Category Archives: Random

a moment in the movie Ice Age, I believe, when one of the character is facing impending doom but gets distracted by a squirrel as it passes–these posts represent the best of my tangential magpie-ness…

Snakes, Panda Bears, the Damn Ocean, Team Sport

Putting it into practice:

A little backstory. In our neighborhood is crazy lady with the red plastic shoes. She (and her blind husband) swear that there is an exotic man-eating (certainly cat-eating) viper that has been let loose in the pond across from our neighborhood. I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon trying to be convinced to call animal control as though I had witnessed said snake to get them to come and take some action. Her calls appear not to be gaining any traction and she’s drafting for witnesses. I’m a little hesitant to believe her, not because of the red shoes, but because it’s pretty freaking cold outside, the snake grows by a foot a day, and her only other witness is her blind husband; nevertheless, I have stricken the path from the list of available bike rides for the children.Won’t I feel like a boob if someone gets bitten?

Giddy after my first official improv class, I hugged all my new best friends and hummed Kumbayah all the way back to my car. Figured out the fastest way to get back over the bridge, plotted my graduate degree and the ways I will market my eventual steeping in this new playland to parents and partners who want to learn to learn to be present for their special people and build dynamic interpersonal skills and to mid-lifers looking for an internal rehaul. The outline to the ebook is taking shape in my mental parking lot. Called today to see if I can stalk Instructor Brad to pick his brain about his anthropology degree, etc. Set a course for adventure and picked up my kids. It was about 10 by the time I retrieved them from some dear friends’ home. They were also wired.

Chloe has taken up residence on my Droid and is using navigation to find her way to and from school, her dad’s house, the Costco (train them up in the way they should go…).

We’re driving home and Chloe suggests someone write an app that can locate all animals in a known location, specifically poisonous snakes across the field from our house. Yes, and, right? “Hey, if you guys could locate any kind of animal on that thing, what would you look for?” What ensued was an improv session in which we all laughed until tears came down our faces. My tears came down my legs, but then those three humans shot out of there and stretched out the muscles on their ways through. We settled on Panda Bears which naturally took us to China; so it was China to which we drove instead of home. We hit the stop sign which was the ocean. Not even WE could drive across the ocean to China, so we sat there and cried. And lamented. It helped that no one was behind us. Matt said he wasn’t really eager to see a panda. We voted him off the island and began to cry again, this time because he couldn’t understand how desperately we craved the viewing of the panda.

They were flawlessly in character and laughing from the belly as we sat there at the edge of the world looking across the pond at China which remained just beyond our reach and stuffed with panda bears. We were in joy.

Chloe turned to me, “Did you learn that at your class tonight?” Did I learn how to turn the ride home into an pan-Asian zoological quest? I guess maybe I did, but I couldn’t have done it without them.

Masturbating Monkeys and Relationship Lessons from Improv

OMG, I loved my improv class, I loved my improv teacher, my fellow brave soldiers in the fight against the wakeful sleeping, the smell of the theater and its green walls, the sense of intellectual play and social interaction, AND the fact that I found free parking in downtown Portland. Also, the Brody Theater has decent toilet paper! Epic hook!!!

Improv Lessons a la Brad:

