kindness · progress · stagnation

It’s okay, boo.

8.15.18In finishing Pamela Druckerman’s new book, There Are No Grown-Ups, I’ve been reflecting on her discussion and research of Widsom.  (Yes! There is scientific inquiry into “wisdom” and what makes someone wise.)  Wisdom, as my summer plane-read tells it, is the combination of experience and reflection with an ability to extrapolate that information forward.

As I take in the state of my physical home and body since I arrived back from my 5 weeks away, I notice several things that are not unusual:  a sinkful of dishes, full-to-burst recycling, and an absolute absence of physical exercise.

What is unusual is that I know that this is temporary.  

I have tended in the past to make such “horrors” mean something about me, and to mean something about the condition of my future.  I extrapolate this state of chaos and sedentariness to be a permanent stagnation that will forever impact the rest of my beating life!

Luckily, today I know that this is not the case.  I know that my physical states reach low periods during transitions or hard emotional times, and I have seen them change!

When several months ago, as my relationship was in devolution and my boyfriend was still living here, I drove home from work, sat on the couch, and read Game of Thrones for 4 hours.  Every day.  For weeks.

I didn’t “want” to be spending my time that way.  I kicked myself for “wasting my life.”  I feared this meant I would never have ambition, never make progress in my life.  But in retrospect, I know that it was my way of coping with the circumstances, and I saw it change very quickly once the parting was imminent.

I have had periods of time where I binge on baking shows, novels, pinterest.  I have also had periods when I walk every afternoon, go to the gym, run regularly…or even do art.  I have even had times when I wash my dishes every evening and arise to a clean kitchen every morning.

So, what I know, and what is bringing me relief at the moment, is that my physical chaos/stagnation is just a blip.  It’s just a manner of self-soothing.  And I get to be kind to it today.  I get to say, “Hey guy, you’re clearly having a lot of feelings right now, but don’t worry, they will pass.”  My home will again be clean, my body will again feel strong.  And my life is and will again feel one of progress, I promise.

I’m so grateful for the chance to use my wisdom—experience, reflection, extrapolation—to offer kindness to myself.  Because I have never once nagged or bad-mouthed myself into or out of a damn thing anyway.

 

 

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change · kindness · love

Almond milk of human kindness

3.9.18.jpg

“Allow yourself to give yourself a comforting thought,” said Deepak Chopra in the Oprah meditation today.

I’m re-listening to the Manifesting True Success 21-day meditation, since it was so dense and rich (pun intended).  Day 5 is about the “Successful Mind,” and how we can beat ourselves up and punish ourselves so badly for our own perceived failures.

To echo yesterday’s blog, what growth is there in that?  What newness of thought?  What inspiration comes from the same well-worn habits of mind?

If I begin to note the thoughts I have throughout the day about myself and about others, how kind are they?  I want in myself and in my partner the quality of kindness; I’ve written it repeatedly on the list of things I want to attract, in a romance or a friend.  But when I pause, I note that there’s a litany of thoughts that are less than supportive, kind, and loving.  They’re not scathing and awful (all the time), but they are limiting and diminishing.  These thoughts do steal my oomph.

So, if I allow myself the gift of a comforting thought, I will get the benefit of holding that thought along with the unknown, unintended benefits of oomph as well.

What joy is there to be had when the thoughts begin to turn?

*Short blog post today. Relationship come-to-jesus conversations dominate the morning time; not bad, just … hard. Xo,m.

acting · action · change · commitment · confidence · kindness · laughter · life · performance · persistence · progress · recovery · relationships · self-support · sobriety · time

For those of you playing along at home. . .

