Craving Connection

CHINESE NEW YEAR

Craving Connection
The nameless old man walked slowly down the street.
Purposefully he placed each foot
Like a gentle kiss on the Earth beneath him.
Walking towards her
A beacon, on the sun-drenched stoop.
Her golden, red hair and head in prayer,
Quietly he approached her.
Not to break either meditative concentrations
But with thought, he asked,
“Why are you so sad, little girl?”
The sleepwalking sweetheart only raised her head.
Like a buttercup humbly accepting the first amber glow of day.
Her arm extended like a morning stretch
Moving through water,
Breath low in her belly.
She simply touched his arm in connected relief.
Without breaking any code of silence,
He heard her unspoken words.
His body a bristlecone pine,
A living witness to more than a million sunrises and sunsets.
The ground became a symphony of economy
And her, the conductor.
Stillness lowered the gravity of the air around them.
And just for that moment,
The only two people in existence
Were the nameless old man and that sad little girl.

Her

her

Cry for the little girl whose mommy always cries
Cry for the little girl whose daddy is never home
Who overhears loud fighting
And crashes in the middle of the night.
Cry for the little girl who stopped getting lullabies.
Cry for the little girl who had a nightmare one night
And who crawled into her mommy and daddy’s bed for comfort.
Cry for the little girl whose daddy touched her between her legs
Cry for the little girl who didn’t want to hurt her daddy
but she was getting hurt, too
So she hit him
And hit him
And hit him.
Cry for the little girl who went back to bed
Cry for the little girl who woke up confused, wet with urine,
And no one talked to her.
Cry for the little girl who made herself believe it was just her nightmare
The nightmare that she will have for decades to come.
The nightmare that will come back
Again, and again, and again, and again.
Cry for the little girl whose mommy started drinking
Whose lungs are burning and aching with smoke.
Cry for the little girl whose sister began to get angry
Who was placed in a dryer and had it turned on
Who was locked in a meat freezer
Who was electrocuted
And drowned
And beaten with a rock
And still has all the scars to prove it.
Cry for the little girl who slept outside one night
And no one noticed she was gone.
Cry for the little girl who slept outside for three weeks
And no one noticed she was gone.
Cry for the little girl who lost her virginity
And then he broke her rib
Cry for the little girl who was spit at, beat up and locked in lockers at school
Cry for the little girl whose mother threw chairs
And thought she was branded by Satan
And choked her daughters if they got out of line.
Cry for the little girl whose father was home now but too drunk to care.
Cry for the little girl who was drugged by boys
Again, and again, and again, and again
Cry for the little girl who started fantasizing about her father
Who loathed her own sexuality and was disgusted with her skin.
Cry for the little girl who fooled around with an older boy in a hot tub
Only to realize his friends were filming nearby
And what about that boyfriend that uploaded that video
The one of her going down on him to that porn site, cry about that too.
Cry for the little girl who was called a whore, a slut, easy, a piece of pussy, trash, loose, a bitch, a cunt, and such a fucking tease.
Cry for the little girl who had six,
Or was it seven
Fraternity boys attack her, rip her clothes off and throw them out the window.
Who went back home and had no one to tell.
Cry for the little girl who was raped by the neighbor boy
And still, 13 years later can’t drive down his road.
Cry for the little girl who was brave enough to leave and never look back.
Cry for the little girl who was raped again only one month later.
Remembering his piercing cold blue eyes, but was a total stranger.
Cry for the little girl whose doctor came in without gloves and forced himself inside her
Cry for the little girl whose masseuse went too high up her thigh
And wouldn’t stop, even when she cried.
Cry for the little girl who was assaulted three more times.
But can’t remember.
A silhouette of a person, an outline, a negative space cut out from reality.
Cry for the little girl whose memories began to evaporate from time
Cry for the little girl who was convinced by an older man that he could save her
Who just wanted to play with her
Who just wanted to use her, abuse her, degrade her, defile her, torture her and scar her
Again, and again, and again, and again
Cry for the little girl who was brave enough to leave and never look back.
Cry for the little girl who sought recovery.
Who faced her suicidal tendencies,
And her instincts to hurt and to hate.
Cry for the little girl who finally found her voice.
Once meager and weak
But now she could speak,
What a beautiful sound.
Cry for the little girl who learned about trust.
Not just in others, or herself, but in all of us.
Cry for the little girl who wanted her family again
And realized they were in more pain than her
So she cried for them.
Cry for the little girl who learned about love.
For the first time, feeling genuine care.
For being fearful of what she owed in return,
Realizing love is not a debt.
Cry for the little girl who learned how to make love.
With her spirit, her mind, her conscious body and her ever-grateful heart.
Cry for her joy, her returning childlike wonder, her intrigue with life.
Cry for her rejuvenation,
Her renewed sense of innocence
And Her resurrection.
Cry for the little girl that learned how to forgive.
Who prayed and cried for those who hurt her
For seeing clearly their pain like mountains over Her calm valley of water.
And once the tears have fallen, once they have rained into Her river
Watch them drift back to the sea
The vast horizon that is Her love
Not just for you, but for everybody.
Do not cry for the little girl, not anymore.
She does not want your tears.
This little girl has now lived for many years.
Cry for the sick, the disturbed, the tormented and weak.
Cry for their souls some refuge to seek.
Cry for their reflection, their need to introspect.
Cry for their lack of empathy and their inability to connect.
Cry for their healing, their cold and confused hearts.
Cry for our sake, for without their health we’ll all be pulled apart.
Our people are a hurting one, place your weapons down.
Speak up, trust, love
Only Her peace will be found.