  • Learn to become adept at failing–SO all over that! As the plane is falling apart in mid-air, take the pieces you can grab and build a new plane out of them.
  • It’s all about making your partners look good and moving the story forward. Check the need to be amazing and gain recognition at the door. Just come to play.
  • Introducing conflict (v. agreement) makes the story stop until the conflict is resolved. Build rapport. Sometimes you have to agree to lose in order to get past the conflict. So lose already, and keep it moving.
  • Learn to read other people’s body language by attending. Affirm what they are offering you and build on it. Offer them something back and make it specific so they don’t have to do all the hard work. Yes, AND… Yes, I’ll take that Chinese lady dropping that box of delicate teacups in the airport and I’ll add the snarling guard dog that took a crap on the causeway on which she tripped.
  • When something stagnates, give it definitive action.
  • No coasting. After you’ve taken your turn, don’t disengage. The action may come right back to you and you’ll feel like less of an ass if you can incorporate all the nuances and show up as a member of the team.
  • Talk about what happened and why it worked or didn’t. The most content-rich debrief of the night came as a result of a skit that went kinda wonky. Was the penguin on the moon or headed there and WTH was he doing at Nordstrom, really? Root yourself in place and give it some action (again with the action!)
  • The audience is friendly after-all. I was rooting for everyone on the hook–and took joy when what they tried worked and sent them supportive juju for the legless. It’s impossible to maintain definitive judgy eyes from a state of pending vulnerability.
  • On the other side of the heart-stopping terror of failure, ridicule & rejection are other people to whom one can connect authentically. Other people that want to play and are walking the same valley of death. If one can take ego off the table, there’s a pretty good chance to get a clear view of one’s own soul’s demons and angels–an apt metaphor for this sacred ground. This sacred ground is richly textured and provides bounteous room for exploration!
  • Take a little bit of pleasure that the reference to monkeys masturbating resonated with the audience. Snort unabashedly at the notion that the wafting stank from the armpits of an American-flag-wrapped, pantless man climbing the Eiffel Tower could take down an airplane. (Might not have made Brad’s list…)
  • Stay tuned!


English Teacher Parenting Bliss

Chloe has become a reader. This is new to us, and I am very excited about her burgeoning love for words and storycraft. She is reading, ‘Percy Jackson: the Lightning Thief‘. We bought the movie last night on our Hannukah shopping frenzy. We talked about our experiences reading books that have been made into movies, and naturally my agenda was to make a plug for books being vastly superior. That started the conversation.

Last night as we were snuggling, she explained how she feels her relationship to reading is. Think about a typical volcano shaped mountain as you keep reading. She takes her hand up one side of the volcano and says, “I feel like I get all into a book until I get into the middle of the plot (top of the mountain now), and then my interest just falls off,” her hand free-falling onto the bed.

“Your relationship to books is new,” I say. “It will be really interesting for you to see how or if that changes as you develop as a reader.”

“I would like to take a watermelon up to the Eiffel Tower,” she says. I’ve had a Tylenol PM and am not making any connection here and I certainly didn’t catch any segue way.

“What does that have to do with reading?”

“I would drop the watermelon from the top of the Eiffel Tower to show what I mean.”

“Not sure the people below you would appreciate your object lesson,” I’m stunned and fascinated by this connection, and beginning to wonder what kind of intellect this is going to look like when it’s full grown.

“Mimes? They have gratitude for everything,” she offers. We both giggle til our bellies hurt. I’m a little bit in awe.

All About Release. And wine.

Today it is all about release.

The new year has come and with it, the passing of 2011. Thank God! Things could be worse, certainly, but only so much as it applies to health and wellness of those whom I love and hold dear. All else has been stripped away, and I am embracing that with a superhero amount of acceptance and grace. What I have viewed as a pathology in my ability to lock down uncomfortable feelings and unhealthy relationships has served me very well in surviving emotionally, and instead of ruing it, I embrace it.

I have been worried that I am broken, unable to connect, but that isn’t true. Over the past six months I have had the distinct privilege of establishing new friendships with new people who share my interests moving forward, and I have found great comfort in long-term friends and family, many of whom I have neglected in eternity past. I have been humbled in a good way at the warmth with which I have been embraced. And the older I become, the more I really cherish these people who know me without me having to explain myself.

Granted I have had four glasses (very small–trivial really–glasses of wine) and refrains from KumbaYah are humming through my innards, but you know what? I’ll make it. Whatever bullshit life throws my way, I am ready for it. I have siblings and a parent, friends, extended family, online class friends, roommates, kids, and a paid for friend (may she live forever) to run interference between me and implosion. This IS good news.





Bigger Than I Thought…

Not clear, but getting closer–

“The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul…The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will bear him into unchartered waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself. Is he scared? Hell, yes. He’s petrified….if you’re paralyzed with fear, it’s a good thing. It shows you what you have to do.”

–Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.

Dear America,

I have gone off my rocker. I am doing it. I signed up for an improv class.

