The Art of Being Ugly


I woke up ugly this morning.

Not on the outside although it wasn’t one of my better days, but my heart, my thoughts and my perception of things were on the hard side. I woke up gritting my teeth and knew it would be a struggle to contain the harshness from those who didn’t deserve it.

Which was everyone.

I usually don’t feel this way, and I don’t like it. I used to deny its existence or hide it from myself, missing every important lesson the meanness was trying to teach me.

I’m a slow learner but when I finally get it, it sticks.

Listening to the ugly parts of me is the only way to see where I’m being foolish in ways that injure my heart. Shaking hands with the side of me that wants to strike out helps me see where I’ve set myself up for failure. The “righteous” part of me that wants to cause equivalent pain in another is a 911 call for pulling my head out of my ass and taking a good look at where I’m standing…

And how fast I’m sinking.

I’m about chest high in bad attitude right now, cigarette in one hand and wine glass in the other, listening to the ugly. I don’t apologize for the contents of either hand or the content of my mind.

I’m sorting it out.

The more I listen the more it recedes, slowing my breath and easing the tightness in my jaw. My heart softens again and my mind settles. I see the adjustments I need to make to defuse my dilemma.

Fortunately, most will never meet the ugly I talk to from time to time, even though that side of me is an important part of who I am. If I don’t listen to the black-hearted, judgmental, vigilante part of me…

How will I ever grow?

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Pistols At Dawn


 

Let’s talk a bit about resolving conflict. There is the tried and true way of yelling and screaming at each other which achieves nothing but a sore throat and resentments. We can also do the ignoring of the elephant in the room and begin the second cold war. If that doesn’t work we can blame and shame the other into some kind of submission, that’s always a fun one. If all else fails, we can (sigh) try to work it out with discussion and understanding.

I know, this is a radical concept, but stay with me for a minute or two.

If both parties are not heard and respected, then there is no real resolution to any problem brought to the table. For a misunderstanding to be cleared up, everyone has to be willing to listen and consider. Not just one person, but all persons involved. If there is an assumed insult to deal with, somebody needs to listen to the offense taken and the other must listen to the intention of the words spoken.

Unless you just want to be angry, then you should quit reading right now. 

Any kind of successful resolution to conflict comes from both sides being able to share their intent and emotion, from both being willing to listen to the other and consider that maybe, just maybe no harm was intended. That is not to say no harm was done, because who are we to say when we have caused another pain? We don’t determine that, they do. Our part is to listen, understand as best we can and explain from our hearts that our words were from a harmless loving place. That we truly meant no harm or hurt at all.

If someone hurts us, it is our right to speak up and stop them where they stand. We have a right to say what the injury is and expect an explanation and apology. If the offender is important to us we will give them equal time and respect to listen so that we can understand what caused them to hurt us so carelessly. If they don’t matter to us, well we say what we need to and move on, leaving them behind. That alone will tell you where you stand.

Let me tell you what doesn’t work, in case you’ve been in a cave or under a rock the last 50 years or so. A Johnny Carson monologue on someone’s transgressions with no feedback is worthless. A gag order where the other party has no time or right to say anything to explain their side is worthless. Deafness to any belief or truth other than the one already pre-decided is a real resolution killer.

I hope I’m not being too vague in pointing out that resolving conflict takes input from both sides to be of any value to the continuing relationship. If the relationship matters at all.

Each of us see and understand life differently based on our personal experiences and traumas. We all need to respect that about each other and tread carefully. That being said, it is impossible for us to go through life without treading on each others hearts, memories and experiences. Impossible. So our only option for loving and lasting relationships of any kind is to refine the art of resolving conflict.

I have been in a relationship where there was never any resolution to conflict. It is a soul killer. I am no longer there, and will not be in another one of any kind where there is not the heart or courage to give and receive and resolve. Period. I will not go there.

If I’m not looking at someone with the guts to take the same truth as they are willing to give, then I won’t be looking at them for long. I have just learned that about myself. If I’m willing to shut up and listen and absorb and ponder the possibilities, then by god the one I’m looking at better have the balls to do the same. Or they can move on to someone else who hasn’t lived the reality of what it’s like to be forced into silence.

I will never be that person again.

