Friday, August 28, 2015

never ending circles

Kumiko Okada from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
“What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world. We get into the habit of thinking, this is the world, but that’s not true at all. The real world is in a much darker and deeper place than this, and most of it is occupied by jellyfish and things. We just happen to forget all that… Two-thirds of the earth’s surface is ocean, and all we can see of it with the naked eye is the surface: the skin. We hardly know anything about what’s underneath the skin.”
— Haruki Murakami - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
(by Liya Naydich)
Kumiko Okada from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
“Whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting.” 
― Haruki Murakami

I'm in that place.

Finally. The place you read about in all the self help books while you're waiting to get there. The everything is better now place. On the other side of the only way out. Through. That place that feels like it takes forever to reach, but when you look back, it wasn't all that long. Oh fuck that, it was ages and eons and epochs. Then slowly and suddenly, you wake up alone one day and feel extremely, wondrously, magically whole. Relief. Where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

Our time perception is such a sadistic bastard, slowing down when things are dark and painful and speeding up when the world is raining joy down on your life so fast and hard you almost drown in it. Euphoria flood, shutting down the streets, stranding you on a balcony, locked outside with nothing on but a smile and you could not give a fuck. We want to hold on to that gorgeous peak forever, but we never seem to be able to, because life itself is a fleeting moment of sentient consciousness, the transitory and temporary essence of which gives it it's meaning. The harder and tighter we hold on, the more permanent happiness eludes us, the more we lose, the farther away we are from our true, inherently perfect inner selves.

We have to stay in the tender, prickly parts longer because that's where we learn everything we need to know. We have to twist and bleed and die and ache. That pain is a gift, a teacher, a wise sage. Without it, we have no way of knowing what happiness and love truly feel like. It's in the contrast, and in the gratitude of being on the other side, that we are able to appreciate when life gets juicy. The secret of speeding this whole process up is learning not to run in the opposite direction. Coping mechanisms are a real thing that actually work in practice. Our instinct, mine anyway, used to be to run as fast as I could away, in any direction, all the directions, into a river of booze and anything else I could find to keep me from feeling my massive, soul crushing pain. And it's not just the ultra sensitive who flee, everyone accepts that it's normal, and preferable, to medicate the slightest negative sensation. We sedate ourselves when we're happy, and especially when we're sad. We celebrate and we mourn in a haze. Oblivion is a guaranteed release from fear. Why wouldn't we take that ticket? Fear hurts. Life fucking hurts.

Most of us have a hard time liking ourselves. We demand impossible perfection and flagellate when we can't achieve it. We worry so much about what other people think, we hear the judgmental, lying, mean voice in our heads abusing us and telling us we are worthless and we listen. Who wouldn't want to shut that asshole up? For some of us, that voice gets louder when we try to drug it. Mine does. The only way I know how to permanently shut that shit off is by feeling my life as fully as possible, without filters, without anything. I force it into submission through kindness and then, there is a golden, full silence. The mind opens up to the brilliant, magnificent world we live in. It takes a fight to stay present in your own truth. Everything becomes available and possible. And then there's this feeling of anticipation and excitement about anything that happens, because ALL THE FEELS!

Raw emotion is a powerful and fantastic experience, and so many of us never get to feel that. We don't let ourselves.  We miss opportunities, we let things and people pass us by because we are afraid. We stay slightly numb because the unknown is too terrifying to consider. Staring into someone's eyes and letting them see you is too frightening. We say no, and we skim around on the surface of life. Because we might drown or lose a limb to a shark attack, we don't even swim.

Modern humans are given very little time to process our emotional trauma. When you lose a pet or a parent or break up with someone you love, everyone expects you to keep going to work, keep doing life as normal, wash your hair and brush your teeth. Eat food. Breathe in and out. Don't show emotion in public lest people think you might not be able to keep your shit intact. Newsflash: Everyone is about to lose their fucking minds at any given moment. No one knows what they are doing. Not me, not you, not hot guy in a suit on the sidewalk, not sassy beautiful lady at your gym with the awesome hair and perfect body. Nobody.

