I am grateful.

Stay calm, Little Firebrand. It doesn’t matter how long it took. It is now. Be in it.

Ohhhhh. OK. I love my mom. Her notes are so cute.

Phew!

Eve

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

40 has been a hell of a year. Much that I’ve achieved makes me quite proud, really, and it’s a good feeling to be satisfied with your own courage and success. I’ve also been revisited by familiar demons, in new and rather frightening ways. 2013 gave me pause. It alarms me still. I had the standard failure of a new romance. It looked and seemed different in the process of discovery but hindsight shows, of course, that it’s the same problem I always have: me. I chose the wrong person for the wrong reasons – truly not knowing or seeing it – but reflection reveals the same old habits. There’s something I’m missing in my selection process. Once the breakup has begun, I’m all-too-aware of my flaws when responding to things that go wrong. I freak out.

I will give myself credit for leaving my ex-boyfriend quickly. Not working? Don’t linger! I didn’t figure that out in my youth. I guess to have mid-life flashing before my very eyes really does help me to cut ties that hold me back. So that’s hopeful, I suppose. No. The fact is I was in danger. I was running. I wasn’t leaving a bad situation quickly due to any wisdom or self-love (or love of anything). I still marvel that I found a job, started said job, found an apartment, and moved into it in one week. But being impressed with my mad urban survival skills is not the same as behaving better in/out of a relationship.

*sigh*

I haven’t spoken at all about the decline of my body. I’m so afraid of what it means and will the pain just continue to increase? I can’t even begin to voice my discomfort and anxiety for fear of making it “real” and lasting. I’ve finally taken action and made some decisions that I’ll talk about in the coming year as the results show themselves. Or don’t. (Please work! Please let me get better!) It’s a bitter thing when the body betrays.

That said, I’ve had some profound spiritual experiences, “promptings,” the Mormons call them. I’m kind of going through it right now, but I believe that the changes I’m in the middle of are necessary for the next big step. There’s something I’m missing. There’s something in the pattern of self-destructive behavior that I don’t even see. I am in the process of fixing that, right now. I believe that my physical symptoms are an opportunity for me to work on the whole being. Aches that I’ve ignored for years because they don’t plague my every waking moment… now do. It’s the same with my spirit. I’ve been ignoring my intuition my entire life. I want to trust myself to listen to my guides and angels before a misstep onto the wrong path results in danger or cruelty. My angels have to SCREAM at me before I listen, even to the good stuff. I realize later that I heard them all along, but I ignore it. Actually, I dismiss them as delusion or hubris. Mormons call it “the still, small voice,” and I don’t know what the hell to do with it. I grew up screaming in a screaming family. I want different, but I don’t know how to create it. I want to choose the right course and then navigate the difficulties of life thereupon – kindly, gently – rather than jumping from catastrophe to sanctuary to disaster to quivering mass of failure. Again. (I’m not there right now but I have been, like a default setting, for the whole of my life.)

Speaking of blaming my upbringing, haha! Remember when I told you, “My family gets together, decides what my behavior means, then tells me about it during the holidays”? My mom’s Christmas card implied that I am adding to a burden of sorrow on my grandmother’s shoulders because my immediate family has not yet come to an amicable reconciliation. In fact, I have. I gave my cache of free tickets to “How To Succeed” to anyone who wanted them, and hung out with everyone at Thanksgiving, hugs all around and hand-me-down clothes from my wealthy friends, a holiday tradition. I participated in the sibling gift exchange, and sent mom and dad a book for Christmas. https://wildwesterngirl.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/happy-one-year-blogiversary-a-review/

I’ve never spoken a word to my beloved grandparents about the terrifying reality of life in my immediate family. I haven’t said one negative thing. Ever.

I couldn’t believe it. The timing was like a sick joke to prove me right. Dr. Phil would call me a right fighter. When I’m in the chaos of immediate anger and emotion, I don’t care about solving the problem. I care about keeping score and proving myself the more-wronged party. Deep down, though, after a little time in the Cave of Solitude and Recovery, I secretly believe that they’re right. I’m just a horrible b-word (insert “brat” and “bitch” here), who blames a loving family for things they don’t do. But there it was in black and white. Now I get to reconcile myself again to the fact – proof in hand, neatly penned on a Christmas card – that they continue to employ emotional manipulation to bully me.

Perhaps they don’t know how to avoid the truth of their own dysfunction now that their scapegoat has decided to love herself enough to leave toxic people behind, even when they’re her own family. All I know is that cutting them out of my life is the right thing. Even the smallest dealings with them take me weeks of recuperation. I’m fragile, and they are the chink in my armor. I’m capable of personal and interpersonal greatness, I feel it, if I turn my back entirely. Not just on my sister’s racist husband, who physically assaulted me, but on all of them. In the context of my immediate family, I hate myself. I have the right to walk away, no matter how ugly they make it.

I got that card 3 days ago. I’m not going to answer. What could I possibly say?

I was juuust starting to second-guess my decision to maintain distance from them. In a way, I feel like this was what I needed to trust myself. I get to protect myself, even if I’m shamed for doing so. I’m reminded to celebrate and honor my intuition, regardless of what is said about it. The change I seek is to put this into practice somehow, to make it my lifestyle in 2014 and the second half of my life.
survivor
I have survived. I’m a rockstar. Now I thrive.