Category Archives: Liminal Life

ramblings about massive identity shifts, modifying habitual constructs, and generally looking at life through the narrator’s eye

Family Dinner Uncovers Crap Factory

Remember the movie with Bill Murray where he wakes up repeatedly to the same day? Probably in my thirties, I could have told you how the plot wound up, but this many years later what sticks is the emotional roller coaster he went through as events iterated ad nauseum. Getting outside of self-imposed limitations feels like that. But I have learned how to spell nauseum.

I’m trying out the “Law of Attraction” as a filter to for my self-management. The idea is that our subconscious and underlying beliefs draw to us the stuff of their imagining. That is terrific for people who dream of ponies and fairy sparkles but I’m up against a rough neighborhood. My conditioning has me convinced that I can have love OR success and certainly not both and quite possibly neither. So when I start heading toward success in one area, the wheels fall off in the others. It feels like that movie.

I was at my sister’s for dinner the other night, and my mom was there.

Cue the cellos.

“How is school going?” she asked.

As things go, school is FANTASTIC! I am back in it. My days are filled with research and interaction, technology and writing, ponies and fairy sparkles. Gold stars. Real ones like “Can I use your assignment as an example for my next class?” Expansive ideas — real ones that can lead to cash flow. But when Mom asks how school is going, I am suddenly in junior high. She isn’t asking me how school is going. She is asking me to justify my value. I’m 45 and she’s 83.

(And shut up, she is too. You don’t know her.)

Panic. Look to sisters for immediate assistance — nothing. Each of them takes another peanut butter bar. In “I Dream of Jeanie” would Jeanie have been able to disappear if she’d had to move her nose manually?

I’m pretty sure something really stupid is going to come out of my mouth and I imagine my lips glued together. Not sure what to call ‘IT’, but IT is happening again. Fighting against the magnetic vortex of suckage that IT inevitably brings makes me need a peanut butter bar something fierce. Don’t talk, I tell myself. Just don’t say ANYTHING.

“School is going well. I enjoy it very much.” The straight, honest answer escapes before I even know I’ve spoken. But it was innocuous. Hookless.

“But how are you doing?” Outsiders might classify that as genuine concern.

“But?” “Are?” “Doing?” Meanwhile, I am taking the first of many bites that will soon become half a pan of peanut butter bars and trying to count how many simultaneous attacks the woman can launch. Three at first count. My mother accused me of lying, told me she is surprised when I do well, and let me know that to her my worth is based on my performance. Hmmmm…

“I am doing well. I enjoy it very much. I have turned in all of my assignments.” Goddammit! You saw it coming, didn’t you?

“Oh, good, you have! Does your teacher like you?” Not even kidding. A clapping point for turning my work in?! A professional journalist who designed my program is giving me gold stars and my mother wants to know if I’m popular. And that still has weight. Yep, definitely middle school.

I subscribe to an email list that sends out monthly reports about what are the energy trends happening in our world. This month is about identifying beliefs and patterns that spin string balls from the crap factory. I have an impressive collection of crappy string balls. For sale, as it happens. It is too painful to think of these as attacks coming from the person who was hired to play the role of Chief Nurturer. Instead they are a gift from the gods to illustrate the insidious confusion and sick messages that sabotage my move forward in health and vibrancy. The idea is that if I can recognize them, I can address them and begin to strip them of their power. None. Too. Soon.

I married my mother and called her by my ex-husband’s name. But how do you divorce your mom? And still give her some honor. Are we required to do this?

We all have them: these voices of simmer down, stay small, and who do you think you are? The people who are threatened by our big-ness. They remind us to not be dicks to people we have influence with, to encourage toward audacious living. So next time you hear the cellos, just put the dessert out of reach and wiggle your nose. While we are finding the voices that pull us in the right direction, we may have to build these muscles in a vacuum. But we are not alone. Follow your passion, be unreasonable in your beliefs, and for the love of peanut butter bars, learn how to shut up when you don’t want to say anything. That last one was to me specifically.

Becoming a Crone at the Speed of Light

Haven’t written a lot due to psychic strain from MASSIVE and WONDERFUL internal shifting. It’s the opposite of writer’s block: it’s content overload. Per usual, I would prefer to have all the insights gathered in a tidy satchel; but I’m finding that by sitting on the shore scooping up nuggets to put in my bag, I am missing the bigger flow. I don’t just want to extract nuggets, I also want to create my own stories and reach more people with them. I jumped into the river and am learning to embrace the messy. Please bear with me as I write more infrequently than I like and more deeply than I can even follow upon re-reading 😉

The louder the wild woman inside me roars, the more tension I have with my deep desire to have all people like and approve of me. We’ll be hitting critical mass soon, at which point I will just be who I am comfortably. There’s  intuitive mourning going on as I’m certain there will be unintended consequences and more sifting of my support group.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see my nephew ‘dabble at play-acting‘ in his college’s theater program. To and fro, I listened to a fabulous collection of folk tales told by Jungian Psychoanalyst and college professor, Clarissa Pinkola Estes about the Crone. (Sit on your hands, Christian folk, the Crone isn’t a witch.)

