Over Board

 

Since I like to write about life in “metaphors” and “allegory” I would like to directly confront any haters by describing my life as a big Carnival cruise ship.

When you spend 33 years steering your ship with the same beliefs, illusions, escape mechanisms, denial and self defeating behaviors, you know how to steer, because its the way you were taught. It’s the way you always have done, the way your parents and even their parents taught, a map passed down with just one compass, a set group of working members that trust you to steer the way they taught.

Rejecting their way of navigation is to reject them, to question that any idea outside the script they have written for you is rebellious and ungrateful. By asking to maneuver this ship, your own, the way you hope, the way you dream, causes narcissistic panic and rage, for such a request slaps ingratitude, defiance, and no amount of love by either party changes this fact at all.

It is their fear of all fears, to lose control.

But you cannot dance for them, steer for them, look at a map that has nothing to do with you and pretend you are doing a job GOd made you for, not even for the love you feel for them.

It is too great a cost.

Trying only comes with their reminders of your past navigations, life boats of passengers that would leave, that little failed  marriage, financial irresponsibility, their hearts heavy with concern, so naive and desperate for love and approval, you believe them.

The drama and unhealthy anxiety and loss of weight and who had to bear such a thing watching you destroy yourself?

Your heart sickened and you would agree especially when the trump card fell, like how your children were at stake, and as my mother said when I excitedly announced my acceptance to Photography school, “But honey, your children need you. A good mother knows  you can’t ever get back your children’s childhood.”

But I had waited till Lola was in Kindergarten, my heart felt it true that I had real gifts, people had told me about my writing and photography, something my mother claimed she wouldn’t read.

It was just too unbearable for her.

Not to mention being the family laughing joke, the dating disasters, financial dependence, and so you went along, so you laughed with them.

So crazy, how could YOU be qualified to run your own ship?”

They meant to shut up, find a good man, stop causing drama, and do not ask questions that make them feel, look, or examine pain, but one last thing. DO not take front seat or that would mean that they may be put out of a job, a job they invested 33 years in keeping. One thing I have learned is that nothing is more important than their own illusion of control, that you somehow are responsible for the emotions, existence, needs, and life path of another simply by being born.

In your birth, you are their ownership.

But, what if they were right?

They always were.

Could you possibly be that arrogant, even crazy, to believe that something inside you knows more?

Read their map, take passenger seat with their compass, and they promise, you will always be safe, loved, and in God’s loving hands.

In many small moments of defiant self assurance and your own part brave, part powerful, part narcissistic inner guidance, you throw the compass over the side, rip their perfect map and do horrible things like go to school, take on boyfriends not of their knowledge or choosing, at 33 mind you. You refuse calls, break cars, and cry over missing your babies.

They tell you that this is abuse, this defiance of role, the writing, and you failed them by not taking the destination they paid and invested financially and emotionally for you.

In your young naive attempt for all that you have fought for, you throw up the middle finger, rip their map, not just in half with a clean line you can tape back later for emergency, but in many teeny pieces throwing them up in the air.

You clearly have no idea what you have done.

They watch in horror, announce insanity, and so you hear the many heartbreaking lies from the ones who KNEW you, who were watching, who cried and held you, so you dive deep in denial as your reputation is smeared, like a knife you know is cutting and bleeding in your back, but you refuse to pull out.

Sometimes pretending the pain isn’t really there is less painful than the wound itself.

And sometimes, this exact point causes you to never fully examine your wounds, your life, your loved ones, I believe, is a promise that you will in fact, become them.

The repair is not possible you realize as your heart slices to pieces, your children are no longer called or seen, even the ex that supported them is deleted next to you off of facebook, birthdays and holidays are ignored, with the exception of a lovely card, only for the grandchildren, who have been left to you for the explanation of why an entire extended family, aunts uncles and cousins, are gone. I couldn’t bare it. My babies most claimed to being loved were now pawn to a woman who claims I will not let her see them.