For those of you playing along at home, below are a few
updates on things I have here written about:
  • The
    caffeine-reduction experiment has been a near-fail since beginning the
    temp job, but continues to remind me to feel guilty.
  • I realized this morning that the free bus I sometimes catch to BART can take me all the
    way to the city, instead of transferring to BART (thank you to my school’s
    student bus pass, making bus transit in the East Bay free).
  • I put
    back up the series of my paintings that I’d taken down during Calling in
    the One
    , at which time I’d realized that women
    not looking at their lovers was something I wanted to move away from. I
    put them back up when the okJew was potentially going to come over, and I
    didn’t want a blank expanse of wall over my bed. I’m not sure if I’ll take it back down. 
  • I have
    not yet finished, but I have begun, the art project for my friend’s
    wedding. It sits on my desk, accusing me.
  • I
    bought cat food.
  • I graduated with a Master’s degree a month ago. And I was offered a weekend job at said pet food store. Generously offered (not the compensation), but no thank you. Not yet, at least.
  • I have
    art that I need to make for the September art show my friend invited me to
    join. I’m not sure what I’ll do, but it’s been backstroking through my
    psyche for a month or so.
  • I must
    follow-up with the boss at where I’m temping to ask her precisely what she
    meant when she said she would be happy to give me “a recommendation” for
    auction houses here and in the city (um, I meant NY city – I guess that habit still dies hard).
  • My dad
    will be closing on the sale of my childhood NJ home in the next month or
    so, and is planning to move with his fiancé to their new Florida home
    toward the fall.
  • I am
    eagerly awaiting June 20th, when the results of the daily
    sweepstakes I’ve been entering for a trip for two to Italy will be
    announced. You may be the lucky winner.
  • My
    writing style is influenced by who I’m reading currently.
  • At the
    moment, I just finished Nora Ephron’s new book, and began a collection of
    essays by David Foster Wallace, whom I’ve never read, but seen the
    author’s name so many times on my BART rides that I thought to give him a
    whirl. I’m not sure I will continue.
  • I will
    be art modeling this Sunday for the artist who I first worked for, and two
    of her friends. I’m not sure I will continue.
  • I have
    9 new voicemails I haven’t checked.
  • I went
    on the walk I’d planned to take on Tuesday evening yesterday evening, and
    it was glorious. I ate what must have been a small, cherry-sized peach,
    unless it was of course, a cherry, from a nearby tree which I jumped to
    pluck from the low hanging branch. I’m not dead, so it was not poisonous.
  • As
    soon as I get paid this cycle, I’m going to register for the summer acting
    classes at A.C.T., and I can’t f’ing wait. I looked up all manner of
    electronics yesterday that I could hypothetically use my more regular
    income of the next 6 weeks to purchase, and yet, I realized that what I
    really want are those lessons. And new shoes.
  • I’m
    now working one-on-one with a woman who’s found recovery around negative
    patterns of behavior with sex and men, and I’m infinitely looking forward
    to freedom around some of this.
  • I’m
    continuing to work with a woman one-on-one around financial recovery
    stuff, and am looking forward to being “placed in a position of
    neutrality” around money.
  • I love
    Patsy.
  • I haven’t
    yet played my bass with my friend with the drums up in Berkeley, and it
    too stares at me, not gently weeping, but with silent mewling.
  • I
    realized that most of the writers I’m reading right now have written as freelance
    writers, and it occurs to me, that I might be able to do that, if I look
    into it.
  • I
    haven’t applied to any jobs since last week.
  • I used
    my 3 lb weights yesterday after my walk for about 3 minutes. And began to dread the 3 hour posing/drawing session on Sunday.
  • Dr.
    Palm Reader’s office wrote to ask after me, and so I looked up my
    soon-to-end chiropractic benefits “in network,” so that I can get back to
    that kind of thing, without breaking my bank, or participating in a
    somewhat murky flirtatiousness.
  • This
    is the end of my list. 
authenticity · community · creativity · friendship · frustration · kindness · maturity · recovery · relationships · San Francisco · writing