Clarissa speaks of the Crone as an experienced woman, not blank, but one whose slate has been written upon. She uses her wisdom to guide the tribe, generations, and the self into a balanced and connected whole. We don’t operate fully without all of us being engaged. Her stories include the jester, the cycle of life, (the fascinating and pre-sanitized version of) Jack and the beanstalk, and in all of these she reminds us that our voice, our Creative energy, and our life-affirming spark of hope exist independent from our physical years. And though it will nauseate our children, she speaks beautiful stories of passionate love decades past the time when AARP membership becomes viable. She speaks of embracing the wealth of aging. Obviously I love her.

The Crone sees from the ariel view, and isn’t afraid to speak from that place. Yes, established religion (not God) is oft-challenged by such raw insight and throughout history people who aren’t awed by the influence of those with religious control have a history that ends in BBQ. But the Crone’s message is one of ‘dig deeper,’ ‘live more fully,’ and ‘behave — barely.’ Whether with plants or stories, she aims to heal, find meaning, and loose the stories within us. Again, love.

Yesterday was gorgeous here, and I had to get outside. I drove to Beacon Rock on a lark (left the house planning on a new set of earphones and a walk along the McMenamin’s promenade, but once headed east, got lured by the Columbia Gorge’s siren-call.)

It was another beautiful day in nature wherein our beautiful Earth and I communed magnanimously and uninterrupted. Perfect! Reaching the top of Beacon Rock I found I had the  place to myself. This has never happened!  I would be lying if the thought of ripping my shirt off didn’t occur — just something about being outside in the sun on a beautiful day on top of the core of an old volcano that makes a girl want to fly free…

It was marvelous!

About 2/3 of the way down the path, I heard what sounded like a guy on a cell phone. Peaking over the handrail, I saw a guy and a girl trudging up the hill. She was walking ahead and he was behind talking on his cell phone. C’mon, really? A few days earlier I’d seen a headline: ‘Is your wife happily married?’ It came to mind.

Before acknowledging my cavernous leap to judgment, I listened to figure out what he was talking about. Family emergency, IT troubleshooting, something to justify talking on his cell phone instead of communing with the lovely woman who had joined him on this trudge? Before leaping STRAIGHT into someone’s business, I want to rule out a justifiable reason for being a complete dick to one’s girlfriend. Only fair.

A couple switchbacks closer — just below me now — he said into his phone, ‘Oh, just hook it to your rear-view mirror,’ followed by some laughing and more small talk. Thirty seconds later we met at the corner. She was behind him now. He put his conversation on hold to give me a big smile and say hello. He was not unattractive. She looked invisible.

I nodded to him and passed him. He rounded the corner.

“Is he your boyfriend?” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said quietly.

“Tell him to hang up,” I said as I walked by.

He must have hung up. From two switchbacks away, I heard him ask, “What did she say to you?”

“She said you should hang up.”

Being a Crone is going to be a lot of fun.

What Do You Do?

I don’t have a penis, but if I did and if it was important to me to know it’s dimensions compared to other area penises, I would use this question as a diagnostic tool. Nothing says ‘My identity is based on how I perform, and particularly in comparison to you’ quite as much as this question. Let’s listen in:

“What do you do?”

“I am an artisan,”

“Then allow me to fetch your slippers as I am a humble peasant with, and this may seem odd, access to your closet.”

Nothing good there. Comparison. No room for connection.

Also, lack of interest. Asking ‘What do you do?’ easily dooms a conversation to mindless lines of inquiry like ‘And what IS the primary line of insurance you write’ or ‘How do you choose which flooring vendors to use?’ What human on Earth wants to ask OR answer those questions? Are you even reading still? Exactly.

Answering the question is no easier. Is the person asking how I make money, what is important to me, or who I am? I over-think things. It’s what I do. I don’t make money, and I could talk for days on the other two. Shall we get a refill?

What I dislike is that ‘What do you do?’ leaves too much to position on REALLY STUPID things. Chicks / Guys dig me more. My watch requires insurance. My driver kicks your bus pass’s ass!

