Halloween Capers

and Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been taking a Community Ed class at East High here in Salt Lake. Quinn decided on a break from teaching djembe [that threatens to be a long-term shift], and I needed focus and music in my life. I’m not terrifically self-directed, so I pulled my old guitar out of the garage and started again with Beginning Beginners. I love it.

My wrist has not complained like it did when I dusted off my rusty, twanging dreams 4 years ago, when my real journey with Fibro began. I definitely feel it, but pain patches and yoga really seem to be taking care of me for now. LARGE BLESSINGS!

My body is my own again!

It’s clear that the janitors come during our class, because every week when I leave, the halls simply sparkle. For some reason [I’m weird], last week I got the idea to leave notes for the cleaners. I giggled and giggled dreaming up my caper and yesterday, I finally played out my little impish frolic. I ducked around a corner every time I heard someone approach, then re-emerged to post another note. No explanation can capture the why of this, or how hard I had myself laughing.

Trick or Treat!

Halloween is my FAVORITE HOLIDAY!

2011

Redhead Costume Idea … FIRE Itself!

second-floor

thank-you

“Excellent Work!” “Wonderful Job!”

Happy Haunting!

I had the best, almost sacred Halloween! I entertained at my house after a very small group of friends and I enjoyed a haunted Salt Lake City bus tour. I served home-made rum cider and an appetizer of local, organic apples and home-canned plum habañero sauce on a baguette w/ morbier cheese and spring greens. (And Halloween candy.) We spent late evening each telling our ghosts’ stories – I mean the stories of the spirits of our ancestors and lost children and friends and brothers. And laughed our asses off. And really had… just a lovely time together. I’m so blessed.

(“The universe is conspiring to benefit me!”)

(“I’m rich with pocket magic!”)

(Oh, and my Grandpa came by. No, really, he did. Hi, Grandpa! I love you. Thank you.)

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.

Happy One-Year Blogiversary! A Review:

Have I accomplished the goal I set with this blog?

I’ve chosen estrangement from my parents. That feels like failure, so I’m inclined to answer, “No.” However, my stress set-point is reduced. Knowing I expect nothing from them has calmed me down. I still get depressed; I still get annoyed; I’m still attitudinal. I’m less defeated. Until I sent that letter to dad after Thanksgiving, I still hoped to someday be included in the circle of things/people they accept/love. Now I don’t. Nothing’s changed. Any change took place more than a year ago, when I realized, “Holy crap, I’ve been delusional. They’ve never accepted me and they never will.” Once dad saw that I would never tow the line, I became second-class, a stepdaughter. Mom is silent. I am the former Mormon whose disapproving family merely tolerates her. Somehow, writing them off, literally, put me at ease. It’s profoundly sad, but it’s done. Now I can heal.

I feel like I’m lying to myself, that the only true healing is reintegration with them. Maybe that’s the lie. I don’t know how I feel about my progress. I guess I’ll tell the story.

****

In November 2011, I was fired from a job I worked for over 5 years. It was a very untoward sacking, and I didn’t handle it well. I had a breakdown and called my mother for support. She panicked, hearing only my “attack” voice, and began attacking me. We have never communicated successfully, peacefully, or even kindly. Since I was born, it was war or walking on eggshells. Offended, and out of habit, I did, then, attack her. She went crazy. It actually scared me. She was speaking nonsense. It was so strange and confusing it shocked me out of our pattern, fight to the death. (In my youth, I won by getting smacked around. “When you lose your temper, you lose,” she advised me, not intending irony. “Brain over braun,” I gloated. I remember taunting her that she had to hit me because she couldn’t outwit a 6 year old.)

On this day in November 2011, I realized for the first time, “Wow. I cannot turn to my mother for comfort. She has none to give.” It was ultimately softening as to my lifelong strife with her. She is at wit’s end at all times. There’s no comfort, even for herself. I was sad for her, and ashamed for taking so long to notice that my continued demands on her were chipping away at her sanity.

