Word Vomit

Today is a day for word vomit. Most assuredly.

Often these days I feel the need to write a chapbook on my thoughts and feelings or I am a dry desert with absolutely nothing to say.

Today is vomit.

I feel nauseated a lot these days, low-level, comes and goes, and it feels like it’s because of the world around me and nothing else. Not my immediate world, which feels good, warm, protected, but the other. The outside.

Life.

I’ve been through what might be described best as a crisis of faith. Or at least others might understand that phrase. It seems to mean that you come out the other side…. And you do, and I have. But I am utterly changed.

Some changes have been very good, and some not-so-much. But it’s growth and change and that seems always to come with pain.

Why do people stay in the same place their whole lives? I know why. Change is hard. It hurts. It’s desperately lonely and confusing, and all the things you thought you knew just aren’t there any more, and those things were comforting. They were somewhat false, yet very comforting, like a small child that is protected in the home of its mother. There is bad out there, but I never think of it, I’m safe here in my cocoon.

I guess I’ve seen more of the world and I know why people don’t want to see it, not really. It can be ugly and painful and dirty and all-too-real. So we close ourselves off in different types of protective cocoons, and thank God for them, because without them, we’d all surely go mad.

I now know more about myself, about who I truly am, than I ever have. (The good, the bad, and the ugly.) I have more confidence, more of an ability to stand up for myself and others, that’s a good thing. More love, more compassion than I have ever known possible, yet I feel as though my eyes are more open than ever before. And with eyes open, one sees the bad as well as the good. We feel the pain AND the joy. Maybe it’s something to do with a lifetime of hiding and stuffing, stuffing down those feelings, pains, hurts, hiding from the harshness. I’ve emerged, ready to face it all. Stronger in many ways, yet utterly changed.

To face one’s self, to see yourself for who and what you are, to unpack it all, it’s a journey. And one that only ends when your time on this earth is done. (And if you believe in the eternity of souls, then a new journey begins.) I tend to believe it, maybe because I always have, and there is comfort in believing that we don’t just end. It boggles the mind. I am not sure I’d ever choose to believe that there is nothing after our bodies die. I understand why people do believe it, more than I ever have understood, but I don’t think I can go there.

I think most people’s lives aren’t set up to have the kind of time needed for deep personal/soul reflection. To excavate it all. It takes massive amounts of time. Maybe that’s why it often comes to people as they age and their lives slow a bit. I’ve gotten off the hamster wheel, I am blessed to be able to, and I am grateful that I can work as much as I want to. Or as little.

I’m off the wheel, and it feels mostly great, but also, I sometimes miss the madness. The pace of life with children always under foot, massive amounts of responsibilities to others. There is a feeling of purpose in it.

But this—this time—there is purpose in it as well. And I search for it daily. In words, in the blank page, the empty canvas. I see it in the eyes of family. I hear and feel their love for me, and I know it doesn’t hinge on my duty for them, or theirs for me.

That rare gem of a true friend, the one you can always call or email or text, and they are always there at the other end. It is a priceless gift.

Thanks for listening my friends.

She Sings (An Elderly Woman’s Tale)

Aged and aging, sitting on the porch,

reminiscing about her life, she rocks. She sings.

 

She’s given birth seven times, two died and five thrived,

grew to be parents themselves.

Hard times have come and gone and with each she learned, she grew.

Now she waits for the kids and grandkids to come and visit

and at times the waiting seems like an eternity, so she waits, she rocks, and she sings.

 

She remembers a time when her oldest son wouldn’t let her out of his sight

and she chuckles at the memory. She thought he’d never learn to be apart

from her and now all these years later, he’s learned the lesson all too well.

Busy with his own life, conquering industry and the world,

raising his own little ones, and doing an admirable job of it.

A tear slides down her cheek, a tear of pride and pain at the same time.

 

The second son is in prison, twenty years or more yet to go

and she knows she likely will never lay eyes on him again.

He was the sensitive child, always unhappy,

always in the midst of storms, almost always made by himself.

Troubled, that’s what they called him. A troubled child.

Not strong enough for taking the high roads in life,

but more comfortable on the low roads amongst the

crooks and druggies. Made him feel superior maybe,

or maybe just accepted. He wanted to fit in somewhere,

and now he does.

