Chosen

At night, when I tuck my kids into bed, we say affirmations.  It goes something like this:

Me: Repeat after me.

Kid: Repeat after me.

(Years of doing affirmations and they still laugh at the ‘repeat’ thing.)

Me: I am brave.

Kid: I am brave.

Me: I am kind.

Kid: I am kind.

You get the idea.  A few more generic ones, and then I deviate according to the kid’s personality, something we struggled with that day, or something silly.  I love to make up songs on the spot and they enjoy my goofiness as well, which I know won’t last forever so I’m soaking it in.  We always end with “I love myself, I’m proud of myself, and I can do great things.”

I love myself and I’m proud of myself were not part of my original formula, they came to me a couple of years ago when I was thinking about how to have the kids’ validation come from within, rather than from others, including their parents.  I’m not of the opinion that me arriving on Earth earlier makes me any more of an authority on how to be human, it only makes me responsible for their care, safety, and guiding them with things like manners, potty training, and when it’s acceptable to yell “Go Dawgs” at strangers. (Hint: Always. It’s always acceptable.)

Some nights I thank them for choosing me to be their Mama when they were souls preparing to come to Earth.  I feel so grateful and honored that they chose me, knowing they’d be vulnerable and I’d be so very … well, flawed.  Human.  Ill-prepared for the task.

When I was young enough to have a bedtime, Bonmama tucked me into bed most nights.  My mom worked late nights as a radio DJ, so she was usually gone and Bonpapa was downstairs working in his office or occasionally asleep in his recliner in front of an episode of Dragnet.

We walked down the narrow hallway, Bonmama and I, feet scuffing on the vintage green carpet (it had odd sections that looked a lot like the tops of cauliflower to me and I liked how it felt underfoot) until we reached her bedroom.  I had my own bed in my own bedroom across the hall, but didn’t sleep in it because it was big and I was small and afraid of the dark.

So she had an antique bed brought in from Lacanau – her mother’s home – and squeezed it beside her bed, the foot of it nearly touching her delicate dark wooden vanity, and that bed, pushed back into the corner of her room, is where I slept every night.  That was our room.  Bonmama, Bonpapa, and me.

[[Side note:  Eventually, I acquired an ugly gray radio/alarm clock and I was allowed to listen to the public broadcasts each night until one of them came to bed.  It helped me to sleep and not feel alone.  Usually, my choices for night time listening were the grainy audio from some mediocre stage production of Macbeth, or an opera with commercials interspersed.  I always chose the opera.  It’s so romantic, dramatic, and while I couldn’t ever understand what was being sung about, I could tell it was earnest and urgent.  As an idealistic young dreamer, I loved the sounds of catastrophe, climax, and resignation.   If Bonpapa chose the station – which he sometimes did – it was Beethoven.  I still listen to music when I nap, usually Italian opera or Beethoven.]]

I climbed into my little bed, nestled amongst my “menagerie” of stuffed animals, including a mangy-looking white Persian cat and its equally scruffy black sibling, and Bonmama sat beside me arranging pillows and blankets around us.  Once I was still, she prayed with me, beginning with the Lord’s prayer in French, and sometimes invoking Archangel Michael to watch over me.  “You are special to Michel,” she’d say.  “You’re named after him.”  There was something about the way she said it.  I believed the fiercest of Heaven’s warriors might actually have taken time to check in on me as I slept, if I asked him to.

Some nights she rubbed my back or chatted with me about the day.  Every night without fail, she said to me and I repeated back to her:

Bonne Nuit,

Bonne Reves, and

Je t’aime beaucoup. 

Those are French for Good Night, Sweet Dreams, and I love you.

Not exactly affirmations, but no less affirming to my heart and soul.

It’s been a hard week, mostly due to missing her, and today was a welcome reprieve. I spent all day with my boys, just the three of us.  We began with breakfast, then painting.  We went to the field and kicked the soccer ball around, threw a football, raced, and fell down and laughed with each other.  We shared a pizza for dinner, and they played video games while I sat in my big chair and read a book.

Forgive me if my writing is scattered.  All of these thoughts are strung like twinkling patio lights in my head, a web of love and comfort and tradition.  Tradition in the sense that no one is really gone as long as you remember, and echo, and say their name and – here’s the important part, the reason I’m writing this tonight – pay their love forward into new hearts.