I don’t believe in the power-over dynamic as a way to engage with other people. To my way of thinking, if we have been brought together, it is because we have something to share with each other. It probably doesn’t have to do with how we pay rent or who can support the bigger debt load. Our challenge is to find out what we have for each other in the places that really matter: connection, interest, encouragement.

This afternoon I was at a mingle mingle for a dear friend of mine who is retiring. She is funny, smart, loyal, and team-oriented. She sells insurance to fund her habit of mentoring disadvantaged girls and helping young business women get established (and Habitat for Humanity and Rotary…) because she and her husband are passionate about building other people. Asking this woman ‘What do you do?’ would not uncover that.

I was standing at a tall table, awkwardly, with a group of women I’d never met. I was contemporaneously chairing a committee meeting in my head at which we were discussing the merits of learning how to do casual conversations as a means of not scaring people away. I had made the point that chit chat bores the ever-living crap out of me — thankfully, not out loud — when a woman I had briefly talked to in line approached the table. She provided a painless distraction for everyone looking for a casual chance to flee.

She had mentioned she was related to my friend. I was thinking, ‘I am sure I will like you because you are close with someone I respect a great deal, so let’s find something in common.’  We tried valiantly with the chit chat, but it was simply painful, so I broke down and asked, ‘How do you most like to create?’

She lit up!

‘My husband and I were just talking about that,’ she said. And she excitedly explained an idea she has been dreaming about. She glowed. Speaking, writing, healing. Her heart is ready and her Soul is calling, and just like that, in the middle of an awkward mingle mingle, by asking a real question to a person who also doesn’t like chit chat, I found another a new friend!

__________

I have conversations with the people I don’t scare away 😀

^^ That’s good, right?

 

 

 

Casting Stones Is Good

2013-03-18 11.40.41
2013 Salmon Creek, Tashlich Beach

My cosmology is in flux like the rest of me. I’ve done the strident Christian thing. I’ve defied the entire Christian paradigm with the Hebrew roots thing. I’ve got lots of big words and the ability to do great damage with them, and I have spent a wee bit of time being a complete Ass Hat about my fluctuating beliefs.

Throughout this breakdown Spiritual Awakening, I’ve been ignoring a categorical definition of my belief system for a couple of good reasons, most notably that I’m not sure I can put it into words yet and if I could, I’m not sure anyone else would understand what I was getting at. Or feel comfortable with what I was getting at. These are Spirit things, and they defy attempts to contain them.

Today, I’m good to call that which is bigger than I am Abba (Father); YHVH (I am that I am which I take to mean ‘I’m here so get over it’); the Creator, Source, and maybe Ein Sof. Happy Wikipedia-ing.

My big thing is: be intellectually honest. Easter is pagan. If you’re a Christian, no amount of revisionist history can make it not be so. If you are a pagan, Happy Spring. If you feel led to look into a tradition that honors the Biblical Messiah’s victory over death, real or mythological, look into Passover. If you want to celebrate spring with milk-based foods and egg-shaped candy, good idea. It’s been cold and dark this winter, and three cheers for what Wonka has done with the jelly bean. I guess that’s what’s hard for me where I am. I know what all the sides are called, but I’m not sure how I want to identify.

I like the earth based components of Biblical Hebrew traditions. Not the ‘new’ Jewish traditions like the Passover Chicken and the seder plate egg. But the blowing of the shofar on the New Moon to reckon the new month and to call home the tribes; the counting of the omer the culmination of which is a meal offering of the harvest fruits symbolizing the giving of the spiritual wisdom (in this case, Torah) as food for human Souls; and especially the feast of Sukkot (Booths), during which we essentially make blanket forts out of tree boughs and spend time outside contemplating the transience of this go-round and doing whatever our hearts desire up to and including strong drink. A year off every seven to let the earth rest and recoup? If you could take the Bible out of them, Hebrew festivals are a pagan’s dream!

These celebrations are meaningful to me.

Another beautiful tradition that resonates deeply with me is called tashlich. It is Hebrew for ‘casting off’ and is based on the section in Micah where the prophet talks about YHVH casting the sins of the people into the depths of the sea. Westerners think of ‘sins’ as pathological moral blight. It’s not so in Hebrew where a ‘sin’ is a short-coming, a wounding — an area that lacks completeness and maturity, that hurts and leads us to do things not in our highest good. In Hebrew thought, sins don’t require pitchforks and crowd control, but rather healing. I can list off at least a handful of my wounded and immature areas without breaking a sweat.

Traditionally during tashlich, people go to rivers and streams and toss in bits of bread which represent their ‘sins’. There is catharsis as the water carries these crumbs away.

That’s the tradition. But I’m in flux, so here’s how I did it. Quite by accident.

