faith · trust · uncertainty

Courting Constance

9-29-181.jpgMy tattoo came up in conversation twice yesterday.  A male coworker was having a really hard time.  He was feeling extremely riled up about the Senate hearings and as I sat in his empty classroom during the recess period, he said that he felt everything was topsy-turvy, that everything he thought was good and just in the world was falling apart.

In short, he was feeling unmoored.

So I told him about my tattoo.  I have a small black ink tattoo on the inside of my left wrist.  I got it in college, but I had first sketched it out on paper then drew it huge on my bedroom wall!  (I wanted to make sure I could live with it on my wall before living with it forever on my body.)  Two facing bedroom walls were painted lavender and the others a muted mint green.  On one purple wall, there was a rectangle of chair railing painted in white relief around where a doorway must have stood at one time.

In the center of this white frame, I sketched a sun with flames that coiled and looped with artistic sun flares.  Within the sun, I drew the sign of infinity done in a Mobius strip manner so that it curled in on itself again and again, like infinity is wont to do.

The tattoo version that made it onto my wrist is a much simplified knock-off of the intricate design on my wall, but it retains its meaning (to me at least):

The Sun, and Infinity.

I told my coworker yesterday that my tattoo represents Constants.  In the chaos and unmooring of all life, the sun is a constant (at least in my lifetime).  It is extant.  It exists whether I can see it or not, whether hidden by cloud or Earth.  The sun, as I live, is something I can depend on intrinsically and marrowly.

Infinity, in turn, is also a constant.  The idea that time itself, that lines, gravity, mechanical force have no beginning and no end — that there is something that exists that never, ever, ever ends.  That is infinite.  It’s infinity, for crying out loud!  Infinity is something to depend on.  It is always there.  Esoteric as it is, infinity is a place to hang my internal hat.

I told my coworker that there is not one goddamned thing within or without us that is constant.  Politics, morality, safety — not one of these is impermeable.  A person on the left has the same intractable righteousness as a person on the right.  One person’s idea of what is acceptable human behavior flies in the face of another’s.  What was a body that repaired itself one day is a host for disease the next.

Not one damn thing is dependable… except the things that are.  Except the choice to make goodness.  Except the choice to not be an asshole in the world.  Except the choice to keep living a life you yourself consider admirable or upstanding or moral.  There is no reward for this.  There is no morality prize.  There is no blue ribbon at the pearly gates of heaven where we can depend upon a reward for our perceived goodness.

What we have is only the choice to anchor ourselves.  I choose to find that relief, that constancy, in my perception of the sun and the inevitability of the infinite.

When, later that same school day, my students were working on a journal prompt to list at least 10 things about which they were curious, one of my 7th graders wrote, “I’m curious about Ms. D’s tattoo.”

And so I told them.  I told them that, frankly, we cannot always depend on people.  We can’t even always depend on ourselves!  And that notion can chuck us off this blue, spiraling space orb so fast that we can completely lose ourselves.

So I choose to remember that there IS something to hold fast to.  There are universal constants from which I find relief, comfort, safety, confidence.  I find ground in remembering how imperturbable a few things in these cosmos actually are.

 

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grief · trust · vulnerability

Safe Word.

9.17.18.jpgThere is hardly a conversation with my mentor that doesn’t ultimately return to the word “safe.”  How I retreat from others’ vulnerability: so I can “stay safe.”  How I limit my visibility in the world: so I can “stay safe.”  How I attempt to control the attitudes, behavior, and experience of others: so I can “stay safe.”

When I page through my personal history, there are dramatic highlights—or low-lights as it were—where it is crystal clear what there was for me to attempt to be safe from.  And while those circumstances of the past cannot be changed, the way that I have reacted and grown from them can be.

It made infinite sense for me to retreat, hide, and control in order feel safe in my world at the time/s.  Yet, as I come into greater awareness of these patterns’ domination, I notice a familiar grief that they had to form in the first place and a new grief at discovering how isolated my reactions have made me.