A lightning-strike realization. Another revelation.  They keep coming, unexpectedly, as I think and overthink my life and hers and that sweet spot where they intersected, and I wonder if this isn’t another unrecognized stage of grief:

Epiphany.

Honoring Bonmama is not just about saying her name or making her bread.  It’s about the love she’s given me, that can never be divided, only multiplied, and pouring that devotion into my children so that they meet her, and know the best parts of her, even if they don’t know it’s her they are meeting.

I felt like a good mom today.  A Bonmama – type of mom.  At the end of the day, my kids knew without any doubt just how treasured they are.  Cherished.  That’s a word she liked to use.  I like it, too.  (As I type this, my boys are asleep in my bed, surrounded by 15-20 of their “favorite” stuffed animals. This is the kind of history I don’t mind repeating.)

What I’m thinking about over and over as I listen to them gently snoring is, I am so grateful for the choosing. 

That Bonmama chose to be more to us – and give more to us – than she was required.

That my sons chose me in the “before”, and that they continue to choose me every day despite my shortcomings.

Grateful, too, that I am choosing and choose in each moment to show up for them, to be better than I might have been, to give more than I sometimes want to, to try again and fail and apologize and cry and keep working at it.

The words are a comfort and certainly, we like to say them.  I want to hear the words, repeat the words, have fun with the affirmations.  But the love – the evidence and proof and depth of that love – exists, I think, in the choosing.

Philosophy and a Pork Platter

Driving to pick up some barbecue for dinner today, I had a revelation.  It stems from the outfit I’m wearing today.

I’ll explain.

I’m wearing a dress today that I have had for a long time, maybe a year or so.  There’s nothing wrong with it.  The dress is lovely and light, perfect for Summertime and it fits me well.  It’s yellow and floral and frilly and beautiful, and I have until today been afraid to wear it.

Wait, what?

Who’s afraid of a dress (I mean besides the big white ones that come with rings and dramatic promises)?  Well, this girl was, for a number of reasons.

First, this dress is bright and happy, and I wasn’t feeling that way.  Yellow is not a color that says “I am moody” or “Don’t talk to me”.  It screams, “Smile!” and “Sunny day bicycle ride” and “Let’s go get a popsicle together!”

Second, this dress is sexy. 

To clarify: it’s not a sexy dress.  It’s not what you think of when I say the word “sexy”.  (Yes, there’s a difference.)  This dress isn’t cut to hug every curve or show a lot of skin.  It covers much of me and it flows away from my skin in the breeze.  But when I put it on, it feels like I’m wrapping myself in a long-forgotten version of me, or perhaps she’s a brand-new version I’ve not become.

For most of my life, in my friend groups, I have not taken on the role of Sexy Friend. Historically, I’ve played the part of a sincere friend, helpful friend, aloof friend, sidekick friend, even bitchy sarcastic friend on certain late nights and weekends.  Never was I up front, sitting center, or walking in slow-mo to maximize the effect that me walking by might have.  That’s just not who I am – or how I saw myself – outside of the confines of my own living space.

Wearing this dress today I have felt open, and sexy, and radiant, and … well, happy.  True happy, which is way above fake-it-til-you-make-it happy or posing for a photograph happy.  I’m talking true, puppy who just got adopted, tail wagging so hard it’s spinning me in circles, happy.

So this dress – or rather, the beams of light radiating from me as I float through the world in this dress today – got me thinking about good energy vs bad energy, or high vibration vs low vibration, and what happens when the two meet in human form.

For example, let’s say you’re feeling fly like a G6 and smiling and saying hello to your neighbors and even when the barista gets your coffee order wrong you’re still singing in the car all the way to work because you’re grateful to have that kind of First World problems.  Then you run into a kindred spirit who is similarly cheerful, grateful, and radiating light.  You are instantly attracted.  Not in a romantic way, but in recognition. You want to be near them, and it’s not really a thought as much as it is a pulling feeling in the center of the chest or navel area.

This attraction happens because you’re reflecting back to them the light that they are.  You are vibrating at a high frequency, and their vibration is at a similar frequency, and your inner beings create harmony together. The divinity in them recognizes the divinity in you.  It’s like a soul hug.  Or a Vulcan mind-meld but with less agonized screaming.

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“I can literally FEEL the gratitude.”

