Life’s Roller Coaster…

downloadI want to share all the things that have been going on in my life. There are so many changes that I don’t know where to begin. There’s too much to catch up and yet, so many important things to say.

It’s been an important year for all of us. Eye-opening (hopefully) with a call to action around issues of power and privilege that are impacting (infecting) our daily lives and killing (literally) others. I’m sitting with both sadness and empathy, but also a great deal of hope for what our future holds; even through these challenging times.

I’m living in Houston now. It’s good. I’m happy. I’m starting over, once more and while the past few months have been challenging, they’ve also been months of personal growth and more learning about who I am and who I want to be.

I’m in graduate school, too. In an amazing low-residency program at University of Vermont, Leadership for Sustainability, M.S. I’m learning both “book” knowledge and a lot about building relationships and gratitude.

I’ve also been learning about relationships and people who will sit in your corner even when it’s risky for them. I’ve been let down, by those I trusted. I’m learning to trust people’s actions, more than their words. I’m giving fewer chances, which may not seem positive, but I’m also learning I’ve given far too many chances to people who only use them to hurt me or others more. What’s been reinforced for me, is that the people you can trust the most, are those willing to sit through the hard times with you; those who will struggle with you to figure things out; will “grow through it” with you. I’ve been lucky to have these people in my life, these are the people I treasure and relationships I will nurture. For the others, all I can say, is “people will notice a change in your attitude towards them, but won’t notice their behavior that made you change.”

Lots of challenge and change. That seems to be the theme for this year. I wouldn’t undo it. I have zero regrets. I’ve had moments where I’ve been at my very best and others where I left my best self at home.

That’s what I have for an update, with a hopeful thought (as always) that I’ll do better at sharing more regularly.

Peace

In which she falls apart

I haven’t been writing. I could write lines and lines of why that is and not a single one would matter really. Tonite I write in search of something; solace, substance, truth, peace… It feels incredibly selfish in light of all that goes on around me to focus on what I’m learning about myself and why that matters, and it is. But it does, matter, that is.

It’s been exactly five months since I left everything I’d grown to know as home and comfort to set out on this adventure. The irony of this moment is that when I began to envision making this adventure a reality, I felt completely confident and comfortable doing so because I knew myself, I’d become the most authentic me, living life out loud, taking advantage of opportunities without fear or trepidation, and loving the heck out of myself and others. What was missing in my authentic self, was experience, exploration of new places and challenges, and a very honest desire to use the gifts and talents I possess to do work that supports opportunities of growth for others.

Here’s the crux…. Somewhere along the path of this adventure, when things started getting really challenging, when there was trial and hurt and sorrow, I unpacked a less authentic version of me, I hadn’t experienced in years. Those who knew me well in the ‘90s will recognize this self. Angry, hurt, afraid, cynical, frustrated, uneasy. I didn’t like this self much in the 90s and I really am not enjoying her now and neither is anyone else. Here’s what, I know that this is not who I am at my very core, but throw me into a situation where everything that is familiar to me is completely indiscernible as present in my life and those walls go up and authentic me sits quietly inside while this version lays waste to all who shall dare to approach. It’s not a pretty picture, but it is honest.

I wasn’t prepared for some of the challenges and changes, the culture shifts, quieter life, the loss of my animal companion. I’ve made mistakes and errors in judgment. I’ve tried to be accountable for that. I’ve misjudged other’s communications, intent, and willingness to forgive, move on and try another day. I’ve led with pride when I should have followed with curiosity. And maybe most importantly, I’ve hid myself in ways that have hurt others as well.

I don’t know what this means. I’ve never before been this aware of the fluidity of authentic self between those layers of protection that we keep “just in case” but which can wreak some of the worst havoc when they reappear. Truth is, its definitely all a part of who I am. Each day is a practice in peeling back those layers and shedding that skin to grow ever increasingly authentic. I know there is more change on the horizon. I am hopeful for what both this insight and the coming days brings. The one good thing about things falling apart, is the opportunity to put them together again.

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Some days are harder

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Like today.

It happens, some days are better than others. Yesterday I was able to talk and write with confidence about the changes in my life. Today…not so much, for a variety of reasons. Every day I’m making what feel like fairly significant decisions. They aren’t life or death and most of them are not unrecoverable. But it’s still hard. I often feel isolated and alone in a place unfamiliar to me.