 

Another tear escapes.

 

The only daughter comes to mind,

now on her third marriage,

a child that lives with her father.

She was the little princess.

Tried to protect her, to show her the way,

and in the end, she just wanted love

and looked for it in all the wrong places.

But a good woman, just the same,

has a good heart.

Works at the diner in town, sixty plus hours a week

and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Maybe works herself into exhaustion so she doesn’t have to think

about the mistakes she’s made in her life,

doesn’t have to think about the days

when she drank heavily and lost custody of her only child.

Such a sad life, yet, she’s trying.

She’s pressing on and there’s something to that.

No matter what, there’s something to that.

 

The two youngest boys are living outside of town,

sharing a rental house together,

going to school and working, carving out lives for themselves.

Only a year apart, they are the tightest of the siblings

and genuinely seem to look out for each other,

and that makes the old lady happy, truly warms her heart.

 

She muses, she remembers, she rocks, she sings.

 

As her heart fills with love and gratitude,

she grows tired. Soon the chair stills as the sun goes down.

The creaking of the chair stops, her head falls forward.

 

In heaven, she appears on a white rocking chair,

she jerks awake. Lifts her head, opens her eyes.

Tears flow down,

 

and she rocks and she sings.

Or Else

Sometimes I think we are here simply for someone’s amusement.

Ants under the glass, birds in a cage, mice in a maze.

It feels like we’re being tested, constantly tested.

How will I respond to this pressure or that problem?

Will I throw in the towel, give in to depression?

Will I grow bitter and bent like a dying tree?

Or rise from the ashes to conquer life again?

 

When we zoom out and see our world as the blue marble it is

It offers a different perspective.

We’re small, so very tiny and unimportant, or so it seems.

Life, grass, fish, animals, sky, oceans, all connected

Yet we are the species that kills and not for food or survival

But out of some twisted brokenness, some irreparable damage?

Who are we and why are we here?

 

Religions, churches, built to house the seeking and the faithful

And yes, the broken, for we are all this… broken;

Part of a species striving for survival, trying to comprehend human-ness,

Unknowable, unlivable life

Just too difficult for many to live.

Yet hope remains, enough to keep at least most of us from

Taking our own life, taking matters into our own hands.

 

Nations and rulers continue to threaten and boast

Attempting to force the other to conform or else.

Be our religion, worship our god, or else.

Leave us alone or else,

Stop enslaving and destroying the innocent or else,

Do what I say or else.

Someone always waiting to bring the hammer down.

 

We watch way too much, know way too much in the information age.

I now know more than I ever truly wanted to know about the nature of man,

The all-consuming self-destructive nature of man;

Always judging, fault-finding, accusing, trying to change the other guy

In our homes as well as in our world.

Whoever you are, you’re wrong; be more like me, like us,

Or Else.

 

What if we stopped doing that and evolved?

What if we started every conversation from a stand point

Of wonder and awe and love and acceptance?

What if we saw ourselves as the blue marble miraculously

Balanced in the skies?

What if we acknowledged the miracle of our existence;

The wonder and beauty of existing at all?

 

I’m the first to say I don’t understand.

I don’t know what God is up to,

Why all this happened, what it’s all about.

And yes, I’ve heard hundreds of people tell me

Their version of belief, their reality, their belief system.

The scriptures as explained by many millions and no two

Even agree on what they say and why, not really,

Not in the end.

 

So, it’s up to me to figure it out, for me.

What do I believe? What’s it all about?

I’ve got to learn to live with unanswered questions,

Because I believe nobody here can truly tell me, not really,

And I’ve got to figure out how to live on this rock

Not knowing, not fully understanding, I’ve got to be okay with that;

I’ve got to, or else.

 

Or else all hope is gone and I won’t live like that.

I won’t live a hopeless life.

Hope in my Creator not to abandon us entirely,

Hope for change, for life, for love.

I have to hope that things can get better

Because why else would we be here

If not to try to bring about positive change?

 

And change never comes unless one person says;

It starts with me, right here, right now.

I’ll change me with divine help, I’ll determine to love more,

Hate less, judge less, reach people more…

 

Love More.

