What Happened?

Maybe writing is like reading: Stop doing it for awhile, and years later you find you just… stopped. That happened to me after I finished my English degree. I was so burned out I said, “I’m not reading again until I feel like it!”

Five years later, I realized I hadn’t read a book in 5 years! I never did “feel” like it, just had to do it. I love to read. I can’t believe how easy it was to forget.

So much has happened, too. Like real, cool stuff to write about, beyond my trademark ramblings and wonderings. I took 2 of the best trips of my life. PORTLAND – reconnecting with an old friend – and ESCALANTE/GRAND STAIRCASE – reconnecting with the Earth and my feet on it! (I needed that after Spain 2 years ago, and Texas and New York last year. I was beginning to think I can’t do this travel thing.)

Ha! I still don’t feel like writing. Suffice that they were awesome trips, full of beauty, joy, magic, adventure, bravery, success, and fun. Now, see pics:

Sat. May 21, 2016

Young redhead in braids at Portland’s Redhead Event

hoops

I made hoops. They were a huge hit!

pippi

We had to bring a childhood pic to be counted. (We were far short of the World Record, but 600+ are more ginge than I’ve enjoyed!) May 21, 2016

rojo

ROJO came to the Redhead Fest! I’ve been in love with him since I saw him on Unlikely Animal Friends on Nat Geo. I almost started crying! I fan-girled OUT.

Rojo the Llama of Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas

lara and me

International Rose Test Garden with old friend, Lara, who was such a warm and gracious host. It was such a fun, comfortable visit. I began to have travel anxiety when I realized, “No, I’m safe. I just have to ask for what I need.” She was so non-judgy and nice to me!

japanese garden

Japanese Garden, where I became convinced that Portland is a land of fairies under a green canopy, where the Mother breathes and loves and pulses and heals. My friend Renae told me to expect a transformation!

ross island

Ross Island in the Willamette River… This is bikeable green space IN the metropolis! I rode 8+ miles my first day.

*****

calf creek falls

Lower Calf Creek Falls

slot canyon

pictographs

Pictographs!

boulder ut

Boulder, UT, is a funky artist/outdoorfolk enclave.

 

*****

Oh, and a quick weekend at my roommate’s family lodge in Wyoming! June 2016lodgepond

black's fork

Black’s Fork River only crosses the property three times, but it splits off into so many tributaries that I felt like I crossed it a dozen times!

old schoolhouse

Old schoolhouse

jax

Roomie on a Rope Swing

soaked

I struggled on my dismount and went for a swim!

Books

I can read again! It took 2 months after my trauma in Spain to crack a book and stay with it. I had stops and starts, but I’m reading again. It’s lovely.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” ― James Baldwin

Smudge

I’ve mentioned that I’m unable to concentrate. I can’t read. I looked forward to literature as an escape, and grieved that I couldn’t have it when I needed it most. I mentioned this to my best friend, who responded that during her most traumatic life experience, the attack on her daughter by the teenager’s boyfriend, she lost the ability to read, as well, and that her mother in-law, who’s currently helping her husband through the final phases of inoperable cancer, can’t sit with a book, either.

My best friend gave me the password to her Netflix account and I’ve been numbing on mindless marathons of movies and series. My favorite has been “Long Island Medium.” While watching Theresa Caputo’s children mock her, yet again, for smudging the house (after seasons of this), it finally came to my mind, Darling Daughter, smudge your home.

I had reverted to invented conversations with people who’ve wronged me. My biological father, for some reason, came back to a place of importance as the first person to tell me I was unworthy. I wanted to tell him, in death, “What difference does it make that you’re gone? You were never here.” (He’s alive.) Spirit told me, Smudge your home.

I have this years-old stick of white sage that I bound when it was fresh, still damp. It came from Dreaming Lizard Ranch, where many times I’ve celebrated with people I love, people with whom I Am Worthy because they are. We bound the sage during a rainstorm at a festival. It was a time of laughter, music, and prayer. It came from family.

I’d saged a time or 2, but stored it in a box and forgot about it. Today, I smudged my ghetto apartment for the first time. Subsequently, I had the best day at work, the best since The Idahoan dumped me 2 weeks ago by unfriending me on Facebook. (He teaches middle schoolers. Acts like them, too, it seems.)