And so, you have what you have asked for, a ship, gulp, and no one to control the many anchors and nets, food preparations, or storm safety regulations.

You have a few passengers to take leadership of, all watching with careful scrutiny as to how this captain will maneuver without any map, an illogical quest for certain, and you can feel some of them smug at their obvious belief you will hit the rock of Gibraltar, or drown the entire boat from your selfish, ignorant, irresponsible and reckless decisions.

They are waiting to be right.

The others left are a little scared, with life jackets all on, you notice, a fact that makes you wince, seeing as there is only bright sky and little waves, but they have swimmies, goggles, inner tubes and helicopters on call.

So you will prove them all wrong. You will prove you are the Captain, the first to use an inner guidance and new technology from within. You are living your destiny, you say in the mirror at night, certain the gods will protect you and the ripple effect of your intentions will lead you and your girls to freedom.

You believe with all your might you are called to do so.

And in front of them all, in front of yourself, you run your ship directly into a glacier.

And another one.

You see with terror that the water has began to fill the first cabin of passengers and it is your fault, these passengers you have grown to love as your own family are all affected, their money and resources drained, their thoughts of your motives and choices are murmured below, but you can hear them all.

They are losing trust, amongst the chatter, you feel their worry and anxiety over you, causing great pain and a responsibility greater than you ever knew before.

That is the worst part of being a captain.
Letting down the ones you want nothing more than to love and protect that have no choice but to drown or get hit amongst the rocks with you.

I was in the McDonald’s drive thru, with Lola my cheerleader, Kat my critic, and I saw her eye me in my rear view.

She must have noticed I buy nothing for myself, even food, something she comments on, aware at too young of an age that mommy has had an excruciating break up, must move out without any idea where to live, needs extra work and fast, and is heartbroken mostly over missing them and wondering if in fact, everyone was right, once again.

“Mom,” she said, with authority in her voice, even at 10.

I was scared to look up.

“One day mom, you will have a big house and a man that is your real soul mate, you’ll see. You will go on trips and buy things and mom, you can do it. One day mom.”

“Yeah!” Lola cheered from the back, shouting, “YOU WONT ALWAYS HAVE NO MONEYS!”

She kept eating her fries while I said nothing, afraid to show the tears sliding, the belief they have in me had nothing to do with my past behavior, all to do with what they knew I was capable of.

“And a child shall lead them.”

I had already took on a first captain, one with a snarky spitfire of personality and courage, to test the waves, an open book of brilliance and psychological passion which she has mysteriously gained at such a young age.

Ya’ll know her as Thelma.

I hired her to research and build a new map you see, my courage and passion to my cause quickly passing, so I asked her to find a much better working compass, a growing regret was quickly coming with the realization I threw away with the first one with little indifference at the time.

She has bad news.
She cannot give me a new compass.
She WILL not give you a new compass.
She says it like the truth blazer she is, something I often brag will make her the greatest forensic psychologist of all time, but with me, you see, I demand she change the very core of what makes her beautiful and unique.

I explain carefully that I just want her to say it is okay.

She explains details over my ship with little patience and logical direct blows. She tells me I am the leader of this ship, not her, and not the ones before, and I have a choice. I will lead the ship I call my life, for good or bad, or not.

My knees go weak, not knowing I had unconsciously looked for the exact replacement of what I knew for all my life. I just saw pain, blinding white light, and an evil girl who cut up souls and served them on strawberries.

It took a lot of time to see the real Thelma, not the woman I only projected upon as “mother.”

On many occasions I imagine I might have challenged her to first deck where I would wrestle her lady like uppity ass to the ground, but in fact, something worse happened.

I realized she was right.

What the fuck was I thinking?

I did what all confident self seeking freedom fighters do and cried, begged, demanded she do it, fell faint on the floor from the magnitude of it.

She just rolled her eyes.

Until the breaking.

Something had to be changing for she was evolving into the nurturing and kind friend, the co caption I was used to was not empathetic, even harsh.