On the other side of that, (and this is the really important part for me because I am living it out and I literally just realized what is going on) when someone is repelled by you and your light (the you that is functioning as a divine light being having a human experience, your best self), two things are happening:

One, you are reflecting back to them what they are not – which is to say, what they are but they are not currently BEING or choosing to be, because in truth they always are the divine and the light, just as you are.**  When they see and feel your energy, they immediately feel things like guilt, or shame, or insecurity.  This is not your fault.  It’s only because you act as a mirror for them to see themselves clearly and for many people, that’s too much information that they’d rather not look at so closely.

Two, you are in high vibration and high frequency and they are at a lower vibration, which creates dissonance.  You both experience disharmony.   Again, it’s not a thought, and very seldom does the conscious mind understand what’s happening.  It’s not a soul hug this time, it’s more like a soul wedgie.  It is a feeling within that instead of pulling, pushes.  You want to get away from them and likely, they want to either get away from you as well or to lower your vibration so that it matches theirs (and therefore you are in harmony, which FEELS better.)

Side note:  When this happens it’s very common to lose friends, family members, and other people from our lives unexpectedly and sometimes in big and messy ways.  Harsh words are said, feelings are hurt, pride is injured. They will do what they can (unconsciously) to lower your vibration because it’s comfortable for them.  It is easier to lower frequency than to raise it, so please be aware of yourself and do what it takes to keep yourself shining light.

In my mind, losing friends is preferable to lowering vibration.  To achieve higher vibration there has to be a willingness to confront and integrate the shadow, to heal the inner child and old traumas, to cut out discordant beliefs, fears, and stories.  It is hard work.  The reward for that work is the privelege of embodying a version of yourself that isn’t dependent on outer circumstances and isn’t easily changed by being in the company of lower-vibe people.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

All of this happened in my mind in the span of about 8 minutes, and I really couldn’t wait to come home and write it down.

 

**No person is really darkness except he who chooses to be (and even in that choice, he is just denying the light he came from, not truly existing as darkness.)

 

 

Eulogy [prologue]

It was one of the most intimate moments we’d ever shared.

I forget what I was in line for.  I guess I had tuned out all the other people.  I do that sometimes – the noise and the buzzing feeling I get in social situations lead me to focus on something else, something smaller, less loud.  Staring at a penny that looked like it might be glued to the ground by my foot, hands in my pockets, I waited in the line.

All of a sudden someone brushed up against me.  Not like when a stranger passes by and grazes an elbow, more like when you back yourself into a wall.  Only this time the wall had backed into me.  Someone was behind me, someone big.  I could feel them, their warmth covered me like a blanket.  Hands – rougher than mine and calloused – slid into my pockets behind my own.  A head rested itself on my shoulder.  I could feel a bit of stubble on the side of my face, hot breath next to my cheek.

It was sweet, not salacious.  It was familiar, and I knew it was you without having to turn around.  What I didn’t know was why it was you.  Why were you there, standing in line with me – with me and in the middle of all these other people?  It didn’t make any sense, and I thought about questioning it but stopped myself.  It didn’t need to make sense.  I’d ask questions later.  For now, I just wanted to stand here staring at a glued-down penny, your big rough hands nestled behind mine in the deep pockets of my overalls, your head on my shoulder.

We didn’t talk. The line didn’t move.  The wind didn’t blow, the birds didn’t sing.  Nothing happened and at the same time, everything happened. We stood there together, me with you and you with me, hands in pockets.

A millisecond later I was startled awake by the loud creaking of my bedroom windowsill.  These windows get to complaining whenever there’s a thunderstorm like the one tonight. It’s hot and raining heavy and the wood is moving around under the pressure.

I smiled at the absurdity of that moment.

A finger-snap ago I had been happy, in a sunny place feeling warm and secure, and just as I’d begun to thank my lucky stars or guardian angels or whoever was in charge of this sort of thing, I had been jerked back.  Back to a cold lonely bedroom on a rainy night, back to lonely insecure darkness. Back to what was real.

It was one of the most intimate moments we’d ever shared, and it was a dream.

This is the nature of us.

 

Instagram

I am losing hope.

I feel disfigured

Disgusting

Unsuccessful

Untalented

Betrayed

Stupid

Sad

Tired

Mostly tired.

Hashtag: good vibes only.

Conditioned

Lady and the Tramp

Is the first time

I remember being told

That the guy

(From the wrong side of the tracks)

Has a heart of Gold.