This doesn’t make sense; it is frivolous beyond remedy; it certainly won’t pay; and I am going to freaking do it.

What has inspired me? Primarily Facebook stalking, but more specifically: 1) This gnawing in the pit of my gizzard that I am a stuck creative and I’ve been fighting that for a very long time. 2) Kraig Ward and my other Mindful Marketing Academy (MMA) friends and cohorts who co-jointly battle Monkey Mind one thought at a time. 3) Josh Pais, an actor / writer whom I ‘met’ through MMA who teaches solely on getting grounded in the present to tap into authentic creativity. 4) Anthony Bottoli,–fellow MMA’er–and following all of his creative pursuits via FB (yoga, drumming, DJ’ing, various theatrical things I don’t get yet–plus pictures of his very clearly connected friends and family). 5) Some cute guy I stalked through Anthony Bottoli’s page. 6) My friend Michele who lives on the other coast and let me tag along to an improv practice she had on a day I was visiting. 7) My amazingly funny and dry nephew Tim who inspires me by practicing the craft and supporting others to do the same in Eugene. He’s the one that made me think about this seriously.

I’ve been searching for some missing petals on my daisy–an absent part in my identity. How will I contribute, what do I enjoy doing? I have always flirted with creativity, enjoyed it, been drawn to people that make me laugh and feel good, smart and quick-witted people. I express it through writing mostly–it is safe here behind my screen. I figured writing a book would be the culmination, and I’ve even been heading that direction with this blog. But it’s shaping up to be bigger than that. I recognize that a lot of the qualities I want in my life aren’t currently extant, and getting them is going to require more audience participation than originally budgeted in the writing-only scheme. Largely passive income business successfully helping swarms of people, being an active part of a group of alive people, rocking life engagement, fluid creative ease.

Brainstorming elements of what charges me up, listing what sucks the life out of me, trying to get to how I want to live… I’ve been a strong #2, and I work well with a strong #1. That was a suitable arrangement when I was married. But going out on my own, I no longer have a #1 to follow, so the question is how do the pieces fit now? Don’t like waiting for someone to bring me flowers. Gotta go plant my own garden and feed its soul. And come to find out, there might be a way other than #1 and #2 thinking to approach this. That’s GREAT news to me personally because I want more than #2 ‘stuff’ and I don’t want #1 load.

Chargers uppers: dynamic groups of smart, fun people working together, self-growth, outside the box living, dwelling in the land of possibilities and potential, words, humor, creativity, problem solving, physical strength and confidence, interactivity with people I like, networking, project-oriented work, independence, autonomy, being liked, the world of conception and ideas, being forward-thinking, making sense out of complex systems and translating them for the masses.

Vortecies of suckage: not being liked, too much supervision (any, really), ridiculous rules meant to make crowd control more attainable, plodding / methodical tasks, situations where using my thinking doesn’t contribute or is stymied, being judged and misunderstood, people that think I should be tamed, when people just disappear or go dark on me. When I show up and it scares people.

I asked myself what I would like to move toward and have more of. Answer: break out of this feeling of stuck, find folks to hang around that are living fully and putting action behind their lives–funny people, be stretched in the area of creativity. And what better way to do all of that than improv? Don’t know where this will lead if anywhere, but this is something I NEED to do, and I am equal parts sincere anticipation and gut-splitting fear just thinking about it. I may have just peed my pants.



Garden as Metaphor, Returning

Looking for petals...

I am trying to become the whole daisy, to define, identify and hunt for a few, key missing petals. We are primarily addressing here the under-developed part of me which fears much and gets easily overwhelmed.  She has been trying to get this work done simultaneously with scrambling to have her painful parts assuaged with the attention of valiant warriors already assigned to other fair maidens or whose quests take them far afield, rendering them unsuitable companions. This has proven to be counter-productive and has served only to reinforce negative expectations and beliefs while preventing her from getting her own work done for her own quest. We need to neutralize this layer in order for her to have clear space to do the necessary untangling, re-focusing, training, and execution necessary for the journey ahead.

