North Star


She created each

new morning

by painting her sunrise

in illuminated

colors that bled

one into another

as she greeted

her day…

She prepared herself

in front of a mirror

with no

reflection

choosing to know herself

from the inside,

seeing only the

light within

those around her

no matter how blinding

or dimly flickering

the flame…

She fed her heart well,

allowed it to break

and grow

and learned in time

the fine line between

offering strength

and enabling

weakness…

She bloomed so slowly,

glowed so softly

that only those who

passed closely by

at times

found themselves lingering,

caught in the faint scent

of hope and quiet

laughter

that surrounded her…

And at day’s end

as the sun

slipped into darkness

she would lift her face

to the night sky,

open her arms wide

and place the stars

with loving fingertips

to light the way

for those who travelled

with her.

The Resistance


Who were you yesterday as you fell asleep? Who were you when you woke up this morning? Was it deja vu, an intentional choice or did you just let go and let it flow from your center? I am personally a pro at options one and two. The days I woke up heart-weary I would hit ‘repeat’ and go through the motions. The days I woke up with intention, I would force and wrestle everything inside me like a little self-dictator.

Apparently I couldn’t differentiate between self-evaluation and devaluation.

I fell into option three when I gave up.

Surrendered the results of every freaking thing.

Waved the white flag.

I woke up in my beautiful, cozy bed and before I moved a muscle I pulled everything good into me. Every little thing. I held it to me hand to heart until I knew it would stay. I heard the soft huffs of pup breathing as they popped their heads over the edge of my bed as if to say, ‘good morning’ or ‘we love you’ or ‘hey, we have to pee’. Maybe it was all three rolled into one.

I was still breathing. That meant something.

I stopped wondering what I was doing wrong, because that’s what I was doing wrong. I heard somewhere that when we realize the distance between the life we’re living and who we really are inside we expect the epiphany of it to sound like angels and harps, when it really sounds like rage.

It’s pointless and damaging to hold anger at ourselves when the simple fact is that where we are is simply where we are. It’s just a point from which we can flow forward into just being and enjoying who we are becoming as we unfold it before us.

It’s really that simple if we quit making it complicated.

If we add all the memes together, we are a dramatic chaos of emotional stardust. Please. I submit for pondering that we are to be the truth of our souls shining from these bodies we’ve been given for such a short time. We’re supposed to add who we are to the world, not drive it up the wall.

Does what we offer inspire hand-clapping or re-gifting? Do we justify or adjust frantic living? Do we remain frustrated and overwhelmed, or begin cooperating with ourselves for a change?

Life meets us where we stand, and gives us back who we show ourselves to be.

So…a chaos of emotional stardust, or a soul shining…

Boy, that’s a tough one.

 

 

 

The Dimmer Switch


“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise grows it under his feet.”
James Oppenheim 

I read this morning where we have fallen from #3 to #14 in some kind of world happiness report. Just in the past 10 years. This doesn’t surprise me considering the focus we put on bitching and complaining about every damn thing. We’ve gotten really good at pointing fingers, dwelling on what we don’t have that we think we should and comparing ourselves negatively with those around us. We complain. A lot.

Is it that we’ve forgotten how to be grateful on a daily basis? We are better off than most of the world, even those of us considered “poor” and yet we are angry, depressed and constantly trying to row upstream. Do we have a job, a roof over our head, something to eat, a dollar in our pocket or someone who loves us? All of these things are worthy of our gratitude.

“In ordinary life we hardly realize

that we receive a great deal more than we give,

and that it is only with gratitude

that life becomes rich.”
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Not very long ago (at all) I realized I was busting my ass to be “happy”. I was taking the high road, by god, overlooking any felonies and misdemeanors inflicted on my well-being and building up a good case of emo. It was ridiculous.

I was listening to a friend caterwaul about the unfairness of life, and I thought to myself, “Holy shit, I sound like that in my own head”. It was quite disturbing.