I was disappointed in myself. I have wonderful support. I couldn’t be satisfied by my mother’s past attempts to help me, because I wasn’t satisfied by her understanding of me. And I didn’t trust her. Anymore, she can’t even try to help. She’s… different. She’s old. She doesn’t have to do this anymore! It was actually one of the most freeing, loving moments of my life. At the time, I was in such a state that I simply got off the phone quickly and called my best friend, as I should have done in the first place.

Then the texts started. Mom has generational electronic anxiety. She’d never texted me before. The messages were vile. They were crazy! I asked her to stop. She didn’t. I called and explained precisely what I wrote above, that I understand now something I’ve never seen before. “I was wrong to keep coming to you. I’m so sorry.” But she wasn’t listening. She was screaming more disturbing, frightening things than she’s ever said before. In our long violent history, she’s hung up on me innumerable times, often rightfully so. This was the first I’d hung up on her. The texts kept coming. I took the bait, and three days of verbal volleys ensued.

Finally, I sent an apology to mom for participating in the latest battle, and promised it was the last. I told her I loved her, but wouldn’t be speaking to her for now. “I have to set new boundaries in order to avoid falling into our traps.” She mocked my new-found maturity, finding it “interesting that [I] would set these boundaries without first consulting [her].” (“Personal boundaries don’t require consensus!”) My friend forbade me reply.

(I saved the exchanges for weeks, rereading and reliving them until my friend insisted I delete them. I needed my proof and righteousness so badly I’d let it kill my soul, but she loves me too much to watch me choose my demons over my truth.)

I called dad. “Obviously, you’re privy to what’s been going on. I want to apologize for my participation in it. I was wrong, and I’m done. I tried to explain it to mom, but she can’t hear it right now so I want you to understand that this time is different. I see things in a way I never have before.” I explained the life-altering epiphany I had, that she has no comfort to spare and I was hurting, even damaging her by continuing to demand it. “I’m telling you, this will never happen again. I’m sorry it took so long for me to see.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“Thanks, dad. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

Christmas 2011

I was nervous, but excited to see my mom. I felt, like I said, a new softness for her. I regret the years I’ve made her pay for the abuse that started my life and shaped the way I see the world. She made very serious mistakes that caused me real, lasting harm, but I see in the lines on her face how deeply she regrets her choices. I’m her greatest heartache. That makes me sad. She’s just a little girl with a cold, disapproving father (spare-the-rod sort), who’s known since she was twelve that she was depressed, whose life ran away from her, whose anxiety took over in the form of blinding rages against her mouthiest child. (No, I will not shut up!) I hate to say it, but I pity her. I love her so much and I admire what she survived. I admire her convictions. I admire her intent to live a righteous life. She is the least hypocritical Mormon out there. She lives her life quietly, honestly, honorably, by the credo, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” She is self-sufficient and shy, and loves the Church for reminding her to extend a hand of service to her fellowman. She’s just the well-meaningest thing you ever saw. I feel so bad for her.

At dinner, my father and brother in-law started throwing out hypothetical situations in which to hate homosexuals. I hate my sister’s husband for this change in my family, and I am endlessly disappointed in my father for not noticing, and participating. We didn’t spend all of our time judging others before Dan appeared. Now it’s all they talk about! My sister married a good ol’ boy from Mississippi, who told her when they were engaged that he left his home because he didn’t want to raise his family around black people. Now, we’re from the potato part of Idaho, not the neo-Nazi part, but a boy that far away wouldn’t know to make the distinction. He handpicked Idaho for reasons of complexion. Once there, he found the Mormon church. I’m ashamed of how easy it was for a weak white man to find empowerment in the priesthood, as well as a pretty girl who survived a turbulent family by disappearing into the woodwork, a properly opinionless woman.