I cannot change what occurred or how people behaved, but that’s not what I feel steeped in today.  Today, I feel awed that those circumstances precipitated a chain of understanding that leads me to perpetually feel I am unsafe.  And in need of constant defending.

There is a sorrow, and a fatigue, in that defensive stance through life.

So while I may not, rather can not, wash the events of my history white as snow, I can in whatever ways, come to realize that continuing to use this same barometer in the world is inadequate:

What does an undefended self look like?

What would it mean to not constantly scan for the sniper?

How would I feel in the world if I wasn’t perpetually bracing for impact?

Can’t answer these yet, but noticing is a great beginning.

 

dating · level up · trust

All About that Bass

8.22.18Or, “I want the world. I want the whole world.”

The person I went on a date with Sunday texted to say he didn’t see a love match there, but it was nice to meet me, etc.etc.  I concur with his conclusion, but it doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed.  It dropped me back into my low-grade loneliness and longing for my ex, and the truth that I must trust if it’s meant to be, then it will, but that I have to let him go completely.  Which I haven’t.

What I am seeing is that I want it all right now.  I want romance and finance to soar!! Effective Immediately!  I want to hear the manic trill of frenetic notes as I flit from success to success.  The joie de vivre of a person loved, those high silvery violas and piccolos, maybe.

What I have is a sonorous resounding orchestra in the bass clef, holding everything up — not too exciting … until you attune to it.

Wonderful home: a cello sings.  Car that works and fits my life: perhaps a tuba pumping along to a jaunty rhythm (tubas have pistons, too, after all!).

But moreover, more resounding, more languid and supportive is the work/career/creative arena.  This arena is humming and crescendoing, right there, if I choose to listen.

My thinking is that this deeper section is where my focus is and will be for now, cementing in the time signature, the grooved practice of my life.  There are exciting things happening in that section!  I am increasingly being asked to perform, professionally and creatively.  I am increasingly saying Yes.  I am increasingly revealing more of myself, and that liquid, reverberating bass is hugging everything in, dependable and warm.

My attention to the treble is a distraction at the moment.  I am not yet in harmony with the bass rhythm of my expanding life, and frankly, I’m pretty sure that until I “level up” and sink in to my expansion, whomever I attract from this frenetic place will not be the right person.

I wrote a blog earlier this year called “Who’s Next,” wondering not who my next partner would be, but who I would be, if and when I attract my next partner.  I know, and can feel, that I am not that person yet.  I am not the grounded, velvet waltz I am becoming.  I am getting there.  Each time I write a blog, each time I share it.  Each time I write another line for my play, another title for a poem.  Each time I own my desires a little bit more, I am becoming.

They do call a beautiful woman “becoming” after all.

I want the manic syncopation of love and sex and dating and union.  But what I have is the dark luscious creation of rich ground.  A thrumming beat, expanding.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.

 

awareness · community · fatigue · fear · friendship · growth · hope · sharing · the middle way · trust · truth · vulnerability

On Leave.