I came home and my pups were dancing with joy, I looked around the beautiful home I created for myself, in a lovely neighborhood, where my little car was parked that took me to and from the job I have. I thought of the conversation I’d had with my son the day before, the friends who have stood with me and the family always there for me when I reach out for comfort. And yes, I had a dollar in my wallet. I opened the fridge, got out something to eat, poured a glass of wine, toasted the universe and said …

Thank you.

We get all wrapped up in it don’t we? The lack, the suffering, the challenges and the slights? We get on a roll and focus on the shit and dial down the dimmer switch on all that is good and light and loving around us. We become disgruntled, dissatisfied and ungrateful for the lives we have that others pray for. It’s like we step into a room and look for the dark switch, and for the lack of it we dial it down to emphasize just how hard our struggle is.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
Marcus Aurelius

Have you ever been angry, and the more you think about it the angrier you became? That’s what we’re doing to ourselves here. We get to decide what we become by where we place our focus. Anger, sorrow, less than or lack of is one direction. Gratitude, laughter, growth and giving is another. Pick one. If you need any input, I’ve found the second choice is much more fun, and less exhausting.

Let that shit go.

Life is a wonder isn’t it? We deserve good things and good people around us. We have the power to live with intention instead of in reaction to every damn thing. If something is broken we can mend it, nothing is wrong that we can’t right or live through or learn from. It’s a gift isn’t it, that we open our eyes and get another chance to create?

Life is supposed to be fun.

Practice that.

Dial it up.

Happiness is the new bad-ass.

 

Pillar Of Salt


I’ve learned over a period of time that it’s not bad to look back and judge how far I’ve come, but it is total foolishness to dwell there, do an autopsy on it and beat it (and myself) like a dead horse. The past cannot and should not be changed for me. It was all necessary for me to be able to see the contrast between what I wanted and what I was doing, how I was living.

In a rare Kleenex moment, someone very wise told me that I was mistaken in my belief that I had been betrayed, or abandoned by someone I loved like family. He said very simply that the person was merely showing me who he was and that I should be grateful for the learning of it.

Huh. I really had to think about that one.

I began to accept that any relationships or experiences are a sorting and sifting of what I want in my life and what I don’t. Who I am and am not. What I do and don’t welcome to me now and in the future.

Deceptions, downfalls and disappointments create the evolution of me.

Even (especially?) if I’m the creator of any of these. Have you ever done that to yourself? Explained away poor behavior in yourself or someone else? Accepted it, excused it, perpetuated it? Well, honey, I sure have.

There are a few ways to handle knowing these things. We can do some biblical grieving, go through the whole sackcloth and ashes thing and rend our garments, but the end result is exhaustion, drama and plain old irritation. Not much good comes from it.

But if we just stop and look at the difference in where we stand and where we want to, we end up seeing clearly what we don’t want in our lives and what we do. We can be grateful for the clarity of where we are and what’s ahead of us. We can focus on what we have, who we are and where we’re going that makes us happy.

I believe that when we live the progress of who we are becoming, our genuine alignment with who we are in the heart of us, the “five people we hang around the most” will either elevate or bounce off and away from us. I don’t worry about that anymore, it’s a natural occurrence.

People let us down when we let ourselves down.

When we don’t listen to our intuition, when we don’t set standards for ourselves, when we allow ourselves to remain with people or in situations that are not healthy at all for us. We know when we’re setting ourselves up and we do it anyway with a faint and feeble hope that we’re wrong.

How is that anyone else’s error but our own?

All of us are at different places along the way in life. There has to be some grace granted for that. We aren’t responsible for any path but our own. We get to decide only our own way, our own progress, our own actions. Each of us holds only our own power.

In my thinking of this “dwelling in the past” and remembering the story of Lot’s wife (which I always thought was a bit of overkill) I found that the Hebrew for “looked back” means “to more than glance over one’s shoulder.” It means “to regard, to consider, to pay attention to”. She was unwilling to leave her old life. The raining sulphur destroying where she had been destroyed her also.