You might think, knowing me as you do, that I disliked him from the beginning. Well, yes, I did. I was bratty and snide. But I grew up. I began to appreciate his talent with animals. Mostly, I came to respect how much he adored my sister’s growing family. My biological father didn’t care if I lived or died, as far as I knew, and it meant the world to me that my nieces knew their daddy loved them. I thanked him again and again for that, and for being a good provider. I went out of my way to use specifics and make it personal. My sister is happy, and I’m grateful. I gave my brother in-law thoughtful presents, like Church magazines on Daddy Daughter Dates and a framed black-and-white I took of his beloved golden retriever, Maggie. I took endless photos of him and his daughters laughing and playing. He’s never spoken to me, except to make fun of me once in front of his buddy. (I didn’t know that Bear Lake is one body of water straddling Utah and Idaho and not 2 lakes with the same name.)

One time, I complained to my brother before driving to Mel and Dan’s for Easter dinner. “Every time we’re there, he’s going on and on about another group he hates.”

My little brother was in junior high then. “You don’t know him,” he responded. “You haven’t been here for a long time.”

“You’re right,” I thought. “I haven’t,” and off we went. Walking through the door, we were greeted by Dan’s voice and the end of a conversation. “Well, I don’t know about you,” he jeered, “but I wouldn’t want to live next to a bunch of Jews either.”

I shot my brother a look.

“Don’t!” he ordered.

“Mmm hm.” I walked off, sanctimonious.

No, I never liked my sister’s husband. It is with much chagrin that I think of my girls learning his values. But it is in this that I find purpose. That’s what Fun Aunt Christie is for! Someday, somehow, they might see, “There is another view.”

Christmas 2011 was different. It was never so egregious as to take place at the dinner table, or if it started to, dad would joke, “Watch out for Christie.” (Hilarious.) Til now, it had always been conversation I could avoid or disagree with in a passing manner. I knew Dan would rather I just shut up, but I had a job to do. And for heaven’s sake – literally! – can we not talk about hatred on the night of our dear Savior’s birth? You call him your Lord and yet you seem to forget the very message of his life: To love the OTHER. This is holy celebration! And you’re using it to advance hatred? I expect as little from that Klan member Dan, but not my dad. I sat in silence for as long as I could, but I just kept thinking, “What if one of my nieces is gay? What if a little heart is breaking right now? What if someone at this table at this second is just dying inside?” I don’t really think any of my nieces is gay, but that’s not the point. It’s not okay to teach that, ever. At Christmas, it’s downright sinful.

I was adversarial, I won’t deny. I didn’t yell, but I was self-righteous. “I cannot believe you’re sitting here spouting off [such and such]…” and “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!”

Dad argued that a gay urbanite would be more likely to die in the Alaskan bush than a straight city-sweller. I think sexual orientation has no bearing on adaptability, but in our dictatorship family, dissent is not allowed.

I’d never seen my dad so angry. He’s very mild-mannered, but he was hateful. “You can call me a bigot if you want, Christie,” he snapped, “but that’s how I feel.” Whoa. I never saw my father as a bigot, until he accused me of calling him one. That’s what bigots do. My sister’s husband is a bigot, racist, sexist, all of it. My father’s just a guy from another generation who’s only ever known people who look, think, and act like him.

(I consider my restraint heroic for never having screamed at him, “How do you not see that your brother, the tap-dancing rancher, is GAAAAAAAAAAY!???) (I admire and love my uncle more and more. Faithful practicing Mormon, celibate, never-married, one of the most pleasant, generous, loving people I know. A kind, joyful man. And fabulous.)

My folks left after dinner. Mom thanked me for their gift. Dad wouldn’t speak to me.

Before bed, my sister pulled me aside. “Christie,” she started, “I don’t know how to say this.” My stomach dropped to my toes. “Don’t go to mom anymore.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“She can’t handle it anymore.”

“I know. What are you talking about?” I asked again. “Oh.” It all made sense now, dad’s hostility. He didn’t believe me when I shared my epiphany, or if he had, he didn’t care. He was still mad at me, and talking about it behind my back to the rest of the family. They get together, decide what my behavior means, and tell me about it during the holidays.

“You can come to me,” my sister offered.

“I’m the one who said I wouldn’t turn to her anymore.”