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The thing about being a good little soldier is that
eventually you suffer battle fatigue.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve had doctors appointments up
the wazoo because of a liver enzyme test that came back extremely elevated.
Granted, it’s the first time they’d ever run this test since I finished chemo
last Spring, but don’t try and tell them that.
In the meantime, I’ve gotten panicky emails from my doctor
to stop drinking alcohol immediately (check), to get another test immediately (check), and
asking if I’ve had my hepatitis vaccines when I was a kid (check).
Being the good little soldier I am, and using the wisdom of
not pushing the panic button, I’ve done pretty well these past two weeks, doing
what I’m told, following up diligently, and trying to follow the new all-organic
diet suggested to me by my naturopath.
This is all well and good not to panic when panic isn’t
prudent. But yesterday I came to see, while reduced to a ball of tears in front
of a friend, that there is a third option between panicking and “soldiering
on.” There’s acknowledgment of my fear.
I told my coworker the other day that I just feel weary – that trying not to freak out is exhausting; that
trying to maintain an emotional equilibrium is hard work.
And underneath that even façade, which also has a thick vein
of veracity, is fear. They can co-exist, but I have to acknowledge that they
both do.
It is activating to have to go through all these tests. It
is not my favorite thing to google “autoimmune hepatitis” (which, we learned, I don’t have). It is even less my favorite thing to contemplate that the reason for
this trouble in the first place is a result of something doctors did to me – despite the rational
fact that they
had to. I had
Leukemia. The cure is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy causes havoc.
I am not freaking
out, but I am concerned. And I am “activated.” It’s hard not to be – I’ve had
legitimate reasons to freak out in the past – but even then, if you were a
reader when I was going through that, you saw that the times I freaked out were few and far between –
and then, they weren’t panics or freak outs, they were the falling-armor
acknowledgments of a real threat to my security and joy.
I was a good soldier then too, but it was also very important to break down sometimes with someone
trustworthy. To acknowledge both sides: Bravery and Vulnerability.
Which are coexistant. The first does not preclude the
second. And I’m pretty sure the second enhances the first.
It was not as if I had some grand easy epiphany about
allowing all of my emotions to be valid. I sat yesterday with a group of
folks, and by the end of our time together, I was leaking silent tears. I
didn’t anticipate to do that, but we create a sacred space together, a place
where it was safe to allow something I didn’t know was happening arise. And
because of that, a friend was able to see my pain, and sit with me while I let
the soldier take a rest, and let the scared and weary and angry woman take a
spin for a while.
I felt better after I acknowledged all that was going on.
And coming to realize in conversation with her that I’d been forcing my
experience into two categories: Panic and Perseverance. Acknowledging fear does
not equate panicking, is what I learned. And it was important, so important,
for me to let some of the rest of my emotions out, besides good humor,
diligence, and perseverance.
Because I believe that without letting some of that pressure
out, without allowing that vulnerability to arise, our capacity for soldiering
is greatly hindered.
What happens is burn-out, instead.
When I only allow validity to one side of my experience, I am
hampering my ability to move forward.
I don’t have to be a crying mess about having to seek out
only organic meat and my fear of the cost and the inconvenience,
and wondering if I’ll have to now be like those people in food addiction
programs who have to carry around heavy-ass glass containers of their own food
to restaurants because they can’t eat anything else and become a burden to
myself and my social life…
but sometimes, at least once(!), I do have to admit that
these are thoughts and emotions that are happening, too.
I’ve never really been a fan of the Buddhist term, “The
Middle Way,” but fan or not, I seem to be learning all about it.

