Friday, July 26, 2013

This moment. Begonias.

All day I have had a stress headache from thinking and analyzing.  I have been trying to stop but those of you who know what it's like to have your brain really run know that sometimes you can't just think, "Stop! Calm down."  I was at work all day and tried to find moments of stillness.  Moments where I could try to give my brain space to relax. I tried some mindfulness meditation.  I tried looking up calming landscapes.  I tried reading about calming the mind.  By 5pm my head was aching, spinning and oh so congested.

What do I do the moment I get out of work? I call someone.  My sister, Bel, one of my best friends.  We talk and its great but when she says I have to go its ok because my head still hurts.  The moment she hangs up I realize that I am totally and completely alone in this moment.  For the first time in a long, long time.

I've had my son for the summer and when I didn't have him I was working.  I was never just with myself. I wasn't texting with anyone or waiting on texts, I wasn't chatting with someone through Facebook or gmail, I wasn't reading something, I wasn't trying to be "productive" or "healthy." There was no agenda for the moment I was experiencing.  It didn't have a name and was staring me straight in the face.

What I wanted to do was throw something at it.  Write! Clean! Yoga! Run! SLEEP! But I caught myself.  I said, wait.

What if I just stared at this moment and breathed it in, as may Acting 1 professor, James Rice, would say.

What if I just looked at it straight in the face, in this moment, and said, I see you.

I let my eyes fall on the potted begonia plant in front of me.  I took it in.

Not with any kind of message or purpose or thought.
Just breathing it in. Begonia. Pink. Leaves.
Breathing out.

After a few moments, I felt a shift. My soul, not my body, not my brain, released. Just a little.  A little tension, a little bunched up stress that was being held in my soul, released.  In that moment of alone-ness and just-me-ness, I let go.

It was like easing into cold water.

Like, "Here we go. Yep. It's cold. It's water. Cold - water."

I wanted to stay in this present moment but watch it move.  So I decided to draw.  I took out my sketchpad and a pencil.

I breathed into each stroke. When I wanted to erase something, I cleared away more tension. I felt like I was sketching and stroking away my anxiety, my fear and my sadness onto the page before me.  Sketching it out and turning into something...for me.

Because it's for me, it becomes something beautiful, out of nowhere.  It doesn't matter what it looks like anymore.

As I start to look at the drawing it doesn't become a representative of what doesn't work or what looks "bad" but what it meant to me - emotionally, spiritually and physically - to create it.

Expression doesn't have to be public. Expression, of art, of thought, of struggle, can just be for you, too.  I'm making this public to encourage the personal, the individual, the private pursuit of expression. Of connection. To yourself. Through art. Through expression. Through experience.

We are here to connect. To ourselves first and foremost because we live in a world where connection to the self, by and large, is not encouraged.  But also, to the world around us. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Kid in You

I have been thinking a lot about babies and birth and rights and abortion and being a kid.

What happens to the kid in you when you "become" an adult.

Is it as easy as saying, I'm an adult now? Not a kid? No more kid in me!  All adult.

When you make such a declaration, what are you often asked to do? Show it! So many of us spend a lot of time showing ourselves and everyone else around us how adult we are. How responsible, how well we manage time, how long we can pay attention.  It's an abrupt shift.  That happens at different times socially for women than it does for men.  We are children and then we are adults.  There is no transition period. We are judged and held accountable immediately after this artificial, socially defined boundary between child and adult is drawn. Whether we are ready for it or not.  For me, that came early.  When I became a mother.  At 19.

But really, we never "stop" being kids.  Even as parents.

I had a revelation today. I've been an "adult" for quite some time.  I have a seven year old child and have been supporting myself since I moved out of my parent's house at 17.  The emphasis on adulthood is actually quite comical, given the fact that once we are adults and have settled into it, what do we want most?  To be a kid!

As I mentioned, I have a seven year old and God forbid he be called a baby.  Yet, he wants to fall asleep next to me and doesn't trust himself to turn the hot water on in the shower on his own because he's afraid it'll get hot too fast. And, at the same time, wants so badly to be big. To be an adult. Not a kid.