It was the first time I saw her as she was, and had always been, but from my own dysfunction and terror of being abandoned had blinded me to ever seeing the real her.

I saw after a year that she had no life jacket on or life boat pulled to the side, nor had she ever.

How could I have missed this?

So this was the breaking, the pounding of my knees to the ground, the layers of unworthy unloved messages and beliefs began to take over, and I had nothing left to fear.

In that moment, I had and was nothing,

The interesting thing about pain is that some pain keeps you stumped for years, and I had the tears of a clown with the make up dripping off, only my true sad self to let through and all of it, all of it, had been not my fault, but my responsibility.

I wasn’t stumped at all. I was aware I had done nothing I had set out to accomplish, that intentions mattered nothing, that I was in fact, the scum on the bottom of the scummiest bottom.

So the reality I had been missing was that she had not changed into anything, for I saw her, my biggest defender, fighter, support and friend. It was I who was the one changing, the parts of me who kept her and the world away were the ego and I had none left, not anymore.

Then I heard some music, coming from bottom deck, Justin Timberlake I believe, blasting on the radio, my girls coming up to shake what their mama gave them, the ship half burned, ship wrecked, void of food.

True deliverance comes not when we are accepting mighty awards in front of all the people who didn’t believe in you, our shadows and ego convinced OUR truth will be rewarded, maybe even a podium or Ted Talk might come our way.

It just is never going to be that way for me.

It is in the destruction, when the tides have turned and all is lost at sea. It is in the shipwreck and pirates who betray again and again, so you find treasure in your laughter, in your glories, in your unforgivable mistakes, and if you have a lucky break, all you can see and feel is just peace.

These are the finest of any treasure a captain can find, when her ship becomes eerily still while the  dolphins came to say hello, jumping in perfect circles. One by one they come, dressed in costume, Kat and then Lola, Thelma and Dad, all the ones who love from a broken heart come to dance.

“You are the captain of your ship, the captain of your soul” is a quote I scribbled down way before I took on this journey, and I will not begin being grateful when I find the destination, the flag, the written map the gods reveal before me.

Sink or swim, with maybe one float left to hold on as I watch my boat burst into flames, it doesn’t matter.
I will dance just the same.

For everyone on board, from past to present to unknown to future known, this is the song I am dancing to, hoping you all are blessed, touched, and loved. It is you who have been God’s touch on my shoulder.

Enjoy!

Michael Franti & Spearhead LIVE

 

Artists and Flowers, “Best Recognize”

I am fully aware, by the entire species who let me know at every breath since I arrived on this planet, I may just appear to be a normal woman, but what I am not, EVER, to any degree, is logical.
Duh.
No shit, Sherlock.
Thanks for the update.
These are the answers I want to flippantly give, to people who have just arrived in my story, not knowing they aren’t helping me uncover the mysteries of the Universe at this point, seeing as I feel exhausted on the journey.
Frodo may have had to carry the ring to keep it from that creepy slimy thing, only from the help of Sam, which Divorcee will love my terrible “Lord of the Rings” analogies, usually illogically quoted.
What I have done since arriving as an alien capturing this body and living in it as a host, is make decisions the only way I know how.

I move through the world on my own, like the air sign I am, feeling, breathing, beating to the rhythms of pure energy that can not be seen, heard, or felt. Try explaining that one to the Hobbits, which now I think of, may be better equipped to understand.
I almost threw my printer out the window the other day.
It probably wasn’t plugged in.
I write and write, my journals fill boxes since I was a teeny thing, my body always leaves and I arrive when I write, on the treadmill or aware suddenly as if awakened from a deep nightmare, that I am in fact, DRIVING, for God’s sake, and to slam my foot down on the pedal, always relieved I didn’t kill a van and end up on Oprah for murdering innocent people while I was coming up with the perfect words to describe Mr. CNN, a character I had just hung out with.

I use symbols and numbers, believe in angels and UFOs if they can help me find HWY 285, for sure I need all the help i can get.

