Monday, May 25, 2015

everything all of the time

  1. Timelapse. http://www.micase.gr/

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” ― Margaret Atwood

It's been raining forever, in a way I don't remember. Everything smells of petrichor and damp and snails crunch underfoot and my curls wind up tighter and the air is moist like undercooked cake or when you flip the Spanish tortilla two minutes too soon. It's green and the sky is pink and pillowy and angry and frightening and fresh and alive. Thunder and lightning shoot off nightly fireworks and this isn't even Disneyland. The streets run with debris from mangled metal and plastic and the city detritus and nature's trash, swept up and swallowed or discarded when it becomes too heavy to be bothered with.  It's our endless spring, drenching the sick, dead soil of this water starved land. It's glorious, and I wish the sun would come out sometimes. 

A few weeks ago, likely when the sun was shining and I was feeling optimistic, I woke up and felt like I used to. Before. But somehow smarter. Like maybe I learned something I needed to inside the broken heart time. I had strung together quite a stretch where I was walking five or six or more miles every day, I was feeling ready for more of a challenge.  

My body told me I need to trade talk therapy for yoga. So I did.

Yin yoga is typically done at a very slow pace where you remain in each pose for 3-5 minutes or more. For me, it's like a moving meditation, and it is absolutely a practice that is about patience. It's slow, but it is deeply intense. There are a lot of opening poses - heart, hips, thighs, shoulders... A battle is being waged inside your mind, and your only weapons are breath and gravity and surrender. I have had several sessions where upon arriving back to my car, I have collapsed into tears, just weeping from the overwhelming emotional release that this class provides. My instructor is a beautiful human who makes me feel so comfortable and safe. It's like having your own muse whispering to you while you try to just be, no matter how much you want to fidget and move and adjust. I practice patience. I practice being still when it is deeply uncomfortable. I practice letting the thoughts and feelings I experience come into my mind and go out without me following. I practice staying in the present. I practice letting go of magical thinking. It's one of the only times in my life where I am absolutely disconnected from everything except myself. It is very, very hard. But it is healing me. 

The thing I love about yoga is that it is always there when you need it. And you can always come back or begin again or for the first time. Always. Yoga does not judge or expect. Yoga is patient. Yoga is meditation with movement and breath. 

I also rejoined my gym and got back to work. With each workout, I feel stronger, fitter, and more confident. It's amazing how resilient the human body is. All those years of working out weren't lost because I got off track for six months. I've still got that base level of fitness, so it's not like completely starting from scratch. My muscles still remember how to ride that bike and pick up a barbell and bend and twist and move. My cardio stamina isn't even as bad as I expected. The body will respond if you listen. It tells you what you need to do. It knows. This time it's telling me not to stray for so long again. It's just easier to keep going. 

Once some time passed and I began to heal emotionally, it all started coming back. The girl I am was still in there. Everything good in my life begins with self care - mental and emotional and physical things that I do for myself to feel the best that I can feel. Physical care and treating my body and mind with compassion became more and more feasible and important with each passing day. 

Whenever something hard, stressful, or painful happens, like a move, or a lost job, or lost love, or death, or any tragedy that kind of derails your whole life, it's easy to want to run away from it. I spent my late teens and 20s (and a few, very brief momentary lapses of reason in my 30s) trying to medicate myself against feeling pain. I procrastinated breakups and delayed decisions, I chose the thing that was best for someone else instead of myself. I stayed when I should have left so many times I can't even keep count anymore. I trusted people too soon and gave them too many chances. I sacrificed and martyred and lost myself in other people, trying to fill that void with romantic love. It took me over a decade to learn to step up and face my feelings. I got stronger, and somehow that made me softer and more compassionate. When you stop deadening yourself to your life, you realize how beautiful it is to feel things completely unadulterated. A clear and present mind is the new altered state. 

In my 30s, I have finally, finally started to figure it out. Love and happiness isn't about giving everything you have to someone else. It's not about sacrificing your own safety and well being for others. It's not about waiting for someone to give you what you think you want or need. We already have everything we need right now. True peace, love, and contentment come from holding your own star, and caring for yourself in the best ways you can, so that you can be a better partner, lover, friend, colleague, and human. True happiness is being content and in love with yourself. It's a cliche for a reason. Because it's true. 

If I had known how long it would take me to reach each new level where I feel a profound sense of spiritual and personal growth, I don't know if I would have kept going.  It's much easier to remain stagnant and ignorant and blissful in our negative habits and behaviors. I mean, no one has to change. It really hurts. You can live your entire life being miserable and living in fear and constant disappointment and regret. We can be bad to each other and to ourselves and keep hurting. I think most of the time we don't really know how bad it is because we're trapped inside it. That's hard. But change is possible. Always. 

We each get to choose. 

Life has never stopped showing me that I have more to learn, and that I am only able to learn at nature's pace. Time passes like water. Patience is just like yin yoga. It may appear that you are waiting, still, doing nothing, but patience is active. It takes courage and persistence and effort. It can exhaust your body and mind, which is why your best tool is surrender. Acceptance. Climbing into the demon's mouth. As soon as you do that, everything reveals itself to you. When you put kindness, compassion, and care into yourself, positive things unfold before you. We have to trust time, and trust ourselves more. Be less afraid. Be more courageous. Love more. Trust that the right things will happen with the right people when they are supposed to. Trust that when you don't get the things you want, it's because something else is coming for you. 

As Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently says, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 

Growing is forever. Be the tortoise. 

x
s



  

Monday, May 4, 2015

levitation

In Nostalgic Mood - TYH


“One evening Milarepa returned to his cave after gathering firewood, only to find it filled with demons. They were cooking his food, reading his books, sleeping in his bed. They had taken over the joint. He knew about non-duality of self and other, but he still didn't quite know how to get these guys out of his cave. Even though he had the sense that they were just a projection of his own mind—all the unwanted parts of himself—he didn't know how to get rid of them. So first he taught them the dharma. He sat on this seat that was higher than they were and said things to them about how we are all one. He talked about compassion and shunyata and how poison is medicine. Nothing happened. The demons were still there. Then he lost his patience and got angry and ran at them. They just laughed at him. Finally, he gave up and just sat down on the floor, saying, “I’m not going away and it looks like you’re not either, so let’s just live here together.” At that point, all of them left except one. Milarepa said, “Oh, this one is particularly vicious.” (We all know that one. Sometimes we have lots of them like that. Sometimes we feel that’s all we’ve got.) He didn’t know what to do, so he surrendered himself even further. He walked over and put himself right into the mouth of the demon and said, “Just eat me up if you want to.” Then that demon left too.”
― Pema ChödrönStart Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

One of the hardest things about Buddhist thought and study is the idea of total acceptance. Acceptance of self, of circumstance, of bad things happening to good people, of good things happening to horrible fuckwit people,  and of the fact that sometimes everything is wonderful and sometimes everything is terrible and all of it is just how it is. Things come together and then they fall apart again. You have to allow room for sadness and joy, sorrow and elation, ecstasy and despair. Love and loss of love.

Buddhists believe we suffer because of desire, because we desire things to be different. There is no getting around the bad parts, there is no changing the parts of ourselves that we don't like, and there's really no getting away from the parts that we hate. It's fundamentally anti-Western to think we can't buy or work or earn our way out of pain and suffering. Buddhism says, "Nope. you're you, and you suck a little, and that's okay. Get with this and you will be happy forever. Your ego is a superdick."

It's anti-American to accept and love yourself, especially your own shortcomings, flaws, and repeated failures. Our entire society and economy are based in the idea that you can lose weight, look younger, fuck longer, and be better in every way, that you must, or you are doomed to be unhappy, fat, lazy, poor, and alone. But, if you only buy the right house and the right car and the right clothes and get the right job and send your kids to the right schools, you will be happy.  If you only work out hard enough and stop eating most food groups, you can have a Victoria's Secret body that is beach ready all year long. If you just had a bigger house, a better car, lived in a better city, you would be happy.

The pursuit of happiness. Right. All anyone wants is to be happy. Of course. And yet the simultaneous advertising messages of "eat less, drink less, have a perfect body, be young forever" and "buy everything, eat everything, drink everything, do everything as hard as you can, spend all your money because YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH" is a complete and utter mindfuck.

For over a year, I've been walking through a field of landmines, trying to figure out a system of how to keep from getting my limbs blown off.  My conclusion is that there is no system. You're going to lose an arm and a leg and an eye and mostly a heart. You won't die though. You'll never die, no matter how long you stand on the edge. As long as you don't fall off. As long as you don't jump. You live. You learn, you get stronger and your limbs and eyes and heart grow back laced with scars. You become a tightrope gripping, edge walking, super balancing acrobat. You are the star of your own Cirque du Soleil. But, there's a price that gets higher every time you go out to stare into the abyss of your own consciousness, each time you go to the dark side and see what's in there. The math starts to twist out of your favor. Maybe as you get older and wiser, you realize there are other ways to look over the edge. There's another edge altogether, a higher one that you can only see when you go inside the demon's mouth and let go of fear.

A friend of mine said to me recently that she is marrying her partner for many reasons, but one of the main ones is because he shows her that there's a way out of the darkness and the anger. Because love is real, and here, on this earth, in this place, it's kind of all we have.

It would be easy to give up and jump off the edge. To choose not to hurt ever again. To accept that some pearls are never found. They just sit in the sand and no one ever knows. But the pearl knows. But I won't.

I believe that the universe speaks to us from a higher place. When you put good things and positvity and kindness and love into yourself and the world, you get those things back in abundance. You get wisdom and messages from life trying to teach you, to speak to you, to tell you which way to go and how to use today to make the tomorrow you desire. You get the people you deserve to have, those who elevate you. There is no one coming to save me. I have to save myself, and I finally know what I have to do. It's not waiting for a partner, or some external force to make my life how I want it to be. You have to make your own magic. The way of the tortoise is the best way. It's the way to win. When we keep going, when we accept our demons and stop fighting, when we let go of our fears and insecurities and stop living like we have endless tomorrows, everything becomes simple and easy. When we give of ourselves like it matters, we rise. We levitate. We are higher beings. And everything is suddenly possible.

Monday, April 20, 2015

sanctuary


I have this sort of empty room in my apartment. Well, it's like one of those half rooms that's designed for some kind of formal dining table situation, but that I've never used for that. It's always been kind of half full of ideas and intentions and art projects, and I've sporadically used it for working out and yoga and meditation. But mostly, it's where stuff kind of sat when I had nowhere else for it to go. It's where I planned to write and practice mindfulness and generally do all the healthy, feely good things.

