Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Marriage

Nothing's changed and everything has changed.



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A girl in a raincoat

"Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person's throat." Papa in The Shack

"Hey, what can I get for you today?" "What can I get started for you?"
"I'd like a soy latte" "Drip coffe. And an apple fritter."
"Will that be all?" "Anything else?"
"Yes" "Nope, that should do it for now"
"Your total comes to three-seventy seven" "Carol will ring you up"

Inside the warm coffee shop there was a bustle of people. Students in the corner, hogging the comfy chairs as usual, loudly quizzed each other on biology facts that nobody else cared to learn that morning. Ding. Crash. Passers by stopping in for a spell to get out of the rain that had begun to come down harder. You could spot a tourist by the oversize umbrella they carry. From the warmth of the sunnily lit coffee shop, nobody noticed the girl across the street.

She was wearing a yellow raincoat, the slicker type, and a pair of red ladybug rain boots that were in fashion five years ago. From a distance she could have passed for a twelve year old, as her build was slight, and her face mostly hidden by the dark fringe of bangs that surrounded her face and the hood pulled up tight to shield her from the seasonal downpour. She seemed oblivious to the drizzle that had turned to a moderate downpour. If a passerby stopped for a moment they'd notice she was staring intently at a grave. It's an odd site during the day, especially mid-week, but there she was, standing alone, in a graveyard in the rain.

After years of searching, of enlisting search angels and websites, she ended up here, at the grave, of her mother. Could anything have prepared her for this?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can kiss your family and friends goodbye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you. -Frederick Buechner

This girl, with the dark fringe bangs and the yellow raincoat, standing in the cemetary across from the coffee shop has been haunting my dreams and daydreams for two or three weeks. She isn't real in the physical sense, unless I've somehow become a psychic and have tapped into some unknown life-story, but she's real in the sense of a story, how characters from books are little friends I carry around with me. Real friends and imaginary-book friends all leave footprints on my heart. I've hesitated to write about her, as I often don't "get it right," and I don't know what will happen now that I've given some words to her story. Will she stand there in the rain forever looking at her first mother's grave? Will she meet people who come alongside her in her journey? Will she walk across the street and order a peppermint hot-chocolate and tell the barista her story? I don't know. I've only written what I've seen thus far, and didn't do it justice yet. Perhaps there will be more to her story.

And perhaps their won't.

And how do I feel about the possibility of knowing only a little bit about someone, even if she's a character in my mind, a figment of my imagination? And why, with this particular girl, can I not imagine more than I already know? How is it that she is authentically real and her story is unfolding organically, but I am not, as the writer/imaginer/etc. the one in charge of it all?

And how does it relate to my counseling, as I begin relationships with people for a variable length of time? This quarter I had students who I met with for 3 or 4 sessions and then, abruptly the relationship ended. Mini-break ups. Stories unfinished. How will I cope with these unfinished stories?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
An infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children. He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others. -A.W. Tozer

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lists

Fall inspires a sense of urgency, of storing up for winter, and I imagine myself like the squirrels hoarding nuts away for the long months ahead...

People laugh at how hard I've been working lately, saying "the wedding's stil over a month away," but with 9 graduate credits, planning a wedding, packing to move exactly 1 week before the nuptials, and attempting to work at least a few days at some schools, I can't afford to get lacksidaisical, so rather than an actual blog, it's a list of what i've accomplished this week...

1. wrote a paper for my counseling 513 class
2. wrote a paper for my counseling 551 class
3. attended 6 hours of class
4. began writing a paper for my counseling 540
5. bought all of my christmas gifts
6. wrapped all of my christmas gifts
7. baked 8 loaves of pumpkin bread
8. spent 7 hours making centerpieces for the wedding
9. found paper for the programs
10.found the pen for the guest book
11. found an apartment for us to rent
12. packed up all of my books, art supplies and yoga stuff
13. worked out
14. went to the husky game
15. got the marriage license

And that's all that I can think of, but there's so much to do in the next month...school, moving, wedding stuff, internship stuff...

i'm overwhelmed

Monday, October 27, 2008

transitions


This past weekend I flew to El Paso to be a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding. Today I've done a lot of reflecting...

As I took her aside, pre-ceremony, into a storage closet to offer up a blessing prayer I couldn't help but cry. I barely choked out words of blessing to her, of protection for her new union, and strength as the two of them move ahead into their new lives together. My best friend means so much to me. In college we sat in the back of her truck and looked out over the tiny city of Ellensburg and talked about life and love and mostly God. We were in the same place. We loved the same things, like playing Narnia in the park, and drinking tea, and working with youth. She has found an amazing man who supports and challenges her, and the love is written on their faces. I can feel God at work in their lives, and so I cried out of joy for the two of them. Even now, thinking about it, I get teary (which is due in part to the walls that are truly being broken down by my new medication. I never knew how good and hard it would be to genuinely feel all these feelings in life.)

But today I got sad. Transitions are always hard for me, and I have tried so hard to avoid the nostalgic longing for days gone by. But I'm sitting here, an engaged woman, waiting patiently for the nuptials that will happen in 54 days, and all around me life is changing and moving in such dynamic ways that it is overwhelming to keep up. My best friend is married, moving to New Mexico, and starting her new family (even if it is just mothering a very active Boxer dog). My other close friend is going on 2 years with her man and marriage (or at least engagement) is surely in the near future. My brown friend has upgraded from an old red tempo to a shiny pearl of a yaris, and we just keep moving forward. People no longer live in The Burg. There are no more after salt talks, or monday night bible studies, or thursday night girls nights.

And I'm heading into my own transition. There was single to girlfriend to fiancee to the-future-mrs.fox. Wife. What does it mean? And where does it leave my friendships? I'm not talking about abandoning my wonderful friends, but as I commiserated with carlita tonight I explained...
-it's like concentric circles. there's the individual level, then spouse level, then friendship or family (whichever is more important or maybe they're the same level) and then there's co-workers or aquaintence, stranger, etc. But for so long my friendships were with people who had themselves at the individual level and the next closest was at the friendship/family level. Now we're all getting those who are closest to us are no longer our friends, because no matter how close and how much I love and cherish my friendships...they aren't my spouse. This transition is hard to explain, but tonight I'm feeling it.

I long for things to stay the same, and while I know that it's not reality, the thing I'm really looking forward to in marriage is having that person in my life forever. We'll change and our roles will evolve (wife, mother, grandmother, etc.), and there will be transitions that we'll experience...but the prospect of having someone to go through those transitions with...that's what I'm looking forward to. And I can't imagine a more compatible companion than Kyle.

But I still miss Ellensburg...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On Being a Boy Scout

So in the facebook connection to friends from years gone by I ended up tagging myself in an old photo from Boy Scout Camp 2000. Ah yes, for those of you who don't know, I was a Boy Scout.

And if you haven't heard me say it yet, I think it got me into college. You know, I was able to check the box that I was both a BOY scout AND a GIRL scout (which might qualify me for some extra services or something). Well, getting into Central wasn't so hard to begin with, but being a Boy Scout put me over the top...I think.

But this not isn't about camp, or about college, it's about the Boy Scout motto of "Be prepared." (which similarly enough the Girl Scouts ripped off I'm sure, but anywho, I'll attribute it to my time at good ol' Camp Fife).

Be prepared.