“I don’t want to hear it,” she cut me off.

“Melanie, you just said I could come to you…”

“Go to bed, Christie,” Dan ordered me from upstairs. I looked at him, then turned back around and continued with my sister.

“You unload misinformation on me and then won’t listen to my perspective?”

“I don’t want to hear it,” she said again.

“Are you even listening to yourself? ‘Come to me. I don’t want to hear it.'”

“I’m not as smart as you, Christie.”

“Wait a minute. It didn’t happen like that. I told dad I wouldn’t go to mom anymore – and I haven’t – so there’s no point in you saying it now.”

“CHRISTIE!” Dan roared.

“I’m having a conversation with my sister,” I sneered.

“NO!” he screamed. “SHUT UP, you BITCH!” My face must have registered shock, because he said, “You are a bitch!” (I was surprised. At his behavior. My brand new sister in-law was in the house and all 4 of my nieces were sleeping in the living room. I could see them!) (Oh, and… all strong-willed women are called Bitch. Idiot.)

“My sister and I are working this out just fine, thanks.”

He charged down the stairs with his fists clenched, chest pushed out, face purple, and veins bulging. Melanie jumped out from behind me and held him back. The whole time he’s screaming, “Shut up, you bitch! You’re a bitch! Shut up!”

“All I’ve ever said to you is thank you,” I yelled back. “I’ve always appreciated that you’re a good provider, Dan! I’ve never said anything but thank you!”

“Shut UP! Shut up! Don’t you ever shut up? Shut up, you BITCH! You’re a bitch!”

Melanie finally screamed, “DAN!” and broke his gaze from me. I ran upstairs. I couldn’t sleep, cried all night, and had my brother take me to the bus stop in the morning. “I don’t want to put words in your mouth,” I said to him, “but I won’t mind if you tell Dan that you don’t appreciate him talking to your sister like that.” (He didn’t.)

Later, instant messaging, Melanie denied that Dan tried to attack me. “His veins bulge all the time,” she excused him. “And you didn’t seem scared.” (So it’s okay what he did?) I reminded her that I grew up being beaten, and learned to choose Fight over Flight… to the death. I remember 2 times specifically as a small girl that I believed I was going to die, once while I watched my arm turn blue and once running down the street in stocking feet in the rain. I didn’t get far. Flight failed. Stand your ground and show no fear.

New Year’s 2012

I began having a strange cluster of health problems and pain that ultimately resulted in a diagnosis in March of auto-immune disease, but not before going under anesthesia for tests. I reported a reaction to Sudafed when I was a baby. The doctor wanted to know what happened, and I couldn’t tell him. He wouldn’t put me under until he knew, so I called my parents. They, of course, screened the call so I left a detailed message. And another. And another. Finally, I said, “I understand. I won’t answer when I see it’s you, but it’s very important that I get this information. Please leave me a message. Thank you.” NOTHING.

I left one last very stern but calm message. “How long are you going to shut me out? This has gone on long enough!” I scolded them. “I require medical treatment and I cannot proceed without information that you have. You should be ashamed of yourselves.” Within an hour I received a breezy voice mail with the info I needed and not a hint of acknowledgement of having ignored my pleas for weeks.

We never spoke again.

Thanksgiving 2012

My parents have held Thanksgiving for my immediate family at their new house in Twin Falls, ID, for years. I didn’t have a car so I rode with my aunt to Thanksgiving at Grandma’s in Pocatello. I’ve been the only representative from our branch for years, so I had no expectation of seeing anyone last year other than cousins and my beloved grandmother.

Imagine my surprise when, days before the holiday, I received a text from my sister. “Mom, dad, Ren and Alicia (brother and sister in-law) are coming over after dinner at Grandma’s. You’re more than welcome to come.” I was sick. (And astonished. In what world am I welcome in that house? WHAT COLOR IS THE SKY ON YOUR PLANET?!) I was only just beginning to look at the pain from the year before. Whenever that anger and heartache would boil, I just looked away. That’s not my style. I believe only by facing our fears can we hope to understand, learn from, or conquer them. This one was so big I gave myself permission to pretend it didn’t exist. It worked. And then that first anniversary was here. I had to look. I was furious. I allowed myself to seethe. I know me, and I know anger is part of my process, but I was terrified to see those people. I was too bottled up, too disgusted to see them. This was a holiday, a time to celebrate gratitude and grannies, not a time to explode.