We are all flying through life as scared little kids in grown up outfits, trying to pretend we don't care, but desperately searching for friends and loves to hold on to, to link up with and say, "Yeah, I'm scared too. I'm weird too. I'm flawed and scarred and strong too. Let's do life together and maybe those things won't matter so much."

Losing the people we love shatters us. Getting out of bed and wearing clothes, walking, talking, working - these things happen, but we are shells. We're robot humans who exist out of routine and practice. Divorce, violence, assault, illness, death. These things break people, and we never fucking talk about it. Because everything is awesome! Right? Not always. Sometimes everything is terrible but you find the things that aren't and do those as often as possible. Music. Yoga. Books. Coffee. Elaborate dinners with intellectually stimulating ladies. Going on some dates and remembering you're not dead inside. Writing. Cooking. And life will be less terrible tomorrow.  

My point is, we got this. We go around and around in circles and we learn. The magic of marching into fire is that getting seared seals you up better for the next time. It gives you courage and power to have a next time. It makes you soft instead of hard. It's intense, but it's fast. It opens your heart up for possibilities and fills you with anticipation for what your next adventure is going to be. There's always someone else. There's always something to look forward to. Something amazing is going to happen. Trust me.

People think optimism is some kind of thing you're just born with, but it's not. It's a choice driven by action, particularly self compassion. If you are able to be just optimistic enough to think you deserve to be nice to yourself, and you repeat that in little ways over and over and over again, you will be amazed and how the barriers you've built in your life will fall away. Liking ourselves removes obstacles. It's not witchcraft, it's doing what intuitively feels good. Ask yourself what that really means, chances are it's not what you think it means on the surface. Let's all go deeper. If you're on the wrong path, get off it. Find a new one. It's never too late to start walking in the complete opposite direction. Never.

I can't wait to see what happens next.







Wednesday, August 5, 2015

imagine the future



Hi there.

So, work things. Some kind of light switch turned on in my brain this summer and I realized I'm dying to make a big change and enhance my career skills. It became obvious that the natural progression for me was to learn how to code. So, I'm in the process of applying to some front end web development programs, which is super exciting and expensive. I can't afford to dive headfirst into an intensive boot camp, so this is something that's going to take a lot of discipline and time management and dedication and coffee and mixtapes. Some programs have lengthy application processes that include essays and Python tests and interviews. I've been accepted to one program so far, and am waiting to hear back from a couple more.  

For one essay, I got to choose between "Where do you see yourself in five years?" (Ugh, boring, I don't know, hopefully hiking in a forest in Japan because I can work anywhere now because you made me an internet genius?) or "What is an important truth that you believe that very few people agree with you on?" I chose the latter. 

I'll preface this by saying that I've been stewing about the obscene Planned Parenthood situation, and the guns, and the Texas elected officials who keep getting arrested, and the environmental doom, and it's over 100 in August in Central Texas. I'm mad as hell, so this turned into a bit of a political rant. I think it's good though, so hopefully they will too.  


***

Most of our political, economic, and social constructs are built on the false idea that hard work will reap justified and earned benefits. People believe that if they make sacrifices and follow the rules, they will be rewarded with prosperity. They choose to function as if things like race, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, economic status, disabilities, and other factors have no effect on one’s ability to achieve a modicum of mainstream success. The idea that an impoverished, first generation American has the same opportunities to access education, employment, and upward social mobility as a rich, white male born into a family of affluence is preposterous. Unfortunately, this perpetual fantasy is an illusion to keep us fighting amongst ourselves for who has the biggest pile of crumbs.

