Bluebonnet Birthday

Wow. Smack dab in the middle of my forties. This morning I’m 45 and still alive! Twenty years ago, I was smack dab in the middle of years of suicide attempts and an inability to see myself ever finding the capacity to feel joy or carry on. Either I did, or time just wore me down. A little of both, I imagine. What would it be like to enjoy my twenties like I do my forties? More energy and effortless beauty, to be sure, but no more fun. I’m pretty good at that, no matter what age I reach.

45 is square, solid, standing on the horizon, looking behind and ahead, pretty darned satisfied. I loved 44. I don’t know why. I’ve joked that it’s because Obama was #44, but I loved it. I don’t know how. It was the hardest experience of my life. I’ve struggled giving myself permission to say that. I came up in an abusive home and entered my twenties in a tailspin of someone else’s choosing. I chose drugs and alcohol, and had the fight of my life in my thirties getting clean. How could those 3 weeks with Jax and Carrie last September be the worst thing I’ve ever been through? I don’t know, but it was.

I also wonder how I can feel so fond of 44 when I’ve noticed a disturbing change in myself. For the first time in my life, I feel jaded. I don’t feel it in connection to what happened last fall, necessarily. I feel like that broke it loose and now it’s here to look at honestly. Texas, therefore, was exactly what I needed. I can’t process anything fully without my best friend.

Rebecca confirmed the shift and actually pinpointed the beginning of it to years ago in a shitty little temp job I felt superior to. I was only there for 4 and 1/2 months, but she was absolutely right! It was then that I stopped “choosing higher,” in actions and attitudes so small at first that I didn’t notice it happening. Here I am several years later just a little bit… uglier, I guess, than I’m familiar with.

In spite of my lifelong struggle with dark thoughts and despair, my nature is optimistic and buoyant. I didn’t consider that, like everyone, I have to do the work. My habit has been to keep close to home when I’m in a bad space. I don’t isolate. I let friends know that I’m not my best, but it’s usually not too alarming. I always come back to my playful self. That has remained true, but there was this piece that had changed.

I’m at a place now where “resting on your laurels,” as my mom would say, doesn’t cut it. When I catch myself looped in angry, unkind thoughts, I have to redirect. It’s not enough to wait for the real me to come back. I have to fight for her.

So I love 44. It was a year of learning. And I love my best friend. Going home to her family is a respite and my second greatest joy. (Cats are superior to all things.) Here are pics of me finally making it to Texas at the height of bluebonnet spring!

bluebonnets

We painted fake lilacs to look like bluebonnets and decorated hats.

rebecca and farrah

I found the most beautiful blue bonnet for Farrah’s first bluebonnet spring! LaFleurBonnets, Etsy

hannah and me

This is the 3 yr-old who named me Christie Redhair 20 years ago.

 

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Down Syndrome Awareness Day!

We found out last year on 3/21 that our little Farrah would have Down Syndrome. What a coincidence to learn a year later that 3/21 is Down Syndrome Awareness Day! People with DS have 3 copies of the 21st chromosome, and this girl’s rockin’ it!
farrahLittle did we know that day one year ago that higher education could be in little Farrah’s future. (All we know a year later is that our future is blessed by her!) Ruby’s Rainbow is a non-profit that raises money to offer scholarships to students with Down Syndrome who wish to go to college. Please take the 3/21 Pledge to help Farrah and others like her get to campus one day: Rockin’ That Extra Chromosome!
321 pledgedinosaurs are scary
Other than that, I’m loving Spring and counting the days ’til I’m back in Texas – 4 weeks! – holding that baby and remembering sweet Chanel this time, too. 😉

(Texas has my heart, not just because my best friend is there with her parents, siblings, and children. I was born there, so Grandpa called me his “Yellow Rose of Texas.” ❤ )

grandpa and me

No one loved me more.

Girls Weekend

The girls and I went for a soak in the mineral baths of Lava Hot Springs. There was a big pagan Fire and Ice Festival and I gotta say, those Idahoans can spin! There was one guy on a rolling fire staff who was as good as any I’ve seen. Before the show, the entire ensemble climbed all the way up the mountain face and lit up to alert the crowd downtown: The night has begun!

It was steep up there! From below, it looked like they were stacked one on top of the other. And how the hell did they get up there in the dark? It was really cool.

Natalia is a newer friend through my friend of a few years, Amber. My god, she makes me laugh! I haven’t laughed like that since my bestie Jordan moved 2 and-a-half years ago. Angie is Amber’s twin, and the four of us had our own private geothermal tub fenced inside a patio off our hotel room. We danced, drank, skinny-dipped and laughed for days.

Natalia and I got talking about being roommates in Portland. One of the reasons I wanted to move was to save money, and splitting costs in Portland would be pricey, but the idea is holding my interest. I visited Portland for the first time almost 2 years ago, and wanted to move there immediately. I asked my friend then, “How can I know if I’d tolerate the weather?” Her answer was that I’d just have to try it for a year.