We have to, we really do, or else.

Unmet Expectations: The Root of All Evil

 

Thinking a lot about expectations today. I once expected that all of my needs in every area would be met by my parents. They’d keep me full (physically and emotionally) and make sure I had all that I needed. I had pretty good parents, (certainly as compared to some I’ve heard about). So by and large, those needs were met pretty well. Sure, I got mad or upset with them, but they did the best they could.

As a pre-teen and into my teens, I think I transferred those expectations to boys. If I met the right boy, it would make me feel wonderful and fulfilled and all would be well.

When I was a child, as well as when I got closer to adulthood, I began to seek out the meaning of life; to understand religion and all things philosophical, and for a long while felt fulfilled following religion. But there were times, I fell hard. I would realize that people in churches were also human and fallible. Religions were man-made and far from problem-free.

My expectation was that having faith would totally fulfill me and perfect my life. Logically, I always knew this wasn’t so, that nobody is perfect, and even faith itself is not perfect. But many, myself included, at times in my life, have found great pleasure and fulfillment in church communities, gathering with other people who were at least somewhat like-minded, looking to something above and beyond ourselves for answers. It was, in a measure, fulfilling. At least I could feel as though I was being and doing everything I was supposed to do and be. Or, I thought so at the time. There is something true and real in seeking out the un-understandable; at least for me, there has been. I used to think I had a handle on some things. My ducks were in a row, my boxes were secure and ticked.

My view of God and of spirituality is totally different now. If only I could relate this eloquently and in a manner others could understand, but I’ve tried, and I can’t. I’m letting it go, (the need for others to understand).

Spirituality is a lifelong process, I know that now. To grow in every area, you must be willing to change, to take what the Creator brings your way. I’ve had to learn to grow through things, not shut down. My faith looks nothing like it did twenty years ago, or even ten, and I’m convinced that’s by design.

I expected as an adult to have a long, healthy life; particularly once I began to figure out how to eat better, exercise and take care of myself. This is another expectation that isn’t necessarily reliable. Nobody knows how many days or years they have on this planet. At least nobody on this side of the divide.

I expected that 2 and 2 would always equal 4. That things were always black and white, that things would always make sense. I have now acknowledged the gray.

I never expected that I’d have auto-immune disease, or any of many other things I’ve dealt with and deal with daily.

I never expected to get old. This is a tough one, because everyone knows they will age, yet somehow, we’re never really ready for it when it comes. In my twenties and thirties, I probably would’ve said that being in my fifties felt like it was a million years away and unfathomable; yet here I am. A grandmother several times over.

Some expectations have been met, and some things are far better than even I imagined. I have an amazing life partner and husband, three beautiful and amazing grown kids. I have a truly wonderful life.

And I still feel myself setting up expectations in areas of my life that blow up in my face.

My husband isn’t responsible for my happiness or fulfillment. That was a big lesson to learn. I enjoyed the tear-jerking, earth-shattering, unbelievably blessed years and moments of raising kids, but ultimately, I can’t lay my happiness at their feet or at the feet of “family.”

I know some truly unique and loving people, friends. Can’t lay my expectations there, either. People often end up being (shock) very human in the end. I’m learning to let them be.

I’ve learned that happiness, joy, fulfillment, it only comes from the inside out. It isn’t about the outer, it’s about the inner.

And the journey led right back to me.

I now know I should keep my expectations right where they belong; in check. Right here at my feet, at my door. God and the universe does their thing and I do mine. Everyone else does theirs.

Ultimately, I have zero control over most things. I make decisions and deal with the consequences. And when life doesn’t go as planned, and expectations aren’t met, I come back to this; God and the universe does their thing and I do mine. Everyone else does theirs.

That’s just the way it goes. And that’s okay.

 

Hangin’ In (Enjoying the Journey)

It is such an incredible joy to be able to do what I love to do and focus only on creativity and artistic endeavor at this point in my life. I know that people often feel the need to do what it takes to pay the bills (and responsibility is a very good thing), but these days I can’t imagine spending 40 plus hours a week having to do something to further someone else’s agenda rather than my own.

I’m incredibly blessed at this stage, that I can work at my own pace without the lights being turned off for lack of payment. But I don’t know many who got to such a place quickly or easily.