I went for a walk early one day this week along Salmon Creek. (Tashlich is a fall tradition. As I write this, it’s Day Two of Spring). I didn’t turn on my ipod, and instead listened to birds’ tweets and Salmon Creek’s gurgles. A stray siren, some airplanes on their flight paths. I nodded to the work crew trimming the mahonia and walked purposefully and eyes engaged in case they were sexual predators on work release. Once out of view of the work crew, I meandered uphill and got my inner hippy on by standing in the vortex between two huge evergreens, feeling my feet grounded into the earth between them, putting my palms out to touch them both, imagining my life rooted here and now. I was quiet there awhile.

Trees are what & where they are; people come to them or don’t. They don’t fritter much. Trees just stand there and be themselves.

This was going well.

As I descended from that part of the path, I came to the place where my family used to go to do tashlich — back when we were a family. Grounded from my tree vortex, I knelt by the water. I use rocks when I do tashlich. (In the Pacific Northwest, we don’t throw food in our water.) I picked up a pebble.

“Not trusting that I have all I need,” I said out loud as I tossed it into the water.

“Using my dislike of people as an excuse to pull away from you.” And another:

“Getting stuck in a story of the past instead of boldly doing the creative work you have put inside me.” And another:

“Being mad at myself for taking so long in the cocoon.”

From places where we aren’t judged for the puss, it feels good to get all of it out.

“Letting what I think other people might think get in the way of being true to myself.” And another:

“Fear that I will succeed and then implode mightily.” And another:

“Not letting myself engage because I might get hurt.” And another:

Well, you get the picture. And as I picked rocks the size that fit the relative importance of these extraneous characters in my story, insight came. Letting go feels powerful and brave. I am ready to start taking action steps to live my new story. Action. It is time to surrender — let go of the outcome. The next step will appear. I’m not alone. I have support. It is safe to move forward.

I had been eye-balling a really pretty, larger yellow rock nestled in the sand. I picked it up and rinsed it off in the water. It was more beautiful wet as rocks are. “What do I want to take away from this? What words capture this peace I have inside me right now?” I asked myself…

I named the rock “Surrender” and “Action” and “Abundant Flow”*. (It splits home between my purse and my monitor stand.) I went home and registered a domain name for my writing business and today I signed up for a New Media Journalism Master’s Program.

2013: Best. Tashlich. Ever.

 

Surrender, Action, Abundant Flow: Who says rocks can have only one name?
Surrender, Action, Abundant Flow: Who says rocks can have only one name?

I Met Sandy Today

Having just come from getting fingerprinted so I can teach in the local schools, I was sitting in my car emailing a response to my friend about a Creativity Circle she is orchestrating. Hell yeah — I’ll hit that! Part of my self-defined Creativity Quest and Dragon Whispering syllabus includes a weekly meditation workbook by Lynn V. Andrews called The Love and Power Journal. Guess what it’s about? Making room for Love and walking in Personal Power.

Week Five’s assignment is to be mindful of mirrors: those upside-the-head-with-a-wet-fish slappers that we dismiss in our-whacked out, dis-integrated Western lifestyle. Think heart-grabbers, emotional triggers, places where we get stuck, and surprise meetings. These things facilitate our spiritual and emotional health if we can discern them when they show up and extract from them their lessons. It is worthwhile to attend to these ‘mirrors’.

I’m still in the car, clumsily emailing from my phone: yes, sign me up for the Creativity Circle! when my eye discerns activity. I look up.

An oversized, dingy-pink fleece zip up jacket and grey stretch-waistband pants carry a nondescript woman down the alley, cardboard fruit crate in tow. They weave their way over to a motley batch of soon-to-be-discarded buckets and bags of potting soil loitering at the side of my garage. As the responsibility of a procrastinator, the buckets and bags may be there for some time, so I generously hop out of the car to offer her the chance to take them off my hands. I’m a giver. (It is that kind of neighborhood. Had a guy  take a gas stove off my porch and thanked him sincerely for asking.)

“Hey, feel free to take any of that stuff if you could use it.”

The nondescript woman begins to speak. She has no teeth. “My husband died a week ago of a heart attack. I don’t have a home, and I am looking for food.”

Sensing a shift in agenda, I offer the arms-length suggestions that come naturally. “Have you tried any of the shelters?” [I’m already thinking about what I have in my car that can help this woman. Without getting too involved. Ah, a bag of clothes about to be donated (truth be told, they’ve been in the trunk about as long as the bucket/bag gang squatting next to my garage). I just bought a big water and some Mango Green Tea from Trader Joe’s. Internal dialogue racing: ‘The Green Tea: really? Can’t we keep that?” I hope she doesn’t ask for a sleeping bag. Mine’s a good one.]