Another important point before I close is to fight fairly to resolve the issues at hand. It’s wrong to use any weakness shared with you as a weapon against the one you care about.It shows a dent in your character to use what has been shared in confidence to harm the person who trusted you to begin with. Resolve the damn issue like people who actually care for each other.

I have wondered recently why a person wouldn’t just say “ouch, you just stepped somewhere I don’t want to go” and let you step away and respect their space. Why does everything need to be a huge offense to humanity instead of a “hey, okay sorry, I won’t go there”? If something stabs you in the heart, by all means say so! We can’t know unless you do. But let there be a reasonable, mature solving of the problem.

Forgive my diatribe. If I have offended you, your feedback is more than welcome. We will resolve.

If all else fails, we will go with pistols at dawn.

Lessons In Living (From a Dead Woman)


Sometimes the death of who you are is not dramatic. There is no impact of twisting metal, or fist to your flesh. It may not be a heroic effort gone wrong, or a fistful of pills. It may not be due to an unforgivable drive by shooting, a robbery gone wrong or a slash too deep in your wrists. Sometimes you just watch yourself die; bloodlessly, silently, without a single tear.

And yet you’re still breathing.

You didn’t fight the quicksand as it sucked you down in the fine and infinite grains of sand-made of becoming less-one moment at a time. You let it swallow you as a frog lets itself boil to death degree by numbing degree, unaware of it’s impending demise until it’s too late to hop to freedom.

And you’re still boiling.

You lie with your life, with your words, with your smile, as your soul rests at the very bottom of that pit of quicksand. The dreams you had, along with any genuine laughter are lying right there with you, waiting to rot by your side. You fight the feelings of anger that flare with any false thoughts of freedom or happiness that try to stick to you as they pass by.

And you’re raging still.

You went silently into that good night. You didn’t realize you needed to fight, or set boundaries, or keep balance, or let your voice be heard. You just kept looking good, and sounding good, and making good impressions, and doing good for others, without giving a good goddamn shit that you were suffocating in the pretense you didn’t know to call out by name.

And you’re suffocating still.

This is the moment. This has the future of who you are NOT-hanging in the balance. You are lying, paralyzed, at the bottom of this pit of despair, and you have the power to rise. But to do so, you have to give a damn. You have to be willing to sit up, get to  your feet, raise your hands high, spit the sand out of your mouth and say “No. More.”.

You have to fucking mean it.

Go ahead and practice once or twice before you give the Rebel Yell. Before the world hears the Howl of the Wolf that has been hibernating inside of you for WAY TOO LONG.

You give yourself to Life the same way you died. You walk away from that relationship you walked into, you reject the job you deemed acceptable back in the day, you do what your heart says instead of the dumb ass unacceptable shit you thought you were “supposed to do”. You learn to Tango, to speak Italian as well as your mind. You listen to your feelings as you would listen to a beloved child.

You listen. You act. You live.

And you show others the Way.

My Beloved


For the first time in maybe fifteen years, I will have a cleaning lady/person/housekeeper…what ever. She will probably be temporary until she finds her ‘life’ job, but it matters little to me in how I feel about her.

My best friends and I have always said that if WE had wives of our own, we wouldn’t be assholes about it. We would appreciate their hard work, the time given, the effort, the planning, the thoughtfulness, the absolute wonder of having a wonderfully clean home that frees us to enjoy our time off when we are not working. We would not be husbands to our wives per se, we would be grateful wives who had wives.

We would give them their hard earned money with a loving heart. We would show endless and heartfelt appreciation. We would pick up after ourselves and spend time thinking how we could make their efforts easier for them to show our gratitude and respect. We would occasionally leave extra gifts and ‘thank you’s for no apparent reason. We would give them lavish, incomparable presents for their birthdays and Christmas.

We would always speak kindly to and of them. Harsh and inconsiderate words would never pass our lips in regards to them. They would feel so valued and honored by us that they would never consider leaving us to become a ‘wife’ to someone else at our expense.

Yes, I will do my daily duties to not impede her from doing what I ask of her. I will keep up on my personal responsibilities of dishes, laundry, the daily sweeps and wipes that must occur. Her efforts will free me to come home grateful, and enjoy my off time -guilt and aggravation free.