It's a motto I took to heart. My mom was the kind that sent me away on basketball trips with enough groceries to feed a small army. When we hiked we always had "The Ten Essentials" in our backpacks and for me...a change of clothes, because I would get hot while hiking and refused to wear pants, so for good measure my mom would make me pack pants in case we got lost wandering in the woods (you know, since I don't know how to skin a deer or tan hide, it was probably a good choice, though we never got lost and I never wore that extra weight...). In college they (meaning my friends) made fun of me for carrying goldfish crackers, a jug of water, a tent, hatchet, and sleeping bag in my trunk, but I said "well, if snoqualmie closes and I'm stranded I could at least chop down a tree, start a fire, and not STARVE." Maybe I was a little melodramatic, but you do hear stories of people living off m&m's and drinking urine, so I thought...hey...why not "be prepared?"

Also, I have this karmic notion that if I am prepared then nothing bad will happen. Silly, yes, but has anything stranded or bad happened to me, no...(except for the time I wasn't prepared, but that's a story for another day and time...)

So with 3 grad classes this quarter, and an ever-growing hump on my back from carrying too much weight in a frilly purse (and REFUSING to become THAT girl who wheels her books around in a milk carton or even worse...luggage) I have reverted to my good ol' Old Navy light blue day-hike backpack. It's sort of embarassing and brings me back to undergrad (or worse, 8th grade), but I have enough tension in my life that I don't need lopsided shoulders and aching scalene muscles, so I've resisted the urge to be ultra feminine and am now a back-pack wearing gal (and truthfully, NOBODY notices, I am on a college campus after all, it's my PRIDE that kep me from giving in sooner...)

And today, that preparation was useful.

No I didn't get stranded on in a snow-bank or fight off a bear, but while I was jaunting down the steep hill toward my class my ankle rolled and there I went...falling...down the hill (with a 50lb backpack on).

Groan.

Not only was it embarassing as hell (only 1 girl saw and was super sweet about it), but the backpack was heavy and so rolling to get up on the hill was sorta like a turtle trying to right himself after being knocked over. It wasn't graceful or pretty, and mostly it hurt.

But, in the spirit of being positive, I thought I'd share that I now own a super cool pair of jeans with a knee rip that looks Abercrombie expensive but cost me nothing more than a little pride and a giant war wound on my left knee.

The other good news is that being the good ex-Boy Scout, I had a first aid kit in my backpack (hey! it was a hiking back-pack, cut me some slack okay?!). So off I went to the ladies room feeling mighty proud of myself that being prepared ACTUALLY paid off. There is nothing like rubbing alcohol pads, guaze, waterproof tape, and anti-sting ointment to bandage up some pride.

Oh, and just in case I needed extra help, I also had a bright orange whistle...

Do you think I could get a merit badge for today's activities?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tibetan Prayer Flags

Tibetan Prayer Flags

blue, white red, green, yellow-
each tattered and
fading.
the flags flap furiously
in the breeze, as if to say
"Listen.
Hear our prayers.
Prayers for peace and
freedom."
Not just for Tibet-
for all nations,
for all people.
I wonder if the owners,
of the blue house,
ever get the urge to take them
down
to give up in the face of so much
silence.
or do they cling to hpe,
tattered and fading
but still flapping in the breeze?

-Jenna Powers

Sunday, October 12, 2008

what's at the end of the tunnel?

Out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.

I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down
in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language
- even the phrase "each other" -
do not make any sense.

-Rumi

Rumi's poem is this week's art prompt for Inspire Me Thursday. I sat down to my art table tonight (which happens to double as a kitchen table and present-wrapping station), but my mind is still wandering around aimlessly in the fog and all I was able to do was move scraps of paper around, shifting them from side to side without any real progress. So instead I am sitting with the poem, letting it get inside and live and hopefully begin to inspire, like sunlight to seeds.

And in the meantime I took day 7 of my anti-depressants. After 4 quarter in a mental health counseling program and 10 years of struggling with depression I finally gave in to medication. What tipped me over the edge was that it came out of the blue without any prompting. One moment I'm living my life and the next I'm flat on my back without any reason. Every other time before that I've slipped into these spells there's been a reason to pin it on (be it valid or not) like hating my job or having conflicts with family or friends. Nope, one day I'm good and the next day I'm not. It's how biological depression works. A chemical imbalance.

But I was skeptical about medication, because it hardly ever works on me. In fact, the placebo effect is less likely to work on me than others I'm sure. So I've been pleasantly surprised that after only 7 days I can tell a difference (though it takes 3 weeks to take full effect). I'm still sleeping for hours and hours, and losing hair like nobody's business, but as long as I'm not bald for my wedding I'll be okay...

And the idea of there being a field where my sould could lie down, now that is beautiful and fills me with hope :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Weariness

I'm not sure if it's winter weariness that is already set in, or if it's a reaction to stressful life circumstances, but it's taking a toll on my body, mind, and spirit. The words "my soul is weary, even unto death," keeps rolling around through my mind, though take not that this is not remotely suicidal ideations (of the physical, more like my soul is simply longing for something joyful once again).

My monthly yoga magazine showed up in my mailbox this week and I read a story about "Winter's Warmth," which highlighted people who are "darkness lovers," people who "cherish the radually increasing darkness of November," and I longed to have that outlook on life. I'm a light and warmth lover, though I do love the festive feeling of Christmas-time with sweaters and fires and hot-cocoa.

Looking at the calendar I'm aware that it's early in the season and the months of darkness ahead seem insurmountable.

So how do I reframe the season of darkness and weariness? Or, rather than fighting it, should I recognize it as natural (for even the animals this time of year become sluggish and tired), and go easy on myself?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Puyallup Fair











"Daddy is your daddy, but mommy isn't your mommy."
"You're right, I do have a different mommy. I have 2 moms and 2 dads."
"Yeah, I know."

Kids get it, so why don't adults?

"You walk just like daddy, and he's in his mid-fifties!" (hilarious because he's only in his mid 40's :-P).

Monday, September 15, 2008

This moment

Absence looms over my head, and I've realized lately that I don't have less to say when I write infrequently, but when I go to sit down and let the words out too much time has passed and I can't figure out how to convey all the little bits and pieces without rambling on for hours and hours. And I've realized that I have been trying to be someone I'm not. For awhile now I have admired those who write infrequently because their words pack a huge punch. But in reality, those who write so infrequently are often the ones who have no lack of things to say on a daily basis. And I, on the other hand, speak infrequently, and lately have been trying to write infrequently...and I feel that it's killing me.

In my absence I have found myself sucked into drama, not in my personal flesh-and-blood life, but in other realities, and it's just not working for me at the moment. I don't want to live in fantasy-land, but I feel that I need to figure out what are my feelings and what is being influencedd by an overflow of emotions from others. I keep thinking about Caroline Myss's Anatomy of the Spirit and how she talks about our culture being obsessed with wounds, and having wound-mates, which ultimately keeps us in a place of...wounds, rather than healing. I wonder sometimes if I am simply picking at scabs on my soul, checking to see if there's progress, rather than accepting that I can't change the past an can only experience this moment. Sigh. There's a lot going on, and on top of that I'm super busy with friends, family, school coming up and subbing in classrooms full of itty bitties.

Forgive me if I post a zillion times in the next short while, I've got a lot of catching up to do :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Buddha Love

So when I said I was done with pieces for my class...well...I lied :)




It is difficult to know at what moment love begins, it is less difficult to know that it has begun. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
That is the quote down the side of this collage.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hey


After the writing from my body workshop I strolled on up to East West Bookshop at the recommendation of my spirituality professor. We had talked about poetry in my class, and when I walked into the shope, which was overwhelming (in a positive way) I was immediately drawn to a shelf and on that shelf was a red book enttiled Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West. Whew. Looking at the authors I was flabbergasted: Rabia, Hafiz, Rumi, Meister Ekhart...all these people that we have talked about in class wrapped up neatly in one book of poetry. The best part was the clerk who said "hey, we have that used, do you want that copy?" If I wear more poetic I'd think the book chose me...
Today I did my final piece of artwork for my spirituality class. Here's the poem (by Rumi) that inspired it:

Hey

The grass beneath a tree is content
and silent.