“Yes, they won’t take a woman by herself unless she has a husband or a child. I went to the places where they serve meals and they just say ‘kitchen closed’.” I would be more skeptical if I hadn’t called for resources to help in the event that my ex went postal when I left. (He didn’t of course, but I felt better knowing what was at my disposal, and… not much.)

“You were living somewhere a week ago. What happened to your house?” I’m out of the car now, somewhere between suspicion and Pollyanna, heading to the trunk for that sweater.

“His family came in and kicked me to the curb. And they took my grand-daughter,” she follows me to the trunk. “I haven’t eaten for four days, and I keep praying but God isn’t answering. Maybe He’s testing my faith.”

Okay, well there’s its own book.

When my kids grow up, I hope they aren’t still expecting me to tell them what to eat for dinner, and yet I understand need. I’ve spent $400 on organic gluten free shopping sprees which included agar agar, bean flour, Himalyan sea salt, and organic beets. I’ve also stood in the line at DSHS, hoping to get my kids on state insurance. I don’t judge quite as much. But still need is disconcerting. My own mostly. Other people’s by an order of degrees. And guess what? The bottom feels rickety.

She extends her hand. “I am Sandy, she says.” Her pointer finger has a small open cut on it. I shake around that and make a note to wash with plenty of soap and warm water.

“Hi, Sandy. I’m Kaley. Sounds like you’re in a spot, huh?”

And here is need. Hungry and without teeth, asking for a blanket and a book. “I really like to read.” Though I don’t have a lot of extra resource right now, I have enough to help. Even without dipping into anything that would really impact me to give, I have plenty to give.

We go through my trunk and find a baseball cap, some Christmas-Book lifesavers, a pair of pants to go with the sweater. I say, “This Mango Tea is probably too heavy to carry?”

“You’d be surprised what you can carry.” In a cardboard fruit crate. Fine. This is a worthy cause.

Sandy steps onto my porch as I go inside. Prudent to leave her outside? Feel guilty for not inviting her in? For a bath. For a meal. I get plastic bags in various sizes (ad hoc suitcase, staying dry, bartering), some apples, some of those new individually-sized Jiffy peanut butter packs, cheese sticks, pretzles, crackers. (I’m thinking fats and proteins. It’s cold tonight.) Zach really likes the Rajneeshy colored checkered blanket, but he won’t notice it’s gone. Jane Eyre.

I meet Sandy back on the porch. We cram provisions into her house-in-a-box. She tells me her husband was her soulmate. They got pregnant their first night together and he looked at her and said, “I hope you’re pregnant.” Their ‘perfect son’ Sebastian is heading home from deployment in a week. Only son, so the Service is letting him out. “I’ve got some money saved up, Mom,” he told her. Just keep it together for a week. We’ll get her back,” Sebastian was referring to her grand-daughter and, I presume, his daughter. Sandy tears-up telling me about him and her soon-to-be rescue, and I am reminded that we are all just a breath away from being stripped as humans. Again: it feels rickety at the bottom.

“You know, I woke up under Burnside Bridge this morning and there was a Bible next to me. You might think I’m losing it, but I could feel my guardian angel standing there watching over me,” Sandy recounted. “And I could feel a tear. She said, ‘Don’t worry, Sandy. Today you will meet someone who will show you great kindness… I think it might be you,'” she tells me.

And I had been thinking the same thing. I am to be on the lookout for unusual situations that are gifts to teach me what I need to learn. I’m just not sure what I’ve learned yet. It was satisfying to be able to help someone with very simple things. It felt good to engage with real need and be able to help without getting lost in it — helping others adds to us, maybe… The comment about God testing her hit a nerve, and not sure what that’s all about. I’m still growing into the idea of taking responsibility for my reality, and I don’t like the passive victim of fate that was my story for so long. I don’t like the feeling of waiting for a rescue: it is disempowering. It will take me days to process this mirror more…

Sandy with no teeth because her grandparents made her brush her teeth with salt. Sandy who really misses her recently deceased husband and all the more because her first husband brainwashed her and locked her up for seven years. Sandy who is heading over to stay at a condemned motel on 78th and Hway 99 until her son gets back from overseas to help her out. “Some guy told me to take some of his rat bait if I was going to stay there, but rats are the least of my worries. I think they’re afraid of me.” Hmm. I hadn’t thought about rat bait in my preparation for the apocalypse. Makes sense.

“Sometimes it’s a good thing to have people be afraid of you,” I offered sagely. I’m imagining life on the streets for a woman.

“Bless you, Kaley,” said Sandy, and off she went.

“Bless you, Sandy.”

