My New Normal

The other night, while I lay in bed waiting for sleep to weave together thoughts and concerns in the ephemeral landscape of dreams, it struck. The depth of the truth of my reality crashed up me. This time instead of struggling against its power I let it drag me under, allowing its weight to demolish any semblance of control (i.e. pride) I daily attempt to exert over my comings and my goings, my relationships, my financial resources, my vocation.

In the darkness and isolation of a week spent sick and alone, I realized after years of fighting I was in a quiet place of acceptance of the now. I accepted that:

  • I have no career. I am underemployed in both the amount of hours I work and the amount of my talent, ability, and knowledge utilized in the work available to me;
  • I have no love life of which to speak;
  • I have an absurdly large amount of student loans that cause me significant anxiety, which in turn makes me feel trapped in places and positions I abhor;
  • I am ten months away from losing my health insurance because I cannot afford the monthly premiums.

In short, I have nothing, no thing. But if I have no thing then I have nothing to lose. And if I have nothing to lose then I can do anything, any thing. If I can do any thing, I must be obedient and respect this time and place and the longing that is being drawn up here.

That night washed away the weight of years of anxiety (about what to do next), fear (of looking foolish in the eyes of those I know and those I want to know me), and isolation (from those who appear to have somehow managed to scrape together a life that is accepted as normal and good by society at large).

I see, name, and know the blessings that daily garnish my life. I humbly receive them as the abundant grace and blessing of a God who loves me with the greatest urgency.

My prayers have become simpler in the last few years. The life-stripping process of 2008-present has laid me bare, and my words reflect that: “Lord, all is unreservedly Yours; Thy will be done. Use me as You see fit; Thy will be done. Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

May I embrace this freedom, in which I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. May I risk in ways previously unimaginable, for what have I to fear? And in all of this, may:

I arise today

In the name of Silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of the Solitude
Of the Soul and the Earth

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in thought,
Generous in love.

John O’ Donohue, “Matins 2” from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

Grace and peace.

Enough with the Man-Boys

Man-boys are a curious breed; they are a mixture of emotionally and relationally ill-equipped boys that inhabit the bodies of grown men. These creatures are readily found among guys in their late-20s and 30s who graze in urban and suburban environs. Initially they are indistinguishable in both dress and mannerisms from fully functioning men. At first glance, or even after numerous dates, a woman may not know she has encountered a man-boy. It is not until something triggers a deeply rooted insecurity or selfishness that man-boys show their spots.

The real problem of man-boys is not where they are in life. There is nothing wrong with being in a place of uncertainty or enjoying the life one has. The wrongness stems from the selfishness that arises out of the centrality of the uncertainty and/or contentment, which consumes any potential margin for health, concern for others, etc. that might exist. The man-boy is focused on himself, his wants, his questions, his pursuits, his desires. And if he finds a woman attractive he reaches out for her to temporarily quell his want, question asking, pursuit, and desire. While reaching out he does so with nothing to offer, to give – not that he has nothing to impart, but that he lacks the ability or willingness to do so because his attention is otherwise diverted – and everything to receive, to take.

Man-boys have duped me more then once. Thinking the guy I was dating or friends with was a man, slowly (or, more likely, I was slow to see) the inner-boy scratched through the façade to reveal the inner sweet but unreliable kid whose life and uncertainties left no room for anyone other than himself. The end result is always inappropriate behavior (for any age) along the lines of ignoring other’s needs, placating but not hearing, speaking out of their wounds without regard to the receiver of those piercing words recipient, being physically present without emotional and/or relational presence.

Now this is not a strictly male issue. There are woman-girls too. Far too many. From the age of 22 to 27, I was a woman-girl: selfish, stubborn, angry, easily hurt, and determinedly in love – a winning combination. What changed me? Life, taking responsibility for every thing I say (or don’t) and do (or fail to do), choosing to be healthy over what/who others think I should be, embracing Truth that brings grace and healing.

My current mantra: No more man-boys.

When I told my close friends about my mantra, one dear friend responded, “Good. But what does that look like practically speaking?” (Gosh, I love that gal! She always gets to the heart of matter.) Honestly, I am not entirely sure what it looks like. It has looked like me choosing to honestly confront the man-boys in my life (both platonic and romantic) about their actions’ effects, and ending some of those relationships. As for whatever else no longer suffering man-boys means, only time will tell.