I suggest instead we be the “salt of the earth: a person of great worth”.

Because we are.

 

 

Fool’s Game


I let you

break my heart,

you did not catch me

unaware.

I let you take

what you thought

you needed

while I wondered

if you would

ever see

that you cannot steal

from the willing.

I let you lie

unchallenged,

patiently waiting

and hoping

you would finally

feel safe enough

to accept that

I could see you.

I let you cut at me

when the poison

inside you

was a killing thing

you needed to

release,

and in your fury

and frustration when

I remained

immoveable,

you thought me a fool

and now

we both know.

You were.

Benefit Of The Doubt


The last two nights I have slept the sleep of the forgiven. I am learning to grant myself grace, to allow myself to be softer, gentler, to give myself the benefit of the doubt. I am learning that as I do this thing for me ~ it overflows onto everyone around me.

I am letting go of thinking I have to be and do everything in a red hot minute.

I’ve been hurting for a long time, lost and bewildered, angry and confused. Because of this I’d sent myself into a frenzy of righting all my wrong thinking and doing, seeking books, audios and practices to fill my heart and mind with good and positive things to bring myself to a higher level of living, a better way of being. I thought to resolve all wrongs and balance the scales so that I would never again have to wake up in the morning and wonder why.

What a crock of shit.

I don’t have to have all the answers right now. If it were possible to achieve everything I wanted to in this instant, then what? If I only focused on who I wanted to be, what happens to who I am now? If I am granted every dream immediately, what happens to my journey?

Why shouldn’t I live my life moment by moment and savor the unfolding of it?

When did I allow my life to become a rat race? When did just being alive stop being fun? When did the experience of living quit being satisfying in and of itself? When did teleporting from point A to point B become more important than the leisurely drive with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face?

I. Don’t. Know.

I’m learning that what seems like a delay is actually life’s way of giving me time to experience where I am and who I’m with right now. It seems that everyone and everything has something to teach me if I’ll just slow down and open up to the possibilities offered along the way.

The softer I am with me, the softer I am with others. I am less critical of us all, I enjoy us more, I am kinder to us, I am more accepting of our flaws and I love us in a sweeter way.

I am less of a hard-ass and more comfortable in my own skin.

I see now, that if I allow it, now is enough. I understand that it’s all I’m guaranteed so I might as well get with the program. Those I thought were special are common. Those I thought were common are special. We are all the same in our sameness and uniqueness that we offer up to the world. We all breathe, bleed, hurt and love. We all fall and rise.

We all love and mourn its loss.

I didn’t wake up worrying, I woke up grateful. I slept through the last few nights because I went to bed appreciating what I have and who I am. Right now. No disclaimers or fine print. I have a home, a car, a job, friends and family who love me and a shit ton of dreams to entertain me in the pursuing of them. I’ll balance the scales that need balancing as I go and all will be well. My troubles and challenges are not the boss of me.

I’m the boss of me. Nobody puts Baby in a corner…

Not even me.

 

 

 

The Forest


I will walk with you.

I’ve traveled this path

enough to know

which way curls itself

into darkness.

Careful now,

watch your step.

There’s the root

that caused my stumble

and just ahead

is the hole

that brought me down

for a moment

that hurt like eternity.

Listen.

Not to the white noise

of misery

or the chatter

of blame…

Allow yourself

to hear the fierce

still distant cry of hope

as it soars above.

Easy now.

Can you see the

deep and sliding marks

below?

The distance of that

final fall?

Those are mine.

I found my way back

from that place of

broken faith.

There was no one here

to show me

how.

I came back

for you.

Take my hand,

just hold on.

I know the way

all too well.

There is light ahead.

There is color

bright and lovely.

There are others there

beyond the dark

waiting to welcome you

back home.

Don’t be afraid.

I will walk with you.

 

 

 

What You Don’t See


I’m big on taking responsibility for where I am in life at any point in time. I actively detach blame from others around me and man up so to speak. I give myself a moment to think what we do when someone hurts us or life kicks us around, but when that poor me moment is over, I own that result and everything that brought it to me. I may throw one hell of a fit at first, but when all is said and done, I lay the responsibility for where I stand at my own feet.