And so, I save all types of airy crazy illogical things, in special drawers, feathers, rocks, notes, hilarious coincidences I know are not, but for the masses, pretend.
I hate to pretend but sometimes it is worth it, so when Thelma asked for my Business and Vision plan for our year, I cringed.
She noticed.
I reluctantly and nervously went and retrieved a Mandala I had saved once, a flower I had spent unusual time and energy on, passionately spending time and thought for every color, perfectly sharpened bright pencils, knowing it had significant meaning for me, but not sure why.
I believe I became hypnotized in the process, as Divorcee says I always do, my artistic drive channels when I am passionately creating or avoiding, which for me, is both, all the time.

In my mind, I could see this flower, the symbol of my vision to come, a morphing of big concepts that formed from a tiny center growing through lines of time and experience to take me to my dream, a place only destiny could hold.

I can see it, this destiny, since I was a small girl, making money hustling adults out of painted pieces of wood.

I let them give me the price, all cute and adorable, aware adults gave more than I asked for, the big coins were best, that the dollar with the five on it was awesome, a thing I knew cause Mrs. Shirley was hesitant, looking for the ones, unable to find one.
I kept it in a special drawer since it had made her squirm to give it, so certainly it was a sign my wood was painted perfectly.

“Who buys painted wood?” I wondered, amazed at the fact being less than 3 feet tall came with such power.

I can feel it, in the hairs on my arms, the pumping of my heart beat, the way I spin when something inside SCREAMS to go this way or that way, a nail on the chalkboard announcing a person of importance present, all the logical people busily making lists.
I wanted to put it up and let it speak for itself, but for me, used to living on Planet Earth, knows the way of its people, and so, I muttered that this was just a symbol I wanted, that I was coming up with concrete ideas and goals to write around, above, and below it.
She stared.
And stared.
“What?” I felt like my skin melted and had suddenly exposed my true nature, that she was about to reach for a big machine and blast me with green slime, proving even to me, that I was Alien, and perhaps, I would be relieved.

She opened her mouth, shut it, opened it, and instead as if to change her mind, went to her bag, opened it calmly, grabbed a book and tossed it at me.
“Like this?” she asked.
In front of me, in a real book was my flower, in the same colors and form exactly, the title was called no other than, “The Creative Entrepreneur.”

I don’t think I still believe it, reading it and rereading it, carrying it everywhere I go, a reminder that someone just saw me, the real me, and said not only are you okay, but your a fucking millionaire, a creative, and here is how to go be one.

I think it has become my Bible, my strength and fuel when asked why I don’t want to learn after not knowing how to get to a house with a GPS repeatedly, and so, I hold it close, thrilled, amazed, grateful, humbled.

Thelma, both creative and logical wondered at this, an amazing gift she has, a book she had searched and searched to find, bought years before, uncertain as to why she couldn’t begin, her most logical conclusion being that she had not found the perfect journal.

“What if in the world of logic, there is another way that people learn, one that cannot be measured and so it has not been really understood? What if I were to document your process with the book, the mandala, and research the way you learn and create as we go down this path so that we can use it to teach other Creatives how to tap into their own success?”
At that moment, my Spirit felt as if it had just eaten White Chocolate Reeses Cups for the first time, so richly wonderful and satisfied but wanting more, all at the same time. Visions of me taking tests with 4 bubble holes to shade in answers that would determine if I were going to college, my stomach in knots, my head sweating, throat closing.

The logical people always finished those damn things so quickly, irritated and waiting outside of class, kidding with me I took forever, my eyes could barely close at night from fear of failing and so I studied and memorized and pushed, my gifts never quite good enough.

What if, somewhere, another person could see me open my own closed and heartbroken flower, a mandala is said to be the symbol of wholeness, the person attracted to it is searching to be an individual while growing with the very workings of nature, patterns and rhythms proven by Carl Jung. Mandalas enable the mind to enter a meditative state, working out issues through subconscious thoughts and repeating circles, dealing with real obstacles by choosing colors, releasing blocks the conscious mind is unaware of. What if this has not all been in vain?