A squirrel holds an acorn in its praying hands,
offering thanks, it looks like.

The nut tastes sweet; I bet the prayer
spiced it up somehow.

The broken shells fall on the grass,
and the grass looks up
and says,
"Hey."

And the squirrel looks down
and says,

"Hey."

I have been saying "Hey" lately, too,
to God.

Formalities just weren't
working.


And here is my artwork:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Body Talk

Yesterday I attended a wonderful writing workshop that was all about writing from my body. These are two of the experiences that stuck out to me the most:

The voice of my belly says: "Why are you ashamed of me? When did this all start? At the end of the day you sigh and release me. Comfortable yoga pants in front of the fire. At hom you let me be me, but in the world you do everything you can to pretend I don't exist. I can't breathe. You cut me off from feeling. You've made me feel like I don't matter. Conditional love, that I have to somehow prove myself to you. Will I ever be good enoug? How did you let them convince you that I am the enemy? Did their voices get too loud? Is this a right of passage, from childhood belly breathing to the shallow breathing of adulthood? Shallow."

The voice of my heart says: "Wait a minute missy, don't get so close. You get an assignment to ask me what I want after jacking me around for so long. I don't think so. You can't just waltz right in and expect me to be open and vulnerable, I have too much to lose. What you're asking for is a lot and can't be accomplisehd overnight or in this short period of time. I don't trust you or anyone around and there isn't time to build safety. My strength lies in keeping myself back. Love anorexia. What can I withold from myself out of a sense of control? Witholding love is as good as withholding food. I can spiritually and emotionally starved, a skinny and withered heart."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Perceptions

In class we've been discussing labels, things that we embrace and begin identifying with as being "me," which has left me to wonder...how do you see me?

I certainly have a perception in my head of who I am, what things make me me, but lately I've been encountering the discrepancy between how I perceive myself, and how others perceive me...

Scene 1:
FH husband and I took his parents theater tickets a week or so ago and went to watch a musical version of Huck Finn with his parent's family friends. On the way home the discussion of sleep came up and the man said "you should get up at 6 everyday," and she replied with "you shouldn't sleep so much, you don't want to get in a bad habit." It was the manner in which they stepped into parent role that irked me. In that moment I realized...they don't see me as an adult, they see me as a 'kid' and are treating me as such...which was very irksome to me because a) they are not my parents and b) my parents don't treat me like that...

So what if I wake up at 9? I don't have class until 4 each day, and I end up spending like 40 hours a week on homework, so....I'm not just a lazy bum. Also, it seemed that they, without any knowledge of my life, assumed that I have never had a job or been awake early. I guess I should have let them know that I used to slosh buckets of water to our horses at 5:30 in the morning in highschool, and have had many jobs in my life that required worked early (and late) hours.

Scene 2:
As many of you may know, I'm sort of a hippie and fashion just doesn't come naturally to me. I was discussing hairstyles the other day with my future MIL and she said "well, when you grow up you'll want to spend more time on your looks, especially as you enter a career."

Um...excuse me? Who says that? Was that supposed to be constructive, because it sure didn't feel that way...

The thing that annoys me the most about these sort of comments is how very parent-like they are, which is so strange to me. I can understand why his parents might still slip into a 'parent' like dialogue with him because he's their kid and making that transition could be hard...but why are they talking to me like I'm a kid?

Sure I'm not working this summer, but I do have a job (it just so happens that school isn't in session during the summer). Sure I'm a student but I'm not in high school (hellooo, graduate school). I live alone, pay all my own bills, have a car and a fish and while I don't wear a 3 piece suit every day, but I'm not 12...

And the funniest part is, my parents don't act like this at all, at least not with me.

So that's what's got me thinking...how do others see me?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Only the lower half

Today, during my massage therapy appointment, I had the most unusual experience. I have become progressively more relaxed each time I go (which I can tell by my involuntary body tics as I become in a state of relaxation), and today, when she moved to massage my lower back and legs I suddenly stopped being aware of my upper body. Now this has happened somewhat in my body scan meditation, where my awareness focuses on one part of my body, but today it wasn't about my mind. It's like my mind was in my buttocks (which is a very weird way of putting it), but it's not really my mind...it's just awareness, which is much bigger than my mind (because i am aware that I am thinking thoughts, so what part of me is that awareness..that knows I'm thinking?). So today I completely forgot about my upper body, if you had asked me in that moment, I was only 3 feet tall, because that was all I was aware of. It was an amazingly cool feeling, though it was very brief.

But the best part is how it coincides with what I have been experiencing in my spiritual dimensions of counseling class and what I've been reading in my Yoga+ Joyful Living magazine. The other day in class we opened with this meditation:

I have a body, but I am not my body.
I appreciate that I have a body.

I have feelings, but I am not my feelings.
I appreciate that I have feelings.

I have sensations, but I am not my sensations.
I appreciate that I have sensations.

I have a mind, but I am not my mind.
I appreciate that I have a mind.

I am pure consciousness.


So when we meditated on the "I have emotions, but I am not my emotions," I almost started crying, which I processed as needing to stop clinging to my emotional states as being a part of me, instead allowing the feelings to be felt, but move through me, like a filter rather than a container. Because the emotions are becoming a stagnant pond, and I'm clinging to them like I'll lose my identity if I let go.

There are so many things that I cling to as a part of my identity, and most of them are just pure nonsense. Who am I deep down beyond all of the labels?

So today was a very good experience, and even though I know I shouldn't grasp...it'd be super cool to have more of those...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

More Spiritual Dimensions...

According to wikipedia, the source of all sources, "in various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. Its symbolic nature can help one "to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises." The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as "a representation of the unconscious self," and believed his paintings of mandalas enabled him to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality."

I had a conversation about my spiritual journey and was able to see clearly, for the first time, my fear of opening up again and being vulnerable to God. It will make itself clear in a moment:

You can begin in any circle, because who knows where I began the first time, but, like a good westerner, let us begin at the top.

The top circle is enlightenment, the time I saw Jesus as I sat in a suicidal heap on my bedroom floor. I had made bad choices and felt like life was no longer worth living, however the vision snapped me into a feeling of peace and made me do a 180 degree turn. I think this is the very definition of repentance. Rather than thinking I blindly clung to the ideals I had been raised with, fundamentals, which only later would I come to see as being muddled ideas that have come about since the enlightenment and modern thinking.

The second circle, clockwise of course, is my days as a fundamentalist. To turn away from the source of my pain and embrace, unthinkingly, uncritically, the evangelical right wing version of christianity. Black and white like penguins. Carbon copies. However, I was exposed to many different ideas as a SALT intern and found myself growing, questioning, wondering if the Jesus that supported Republicans wasn't perhaps just a tiny sliver of the whole thing. I went barefoot. I saw Aslan in the clouds and finally admitted to others that...yes...I believe in evolution, and that this makes me feel closer to God than a poof theology.

The third circle is my entrance into faith that is not limited by the arbitrary doctrines set up by the church. This is a time of exploration. Reading. Blue Like Jazz. Girl Meets God. Anything by Anne Lamott. Anatomy of the Spirit. A New Kind of Christian. Devouring books. Talking. Exploring. An internal struggle as I begin practicing new ways of relating to God. The blank space between black and white and out of the box is tearing me in two. I never fully settle into a vulnerable faith. I never really breathe into the spots like I do during a vigorous yoga practice. I am afraid and that fear dries me up.

