1 year & 7 months – Jul. 2012

Facebook gave me a gift this morning


This little sentimentality-creating feature helped me see the wound I’ve put into the story about my son and how I have loved him.  The post was made during the ten weeks in which I attempted to build a home from nothing for myself, my young boy, and my not-yet-born girl; away from their father, but near enough to give him access to their lives regularly.  Olympia, Washington was where we landed.  It was clean, charming, and all around me I could see the potential of this lovely city but I could not access hope within myself.

I have gone through the gamut of negative feelings upon numerous reflections over the experience of losing the family and life I tried to build.

I’ve made myself miserable, as though I alone was responsible for the grief I was experiencing.

When people have remarked on the strength it took to uproot my son, myself, and my damn-nearly-born child I have felt estranged.

I didn’t feel at the time that I had a choice.

I love life.
The choice seemed like one between life and a slow, terrible, death.

I have given my son, my daughter, and myself the experience and lessons of the strength we must have sometimes to remain in the light of loving to live.  And today, the often soft, social media realm has given me a remarkably helpful glimpse at myself while I was on that line – between living fully and surviving.  I loved my son.  I have loved him so fiercely since the moment I knew he was growing inside of me that I have made a bit of a chore of it.  My overly zealous desire for perfection-in-creation has taken far too much energy from my ability to fully express in this life.

In this time of a New Moon in Cancer, and the peak of summer’s liveliest expression on the Northern Hemisphere, I set an intention to cultivate the pleasures of home and the rich satisfaction to be found in slowing down my movements elsewhere.  The infinite blessings of the universe helped me today and reminded me: Love this child!  Love this child! Love myself! Love my family! Love life!

Love life, even when it doesn’t meet the expectations you set out for it!
Love life, even when your imaginations of it are grander than your abilities!
Love life, because there is no other reason for us to be here.

East of Eden

After 3 years, 6 months, and 30 minutes of effort, yesterday I lost ~180 lbs. I got divorced at last. I was sky-high in freedom yesterday.

I’m reviewing the dog-eared pages of East of Eden after finally having read the Steinbeck novel I bought at least ten years ago. I marked this in chapter 21, part 3,

Some people think it’s an insult to the glory of their sickness to get well. But the time poultice is no respecter of glories. Everyone gets well if he waits around.

About three and a half years ago I wrote this, Life’s Best Poultice.

After court, paying homage to my lesser demons (alcohol, cheeseburger, custard, nicotine), and taking a gluttony-induced walk through a local labyrinth I landed a few yards behind a well-looking couple with their child.  They were good-humored, fit, and groomed and a while after following behind them I realized that I had not felt the pain of longing for that family style.

My monkey-mind was instead sizing up her fit body and adding lines to the endless dramatic book of body-image and self-shaming to which I’ve historically been accustomed.

…There is a time for every thing.  I will wait around and continue to be healed.

A Screwdriver for Life

This time of year is hard for me.  I’m reaping the bulk of summer efforts.  I’m holding feverishly tight to a season I know will change.  I’m resuming schedules that require more discipline and putting my nose to that damned old grind stone. Separating the wheat from the chaff.  All this, plus significant personal developments in the crumbling pillars of the Cathedral of Life’s Challenges (with a vast Karmic basement), is making me feel Crabby.  I’m emotional.  I’m dragging my feet in the work I’m committed to.  I’m lost in confusing day-dreams and occasionally unraveled by painful memories.

I’m getting better at dealing with The Feels.  It’s been a long and challenging road here, but I have tools in my coping tool-box that are clean and ready when broken feelings spring out of my otherwise logical brain.  One of my most trusted tools to getting back on the good foot is singing.  I’ve always been partial to loud, belting choral or gospel arrangements with special soft spots for soul and blues.  The history of blues and all its children particularly sings to me.  On the drive into work this morning The Alabama Shakes soothed me, and later, when I was walking the halls, trying to quell another surge of the feels, an unlikely late-comer popped into my head.