I have disliked this untidy afterthought room problem immensely for as long as I have lived here. I walk in and glare at it, because my home is my sanctuary, my respite, and my solace. The rest of my house is tidy and neat and stylistically curated to the goddamn max. I hand placed everything just so, because I care how it feels when I am home. My office looks the same way. It's part of who I am. Anyone who has been over here knows the deal. My home is my shrine to myself and the things and people I love. 

The fact is, ever since my big dump up happened, the energy in my place has felt wrong. For weeks I had a really hard time being here alone. I was just all wound up and anxious to the point where I would pace around trying to figure out why I couldn't just be okay in my own space. I would cry and move things and ended up cleaning out every closet and box and drawer in the place trying to heal my wounds. 

OK, it was wrong way before the actual dump up part. Way before. 

The reason I was tied up in knots being here is because it was never mine alone. It was a place I spent  a huge amount of physical time doing those mundane domestic things, lovingly cooking countless meals and watching films and laughing and fighting and fucking and wanting and waiting and longing and never being ever whole within these four walls. This is the place where I spent a year of my life feeling sad, anxious, depressed, worried, jealous, and kind of terrible most of the time. This happened so stealthily, I honestly didn't even realize it until very recently. Way after the dust settled, it became very clear to me that I had been fighting to stay in a relationship that was completely wrong for me. It was wrong for us. We were wrong.

But, I mean, come on. It's not like you don't know it's wrong at the time. Like, deep down, in the dark abyss of your heart, you fucking know. I always knew. Always. There was never a time where I wasn't delaying the inevitable. I'm an incredible liar, so what I do is tell myself that it can be fixed, that whatever glaringly obvious and deeply painful differences and problems and obstacles exist aren't necessarily that big of a deal. Not really. I moved my boundaries so many times, they just disintegrated and I forgot what they were made of. 

There's a reason we find ourselves pacing the floor, wondering how we got here: Love type feelings make us stupid and needy and irrational to the point of self destruction. Obsession and codependency isn't love though, is it? The sex haze keeps us pliable long enough for feeling investment to occur. And if you're like me, you can't stand to give up on anyone, because it feels like a failure. No matter how smart it is to get the fuck out. 

No one wants to go through a breakup. It sucks. It's sad to lose someone you loved, even if you drove each other crazy. It doesn't have to be anyone's fault. You can still love each other and like each other and not have any business being in a relationship. I didn't really know that before. I had never had to choose to leave someone I was in love with before. The kind thing to do is end it. I wish I had known that earlier, because one thing I never ever wanted was to hurt the person I loved. I wish I could have been my best for him, but I wasn't. Because I wasn't my best for me first. That just never works. 

The reality is that it's almost impossible to choose the ending until there is no other choice. We stay and we wait until it's Defcon 4. We wait until we've destroyed our worlds and we have to go live underground and wait for the fallout to subside.

Sometimes that's just how it has to be.

The good news is, all this strife and pacing and dancing to Rihanna in your underwear is temporary. (OK. I still do that.) The bad, horrible, heart crushing parts fade away. Distance offers a rational, clear perspective and suddenly you wake up one morning and think, "What the actual fuck was I doing?" It stops hurting, and you find yourself again. It doesn't even take as long as you think it will, and you will feel better than you thought you could. Because what happens when you get your heart broken, and you go into it and feel it and own all that sadness and pain, that's when you change. 

It takes time to rebuild a solitary life again, but you can and you will and it will be full of awesome friends and new possibilities. Which brings me back to the emptyish half room. I was having brunch at a friend's house recently and she showed me her bedroom. Inside was a miniature teepee that she had made so she'd have a place to meditate and journal and be inside her own sacred space. It was just so lovely and perfect...I wanted one. Not a little teepee, but something...

I thought back to when I was a kid and I used to make intricate blanket forts with my little brother. We had this game room with a full size pool table, and we'd of course use that as a base to construct architect-level multi-room tunnels out of sheets and pillows and whatever we had lying around. Our mom let us leave them up for weeks. It was the absolute best, and it inspired me to create a grownup version in my half room. 

I saged the shit out of every room and dug out all the draperies and sheets I had tucked away in my armoire. I got a small hula hoop and bought a colorful rug and pillows and a fancy meditation cushion. And I rigged it up from the ceiling with ropes and lights and love. I have a Ganesha tapestry covering the door. Ganesha: Remover of Obstacles. The first sound. The OM. This beautiful room vibrates to that string now. To mine. 

IT FEELS AMAZING IN HERE.

I am sitting inside my nest, writing and listening to my playlist right this minute. It's a perfect, lush, warm, luxurious, cozy nook where I can read and write and meditate and journal and snuggle and go down musical black holes for hours. Every time I walk through my front door I turn and see it and light up because it makes me so deliriously happy. I can't wait to show you. This isn't going to do it justice, but we'll try. 

New view from the front door. SO HAPPY! 
Admit it. You want to get in here with me.  