To complicate matters, today I let someone I once trusted minimize me. It hurt and it made me angry. Mostly, it hurt. I was upset, so I thought it might help to get out of the house for a bit. But I was crying, a lot. I mean probably in a way that could have had a positive impact on the drought in California. Less than a mile from home, I got pulled over by police. FOR CRYING! He approached the car, “Ma’am, you look to be a long way from home and really upset, is everything ok.” Seriously, perhaps if one is going to get pulled over for crying, the South might be the best place to have that happen. He asked if he could give me a hug and because I really needed one, I got out of the car on the freeway and let a stranger in uniform give me hug.

Change isn’t easy. I used to avoid as much change as possible, to my own detriment. Now, every day is about embracing change.
It’s exciting.
It’s scary as hell, too.
Some days are harder.
And that’s ok.

For the rest of the day, I’m just going to choose to let it go.

Life IS the adventure…

I’ve fallen a bit behind in planned blogs and quite frankly so much has happened since the last one that I wouldn’t really even be able to catch up. But I’ve realized given recent FB comments and a couple of phone conversations with close friends, that those of you who are kind enough to follow my adventure may be wondering what is up with what appears to be an abrupt stop in the adventure as I settle in to a new apartment home in Jackson, MS.

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Playing Checkers in Las Vegas

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Worthy Opponent

My last post ended with my arrival in Las Vegas. Having learned to love Vegas in a way I never thought I would, I stopped here for a brief visit with one of my super good and amazingly talented friends, Charles. We spent an afternoon in “old Vegas” on Fremont Blvd and at Gold Spike, this little outdoor oasis of giant sized board games, really strong drinks, and a great place to smoke a smooth stogie. It was a good day. I left Vegas early the next morning with a long drive through Arizona, partially along Route 66, and in to Albuquerque where I spent the night at a hotel. I may kick myself for this later, but I did opt to skip Grand Canyon (I know, nature’s wonder and all).

Arizona

Arizona

From Albuquerque I drove to west Texas where I visited my friend Big E, who’d moved there from the Bay to be with his kids and where he just this past weekend, married his life’s love. So good to see him and meet his family.

Then it was on to Houston, where I landed for a few days at Don and Sid’s. This was a much-needed rest, Texas made me road weary, Leila had been getting carsick and I was ready for a bit of respite. After a few days, it was on to Jackson, MS that is where the story takes a bit of a twist.

While I was in Oregon a few weeks prior, my friends in Jackson sent me an email with a grant opportunity and said something like “lets do this.” And so we did. The three of us spent the next couple of weeks writing a 25+-page grant and preparing a budget to open an Adolescent Evening Reporting Center in Jackson, MS. The AERC is an alternative to detention centers and provides skills training, counseling, recreation and a warm meal. Our proposal was to do it in a different way, with a curriculum based on restorative justice, principles of democratic education, trust and respect. And the morning after that long trek through the desert in to Las Vegas that had left me feeling desolate and discouraged as I contemplated whether I was making the right decision about embarking on this adventure, the call came that we had received the grant! And so I arrived in Jackson knowing that this was now going to be my home for awhile…6 months, a year, or longer.

I landed in Jackson and almost immediately contracted a raging fever. Then I headed to New Orleans for a week to present at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference.

Upon returning to Jackson, I started looking for a place to live and in the past week, I’ve moved in and begun to settle in. And here is where the questions from you have arisen. As I’ve posted pictures of my new #home with connected hash tags and indicators that I was indeed settling in for a long while, you’ve asked about the adventure.

Some of my dearest friends have been quite direct about it, calling to find out what was going on and asking how I felt about not being able to continue the adventure or keep traveling. And what was I doing settling in somewhere? My gut response to all of this is that the adventure is NOT over. When I set out on this journey/adventure, I was open to whatever it held in store for me. Whatever it asked of me. I didn’t know where I would end up or where I would go. I had an initial “stop point.” That was Jackson. What the journey is asking of me now is to settle in for a while. I believe in this project, and I want to put in the effort to get it off the ground and operating. I’m still doing some consulting work and also maintaining operations for IDEA. What I know about me, is that in order to be my best professionally, I need to feel settled. I need to have a retreat that is my own, a place to rest; regroup; and start again the next day. And so Leila and I are making Jackson our home.