abundance · dishonesty · faith · fear · honesty · recovery · trust · truth

Horse Thief

There’s a phrase I heard when I got to certain rooms in San
Francisco: If you sober up a drunken horse thief, you still have a horse thief.
Lately, I’ve been getting the chance to acknowledge where I
still act from Horse Thief tendencies and impulses.
I was a thief in High School, probably in Junior High, and
actually come to think of it, in college, too. It was sort of “a thing” me and
my friends did, to see what we could get away with, and also, because we were
only stealing from big conglomerate stores, we felt (or at least I did)
justified, since they were always screwing the little man anyway – What did they care if Maybelline mascara went into my pocket? That’s a fraction of a cent they’ve lost in profit, and I’m standing in solidarity with the
Chinese children they hired to mark the packaging. (
Riii….ght.)
I was, however, pretty clear about not stealing from people, only from these big stores, because there was a line I felt I still had to
maintain, a standard of behavior I adhered to. It wasn’t right to take from
little mom & pop shops, or to steal from actual people I knew. That was wrong.
Stealing from the mall was just expected, written into their budgets in some
corporate headquarters somewhere, and therefore right — or at least okay.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve stolen anything. Probably
since before I moved to SF. But that doesn’t exactly mean that the Horse Thief
has been repentant or ousted.
I have all the stores I’ve “reappropriated” from on a list
that I am slowly chipping away at, to make amends to, either by sending in
money for items, or “paying it forward” by donating to a charity. Each will
have a conversation with a trusted friend around it when the time comes.
But, I’ve lately recognized that there is still a pattern of dishonest behavior and thinking that infiltrates my current life.
When I was working through a temp agency while in grad school,
I got to open the invoices to see what the company I worked for was actually paying the temp agency, and it was certainly higher than the rate at which I was being paid by said agency (which, duh, is how they profit). So I approached the company I was working for, and asked if they
would just hire me under the table. That way, my Horse Thief logic went, it was
cheaper for them, and I would get a few more dollars, since it wasn’t going to
be taxed.
Um… Yeah. That didn’t work out so well. Even though I was
“working a program,” even though I could talk about the necessity of honesty
and integrity in life, and seriously really mean it, this dishonesty was
creating holes in my abundance, and in my sobriety/serenity.
Plus, I got caught. The temp agency found me out, and called
the company where I was a receptionist, and when I answered the phone, she
“surprisedly” said, Oh, Hi Molly…
Oops.
So, there were emails and phone calls and conversations
between the HR at the company where I was and the temp agency I’d spurned.
After talking with some trusted friends, I wrote an email to the agency, owning
up to my part of this deception.
And, in the end, when tax time rolled around, I got a 1099
from the company, anyway, since I’d earned a significant amount in the 5 or so
months I temped under the table for them, and I had to pay taxes on that money
anyway. Which meant that I ended up earning less from my time there than I
would have if I’d just continued working through the proper (read: legal)
channels.
I have a moral line about not stealing pens from work, or
using stamps I didn’t pay for. But there are other ways in which this fear of
not being taken care of, this fear that my needs will not be met creeps out.
This poisonous fear seeps into my life, and I make choices
based on that fear. And eventually, I am screwed by it.
It’s been interesting to notice that this is a pattern that
has continued into my adulthood. It’s certainly rooted in a long-held belief
that my needs will not be met. That if I behave along “proper” channels, I
won’t get or have enough. That if I behave by rules and laws that are set down, I will not be taken care of.
So, I better get my fearful, sticky claws into something, I better come up with some better, sneaky ideas, or
else I’ll be eating ramen again.
I get it. I see it.
And I hope to change it.
A trusted friend does a lot of work with affirmations to
counter fear. So, this morning, I used that tool:
I fear my needs will not be met.
I trust that the Universe cares for all my needs.
I fear that no one is looking out for my good.
The Universe cares deeply for me.
Sure, maybe it’s bunk. But, right now, I don’t know another
way, except to “act as if” these things are true. To try to behave in a way
that really does align with my morals, instead of with my fears. 
I have also heard that, with every bought of true honesty or clarity or bill paid on time or phone call from creditor answered, that we are closing up the holes in the sieve that holds abundance. Each time my covers are pulled, I get the chance to be more honest, and thereby the chance to mend the bucket into which the fullness of life is surely always being and going to be poured.
I cannot turn a drunken horse thief (or a sober one for that
matter) into an upstanding citizen. But I can try to trust that I don’t have to
be one anymore. 

action · change · creativity · direction · faith · healing · inspiration · spirituality · trust · work