Are You Ready? Winter Solstice, Full Moon & A Meteor Shower This Weekend!

MOONLIGHT ASSIGNMENT

I don’t know if you are as hippie as I am, or if you’ve been feeling this lately as well, but there is a freeing sensation in the air.  An awakening.  I’ve been lighter these past two days. The grief is present but it’s not aching, I have finally slept 3 nights in a row without nightmares and my heart is settled and planted firmly in my chest.

I was wondering what this was all about, because the last time I felt a shift of this magnitude was during the autumnal solstice. I did some quick Googling, (sidebar: I really don’t like using “Google” as a verb), only to find that this weekend is not only the winter solstice, but it’s also going to have a full moon and a meteor shower. I am vibrating with excitement!

During the autumnal solstice, I was not ready.  I was unstable, anxious as all hell, missing my partner who was out on tour, and our wedding was like 8 days away and everything felt like it was falling to pieces.  Fortunately, for this solstice, I am super ready.

I am ready to embrace this season of transformation.  I have been in darkness for months, I have felt the pain, the loss, the depression, the shadows and I am learned.  I have new discoveries in my heart and in this moment I feel prepared to self-reflect and free them into the powers of this moon and welcome the light to come.

The winter solstice is a time of major change.  On the northern hemisphere, it’s the longest night all year.  On the southern hemisphere it is the longest day.  With such a sharp contrast, it reminds everyone that with darkness, light will come and with light, darkness will follow.

It’s not about longing for one, or being distressed with the other – it’s about accepting that both are present at all times.  There is light and darkness in the world, in each of us, in all things – there is a sun and there is a place of no sun.

It’s about allowing these polarities to flow through us as the universe allows both the sun and moon to gravitate around Earth simultaneously.

Alongside this time of acceptance, we have our beautiful first winter solstice full moon since 2010, with the next one not returning until 2094.  A special occasion to be witnessed.

To some, this moon is also called the Long Nights Moon, or the Cold Moon. With the power full moons bring, it really delivers the weight of introspection, heart-searching and renewal.

Full moons often remind us of our wisdom and our intuition and if you’re in a calm state of mind, you will receive some very positive influence during this winter moon.  But, if you’re feeling a bit chaotic or disoriented, the full moon could increase your emotional state due to her powerful energy. Be gentle with yourselves and know it’s okay to be quiet.

With this beautiful combination of the wise full moon and the reflective winter solstice, I feel the urge to dive inside.  I’m reminded of this time to hibernate, to recharge, to fatten up.  I’ve been storing all of this darkness, and foraging for education in the experiences around me and now it’s time.  It’s time to allow the cold moon to light up my inner silent voice.

With the end of the year being a phase of completion, I’m looking forward to honoring the light and dark inside myself.  I plan to greet myself wholly as I am and becoming more fluid with my solar gravitational pull.

Now, if both of these weren’t incredible enough, the Ursid meteor shower will also be taking place Friday and Saturday nights.  We’re expected to receive about 5-10 per hour, but some have said that in the country it’s possible to see upwards of 100 in a burst.

The showers can be seen between the big and litter dippers – Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, from which the shower was named. The showers will start around 1:00am in the north-northeastern sky.  But with the full moon in bloom, the viewing might be affected from the harsh glare. The pre-dawn hours are usually the most favorable for viewing.