Desert. I'm living in the in between. Sometimes returning to the oasis of spiritual vulnerability, but mostly I'm living in the dry spots. But I am hanging back, punishing myself, forcing myself to wander for 40 more years when perhaps there is a promised land ahead. Why? I long to get out of the 'dark night of the soul,' but am afraid of the pattern ahead...

I am not afraid of the 'enlightenment' or the experience of the divine meeting me where I am. I am not afraid of being opened up and vulnerable. Ok, I am afraid, but mostly I'm afraid of running right back into the arms of the pharisaical way of practicing Christian Spirituality. I don't want to begin measuring my faith by how many things I give up, by being less materialistic than others. I don't want to think I have it figured out and look down and judge others for their 'less than' spiritual way of acting. So I am punishing myself because I've noticed a pattern in my life (it's happened in smaller ways, not just on the big scheme). But then I keep thinking...maybe it's something that I have to experience...that I can't stay in one place forever....




And here is how I spent my time in church today. 1/2 way through the doodle I realized I was drawing someone praying and what I feel happens when we really connect...


Monday, July 7, 2008

Spiritual Dimensions of Counseling

For the summer I am supposed to pick up a spiritual activity, and I decided to continue to use art as my base for my summer spirituality, with plenty of meditation, contemplation and some time on my dusty-from-lack-of-use-lately yoga mat. Here are the first 3 pieces that I've finished:

On The Other Side was inspired by the image of a housewife peering over her neighbor's fence. Finding an image of heiroglyphs, it seemed a natural fit for the housewife to be peering over, as if to say, "what's on the other side of my spirituality?"



Time and Delicate Flowers is a painting I did the night I learned my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer. Time is something that shows up a lot in my work and so it didn't surprise me that I found myself adding clocks to the delicate blooms. This painting reminds me of the scripture about how fleeting our lives our, like grass (or flowers) or a passing mist...


Time & Energy. What do you spend your time and energy on?



Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cancer


I once told her that she had to live until she was no longer needed, and that she would have to live forever, because I would always need her.
Tonight I learned that she, my grandma, my "best friend over 67" has breast cancer.
Cancer.
Cancer.
All I can think of is Carolyn Myss's Anatomy of the Spirit and how it talks so much about cancer and energy and how relationships can contribute to physical diseases. I know in my gut that the cancerous relationships in my family are contributing to her health and I, on the outside of the dysfunction (to a degree I suppose) have no power to change this.
Except my own personal forgiveness for the rift I've felt since an incident where she took my uncle's side. That betrayal shattered much of my trust, and it makes me sad. Sad for the time we've lost together. Sad that she might not be around to see ME have kids. She's a great grandma already and I think "but what about me? what about my kids? they should get to know their ggrandma too!"
It's early and with a lack of information about the extensiveness of the cancer I can't jump to conclusions.
But I think it's bad, and I'm not ready to lose her.
She's still needed, you know?


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Recognize this?

Looks are something that many adoptees are obsessed with, and not in a vanity sort of way. I never spend time staring at myself in the mirror, but for most people in the world, they get the privilege of growing up in a family where they see pieces of themselves mirrored back in those around them. I have not had this luxury, though my adad and abro are blonde, and we're all of the white variety :)

So meeting my birthfather (Jim) on Saturday was crazy. It went 8,000 times better than meeting my birth mom, and I'm excited for the years ahead to get to know him and my 1/2 sisters and to see myself mirrored in those around me. Though many in my life may squirm at this mention of me wanting a relationship with my first family. This is not a reflection on my love for my aparents. I love Bob and Lori, my frister (friend/sister) Allison and bro Ryan very much. I can have a lot of love in my heart for everyone. Even Elisa.

And I want to freaking stop apologizing for it. I want to stop feeling the adoptee guilt of loyalty. My parents are excited for me and are even excited to meet Jim, so there....(sticks tongue out)

And here is the magic of digital photography:


A transition from me to Jim (based off a picture of him from like 8 years ago). Eerie, eh? :) I used to be mistaken for a guy, apparently it was my father...picture of me in college and Jim in 7th grade or so...



sibling similarities? me as a wee tyke, and my 1/s sister Libby... family

So it was fantastic to hang out with the Titchenal family. We looked at photo albums and shot the breeze. We talked about choices and where we would be if choices hadn't been made. It was almost 8 hours of goodness, and after dinner I was tired, but sad to go. Jim got teary. We hugged. Oh, and it was also cool to see baby pictures of me. Real baby pictures. With Elisa holding me in her arms and Jim holding me in his arms. It sounds funny, but I now see that I was really born...

I wish I could write this more coherantly, but I'm happy. I feel like both feet are firmly planted on the ground. I feel like my heart is 12 times bigger than before, and my soul is lighter, freer. With stage 1 (if there is such a thing) of the reunion past, I'd have to say that I am very happy. I've taken the good with the bad. The sad with the happy. And I look forward to the trials and tribulations ahead of me.


Friday, June 20, 2008

And I still haven't found what I'm looking for...

and I still haven't found what I'm looking for, but I still haven't found what I'm looking for...

Her name is Elisa, though I've known that for 25 years. Her hair is bleached blonde and she said she's stuck in 'some era, I'm not sure what,' and I wonder if she's maybe stuck in the 80's, and if the year is 1982. She smelled of stale cigarettes and perfume, which triggered memories of Christmas presents wrapped in cigarette/perfume smelling tissue paper. It's heartbreaking, really, to sit across the table with my first mother and yet to see the empty shell of who she is and who she could have become staring back. A beer wrapped in paper was nestled snugly in her knit purse, and the response she had to certain questions made me mentally rifle through my internal DSM-IV for a diagnoses. Alcoholism is a nasty disease that takes people's lives.

The what ifs swirl around in my mind. What if she hadn't given me away? Would that have helped? Would Jim have married her like he told me? Would they have gotten a divorce? Is her fate inevitable. Is any of our fates inevitable? If not my relinquishment, would there have been something else to drive her to the bottle? Or had she started on the path long before the choice to give me away? From a scrap of non-identifying medical information I know she drank and smoked and smoked pot while she was pregnant, and didn't get a dr. apt. until she was 6 months along. I wonder if I would have had the same fate as her other two, a life with mom, but being bounced around from family members houses and with live-in boyfriends. I wonder if I, too, would have moved out at 15 and into a friend's house? Or, as the oldest, would I have been another little mother in another lifetime, parenting siblings as I've somewhat tried to in my own family.

The questions aren't easy to ask. It's a typical adoptee response, to wonder 'what could I have done?' is it 'my fault that she's had the life she had?' And yet, what person would bestow the responsibility of the world on the shoulders of an infant? Who could blame a child for the fate of the parent?

It was pleasant, not terribly awkward, but not entirely comfortable either. Family and yet, not family. It's a strange situation all around. It's not that I was ever ungrateful to have been blessed to grow up a Powers, it's just that I need to know where I come from, perhaps in order to know where I'm going. There aren't enough words in the English language to adaquetely describe what this is like.