 

 

Birthing into the Invisible

Precipitous leaps into inscrutable voids.

Letting go of the vines with right hands and holding out left’s, hoping to find other vines because:  BLINDFOLDS and FAMISHED TIGERS, milling below.

Burning Encyclopedias of Known’s for books we aren’t certain exist.

Sacrificing Destination on the alter of Journey.

We do these things when we decide to live intentionally.

What bravery!

*****

I went to the gym today. (Pausing for applause and plaque engraving. K A L E Y)

I emerge from last year’s emotional hibernation by coping a la carbs (here you may clap again before adding a line to the plaque — because it wasn’t sex or overspending, drugs, alcohol, or gambling and that is pretty freaking amazing). The chub is more than I want to carry by more than I wish to confess.  But because I do want to get naked again at some point, I want it all gone now. But it cannot be gone now because today it is just the right amount of ‘goddammit’ to remind me that I may not be where I want to be in my journey, but I am here. Because of me. And that’s okay. I have access to a gym and I can walk and I made it through another volcanic year.

How I feel and carry myself when I am at fighting weight is probably kind of obnoxious. But it feels amazing and I want it back. Empowerment. Physical and existential strength knowing that I am the responsible manager of Kaley, Inc.

To create the me that I am, I am going to have to Birth into the Invisible.

Birthing into the Invisible means drinking water, eating protein, and walking even though the scale laughs. Fucker.

Birthing into the Invisible means that tomorrow starts clean for you too, no matter how many times you’ve ‘failed’. Or not even bothered to start.

Birthing into the Invisible means starting today to learn the tools of crafts we’d give our front teeth and favorite sweat shirts to have already mastered. (Like scenes and character development. Or goat husbandry.)

Birthing into the Invisible is much like wanting to pee in private but having three small children who Adore and Worship you and absolutely have to accompany you to the bathroom. Again. Because of love.

Birthing into the Invisible is the ten years of working your fingers numb with scales and riffs before becoming an overnight success.

Birthing into the Invisible is knowing that you can’t fail at birth. That sucker is coming out whether you get in its way or not. It is trusting the blueprint for LIFE that establishes inside you when you become pregnant with dreams. It is doing the next best right thing you know how to do. Sometimes that is just breathing.

Birthing into the Invisible looks like being glad you are ambulatory and can afford a gym membership — and drinking more water. It looks like being thankful for new beginnings which stem from oft inauspicious endings and believing that you are a wonder of Creation for simply being, warts and all. It looks like wearing your favorite sweatshirt as you write horrible obstacles badly for characters you struggle to infuse with authenticity — and not quitting. It is being grateful for flush toilets and unconditional cuddles from healthy kids. It is wearing callous with pride and being able to tune your own guitar.

We Birth into the Invisible when we don’t know what that means. When we’ve hidden behind defining ourselves by what works for everyone around us instead of listening to the voices of the characters we are put here to play and we finally come to our senses to step on stage.

This is how we do it.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s about all of us, Stupid

Last week we were collectively raped by a troubled young adult whose supreme act of cowardice and evil resulted in the tragic passing of 26 souls. We are shocked; we are violated beyond reckoning; we are pisssssssed. We are filled with questions, mostly unformed, which swirl around the central theme of WHAT. THE. FUCK?!!

And we are looking for someone to blame because we need this fixed and we need it to go away. NOW. This is one of the ways we process the rage fueled by powerlessness.

We’ve all sat in front of the TV before, humming our ‘oh-dear-we-need-to-do-something’ mantras somewhere along the spectrum between raw brokenness and those-poor-bastards-over-there-ism. But this time it is different. He targeted our kids.

So we have taken up our pitchforks, and in an effort to assuage our limbic fear, we have formed two mobs and are lunging at each other with our pokey tines. We are calling each others’ mobs names and we are being quite ugly toward one another. At least I am. I had to stop engaging on the topic of guns with some of my dearest friends because I realized every person truly only needs one exit for excrement and there are better ways to use my words. (I am, though, still waiting for the email from the guy who offered to send me a picture of his genitalia to prove that it is bigger than my hillbilly brain. And I might have threatened to post it on FB because, and I’m not going to lie, I love a good fight.)

About the time I was getting caught up in the energy caused by engaging with the open-minded liberal who had just called me a pussy, a dear friend of mine — a school teacher — posted about her day. Her high schoolers had been asking questions, making requests that would make them feel more safe.

Would she put some paper on the window? Yes.

Would she lock the door? Yes.

“Mizz Ed, would you take a bullet for us?”

To which Mizz Ed responded with teary-eyed conviction, “Every one of us in this building would.”

They needed to know that.