I never listened to Frank Sinatra growing up.  It wasn’t until Finding Nemo gave me “Beyond the Sea” that I paid him any mind at all.  Though I like music of that era and style, I never dug for it the way I have dug for Nina Simone or The Kinks. However not long after giving birth to Mme. Lu, when “just keep swimming” was about the only thing I could muster from day to day, a mix CD by my uncle literally fell into my lap from the CD visor of my parents’ minivan.  On that CD was Frank Sinatra singing “That’s Life.”  I listened to that song on repeat for thirty minute drives.  I sang it day in and day out while struggling to dig out from the depths of the worst feelings of my life.  It became a mantra.  If one of my kids was having a rough time, I’d begin singing it as a means to prop us both up.

The CD proved to be an impermanent messenger of grace and just as it had fallen into my lap one horrible day out of many, it was lost to who-knows-where when I’d caught my breath just a little.  My legs were less shakey.  My will and direction and self-support systems were stronger. I guess I hadn’t listened to it for a few weeks so whichever little pixie dropped it off saw to it that I moved on and took it away again.  Or so I like to imagine.  It didn’t go before I’d memorized the song though.  I still pull it out of my tool box when I need a bit of humor or light-hearted strength.  “Don’t Wanna Fight” is the wrench, whereas “That’s Life” is more like a screw driver, or in my family, a red clown-nose.

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race

Solstice Prayer (Soul Stitch)

The thought came over and over like a waterfall over rocks; tumbling and tumbling, churning the pool below into foam, I gotta sit with this. I gotta sit with this. Like saying jump while standing at the edge of a cliff. Like saying let go before you go down with the ship. She knew the emotion was at its most raw and she knew she would have to feel it one way or another. No time like the present. The gift of now is presence. All manner of algorithms and encouragements found her and helped her to be seated before her last remaining set of cards–a barely viewed deck of Sacred Geometry. She dove in, shuffling, thinking clarity, guidance, grounding. Clarity, guidance grounding, in the same rhythm she had when first learning to run. Cadence. Rhythm. Comfort. She flipped the deck over and pulled the card on top. She cut the deck and pulled the card on top. One card was stuck with so she used that as well.

The energy of Communication makes you aware that you are able to communicate with your body, thus understanding its signals and solving its discomforts. This energy brings your body and your spirit in deeper contact with each other.
The energy of Confirmation tells us that our consciousness is developing rapidly. Everything we think is actually confirmed. If we think or live based on fear, this fear will indeed be confirmed. Develop your power of thought and create what you really want. Then, your wishes will be confirmed.
The energy of Enlightenment helps you realize that you are a being of light. You are the personification of strength and divinity.

She chuckled at the mirror the cards always held.  She thought, I have a bad feeling about this, after reading the first card and was humbled and bowed before the second and third.

The cards, the divine, always asking patience of us.  Always urging us to use our bodies and minds for the love that made us.  Always reminding us that it could be worse.  I want to carry the knowledge and strength of the divine within me like life-long church/temple goers.  I want to remind myself that gawd and God alone knows the plan.  I want, like Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, in The Warmth of Other Suns, who escaped the Mississippi plantation cotton fields and survived the hard cold isolation of Chicago for Black People, to know that “I don’t know no better than God.”  I want to be so forgiving and so sure.  I want to love and stand strong in the face of whatever hardship may come.  I want to love and stand strong in the embrace of whatever grace may come.  And I don’t want to suffer fools while doing it.

It Is and Is Not a Big Deal

wisdomforblogThe count down to the boy having his tonsils removed is down to one day.  It both is and is not a big deal.  It’s a big deal.  My baby having surgery is a big deal.  Any where from 4 days to 10 days of recovery is a big deal.  Liquid Vicodin for 4 year olds is a big deal.  All of that.  And it isn’t a big deal because it’s the hand shake of surgeries.  It’s a good deal because his health will improve with better sleep, more oxygen, possibly even improved appetite.  And all that is stressful.  I have brief fantasies that I will be a productive wench while he recuperates, but I should probably allow for the possibility that I’ll be really busy being a nurse those three days I get to be home with him afterward.

We haven’t heard from his father since we learned that he was in Colorado.  Ostensibly he was visiting his parents.  My mom is nervous he’s laying in wait to spring a surprise visit on us.  She makes sure the doors are locked at all times.  Her nerves are a bit contagious.  So that’s happening.

My car became ill with consumption.  Incapacitated.  Dead until I miracle hundreds of dollars into my life.  Can I make a compelling kickstarter for this?  Seems ridiculous and even shameful to think of such things.  So yeah, there’s that too.