It’s a time to delight in!  It’s a season of mistletoe, cinnamon, nutmeg, deep reds and lush greens, pine cones and wood.  It’s rich and earthly everywhere and the warmth of the people are all around.  If you are in the darkness, hibernate and listen deeply while the sage moon guides you into welcoming the light.  If you are already feeling the sun rotating your way, open your home and heart for it is a time of generosity.

Veneration
Have you ever lived in a dream?
“I’m in one right now,” whispered the little blackbird.
My song is the most beloved,
And I like it best after a rain.
Usually I sleep at night, but not now,
Tonight, there is a beautiful refrain.

Loneliness Is Just A Label

LONELINESS IS JUST A LABEL

Meditating last night, I found myself chanting “sit” on repeat.  Going through my mala beads at least twice, maybe three times consistently reminding myself to “sit.”

“Sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit..”  and so it went.

Having been born in a house of chaos, it’s been challenging for most of my adult life to sit still in times of uneasy emotional circumstances. Instinct tells me to run away from the feelings, either by moving to another apartment, city or even state.  Instinct also tells me to lose all the friendships I’ve made, destroy or abandon them all and start anew.  It’s fear-based, it’s fear that people are getting too close, it’s fear that tells me to run.

I’ve moved 20 times in the last 12 years because of this flight-based instinct.  I have recreated my life and developed new friendships more than I can count.  Only showing people what I want to show them and leaving the rest as the past, fearing judgment, criticism or inability to relate.

Sitting in uncomfortable moments where our anxiety is high, our emotions are abusively loud and our hearts are aching, are signs of true growth.  If I can sit quietly with my pain long enough, I can uncover the root of the disturbance.  In this circumstance, like most children of alcoholics, my root was and usually is, loneliness.

I was alone in my childhood.  My dad traveled 90% of the time. He was home for maybe 1 weekend a month for 15 years.  When he was home, he was devastatingly drunk.  To put this into perspective, my dad usually drank about a half gallon of vodka a night.  So when I say he was drunk, I mean he was terribly drunk.  That led to fights, slurs, stumbles, accidents, hurt and eventually him passing out with a lit cigarette in his hand – to which I often put out at the end of the night when I heard it was finally quiet, and safe.

My mom started out as a very loving and doting mother.  But, from the years of isolation and an inability to self-reflect or grow on her own, she too began to drink as a coping mechanism.  Alcoholism ran in her family as well so it came as no surprise why she married a drunk or why she herself found it easy to treat her symptoms with alcohol.  However, that left my sister and I very much alone.

I responded to this by becoming a classic internalizer.  I felt so much of the responsibility in my household that when problems arose, I turned the blame on myself and wanted to mediate the entire family until there was peace again.  Which, there could never be because alcoholism doesn’t allow that.  I often found myself depressed, anxious and drained by the internal voice in my head constantly criticizing and accusing me of things I’d never really done.

Because of this internal monologue, I decided it was probably better for me to just live in the woods, so that’s what I did.  I retreated inward, into my dark cave of anger, confusion, hormones, self-hatred and dying light of childhood and went into the woods.  I slept under the stars, exhaled the sunrise, listened to fawns gingerly walking towards me on the ever-so-loud crunchy autumn leaves.  And in this solicitude, I started to find some semblance of peace.  But, I also found loneliness.

It took me another 10 years to figure out how to quiet my mind, sync in with myself and my world and my love and realize that I’m never alone.  It took me 10 painstaking years of dating, promiscuity, drinking, drugs, depression, anger, boxing and eventually deep-healing for me to fill that often-referred-to as “God-sized” hole inside of myself.

Now, when I hear myself chanting “sit,” I remember that fawn walking on those leaves.  I see the slideshow of grief and moves and echoes of myself – and they all remind me that I am here, I am whole, I am worthy and I am forever surrounded by love because I am love.  Fear was only a self-induced mechanism to aid in my survival.  Loneliness was just another label for something I didn’t understand, which was quiet.

“Sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit..”  and so it goes.

I’m A Sucker For True Love

I'M A SUCKER FOR TRUE LOVE

There are so many flavors of love.  There is the kind of love that comforts you, like watching a puppy rummage around in the dirt and roll on his side and sneeze his snout into the grass.  There is the type of love that heals you – when you are tired, or sad and you are given a hug so warm and gentle you can breathe and let your shoulders fall.  There is another kind of love that excites and sends tingles from your fingertips to your toes.  And then yet another, there is a love that is so infinite it’s like staring at the ocean, mesmerized at the expansiveness of the horizon, making you question how far the human eye can see.