The "American Dream" of the 20th century no longer exists, not for the majority of the quickly disappearing middle and working classes. Our cultural and religious conflicts are a distraction from the real problem, which is that we've built a society in which a very small, massively wealthy minority wields all the political and economic power. Not in an Alex Jones/"Illuminati" or impending globalization sense, because you certainly don't need to be a conspiracy theorist to see the influence corporate greed has on our governments, our social welfare, our economies, and the welfare of our planet. 

In our death throes, we focus on warring with our political rivals over how the country and the world should be run, who should be allowed to marry, what autonomy women have over their own bodies, and which Kardashian has the best selfies of the week. Progressives are particularly great at this, choosing to debate the political correctness and racial politics of liberalism within our own ranks, further dividing already marginalized and oppressed groups based on who faces the most discrimination. White liberals consistently, disappointingly, fail to admit our own fragility around racism and sexism, our own complicity, and our own privilege in a racist system rigged in our favor. It’s one of the biggest obstacles in creating a united, progressive, populist movement that could wield an immense power in creating real social and political change.

It’s obvious on every front that money and corporate influence rule our planet, and particularly our governments. And yet, a belief persists that there's a class of people – the poor, the addicted, immigrants, minorities, and women, and particularly single mothers - who are somehow riding the handout train to a giant party where everything is free. Not content that God will sort it out for them, the extremists from the far right believe they have the mandate to legislate their skewed, fanatical morality onto women and the LGBTQIA community, pretending to care about health, but really wanting to make sure that sluts are punished for being sluts.  Their media outlet, Fox News, is nothing more than a corporate mouthpiece spewing lies and stoking the flames of hatred that encourage and create domestic terrorists, hate groups, and fueling the abhorrent culture of online abuse directed at women, people of color, and LGBTQIA individuals.

People who receive social assistance are not the ones taking advantage of the system. Corporate welfare and greed is the reason that as the richest country in the world, the United States has the most expensive healthcare system, the most expensive and least effective education system, and why things like racism, sexism, homophobia, and discrimination against immigrants are not only not dead, but on the rise.

Many Americans are looking for someone to blame for their lack of ability to achieve this false American Dream. When they do everything right and it doesn't pan out, they lash out at the "moral decay" caused by LGBTQIA and reproductive rights, and blame minorities and immigrants for their lack of economic opportunity. But these same people are happy to ignore the corporate tax subsidies and loopholes that are the real reason they can't get ahead. They continue to vote for politicians who turn around and hand money and power over to massive companies who have zero interest in social responsibility, environmental protection, or economic equity. They vote to undermine collective bargaining, strip workers of their rights, defund education, and privatize everything. Let the market sort it out, because the market knows best. Capitalism is our real god, and until we decide that human life and dignity is worth more than corporate profit, we will suffer the consequences of a nation in decline.
  
It is not too late to turn it all around.

When we break down differences in beliefs about civil liberties and remove religious dogma, people really all want the same things. We want to be healthy and happy. We want opportunities for meaningful work, education, and healthcare. We want freedom to make decisions for ourselves and our families that align with our values and morals. Most of us have a base level of compassion for our fellow humans. We don’t want people to suffer. We are more alike than we are different. We just can’t see that.

We have reached critical mass in this country, and in the world, in a battle for the future of our species and the future of our planet. People are waking up to the fact that through technology, we do have a voice. We have the power to connect, to communicate, and to share solutions toward creating a sustainable, achievable, peaceful future. We have the tools and the skills to create open political systems that benefit the many, not just the few. The New American Dream is open source and built by hackers and makers and visionaries who want to make this world a better place through the power of ideas. There are no wealth requirements to join in, just a desire to solve problems and an openness for learning and collaboration.

We are realizing collectively that things do not equal happiness. We cannot sedate ourselves and buy our way out of this. The cavalry is not coming. We have to fix this mess ourselves. We are the cavalry. We want to commune with nature, slow down, to purge our lives and ourselves of the excess and materialism and destruction that capitalism has left for us. We want something simpler, something with greater meaning, something bigger, and we want to build it ourselves.