I will no longer spend entire days off and/or weekends cleaning the pit of doom that I had no energy left for after the work day. Therefore, she will be saving me from certain prison time in payment for lighting my spouse on fire and putting him out with an ice pick. Possibly I exaggerate my resentments, but I think not.

OMG, you say? Why not just tell him to pull his weight as a partner, you say? Can you not deal with this like an adult?

Laugh. Out. Loud.

After years of resentment and blame, I spoke as clearly as God spoke to Moses from a burning bush. I spoke like a man-straightforward with no way to be misunderstood. I said I was tired of carrying the whole load, that if he were a roommate I would have evicted him by now, that something was going to change either with his efforts or without. After six weeks of no difference in cleaning/partnership behavior, I was looking for the lighter fluid and realized what I had to do. I texted him immediately as he was out entertaining himself that fine weekend day, to let him know I was going to get estimates and hire a housekeeper to eliminate my anger over this never-ending situation.

So here I am. Anxiously waiting the honeymoon of my first cleaning. I am happy she’s coming, I’m anxious that she not feel overworked. I will guard her with my life-so help me God.

I have to wonder at the ego of a human being expecting these wonderous things from another human being while behaving like  an inconsiderate ass hat. What great thing do you bring to the relationship table, I ask? What is it that you give of yourself that has such value that no real effort or input is required from you at all?

And of myself, I ask this question: why did I decide to marry as opposed to hiring out as a housekeeper?

I misunderstood the path to becoming The Beloved.

My Bad.

Eye of the Beholder


I began meditating consistently two years ago to protect myself from the possibility of prison due to involuntary manslaughter…or maybe even justifiable homicide. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a vigilante ~ or perhaps more (like the commercial) The Fist of Goodness, balancing the scales of Truth, Justice, and the American Way It Oughta Be.

For some reason, while I didn’t do very well at standing up for myself, I was awesome at championing others. This would frequently lead to my desire to verbally level the playing field, with my actions following closely behind my desire. I was a super hero for the underdog, but sometimes (probably wanting a noble purpose for my temper) I jumped in too soon, and on the wrong side of goodness, breaking my own heart in disappointment when I realized I’d been duped.

I went from a job two years ago that was so pleasant, and not at all taxing, back into the management arena I’d hoped to never experience again. Being not at all the same person I’d been my first trip through, I had somehow lost my tolerance for what I considered stupidity, poor planning, lack of leadership, and my most frequent thought was:

“Oh. My. God. , are you SHITTING me?”.

I went from La La Stepford happiness into my version of Children of the Corn, or Silent Rage, or hey~Linda Blair spitting pea soup all over the place.

Kids, it was not pretty. I knew I was making myself sick; I was letting circumstances poison and rot my thinking, and in desperation signed up for a 21 day online meditation course. I began to meditate like medicine, the nitro pill that kept the heart attack from killing me, the counselor that helped me begin the day calm enough not to blow by the end of it…usually, and somewhere along the way I was able to see myself before I reacted to circumstances around me.

I began writing again as an outlet for survival purposes, and yoga kept me from twisting heads off in my mind.

I had accidentally created a momentary pause button between my first thought of what needed to happen~and what I actually chose to do. It was amazing.

I realized I wasn’t the evil twin sister I appeared to be, neither was I the white robed bodhisattva I yearned to be. I was a multi-faceted blend of all the parts it took for me to be me. I was the watcher of my ego, anger, and angst. I was the witness to my level of integrity high or low, my compassion or lack of, my judgment or acceptance of myself or whatever existed in my world at any given time.

I was the Beholder, and in the eye of the Beholder, all parts of me were valid, vibrant, and vital. All sides of me, no matter how it looked through the mirror darkly, were to be held, loved and listened to. All of me has something to say, something to share, something to teach.

I learned through the silence of meditation, and the momentary pause of the Beholder, that my Shadow is just as important as my Shine. If I let go of the reactivity and see what the triggers have to show me, then they become gifts of wisdom, yes? And if I hold my anger close like a beloved child and listen to what it says, in what wondrous ways will I change?

Do I still have moments I want to be the Fist of Goodness? Yes, yes I do. But if I throw in the Bodhisattva and a pinch of Jester, I just may have a winner~in the Eye of the Beholder.

Behold your own magnificent self.