I'm never one to question the climbing of mountains and being the tortoise and how things always end up how they should. I'm stubborn and I have to process my own experiences to get where I need to be. So be it. This is how we learn. Burn it down and rise up from the ashes. But I do know this: There is always someone else. Everyone deserves to be lifted up and not torn down. Find someone who is already how you want them to be. More importantly, find someone who helps you be who you want to be, who inspires you to shine, and who thinks you're fly the way you are. Find someone who feels like your sanctuary. And if you can't, just fucking build one yourself.

xxx
s



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

monitor the loops



When I was five and starting kindergarten, I refused to wear anything but knee socks and adorable dresses to school. Every day, it was a pretty dress, and I was not going to have a conversation about it, because I was a stubborn little tyrant and into fashion even then. I played Duck Duck Goose and Red Rover in my dresses and tights all year long. I got annoyed at other kids who couldn't read while wearing bows in my braids. I was displeased when I scuffed my patent leather shoes. Seriously, it's the worst.

Which is how I know I was certainly very careful not to make a mess of my outfit when I got my very own massive box of crayons. I worshiped the Crayola 64 pack, with its exotic palette, so organized and pleasing and vivid. I loved looking at each one in my little hands and studying their names, inhaling their waxy scent, and trying to imagine all the colors that I could make if I mixed them together. I loved making sure they were all sharp, peeling the paper back just so. I hated breaking them, because I wanted a perfect coloring instrument for my every artistic whim. Crayons. FOR REAL.

One day, however, I stared at the green crayon in my hand, and the off brand green crayon in the hand of the little mousy blonde boy who sat next to me, eating paste with untied shoes and cereal hair. Both claimed that they were green, but they were not the same. MY crayon was green, not his. And then it occurred to me that I could never actually be sure if my green or red or blue was the same as someone else's. Not just the crayons, but how did I know that what I perceived as green and what Billy Paste Eater saw as green were indeed the same? I was perplexed by this, and when I questioned adults, they always told me that yes, yes, all humans see the same colors. Unless they are colorblind or have some kind of condition that causes changes to their anatomy or DNA.

I still don't buy this explanation.

The truth is, you learn at an early age that what you see, and what you feel, and experience and witness and go through is yours alone. You can never, ever be sure of someone else's perception. You can't know what they are thinking, that what you feel is what they feel. You can never be certain.

We all live in our own worlds, and we never truly know what other people perceive, or what it feels like to be in their skin, or if the experience you shared was the same for them as it was for you. Words like love become subjective. Music and film and art, these things all come from that deep longing we all have, every one of us, to know that we are not alone. That yes, that thing, that fire, that energy pulsing through us, I felt that too. And it was the same as yours. We are the same.

This is why I am so desperately, deeply, hopelessly in love with live music, because it is the closest thing I have found to knowing I am sharing a heart with another person. A roomful. A stadium.

Throughout human existence, we have endeavored to connect together. We want to reach the realm of the mystical, we want to look into the spirit world and not be afraid. We want to know we are not alone, that this is not all there is, so we aim for this shared enlightenment. Once you've been there, you know. You are never the same. You can instantly understand how you are like other people who have gone before you.

You become ancient and infinite together.

We use religion or running or drugs or dancing or fucking or a combination of any number of instruments to get to some special state of being where all the walls come down, and we just decide to trust. We lay ourselves bare and bleeding. We open up. We give in to our understanding of love. We decide to be brave, and we say, "This is who I am. Here are my scars. Here are my flaws. Here are my special parts. Here are my beautiful parts. Here are my ghosts. This is my red. This is my blue. This is my green."

We hope for understanding and empathy, intimacy and connection, and above all, reciprocation.

We are more connected now that we have ever been at any other time in our history. And we are more lonely. We are more separate. We are more afraid. We are more closed off to experiencing life outside of screens and online personas and text messages. We communicate more than ever and we say nothing. We speak in typed bits, and in real life, we can't say the things we need to say. We make assumptions. The very thing that lets us see each other is the thing that hides our true nature. We feel like we know someone because we can see them online, but we don't. It's easy to be afraid of technology and become jaded when you realize that you were in a different relationship or experience than the person you were trying to connect with. People tell you who they are by their actions. You don't have to try to figure most people out. They make it easy by being themselves. If you pick the wrong ones, you will end up with a lot of disappointment and rejection and drama that makes you feel like being vulnerable is a weakness.

It's not.

This is okay.

It's easy to give up. It's easy to close off and stop trying to go to the moon. It's easy to forget you dreamed of anything. It's easy to quit asking yourself and other people to be better and try harder.

Imagine if we all just stopped pretending and went for it.

I feel very fortunate right now in my life. I am completely unattached in every way. I can do whatever I want, wherever I want. Change is coming, I can feel that. Nothing is ever permanent. It's not reckless and thoughtless and crazy to seek your own path and do something extraordinary. It's reckless not to. Instead of asking why, we should be asking, why not?

We are all part of the same circle. We're all on different parts, going around and around. We have to monitor the loops, because things come together and then they fall apart again. If we're lucky, we find ourselves synchronized with others who we know see the same colors we do. We believe it, and we tear all the walls down. When you invite and start expecting magic and serendipity in life, it will come to you. Your home will be wherever you are, because you will always find others who can see all the colors too. Look for me and I'll look for you.

x
s




PS... all 100 of my Spotify playlists from this blog are public, and you can follow me here: https://open.spotify.com/user/sinclairvoyant

Monday, March 30, 2015

music monday: the future has an ancient heart



The future has an ancient heart. - Carlo Levi



I am all music, no words.  Hold my hand and we will walk barefoot across soft, white sand, straight into the ocean. 


Monday, March 23, 2015

music monday: vernal equinox



e·qui·nox
  1. when the light equals the dark.

