Thursday, April 3, 2014

Poetry Month 4.3.14

(Inner and Outer) Space


Our mother earth.
Pale blue dot.
Father -- bless them --
Time.
Sundering.
Rending and Mending.
Journey - of a thousand--
Pictures worth more -
A pen mightier--
Blood is thicker than.
Firmly rooted --
Here.
Our only
Home.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Poetry Month 4.2.14

Life and Death Matters


He records life without his life partner using photographs and stories.
81 weeks since you've been gone.
They record life with their new born.
Day 21.
Today is, "give me that remote and shit happens."


A 55 year old new father blogs to his new son recording the blessings of new life.
A woman with metastatic cancer records her ten year journey living a not chronic, not terminal illness she will die from someday.
He begins his entries, "Today you discovered..."
She beings hers, "People keep dying."


She writes:

"When I was first diagnosed, I sometimes wondered 'why me? Why did I get
sick?” Over a decade later, I sometimes wonder, 'why me? Why am I still
alive?'"


Life. Love. Birth. Death. Loss. Connection. Sharing. In the
end each person makes a connection.
Each person matters. They matter to me.
People keep dying.
And they keep being born.
Life changes. It changes us.
It matters.
We matter.
You matter.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Poetry Month 4.1.14

Memories


Fields on fire
with
dandelions
and
bumblebees.

Lilacs tracing
Fifth Avenue.
House built by hand.
The sweat of fathers
and brothers
and crumbling
dreams
and poverty.

Weeping willows
and
forests ever
vigilant.
Maples my defenders
bastions
The woods
such a
Dark
place.

Swat
team.
Flak jackets.
Black Guns.
Dogs.
Just another day.

Reading books till midnight.
Gardens. Flowers. Orchards.
Ice cream.
Parks.
Skipping rocks.
Climbing trees.
Gus. My defender.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Die Being Awesome


Last week I knew I was feeling low energy and I chose to go do something I knew was going to take an enormous amount of energy. But I chose to do it anyway. I got my ass handed to me in the illness department. I'm STILL recovering a week later. In fact, I might have damaged/ estranged a budding friendship. (And I'm sorry if that happened. I also know that real friendships endure both the test of time and health crises). So yes-- last week took me a little by surprise. But it happened.

I'm not always a good judge of things that can blindside even people with a healthy immune system. WHY? Why did I do it? Why didn't I stay home all snugged away in my cozy predicable life? Let me tell you why:

Because -- we are all going to die someday. Life is a temporary track. And if I cannot have my health exactly what I have dreamed of and desired -- at least I can have fun and enjoy the small moments that bring me joy.

I told a friend once -- "If I die living doing something that is enjoyable - please tell my family I died being awesome!" I meant it.

I commit to social justice and living in a way that I believe in. I commit to living in a way that I believe is honorable. And I also commit to living in a way that is sometimes more vulnerable and honest that I once did. Because WHEN (not if) I die - I want to die being awesome. The more joy I create while I'm living NOW the more lives on after I'm gone.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Birthday Reflection


One thing I have learned is that I can trust myself. Always. My intuition, no matter how quiet a whisper, tells me what I need to know. Even if I shout over it.

Another is that feelings are not facts. When I am sad or angry- I don't need to take my feelings out on other people or blame them for what I'm feeling. Most people don't like to feel their feelings either. So we use people to silence the noise inside. We all get caught up in it.

Lastly- this birthday was a doozy for me. It just was. Many people said to me - it's just a number. Or, you don't look forty. And I didn't know how to respond graciously. Some tried to talk me out of my feeling of antsiness - to tell me I was being silly. But some told me that forty for them gave them wisdom and greater access to love and inner peace. Those stories made me feel better. But they didn't stop me from feeling a sense of loss.

Rather than gaining something, I truly felt a loss.

Then I realized - I haven't been sitting with the ENDING of an era. I have been simply feeling the noise. And feeling sad. But it was a loss and I did need to energetically recognize it.

What era?

Yes - it is the end of decades. It is the end of many decades. Of learning. Of spiritual growth. Of lost love. Of pain. Of health issues. Of unrequited love. Of broken hearts. Of passion. Of travel. Of joy. Of nearly insurmountable emotional and physical turmoil. And of freedom from those problems. Of feeling trapped. Of feeling abandoned. Of dedication to scholarship. Of dedication to people, family, jobs, love, animals, children, friends. Of betrayal. Everything. Decades of everything have been here.