I understood the tingly love, boys are good at giving that.  It’s a physical love.  You feel butterflies and heat and inquiry.  But once the clothes are off and the lights are on, I would feel lonely. Not every time, not with everyone, but mostly I would feel it. A hint, a glisten, an underlying simmer of loneliness.

I was searching for the love I had been promised by childhood movies.  The love that would wake me from my forever sleep.  The one that would lift me up and guide me along the skyline on a carpet, or the one that would draw me “wearing this, and only this.” Let’s be real though, Titanic ruined all of us tweens for an actual dating life.  No one could compare to Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson.  Forever be still my heart.

However, I have.  I have found the type of love I had been seeking.  I have received all of the flavors, varieties, swirling colors and prismatic divinity anyone could dream of and the kinds I couldn’t even begin to dream of.  The kind of love that rips your heart apart and then puts it back together with a million new pieces.  The one that makes you want to discover new words, and then you realize that words are useless in the face of her beauty.  The kind of love that longs, and causes tears at the mere thought of a hug from their gentle, perfect arms.

A hopeless romantic, a loveaholic, an explorer for fate – my everything had been waiting.  And then, in the simplest form, as she effortlessly does – love appears.  Patience, faith, and openness lead me to her path. Once you are walking with her, and your fellow falling star, everything begins – just as it always had.

Today, on this gray and cloudy and cold morning, I am grateful for her kindness.  I am so glad love, in her grace, entered my life and taught me to smile in the way only she could make me smile.  And, I am just so damn curious to know… what my love feels like to him.

Okay Jack Dawson, I suppose I can let you go like the heart of the ocean.  I’ve found my own ship of dreams.

Divine
His eyes so confident,
Oh, how he seeks;
Like a wandering Sophophile.
Wise with no words to speak,
I want to be with him all of the while.

It’s a tragically ending ballet.
But I want him anyway.

I show him I’m his and wait out time;
Goodness is a choice and redemption is fine;
All things are clear but then turn on a dime.

Gentle release and then trapped in kind;
Two borrowed hulls endlessly intertwined.

It’s lawless.
Oh, how I break.
To feel the weight of gravity,
Selfishly and recklessly I want to take,
And feel him beside me.

Tell me it’s worth it, my moon and sunshine.
Tell me you want me some of the time.

It’s Not Purpose – It’s Important Life’s Work

IT'S NOT PURPOSE - IT'S IMPORTANT LIFE'S WORK

To friends that are close with me, I say that my purpose in this life is unconditional love.  But that statement is such a short cliff note of what I truly mean.  First of all, I think saying that I have a purpose is like saying a single ant’s purpose is to build a colony for it’s queen.  When from a grander perspective, ants as a whole, aerate the soil so water and nutrients can flow directly to plant roots, they serve as food for birds and lizards, and they distribute seeds by storing them in their tunnels.

I don’t know what my humanly purpose is much like an ant doesn’t know what his ant-ly purpose is.  However, I do think what I choose to focus on here is important and my focus is unconditional love.

Nine years ago, when I realized that I wouldn’t make the kind of money I needed as a photojournalist, I was heartbroken.  I had $23,000+ in student loan debt and I lived in California, one of the most expensive states in the U.S..  I didn’t want to move back home and I was freelancing for (sometimes) 90 hours a week to pay my bills.  I lived comfortably, which was a step up from being homeless.  Something I also experienced for a month straight out of college.  I was grateful for the roof, the food, the work – but I was also alone in my apartment every single day for a year.

After I ‘gave up my dream of becoming a photojournalist,’ I realized that I could look at things in three different ways:

  1. That I gave up my ‘dreams’ and my ‘purpose’ and I sold out.
  2. That I chose a career that provided me financial security, while I could still pursue my passions in life: photography & journalism.
  3. That I can dream, that I can envision a pursuit for my life. Acknowledge that gift, and realize I can do anything else I want and it can change at any time.

I chose the third. (And a little bit of the second).  Once I realized that my career, and my financial well-being were not determining who I was or what I wanted to represent, that freed me up to dream even bigger.  And believe me, as someone who has spent 9 years dedicating her life to unconditional love – this is the biggest thing I can think of still to this day.  And that brings me to my next point.  What’s so important about unconditional love?

The reason why I chose this as my study and my important life’s work is to receive an endless and infinite answer. Love, time, and the universe are pretty much all I think about.  They’re definitely all I write about and my poetry can’t seem to find anything else to grip on to.  I tried writing a poem about a day in the life of my cat and that turned into a love poem too.

Unconditional love is a daily practice.  I have to give it to myself, try to receive it from the world, bestow it to others – even to people that I may be mad at for not using their blinker.  Seriously though, it’s so easy, I just don’t understand.