This struggle requires more resource than I have been able to extract from this dimension, so we are crossing over.

I have stepped inside a rounded, walled garden which is guarded by my soul’s architect. I didn’t make deals or grand sweeping promises for entry. I just knocked on the gate and asked to be let in. I don’t expect an audience—there’s nothing I have to say that would surprise him. I don’t want to talk—I want to be alone to grieve. I have no interest in gardening. I simply have hurting and wounded parts, and I need protection. As soon as I walk through the gate to this protected place, the tears start to fall.

I lean my head against the wall and close my eyes, and I sob. I cry for what I want and don’t have, for what I have and don’t like, for what can never be, for what I’m afraid might never be, for dreams I don’t know how to infuse with life, for brokenness, for time that cannot be reclaimed. I sob because I’m kind of afraid I’ll never stop sobbing. The tears and the reasons for them can’t be neatly decoded–it’s all just a pool of snot and grief that wets my smock.

Eventually the keening lessens and taking a big sigh, I just feel peaceful. Spent, puffy-eyed, but peaceful. It feels good.

My back is completely exposed as I face this wall and blubber, yet I feel safe. Ensconced. This wall surrounds and encompasses me, and it creates a place of refuge for me which is exactly what I need right now. It stretches around behind me and marks off a safe, peaceful, open patch of ground I will eventually want to investigate. He’s done a nice job with the garden there. Before I slip back to the ‘real’ world, I breathe deeply and anchor how I feel in this moment. This wall symbolizes the ever-ready arms of the lover of my soul who can handle my tears and still be strong and present for me. Believe in me. Behind me the sun on my back warms me and reminds me to take the time to come back to this place more often. I get grounded on this.

I’m struggling to get clarity on what needs to be clear with all this noise in my head and heart. I am having a helluva time functioning without the clarity. And I need to be able to function to survive. This need to survive and this need to do some deep soul healing—find those missing petals—can’t help but compete for my attention, as they are equally critical to me. With this garden, I have found a catalyst for healing. I thank him for granting me entry; I’m glad I finally thought to ask. A ‘place’ to draw strength and grounding from so I can continue my hard solitary work here, knowing that I am not alone.



Wanted: Alchemy Tutor

I sit in the driver’s seat, behind the windshield, parked at the drive in, watching a movie. I drove here myself and paid to get in. No bucket of popcorn sits on the seat beside me, just a roll of toilet paper eponymically doubling as Kleenex. Must be a drama. A beautiful woman with soulful eyes takes up the screen. She faces the audience and asks questions. When the questions are of interest or I know the answers, even I holler out responses, from behind my windshield at this movie. Curious entertainment—like interactive dinner theater with tempered anonymity.

“What do you have to contribute?” comes the next question. The woman had summarized the responses she’d received from the other audience participants and made an observation. “It strikes me that you look at work as a way to get to free time instead of looking at work as a way to contribute.” Apparently a segment of the audience is wrapped up in figuring out what it is going to do that is both financially sustainable and soulfully call-worthy in the longterm. This group probably gets that it will have to earn some tenure as a Starbucks barrista–or the equivalent thereof–before finding a way to integrate all levels in Maslow’s hierarchy.

“What do you have to contribute?” comes the question again. Wow, I am NOT going to participate in this question, I decide from behind my windshield and a new growing haze. Inside my ‘head’ I feel the equivalent of scores of hands pasting playbills all over the inside of the windshield as quickly as we can peel off duct-tape to affix them. My eyes grow foggy. My head tilts to the left and I start to drool. Just a little. From multiple layers of mental shunting deep, my higher bits try to remember the question… They come up with nothing. Who drove me here?

“I don’t understand your words,” I whisper with my eyes closed. Did someone slip me a rufie? I open the window just a sliver, so that the flow of oxygen to my brain will continue in the event that I lose consciousness.

“We therapists call this pay dirt,” my paid for friend (may she live forever!) says with a gentle smile. I look up at her tentatively with only one eye—still hiding behind the other one. Maybe she’ll forget I’m here if I don’t open both eyes? I am sitting in the chair I have been sitting in weekly. I don’t like it here right now. The room is muggy. My cheeks are damp. My chest constricts. I feel clammy. Did I pay for this stupid movie? And what was the question again?