And I have learned new and better ways of living and loving and letting go and of receiving.

Turning 40 is closer to death. It is a quiet. It IS a loss. But like any other, it is also a gain. Until I stopped and acknowledged it, I couldn't feel it, reflect on it. And then receive what gifts I was being given.

On my actual birthday- my for reals birthday- I spent time having lunch with a friend. And then rather than having a small gathering of friends and playing games - an ice storm came and I sat alone. It was my worst case scenario. I sat there watching movies alone.

I had to be alone with myself on my birthday.

My friend, C- and I had spoken about how he was turning 40 and wanted to do a quiet meditation retreat for his 40th. And really reflect on what it meant - really listen. It was a lovely and very touching conversation. Instead of getting quiet this year - I spent it having a loud and very "celebratory" time. Doing rather than being.

I know in my heart - if I had made a quiet and reflective time planned for myself - I probably wouldn't have gotten iced in. Why? Because the ice wouldn't have stopped what I had planned.

A wise woman said to me - "What happens when the ice storms come as we sit on the paths that intersect and the only options we have are to be with ourselves? What do we do?"

Indeed- what do we do? We go inward. And we spend time listening to ourselves. We love ourselves. We accept our fears. We love the person we ARE right now. Not the person we thought we were supposed to be. Not the person other people think we should be. And - what's more - we love other people for who they are -- all the foibles and flaws as well.

Life wasn't "supposed" to be any way. It just is. Acceptance is part of this. Surrendering to the life I have now is the greatest strength I have. Only I can create new thoughts and patterns and willingness to have joy right now. This is my birthday reflection. This is what 40 looks like. I'm OK with it. I got OK with it. I'm grateful for the many voices, challenges, and support I bring me to this place.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Balancing Being Safe with Putting up a Wall

I had a conversation the the day with a woman who said to me that she wouldn't pick a partner who was sick or fat. She said more than once that she had been a caregiver more over 10 years and now that was free to pick her life, she was ONLY picking "healthy" people.

At first the conversation hurt my feelings. But I sat with it for a few moments. No one has to tell me that many people are afraid of invisible and chronic illness. Why else would I have hidden it for so long! It reminds people that we are all dying and are on a terminal track. Everything about aging and loss of youth reminds people of a loss of control. And frankly- as I sat with it I realized that her anger at being forced into a caregiving status really was something she hadn't dealt with.

I've been on both sides of that equation. And in both points I've found it to be quite humbling and quite loving to give and receive kindness and love from others. But ONLY when I was ready to receive. I've had my dukes up! I've had a hard time receiving!

The weight to her represented ill health. Fat to her meant chronic illness and a life of being strapped with someone who would choke her freedom.

What I responded to her was that at her age - in her mid-30's she was in good health and so was her chosen partner. But that would not always be so. As we age we simply do get older. Some people age and surrender with grace and some people do so with anger and fear.

I visited a Neuropsychologist about dealing with memory. I was being forced to write things down. I couldn't just retain names and entire lists in my head. He said that I had to have a good humor about it because I had lost spare change. Yes - it was the chronic illness and seizure - but it was also the medications. I could hold on and be angry and resentful. Or I could be happy and smile and tell people that I lost their names. I could do useful and productive things. Or I could be angry. The path of resentment was the path of less grace and greater stress. The more stress the more memory and cognitive decline.

This struck me as important and very profound in dealing with my own functions. So I chose to "play" with my brain. I play boardgames. I play during improv. Most things in my life surround around the notion of play. I may not always feel up to it - but when I do - play it is.

Even now though - letting people in - really truly in - comes slow. Someone called me a porcupine the other day and it made me laugh. I suppose, in some way I am. You can come in only so far and so fast. Because on some level I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. And if I start to count people like that woman - and they realize that it is "too much for them" I don't WANT to have to deal with repeated rejections and pain. It's so emotionally taxing.

So I can have all the good humor I want and all the positive attitude I want. But other people's baggage will always be their baggage. And if I don't want to carry it - I've had to balance being thick skinned with being too much of a porcupine about relationships.