What if she is right? What if I need her to voice to logic through research and determination what I want to say and shout but turn away from, my own heart broken failures prove they are right and I am wrong, a research my heart can’t stand to bleed for.
What if they can’t help not knowing what they are as much as me, a cycle “starving artists” no longer need, drugs and disorders are not given to people of logic, which by the way, if I had my way, anyone who organizes manuals from before 2005 and files them in order and in perfect labels needs meds.
That would be Divorcee, my complete logical half, and thank God, or I would have lost Lola in the mall by now.
Just saying.
Or what if I just release me, the real me, to the world, not to afraid to be wounded but free to fly, the brilliant worthy genius artist, air, returning to myself, to nature, to art, to destiny.
I think I might be afraid, persecuted, resisted, teased, but what if, just what if, I am believed?

It looks like I need some wood, some paint, and Thelma, because I got work to do.

Important work so when you logical people ask and I reply that I am coloring and stenciling in the meaning of ADD, a hoax drug companies have used to entrap and destroy the very thing that brought them great joy in art but named it a disease, just nod, smile, reach for your planner and write it down.

I need references to free my people, so take out a #2 pencil, a bubbly test, do not look around and cheat.
Know that something is being restored, and thank you for the logic, a mind map I know is as completely whole as I am, that I only respect and hope to make it proud, and when I roll in the dough, the big money that came through avenues that were told impossible and illogical, I will just repeat Lola and say,
“Best Recognize.”

…………
Just to prove a point, what logical sane human being lives likes this?
Only a flower who needs words, colors, patterns and doors where windows go, art where closet doors go.
Only me.
Here is my room, the “Happy Wall” where everyone visits, must write a happy thought, or visit the “Shadow Wall” which is behind the bed, for all fears and hurtful comments are shed, the door is removed, and no curtains are needed.
For the logical ones, here is the proof 🙂

 

 

Dreaming

To know someone deeply is to know what their dreams are made of.

I have been thinking a lot about dreams, yours and mine, the ones I have carried my entire life, tucked securely away in the pockets of my heart.

We don’t know if we can endure the pain, fear, doubt, and failure, but we learn to persevere, to hope, to climb.

It is the best part of being alive to see our dreams come into existence, to have that baby placed in our arms, to find the partner you dared hope for, to have that diploma, that business, to be the reason a child reads his first book.

I remember being a young thing in Charleston, the place I love with all my being, riding in the car with the man who would soon be my husband. We were driving over the Folly Connector, the windows down, my feet out the window, his hand on my knee.

The sunset was more beautiful than usual, leaving us to our thoughts, and he looked into the rear view mirror, back at me and smiled.

Soon you are going to be my wife. Can you believe it?” I took a deep breath from excitement.

“And one day,” he said, “we will be on this same bridge, but we are going to look back and see not just one car seat, but two.

He said it more like a fact and although it was a concept I couldn’t conceive of at the time, I nodded happily, placing my head softly on his shoulder.

And so here, with this thought, began the birth of our dream.

The birth of that dream brought two beautiful girls, friendship, family, pain, joy, death, love, destruction, and transformation. It was our dream, and God did we fight for it, both of us stubborn and neither willing to admit defeat, not to something we wanted and created in the first place.

We didn’t know yet how to let go so instead, there was kicking, screaming, fighting, crying, pleading, avoiding, and ultimately, leaving.

I realize now I was almost willing to die in order to keep a dream alive.

I am learning to dream again and I feel a lot like a lost little child trying to find her way home. It is a painful beautiful process to know myself deeply.

For all the dreams I have lost, I want to tell them they were beautiful, that they mattered, that they made me the woman I am today. I have new dreams to make, some bursting at the seams, others just forming thoughts or questions in my mind.

I want to tell all my new dreams that I need courage, perseverance, and a lot of hope. I am done dusting away the old, and in my heart, on top of a lot of tears and finally a smile, have placed one big welcome mat.