People used to notice this kind of stuff, the ancient people, I mean. They felt the seasons changing, the day and night slowly, gradually intertwining and switching places. Before we had lights and electricity and car horns and skyscrapers, they had rituals and sacrificed toads and crickets and golden maiden's braids to the stars at Stonehenge. The world spoke in strange signals and they could hear it. The ground and the air and the sky told them where to stand and what to do and they listened. They just knew.

Being a Pagan would have been dope. I would have burned a lot of things.

Here in Austin, we also have a ritual of spring. SXSW is a pretty spectacular example of everything being amazing and overwhelmingly, insanely terrible all at once. It's the dark and the light. It's the thing that makes this city special and so exasperating. It's the convergence of experiences and people and inspiration and total physical and mental collapse.

Most of the time, everyone is too exhausted trying to get to the next amazing film premiere, or secret special music showcase, or party with the most free food where Bill Murray is serving shots of tequila, to really be able to experience everything that is happening. It's an endless blur that is over too fast and not fast enough.

But for a few days, we all collectively agree to go insane and forget that we are hurtling through infinity and space and time on a tiny, watery, burning rock covered in 7 billion people and counting.  We sit in the dark and watch a stunning piece of filmmaking, we crowd into a tiny bar and hear a band from a country we've never heard of, we dance and laugh and meet people and make connections that we never imagine are possible. We try to keep ourselves alive.

No one cares about the equinox at SXSW, because we are on a different planet.

This is why I have gone 13 years in a row, even though I feel like it's going to kill me in one way or another every time. SXSW's genius is that the real product is not a multimedia festival, but creating a feeling of exclusivity and FOMO that will really mess your head up, no matter how much access you have to everything. It's never enough. It breaks people. And this year, it broke me.

I suppose, though, that it had to be this way. It had to be this time, this equinox, in our weird city that still wants to be a town, where people from all over the planet come together and forge connections that span logic and distance and time and space and music and film and creativity. It was the only, best, perfect time to have 72 hours of experiences that caused me to question my entire life situation. Sometimes, chain reactions happen that you can't ever forget. You can't ever go back to the way you were. You wake up, and you have new eyes.

I have been told since I was a child that I am overly sensitive and feel love and loss and pain more deeply than other people. I kind of thought it wasn't true, but it is. I have to really get destroyed to learn anything,. And it usually takes me lots of tries before I give up, especially on people. Not everyone has the same capacity for emotional connection to themselves or to other people. Not everyone can be fearless. Not everyone is good for you, even if you love them.

That was a revelation to me.

I thought everyone was like me, and they aren't. I try to warn people, I got my heart tattooed on my sleeve. I spent most of my life trying to numb myself from feeling too much, but with depressants, it eventually has the opposite effect. It just makes all the hurts go really far down until that's all you've got left. When feeling bad feels normal, you just don't know how to feel anything else.
 
Loving unconditionally is dangerous. Without conditions, and boundaries,  and trust that has to be earned, you give people permission to do anything to you with no consequences. That creates lasting damage. The only person who deserves my unconditional love is me. All you other motherfuckers have to earn it. When your brain and heart are shooting off warning signs, FUCKING LISTEN. You know when it's not right, you know you deserve more. You deserve everything. Never settle for anything less.

Thank you for helping me realize this week that I want to be present and feel my life. I want to show up for you. All of you. But above all, I want to show up for myself, because I have been hiding for a long, long time.

Right now, I am on fire. I want to make everything and write everything and see every band and drown in the magic of inspiration. I am free to be myself in a brand new way, and IT IS GOING TO BE FUCKING AMAZING. Anything is possible, and any minute something brilliant is going to happen. Trust me.

Welcome to spring.

x



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

always wear the red lipstick and keep walking

Richard Brautigan


I wasn't always the kind of girl to wear red lipstick. I thought it looked brash on me, a little too striking, a little too cocktail party, like a child's dress up game on a grown up mouth. Like a lot of women, and a lot of things in my life, I thought I couldn't pull it off. I convinced myself it wasn't for me, just by doing nothing. That kind of thinking, the "I can't do this, it's not who I am, what will people think?" is what drives so many of us to just not try to do or get the things we want the most in life. Learning to wear red lipstick with confidence was a metaphor for me, a pathway to independence and self confidence and self esteem that is easy to lose sight of when you get lost in something or someone or stop feeling your best for whatever reason.

For a long time, I was focused on running from my past self and mistakes. I thought if I lost weight and worked out hard enough, I could be a better person. I thought if I was thinner and prettier, I would be more attractive to the opposite sex, and that would help me find someone to fill up the hole I had inside myself. I stopped drinking, and I found a peace within myself that allowed me to practice the self care and compassion toward myself I was so desperate for, but I still longed for a companion to share my newfound/rediscovered amazingness with. Instead of looking around me at what an absolutely fulfilling and beautiful life I had built, at the things I already had, I wanted to get the shit kicked out of me by love. I focused on the thing or the person I felt I was missing. I was looking for my missing piece outside myself. I had it all, but I was missing everything.