(Keep in mind that on the first date he asked me if I wanted kids. “Yes.” On the second date, he asked me to be his girl and would my stuff “fit in here?” On the third date, when my friend asked, he intimated that I’d be moving in at the end of my lease in December, and on the sixth DAY he told me he loved me. And I went to bed with him. So, yeah, I acted like a kid, too. I remember why I withhold my benefits package for 2 months or more, not because I’m a tease but because I’m not an idiot. Well, not always.)

Of course I’m glad to know, but rejection hurts. And refusing closure or even the dignity of an explanation is cowardice that feels like worthlessness. Mine.

I had another good day today. I feel better. I thank God and Angels and Spirit and Source for whatever connection I feel that gets me to where I need to be. I am comforted. And whadya know? I found a book at work that got me reading again.

wild child

Growing Up

I heard once, of raising children, “The first 40 years are the hardest.” That could certainly be said of me for my parents, ha!

Last night, I posted on ye ol’ Facebook the invite to my “Forty Fabulous Forty!” birthday party, and I’m getting so excited. I can’t say what an amazing year this has been, to go through the last of what has been consistently traumatic family interaction to arrive at today. As I’ve said, it sorrows me that the successful solution seems to be estrangement, but I’m so consistently happy and productive since I struck out in this new way – giving up and giving in – that I must also conclude, again, that it was the right thing to do. It has given me precisely what Pema Chödrön promised it would: softening. I feel so much better!

Today, a passage in her book, “When Things Fall Apart/ Heart Advice for Difficult Times,” struck me with such peace and clarity that I have to quote the whole segment. I haven’t picked it up for months, so the timing was incredible, with my much-anticipated 40th merely 10 days away. (Or not incredible at all, really. 🙂 )

“When we feel squeezed, there’s a tendency for the mind to become small. We feel miserable, like a victim, like a pathetic, hopeless case. Believe it or not, at that moment of hassle or bewilderment or embarrassment, our minds could become bigger. Instead of taking what’s occurred as a statement of personal weakness or someone else’s power, instead of feeling we are stupid or someone else is unkind, we could drop all the complaints about ourselves and others. We could be there, feeling off guard, not knowing what to do, just hanging out there with the raw and tender energy of the moment. This is the place where we begin to learn the meaning behind the concepts and the words.

We’re so used to running from discomfort, and we’re so predictable. If we don’t like it, we strike out at someone or beat up on ourselves. We want to have security and certainty of some kind when actually we have no ground to stand on at all.

The next time there’s no ground to stand on, don’t consider it an obstacle. Consider it a remarkable stroke of luck. We have no ground to stand on, and at the same time it could soften and inspire us. Finally, after all these years, we could truly grow up. As Trungpa Rinpoche once said, the best mantra is, ‘OM – grow up – swaha.’

Finally! I am growing up. Phew! I held on to the mantra, “NOT FAIR!” for too long.

I have no ground to stand on but this ground, this beautiful earth, and I’m on it!
I’M FORTY!!!!!

“Having been so dissatisfied with my own and the world’s shortcomings, I would have thought myself a suicide by 30.” -Alice Walker

first 40 years
It was my therapist who said it. 🙂 She was right.

Tonglen

I’ve just been introduced to the concept of Tonglen. In real time, my life is changed.

Tonglen instructs us to take IN suffering, injustice, rape, starvation, violence, filth, misunderstanding and heartache, and to breathe out understanding, connectedness, sameness, wellness, wholeness, a hand, love. I believe this practice can coexist with prior lessons I’ve learned on healing myself, which were to breathe in healing to the place that hurts – on the body, the mind, the spirit – and breathe out the rancor of pain.

It’s human nature to avoid things that sting. (It was a smart evolutionary trick. We’re still here.) We see all the time the disastrous consequences of turning a blind eye, but it’s what we tend to do when faced with discomfort. Tonglen says, instead, NO. Look at the perverse, hideous nature of pain. Take it. Feel it. Breathe it.

Tonglen makes me feel more related to everyone on the planet than I ever have before. We all know the alienation of fear and misunderstanding. In this life and in generations past, we have been the victims AND the perpetrators of crime. I breathe in pain, in solidarity with those who suffer right now. I breathe in pain because I know it. I breathe out relief in solidarity. I breathe out relief because I know it.

I know relief! Mine is yours. I’ll feel differently one day, but right now my peace is yours.
heart advice

Pema Chödrön

Pema Chödrön