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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Sibling Bang: For My Sisters

"I am here." 

"I know. I watched your plane blaze across the sky as I was exiting the freeway.  I've never timed a pick up so well in my life."

When I was a girl growing up there was a small flower kiosk in the middle of a shopping strip mall near my home.  It stood its own on the corner of two major crossroads with cars that would pass by all day long.  I remember it being a tiny round lime green building with one side open for passerby's to view bright flowers of all varieties and colors spilling over and out of it.  Flowers that sat in buckets.  Tall gladiolas. Deep red roses packaged up tightly waiting for some young buck or a remorseful husband to come by and snatch them up.

I would pass the kiosk daily.  Riding the bus to school I'd watch them open shop- dragging buckets full of water.  Running late to a soccer practice I'd see bright eyes shining out from their respite from the blazing afternoon sun. It was there. I was there. The flowers, the familiar smiling faces, the seemingly endless pavement.  I didn't care that anyone bought me their flowers.  I only cared that this place of business stayed right where it was on a street corner off of Foxworthy and Meridian across from the Shell gas station and the Piggly Wiggly.
It meant the world to me.

My world.

As a child I handled change quite well. I knew even at a young age this was something that one must accept and endure in order to grow.  I can remember when the doughnut shop changed hands and the Woolworths closed up and became the dollar store.  I can remember angered grief over a broken heart.  I was the tiny head pressed close to a bathroom door as the sounds of running water and muffled sobs mingled with the steam that pushed its way through cracks in the door.  Away.  I remember the way the wall felt as I reached my hand across its surface as I was carried half asleep into bed. Safe. I remember a room full of light and loud music. A beehive of life and friends and oohs and aahs over the little sister and her catchy phrases. Laughing and celebrating.  Jewelry, corsets, and clothing everywhere drenched in perfumes that I would lay my downy head against when the lights where turned off and the party moved on and away.

I was there.

I am here now, but I was there.
Some things, like the kiosk, I am unwilling to budge from in my mind.  They cannot change and in a way they never have.  They become landmarks in my mind.  A way for me to connect the dots in this wide world and to remind myself of where I once stood and why. They are what call me back home.

I am here.

I was there but I am here now. 

 I know. 


We are here still.

I am too

we couldn't have timed it more perfectly. 

Most things in life are fleeting.  I came to grips with this fact early.  I was the 2nd youngest of 8 children and by the time I came to a realization of the impermanence of things and people and love I found myself choking on the after burn of my older siblings comets as they blazed across and away from my tiny existence.  But their presence created a strong bond. For it was from this tight nucleus of humans that all my life sprung.  I couldn't help that I missed them before they ever walked out the door.  Leaving to pursue dreams, love, a life away.  But together we lived for a time. Together we were home. And that togetherness for that time meant everything.  

I sensed the sounds their phantomed feet would make upon my soul when they departed. Again and again with more frequency they seemed to go. Some left loudly in a flurry and others like the breeze.  Leaving my eyes clouded as their lights became pinpricks in my existence.  I have always felt stunned by it.  As a child, I couldn't articulate...I didn't know how.  So I would cling to over-sized concert t shirts left behind in recently abandoned closets and fall asleep- a chubby chin on a cold window ledge while I stared at the night sky awaiting their return.

Maybe it's a younger sibling thing, but I've never forgotten.  Those markers from our past connect us to who we are.  What we mean to one another.  So, when I say you mean everything to me, it's because you do. 
You are everything. 

I've followed your example, I've searched out your constellations in my life and held fast.  It's important to me that you know that.  I've grown up and out as we must and I've realized that life is about getting something beautiful born inside of ourselves and sharing it. But I've never forgotten where I came from.  We are made up of the same stars- you and I.

My story is constantly changing because you taught me it is what we do.  So I learned to love a man.  Learned that falling only means having to get back up again.  I found myself on the bathroom floor gasping on steam and tears. I have walked, ran, tumbled my way around mountains and streams, deserts and islands.  I have flown my own comet across the sky. Around the galaxy and back again.  But I remember to pay obeisance to those markers because they are what keep us in orbit- magnetically attracted to one another no matter how far our revolutions take us.  If it were not for our memories I fear that I might collapse in on myself and burn out.
We only get one story but in a way it is our story.  We go away and we come back.  We experience the warmth of summer and the cold hard realities of winter.  We tend our own gardens watching roses bloom and grow like children at play.  Eventually like the hurling of comets when the timing is just right we connect.  Again and again we find each other and life is illuminated into shining moments of brilliance and light. That is when we know we are truly home.

My sisters, you are my everything.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cheryl Strayed On Fear

Hi Friends!  