I've walked about 130+ miles since the beginning of the year. It's my meditation and my solace and my grounding lifeline to myself. I am fully accepting of myself and my thoughts when I am walking, but I am not my thoughts. I've realized I don't necessarily have to believe the feelings and emotions I have that come up, these things I've told myself are truths, when in reality, letting them go would create space for a new truth, a new reality. A better one, where I am loved and cherished and whole. Sometimes it's music that tells me this, Caspian and Radiohead and We Were Promised Jetpacks. Sometimes it's Ira Glass or Jad and Robert or Marc Maron. Always, it's the sound of the wind in my ears and the cold freeze and the sunshine on my skin and the birds and the sidewalk and the darkness. 

This weekend, I was walking on the trail at Walnut Creek, sometimes alone, but other times, passing families, couples, and lone foxes like me, as they walked by. It occurred to me that all of life is walking along that winding trail. We walk alone for a while, and if we are lucky, we find others who are going our way, and for a time, they walk alongside us. We stop, we stand by the water and throw stones in, we laugh and we love and we yell and we scream and we cherish and we make love and we cry and we sleep wrapped in sheets and feet and breath. We hold hands, we hold hearts. It's hard to want to give your heart away when it's bruised and mangled and scarred, but the lucky ones do it again and again and again because we can't not. These hopeless romantics, these lunatics.

It's not always easy, walking with someone, even if you love them. Especially if you love them. 

Sometimes you wish you were alone again, without all the baggage and hysteria and mess of sadness and neuroses and fears of other people. You long for freedom of self, from obligation and apology. But then, often, always, and finally, alone, you miss the companion you once had. You miss the ordinary breakfasts of hurried toast and coffee and the comforting, mundane sound of their breathing while you lie awake wishing you were the little spoon instead of the big one always. You miss the smell of their collared shirts and cardigans and the longing ocean blue of two eyes you no longer look into, and never will again.

The hard thing is coming to terms with the ever changing landscape of our walks. You come across a deep water crossing, and you find yourself alone on the other side. When someone you held so close disappears off a cliff, you can't imagine how you will find your way alone again. You look back, and they are gone. Bewildered and lost, you pick yourself up off the dirty ground and just step forward, one leg at a time, over and over, until one day, you hear the birds again. You remember - you know how to walk alone, you always have, and you always will. You have to walk alone sometimes, so that the next time you meet a stranger on the path, you can keep up, keep yourself healthy and happy and not expect that person to carry you. You carry yourself. You feel elated to have the chance to walk through this life at all.

Which brings me back to the red lipstick... when you look in the mirror and hear that voice telling you that you can't pull it off, tell that voice to shut the fuck up. Every woman can wear the red lipstick. Whatever your red lipstick is, whatever you want to be or do or wear or live, do it today, and do it tomorrow, and do it the next day and the next and the next. Just keep going, and then one day, you'll wake up and that red lipstick will look hot as tits on you, and you'll wonder how you lived your whole life without it. My favorite shade is NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella. Do it. 

What's true for lipstick is true for life.

There's nothing you need that you don't already have. If you want to wear something weird or dye your hair purple or quit your job or tell someone you love them or move across the country and you think it's crazy, fuck the fear, fuck the voice that says "No, I can't do this, I'm scared, I can't, what if I fail?" and do it anyway. You can't fail if you don't try, and you can't learn anything about yourself if you don't fail spectacularly and often.

Love your body, today, right now. Be nice to yourself. Always. You have everything inside you that you will ever need. Surround yourself with people who see who you really are and who bring out the best in you. Find people who make you shine and feel good about yourself. Don't apologize. Ever. Find your cheerleaders, your champions, your best, kindest, in deed friends, and never let them go. Do the same for them and help them shine. It should be easy, always. It shouldn't hurt. Life should be full of amazing experiences and people who surround you with love and comfort and companionship without conditions. Find people who enable you to be better every single day.  Don't ever think you have to convince anyone how amazing and beautiful and shiny you are. When you meet someone on your trail who doesn't like you in red lipstick, wish them well, and just keep walking.  



Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language -- it's from the Latin word cor, meaning heart -- and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others,because, as it turns out, we can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and -- this was the hard part -- as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection." - Brené Brown


I haven't really watched that many TED talks. Like, I want to be a person who watches a lot of TED talks, because smart, exciting, innovative people have lots of cool, groundbreaking, essential shit to say in them, right? Everything you need to learn about yourself, about anything, is on the internet. I could replace my Master's Degree ambitions with TED talks and Skillshare sessions and YouTube videos,  I know it. I have a million saved on my Netflix queue. I mean to watch them. I want to be well informed about space and physics and why stupid, idiotic humans continue being fucking stupid and idiotic and human. But I watched this one because my therapist told me it was my homework this week. And after seeing it, I am very, very confident that I picked the right therapist.

Maybe it's because Brené Brown is a left brained analytic, right brained emotional empath like me, and she explains things from a point of view of a researcher and an analyst and also a writer and a person who is super lost in her own head, that it makes sense to me. I knew in the first two minutes this lady was legit. Maybe it's because I needed to hear that vulnerability is the solution, not the problem. Maybe it's because she made me remember that compassion is the way to serenity. Especially compassion toward myself. I think my favorite line in that whole talk is when she says that the people she studied who were most fully living in gratitude and joy were the ones who accepted their imperfections. They stopped being what they thought they should be and embraced who they are.

So I listened. I laugh cried. I worked on my night cheese.