******

The night of the incident, I was reading an article entitled “How do deal with violent children.” I wanted to know why his mom and dad didn’t keep us safe from their nut job son. I can’t believe they were ignorant that he had issues and that they weren’t trying to get him help. No parent WANTS this for their kid.

Matt saw the title of the article. He’d just kneed his brother in the butt for hogging the WII remote and been met with the perfect amount of scolding. “Why are you reading an article about violent children?” He was wanting to know if his butt-kneeing was grievous enough to the taken to the Internet gods for a ruling. “No, Sweetie, I’m just upset by this whole thing today and I don’t understand how somebody can be so icky.”

They started talking about their lock down drills, so we snuggled up together on the couch while they told me about them. They sit on the rug, very quietly while the teacher locks the doors and puts paper on the windows.

1) What fucked up world has kids going through lock-down drills?

2) Thank you, teachers, for putting the kids through lock down drills.

Talk about lock down drills led to talk about their building and how it’s built for their safety. How the teachers are trained to keep them safe. How every parent that they see would absolutely do anything in their power to keep them safe. How law enforcement is trained and ready to protect them. How we as a family will keep each other safe. How the entire rules of the road are built around school buses. Because we are a society who loves our kids, and if there is one thing that brings us together as humans, it is the safety of our kids.

I left out that when something breaches that code, we feel brutally ripped apart. Together. They’re kids. They haven’t forgotten that yet.

We do this. We protect each other. We don’t fight each other with pitchforks and leave the real issues unaddressed and all of us more vulnerable. We become grounded, and proactive, and we expand to allow complexity and nuance as we walk together toward our solutions.

I’m including a link to an essay written by a mom of a kid at high risk of going wonky. It is very powerful, and it reveals the complexity we face and the ardent need for a proactive address of what we are up against as a society. Let’s do this the right way, Tribe. I promise not to post the picture.

Link to essay by Liza Long “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” <–

 

(Brene Brown writes an outstanding book about shame called I Thought It Was Just Me, But It’s Not. Excellent discussion on the insidious rooting of shame which keeps us separated from each other.)

 

In which she trips on hands…

I may have strayed too far into the Vortex today as I am tripping on hands.

I’ve moved. Packed and unpacked, scraped, cleaned, wiped down walls and floors, carried stuff. I spend six months writing in an ergonomically unfriendly way, and my hands are achy and tingly. So I was sitting in front of my heater spacing out as I was waking up this morning and I focused on my hands. Hands as object lesson.

Weird looking creatures. Attached to a wrist. Palm is a base from which finger appendages launch. There are five of them per hand, bringing a total of ten, the Hebrew number of accountability, to most people’s equation. Each finger is a symbol of a path to take and each has its own strength. When they work together, clasped together, pulling together in the same direction, there is tremendous power. Fingers don’t become other fingers when they cozy up to get something done. They pull together, get the job done, and still maintain their own space. Like we should with other people. Hands as how to interact with others in health.

In Hebrew the concept of clapping, the music our hands can make without further instrumentation, is associated with praise. Yadah. When we see something beautiful that resonates deeply, we spontaneously applaud. We do this in groups without worrying what other people will think of us, it’s so powerful. Yadah transcends ego.

Hands are a primary translator between the Spirit and the physical. What the human feels, the hands do. If we feel aroused, our hands begin the dance. If we feel warm, our embraces bring the closeness; if we feel angry, our hands can strike out. When we need to protect, our hands are the first line of defense. We want to feel secure, our hands build homes. We want to feel loved, our hands support others. We want to feel safe and surrounded by beauty; our hands create beautiful things that they install in our spaces to express our hearts. We receive deep feelings and messages from what our eyes cannot see, and it is our hands that do the capturing in poems and making music and art.

Our hands begin clumsy and then become organized, tactile. As they accompany us through life, bringing the actions of our feelings and desires to pass, they are beautiful with smooth skin or tough and strong with leathery skin. They get beat up, like we do as we make peace between provision and self-expression — the physical and the Spirit. Eventually they get splotchy and wrinkly just like all of us do when our path has been long and well-lived.

So I look at these hands with a few spots and more wrinkles than I wish I had — the ones that are starting to look like Mom’s — with their night-time tingles and sometime aches and I think of all of the people I love and have loved. All of the anger I have had, all of the hopes that I’ve worked toward manifesting, the boldness to be creative, the frustration with working in places that didn’t serve me, the condolences I’ve given to friends, and received from friends, the words I’ve crafted, the dreams I created as I rubbed lotion over my swollen belly with these very hands. I marvel at these hands — the quiet servants and manifest-ors of the life that is in me — and realize that the signs of their wear are the signs of my life being lived well.