And it makes me angry and sad to be adodpted. But to be honest, it makes me angry and sad that I am not my parent's natural child. Why? Why was she able to get pregnant at 17 and not my parents? This makes me very sad, because they have been excellent parents. I wish I looked like them. I wish I could say that my great grandma really was Anna Christina Wolff, and that I could inherit a portion of the Colfax farm, but the truth is...I'm not. They are my parents but their ancestors are not my ancestors and this makes me very sad. I am sad that I have two moms and two dads, that I have to use 1/2's to distinguish my siblings to others, or to say 'birthmother' in order for strangers to know what the hell I'm talking about. I'm trying to have a large heart and love the situation, but it's freaking hard. No, it's fucking hard.

Me and Elisa:


Elisa and Trisha (my 1/2 sister)


Me and Trisha


The lines, 'and I still haven't found what I'm looking for,' popped into my mind and I thought how fitting it is. And I'm almost positive, that what I'm looking for no longer exists, at least in the way that it could have been.

The best part of it all, though, is I feel beautiful. I'm looking forward to meeting my birthfather tomorrow. This process has helped me feel more real and whole, but meeting my maternal side has helped me feel beautiful. Perhaps it's seeing something of myself reflected in others...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

French and who knows what else...

I often have the ostrich syndrome, the belief that if I wish hard enough, or hide my head in a hole, then I will somehow be...'normal.' Because opening myself up to the tidal wave of emotions that comes with being adopted, is hard. HARD. Harder than living in a 3rd world country or getting my Master's Degree. Emotions are tricky things, and I find that I am much easier at navigating the cerebral...

But yesterday, during my massage, the lovely Courtney (and if you haven't looked her up yet, you should, find her through the link Healing Nest on my page), performed reiki and my outbreaths let go of things like: shame, not good enough, closed off, unworthy, unloveable, unwanted, and on the inbreaths I took in: honesty, love, vulnerability. I'm working on opening my heart and making room in the nooks and crannies for all the various people in my life. My black and white thinking often doesn't allow for there to be more than one, like if I have one mom, I can't have 2 (and adding a third in the form of a MIL). But I can, and I do.

So with a heart open to possibilities, I shakily dialed the number and shakily spewed out "I was adopted in 1982 and I have reason to believe he is my birthfather" (like some episode of Law & Order), and there it was...me...talking to my birthfather Jim on the phone, for the first time.

The emotions are crazy overwhelming, because I already have a 'daddy,' but this man is 1/2 my genetic history and it was good to hear him say that a Dec. 13th didn't go by without him thinking of me, that when I turned 18 he updated his info at the agency so I could find him, and that he was 'so glad' I called. He even said he'd want to meet me.

What's great is that he's stable, married for 14 years, has 2 daughters (I mean, I have 2 MORE 1/2 sibs), and one of them is tall & plays basketball (this is the side of the family I get my height from I guess!). But silly as it is, the thing that stuck out to me the most, and it was good that I have been open and vulnerable and flexible...

Before the phone got disconnected I learned that his side of the family is French. This blows my entire life heritage of believing (because my parents told me this) that I am 100% Norwegian. The upside of this is I get to learn about a new country, as well as the fact that his father's side of the family has been in the country since 1620, in Jamestown...and this could possibly lead to there being some Native American blood ;) Not sure why I've always been obsessed with that, but there's much more likely a chance than my b-mom's side of the family which came from Norway like only 100 years ago.

So in order to stop sitting on the futon freaking out internally, I decided to do some art, which of course is adoption related...



And taking this open heart mentality I called my 1/2 sister and said I wanted to hang out, and I wanted to meet my b-mom, too, which is a huge step for me. Wowzers, so much emotion inside of me...

peace

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Sabbath

When I think of hummingbirds the image that comes to mind is fluttering and a constant flurry of activity. When I stand in front of the microwave tapping my foot impateintly I realize that America is definitely a culture of hummingbirds, whereas life in India was more of a culture of...(the image that came to mind was sloth, but that has a negative connotation and NOT one that I want to convey about my heartland)...it's just different there, slower and more relaxed.

So this week's topic in Inspire Me Thursday was hummingbird, and after playing around with hummingbird colors and not really liking what it produced, I went to Value Village and bought some old magazines (I have picked mine over again and again and am almost out of new things to add to my collage pile), and I came across a National Geographic (my favorite magazine EVER!)that had an article about hummingbirds. When I flipped it open there was this picture, of a hummingbird, just hanging out on a branch.

Ah, that picture of sweet rest made me take a few breaths and realize...it's okay that I haven't finished my cover letter or done any other work today. It's Saturday. It's okay for me to have a sabbath. I can collage and watch tv and hang out on my futon and not feel guilty. This is a good feeling.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More Orange and Purple...

This week I've been obsessed with Inspire Me Thursday's prompt Orange and Purple, so I ended up with 2 pieces that, together, fit the bill...

The purple one, is entitled "The Ties that Bind" and the orange one is "A Stitch in Time." They convey some deep seeded emotions that have been bubbling up in me this past week or two. I don't have the strength, or the words to write about it tonight. Perhaps at a later date. For now, the pictures will suffice...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Leap

I've rolled around the phrase "leap and the net will appear" since September. It started as a conversation with a new friend in my Counseling Theories class, and while it was a principle I had tried to live by in the past, only recently did I really leap without peeking over the cliff hoping to have the net hanging there peacefully.

I quit my job last Wednesday, though I had actually put in my application at Highline School District and was told to come to a substitute orientation on Monday (today), which, in some ways is peeking over the edge to see if there was a net, but it didn't feel like peeks in the past. In the past I've had solid proof (perhaps i've climbed down a goat trail to the net and tested its hold of my weight before I scramble up to the cliff and leap).

A side note to making the decision to quit: the authenticity of this decision is something I have not felt in a LONG time. I have never quit a job before, they have always ended naturally, end of school year, end of summer, store unexpectadly went other and I'm stranded on the street begging for change (okay, that's an EXTREME and an exageration) but still, quitting is never been something that I, a perfectionist, would do...

Oh how good it feels, though. To really examine what makes me happy and what was sucking my soul out of my body and stepping on it repepatedly until I felt so downtrodden (and like part of a cult) that I seriously questioned if I could actually do another job right. So authenticity and being honest to myself and what I need, is something that I have been working on lately, and it is coming to a beautiful outcome.

I quit last wednesday (with a final day being this wednesday), and had my orientation today. Not only am I qualified to be a para-educator, I can also apply to be an emergency certificated substitute teacher, which means that in the fall I can sub as a teacher's aid or a teacher, and with that combination of job opportunity, I'll be able to have a pretty solid living that is flexible and will play more to my strengths. Of course it'll be stressful getting calls at 5 am, and the uncertainty of heading into a sub teaching job (gulp), but it's back in the realm of what I know...education...and I am stoked.

So there you go. The motto is, leap and the net will appear. But don't just leap off any cliff, do it carefully you know, with eyes wide open and all the information possible... :)

And can I tell you, that it just feels FANTASTIC. I have never been this true to myself and to see how it is playing out is amazing. I knew that I was gifted in this other direction and so to pursue it and see how all the pieces are fitting in nicely, is just great. Will it be stressful? Yeppers. Different type of stress. Stress more on my own terms, though :) And in an area I love...teaching and education. Woot woot!!

And here's a picture I've done on how yoga makes me feel...fantastic:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Orange and Purple


This weeks inspiration was based off the colors 'orange' and 'purple.' After painting this little moonscape scene I rifled through my collage materials and this caveman just jumped out at me. Perfect fit, with the desert sands and the antelope skull.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Collaboration

A few weekends ago I visited my two good friends in Vancouver, WA. It was a restful Sunday full of yoga class and walking through the sunny park and eating some good Indian grub.