These are just thoughts. It's hard to be sick. It's hard to give and receive love as a healthy human. And when you throw in new baggage like abuse and pain to heal from -- and even more - like illness - sometimes you don't know where one thing ends and another begins.

This morning when I woke up I said to myself: "Quills in." So I know I'm safe and can put them out anytime. I don't have to carry anyone's baggage. But I remind myself that I don't want to walk around giving them my quills either.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Invisible

I've had some time to think about what turning 40 means to me. I've also had some time to think what it doesn't mean. Because we are social creatures, often we cannot help but take on what other people carry with them. I've had "turning older" pushed on me by several people. I've also heard "what a young pup you are" by several people. It really depends on who I'm talking to at the time.

It's also like weight. I stopped dating online because of several reasons. One of them was the overwhelming negativity I was receiving from men -- how they dumped their expectations on me or they sent me messages I didn't feel like receiving. Another was the amusing, but still judgmentalsor messages there to help sort out "good fits." Things like, "women should be expected to shave." Or, "I could never date anyone who was overweight." Messages like these felt like they privileged men and put women in the seat of HOPING to be chosen by people I wouldn't WANT. Who wants someone like that?

If I ignored a message that I received,I sometimes received an angry follow up calling me a name. Or, "I'm giving you 24 hours to answer my messages and then I'm ignoring YOU." Really?

Occasionally men would lie about their dating practices or already have a wife or girlfriend and still want to date me. I'm not interested in that. So I just decided to stop focusing on my dating life - or at least stop focusing on it online - and meet people - all sorts of people in my face to face life.

What happens then is things like jobs and age and living circumstances and armpit hair and even politics and religion etc become something we can focus on and discuss later. What comes to the forefront are our humanity, our manners, our sense of humor, and things we have in common. I'm not sure if this is going to work, but so far, I haven't gotten any demanding or dehumanizing messages from people.

What I have also noticed about turning 40 is that women in their 50's and 60's have said to me, "Ahh- age (insert some age after 40) is when I started being invisible to men." They say it with some wistfulness but also as a type of warning to me - that I too will become invisible to men. Most of them know that I am attempting to date. So their message to me is, "good luck, you will now attempt to date as an invisible woman."

At first it felt hurtful. And then I realized - THIS IS THEIR SHIT. They were pretty and beautiful and sexy and curvy and the kind of women who attracted attention (possibly purposely) in their younger years.

I spent the majority of my younger years doing everything I could to NOT attract men's attention. And for the most part, I was very successful. I wore a wedding ring. I was roundy but I didn't wear clothes that made my body attractive. I had a terrible haircut. I didn't wear makeup. I paid no attention to fashion. In essence, I was the swan who hadn't yet blossomed. I was this swan for a very long time. For many years any man who kind to me or my friend - was NOT being my friend to fuck me. He was being my friend because he liked me.

If there was a "friendzone" or to use a much better and more age old term - unrequieted love - it was on my end. I had closed off every romantic possibility to myself. When I finally began dressing prettier and in clothes that were flattering and wearing my hair in a way that was attractive, I forgot to notice if men were noticing me. Being attractive to men had slipped my mind.

One of my friends told me that my absence to notice men's attention is what makes me so attractive. That might be. Several of my friends say that I'm pretty and I have to take their word on it because I spent so many years feeling unattractive and plain that I still feel this way. Occasionally I can feel cute or noticeable -- especially on stage -- but mostly I've felt afraid that even if someone wanted to be with me it would be easy to walk away from me so getting close would be a mistake.

I've avoided falling in love the way most people avoid very dangerous things. And I've avoided allowing people to fall in love with me. I've been difficult to get to know -- I've let people get close, but not too close. And when the one or two people I did love left me for other women or other situations, I'd use it as a confirmation that it was me and that I was difficult or too sick. And now, as I approach 40, I think to myself -- a permanent invisibility? Can this be? Is this good or bad? Is this really happening?

Am I getting "old" the way my guy friends say is happening? Or have I been "this old" since I've been a young girl navigating bad health? Am I getting "invisible" the way my women friends warn or am I just continuing to exist?

Is this their shit or mine? Are these their fears or mine? Afterall all - BEING SEEN and then being abandoned has been my terror has it not? We are all here to sort through our own fears and purposes. I don't think I even know what it means to be visible. Not even to myself.