I sought the council of my best friend. “What do I do? I can’t talk to them! I can’t face them!”

“Stick to your Grandma,” she advised me.

“I can do that.”

Wednesday night, I had total insomnia. Thanksgiving Day I was fairly twitching with fear and lack of sleep, but doing okay. I was enjoying the company of my cousins and nieces and feeling like maybe I’d worried for nothing. Coming down the stairs, however, I realized that dad and I would be bottle-necked alone and I began to panic. In my mind, I was running. Looking back, it feels like I had tunnel-vision on the bottom of those stairs. My dad elbowed me in the side and laughed, “You still not talkin’ to us? Har har.”

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!!!

I flipped around, finger in his face. “You owe me an apology!” I yelled under my breath. “You accused me of calling you a bigot. I have never called you a name in my life!” No one was the wiser and I took a seat with an uncle’s family rather than with my own.

I didn’t sleep again that night. I didn’t sleep for sixty hours straight.

I wrote my dad a letter apologizing for snapping at him. “I’ve learned that anger is easier to feel than pain and that pretty much sums up the first half of my life,” I wrote. “I really want a better second half.” I told him that 2012 had been one of the most difficult and rewarding years of my life, “and I did it completely alone, without support from my family and very little communication. I must conclude, then, that I’m better off that way for now. May it bring peace for all of us. I love you both.”

****

I don’t know. I’m still in it, I guess, far from forgiveness. I look at what I just wrote and think, “Is this just more evidence-gathering?” Am I just arguing my case to an obliging faceless, virtual public? “I’m RIGHT!” Is that all this is? It might be.

Or… Is this out of me at last? I’m the kind who has to tell the whole story until I’ve worked it all out. I try to be conscious of that dangerous place where you switch from working it out to rehearsing the script. I’m not even close to getting stuck in this. Right? I feel like I’m barely beginning to look at it. I was so raw last year, I couldn’t even think about it. It took more than a year to process the indignity of how I was fired! I only started looking at the holiday collapse of my family during the holidays. I think I’m gonna cut myself a break and say it all this once without judgment, without questioning my own motives. That’s my experience of what happened. There. It can only get further and further behind me.

Cluck like a chicken if you read all that, ha! That’s alright. I wrote it for me. Now I’m done.
support

Manifest 2013

Turn 40! Jump out of an airplane – at last! – on my birthday, April 27th… weeeee!

Go paragliding on my bestie’s 40th – June 18th… weeeee!

you are

Fit and Fabulous and Forty is living AWAKE and all the way. Here’s how I’ll do it:

Eat actual food… Learn a new recipe every month… Play with slowcooker and solar.

Lose this 15 pounds! No reason not to be my high school weight. Healthy, strong, trim. (Binge-eating/food addiction journal?)

Coffee and Diet Pepsi are occasional treats, not daily necessities. Green tea.

I am smoke free. Completely smoke free. Not one cigarette. Bright, clean, pink lungs!

Move to a place with more space, SUN SUN SUN, and cheaper rent (suburbs, gulp).

Surround myself with plants.

Write every day… journal… blog… poetry… vignettes… articles… Write every day.

Master circular breathing… Didge daily… Play with others… Meditate

Pray every morning… Angels said Leaf Pose for me… Pray every morning. For reals.

Choose gratitude every day, even the bad ones. I sit peacefully at the center of my life.

Read A Course In Miracles! A miracle a day for me in two, zero, one, and three!

Study throat chakra blockage and clearing… Heal it… and others… eventually…

Get voice coach… Learn 2 each, upbeat song and ballad… Have them at the ready.