Literati

Yesterday was a day off from work, as they needed the room
I’ve been stationed in, the library, so I got to experience a lot of loll and
gag. Less gag, more loll.
I still did spend
time in a library, peeling myself from my couch to go sit in the local library
and email and submit applications for higher education jobs. Here, Southern
California, New York City … Northern Florida. Throwing out the seeds and seeing
what sprouts.
I also got another book out of the library, and began to
notice a trend of mine over the last few months. The latest books I’ve read
have been:
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson
I’ll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do) by Mark Greenside
Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine by Eric Weiner
Seriously, I’m Kidding…
by Ellen Degeneres
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
and now
Bossypants by Tina
Fey
As I was checking Tina Fey’s book out, I was able to connect
a few dots through the above list. Firstly, there are the books that are
about redemption – about people searching, seeking, going insane, going sane.
Mark Greenside’s book is more of a bridge to the other category, not being a
redemption, but certainly a “coming of age” (at 40) kind of an adventure. The other
category, of course, being the comedienne’s books.
Something about this strikes the right balance with me.
That, yes, I want to read about your harrowing walks through dark nights of the
soul and wilderness and Vegas (see : Man Seeks God), but I also want to read the levity, candor, and
strength of women in showbiz who are being pioneers in a
different way.
I’d never been one for non-fiction, and all the above are.
They’re all “memoirs.” I was raised picking up the library copies of my mom’s
Stephen King novels, and for most of my junior high and high school years, I’d
sit on the couch in the downstairs living room, engrossed in the psychological
and physical mystery of King’s characters and plot. Everyone would eventually
go up to bed, but I was too page-turned, and soon, it was late. And I was by
myself, reading Stephen King in the middle of the night.
This, was not an altogether pleasant experience, so I’d read
further, because if I closed the book, I’d have to turn off all the downstairs
lights, and walk upstairs in the dark with visions of deranged clowns lurking
in my peripheries. So, I read on, and then it’d be 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning,
and my eyes scratchy from being open so long, and I’d finally give up, too
exhausted to care if there were a rabid dog perched somewhere in the stairwell.
I’d climb up to bed, and fall in, too tired to be awake enough to contemplate
the darkness.
There were the years when I didn’t read anything at all,
really. I call these college.
No, (!) just kidding. But after college, I read nothing much
at all, or nothing that stands out. And I don’t really remember what I picked
up next, but it wasn’t that many years ago.
I remember when I first got sober, within the first year, I
went to see a movie at an indie theater in San Francisco. I had befriended a
group of people who were wonderful and hilarious and lovely, but none of whom wanted to see anything like what I was seeing that day. I enjoyed
the movie immensely, and when I walked out, I began to panic.
I’ll never have the kind of friends who’ll want to see
anything like this with me. No one has the kind of taste I have. I’ll be
destined to watch things and do things that interest me alone forever
.
Fatalism is not just a river in Egypt. Melodrama, the same.
I began to cry. Honestly.
I called the one woman I trusted, and sobbed to her on the
phone how alone I was, and that no one “got” me, and that I was too weird to
have friends.
She told me to come over to her house right then. I sobbed even
more that I didn’t know the San Francisco bus system, and I’d be stuck in Polk
Gulch forever.
So, she told me how to catch the Geary or the California
bus, and picked me up at a mutual spot, and fed me tea and calmed me down.
A few months later, I was outside my car with a group of
people. One of them I’d just met, and she looked into my backseat and saw a
book I had there (I honestly can’t remember what it was). She exclaimed with delight – she had been meaning to read
that book! How did I like it, what did I think? And I told her she could borrow
it when I was done.
It felt like a revelation, even though it was such a “small”
thing. I leant her the book. She leant me one. I began to form friendships with
people who had similar tastes and interests, and who would undoubtedly today
come with me to an indie movie theater.
It took time. It took
a lot of time. I have a friend now who is going through similar transitions and
longing for those kinds of connections, having been immersed in a relationship
involvement so that it’s been hard to make the kind of friends she wants. So, I
told her that story of the movie theater breakdown and the book-in-the-car new
friend.
At some point, I turned from the sci-fi, novel genre (though
The Illustrated Man sits on my shelf – moment of silence for Ray Bradbury, and his children’s room/lion story
that has never left my consciousness). Today, the books I read are not paths
into the mystery of the mind and the world, but out of them. (Though, someone once gave
me a copy of
The Power of Now,
and each time I tried to read it, I a) threw up a little in my mouth, and b) twice —
TWICE– simply threw the damn thing sputtering across the room – this
last time, just a few months ago. I’ve since given it away. Self-righteousness
in a “spiritual” teacher is an ugly characteristic.)
It’s just interesting to me to notice what I’ve been
attracted to lately. That it points to a change in course. I yoked a friend
of mine to driving up to Jeanette’s reading when she was in town a few months ago, and that
friend now has my copy – a friend of mine, wants to read something I’m
interested in too. A friend of mine is interested in the things I am too. And she’s not the only one. I’m
no longer bereft and alone on a street corner drowning in the electric whine of
MUNI wires and the stench of human misery.
Thank you, Brandie, for asking me about that book in my
car. 
acceptance · adulthood · change · courage · discovery · forgiveness · gratitude · grief · honesty · intimacy · kindness · love · meditation · progress · recovery · sex · sexuality · sobwebs · spirituality