 

Next was Johnny Castle –

(A classic example)

of

The nobility of blind love.

And I think about them and

I wonder:

If this is why my mom went under

So many times?

 

The guy who would drink

And pull her around

(by her hair)

With all his affairs –

He nearly broke her.

 

And the man she married (twice)

He played so nice,

Smiling, and smiling,

Snorted our inheritance.

(At least he never hit us.)

 

We moved so much,

New schools, new houses

(Mouses)

That big wooden mansion

The creaky door

Frigid nights lying on a cold floor

Crying.

 

Is this love or is this dying?

Why do they feel the same?

 

I write about love so much,

(And inside me it’s all twisted)

An abstract, a theory

Sewn together with earthworms

And memories that feel like

Delusions.

 

What I have learned,

What I have earned

Is at least the certainty

That

 

Love does not mean pain,

It doesn’t scream or steal or lie

And many times

You can love someone and

Still walk away

Because it’s wrong –

(The side of the tracks you’re on,)

And no one is singing

There is no happy ending,

So you go.

 

(So I go.)

 

A Toast.

To the ones we’ve lost

To the ones we’ve loved

To the ones who left us

And a nod to all the rest.

To the one with deep sea eyes

And thunderstorm laugh

Whose bloody red heart

Is inside my chest:

Happy New Year.

Don’t fuck it up.

xo

He Was Wearing a Red Shirt

I had the worst dream of my life last night.

In all my 39 years I have never experienced a dream like that one.  I hope I never will again.  Give me demons, give me suffocation, give me any of the other dreams that have scared me awake in the past.  I’ll take them gladly, in exchange for this one.

I woke up choking on my own sobs, absolutely breaking down in my bed, somewhere in the middle of consciousness.  When I finally looked up and realized I was in my room, I cried louder but this time they were big, hot tears of gratitude and relief.

It was only a dream? I walked over and checked on my kids, placing a hand on each one to feel them breathing.  I sighed.  I stood up and paced around fora while.

In my understanding, dreams are not just thoughts we have while sleeping. They are another level of consciousness, an alternate reality.  In sleep we travel to the dimensions we cannot reach when we are awake.  Dreams represent the subconscious mind, intuition, possibility, and the unknown realms.  Sometimes they offer solutions, sometimes they offer us greater insight into ourselves.  Sometimes they destroy things in us that need to be destroyed, and that we are resistant to releasing, in order to move us forward towards our highest selves.

Consider me moved.

Recorded in my dream journal for future exploration, or maybe just to get it out of my head.  It could have easily been real, and I will always be grateful for the moment I woke up.

 

 

 

Inked

If you got a tattoo

For me

What would it be?

My eyes? My nose?

A beautiful rose?

No…

I think it must be

A star, or better

A whole constellation

Yes that’s what it will be

A constellation on fire!

More permanent

Than ink

Than a supernova

Than me or you,

Ancient

Ignited

Eternal

Within, without,

Above, below

Primal, ethereal

True.

So would you?

Still Life [version 1]

She grew up here, in this garden.

Rooted in the soil, watered by the rain and heated by the sun.  Not nourished by the sun, exactly, as she had never been brave enough to expose herself to its light.  Not refreshed by the rain, exactly, since she never let it touch her face. But this was fine.  This was life.

She was a tightly closed bud with delicate yellow petals, and even shut into herself like this, she was a wonder to behold. Every day people walked by the garden on their way to – she didn’t know where – and sometimes they’d stop and look at all the flowers and plants.  Their eyes were always drawn to her, because she was tall and graceful and otherworldly.  Still, they could not truly see her, as she remained tightly shut, afraid to let in the light.

One day, a man stopped on the sidewalk to peruse the flowers, as people often did.  He noticed her like all the rest before him, for she was tall and graceful and otherworldly.  But he didn’t just look at her and walk away.  Curious and inspired, he knelt gracefully beside the garden, leaned his face over her, and began to whisper in a voice so low that only she could hear.

He told her she was lovely – a treasure, if truth be told.  He told her she was a gift too precious to stay so tightly shut.  He told her she was unique, and he had never known another like her.  He told her it was safe to look upon the sunlight – that even though it might seem scary to expose her true self, the risk would be worth it.

When he was satisfied with all he had said, the man stood up, brushed the dirt off his hands, and walked away.