The car and not having savings enough to do the things that would maintain my health and the health of my car and home was a real kick in the teeth, especially as: the holidays.  I’ve really grown to love the holidays in my adult life.  Especially with kids, I relish creating as much magic and merriment as I can.  But it’s a boat load of cranberries to pretend it isn’t adding to my stress.  I am doing my best to minimize that, but really what is most likely happening is I’m watching the finish line approach, knowing things are not done and thinking, Oh Well.  The heat will be on, I’ll stress myself to bits the night or two before trying to do something, anything for those friends and co-workers “I should” give “something” to.   Because, as Garrison Keillor put it on PHC today, “what if I don’t?”  They may just get cards reading “Friendship” and I will remind them that it’s a gift I give 24/7.  That’ll humble ’em! Bah. Humbug.


All that was actually the preface to what I was going to do tonight, because I wanted to do something (there’s that sentiment again!).  I have written and saved three posts this weekend.  They’re raw.  They’re uncut.  Here are passages from each that mean something universal, I think.  From me to you: LIFE and all its baubles….

How does she lead in to a long-winded kvetch with so many feelings choking the narrow passage out? Her complaints feel ordinary and Continue reading

So Long, Pippi

On Saturday night my car did a very inconvenient thing.  It died just after I left the house for a date with a seriously beneficial person.  Undeterred I grabbed my bag and walked the four or five blocks home.  I made sure my car was dead in a legal overnight spot and grabbed the keys to my mom’s van.  Onward.

define beneficial

resulting in good


While making the drive to the date I preached to myself.  I have been ignoring my intuition in the area of finances.  My intuition has been correct, but I have not liked what it has been saying.  Instead I’ve been begging the universe for more time or for mercy.  Looks like time ran out!  Some deep cuts, as the politicians say, will have to be made; some tough choices.  The sermon I gave myself was about all that and more deeply about disallowing myself to feed Pippi Snotstockings.

Pippi Snotstockings is the name that was given to the part of me that is all about instant gratification, selfishness and petulance.  She is the one who ignores car repair expenses while allowing holistic healthcare expenses.  She is the one who blurts out whatever is on her mind while pretending that words don’t linger.  She can be fun, but is more often damaging, especially in the long run.

So I recognized the issue, owned it and came up with a solution.  Every time I hear the voice in my head that says “I don’t wanna….” I’m going to say to it (her) “I don’t care.”

“I don’t care that you don’t want to go to the gym.  I don’t care that you don’t want to wait.  I don’t care that you want something right now that you can’t afford. In the long run what you get now will not add to the long term health or freedom of this family I’m raising.”

On the heels of this very grown up and certain-to-be-challenging sermon came an idea.  The idea is based on the fact that I am a writer not writing.  I’m not writing for myriad perfectly good excuses.  Despite the tidy effectiveness of the excuses they are not helpful or healthy to my growth.  I want to add “I don’t wanna write” to my list of things Pippi is no longer in charge of.  I don’t have time, it’s true.  My life is extremely demanding on me, it’s true.  My resources are limited, it’s true, but so what? It’s never going to be a good time to become a better writer and every day I let pass without writing takes what practice I have given it away from me.  My ability to construct sentences and stories diminishes.  My knowledge of grammar diminishes.  All of it.  Couldn’t I write just a little every day?  Even if I write a post about doing things I didn’t want to do, even if no one but me reads it, at least I’m here getting better.  At least I’m here using the gift I ask for the most in my life.

They tried to bury us.  They didn’t know we were seeds.  – Mexican Proverb

Monday Overcome

steam rising with the day

We woke early. Five thirty gray dawn. “Just give me another hour,” I futilely begged. “Then I’ll make some eggs for you.”

Yesterday was a hard day, but sometimes the hardest days present the best opportunities for grace.  An elderly southern doctor, shuffling in cowboy boots and white coat, informed me that though he could hear a murmur in my boy’s neck he is healthy as a horse.  He told me that sometimes the murmur will happen in the neck and the chest will act like the body of a banjo and make it resonate much larger than it is.  His banjo analogy made me want to follow him home like a lost and hungry grandchild, sit at his kitchen table and eat Saltines with him.