Technology is the great equalizer, and coding is its native language. This is why I want to learn to code. As a woman with many years of experience in social services, logistics, and technology, the gap between men and women in tech is deep and wide and real. For years, I told myself I didn’t have the ability or talent to do what the boys were doing, internalizing the dialogue that women don’t belong in the tech world. I’ve been written off as irrelevant because I am female, so I couldn’t possibly understand the technical aspects of my job. I’ve been passed over for training and professional development because women are deemed too emotional for the rational world of technical responsibility. 

For me, breaking into an industry that is dominated by men is a revolutionary act of defiance against a system which is designed to exclude me. Technology empowers me, not only to improve my own skills and increase my understanding of the greatest tools of human existence, but to be a builder and creator. I am dedicated to creating opportunity for myself for meaningful, inspiring work, and to become an example that smart, determined women can and must seek to be a part of the collective technological solution.


Change yourself, change the world. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

telepath

“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.” 
― Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Six weeks ago, I unpublished seven years of work and vowed I would never write in this space again. I was desolate and sad and tired of spinning out in an attempt to find some kind of connection with myself that I could not find. I honestly believed that if I continued to lay my soul bare here, I wouldn't be able to write anything else, ever. I wanted out of the obligation and the pressure.

Kill your darlings, right? So I did. I killed my heart. And no one noticed.

I spend a good portion of my mental energy thinking about writing, and often ideas take shape over days as I'm processing something through music and creating my playlist around it. I always write to the music I've curated for each post, and it's a process that works, and that I love and value deeply.

When I tried to cut this space out of my life, it was like part of me died. I mourned the loss of my creative outlet by taking up coloring and elaborate, artistic makeup routines when I went out. I started purging my living space of unnecessary things, again. I kept making mixtapes, but something was gone and I wasn't connecting with the music the way I wanted to. When I feel disconnected from music, I know something is wrong.

I felt an overwhelming sense of being lost. I thought, okay, I'll try to write something else, somewhere else. And I tried. And tried. And tried. And it was all shit. Terrible, massive loads of shit sauce. I couldn't think because I felt isolated from myself. The ideas wouldn't come. I wrote about not being able to write. It was torture. Anxiety. All the time. I thought I had lost it.

I went to Florida. I spent some time with my mom in Key West, but instead of really being present and enjoying it, I was worried she wasn't having the experience I wanted her to have.  She went home, and I went to Miami alone. I beached and ate delicious food and wandered through the city, sometimes alone, sometimes with boys. I danced all night with a roomful of delirious strangers, spun out on euphoria and dance beats and oblivion. I walked 30 city blocks, straight into the ocean, and waded  fully clothed and barefoot in my thin silk dress into the waves. I watched the sun come up and felt this mystical feminine energy that's been holding me for the last year. I saw her in the sunrise. I breathed her in the salty water.


I gave her everything.

I gave her my sadness, my despair, my loneliness, my heartache, my insecurity, my fear, my rejection, my happiness, my sorrow, my longing. I emptied out my regret, my shame, my self hatred. I gave her my anger and my self doubt. I gave her my grief over the loss of my father. I let her take the blame. I let go of everything being my fault, of not being good enough. I gave her my pain over no one choosing to stay, really understanding me and loving me. I gave her my broken heart over you. I poured out my self harm bottle by bottle. Lighter, I stared into the sea and her vastness, and the distance between us engulfed me.

I begged her to take my hope.

Take my dreams. Take my expectations and plans. Take my fantasy and drown it. Take my talent. Take my joy. Take my love. Whatever I am supposed to learn by having my heart destroyed, I don't know how to learn. I can't. I would rather feel nothing. I give up.


My sunrise goddess of the sea looks like Bjork, kind of a sky faun. Lady Pan. 

She listened. She took everything in silence. She forgave me. She washed over me in gentle waves and her ancient heart wrapped me in warmth and I floated there, in nothing and everything at once.