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

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Call it Spring. Call it some planetary phase. Call it the
fact that I’ve been back at my job for one year in April. But the past few
days, I’ve begun to feel like things are about to shift. Change is afoot.
Could be wrong. Could be indigestion. Could report the same
old, same old here for the next sixty years. But, I don’t think so. I don’t
feel so.
It’s kind of a stupid thing to report, that you feel change is afoot, in a blog that is supposed to be
about updates and reflections and actions. To simply take a moment to let you
know that I feel like things are about to be different seems antithetical and
anticlimactic. But, nonetheless, I tell it as it happens.
There’s some sort of coagulation that has happened, that I’ve begun to recognize. Maybe it was sitting with that woman on Sunday and
reflecting on the change that’s occurred within me and my spending habits.
Maybe it’s noticing that it’s been a year at this job, which has provided a
foundation of stability and structure, and enabled me to heal. It’s also realizing that things are going to change soon at my work, the nature of things are going to be reorganized, and perhaps it’s just a time
to reassess what’s happening and going on.
It feels like a time to pull my head out of the sand a
little more. To reassert what it is that I want out of life, and address those
things that hinder me from heading there, or even dreaming them up. It’s what I
wrote yesterday in my morning pages: It’s time to dream again.
When you’re in a storm, all you have attention for and time to
do is to batten down hatches and lower the mainsail and hope to Jesus and Allah
and George that you get through the rough patch safely.
When the clouds do clear, you spend the time assessing
damage, swabbing the decks of all the debris you took on board during the
crisis, and getting a new roll-call of who’s still with you, who’s got a
broken arm.
Eventually, the water has evened out, the crew is back to
its old galley routines, and it’s time to point the ship toward the horizon
again.
I’ve been very clear this time, as I ask for direction and
guidance, to be open to what’s
said/heard/intimated. How do you want me to earn? How do you want me to live?
How do you want me to share the gifts I have?
I feel I’ve made an awful mess of hampering myself, like an
anchored ship attempting to get anywhere new. And I know that some of the
internal and external work I’m doing is to untether that stagnation,
resistance, and fear.
A friend once told me, years ago, that things wouldn’t work
out for me with theater until I addressed my trauma shit. Another friend told
me while I was battling chemo that I wouldn’t get out of this pattern of
self-immolation until I moved through my father shit.
Despite all the rowing, all the sails pointed in the right
direction, no movement can be made if you’re still anchored to pain. No
sustainable movement, at least.
So, I suppose this feeling, this sense that things are about
to change, is an indication that I’m hoisting anchor.
Where I go from here? I’ve got to take a deep breath of promise and divine creative unrest — and trust my compass.
(Thank you for indulging my ship metaphor! I hope you
enjoyed it as much as I did) 😉

growth · healing · love · trust

Step on a crack…

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In meditation this morning, I went to address the fault line
located yesterday. The one within me, upon which my foundational ideas of love
and trust were precariously built.
There, I witnessed this deep crevice in the earth, not Grand
Canyon-esque, but not fillable with some caulk either. So, per my shamanic
practice, I asked my guides how I could fill in this fissure to be able to build love and trust on a firm foundation? No reply. Okay,
how can you, guides, fill or heal this fissure? No answer.
I look back at the crevice, and notice that it’s like one of
those holographic game cards, where if you turn the card one way, you get one
image, and turn it the other, you see something different. As I looked, I saw
that the fault line was both there, and not there. If I chose to see the crack,
it was there; if I looked a little longer, it disappeared into the plain of the
ground.
It doesn’t have to be there. This mistrust, this broken
place, this doubt and fear.
I also heard that this doesn’t erase the events, it doesn’t
invalidate or refute what my experience was growing up, but it doesn’t have to
exist like this fault line any more.
What if I want to visit it? What if I want to pay homage to
my pain, maybe dally in it a little? What if I want to soak in the sorrow of
what happened? ~ Sure, that’s an option.
But, I got to see that, over time, even though I may now know
precisely where the fault line had been–mapped its edges, named its outcroppings–since it is now just a part
of the whole of the landscape, over time, I will forget exactly where it was. It was
somewhere right around here, I know it was. And soon, I’ll walk right over the
land where the pain had been and not even realize I’m stepping easily over
once-hallowed and -harrowed ground.
I don’t have to heal
the place where love was built. I just have to notice that it’s already healed.