No Flowers


What if, during these apparently disturbing times of unrest, there was no one willing to smile for a moment? What if, during the storm of what’s coming, raining all over what is, there was no one to point out the rainbow of hope? What if the morning news kept beating us with political screw ups and forgot to share the stories of triumph, hope and perseverance? What if all we could see was the endless desert, blinded from seeing the beauty of the sunrise or sunset, it’s simplicity, or simply became numb to the dreams inspired by the flowers brave enough to bloom there?

I am weary and heartsick of being trapped in the quicksand of pessimism, discontent, and disbelief in humanity that I find myself surrounded with. Fighting against those who perpetuate this only causes their grip to become stronger, and me to sink faster into a depression I am unfamiliar with. It appears to do no good to explain that I can see what is so wrong without dwelling on it 24/7, or that I agree with much of the opinions that fly about~I’m just not willing to rage in a manner that hurts my cause of hope. I wondered just last night what would be expected of me if I were to be diagnosed with a terminal illness and given only a few months to live? Am I expected to weep and wail for the duration of my life at the unfairness or hopelessness of it all? Or would I be supported in any way in my attempts to enjoy and celebrate what time I had left in between my moments of weeping and wailing?

While I can’t answer that question, I can tell you that I don’t want any part of a world without love, compassion, hope, or flowers brave enough to bloom where they shouldn’t be able to. I won’t help create that world, and I’ll have no part in perpetuating it’s existence.  If we are doomed to a world of war, rioting, liars and lack of leadership, then I only have one thing to say:

Leave me alone.

Let me be.

Let me smile and laugh and joke while the fires that can’t be contained burn us to ash. If you’re right and the apocalypse is coming any day now then leave me to my singing, dancing, writing, dreaming, hoping, and loving where I can. Let the last thing somebody sees be my smile before being obliterated by Armageddon, the last thing they hear-my laugh, the last thing they feel-my heart wrapping around them so they know when all is said and done IT WILL BE OKAY.

I don’t want your world, and you don’t know how to believe in mine. That’s fine.

Just don’t pluck the flower that is brave enough to bloom in the desert and grind it under the heel of your anger.

Let the rainbow comfort somebody, even if it can’t be you. Let the flower bloom.

desert flowers rainbow

I Know What Love Is…


This morning, as I was doing the Open Heart Meditation, I had my hands open receptively and was breathing in…out…in…out…and I felt a furry nose land in one hand and a crazy licking dog in the other…and I thought with a smile~ahhh, there’s love right there…my two goldens giving love to momma.

The amazing back story to this is that a few months ago, when I first started meditating, it SO pissed me off to hear a bothersome sound or be “interrupted” by my dogs. I mean, I’m trying to MEDITATE right? HOW ANNOYING!!  lol.

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Like many “going to church” Sundays when parents are yelling for kids to move along, or get ready, or get in the car, or whatever. Who we really are at the moment gets in the way of who we are trying to be. The interesting part of that is~we don’t have to try so hard. All we have to do is relax and let go.

I’ve had a VERY trying couple of days. There were a few times I was looking the old me right in the eyeballs, telling myself mentally to STAND DOWN. There is value, reason, facts and righteousness in that part of me, but no peace. No true north. No lay my head down and feel good about my behavior at night.

When I first started this journey, I PRETENDED to not be angry. Ha!! Ever tried that? It is stroke inducing, I can vouch for that. I looked very successful at what I was trying to do, but on the inside…I was a volcano waiting to erupt at any moment, or maybe an old building ready to implode on itself.

Now is better. Even on my bad days. Even when I see it coming on the horizon, I know it’s not worth it. It doesn’t keep me from feeling the strain, but my decision is made ahead of time, and my reactions~those I can live with as I go along the road I’m travelling now. No pretending. Just me and the real deal.

I know what love is. It’s not pretending and saying I love you while actions say get the hell out of my way. It’s feeling a furry nose in one hand, and a licking dog in the other, and smiling to yourself because “Ahhhh, here’s what love is, right here”. It’s actually BEING the spouse, partner, companion, friend. Actually pulling your weight, and giving support, and being the love someone needs instead of letting them carry your ass too many times. Let’s be who we say we are~no more pretending for the public.

I know what love is. It’s not the words, it’s the living of them.