Where does he get this idea that it's better to be an adult than a kid. Why does he yearn for it?
Why is being a kid something our kids want to escape?

A kid talks more about this idea here.

How do we look at ourselves? As adults? As once-were kids?

What if we valued the parts of our childhood that helped us be better adults?
Or, better yet, better people?

The funny thing about being an adult, is we think that we lose our kid selves.

But we don't.
If we follow societal norms, we just silence them.
Because, our kid thoughts and ideas don't usually represent what society values.

Yet, "kid perspectives" are also valued as fresh, unadultrated and new.

What do our parents, teachers and society do if not try to instill us with different ways of looking at the world....yet, much of what many of us learn comes from our kid instincts, our own places of deep curiosity.  From birth we are trying to figure out the world around us.  Are we smart? Fat? Silly? High Strung? Annoying? Cute? Before we realize the structure of society around us, we are just us.

Yes, we cater to our parent's laughter, the criticism of society and approval from our teachers because they feed us!  And we love them.  But mostly we are just learning, soaking up information.

As adults, many of us squash thoughts that encourage authentic thinking outside the box.  Most people feel most comfortable if they know how and where they fit in society.  I am smart so I get good grades.  I am funny and so I tell jokes.  I am the eldest so I need to be a good role model, etc.

Now, that's not to say everyone follows these ideas blindly but how we react to what society places on us thus determines our identity and how we'd like to be seen.  So, in this way we choose who we are based on the feedback we get from those around us, by and large.

I'd like to ask more adults to be more childish!  To encourage curiosity and silly questions!  To not listen to the feedback society gives us on how to be. To value the part of you that first beheld this world and to think, that you as a child, actually had a lot of wisdom.  Fresh perspective that's important. Especially now.

Curious about how you can tap into your kid-self? Especially if that's a part of you you thought you'd shut away forever? Treat yourself as you would your child.  With as much love, patience and understanding as you can muster.  If you don't have a child, how about your best friend's baby?

With respect, with love, without judgement.  With encouragement.  Too many of us treat ourselves and our impulses with repudiation, judgement and negative criticism.  And that's not from us. We learn that. Maybe that's why so many people are unhappy as adults...we are telling ourselves, as adults who used to be kids, that our ideas are stupid, that we aren't enough.

Perhaps if we loved each other first as children, we'd be less judgemental, less insecure and less angry.

Kids are in this moment.  That's all they know.  And they forgive, easily. They understand that things are always changing and we're all trying to adjust, trying to manage, trying to flow.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

At Knife Point

This is what started this blog. The beginning of this journey.

For years, a little girl lived naked
bunched down in hiding
and exposed

Something happened a long time ago
She doesn't talk so no one knows
stuck in fear
in memory
she didn't grow

Hiding her body
only behind what she could create
with her arms wrapped around her knees

She was there, in the open
not behind a wall
or even the crumbling facade of anything
that once was

On an open ground
full of dirt

After years, she didn't want for anything
not for food
not for water

she'd forgotten how to speak

what was once was, erased
after years of nothing
except darkness and fear


Something happened a long time ago
She doesn't talk so no one knows
stuck in fear
in memory
she didn't grow

she never looked up, she never looked back
staring at the ground
in dirt and silence
shadows of the outside world
crossed her over

Seeing the shadows,
she sometimes remembered light
even if faintly
as it flickered away

She had been holding on
so long
wrapping her arms
around her little knees

did she know how, to let go

She was tucked away, lost to me
Locked away in a room
in my heart
a room always dark

It started as protection
she was so hurt, violated
and I didn't know how to heal her

the more I tried
the more I cried

I felt alone

no one understood

we were both little then
she felt so much

I tried to be her mom
but I was just a girl
little myself
trying to move forward
because life is fast

I tried to hold her
but I didn't know how to hold such pain
how to not let it consume