Sometimes unconditional love means boundaries.  Sometimes it means ending a really loving, authentic and genuinely happy relationship because you know you aren’t right for each other and you’re enabling your partner.  Sometimes it means saying goodbye to your dad every day so you can love yourself and heal. Sometimes it means ending friendships because they aren’t healthy for you.  Sometimes it means being honest and admitting something you don’t like about yourself. Sometimes it means putting your cat to sleep because she has diabetes and is about to go unconscious into a coma.

Sometimes you have to receive it, even if you don’t feel worthy.  Sometimes it feels too beautiful and too good to be given to you.  But sometimes, it’s easy though, too.  It’s all around and ready to be felt and absorbed and accepted and then churned inside of you to be handed over like a gift to passersby.  It’s in the sound of the wind, the dancing fall of the yellow leaf, the mother gently caressing the soft cheek of her young baby and the woman pushing her elderly dog in a stroller.

Sometimes unconditional love is selflessness, and other times it’s compassion.  Every day it reveals itself in a new, beautiful and expansive form.  Every day I learn something new about people, about myself and about my important life’s work. One day I will even figure out the words to describe what I’ve learned.  Until then, I’ll just write love poems.

Unconditional
You are the first name I hear upon waking,
The wind dancing in my hair.
When the sun turns gold
And the light feels old,
I hear you once more.

 

Grieving with Gratitude

GRIEVING WITH GRATITUDE

I miss my dad so much right now.  Today it’s been exactly one month since his passing.  I miss so many things and it all floods into my awareness at the same time.  I miss his voice, and the way he said, “I love you.”  The other day I recalled how my dad would congratulate me for doing something good at work.  He used to always say, “You’re kickin’ ass and takin’ names, sweetie.”  Tonight, I miss how he would tell me everything was going to be okay and that he knew I’d figure it out because he raised a strong young woman.  I miss his confidence in me.

We only really got to know one another over the last 8 years and that time together meant so much to me, especially now in retrospect. I remember that evening so well.  I was standing out on our back porch by the pine tree that sits outside of my window.  It was summer, one of the last summers I spent with my family in Michigan. The sky was glowing lava red with splashes of blood orange and yellow.  I miss those summer sunsets.

My dad walked out, cocktail in hand.  At the time, his cocktail of choice was a large glass of vodka with about a teaspoon of club soda and grapefruit juice.  He walked right up next to me, stood silently for a few minutes and then very clearly asked if I thought he was an alcoholic.  I said, “I can’t answer that for you, Dad.  Do you think you have a problem with drinking?”  He said “no,” with a sweetness that came across as quite genuine.  I said, “Well then, turns out you’re not an alcoholic.”

He then proceeded to apologize for not being a very good dad but that he’d like the opportunity to try.  I told him I’d really like that.  That all I wanted was for him to be interested in my life, and to participate in my life with me.  The sunset faded to a haze of purple and pink, and from that day on, my dad was more present with me than he ever had been.  He asked me questions about work, my friends, my boyfriends and never gave me suggestions unless I asked.  He was a very good dad.

Alcohol, poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking is what inevitably killed my father at the young and abrupt age of 66.  He had advanced cardiovascular disease that went undiagnosed and his body just shut down.  I do believe my dad drank too much, and I believe it was an old and bad coping mechanism.  I think he did it to relieve stress, to not feel, to entertain himself, to numb his boredom, to forget even.  Because of some of the tragic things that happened throughout my childhood, I think he bore a lot of guilt and shame. And unfortunately, he was not willing to confront those demons.

I’m grateful I said everything I wanted to say to him.  I’m grateful I had the courage to heal myself, confront my own resentments and hurts and then love my dad wholeheartedly for 8 years.  I’m grateful that I was able to enjoy his company, his humor, his mocking my “libralism.”  I’m grateful that he put in the effort, something I noticed every single day.  And just two days before he passed, he left me what might have been his first voicemail ever, where he congratulated me on my new apartment and how everything was going well over there.  He called me sweetie one last time.  He said I love you one last time. I’m so grateful for all of that.

There is a special bond between a parent and their child.  If you currently have an estranged or messy relationship with one or both of  your parents, but hope in your heart that you can somehow make it fruitful, I would like to stand up and say that it is possible. I worked tirelessly at reestablishing my relationship with my father and I was able to.  And then, I was able to enjoy him for the remainder of his years.  A gift I wish I could give everyone.

Gratitude for the shiny moments you get with someone truly special is what turns grief into happy remembrance.