I’ve always been one to say that if you want to know who’s holding you back, just go look in the mirror. What you see there is what’s keeping you from doing, being, having and giving more. It hit me this morning when I was reading that I was totally wrong. Then a video I was listening to while getting ready for work pounded the same thought into my head.

It’s what I don’t see in the mirror that keeps me from everything.

Where are the goals I have yet to write? Where are the rituals, the daily actions that take me closer to them? Where are the tiny changes in direction that will get me to a totally different destination? Where is the fire and drive that makes me different from millions of other reflections across the world that accept what they see as all they can be? Where is the absolute belief that I am worth whatever it takes to take excellent care of myself, bring my dreams to life and give everything I’ve got? Where is the certainty that clears my life of those who do not believe in me? Where are my mentors, my models of living, loving, financing and contribution?

It’s not what we’re doing, it’s what we’re not doing that holds us back.

The truth hurts. The flip side of that is we can grow from hearing ourselves tell it if we choose to. We’ve just been afraid to look too closely or listen to that inner whisper of our gut that tries to tell us life is fleeting, so we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

To quit being a pessimist which is another way to spell coward.

“I don’t want to love someone like that because my heart will get broken.”

“I’m not going to try and fail, that will never work.”

“This is just what life is, and I have to accept it.”

“I’m always going to be this way, it’s just how I am.”

That’s bullshit.

I’ve made some crazy-ass decisions in the past few weeks. I’ve invested in myself and my physical health. I quit my second job to have time to live a little. I’ve fed my mind, rolled out of bed and worked my body. I write, I listen, I engage with those around me. I’m at the point right now where I consider fear an important indicator.

If something scares me, I get in its face and do it anyway.

Win or lose, I’ll know and it won’t scare me. I won’t lie awake at night with the shoulda, woulda, coulda running through my head. If I get knocked on my ass, I’ll get up and go after it from a different direction. Every tiny little step gives me power, and it will do the same for you. I dare you to try it. I pray that you do. I know what it feels like to feel powerless, defeated and afraid to hope that there might be more than what I see.

Sound familiar?

Go look in the mirror. What don’t you see? What’s missing?

Fix that shit.

 

 

 

 

 

Solitary Confinement


It’s time to quit hibernating.

I woke up at 3am again with this thought in my head. It’s natural and healthy to hibernate so to speak when we are grieving the loss of something that is woven into our hearts. It’s not good for us to stay in that state, to withdraw from sharing ourselves long term, to retreat from the wonders of living because they might bring us more pain.

Once we teach ourselves the black art of isolation, it can be difficult to find our way out, especially the way the world moves now. When I began writing again, I struggled between writing what was pretty and what was real to me. They are not always one and the same. I hold inside me things that are beautiful and things that are hard. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that we have lost our grip on the ability (and the courage?) to share who we are with our world.

“We are like puzzle pieces who are perfectly suited to make a giant picture together, but we are assembling ourselves in the dark.”
― Vironika Tugaleva

When we isolate ourselves for too long, our heart slows it’s beating and our breath becomes shallow. We sink into apathy for a false feeling of safety and become disoriented to our purpose for being, we lose our sense of direction. In our escape from those things that hurt us we lose ourselves and become less. We harm ourselves more than the pain we try to avoid.

In this place we clutch things to us to fill the holes. We can become addicted to things that deflect our need for connection to each other and begin the slow process of suffocating us emotionally and spiritually. We know this in the back of our minds, but what the hell do we do about it?

“[…] the sense that everyone was incommunicado with everyone else and living on an entirely wrong plane, so that the meaning, the message, the love, or whatever it was that each life contained, never could find its expression.”
― Patricia Highsmith

If we don’t speak or write or share something from the truth of us we are the equivalent of the drowning one waving in the distance, not for help (of course not!), but the public expression of “I’m fine, nothing to see here, carry on!”. It’s sad and ridiculous.