Identify and perfect 2 monologues, comedic and dramatic… At the ready…

Audition for everything… Fail gloriously!… Relish every chance to improve and learn… Have fun! ENJOY the practice! “Thank you for the chance to celebrate my craft!” I love to audition! I love to audition! I’m so good at auditioning! Can’t wait to audition!

Invest in good headshots… ? blerg… hate to spend money… Can’t my bestie just do it?

Get one paying gig… anywhere… anything… Rebuild resume… Network… PERFORM! Love the stage again. Revel in the play and laughter of rehearsal and take it seriously.

Perform with Africa Heartwood Project… traditional chorals/ basic percussion…

Get a drum of my own.

(Re)learn guitar… Progress… My wrist is tight but fine. It will stay fine. Play through it. 

Play the piano. I have such a pretty little [poor neglected] piano.

Travel. Go to a new state. See a new country.

Cruise for the first time, possibly (friend’s June wedding if I’m not in a show)

New York for another wedding (and if so, all of New England!)

At least one old festival and one new festival

$ Oh yeah, money. I’m over it. Poverty is not this life’s sacred! Money. Thank you. $

Continue African Dance… Add Afro-Brazilian (Samba Fogo) and/or Zumba weekly…

Learn poi. 

Add three elements to hooping repertoire… PRACTICE… more fluid and dance-y-like…

Conquer blinding dizziness of  LED hoop… Use it, silly! (smaller diameter than I like)

Get my own fire hoop… ? … At least spin again in someone else’s.

Jog the steps of the Capitol at least once a week.

GET UP GET UP GET UP! I slept the first half. Now it’s fun. Wake up and LIVE!

When you joked, “… epitaph will read, ‘Lovingly gave half her life to sleep,'” you didn’t know you were manifesting the first half, did you? Get up, little wildfire. Don’t be afraid anymore to live out loud. It is what you came here to do. Get up and do it. 

“If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” Emile Zola                                                          

me, too… 🙂 

I only just began to understand that I can let go my Screaming Banshee and live out loud. She had a job, to protect me and insist on personal truth. I don’t need protecting anymore. Life isn’t so scary anymore. My truth is finally pleasurable. What a relief!

I freaking love 40. Happy New Year!

(P.S. Totally didn’t mean for my [first] vision board to match my bedroom. Isn’t it pretty?)

manifest!
bed

Christmas Miracle

I turned off the radio as I drove to visit my two little ladies. I said aloud, “Well, angels, now’s a good time to talk. Help me get through to [Jane]. So far, my face has not seemed to comfort her at all. I don’t care that dementia has made her angry. I only care that she does not seem to receive any benefit from my being there… so I leave. Please bring her angels in with me today so maybe she’ll recognize something familiar. I don’t know. Just… help me find a way to bring her peace. And let them both let go easily when they’re ready.”

I sat down with [Joan] first. She’s blind and a little confused, but her personality’s in full force. She’s quick, clever, kinda wicked, and pleased with her own jokes. I adore her. She hasn’t eaten for weeks but she’s still drinking, so she’s not quite active[ly dying]. But she’s slept through my last two visits. I miss her. I held her hand for 15 minutes or so. It’s hard to stick around when her roommate blares the TV. I sent her my thanks and love, and left. 

Then the long walk down the hall. I felt the fear creeping back up in me. “How do I honor [Jane’s] feelings without mirroring them back?” I prayed. “How do I bring joy without invalidating her anger? Walk in with me.” Oh, thank goodness! She was asleep.

I turned on some instrumental Christmas music and sat down, continuing to pray. I sat for about 20 minutes, longer than usual during naps, just enjoying a feeling. At last I decided to go. I quietly gathered my things, then turned back to say good-bye. And there she was. “Oh, hello!” I said, introducing myself again. “Do you remember me?”

She didn’t.

“I was just going to play some music and sit with you. Would that be alright?”

It would.

So I started over. Her garbled noises began. I felt the fear creeping up. (“Stay with me.”) Finally [Jane] enunciated clearly, “Heeeelllp! Help, heeellllllp,” over and over.

