sifting through post drafts, i decided to simmer a bunch of separate ingredients in one soup pot, hoping they will complement one anothers’ flavors. one is too tangy alone, one is much too sappy, and still another one has an overpowering kick. it’ll either turn into a pleasingly balanced, wholesome chowder of words, or it will boil over and become too long for anyone to actually read, but either way, i will get several lingering unfinished pieces out of my system. since today happens to be mardi gras, i’ve decided i’m cutting myself off of any more editing and serving it up!
on my brainstorm list for a 2016 word were joy, ease, love, enjoy, and laugh… especially laugh. when lighthearted came to me, it felt like it embraced the whole list, and fit so perfectly with my intentions for the year. occasionally i take on the offhand comments people make in cyberspace about how talking about our life and how wonderful it is is hurtful and offensive to those who feel their lives fall short; a sidebar to this is that surely we are not writing #truth nor being #authentic if we post mostly good things. then i remember a blog is a space to reflect on what is salient to us, and for many of us, what is salient is the magic and bioluminescence, rather than the autopsies of our failures. of the four agreements, i consider number 2 to have been the most transformative for me: don’t take anything personally. i love how kelle hampton covered this topic when it comes to how we handle brags from fellow mamas.
how we represent ourselves on screen can be subject to an increasing degree of scrutiny. to be clear, i have not felt judged or analyzed by any of my dear readers. my older brother could always stab me in the gut with “we can’t all be perfect like you” when we were both clueless teenagers and felt like we had something to fight about (we get along great now that we are over the comparing). i find there is always room for improvement on implementing agreement number 2. breathe out: none of my business what other poeple think. breathe in: lightheartedness.
i’ve talked about why i write, and it has to do with leaving myself an unbroken string i can cling to and follow back to myself, not what anyone out there thinks of me. i also fantasize that one day, quinn might appreciate the glimpses of his childhood i’ve been preserving in jars and lining up on the cool, dark shelves of cyberspace. my housemate recently returned from louisiana after her grandmother’s funeral and told me that her brother still has a jar in which maman stored a prepared roux for gumbo. she said her brother still puts some roux back in the jar each time he makes one, carrying maman’s recipe forward. it struck me how those remaining particles of oil and flour lovingly stirred over heat by maman are reaching forward through time, even after her passing, and nourishing her descendants.
i have been frank about the concept of choice in my emotional landscape: i make a conscious effort to see life through a heart-shaped lens, i’ve made no secret of this. i tried the shit-colored glasses for a few years, and it didn’t feed me, didn’t help me thrive, silenced me, bogged me down, just about killed me. for me, there has to be an intentional leaning into the positive, so that i don’t fall back into an over-used (but now becoming overgrown with brambles) neural groove.
disclaimer: trying on a heart-shaped lens outlook is only a viable strategy to avoiding depression if one is free of abusive situations. i am not advocating a practice of downplaying and minimizing turmoil, or attempting to overcome by this method the depression that inevitably accompanies abuse. i tried this a long while ago, but people couldn’t trust what i said, as it always came out distorted when i was caught up in that cycle. to put a positive spin on actual shit is dishonest. even if you’ve taken off the shit-colored glasses, even viewed through a heart-shaped lens, shit is still shit. please exit abusive situations before trying this at home. end public service announcement.
the heart-shaped lens is for revealing the light in a life that is already richly woven through with light, and just needs you to pay attention to it. it’s like developing beach vision – anyone who has trained the eye to find sea glass or sand dollars or fossil shark’s teeth or fossil snails while beach combing knows that there is looking, and there is looking. you start seeing more of them once you’ve seen the first one. when you make a decision that from now on, you’ll start looking up in the trees when you go for a hike, you end up seeing eagles a lot more often than you used to. the old trusty slogan, fake it till you make it, is a bizarrely accurate truth furnished by 12 step programs concerning this alchemy of which i speak. the love is out there, you trust that enough that you decide to see it, and lo and behold, you start to see it all around you. a powerful writer named ra whose blog i recently stumbled upon talks about intentionally recognizing what is “frightfully wondrous” in life, and this in spite of what i’d call her bigger-than-your-average constellation of hardships. it’s not about superimposing a shape onto the world around me, or pushing shit through a heart-shaped extruder to try to dress it up. it’s just the way i am channeling the already-shining light, revealing a shape that was already there, just waiting to be beheld.
<3 <3 <3
i attended a yoga/writing workshop in early january that reinforced the idea for me that the truth-telling i do is full of choices; what to include, what to leave out. if we are to “be in collaboration with inspiration” (quoting elizabeth gilbert), it is a process, a craft, a honing of words.
our first writing assignment was to write about a moment from 2015, including a key, a bowl of soup, and trouble (conflict). we free-wrote for about 15 minutes, and then we distilled our paragraphs down to their very essence by limiting ourselves to the 17 syllables of a haiku. our teacher asked us to pick one “headlight” moment where we came to a big realization. i chose my decision to see our eviction from our cozy country home last year as a vacation, which filled a year that could have been experienced as traumatic instead with warm memories of rest and comfort. the conflict (hostile landlord) and the key (to the vacation house) were obvious, and the bowl of soup was the gumbo, both literal and figurative, that was spiced up by the addition of new friends (with louisiana roots), a new home, and new life-enhancing experiences.
enrich the gumbo
uprooting turned vacation
refuge lies within
<3 <3 <3
summer memories of sunshine and hummingbirds on the porch have begun to fade away, and in this season when both breakfast and dinner may involve a roux, (they both always require a rew, of course), the biscuits and gravy, alfredo, chowder, and gumbo seem to set a slower pace of the blood through our veins.
i solemnly swear not to unravel
it’s good for me to remember this as the november-december-january blur of wet-cold-dark-blah starts to feel endless. this time of year, i am the most vulnerable to overwhelm, and i have to be the most wary of an old tendency of mine to seasonally unravel. instead i have to see it as a season of allowing myself “no” as an option, and choosing rest and down time, and not feeling bad about partial hibernation. there is the least amount packed into the calendar (compared to may and june, ha! this is nothing!), and yet, i need to set the bar even lower than that, and flake out on so many things, just to function. self-judgment can creep in, if i am not vigilant. when i am trying to round up malfunctioning equipment and the lab procedure i’m doing takes hours longer than expected so that not only am i running late to pick quinn up from school, but i have to go back to work after karate to finish up, and when i do pick him up from school, i have to make nice with my coparent’s girlfriend who is picking up her kids, as if at one point in time she did not accuse me in front of a crowd of local child welfare experts of child abuse, and meanwhile said child is, to put it nicely, requiring additional scaffolding in certain executive functioning areas involving personal responsibilities for hygiene and self care, his noncompliance manifesting as either completely blowing me off or launching into arguments with me about said responsibilities, which aren’t negotiable, and by 4:00 that day i’ve decided not to send any christmas cards this year after all. so many things are buried in storage, and my fun limit has been reached with that, but hey let’s have an hour-long phone call with a confusingly awesome new contractor i’m supposed to sign a letter of intent to work with, or not supposed to, depending on who i ask, and by the way, show up for myself at the bargaining table (where is my drive to negotiate, my son has this drive in excess, why not me?) and feeling nauseous trying to work out whether this company is too good to be true, or trying to sell me a used car. decide to skip all school board meetings, regardless of pertinent concerns being addressed therein (but do send a letter to the board), and skip holiday parties to which i have been invited.
but hey, i work here. it’s not so bad.
<3 <3 <3