I’d certainly invest in a therapy lamp. Anyway, lots to consider as I continue to dream and refine my intention for the move in October. Methinks a decision ought to be secure by the end of March. Six months will go fast!

Ahhh. Great weekend. Great girls.natalia and methe girls

 

Murky Full Moon

I still feel spun near the center of a Universal smack-down, but I’m ebbing out of the survival zone. Last month’s eclipse is still with me and hurting, specifically because my ability to have fun with it made it all the more bittersweet. Sometimes it makes me sad to see how good I am at making the best of a bad situation. I don’t know how to explain that, except to say that the little girl growing up beaten, abandoned, furious, and scared to death just figured out how. And this middle-aged gal still has it. How can that be sad?

It’s bittersweet, too, because though I was able to make a joyous occasion of it, I could simply have gone home and enjoyed my family, the spectacular countryside, and the magic. I chose instead to scrape out another miracle of mood-alteration. I guess I needed to believe I still could. Nice it didn’t take drugs, like the old party girl would.

I hope in the second half of my life, I’ll finally let go the need to prove myself to myself. It’s like the first half was so hard, especially the nascent beginning, that I simply refuse to believe that anything is real or solid or sticking around if it doesn’t just suck.

Thing is, that’s childish, and I’m the only one who can grow up, or refuse to. I’m in danger of not doing it at all if I don’t get this shit behind me, like, yesterday. I’m 44.

Christie, trust that the skills are in there to enjoy and appreciate magic and beauty every day. They don’t disappear or stop coming if you know that. Expecting miracles is different from taking them for granted. They’re your right and your routine.

I suspect that they’ll become more powerful if I let them in every day, rather than needing each one to be epic. It’s just the way it is. I’m connected and I know it. So are we all. Nothing special, just a walking marvel, ‘s all.

So, here I am in full moon energy during the day, a red-gray sun snuffed by wildfires severe enough to cause evacuations in northern Utah. It’s bad. The throat and eyes sting, mountain beauty’s blotted out, and the whole damned planet is burning or flooding or turning night at midday, just 2-odd weeks ago. It’s eerie and spooky, and everyday run-of-the-mill. It all is, and I’m busy cleaning up the mess I’ve made, of my life, my family, my namesake, my most important friendship, and my last relationship.

****

Today, this memory popped up on Facebook. It seemed especially poignant and timely, so I’m marking it here to make myself accountable. Of the memory, I wrote:

“Two years ago, the last of my 3 best girlfriends left Salt Lake City. At that time, I began planning my move, too, to the next phase/location of my adventure, but found continued wonderful reasons to stay, as one does. The last month+ has got me asking the Universe, sincerely, “Is Utah kicking me out?” I’m anchored through November with a passion project 24 years in the making, which would make any big transitions impossible until the end of whatever lease I’m able to come up with next month, which tells me: ONE YEAR. My life purpose for one year is to look at 20 years in the Promised Land and squeeze in all the personal goals I meant to reach but didn’t, face character deficits I ignored or pretended away, and set myself up for the second half of my life. I don’t want to leave next year, but I’ll have a picture of and real progress toward a clear 5-yr intention, with no particular destination in mind. What’s next? It’s terrifying, exciting, bittersweet. It’s time.”

jojo's good-bye

Jojo’s good-bye… Germany, here she comes! Aug. 29, 2015

 

222!

tree-of-life-2
Tree of Life II
2.22.17

14″ goat hide hand drum on wood frame
w/ mallet
$250

Just a few tiny differences really transformed it, I think. I did forget that I meant to make a shape out of the middle branches – oops! – but I love it.

222This is my FIVE YEAR Blogiversary, and I have to say it’s pretty revealing to record one’s thoughts on the same day each year. February must be shitty for me, because I’ve been down more often than not on this day. I’m currently in a big Fibro flare, which doesn’t help.

Nothing suits me better than a trip to Texas to see my best friend! (I am anxious about the flight. Travel isn’t the same since Fibro. Those seats can trigger or worsen a flare, to plague me for months. Luckily, I plan to do little more than sit and laugh. And stretch a little, I suppose.) I leave in the morning for a week, to do nothing at all but be with the family that’s more family than my own.

222 is still my favorite number; truly a magical triple digit for me. So 2.22 remains a beloved day, and I love February because something about leaving January makes me feel like it’s Spring already. I’ll snap out of winter blues soon, I’m sure, so today I recommit to getting up. I trust enthusiasm to infect me again. I am who I am.
blogiversary

Jojo Dancer

My little sister-friend got married and moved to Germany last Fall, so I bought her car 6 months ago today. Here’s the report on my ugly little Hyundai Accent named Jojo Dancer, after her previous owner.

She had 128,001 miles the day I bought her. I’ve added 3,147, averaging 29.6 miles to the gallon. She hasn’t had a hiccup. Or a bath.

I gained 15-20 lbs within months of leaving the bus-n-bike lifestyle. (Until New Years, I only learned my exact weight at doctor’s appointments, but I know where I hover.) Of course, now that I’ve added yoga I’m down 8 lbs, and I’m seeing muscles I never had before. Wee!