“How can I help?”

She indicated a string just out of her reach.

“Would you like the light on?”

She would. *click*
And she quickly changed her mind: “HEEELLLP! HELLLLP!”

“That’s pretty bright. Do you want it off?”

She did.

“We had a Christmas Eve blizzard all day yesterday, [Jane], and the sun came out today for the picture-perfect white Christmas! Did you know that?”

She didn’t.

“It’s gorgeous out there and it’s all the light we need, don’t you think?”

Yes.

“It is so beautiful today. Merry Christmas!”

She pointed to the closet.

“What a pretty sweater! Looks like Santa came last night. You musta been good,” and I’ll be damned if she didn’t burst out laughing! So I did too. [Jane] indicated that she’d like to wear it, but I was scared to move her. That twisted body looks like it hurts. (“Stay with me!”) I pushed her crash pad aside, sat on her bed, and gingerly tugged and lifted and wiggled and pulled until [Jane] at last wore her new Christmas sweater.

“We did it!” I sighed. “It even matches your nails. You look beautiful.”

And then the most amazing thing happened. Her eyebrows raised and she began to tell me in an excited, indecipherable whisper about this girl and that girl, pointing wildly at me.

“Me?” I asked.

“No, me!” she corrected.

“Of course! Tell me more.”

And she did. I kept praying that she wouldn’t feel patronized, knowing I couldn’t understand, when I had the thought, “For god’s sake, Christie, you’re an actress. Mean it!”

So I did. It was fun! This woman told me everything. She was so happy to tell me everything. I held and squoze and shook her hand and heard her everything. It was so wonderful to touch her! I was overwhelmed at the immediacy of their answer/ attendance. I was crying and laughing. I was playing, for heaven’s sake, and I stayed for an hour!

I thanked [Jane] for a wonderful Christmas and left to see Les Miserable with my family, my best friend and her daughter. My bestie whispered as the show began, “I’ve been waiting for this for 20 years!” We both fell in love with Les Miserable in high school: Me, the theatre geek onstage; she, the gifted flautist in the orchestra.

Les Miserable does not disappoint. See it! “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Some timing, huh? Sometimes you just have to believe in magic.

Thank you, angels. You seriously rock. Merry Xmas. Love, Xie

Through The Store Window

I try, I really try. That’s what we’re all doing here. Hence, they must be trying, too, but from my perspective my family is comprised of walking shells. “Turn a blind eye…” Repression, fear, and the unexamined self make for superficial, unfulfilling relationships that I cannot abide. I devolve into my lowest self, that angry brat who insists she will be HEARD, dammit! The more I demand it, the more they zombie out. For me, they are crazy-makers. I have to walk away. It is the act of courage it takes to grow up at long last and, in future, treat them and myself with gentleness, respect, and love. Developmental trauma’s a bitch. But I continue to repent myself, re-parent myself, forgive all of us and look on the whole sorry lot with tenderness and compassion. For now, I can do it only from the outside looking in.

“Friends are god’s way of making up for family.” I have been blessed with the companionship of like partners who treat each other as the therapist’s couch, and laugh and cry and love and hug and connect. There is nothing superficial about my urban family.

I never dreamed that my family of origin and I would fail, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, as they say. They cannot be different. I must be.

Grow up, Darling Daughter. The time is now. Forgive. And remember, you cannot perceive the future. Not even with your connection to Spirit.

“… which they dismiss as utterly insane!” I scream back at my angels. I’m loath to let go my screaming little banshee. She protected me for a long time.  

*sigh*

We’ll love in our own broken way. At an arm’s length that is miles and miles long. My heart breaks to acknowlege my personal truth. Historically and currently, my immediate family is harmful to my mental health. And I to theirs. Blah.

I miss them. I mourn the loss of a dream of domestic bliss with them.

I been cryin’. Must be Christmas.

(Super stoked for 2013! Hope we don’t all die next week. 🙂 hehehe.)