We made a pact. She would take everything, and I would just keep going. I knew her ancient secrets and realized everything is and always has been just as it should be. What is meant to be will be, when the time is right. We made a pact. Then she gave me this:


Tiny, perfect shell. 

People who live around the ocean probably take it's majesty and power for granted a lot of the time. I can understand that. But for the first time in ages, I felt connected to something bigger than myself. I felt the power of the sea. I'm an atheist, but that doesn't prevent me from believing in the spiritual experience of science and nature and chemistry and physics. There's an infinite universe inside of us, in and outside of this planet, in the air and the trees and in the ground, and energy never dies. We're so disconnected from the natural world, when we come close to its magic, it can be life changing. So if this sounds supernatural in that context, I'd say it was.

Mystical encounters are everywhere if you're open to them. I don't think people or events happen to us by accident. Not in a fate way, but in a noticing when things are special way. This works to my detriment when I feel some kind of connection that doesn't turn out the way I want it to. I've also been on the other side of that coin recently, so I understand how disarming it can be. I'm working on my long game.

What happened next is, I came home and went back to life. And suddenly, I had an idea. Like a real idea for a book that's not about me. I mean, it's about me. It's always about me. But it occurred to me that I could write my own story. So I started to. Weeks passed, and more ideas happened. Writing ideas, life ideas, career ideas. It always lines up. Always.

Stephen King writes in his memoir On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft "What is writing? Writing is telepathy." It's one person opening up, receiving messages from the ether, and capturing them to send to someone else using language and the page. It's storytelling. It's emptying my heart into yours. It's going into your special basement place, your meditation lady fort, and clearing everything out so the words can come. Some people do it with guitars, or with paint, or movement, or dance. I do it with words. Here, and other places, but definitely here.

I'd rather sit atop a mountain of failure and rejection and shit words, crap stories, and ramblings that go nowhere than in a majestic throne of self preservation and polite no-thank-yous. I will not let fear keep me from jumping off. I'll break my heart a thousand times and tape it back together with kids' yarn and wood glue. But what if it hurts? What if you're wrong?  So what if we might die? We're all going to die anyway. I want to die writing love from my fingertips to your eyes and sending music into your ears.






Friday, June 5, 2015

still life


I mean, sometimes this feels easier. 

Sometimes I want to choose the nuclear option and start from scratch. I want to Peggy Sue Got Married my life and do it again. Do it better. Choose differently. I want to learn faster, climb higher, pay attention. Treat a heartache like a burn and stop putting my hand on the hot stove. Avoid the mistakes I've made, the people who hurt me, and dodge the terrible, wretched, doomed, star crossed romantic disasters that continue to plague my being.

So dramatic.

We don't get to start over. We don't get redos. We don't get to take back the things we say or do that hurt people we love. We don't get to choose never to have loved people. Sure, you can rewrite your own history by minimizing whatever feelings you actually had. You can say you never felt anything, or it wasn't real, but that doesn't make that true. This is a way that some people protect themselves. Lying to yourself doesn't make love disappear from your DNA. It just makes you numb to your own experience, and it invalidates your life choices.

I started writing this blog in 2008 because I wanted to feel less alone in the world. I wanted someone, anyone, to see me, and to understand me. I wanted to create something. I wanted music and writing to heal me somehow. I wanted to share the music that I love, that lights me up, with everyone else.

As time went on, and I shared more about my personal life, I started to get messages from people far away, who I'd never met, who connected with what I was doing. My little cult audience has never been large, and I am certainly still safely shrouded in obscurity. But this collection of writing is a part of my life's canon now, and most people who know me, particularly who know me well, know it exists. There's a fine line where you can write about your life, but make sure not to hurt people in the process. Protecting people I am close to is very, very important to me. And I don't ever want anyone to think I'm going to air out my intimate experiences. This is why I love metaphors and language. This blog is full of coded messages to people who probably don't ever really get them. My own secret messages in an electronic bottle, floating in a sea of bits and bytes.