“’Pay dirt’ as in ‘vein of gold’,” she offers peaceably. “I am throwing you this lifeline so that you do not abandon all hope. We are getting really close to some dynamic understanding here.”

“Um, I can write. I can make people laugh. I can make people think?” Sounded like that came from a little girl place, tentative. Must. Fight. Back. Torrential. Tears. What the hell is going on?!!! Breathe. Reinhabit my body. What is going on with my body? Well, what’s going on is that a simple question just sent me into shock. I feel like my core is empty. I have fear. What if there is nothing inside me? I see a circular storage area in my soul where an identity ought to be found and it appears to have not been installed. Not nihilistic as in there is no God and I have no purpose; more of a realization that God exists and purpose exists; I just don’t know if or how I fit in.

This makes me sad; it SCARES me. That must be why my cheeks are damp. I have signed up to be parts in other people’s plays, to meet expectations that other people find acceptable, to follow codes defined by others, even to find safety and order myself. To align with the family code that seeped into my bones when I wasn’t paying attention. I escaped overseas to look for ‘it’ there. All this to find a place to belong and be okay. But all that effort didn’t build the reflection of the Creator, my style. On the ground before me now I see a flag indicating that I claim this place, and LIGHT BULB: I don’t know what that means. This empty space is kind of daunting.

What if it isn’t empty? Maybe what I’m looking at is the characters of a foreign alphabet that would make effortless sense to me if I had grown up using vocabulary from and been educated in the symbology of that tongue. Maybe I just lack the skills to discern this site before me, this foreign soul of mine. How have I survived this long without nailing these very elemental pieces in me? Worth, purpose, identity, and belonging, most notably. Where is the box of tools that will help me spin these strings into gold? How will I learn to weave these spells?

Maybe my soul’s storage berth isn’t empty–but seeing the contents of my dreams and desires in base relief threatens my limbic survival regimen. Mr. Monkey Mind. The family code that states, “We will never have that kind of luck (resource, skill, dynamic creative outlet, rich sense of belonging and contributing),”–the subtext of which cannot help but be translated as “if you pull it off, you’re not one of us anymore.” Seriously, I’m 44, and ridiculous spoken and inarticulated family codes have that much power over me? I need some freaking vodka.

Today I have a little bit of envy for the folks that have the resources to do mid-life crisis the theatrical way: lipo, sports-cars, boy toys, featherlifts. But I’m smart enough to know that in the long run, my plan is more authentically sustainable even though I don’t have an inkling how it’s going to work out. Or to at least it comforts me to frame it thusly!

(Pulled the LIGHT BULB clip off youtube. It comes from the movie Despicable Me. More shameless pilfering of copyrighted material. Please don’t send me any money)

Not Sure We Can Make It Work

So he’s a narcissistic, vain Lothario of a near-sociopath, wrapped up in a misogynistic buttwipe of a man, but despite his faults, I love him. I think I can fix him.

I’m not talking about my ex or any of the handful of guys I’ve dated in this interim period (the time after my separation and before my new love took root) but of Dr. Christian Troy of McNamara / Troy, Nip / Tuck’s flawed and flashy plastic surgeon partner played by Australian Julian McMahon. If Christian used his accent while shooting the show, I would have his name emblazoned across my rear end using indelible ink. I don’t care what color. (I can call him Christian–we’re in love.)

Christian Troy

Well, we’re not in love exactly. Yet. I mean, he doesn’t know we are yet. But that’s just because he hasn’t met me. It’s kind of like being in seventh grade again. Thinking about writing to his agent (the contact info for whom I can gain access by simply subscribing to IMDB. I know this because while I was stalking him, I stumbled across that little tidbit!) and asking if he wants to go steady. Maybe the email equivalent of something scrawled on the back of a napkin:

Will you go with her? Yes No (circle one)

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with this one. Even in seventh grade I didn’t know what ‘go with’ meant. Go where? And then I realized that OMG, I like Christian Troy for the same reason I like all the other guys I like. He is completely unrealistic. He is emotionally unavailable, cannot require real intimacy from me, and the idea of who he is in my head presents a compelling vision which can never be disproven due to the fact that he is neither real nor anywhere in my physical proximity. Further, I can pine away unrequited which makes great fodder for grand melancholy. He is absolutely perfect for me!