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But here’s the thing. Jackson is located in an incredible part of our country. The South is rich in history and natural beauty and amazingly kind and generous people. I’ve never been here, I’ve never traveled around the South and there are so many parts of it I want to explore. And there will be time for more travel and exploring and adventure.

The adventure is NOT over. Life IS the adventure and every day I am learning something new, meeting someone new and having experiences I’ve never had. That is what this journey is about…and so it continues.

 

For the Love of Fall

 

Photo Credit: joecephus martin

photo credit: joecephus martin

Autumn is my favorite season. The lower temperatures bring a crispness to the air that makes it feel new, even if it’s not. The staleness of the Summer heat and sweat moves on and people seem less “busy” for the sake of being busy and yet more busy because it’s a time to be in doors with those we love celebrating the many holidays that are recognized this time of year. I’ve always been at odds with the saying “Spring is for Lovers.” While I understand it, I’m thinking, really? Cause is there a better time to curl up on the couch or in bed with your lover, watch a movie…or whatever else seems good, than Autumn? Doubtful.

For many, the onset of Autumn is marked with color changes along the landscape, lower temperatures, and shorter days.

Autumn officially begins with the Autumn Equinox. But here in California we typically have about another month before Autumn really hits and without the more common signs, I’ve grown accustomed to my own signs that Autumn has arrived.

Little dogs in little sweatshirts, hoodies, and such.

Little pink hoodie

Little pink hoodie.

Trying to get out of the little pink hoody.

Trying to get out of hoodie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The patio door which has been opened more often than not for several months, now is more frequently closed.

"Let me in."

“Let me in.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Socks with pajamas…for that matter, pajamas.

Stripes and Dots

Stripes and Dots

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having been born in October, I may be slightly predisposed to a Autumn affinity. Regardless of how the changing of the seasons in your neck of the woods is marked, I think we can all agree that Autumn has officially arrived, even here in Northern California. I hope you’ll take some time to kick back and enjoy it.

Photo Credit: joecephus martin

photo credit: joecephus martin

 

How to Love a Fat Girl or Boy

480900_451243814958361_1530752660_nI’m a major fan of the meme “how to get a bikini body.”  You know, the one that then tells you to buy a bikini and put it on your body, then you have a bikini body (pic).

Well, I’m pretty sure that loving a fat girl or boy is similar.

It’s ok, try not to go all huffy, hissy fit on me and start talking about how complicated love is and such. Love is not complicated. Relationships can be and I’m not in any way attempting to minimize that. Also, just like you can find articles that will tell you how to get a bikini body in just 6 short weeks, there are articles, blog posts, and other such stuff with lists of rules and suggestions about how to love a fat girl (boy).  If you feel you actually need these rules, they are a simple “how to love a fat girl” google search away from your fingertips right now. This, is not that.

Fatties (aka fat girls or boys) are human beings. I know this because I am a fat girl. There’s nothing special or particular about us. All women and frankly, men have or have had body issues at one point in time, society basically dictates it. Some of us have lingering feelings and emotions about the ways we’ve been treated about our bodies, some of us don’t. Some of us may require a little more convincing that you really do love us, some of us won’t. I don’t think the variations are really that different from any other combination of individuals with different body types when coming together in a love, like, lust connection. I don’t believe that loving someone who is fat requires a special list of instructions (you may not agree with me and that’s ok). So basically, I’m going to keep it simple and direct. How do you love a fat girl or boy? Find a fat girl or boy that stirs that feeling in you that is undeniably about wanting to share your days and nights with her or him in all the ways a human being lives and moves through life and if she or he feels the same way about you, go ahead and love them. And be happy.

That is all.