Suicide is on the rise. Check the statistics. More people are waving from the distance and as we wave back they go under for the last time. Reaching out to each other is more important now than ever. We have to learn how. We have to try.

“No wires tender even as nerves
can transmit the impact of
our seasons, our catastrophes
while we are closed inside them”
Margaret Atwood

I can hold hope in one hand and the truth of where I am in the other. I won’t let go of either. I think it’s dangerous to do so and I will keep writing of what I hold in each hand, the light and the dark that passes through me. I hope that doing so says to those struggling in their own waves of isolation that it’s safe to come in.

I read somewhere that when we cut ourselves off from one another for an extended length of time, our personalities deteriorate. When we isolate ourselves we become someone we no longer recognize and suffer a loneliness unlike any other. I know what it’s like to find yourself missing, to have to search the woods, howling, and bring yourself home, to swim towards the shore when you’re so fucking weary you have to tell yourself to keep kicking.

“And when you die only your thoughts that have reached paper remain.
Finally when someone stumbles upon those words, reads about your loves and your losses, you touch them emotionally and for a time they finally feel understood.
For that time they realize, they too shared the same thoughts and ideas,
And then they realize just as I have realized,
You are not truly as alone in this universe as you think are.”
~ Morris R. Gates

I hold hope in one hand and truth in the other. You can too.

You are not alone.

 

Don’t Zen Me


I learned a new word today. Unf*ckwithable. Don’t blow me shit now, I used an asterisk. It is a Facebook term that no one seems to know from whence it originated. To smooth some feathers, let me share the definition.

Unf*ckwithable: (adj.) when you’re truly at peace and in touch with yourself, and nothing anyone says or does bothers you, and no negativity or drama can touch you.

I am not quite there yet, as I have a certain amount of seconds that pass before I settle into this mindset. I will claim it as a state of being I own once those moments have passed. This word suits me to the core at this point in my life.

This is a really hard state to achieve. REALLY. HARD.

We may have to go through many horrible things to get to this place. We may have to experience losses we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. Life could kneecap us with betrayal from someone we love, steal our health, we could lose our pride, suffer financial stress, face the death of a loved one…the list is endless and heartbreaking.

But we keep getting back up.

At some point in time we begin to recognize that there’s something inside us that will not be broken, a part of us that remains illuminated when all is dark. A center that will hold, all on its own when all else is crumbling. We realize that no matter what happens, no matter what is taken, who we are at the heart of us remains inviolate.

That is when our spine solidifies.

The pain, the drama, the indignities and the losses are real, but we are more than all of them combined. Is it fun to get there? Oh, hell no. But it is a superpower when we realize that we are finally unf*ckwithable. It happens when our hearts, our bones, our wallets and our spirits are broken and yet…

Our hearts refuse to quit beating.

We hate it at first. We curse the truth of it. We ask why. But when we finally accept that our hearts will keep beating until they do not, we become unf*ckwithable. The peace that comes with that is priceless. We know we can create from destruction. We know that we are not what happens to us, even if we caused it ourselves. We learn how to use our failures as fuel to build something courageous and beautiful for ourselves and others.

We learn that our purpose is to light the way for those around us.

Not in a zen-like, rainbows and butterflies, positive-thinky way. I mean in a bad-ass, fire-breathing dragon, nothing takes me out of the game kind of way. Life will knock us on our asses and we know for a fact that if we can look up, we can get up. We may even take a few moments to admire the stars while we’re on our back.

We’re flexible like that, aren’t we?

Life is beautiful. Life is hard. It is worth the battle fatigue to feel the next heartbeat that propels us into our service of it. Each of us holds a part of the masterpiece that is life. We cannot falter in the painting of it. No matter how black and soul-less the canvas seems at times, it is our bright and valiant brushstroke on the canvas that calls others to get up, step up and add their own.

We are all in this together. We are all Unf*ckwithable.

You know who you are.