BUT, I am almost finished with Season Six, and that is all Netflix allows me. Soon–within nine episodes–I am going to have to come to terms with our inevitable breakup, Christian’s and mine. I am just not in a place where I can really commit to him. I am not sure what I want to be when I grow up, and this next little stint of getting that worked out could contribute more stress to what can only be difficult: life with a celebrity. Would he be willing to put his needs on hold while I work these existential things out? There is just a gnawing in my heart that tells me he might not be faithful to even me.

It breaks my heart, it really does, but I am not going to mourn this prematurely. We have had a great five and a half seasons. I saw him through breast cancer (his), I rejoiced when he embraced fatherhood even though the child wasn’t his, I was touched when he finally got a chance with Julia (I knew it wouldn’t stick–she’s a whiner). We had a little disagreement when he turned to the rug instead of just tossing his natural head of hair out there (‘I dig bald, Christian,’ I said. ‘Just be who you are!’) and I was just about to kick him out of my heart when he forged Sean’s name for that loan to cover his back taxes, but he figured out a way to make it right. That’s how the flawed man flies. But in nine more episodes this chapter will be over. He will be just another character in my story, and I will be just like an adoring fan to him, like someone he’s never actually met.

That’s how love can be sometimes. In junior high.



Mom, Her People, Perspective

Like I said, my relationship with my mom is much better now that I too am a parent, and I understand more. Time is healing. “I understand the drinking, and I’m sorry I was judgmental,” I tell her. We laugh. We know that is a cover for the sins of both of our pasts. When I have a particularly hard parenting day, I tell her I want my mommy. She hugs me back and says she wants her mommy too, and we both cry. We are mixed bags, she and I. Alike in many ways. And I really do understand the drinking.

I no longer feel punitive. And that’s great timing because I am turning into the woman before my very eyes.

Mom is 81, and she has elements of awesome. If we could convince her to use her damn cane and quit stirring up grassroots discontent in her housing community with each utility change (CURSE YOU, COMCAST!), all would be well.

I kid you not--the woman doesn't dye her hair!

The last time I stopped in to visit, Mom was leaning against her counter reading some neener neener letter from hospice. Yep, the woman can barely walk and she serves as a hospice worker, stopping by when she is out and about to visit her dying friends. Hospice wants her to fill out paperwork THEIR WAY.  They want her to ‘keep a schedule.’ Ha! I snorted when I heard that. She gave me the 81 year old version of the ‘I know: right?’ look.  Mary doesn’t do anything THEIR WAY.

She tells the story about George, a hospice patient who, when she walked in, said to her, “Thank God some old broad has come to see me. I can’t stand these young things. They come to me with their fresh smiles and they say, ‘How are we, George?’ I say to them, ‘One of us is dying, Sweetheart. How do you think we’re doing?’ but I’m glad you’re here, Mary.” If only she’d fill the paperwork out correctly.

Though she can barely walk without holding on to things (use a damn cane, Mary!), she takes her ‘little old friends’ to their doctors’ appointments. She tells of Rita and O’Dell, folks from the Appalachians with sixth grade educations (both of whom are on oxygen) who fed their moonshine mash to the hogs by accident and woke up the next day to find a pasture-ful of dead hogs. Well, not dead, exactly, but ‘Them damn hogs were higher than a Georgia pine!” O’Dell tells me the day Mom arranged for me to meet him and get all my moonshine questions answered. I have a variety of hobbies.