The reason I keep going is because I'm still finding out new things about myself, even now. Every experience, however repetitive, teaches me something new because I'm ready to hear it finally. This week it was going on a date for the first time since my dumpup and having a revelation that maybe I shouldn't date introverts because I need too much attention? WTF? I don't think I've ever not dated an introvert. How do I not already know this?!?!? Problem: I only seem to be attracted to introverts. But like, this is crucial information, right?

Seven years later, I'm still learning some of the same lessons I have written about in the past. But now I'm older and more cautious and afraid to write about what I really want to write about. I worry about my professional life and what effect this has on that. And frankly, I'm a bit tired of hearing myself talk. This is actually why I stopped going to therapy and started going to yoga. So I could just shut the fuck up for once.

Every week, I wonder why I am still doing this and if it even matters anymore.

What I should be doing is telling the truth. I should be writing about breaking up with someone you deeply love and how much it fucking hurts and hits you in waves weeks and months later and rips your guts out all over again. I should be writing about how I miss my best friend and I wish we could just go to the fucking movies. But also how amazing it is to have nothing to lose and freedom to do anything and everything you can imagine. I should be writing about having a desperate, unrequited, ridiculous crush on someone who lives in the future. I should be writing about how much alcohol sucks for me and always will, and how I had to learn that yet again and it was just as shitty as all the other times, but now I am relieved and healthy and safe.

The reason I can't jazz this thing up is because I'm stuck. I'm on repeat. I write about the same dumb romantic pitfalls of dating here because I've been out with every kind of dude I can find. I went through a partying phase for several months, because I thought fancy cocktails and staying up all night were somehow the answer to my apathy and my broken heart and being with someone who didn't fit. Getting out of that head space wasn't fun or easy, but I did it and I didn't feel like making a huge deal out of it because you guys have heard all that shit before.

Maybe it's time to move on to something new. It is time.

I've been dying to leave Austin for years and I just stay in my comfort zone because I get a job or meet a boy or it's too expensive and hard and scary. And man, is it ever safe here. This velvet rut is deep and soft and it has bands and festivals and distractions and you really don't have to try very hard. People think this place is some kind of mecca, and it's just not. Unless you want to do nothing but sleep until noon and wear flip flops and ride out your life drunk on a porch somewhere. Don't get me wrong, Austin is a beautiful place to live full of vibrant, creative people who I love dearly. It will always be that, and it will always be here. But I have been searching for something bigger for so long, I don't know how to find it here. I know it's because it's not here. It never has been.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how anyone can do anything if they practice. That people may have an aptitude for certain things, but most skills, most talent, comes from the desire to want to learn or be that thing. All it takes is 10,000 hours. In 10,000 hours, you can become an expert at speaking a language, or playing an instrument, or doing a sport, or learning open heart surgery. People aren't born being amazing athletes or singers or artists. It takes practice and making the decision that this thing is a priority. You make it happen. Anyone can play guitar, as it were.

I think for me, that's what this space is. It's my 10,000 hours. It's the place where I come to practice writing, and to cultivate the creation of something that I am quite proud of, even if no one ever reads it. It's a place where I can call myself out for being less than authentic, and I can work things out in my mind and my heart, and I can say the things here in code that I need to say and let you try to figure it out. It's the place where I am honing my habit and craft so that I can create bigger and longer pieces of work in the future. It's the place where I have poured my heart and soul out and bared it to the world. It's a place where I can say, yeah, I got to the top of the mountain and guess what? THERE'S ANOTHER, BIGGER MOUNTAIN BEHIND IT. It's a place where I share the music that gives me the feels, and somehow, just doing that, just writing, makes me feel less alone.

I'll keep climbing, and keep writing, and keep going. That's all I got.

x
s



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