Everything is Different, Nothing has Changed

There are those moments when you know your life is going to change in an irrevocable way. Life as it is now, in its quiet beauty and predictable uncertainty (the uncertainty you have come to rely on), will end. The end may be punctuated and decisive or it may slowly wax into being. And you have no idea when or how the change and ending will occur. Sometimes these moments of revelation are loud and crashing, other times they are quiet, silently quickening the recipient’s interior life.

Yesterday, while cleaning the kitchen floor, I was silently struck by a premonition that this season of life, in which I am at peace, is coming to an end, and the things that will be removed first are the very things that helped usher in this peace. This news is equal parts ache, fear, thankfulness, gratitude, and excitement. Ache and grief for the people and places I will have to let go of and leave, for the loss of dreams and hope unrealized. Fear of the residue of past harms, lies and anxieties latent in wounds not yet fully healed, all of which have a nasty of way of resurrecting themselves in times of uncertainty. Thankfulness for the current respite full of a peace that allowed me to taste the reality (not simply the possibility) of hope. Gratitude for the reminder of what it means to be fully present here, now, and to suck its very marrow and not to allow uncertainty of what is to come to detract from or overwhelm the now. Excited for the adventures that are to come on the path I am walking, the path that is shaping me and leading me closer to where I am going, to where I am needed. An ending is coming and I must be obedient to the call forward.

Keep your head up. Keep your heart strong.

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HERE is “Pre-Summer Tunes”, my musical ode to warmer and longer days, my most recent 8tracks mix, in addition to February and March’s mixes “California Skies” and “Just Say, ‘Yes’“.

A Hill I Am No Longer Willing to Die On

For the last three years I have fought a bitter battle against my life, or at least against the geographic setting of my life. It was a painful attempt to define myself outside of my life as it is now. I clung to the desire that I would get a(ny) job somewhere, anywhere other than here. And once no longer here I could finally be me, who I really am. As though “where” defined “who”.

It has taken a long time for me to remember that place does not equate to being. I must be where I am. Sure, there are geographic places where I feel more comfortable, places where how I live and desire to live my life is normal. Places where: “compost” and “worm bin” are not followed by a question mark and confused looks; CSAs and buying local are a way of life; track homes are not the norm; and driving and traffic do not define one’s life choices. In fighting and cursing here I sowed disdain and resentfulness, and reaped frustration, bitterness, and isolation.

Over the last several months, slowly, almost imperceptibly, I began relinquishing bits and pieces of my life that I had protected from here. I began giving myself to here; allowing myself to be here. In doing so I realized that where I am, here, is more than just something to endure until I can move away; here is good. While I cannot say I love here, I know that good people, beauty, joy, and hope reside here. And that is a here I can be.

I fought this place. I was bruised, scratched, cut, and broken. My blood dripped onto the ground, mixing with the earth.
I am a part of this. I am a part of here.
I am here.
I am.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . During my writing hiatus I created several 8tracks mixes: Autumnal, I-80, A Breather from the Holidays and . . . . May these be sweet music to your ears.

Writing v. Typing

There is something so precious about the act of writing. Not typing. Writing. The feel of the pen between fingers. The bleed of the ink through the paper’s fibrous veins. The onslaught of thoughts seeking to structure and align themselves in the moments as the pen hangs in limbo above the paper. The words spilling from the tip of the mind, tongue and pen onto the page erasing its stark whiteness as the hand invokes the page’s limitlessness and its refusal to criticize.

So the writing continues . . .

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . During my break from posting I created two 8track mixes: Waiting for a Call, and So Long Sweet Summer. Enjoy!

Fits and Spurts

To make up for several months of silence on the music front, I recently posted two mixes on 8tracks, Apéritif and The Sounds of Summer, for your enjoyment.

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As for my grand declaration of my intention to write, fits and spurts best describes my willingness to actually do so. I have the best intentions to write but find myself far too easily distracted and with little (to no) discipline to stop, sit down, be quiet, think, and write. The result has been the incessant rolling around of  words and ideas in my head. May I diligently write until the act of writing becomes a natural part of my expression and experience, something I can no longer ignore or do without.

Blooms to Bring in a New Year

I have a thing for peonies, they are by far my favorite flower. The intricate blooms with varied petals — some finger-like and supporting the central petals, while others are wide, flat and delicate. If you are lucky you will get three layers of varied petal structures in a single bloom. And the best part of peonies is that they are in bloom during my birthday.

 

I am proud to announce that my “I hate my birthday” attitude is ebbing. Here is to two birthdays in a row without tears . . .  happy birthday to me!