I came across this video several weeks ago and was going to share then, but forgot.   Definitely this is a great reminder anytime. In fact, every day I need this reminder to shirk off the fear that shadows my progression so that I might become more familiar with the Woman that I want to be. As Mothers, Entrepreneurs, normal everyday humans trying our very best out in the world, it's a great reminder.  As much as we are (or not) surrounded by wonderful friends and family, we are on our own path, alone.  Oftentimes, as Oprah refers to, we are on that path alone and in the dark. It is our challenge and responsibility to find our way in our own way. Cheryl Strayed isn't just a hero to me that showed through her novel, "Wild"  that defeat and despair are not an ending but a tool enabling us to become our very best selves.  She is a survivor.  She is a sister from another mother.  A kindred spirit.  By baring her most personal struggles she has set an example of transcendence through the turmoil.  Acknowledging that the fear, in whatever form, is there and pushing forward  in spite of it shows true bravery and allows us to become stronger and more beautiful human beings.

My favorite, most profound take away from the video:  "I could have run shrieking out of the wilderness and then my trip would have been over."  So true.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm Harvard Bound, Baby! Well, er, kind of...

I'm not trying to toot my own horn here or anything, but I did just register myself for a class through HARVARD, and the great thing is you can too!  Even better:  it's FREE.  Yes, free.  Through Harvardx, an online program, they are offering the course, "Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science".  The course is completely online and with world renowned chefs as our mentors what could go wrong?

I'm seriously so excited!  If you complete the class they send you a certificate from, where else but, HARVARDI mean, come on people.  That thing will be goin' up on the kitchen wall for sure when I get done.  

"I knows how to cook, bitches.  Harvard says so!"

Did I mention it's free?  Ya, you needs to be getting on this.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's a Pomegranate, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Wrap!

There is nothing else in terms of food that triggers the Fall season for me like pomegranates. They are so beautiful and fun to eat. When I was a girl my Mom would send me out to the front porch with a whole pomegranate to have my way with.  I'd bite into it's thick skin, sinking my teeth into the flesh until I'd come into contact with the sweet fruit- it's juices running down my chin.

You don't have to open your pomegranate that way though.  A knife works as well.  Once you have opened it you can dig into those tangy clusters with your fingers and extract the exquisite dark pink prisms of deliciousness (the seeds).  This to me is the funnest part.  Having your fingers (and in my case mouth) stained by its tangy, sweet, rich, and flavorful seeds makes me feel like a kid again.

So I've started up with the healthy eating.  Before you start throwing a tantrum about it hear me out.  I feel so totally awesome when I am eating the right way.  Once my body cleanses itself of the confusing toxins that are found in most processed foods heavily laden in fats and preservatives I have a closer relationship with it.  If I listen carefully and don't shove things into it that will make me instantly happy, it actually will tell me what it needs.

Listen to me becoming the body whisperer or some such nonsense!

In this case I speaketh truth though, so word.

This idea came to me after my workout while I was perusing the vegetable section at my local grocery store.  It's super easy, very delicious, and surprisingly satisfying.

Pomegranate Spinach and Goat Cheese Wrap

  • Handful of Spinach, chopped
  • Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • Carrot Strips
  • Red Onion, chopped
  • Pomegranate Seeds (sliced apples are really yummy as a substitute!)
  • Tortilla (For this I used Somona's Gluten Free Wheat Free Wrap)
  • Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Simply take ingredients and layer according to desired amount.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and balsamic. Now that's a Wrap!  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Summer's Lullaby

I hear you Fall. You've grown tired of our gallivanting with summer, I know. We've been running around the rooms of life loud and raucous with sand in our hair and dirt on our feet and you've had enough.  You've come in quickly- surprising our play with your boots heavy and wet throwing your weight around. I hear you and understand your relevancy. 

But please,

Just 5 more minutes

One more story

One last memory to set ablaze and warm me when winter strips the last colored leaf and I retreat under thick covers to rest.

'Early bedtimes now,' you say in your smoke filled voice but I can still taste the crayfish on my tongue and feel the warmth of a burning sun in my chest.  I cannot go just yet. My knees ache from climbing dusty trails flush with ivy. My heart still thrills at the sweeping views of a majestic world crowned in golden sunshine. My throat grows parched at the memory of how my soul was filled many times over by the roaring of waterfalls powering their way over cliffs or the gurgling of streams as they flowed by bare feet. 

I don't have time to sleep.

I'm not ready.

I cannot go.
I will not.



'Come Child,' you say through heavy lidded eyes.  The hour grows late and it is harvesting time.  With this season comes wisdom and joyous reflection.  You have been running around being everyone elses girl, now is the time to be your own.  Rest and grow.  Be still.  There will be apples come morning and fires in the hearth and spices in warm cups and bright orange pumpkins huge on the vine.