We were so little
I didn't know how to let her feel

how to make her feel better

and it hurt

so I locked her away

too little to know

I thought I was protecting her
protecting me

by shutting her out
by locking me away


the little me
the hurt me
the scared me

Time passed
part of me kept growing
learning how to be

without her

she was stuck
time stood stale
shadows passing her by

But then -

something happened

In a moment
I saw her

something took me back to her
to the ground
the dirt

her nakedness
- how small she was
- how scared
- how empty

I fell to my knees, crying

On my knees, I felt the ground

Touching the ground
I saw her

knees bunched up
knees to the ground

dirty and still

20 years.

There she was

the first me
the little me
the me most connected
to what came before
most open
most new

Hiding in fear. Stuck and alone

but also, all of a sudden
knees to the ground

I saw her surrounded
by angry people

They weren't touching her
but someone had

a long time ago
touched her
in places connected
to her deepest self
her deepest part
her source

Something happened a long time ago
She doesn't talk so no one knows
stuck in fear
in memory
she didn't grow

I saw the people around her, angry
with pitchforks and knives
and sharp things

angry, so angry at her
little her,
dirty and still

They wanted to hurt her
kill her
see blood
- this was her life
surrounded in pain, in fear
she had succumbed to it
not moving
dirty and still

My 25 year old heart - dropped

like my knees to the ground
in pain
in loss
in sadness

Something happened a long time ago.
She doesn't talk so no one knows.
stuck in fear
in memory
she didn't grow

I came to her through someone else
I had forgotten
she was even there

A message from a woman I hadn't heard from
in decades
a woman who was once a girl

who I had known

A message from once upon a time
from this girl
who my little girl
dirty and still
used to know

The woman was struggling
and writing to connect
a childhood friend from long ago

She was honest and open
sad and angry
feeling lost and alone

Reading her words, I fell to my knees

I felt her sadness
her anger
I felt her loss

my heart stirred
taking me back
to the locked room
and the naked girl

stuck in fear and silence

Seeing her, my little me
for the first time in so long

she moved
I moved

bones and muscles, ancient
motion from stillness

something was stirring from deep, deep down
a memory of movement
that began in her heart

began to spread into her body

a reminder that she had once moved

that her heart had once been full

of things not so static

not so dark

not so scary

In a flash I saw everything and knew everything from before

In a flash, it came back
Knees to the ground, I wept

a long time ago
someone touched her
in places connected
to her deepest self
her deepest part
her source

She was surrounded by pitchforks and knives and daggers

But she moved.

for the first ime
in 20 years

I saw our history and our present all in one moment

Something happened a long time ago.

She doesn't talk so no one knows.

stuck in fear
in memory

she didn't grow

But she moved.

seeing them
the people around her
the pitchforks -
the daggers -

I saw her see them,
screaming and angry

from her heart, she spoke
in cries
piercing and raw

in a language of strength and sorrow

She stood
They yelled
And she stood.

They touched her.
Eyes, wild, knives close.

And she stood.

In that moment, I realized

It was always just an illusion

she was never locked away
just forgotten

she had been with me all along

I had been carrying her
her sadness
her fear
her loss

dirty and still
I saw her

dirty and still
she moved

dirty and still
I was reminded

that we were always one.

In her cries, she opened
In my cries, I embraced her

our cries
washing away the dirt. washing away the still
to make room

for the light
to blast away the shadows

the static
to move

the locked door
to open

the people
the pitchforks
to still

I offered my heart in my hand
amid the chaos
amid the fear
amid the pain
amid the loss

and she took it

Walking away, hand in heart, heart in hand
we haven't let go

remembering the years she was locked away
never again will she be alone

it was just an illusion
to protect her
protect me

but she is me
I am her.

we were always one.

And this is how it began
the journey in finding our way back

to each other

to embracing the parts of ourselves in pain
in sadness
in fear
in loss

heart in hand, we walk, each day
growing deeper in step
toward an understanding of wholeness

that started in the heart