Late in the evening we broke out the paints and fulfilled an inspiration that Carlita had been holding inside her for awhile. It was based off a moonlit night she had seen, with dark trees, and a purple sky with a large moon. It was so much fun to sit on the floor, combining our paints together to make the sky, adding golden details to the tips of the trees, and to end up with a painting that looks much like it was inspired by the phrase 'and wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.' I was truly amazed at how it came together, seemlessly, as we each contributed a little piece of ourselves to the project. Collaboration is not always my strong suit, since I have ideas of how I want it done, but opening up my hands and heart to the process, letting go of the idea of perfection or having something turn out 'exactly' as I would like, was beautiful. This is definitely a project I would want to try again with such good friends.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Learning to Love

Something about riding the airplane home yesterday from New York sparked me to scribble this down on the back of a magazine subscription card:

Things I love (or like) about myself and why

1) the freckles that begin emerging from hibernation right around this time each year. during a swim meet as a kid i overheard a woman telling her daughter that freckles were 'kisses from angels,' and what kid doesn't want to be kissed by an angel? every time i see my summertime freckles i think of those angel kissess...



2) until the age of 2 or 3 I had fine wispy baby hair that curled in little tendrils. as an adult my hair air dries like i've rolled around in bed all night, so with enough straightening products (or my standard messy bun) I am able to tame my locks into some sort of managable do. However, I try to leave my temple wisps alone. They tend to curl in their own unique way and this makes me feel like a kid again.

3) the white stretch mark grooves above my hip bones. for years i did not know what stretch marks were, though they have lived with me for a long time. when i'm stressed i tend to feel the grooves in my skin and it's strangely calming. i often see ads about stretch marks, and truly am shocked when purple ones appear on my inner thighs, but the white ones i carry proudly, taking me back to a time when i loved myself and was oblivious to the fashion world's disgust with all things lumpy and bumpy.

4) how my eyes are blue or green demending on my outfit or surroundings, and how when i look at them in pictures they seem to be the color of the sea. perfect for a mermaid-lover.




5) during basketball & volleyball practices i used to lift up my shirt, concentrating intently, while sticking my finger in my bellybutton. while i rarely wear jewelry, i always wear my navel ring. just showing my bellybutton some love.

6) my webbed toes. i used to tell people i was 50% mermaid (from the waist up, of course), but with webbed toes I think I could bump that up to at least 51%...



7) my 3 front teeth on my lower jaw. nobody can tell, but i run my tongue along the permananent retainer and think how strange it was to have two teeth fused together with only one coming in to replace it. strange, and fitting.

8) after a strenuous yoga workout i often notice how prominent my veins are in my arm, moving into my chest. the blue against my pale skin intrigues me, and makes me feel powerful.

9) running my fingers through my hair i often stop on the spot of a 3rd grade head injury. we were squirreling around in line, on our way to lunch, when i slipped and fell on a i-beam. stitches and get-well-cards later, i still have the inch long scar. only i know, and my hairdressers, who often ask to tell the story. i sometimes contemplate what it would be like to be bald and see that scar in the mirror.

10) the missing 1/2 inch on my left side. i think this is god's way of simultaneously granting my request to be 6' (ever since i was a kid, i always said i wanted to be 6'), and honoring the part of me that wants to be closer to the average size woman. i think it teaches me the art of balance

Ten simple things that I love about myself. And I was amazed at how good it made me feel to write them, to own them, and to give them the love that they deserve.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

2-3 seconds

Recently I learned that the average dream lasts 2-3 seconds, but I know from experience they feel like reality and it made me think...if we could really live in the moment...how long would life feel? Now this could be a good thing I think, or really bad (if I'm stuck at work experiencing every moment), but even so, last night I was lying in bed quietly, meditating and my mind drifted from thought to thought, and it felt amazing, and then I looked at the clock and it had only been 3 minutes. It's amazing how refreshing even a few minutes of peace and quiet can be.

Since reading The Golden Compass I have been obsessed with the idea that worlds split upon making a decision and that there could be millions of universes existing simultaneously. What I've been mulling over is the me that would be now if I hadn't experienced the move to Yakima. In my idealistic mind I think back to the 'good ol' days' where I didn't know what fashion was, and had friends who accepted me for who I was, in contrast to the move across the mountains where suddenly I realized that what shoes I wore matter (and even then, I didn't buy the RIGHT pair of Docs), or the feeling that I had to change in order to fit in. A few days ago I thought that the answer was that Yakima ruined me, that I would be a fully integrated adult if I had not moved, but I have come to a much more acceptable happy medium now. Because I think the move served a purpose, to break me out of my shell, but also I wonder now who I would be if I would have stayed. I was sheltered and afraid, and in Yakima I got to be confrtoned with culture shock.

But I can't forget that twelve year old self, that loved life and wasn't afraid to be herself. I didn't need tons of friends if it meant sacrificing who I was. I wasn't afraid to be sensitive, which is something I'm trying to re-learn. And it's sort of a neat process for me, because as an adult I can choose the things I want to keep about myself, choose the things I don't, and take ownership in who I become rather than simply laying back and abdicating my own authority to others.

Thought I'm re-learning this sensitivity, I've noticed, too, that my Fool/Clown archetype is hitting back even stronger. In fact, I've already begun a reputation at school as the 'funny' one. Of course I am funny (at least to myself), but is this the image I want to portray in the counseling program? I want to be taken seriously, and yet, I do enjoy laughter...

I'm off to school now since the apartment next door is leaking paint smell into my apartment and I'm feeling sorta high...

Shanti

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ahimsa

The word ahimsa translated from Sanskrit means 'non-injury' or more my favorite, 'non-harm.' This word keeps sneaking up into my life lately, through an article in a yoga magazine about eating mindfully, to a yoga class I attended in Vancouver with my fellow yogini Carlita, where the teacher opened the class with a discussion on truthfulness, and mentioned ahimsa.

The concept of being true, through actions and words is important to me. Though I am often very non-harming in relation to others, the teacher's words struck a chord in me when she asked about our self-talk, how we react to our inability to hold lunges like our bendable neighbor, or when we fall flat on our face in an arm balance. Truth and ahimsa pointed inside, toward my inner Jenna, because I treat the world much better than I treat myself.

Which reminds me of the conversation I had with Kyle recently about my compartamentalized way of viewing the world and my heirarchical way of structuring human worth. In an attempt to live up to my father's words 'you have no rights, jesus gave up all his rights so that's how we should be' or something to that effect. In my head I heard, though, that I'm not worth anything, and therefore in order to 'humble' myself I have attempted this false sense of humility, which means, for me, self-deprecation and always putting others ahead of myself. The idea that I could be worth something is novel to me, and so I'm learning to treat myself gently. Ahimsa will remind me of this. Non-harm toward myself.

To help us remember this she asked us a few questions, which is a twist on a quote I used to know:
Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? And, does it improve upon silence?

I think if I begin asking myself those questions about my own self-talk, I will be a happier, healthier and more peaceful person.

Om shanti shanti shanti...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hermitage

What am I afraid to face?

The last few mornings I have gotten out of bed at 'the crack of noon' as my grandma calls it, but this luxury of late-waking isn't making me feel refreshed and perky. I roll over in bed and stare at my bedmate, loneliness, and bury my head in the pillow once again. 'Five more minutes' I tell myself, and lately it's been 'just one more dream.'

My dreams have been filled with Lake Forest Park. Most recently it was the LFP elementary 10 year reunion, at the same pool we had our 6th grade party. Reunion turned funeral with the car accident death, caused by a peanut allergy, of comedian Adam Ray. Dream grief and making out with my pool boss, who happened to be Kyle, but named Keith. Too many men melded into one. I'm curious as to why my childhood keeps coming up in dreamland, except that perhaps it leads to some sort of context for the childhood phrases that keep haunting me.