But what of the cold? What of the wet and the hard earth?  What of bent and snapping branches where swings once hung?  What about everything growing old and withered?  What of death?

I'm afraid of the ending of things.

Don't go.

'Hush' you say an aged and rough hand soothing my trembling back. There will be more stories for you to breathe life into but for now you must rest.'  Compare me to a summers day? 'You are too rich and deep with all of life to consider such similarities.'  I will compare you to the changing leaves, thick woolen sweaters, and the harvest moon so full and bright, my daughter.  Spread your roots deep and close your blue eyes and I promise to sing you a summer lullaby...

*I should add this is a video my daughter took of my Mommy and I singing a lullaby on the way back from the Oregon Coast this summer that she had sung to her as a girl, and she sang to me as a girl, and now a song that I sing to my children.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Little Earthquakes

Man last week was dark, yo.

Do you ever have one of those weeks where everything looks calm on the surface but inside there is a monster of a storm brewing, ready to open up?  And not like the cute little bear rain cloud with Christopher Robin "Tut-tutting it looks like rain" like in Winnie the Pooh.  
Oh, nonononono no.  

Like, massive raging torrents of a storm cloud hovering above filled to the brim with black yucky outer blackity-blackness just waiting to spill over.  It is not a pretty sight.  And you know, well I tried.  Really, but I could not pull myself out of it.  Of course I had a really nasty cold- but most of the household had it and wasn't struggling like I was.

I'm pretty sure it all began with Breaking Bad two Sundays ago.  The scene with Walter and Skyler reeeeeeally messed me up, Friends.  Like for reals.  I sat there watching completely stunned at the violence displayed between that couple like a waking nightmare replaying itself in front of me and completely broke down.  I tried to hold it together until I got to the bathroom and barely made it while tears and sobs wracked my body.  I couldn't speak, I couldn't articulate anything- only cry and cry and cry some more.  There was no way of recovering from that for me.  So I came out and displayed my misery for my poor husband who just gathered me up in his arms and held me shaking, while I cried more and more.  Sobbing snot and tears into his shoulder, I was inconsolable.  He mentioned something about post traumatic stress and that I was safe and that everything was alright. But I couldn't stop.  It was really very strange for me and I felt awful and embarrassed that my Husband had to see me like that.

I am not whole.
I am still broken.

But I woke up in the morning and told myself that I was alright.  That everything that scene represented was behind me and that I was okay.  So I pushed through until my body started turning on me, reminding me that I was still very much not okay.  My head became a pulsing mass pounding, my nose and sinuses closed themselves off from fresh air, while my throat- raging- threatened to smother me by internal strangulation.  I whimpered in my sleep and slept fitfully.  One night I awoke, choking on tears and phlegm, crying out from a dream that The Ex was sitting on my chest strangling me while my Husband, in real time, tried desperately to soothe me.  

Then I turned into a tyrant.  The house is a mess.  The kids are out of control.  The weed on the side of the house that I asked to get weed whacked a year ago is now taller than me. No one wants to contribute!  No one listens to me!  No one cares!!

In my miserable state I would throw out lazy half apologies that, "I'm just so sick,"  which I totally was, but I was also very much just not okay.  Instead of taking a break and expressing myself honestly that I hurt, have unresolved trauma, am scared, and tons of other emotions- I tried to control every last aspect of my household.  Pick up your toys!  Clean your room! No if ands or buts!  Do it!  Do it right now! 
I had become the rain cloud and everyone scattered when I swept into the room.

I can totally see now how people with clinical depression get stuck in a cycle of misery and self loathing.  I felt like Fat Bastard from Austin Powers. I'm sad because I'm unhappy and I'm unhappy because I am so sad...
Poor Fat Bastard.  I feel you.

I had convo's with myself in my head about how I could pull myself out of it.

'Make your own happy, M!  Come on' you got this!  Just rest a little it will be alright!  You're just sick it will get better!'

But, oddly, that only made me want to punch myself in the face.

Like I said, I was f#@ked up.

Then I discovered one morning amidst it all that either my black hearted soul was trying to exercise itself out of my body or I was having my period.  Unfortunately it was the latter which compounded my venomous mood and piled on top of it a good helping of emotions.  So Sunday evening I went from watching the Emmy's and being resentful and hurt that Robin Williams had gotten older without asking my permission first, despised Sofia Vergara for her perfect perfectness, wanted to stab my eyes and ears out with my galaxy s4 while listening to Carrie Underwood sing "Yesterday" (don't do it) to falling head over heals in love with  Merrit Weaver after her acceptance speech.  Then, on revealing the death of Queen Elizabeth's mother on HBO's "The White Queen",  I completely lost it again and ended Sunday evening weeping into my pillow because her mother loved her and understood her better than anyone else and now she was dead. Dead, dead, dead and Queen Elizabeth was all alone in a house full of enemies and spies...