Spirituality is a Biatch

It has taken me 32 years to realize I am indeed a spiritual person no matter how hard I have fought that fact. I grew up in a lot of religion and dogma, feeling completely suffocated in youth groups where teenagers were swaying and holding hands pledging their virginity while most were doing it in church parking lots right after. I cut off the religious part of me completely and used it as a reason to rebel only to find I was even that more entrenched in curiosity about what I believe about God and why the hell we are on this planet to begin with.

It has been an exhausting, amazing, thrilling, defeating ride.

The last few years I have been a kind of closet Oprah book fan, reading everything Tolle, Zukov, Chopra, or New Age in concept. I have studied Numerology and Astrology, opening myself up to amazing healing modalities, meditation, Reiki energy and learning everything I can possibly know about angels, guides, and saints. I believe I have had some amazing experiences and have taken bits and pieces of all religions to form my own path, and at the end of the day, the more I seem to know, the more I see how I don’t know one damn thing..

Like Desire, for instance. The Buddhists believe to be enlightened means to be living a life without desire so who in the hell wants to be enlightened then? I’m absolutely certain life would be perfectly great without suffering so therefore we should practice non attachment and blah blah blah blah. Sure there would be no suffering if we never desire anything but I really like my grande white chocolate mocha frappacino light with whip add a shot. I really like the idea of losing my mind in the bedroom to a man who gets the artistry of fool proof foreplay, and I know my mom would surely be disappointed to see her children not break into full out war over her soft baked chocolate chip cookies just coming out of the oven.

Like Clyde says, “Why not just be a rock then?”

I have learned a lot about these spiritual principles and I believe in them, I really do. Maybe one day I will be able to sit in the Lotis position, discard all thoughts that will bring me to feel suffering, and love will pour from every fiber of my being, and I will become one with the Universe.

Until that day, I kind of like chocolate Reeses peanut butter cups.

And I want to feel alive, swept away, overfed, and I want a man to break out into full out waves of despair at the idea of me being with anyone other than him. I want to be loved selfishly, over drink occasionally, and cry when my children leave me to start Kindergarten and second grade. I want them to need me forever.

I guess I would rather hurt than feel nothing at all…

And yes, I am going to eat that piece of cake and regret it later, kiss a boy who could eventually rip my heart out, see my children grow into women who need me less and less, and when they leave for that first day of college, I want to fall on the bed and cry like my life is over, the way my mom did when I left. Bleeding, loving, dying, fighting, praying, fucking, crying, laughing, suffering… I have a long way to go to enlightenment.

And that folks, is just alright with me.

Grief Observed

Yesterday I watched tenderly as a very old lady on a busy intersection, cane in hand, placed a stuffed teddy bear at the foot of a simple white wooden cross.

I was at a busy traffic light, on my way to work, and felt very much like an intruder, a witness to the horrific grief this woman was experiencing, tears flowing down her wrinkled cheeks, teddy bear being patted, picked up, placed down, and up again.

She couldn’t seem to make up her mind which direction of the cross the teddy bear should face and at one point, she just sat on the ground, staring, the teddy bear on her lap.

I wanted to open my door, ignore the honking people trying to get here and there to just sit with her, hold her hand, offer up a tissue or a hug. Instead, the light turned green and I can’t shake the image of her out of my head, as I said goodbye from my rear view mirror, watching as she took her hands off the bear and on to the cross itself, shaking from obvious sobs of grief.

I don’t know what happened or who this woman loved and lost. I want to tell her that she touched me, that she is forever connected to my soul, reminding me that death is part of being human, something we all have or will face. When you strip it all away, I am a breathing, loving, grieving soul, just like her.

So, I thank you, little old lady on Hwy 141 with hair in pink handkerchief, cane in hand.

I promise to pause and say a prayer for you when I pass by your white cross where you lost someone you obviously love so much. I am sure they were better for being loved by you.