Speaking of yoga, and the fresh confrontation with pain I’ve been negotiating this year, I remembered something random the other day. In a Spanish class in college, we had to stand and introduce ourselves: name, age, what I’m like, what I fear.

“Me llamo Christie. Nunca pregunte a mujer su edad. Soy hablante. Tengo miedo de dolor.” I’m Christie. Never ask a lady her age. I’m talkative. I’m afraid of pain.

“Well, yeah,” the professor dismissed me. “Everyone’s afraid of pain.”

“No, like phobic. I have knots in my stomach just thinking about it. I’m not afraid of dying; I just don’t want it to hurt.”

I used to say to my best friend growing up, “At least if I have to cry the tears of the damned, I have a strong body that doesn’t hurt.”

How could I have forgotten that pain was my biggest fear? I’m living my biggest fear! I once went to a psychic who said, “Oh, that’s interesting. You came to see how much you could stand.”

“K?”

“You push everything as far as you can, just to see how much you can take. Start to look at your life that way and see what you find.”

I do! The will I/(probably)won’t I of motherhood. The (non)career/low-income life I’ve chosen. The abusive/devaluing relationships. I thought The Unmarriables were a result of my upbringing, feeling abandoned, unworthy of love, unable to love and be loved. But, being an imaginative mystic myself these days, I follow it further. I think I chose my childhood and family – possibly to see how much I can stand.

I believe in reincarnation. In my last between-life phase I examined what I learned in the life I just left in the context of the lives that came before it, and looked at what I wanted to conquer in the next, to learn and accomplish, to see, to feel.

I think I came here for exactly what I got. I came to discover my strength. In the context of community (i.e. I couldn’t be dropped in the wild and make it), I can do anything. It’s crazy to have such confidence, but nothing can crush me. I’m tough as hell. What’s to fear?

I even think I chose to come up in an extremely religious culture. Those are some serious eternal consequences to contend with! And it isn’t easy to be shunned and shamed.

So much of my time is freed, not scrambling for survival. I get to explore, wonder, play, find, relax, love, dream, laugh.

If I’m honest, I’m kinda bitter to have both the psychological trauma of my childhood and early adulthood and now the physical pain of mid-life and beyond (which terrifies me). However, I would say to my best friend today, “At least if I have to suffer the pains of the damned, I’m not emotionally tortured anymore.”

She say’s I’m a Fucking PollyAnna, always finding the silver-lining, but don’t mess. 🙂
happiness

The Jig Is Up!

The jig is up! I’m staying in Utah! It’s obvious now that I was manipulating an opportunity for my friends to beg me not to go. (None did.) (Bastards.) A year ago on Facebook, I started my LIVE LOVE SLC campaign as a good-bye to the city I’ve loved for 20 years. The result was a year of enriching cultural activities that I always mean to do but say I don’t have enough money when the time comes. Generally, we enjoyed inexpensive things but we splurged on some really worthwhile occasions, as well, and I’m so happy we did. At the end of one year, I have more memories, the same amount of hangovers, and no more or less money than if I’d missed out.

I’d planned to save massive amounts of money on rent near family in Idaho, and travel travel travel. I could get any old job. I’ve always had any old job. Instead, I accidentally fell into a temp position that was clearly the perfect fit for my office and for me, and they offered it to me right away, permanently. I took my time to commit, until I could secure a situation here that will meet my needs and goals. And now I have. I can drive a couple of hours to see my kin, cuz the last of my 3 best girlfriends is leaving Salt Lake (for Germany!) and I’m buying her car.

I hoped to take the bus-and-bike lifestyle to a decade, but I’m satisfied with 9 years. I’m pleased with my contribution to less congestion in the air and on the ground. I’m excited to visit my grandma, who just turned 89, and my new baby nephews – only a year apart! – back home. I’m excited for road trips and music festivals. I’m excited to hike! I’m excited for freedom and convenience, and I hope I don’t get fat. I lost 20 lbs 9 years ago, by accident of peddling.

I’m excited to stay. I thought the presence of Idaho State University would give Pocatello the community education opportunities I so love about Salt Lake City, but there was nothing. It’s too bad. Could be a charming town.

I get to continue djembe! Since African has become too demanding for my body to sustain with Fibromyalgia, I’ll switch to belly dance, and keep the beat for SLC African Drum and Dance Corp instead.

And even with all 3 of my best girlfriends moved and gone, I still have my Chosen Family, a beautiful band of artists and weirdos who love to laugh, love fun, love each other, and love me for being loud and lovely and strange and obnoxious when drunk, or sober. Sometimes I look around at my people and think, “How did I get so lucky?” Sometimes I look around and think, “What the hell is wrong with me?”

I get everything I want!

****

Ha! My neighbor just told me I dashed his plans. “We were going to have coffee-colored babies.”

“With cream,” I added.

“Yeah,” he said. “I figured it would take me about a year and a half to get you to fall in love with me.”

“I don’t have that kind of time!”

Guess that’s as close as I get to the begging I was hoping for from my  jerks, er, friends. 😉