So in the morning, still not feeling well,  I resolved myself to not being beaten down by my circumstance.  I painted my nails and made an appointment to get my hairs did, and looked into the process of getting myself a chemical peel because, well, if I ripped off my old ugly face, of course a refreshingly beautiful and happy one would take its place, right?

No, duh.  Of course not.  At the age of 35 (eep!) I know what it takes to make myself happy and show myself love but in wanting things right now, I forget that there is a process in place and it takes a hella long time.  There will be moments of coasting along and little earthquakes that shake you up and remind you that there is still work to be done.  My therapist was super good at reminding me that I couldn't force things to happen immediately.  Appreciation is key. Appreciating where you are and how far you have come. Taking time to listen to yourself honestly.  Your needs. "Life is one big balancing act" as Dr. Suess has said wisely, and I'm learning to try not to mix up my right foot with the left.


"It's a long road ahead."

Song of the day (turn it up and love her as much as I do. Because I do, soooooo):  Tori Amos, "Little Earthquakes"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Eyes Wide Shut and Divorce through the Rearview

I know how it feels to live with your eyes wide shut.  To live with the silent incessant fear that if you really opened them to the reality that surrounded you- you might find yourself drowning in it.

I understand now how one stays.  How even during the pain, the lies, and the heartache one finds calm in the violence. Like a fish caught from a fresh flowing stream to be tossed out on the shore left with its rainbow scales to turn brown and crispy under the heat of the sun you lay gasping- wide eyes fixed on the lively rushing of the river moving past and away.   

We are watching/waiting to catch a glimse- a glimmer of who he once masqueraded as being so that once again we might be saved.  But like the shimmering changes of a river that person is an illusion. We make excuses, we offer up food,  our time, our bodies in order to satiate their ravenous spirits but it is never enough.  They always want more.

I remember when things really started falling apart I played the Indigo Girls, "Ghost" on repeat. It's funny how you get fixated on such things when every thing else is so out of control.  At the time I didn't understand why I felt such an affinity to the song.  It calmed me and made me feel okay.  Last week when I went with a friend to the Indigo Girls concert, they sang it, and it was the first time I had allowed myself to hear it in 5 years. It was such a shock to all of my senses that immediately tears sprung to my eyes and I felt myself recoiling to that place and time where old specters still haunt...
I can still see him like it was yesterday, as my foot like led collapsed onto the gas and the car squeeled away from the curb. He seemed on fire- a demon all sharp teeth and wild eyes spewing venom and acid from his lips.  A nightmare incarnate.  The worst of all kinds of monsters under the bed that I as a child, could never have even fathom existed, and I wondered in that moment how I ever held his hand. How, instead of cowering in a closet, I could have ever laid with him side by side and felt any sense of real safety.

If it had not been for the pounding of my heart beating in my head and the sweat that spread to pools beneath my tensed shoulders I would have thought myself already gone.  Given myself up to the ashen pyre that he threatened to drag me down into-

His hell.

I remember thinking that perhaps  I was already dead.  My hands were cold.  So, so, cold like ice frozen to the steering wheel. A dead woman driving like a bat out of hell with her eyes barely able to open from living under a decade of shit.  The rigor of what felt like lifetimes settling into joints much too young to be feeling so much pain. 

Then a tiny voice from the backseat like a shot in the dark bringing me back into reality, "Mommy, is everything alright?" and in that instant, like a hit of adrenaline to my heart, my mind and body started functioning together.  

Keep your course.  Know your destination.  Everything is going to be alright.

The shrill rings of my cell phone matched the shivers that convulsed through my body and I made those simple promises with myself. Keep your course.  Know your destination.  Everything is going to be alright.  But even as I saw his personage through the rear view getting smaller- his presence, distorted, was there in and all around me.  His voice screaming daggers through the air with eminent  threats of harm from the black speaker clasped between my now sweating palms.

I couldn't breathe and I found myself growing weak.

Sensing weakness he cut of his cries and soothed his words with feigned remorse and love.  What he didn't realize is that I had already crossed over.  With the veil lifted from my eyes I saw that this love only killed me inside.

He was the Prince of Darkness who, under a guise, had snuck into my room when I was just a child  and clipped my wings with hollowed words of love and protection he could only profess to know. I was my only salvation.  Feeling his sickness seeping through the cracks of this cocoon I had built up around myself and my precious cargo I knew better than to stop and give in.  Stopping meant only death by consumption. 

Keep your course.  Know your destination.  Everything is going to be alright.  

I know what it's like to emerge on the other side with eyes wide open.  To cheat the death of ones soul.  To live knowing that this life is your own.  I know what it's like to see the light at the end of the tunnel-  and it is beautiful.