Somewhere New.

For several months now, I’ve been working on a particular
area of healing. For those of you who have read the “Savage Love,” then “Savage Beauty” blogs, you know that I’ve been working on healing my relationship with
my sexuality, and my past behavior and experience in this area.
This is likely going to be a little heavy – for which I’m
not thrilled, but I’m honest – so if that’s not what you want today, I’m sure Cyanide
& Happiness
will provide some levity
today.
On my way back from the sweat lodge this Sunday, I was riding
with my friend who was running the lodge. I told her that earlier this year,
and late last year, each time I’d “go in” via meditation or shamanic journey
work to ask what I need to do next to move forward, I was presented with the information
that I needed to work on this stuff – sexual trauma and other murky stuff. I have been. Working
with my therapist on EMDR for a little bit (though I’m not seeing her
currently, due to finances), and in these other more alternative ways.
And most of all, through my thesis.
Basically what my thesis trails is a path through my sexual
history. That story parallels my mental breakdown, and my parents’ divorce, but really,
what is being excavated and brought into the light is all of that. The
“highlights” or representative incidents.
Over ages 16 through 24 (a little earlier than 16, but
that’s when it really took off with a very chicken-or-egg tag team with my drinking), is a napalm blanket of sorrow, shame, and
dissociation. When riding in the car with my friend on Sunday, I said to her
that I hadn’t “been in” to ask for a while if I’m “done” with this particular
set of work or not, and wondered if maybe I was, but/and as I found out a little this morning, there are still
some corners left to sweep.
I am grateful that I had the courage to put all of what I
needed to onto paper in my thesis. But, I’m also aware that it goes much deeper
and further than the stark, strobe-like glimpses that I give you, the reader.
And this morning, in meditation, I began to psychicly clear out some of the
cobwebs. (I just accidentally wrote “sobwebs,” which I suppose is pretty accurate
for this morning.)
In fact, I did something pretty literal to sweeping out – in my mind’s
eye, I walked through and into all those situations I remember, and
unfortunately or not, I remember quite a lot quite vividly apparently — more
than I thought I did. I walked through these times and places, into these
couplings and actions, and burned sage there. I carried this sage through all
the circumstances I could remember, and asked them to be cleared of any energy
which is no longer needed.
There are the few where there was kindness,
and the kindness will remain, but there are the many that were out of a sense of obligation, or resignation, or force; or just wanting to feel better; or just wanting to feel anything other than what
I felt. There are those that are truly tragic, and require some extra doses of
compassion and witness, instead of repression.
I don’t know what may or not come of this work this morning.
It was sort of “unbidden;” I didn’t have the intention as I closed my eyes for
meditation this morning to do any of that – but I guess the Powers That Be had
that intention for me, anyway.
One thing I asked for aloud in the prayer circle in Sunday’s
sweat lodge during the final prayer round – the one where we get to pray for
ourselves, out loud so others know what we need – I prayed for healing around
physical intimacy. And that’s where the majority of my tears came on Sunday. My
relationship with my body, my femininity, sexuality, sex, intimacy, being
present in my body when being intimate – all of this needs healing. I’d still
rather hide within my body – offer you it, but not what’s inside it; assume
it’s really all you want from me anyway, so I might as well just give you only
that out of spite – even if you in fact want more. But, hiding within myself doesn’t work
anymore. Beating myself out of my body – or having someone do it for me – doesn’t work anymore. Not being present
is painful now. And not voicing my physical needs to a partner is another way of hiding.
I don’t really know what to do about it yet. I know that I
don’t do what I used to. But I feel like I’ve swung to the opposite side of the
spectrum – from the vixen to Betty Crocker, as I’ve put it. But I know opening
these doors, clearing these wounds, being willing to treat my flesh with care,
and being willing to meet all of you with all of me are mile-markers of
progress.
I’d like to be done with this work. I’d like to declare
myself fit for duty. Maybe it’ll always be an ongoing process, maybe it’ll come
to a place of plateau. I don’t know. But apparently I’m ready to clear the
sobwebs, and arrive at somewhere new. 
intimacy · kindness · recovery · sex