I'm not built for indifference. I'm emotionally high maintenance. I need a lot of attention and affection and reassurance. I give those things in abundance, freely. I don't think this means I'm not independent or confident or individual. I just place a high value on personal connections. And I tend to isolate myself from friends and family when something is wrong. I'm a nester, but I'm also avoidant and easily offended. I'm sensitive. I am a super feeler. I'm manipulative and passive aggressive and I have a script that I want to play out and when it doesn't, I get mortally wounded. Or maybe I'm just a delusional, insane narcissist.

Cynicism is so easy now. Because everything, absolutely everything, is fucking broken and scary and wrong and destroyed. That terrible post-apocalyptic future is coming. It's here. We may not feel it yet, really, but we all know it. We can feel it in our bones. It may not be The Walking Dead style Atlanta nightmare, but it's coming. We are incapable of fixing the environment, the racial and gender injustice, the fact that it's now essentially legal for a police officer to kill you for no reason and not be prosecuted, even if it's fully captured on video. If you are a female, you can be raped and no one will be punished. I am afraid to walk alone at night. We can't fix the poverty, the religious wars, the pollution, the disease. People are starving to death in Syria. People are losing their homes because of global warming and the fact that we value consumerism over prosperity. It's impossible to keep up the facade of a middle class standard of living in the cities we love. There are 7 billion of us, and it's hard to believe I will ever find another person on this earth who can understand me in the way I crave. We are more lonely, disconnected, high, numb, addicted, and checked out than ever before. It's not the best time to be alive really. Like, the writing is on the fucking wall. YOU ARE FUCKING DOING IT WRONG, HUMANS. For real. Optimism seems like a sad vestige of the 60s.

So my solution is to make my life smaller. I want to be in the streets protesting for the value of black lives. I feel that pain acutely, and I believe in that. I am ashamed of the white culture and privilege that perpetuates this state in our society. I am ashamed to be a white woman, A white feminist. A middle classish American. I benefit from the oppression of others. I am a part of it and yet I want to help change it. But I can't. I can't do anything but try to go to sleep on time and eat fairly well and exercise and love people and find some kind of respite. The best thing I can do is try to be a better person. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just shut the fuck up and listen and not take up space that belongs to the oppressed. A lot of times, being an ally means being silent.

I find myself being smothered and suffocated with the presence of the device. A device is in my hand from the moment I wake up until the last thing when I go to sleep. I used to remember times where I wouldn't even look at my phone until 11 am or later. Now, I can't finish a 250 page book because I can't put down the goddamn phone. I remember making a conscious decision not to have a TV in my bedroom. I used to have a "no screens in the bed" policy. But I break it. I let my partner break it. Because I am numbing myself to my vulnerability. Because then, we don't have to actually be present with each other. Ever. Or with ourselves. I want to find myself in stillness. I want to find a way to soothe without becoming hysterical. I want to stop holding resentment at the device against the people I love the most. I want to find a way to be okay and to love without being selfish. Sometimes loving that much is smothering. I want to let myself be alive and breathe and remember that I have the capacity for love and gratitude. That in my flawed, fucked up state, I am enough. I am not broken. A breakdown is just another term for having a spiritual awakening.

Lean in.


x
s



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

the path is a spiral



“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.” ― Hermann HesseSiddhartha

When I was like 14, I read The Hot Zone, and became immutably terrified forever of filoviruses like ebola that cause hemorrhagic fever. I, and basically every woman I know who is now in her 30s, became convinced that it was only a matter of time before some avian swine monkey sheep flu got on a plane in the rainforest and came to wipe us all out. Not just killing you quickly and mercifully, but making your organs liquify and blood shoot out of every orifice and pore. I was afraid of pandemics. I was afraid of AIDS. I was afraid of global warming and nuclear war and a meteor hitting the earth and killing everyone on it, because dinosaurs used to walk where I stand. DINOSAURS.   There used to be giant monster lizards roaming all over this shit and they're gasoline now. I mean, it doesn't look good, you know? So this summer, I watched in horror, paralyzed, as more and more people in West Africa became sick with ebola. Yep, this is it, I thought. This is what it's going to be. Zombies are real. We are all going to fucking die. 

But actually, I just wasn't that scared really. Like, I thought I should be scared, because some really scary shit went down this summer. But I wasn't. Not really. Not even when people in Dallas started to get ebola. I mean, I know the science behind contagions like this, and I think in the back of my mind, I believed the CDC could keep it under control, in spite of the massive failures of the healthcare system. 

But...Did I really believe that? 

Or am I just too numb to actually feel anything?

I cried at a Ryan Adams concert a couple weeks ago. My amazing, lovely friend who works at KLRU took me to his ACL taping, and a few songs in, I cried. Like real tears. I don't even like Ryan Adams. At all. Not really. I mean, there are worse things to listen to, but he's really not my jam at all. But I felt something. I was present. Because it was the first show I had been to in so long where no one, not a single person, was on their phone. There were no screens or Instagrams or Tweets or Facebooking. It was just a guy and a guitar and a roomful of quiet, attentive people. It FELT like one of the most amazing shows ever. I know that's not actually true, but it felt real, Like it used to. It made me remember that I used to like bands. 

I feel like I've awoken and found myself having retreated into a world of distraction, of endless clicks and likes and texts and messages and fewer and fewer real experiences with people. I don't write anymore because I have nothing to say. I am not here. And I am desperate for personal, meaningful, visceral human contact. I am quietly yearning to be ravaged by emotion and physical affection and just... anything. Everything. I used to feel special, like I knew myself, like I had everything planned out forever. But now I just feel like life is blowing by me at a pace I can't fathom and I am too busy clicking on another story to notice. 