Then there’s blind bridge buddy John. He was a nuclear engineer. Bright guy, well-educated. Very enjoyable for her to talk to. Widowed and still so deeply in love with his wife that he can barely stand to eat alone. But Mom picks him up for their Wednesday bridge club and takes him to lunch afterwards. He gave her a bridge box with inlaid wood which he made by hand. Holds 24 hands of duplicate bridge. He thought she’d like to have it. Mom asked me to go visit John with her at the facility he lives in. He had an extra chair he thought she might have and she needed some help getting it into the car. Turns out the chair matched all the other ones in the facility and wasn’t John’s to give. While Mom kept John company, I created a ruse with the folks at the desk to come take the extra chair out of the room to ‘help us carry it to the car’, so John would think Mom had taken it home (it seemed really important to him.) Afterward, while we were eating lunch, Mom started chuckling. “What are you thinking about?” I asked her.

“‘Dear John,’ I’ll write,” she says  “‘Thank you for the beautiful chair. It goes really well in my living room. I appreciate you thinking about me. Come sit in it next time you come for bridge.'” Keep in mind John is blind, so this just might work. The woman’s spunk and thoughtfulness warms my heart!

Just had my birthday recently. Mom volunteered to make whatever dinner I wanted. Scalloped potatoes with kosher hot dogs, green beans, broccoli salad without the bacon and Oreo cookie dessert, please. “Dammit, I used to be able to do this in an afternoon. Now I have to start two days early,” she says. She wasn’t complaining about the making of the meal–she is at the place now where she likes all the chaos when we’re there. She was complaining about the sheer force of life it takes to do things that were once effortless. “It isn’t getting old that makes me so damn mad. It’s the fact that it is so hard to just get around and do simple stuff.” I think she gets more done than she will ever know.

Despite all the crap and all the hurt and all the having not ‘been there’, she’s a pretty generous old broad who has figured out how to matter to the people around her. (Including this daughter.) That’s something a mixed-bag of a girl can look forward to!

Existential Head Wounds

In case you’re wondering, personal therapy is something akin to recognizing one has a bloody, matted, gravelly, road-rash head-wound. The path to recovery requires treating shock, stopping the blood flow, and making sure the vitals signs are stable. Next comes rinsing off the blood, either shaving or washing and combing the hair, picking the small rocks and debris out of the wound, sterilizing it, and then protecting it while the area heals. Not all areas are affected by the actual injury, but the whole system suffers the shock. Though healing occurs, tenderness persists, and it is not uncommon to hesitate getting back onto the bike once it is safe to go outside. One hopes the scars don’t keloid.

For someone who has NOT been so wounded, it is tempting to underestimate the severity and sometimes even necessity of the cleansing and healing process. Perhaps those most resistant to the process are those who have suffered their own wounds in eternity past, whose skin has healed over the gravel and dirt, who are afraid that uncovering the wound to clean it out would be intense enough to cause death. Afterall, suck it up! I know for a long time, I wasn’t willing to reach up and touch the gravel under my skin because there was a deep awareness that the de-graveling process would cause a lot of upset, not only to my system but to the system of my family and the community I had built around me.

Even more, I knew that the emotional pebbles in this analogy were made up of sadness and grief and that to open those areas up might just create a gravitational pull that would suck me into a vortex of never-ending despair. I have been depressed; lost a year or two in school to the comfort of my mattress (good thing I got out of a discipline dependent on science labs!) The thought of going back there is terrifying, almost enough to send me spiraling just thinking about it.

But like the wound on the head, the wound of the spirit can heal. We are resilient beings. We have all the pieces in place to survive and even thrive in the most bewildering of circumstances. There is a sacred honor we have to each other to be real with each other, vulnerable and authentic. I am not talking to dumbasses and buttheads. I am talking to the people who share my tribe, my heritage as a compassionate and intentional human who wants to help reconnect—maybe redeem— the broken pieces brought on by the dark side of human nature.

Maybe the Mayans tapped into some higher knowledge and they have it right; maybe the Biblical prophecies are spot on and some Messianic-pre-requisites are currently being set in motion; maybe we’re just all hurling around this ball of minerals which will, despite our abuse and cluelessness, manage to outlast us by millions of years, but something you and I share is this: in each of those scenarios, we only have a limited number of years to make the most of what we have. Whatcha going to do with yours?

Right in Two, Tool

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