Yesterday, while driving home from a fruitless attempt to dive into a new pile of books (and thus procrastinate on my Tests & Measurements class), I almost burst into tears. Almost. I had turned the radio off, finding the dj to be loud and obnoxious and honestly too much stimulus often makes me feel like my skin has been ripped off, but a minute or two (or 12 seconds more likely) and the silence of hearing myself breathing and the rain coming down hard on my windshield, I almost burst into tears. But the shoulders turned inward and I tightened my grip on the steering wheel and I proceeded home, because I could compartamentalize my emotions and I thought that would be the 'perfect' time to cry, to let it all out, but of course when I got home, I....

...turned on the tv. Of course. Noise to drown out the feelings. And it's embarassing to admit to myself how lonely I am here in Seattle. Of course I see my best friend almost every day, but it's not enough. I blame a lot of it on work, and my schedule, but there are things that I could do. My hermit archetype is tired and has been moping around lately, trying to get me to do something. The time on the mountain is over and I need to come out of my shell.

I am praying and hoping and wishing for a new job. I really want something with day hours, something involving people and schools and I'm hoping to become a part-time or substitute para-educator. Sigh. Will this solve all my problems? Doubtful. But maybe it'll get this hermit out of the house...

But deep down I need to really examine the fear of loneliness, and perhaps, the difference between loneliness and being alone. I often talk with my smokers about how cigarettes have become their friend over the years, though, admittedly a destructive abusive friends (cause who lets their friend give them COPD? hmm, I guess I have had some toxic relationships in the past...), but how, in order to quit, they have to start becoming their own best friend. Cigarettes also help pass time through boredom, since many of the people I talk to are shut-ins for some reason or another. I am learning how much my life parallels the lives of the people I am helping. Even as I write this MTV is blaring in the background, and I'm always a click away from my email. Sometimes I check my email over and over again and I've begun asking myself, 'what am I waiting for?"

I'm not coming to any conclusion about this, and I'm exhausted, but I want to explore this loneliness idea. I want to learn to be my own best friend and not have to numb the emotions through noisy stimulation.

That's all.
Peace.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Walking on Eggshells


During work, as I sit in my recliner taking State Quit Line calls, I find myself doodling to pass the time. Inspired by a comment from my sister, how glad she is to not have to 'walk on eggshells,' around me anymore, I began doodling the idea of what it would be like for a bird to walk on eggshells. This image was really fun for me to imagine. However, the evolution of art is interesting to me, because as I started collaging the piece, it began to take on a new shape in my mind. Inspired by the quote at the top of the piece, "we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children," I thought about global warming and how delicate this life truly is.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Yin and Yang

One of the reasons I'm going into counseling is my love for listening, and yet one thing that I'm learning is that as a counseling type, I'm good at listening, but not so good at being listened to. How often have I been on the end of a phone conversation making listening noises like, "mhmm," and "yeah," and arrive at the end of the conversation with the person saying "man, this has been such a good conversation, we should talk more often!" The power of listening takes over, and only until after I hang up the phone do I realize that it hadn't been an equal exchange of words. I get the bare minimum out in the first 60 seconds and spend the rest of the time with the 'mhmms' and occassionally a good probing or thought-provoking question.

This one-sidedness has translated over into other areas of my life, and one that I'm exploring is also my tendency to give and unequally receive. How did this unbalance happen? And, if I don't ever figure out the root, can I still move forward into a more balanced listening/being listened to, giving/recieving life?

I think it starts with peeling away some of the layers of fear that have built up around my heart. I've noticed lately how rounded in my shoulders have become lately, as if they were trying to create even more of an encompassing feeling of protection around my heart. And I was struck by a memory, of myself as a little girl, being told (this time by my father) to "stop being so sensitive." In an attempt to obey (though I'm sure, once again, this was probably a situationally specific comment that I globalized), I have grown a defensive wall of bricks and rubble and now even my own body is using itself as a shield.

Awareness is the first small step toward balance.
And here is how it looks for me, as my shoulder roll in, protecting my heart:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sadness

For me, sadness is both a yellow square and the color blue.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Impossible Mountains of Hope

During breaks at work I peruse the Yoga Journal online archives. Yesterday I came across an article entitled Me Talk Pretty (http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/2112), and was struck by the question: "Did your parents ever say something that has stuck with you throughout your life?"


"Did your parents ever say something that has stuck with you throughout your life?" The answer to this question didn't even have to come to me, it's been here all along. It is one of my constant companions, gray like a figure of death, it often sits quietly in the corner of my room, unmoving. Shadow-like and affecting everything I do. Enmeshed in its web are pessimism and depression, the thought that this is always how it is, or always how it's been. Hopelessness, though in a maliciously subtle way.

As a rational adult I can look back and see that the power these words have had over me are not logical, rational, and certainly not healthy. In fact, more than likely they were completely situationally specific, but they hit my already untrusting, uncertain young mind that struggled unconscioulsy, quietly, with the truth of abandonment. And the words were: "Don't get your hopes up."

"Don't get your hopes up." Was it about my excitement over an impending ice-cream cone excursion, or my endless chatter about the rides at Disneyland, that prompted her to ever so lightly tap the glass and shatter my hopes? It wasn't malicious says the loyalty inside me, and yet, those words made me grow up in an instant. Those words conveyed the fact that I already knew that this world was not to be trusted, that hopes were not to be trusted, because the truth is, it will all crumble and crash and screech to a halt. If I had any fledgling optimism or idealism about the world, the authority of that command struck me to my core and have shaped my view since then. Because I don't get my hopes up. I have tentatively dipped my toe into the waters of long-lasting commitment through marriage but don't have my hopes up (too high) that there will be fidelity, harmony, or "you complete me" moments. Perhaps I can get my hopes up that there will be functionality, moments of sunshine and hand-holding, and silent breakfasts over oatmeal and the Funnies. I don't have my hopes up that this election will bring any sort of resolution to the wars, or freedom or that my social justice class can make a dent in racism or heterosexism. I don't get my hopes up that my friends will be there when I need them, or that my degree will provide any lasting happiness. Most frightengly, I don't get my hopes up that if there is a God, that He is really Benevolant and Good and the epitome of Love. My life is like life in Oz, with shams just around the corner. I just hope that I will see clearly the reality before me, so that my heart will stay protected.

And so tonight, with the inability to express my words to my lover, I painted how I felt. It's entitled "Mountains of Impossible Hope" or maybe "Impossible Mountaisn of Hope," because Hope is there, but it's dark and scary and almost completely inacessible. And yet, something softly calls to me, like wind through the trees.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Archetypes

Archetypes have followed me since I took Dan Peters' Myth and the Modern Hero class in high school. In counseling classes we read Carl Jung and so awhile ago I purchased Caroline Myss' Sacred Contracts and her accompanying archetype cards to learn more about myself. According to Myss there are 4 archetypes that everyone has, and then there are at least 8 others that closely shape our personalities. This has been a very fun & eye-opening exercise for me, and has also been fun to talk with Kyle and see what his archetypes are. These are the archetypes that I feel repesent me the best (beginning with the 4 that everyone has)
1. Saboteur
2. Victim
3. Prostitute
4. Child (and I identify with the orphan child)
5. Mentor
6. Damsel
7. Clown/Fool
8. Rebel
9. Student
10. Queen
11. Story Teller
12. Hermit
The most interesting thing for me doing this exercise was how much I resonated with the shadow side (the way the archtype influences us negatively, like always 'playing the victim,' or sabotaging my relationships). I've been working with these archetypes in art, and have found that the two most easily accesible ones (perhaps because within the context of my romantic relationship they rule me the most, or perhaps because I have many fashion magazines with these images in them), are the Queen and the Damsel.