She – the tightly closed bud with delicate yellow petals – stood tall and motionless, but the man and his remarks touched her deeply.  His words echoed in the raindrops that fell heavy and loud over the garden that night.

The next morning, she decided to face her fears, and she began to stretch out her long, lovely petals. For the first time she felt a bit of the sun’s warmth inside her and she knew she could never be shut again.

Over the course of the day the beautiful yellow flower opened herself completely to the bright sun above.  She allowed herself to be vulnerable.  She allowed herself to be brave.  In doing so, she revealed her nearly indescribable beauty to the world around her, and she made it a better place.  People now stopped to photograph the garden and several of them gasped at the ethereal, glittering light that seemed to radiate out from the tips of her petals.  She was happier than she had ever been.

She had bloomed.

A few more days went by and the once tightly closed bud, who was now a fully realized golden garden goddess, began to notice some changes in herself.  Her leaves were drooping a bit, her petals sagging and falling off.  She knew what was happening, but she hadn’t expected it to happen so quickly.  Just as she was pondering her newly wilting countenance, she felt the cool of a shadow over her.  It was the kind stranger who had awakened her days earlier, come to whisper to her once more.

Ever so gently he leaned down and again spoke in a voice that only she could perceive.

He told her she was lovely, but more than that, she was brave.  He told her that her courage had transformed the world.  He pointed out that ladybugs, bees, and butterflies had been attracted to her radiant aura, her honey-like scent.  He told her about the crowds of people who had come to see her.  He told her he had painted a most incredible portrait of her and he thanked her for her gift.

When he was satisfied with all he had said, the man stood up, brushed off his hands, and walked away again.

By nightfall, the beautiful flower had wilted completely to the ground.  She lay there, cool in the dirt, and pondered her long life shut away from the sun – and her short but glorious time under its rays.  It was worth it, she knew.

She had been closed off for so long, until a magnanimous stranger simultaneously enlivened and doomed her.  His near-silent, secret whispers had provoked her to the edge of her greatest fears.  He had introduced her to the sun.  Oh! – the hot, beaming, delicious sunlight – and how it playfully danced and glided over her magnificent petals.  That was her favorite part.

She prepared herself for the slow and peaceful fading back down into the earth that had born her, and she considered the irony that in destroying herself she had finally learned what it was to live.

Her life had not been the garden, or the breeze, or the people walking by or even in how long she stood there, afraid and tightly shut.  No, all of that was simply existing.  For the tightly closed bud with the beautiful yellow petals, the meaning of life – and the measure of it, too – was in the blossoming.

Choose the Wolf.

The dialogue in New Moon when Bella tells Jacob, “I’m not like a car you can fix. I’m never going to run right.”

Every woman has felt that/thought that/said that.

Especially when presented with a choice in partner who is the antithesis to a former abusive partner. A partner who is kind, generous, unassuming. Who doesn’t raise his voice or play mind games. A partner who seems to genuinely listen. Who laughs at her jokes and remembers the name of her favorite movie and brings her flowers for no reason.

No reason. But there has to be a reason.

She searches his romantic gestures for explanation because she’s never had love without lies, without strings, without a catch.

Being face to face with a person who is solid, who is good, it’s startling. It is uncharted territory. It’s for someone else, because someone that great could not truly love someone like us. Suddenly we see with clarity just how dysfunctional our previous partnerships were.

In the movie, Bella chooses Edward. Edward, who crushed her spirit, who left her in pieces on the floor.

It was Jacob who healed her, who brought life back to her empty shell of a body, who pointed her towards the sun on the grayest of days. When she called to him, he came. Always. He was faithful and loyal and true.

She chose to spend her (eternal) life with a man who broke her.

Why am I writing about this? Because it’s on tv right now and I just watched Bella say those words to Jacob and it struck me how similar this is to real life. I’m annoyed by the romanticized abuse, the willful walk towards pain, narcissism, sadness.

So many women (men, too, I suppose) choose the love they think they deserve instead of the one the actually DO deserve – the one that will allow them to become their best selves alongside a partner who nurtures and encourages them.

I want to say to everyone reading this: You deserve a Jacob. Someone warm and understanding who treats you like the treasure you are. Do not settle for an Edward just because he’s pretty or it hurts to let him go. Better it hurt once, for now, than every day, for the rest of your life.

Given a choice between a vampire and a werewolf, always choose the wolf.