Survival, Co-Creating, a Confession about Plant Life

Life comes with a ‘Circumstances outside our control that seem like complete bullshit but turn out to be really good for us’ feature. For this feature to be operational, we have to be able to view life as Co-Creators, and some of us must over-ride a Victim default .

“There are great survivors and helpless victims on the curve of human ability. Most of us are neither. Most of us fall somewhere in between and may perform poorly at first, then find the inner resources to return to correct action and clear thought.”

— Laurence Gonzales, from his book Deep Survival

I’m not going to lie: victim is a role I’ve spent time developing, though I don’t think I would have called it that. It felt noble… comfortable. A victim can be intelligent and idealistic, righteously indignant even. Victimhood keeps a person very busy: finding  sympathizers, spinning stories to keep the identity in tact, and drafting for rescuers can be exhausting. But there are significant set backs to victimhood which remind one of a yeast infection.

VICTIMS:

BLAME | POWERLESS | PASSIVE |RESISTANT | STUCK | UNFOCUSED MESS | IGNORANT

CO-CREATORS:

RESPONSIBLE | EMPOWERED | ENGAGED | DYNAMIC | FLUID | FOCUSED | INVESTIGATIVE

Sit with those for a second and feel their emotional impact…

Reading the characteristics of victim-hood makes me want to crawl back into bed and watch TV with a heating pad. I need my rest. But the concepts that make up co-creation fill me with HELL YEAH. Book outlines are forming. Maybe one I can sell online for $1.99 and begin funding my washer & dryer! From that to eBook girl. And then ‘how to become an expert in a month’ girl. I feel so energized, I may alphabetize my bookshelves after I get this all sketched out!

(It’s important to be able to recognize the nuanced transition between manic creativity and straight up OCD. It’s also helpful to recognize when you use writing blog posts to procrastinate packing.)

Moving from Victim to Co-Creator happens across the vast and messy matrices of our lives in a see-saw manner. Maybe we feel great romantically but we can’t get our shit together at our work; maybe our family life sucks bong water but we win awards for community service. Maybe it’s all clicking along beautifully but we know mortality is lurking out there. And sometimes it just feels like it all sucks bong water. (I’ve never sucked bong water.)

Victims use these times to verify the unfairness of life and probably blame God if the man or the government or the ex or the parents aren’t available. A cosmic game of pin the blame on the other guy. They might be passive and depressed or they might be active and destructive; either way, it’s not abundance.

Co-Creators know intuitively that deep soul gardening* is going on at these times, and they learn how to remind themselves of this as they do each next right thing. They survive and eventually thrive because they believe they are part of an expansive magnificence that has ample room for them to discover and implement and fail miserably and start over. Because they are part of something bigger than they are, co-creators feel safe to get outside them selves and truly participate in life as a creative process. They aren’t afraid of getting lost.

When we find ourselves in places we don’t like AGAIN, the journey from victim to co-creator is the only one to take.

Quite Possibly the Longest Sentence Ever Written about the Parts You Have to Wrangle to Become a Strong, Surviving Co-Creator:

These make all the difference: laying aside our expectations of how it should be for how it is actually presenting; acceptance that a rescuer isn’t coming — make or break is on us and our ability to get our shit together to take care of ourselves; a rational stock of available resources vs missing gaps; acceptance that all we can do is the next right thing; a deep belief that there is a plan for our lives, our feet are magnetized to the path, and that it is safe to step out in faith and do the next right thing.

So there is a plan, our feet are magnetized to the path, unexpected obstacles are chances to grow new skills. It is what it is, and all we need to concern ourselves with right now is the next right thing.

Time to pack.

__________

* Gardening is nowhere on my matrix. I buy plants only to kill them or throw them out after they’ve rotted in my crisper to the point that my need to rid myself of rot over-rides my guilt for wasting food.

The Warring Room

I stand inside this warring room within my soul.
My head pounds from the bickering. The arguments.
From this platform, the room comes into focus.
They need me to speak. They won’t shut up until I speak
 
With my wolf hearing, each chorus becomes independent
The voices that say, ‘Don’t walk away, don’t give up, it is real
The voices that say, ‘Enough already, this is not for you’
Shall I draw the curtain between them? Step to one side or the other?
 
Mom and Dad are on vacation
The elders are on vacation
The guardians are on vacation
I am alone with this noise in this chamber of war
 
And all I can think about is the bone-crushing nausea that floods my soul each time I say yes and it turns to vapors.
And all I can think about is the feeling of emptiness that engulfs me when I think of saying no.
Where are you, my love? I am here alone.
 
 
 
© Kaley Perkins, 11/07/12