Here's my interpretation of my Queen archetype:


And here's my interpretation of my Damsel archetype:



I'd encourage you to check it out and do it for yourself. You might just learn a thing or two :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Inner Critic

A prompt from Courtney to represent my Inner Critic through art, and when I was finished, I looked at it and was like, 'wow, that's her allright."


"Unplanned"

Inspire Me Thursday's prompt this week was "Medical" and I couldn't help but think of all my friends who have gotten pregnant on their birth control. I've titled it "Unplanned" from it's original "Unwanted," though both titles bring up my own sense of loss and disconnection as I too feel, through my adoption, that unplanned and unwanted means not-good-enough. Flawed. Not completely whole.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Morning thoughts

I woke up this morning with two thoughts:

1) I believe sleeping too long is, on some level, a wish for death. When I look at the clock and can't bear to to face the world and force myself to sleep so long that I get a crick in my neck, then there is something wrong.

2) Sadness for me is the color yellow and is in the shape of a square. This is a refrigerator leftover from last night's conversation with K. Emotions for him are a all part of one thing, (facets maybe?) and he believes that they speak in order to give him some message, or something like that. I, on the other hand, feel that my emotions are individual entities, separate from my being, and merely dwelling inside. Sometimes they all shout at once and I feel like a mom with screaming kids and all I'm doing is reaching for a popsicle to shove in their mouths to just shut them up for awhile. I feel that my highest potential is the content calmness I feel when I'm completely quiet and still. And that's when I learned another important aspect of relationships...even when you feel like you experience emotions the same way, you don't.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Photographs

It seems the older I get the more my memories are encapsulated in photographs in my mind. Like I'm not sure I remember how gritty and sweet the ring around my lips tasted after finishing an afternoon treat on a family camping trip. When I touch my hair it no longer conjurs up how strawlike the ends felt after chewing them between my teeth. And I can't remember how I related to my cousin equally, before I started seeing her as the 'pretty one' which left me unappily introverted at family functions. Instead I stare intently at the photograph, of two toddler girls sitting happily on the step of our tent-trailer and wonder, what happened to these memories as living breathing entities jostling around in my head? What did the sensation of warm orange soda feel like sliding down my throat and dripping off my chin? What was the ratio of dust to water to form the mud tracks for my brother's army men? And what did the duct tape holding the canvas sides of the trailer together sound like as pine-needles landed in the middle of the night? Lamott said to begin to write with remembering all the details of small events in our lives, like the first day of kindegarten or our Christmas as a 10 year old. I wonder, if perhaps I can start with photographs, until I can remember some memories...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day and I stopped at Target for some Miracle Grow soil for my Christmas cactus that has been sitting in its pitiful pot since...Christmas. I made the mistake of re-potting it in my kitchen (there is still dirt lingering on counters and on the floor) and I was so inspired by this that today I went and bought some pretty gerbera daisies to brighten up my place. And I realized that I garden like a little kid, but it is was so fun. And here is the proof:











Yay for gardening!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Both Sides Now

Music has a way of getting inside my skin, walking around banging on memories, rattling the cages that hold my emotions tightly, and tonight is no exception. With a conversation about wedding songs I began a youtube search that left me watching many sappy love songs. Nostalgia tapped on my shoulder and whispered "bows and flows" and it's one of my options for the father/daughter dance. It's sad and slow and almost depressing, but it's fitting, because it was a childhood lullaby sung by my papa.


The imagery of ice cream castles in the air overshadowed the sadness of really not knowing love at all. So I'm sitting here in the dark tonight, with a touch of sunday-nap induced insomnia, listening to Joni Mitchell croon away. There's something to listening to a song repeatedly, to really get in bed with it and know it intimately. To explore each emotion it conjurs, like the feeling of safety, and my father's touch as he massaged away the growing pains in my legs. If not for any other reason, I may choose this song to dance to. Even if the guests don't 'get it'.

Let it enter your soul, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKQSlH-LLTQ

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Little Red Feather

The little red feather that escaped from the whirring sucking vacuum cleaner is still crouched near the futon, hiding, like I used to, behind the legs of my mother. Little red feather leftover from Halloween wings. It isn't an innate messiness that I possess, but rather an inattention to details. No. Not inattention, just a healthy sense of the picture overall. Forest for the trees. Because in the grand scheme, does the little red feather's presence next to my futon interrupt the overall feeling of my room? These words sound rote and memorized, because of the transportation time between bathtub and computer. Words forced into timelessness without evolution, like our view of the red man, forever standing on the plains of Iowa with a feather headress and a bow & arrow. Perhaps I shouldn't cling so tightly to the inspirations that come in moments of quiet, driving down country roads, hanging delicately in half-sleep, or while concentrating on scrubbing behind my ears. I'm not sure where to go with it all, but there seemed to be a message. Lost in the rote memorization of it all. Shruti gone wrong. But the mere act of listening to these inspirations has caused the antennae on my skin to perk up to the slightest noise or whisper, my eyes to scan my surroundings for similes and metaphors and my eyes to wonder in their most insightful way, what the color of hunger is. I used to think it was merely words that floated through me, sometimes channeled into translation on paper, but the more I learn the more I realize that there are pictures there. Worries. Memories. Imaginations. Ripe for the taking. So I write, and the little red feather hides. And life continues.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My theology

"I can only speak for myself, from what I know," I kept saying over and over again. It had come up in a Friday-night-without-tv conversation in which I explored (and somewhat revealed) my internalized theology. This morning it was still on my mind and I kept seeing a diagram of a person, like the ones that are always in my yoga magazines, with all of the chakras in their own special colors, and all I could see was black.




Ooozing, pitchy tar-like blackness sticking to all my insides. Radiating from my heart. It was a disturbing picture and I put some pastels down on paper to get it outside of me. What to do about this is a mystery, and even more so a mystery that I don't think others have this inside of them. That's why I kept saying I can only speak for myself, because this is my reality, whether it is real or not.

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle


While sitting in my recliner pondering the IMT's prompt of recycling, I looked at my fireplace full of ashes, matches scattered about from lighting candles, and my sketchbook open to a page of practicing with colors. The paint reminded me of fire and so I dribbled and dabbled and this is my entry for this week's prompt. Who knew playing with materials like ashes could be so much fun? :)








Friday, April 18, 2008

This I Believe

This I Believe

I believe that we are all naturally at home in the water. Somewhere between cutting the cord and the initial slap on the back, ushering us into the gritty land of gravity, we have lost the peace and comfort of immersion in a warm body of water. Some of us still have an affinity for water. My webbed toes cancel out my fire sign and I've come across a few throughout my life who also want to crawl inside the sink while washing their hands. Because when life becomes stressful, and the stimulation is hitting me from all sides, I sometimes put my head below the water and feel the warmth spread into my very bones. Under water I feel calm, the sounds from above are muffled and murky and my body is suspended delicately. If I can't manage a body of water large enough for my 6 foot frame I make-do with bathtubs or the feeling of warm water rushing over my hands. I resonate with the sacrament of baptism more than any other. Because crawling back into the watery womb makes me feel safe and when I emerge, even for a brief moment, I feel renewed. And I believe this can be true for all of us.