All Except One (or Two)

A few years ago, I wrote a series of bitter break-up poems –
everyone loves those 😛 – and then wrote another poem that said something like,
should I now write something nice? something fluffy? and do tricks like a
wind-up toy?
And at the moment, I sort of feel like that.
So much stuff is stirred up at the moment, that although
alongside of it and indeed deeper than it, I have a center of joy that I’m
glad to finally be exposing, the rest of the “up” material is rather dark. Old
ideas, old traumas, old patterns that I’m seeing differently. And, truly, I
don’t want to subject you to it, and also, it’s not necessary that I do.
You get it. We all work through stuff. Well, most of the
people who are reading this are likely working through stuff. And it is like being
forged in fire. Or tearing off scabs. Or, as I once wrote, like stone tumbling
– the process by which a raw stone is tumbled about in this large drum and when
it comes out, it’s become smooth and shiny.
Will I be smooth and shiny? I don’t know. I also said in
that stone tumbling poem that it was like G-d’s savage grater going at me. (I
like the double meaning of “savage” – in our slang, it’s akin to beyond
awesome, as well as the definition of unfeeling carnage.)
I don’t think that G-d doesn’t have feelings about this. I
just think I only have a very tiny portion of the map, and G-d’s got an atlas
the size of Jupiter. Plus, I’m coming more and more over to the side of
thinking, or knowing rather, that all this grating is actually intended for my
highest good. That scraping away these caustic, rusted elements is actually an
act of love and compassion.
Speaking of, it occurred to me last night, that there’s one
aspect of Love that I didn’t address in yesterday’s “In All Its Forms” blog — by which I meant Love In All Its Forms. And that’s romantic love, and physical love.
(Insert Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” music video here.)
This doesn’t surprise me, and is part of the swirling
ickiness I don’t really want to talk to you about. But, let’s suffice it to say
that my relationship with sexuality is actually very, very naïve. 
The truth is, for all of my midnight sweating with another
person, the heart of sex is still actually very elusive to me. And I won’t go
in to the whole line of “the intertwining of souls” stuff here. Cuz,
truthfully, I have absolutely no idea if that’s true or not. I don’t have
information about sex as tenderness. As respect and awe of … my body. I’ve
had experience of treating yours with a care and sometimes speechless
admiration. To me, the human body is – well, as has been said… a wonderland
😛 Or, further, it’s just such a novel thing to me each time I get to really
see it – and that wasn’t a common thing for me in my past. It was get in, get off,
get out. No, like, leave.
This does not set up a system of appreciation or intimacy
with sex. To be intimate with sex. Sounds pretty novel. I haven’t sat still
long enough to let you show me how you see me. (And this is not an invitation,
just an observation/admission.) And on a few rare occasions when I have finally spoken up and asked for
what I needed, I have experience being dismissed. How disappointing is that.
But that word brings me to another realization. Which is
that I have a post-it in my kitchen which reads, “I can be disappointed and
still follow my dreams.” And, it is occurring to me more and more that this
whole plane of human experience has been lost to me. That I have cut off hope
for it, and therefore don’t try very hard, or am “happy” with what I get.
This is another place where I’m being shown a need for
change. Because on a cellular (and soul) level, my body is thirsty for something sweet. My
body is thirsty for kindness. And, after years of
telling it to get over it, I’m realizing this tender care is very much
something I want too.