Even so, I’d encourage every person to search after work that feeds their soul as well as their tummy. I was always pretty good with office work, and I find that if you’re good at something, you tend to enjoy it a little more. I also have an undying love for coffee, and worked at coffee shops more than once in my life. I’ve had several “normal” jobs in my life (meaning outside the realm of artistic endeavor; writing, painting and the like). But even while you’re doing what you have to do, try extra hard to make it something you’re passionate about. It will make those work hours go by faster and easier.

My husband, BFF and business partner is a tech genius in my estimation.  I couldn’t do what he does any more than he could write a fiction novel, but he’s good at his job, which makes it a little bit easier to expend a lot of his life doing it.

We only get this one life. I find it to be a necessity to do what you love, (even if you have to do something you love a little less until you can do what you love a little more–later on down the line.)

Hang on, don’t give up on your dreams. I’m holding on and hanging in, even when people aren’t throwing money at me for doing it. Because I insist on enjoying the journey–every single day that I can.

Journey Well!

I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery, a deep, personal, spiritual journey, for, well, many, many years, but on a different level–for over seven years now. Here are some conclusions I’ve drawn:

Nobody will every be their best until they take the time to do the work; unpack their baggage, face their demons. You can coast along, same stuff different day, until the day you die, but growth takes courage, time and the willingness to change.

People, by and large, believe that anything with the word “self” in it, means you’re being selfish. Self-discovery, self-esteem, self-confidence; but the exact opposite is true. All of these things are essential to be who you were meant to be, so that you can ultimately be a positive influence on those around you and accomplish all the things you’re called to do. Do the work. There are no short-cuts.  People may call you selfish, but one of these life lessons, is knowing who and what to listen to; don’t fall for it. People say a lot of things. That’s their limited perspective, not your reality.

I do believe there can come a time when it’s time to put away the self-analyzing behavior. You can get stuck in there, so be careful not to. Unpack your bags, figure yourself out, love yourself, then, after all is put away in its proper place, turn and face the world again, with newfound strength and abilities. There does come a time when you’re healed enough to be outward-focused without doing damage to those around you.

You never truly “arrive” because life is, after all, a continuing journey. There is no final destination; face each morning as it comes, prepared to conquer one day.

Journey well, my friends!

On Growing

 

You wake up one day and realize it’s your first day of first grade and everything is new and exciting and you feel so big and bright and cute and special, because your mom told you so.

Next thing you know you’re in the third grade crying in the cloak room because somebody made fun of you. You don’t feel special, not at all.

Then you’re starting the tenth grade and you just know it will all be different this year, you’re coming into your own, you have friends, everything will be okay. And then of course it isn’t, it really isn’t. Your best friend betrays you. Boys tease you. Your body has changed so much you don’t recognize yourself anymore and all you feel is… awkward.

Then comes graduation day, that best day of all days when your whole life truly begins and everything will be great because you’re all grown up and make your own decisions. The world is your oyster.

But there is no pearl.

Living somewhere costs money and you don’t have any, and believe it or not, people don’t really love you coming over to visit and then just moving in. Things are expected of you. Responsibilities. You have to get a job. You have to eat.

So you meet someone and you marry because then, oh boy, then you will really have it all. Someone is going to take care of you and make you happy now.

And they do, until… until they don’t. And then it’s all just too much, you can’t take the fighting, and you finally leave, you get out, because then you’ll be free and happy at long last.

Except you aren’t.

And on and on it goes until one day you awake and look in the mirror and there you are, that little girl—eyes and heart all full of hope now gone—and in her place is an old person, staring back at you.

Your kids, they’re brilliant diamonds but they grew up.

They left.
You’re alone.
Again.
Unhappy.
Again.

And then one morning as you look into the mirror searching for the little girl inside, you see a spark. “There you are, you stupid girl. Why did you always expect so much of everyone and everything? And all along you were right there.”

“I just wanted love. I just wanted acceptance. I just wanted happy,” the little girl says.

And you say back to her, “The capacity for all of those things was right there inside of you the whole time.”

And you smile.
And you laugh.
And you find that you can choose it all for yourself.

So simple, yet not so easy.