Fuck Facebook. Seriously. Fuck it so hard. Stop fucking making us into idiot drones who watch two minute viral videos and click through 40 page slideshows of dumb gifs of cats and read celebrity gossip that tears people down and invades their privacy and rants on politics and on feminism which always turn into really being about racism and think that's what being alive is. Fuck politics and sports and pundits and Jezebel and basic bitches and award shows and stupid bullshit pop culture. I'm so tired of feeling like I live in Idiocracy. 

And yet... there's always that hopeless, reckless optimism inside me that just won't die no matter how hard I try to kill it. I'm trying to find my way out. I am back at the beginning, trying to get back on track with fitness and self care to maybe, somehow, pull myself out of the hole of apathy I fell into. When the path is a spiral, eventually you're going back up again. I want to be present with people in my life. I want to put down the phone and the laptop and be there. I want to create and grow and laugh and love. I want to go and do. I want to move and breathe and feel all the feelings there are. I want sunrises and fireworks and magic. I can still love. I know it. We are still so young. There is so much left to look forward to. 

This world, our now, is terrifying. It's dark and violent and dangerous and chaotic. Everything falls apart, and sometimes it comes back together, and then it falls apart again. All we have is each other. All we have is today. We have to go outside and listen and look at each other and hug and laugh and kiss and fuck and sweat and cry and scream and dance and run and play and do it now. This computer is not life. It's not. 

This is all over the goddamn place, but it's something. Who knows, maybe I'll write something else in a few days. Rinse. Repeat. 

x

                                                                   

Monday, August 4, 2014

do what you are

I've been watching a lot of cooking and food shows lately. I think because I've always found food soothing. Selecting it, the visceral act of touching something grown in the dark, moist earth. Slicing, chopping, cutting, peeling, pushing, pulling, squeezing, stirring, whisking, beating and resting. These things comfort me. Many chefs use such beautiful language when they speak about food, and the feelings evoked when they're cooking something. I'm drawn to these shows because I love the feelings cooking food provides, and I love the way other people who are passionate speak about it. I love watching them handle each item with such pride and love. It's art that nourishes.

Something I've heard said over and over and over from smiling chefs, their hands covered in sage and olive oil and fatty ground meats as they work up a recipe from simple, wholesome ingredients is this:

"It's so satisfying."

It recently dawned on me that I've never had a job where I felt that way. No matter how well I can create and manage systems and people, do office work, and send emails and interact with my team of people, sharing ideas and solving problems, it's never truly satisfying. Not like that. Not in the way that creative work is satisfying. Not in the way that I feel satisfied when I write something beautiful that I love, or roast a chicken and root vegetables on a Sunday, or in the way that a well planned trip feels satisfying and exciting when it's even better than you imagined it would be. Not in the way that making people happy is satisfying. Not int he way even little things like giving someone you love a gift is satisfying. I don't know what it feels like to find that in work.

I've worked in nonprofit direct service for nearly a decade. Knowing that I have a job where I help people who need it, that's always helped get me through. I've always felt that what I do matters to people, and I do believe that. But even that has lost its shine for me. It just feels empty. I've changed jobs and organizations and it still feels like I'm just in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing. I've tried this and that thing, trying all the while to just pay the bills and years have passed this way. You get stuck living a life with all these expenses and cell phone bills and rent and car payments and the idea of trying to start over doing something new seems scary and daunting and frankly, impossible.

So we sit at desks doing jobs we don't love to pay for things we don't really want or need. Maybe it's entitled to think we shouldn't spend 40+ hours a week working somewhere that doesn't provide joy and meaning. I'm sure I should be grateful that I have a job in a nice office with smart, nice people who respect me. I am grateful. But I'm also miserable. I said this year would be the year of yes, and I'm realizing what I need to say yes to the most is myself. I've been working on trying to find a balance in my life. My instinct is to combat extreme behavior with the opposite extreme behavior. This is not balance. I want to listen to my body and my intuition and be kind to myself. Things that are comforting, like food and drink, can also be bad for us when we have too much of them.

The things that make me feel satisfied are simplicity, quality, deliberateness, quiet details, music, words - things you can experience with the senses. Touch. Taste. Smell. Sound. Sight.

I don't know what kind of job I need to have, but I know I need to know myself in order to find out. I know that I feel my best when I listen to my body, when I sleep well, when I move around, go outside, breathe in the air, when I'm still and alone, when I eat natural, unprocessed foods I make myself, and not too much. When I drink a hot, dark cup of coffee. I feel my best when I love people, and when I tell them, and I know they love me too. I feel my best when I'm watching an amazing film in a dark, cold theater. When I'm in a city that's not mine, on foot, lost on purpose.

We shouldn't live for weekends and vacations and holidays from our jobs to feel good and useful and alive. I want to find work that feels meaningful and that I can be proud of and that is not based on typing things and staring into screens all day every day. The August in Texas malaise is getting to me.

WHY AM I NOT A DJ THROWING PARTIES IN MUSEUMS SERVING AMAZING FOOD??? I obviously have delusions of grandeur. That's cool. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll figure everything in life out any minute now. I'll tell you as soon as that happens.