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Like Moths to a Flame: A Hard Lesson to Learn

moth_light_500I was always that child growing up. The one who even though was warned the flames would burn me and even though I could feel the heat as I approached and my brain registered that the heat would definitely burn me, would go right ahead and stick my hand in the flame just to make sure. And sometimes, I would go back for more. Again, just to know for sure that the first time hadn’t been a fluke.
It’s a pattern of behavior I’ve carried well into adulthood. And I want to say for the most part it’s served me well. I’ve taken chances where others have warned me (not out of mortal danger, but out of internalized fears and consistent messaging that people like me just don’t do those things) not to. I’ve colored outside of the lines my entire life knowing that it may get me a scolding from the teacher but feeling empowered by the freedom of non-conformity. And I’ve tested the painful flames of life and love without fear or trepidation and have retreated, singed or burned but stronger for having faced the flames. And, just as I have returned to the flame on the off-chance that it might have cooled even in the slightest bit, I’m a sucker for giving people second chances.  I’m not naïve; I know that the chance of me getting burned and individual people not having changed at all are almost always 100%. But the difference between a flame and a human is the potential to change and the hope I have for them to do so.
I’m also a bit of a hopeless romantic. Combine that with the will for taking chances and you’ve got a perfect scenario for going up in flames.

When frightened tongues speak timidly of love turn sharply into blades and strike the fatal wound.

imagesToday I’m nursing some pretty serious burns; burns that could have been avoided had I heeded not only the warnings of my inner circle of friends, but also my own internal instinct. But be it love or lust or hope; I could not for the life of me turn away from the flame. I saw the signs, I’d felt the heat more than once, I knew the potential…but I failed to see the firestorm coming and I put myself in its direct path.  The worst thing and what I find myself futilely dressing my wounds with, is how much I wrapped my sense of self up in this persons perceptions and treatment of me.  The signs that his own tragic past and “brokenness” would make him a challenging match as well as his potential for emotional manipulation showed up in the early stages of us getting to know each other over a year ago.
Again, friends warned me after I would share my frustrations with them over certain interactions with him.  And yet, even though I was seemingly determined at the time to let him go I became pavlovian in my response to his texts and calls. I could not tell him no…and when he would reject me or turn me away anyway, I always blamed myself and made excuses for him.  “He’s a good father.” “He has a successful job that he loves.” “He treats me so well when we are together.” “We have great conversations and enjoy the same things.” “I shouldn’t have said that in that way.” “I shouldn’t have asked him.” “He works so hard, he’s just tired.” “My expectations are too high.”
When he showed up places where he knew I’d be, with other women, I shook it off…”we aren’t exclusive.” “I see other people, too.”
Sound familiar? Worse yet, when he both actively and passively rejected me, I blamed myself.  Questioning what it was about me…”he’s not attracted to me,” “he’s not ready for a relationship,” “I’m too [fill in the blank],” “I need to back off, expect less,” “what could I change about me that would change his mind, change the way he was treating me?”
When he’d call or text, I was happy.  When he asked, I would go. When we spent time together, I was excited and looked forward to it…even though he’d often cancel at that last-minute or cause a fight that would lead me to not go.
Friends told me to stop with him.  He didn’t deserve me. I was too good for him. I was a stronger woman than I was letting myself be with him…the list of reasons to not be with him grew and yet.  It was a train wreck I couldn’t stop. I mean I could have, I should have…but I didn’t. And oh how I wish I would have.  Because the pain not only from his actual manipulation and emotional abuse, but now from my self-doubt and bruised ego are nearly unbearable.
Last night was the final blow: shortly after he whispered words of love, I was essentially dismissed like, well…a common whore. That’s how I felt, belittled and insecure, and shattered. He told me to go…and I did. I didn’t stand my ground or defend myself. I could have, might have had it been anyone else…I don’t let people use me or talk to me like he did. Not usually. I was upset, but not because I was leaving, because he wasn’t coming after me…I felt humiliated.
I want to be angry. I do. And tomorrow I might be. I hope to be. Others are angry for me and I wish I could feel it too. I wish I could hate him. Instead of feeling heartbroken. But this is what emotional abuse and manipulation does to a person. I’m working on getting angry. I’ve blocked and deleted him from my phone. Because it may be a week or two or a month, but he will call or text. And if I saw his name, I’d pick up.  I know how that sounds. But I’m being honest with you and myself.
I’m being honest with you, because I’m hoping to find some strength in the truth. By letting you know that although I consider myself a strong independent woman, I let someone get to me and use me in ways I would fight tooth and nail against for strangers even. I’m being honest, because you might know someone else who’s going through something similar and not understand why…and maybe this helps or maybe it doesn’t. I’m being honest, because I need to get it out of my head and I’m hoping to walk away and leave it here where it will either be read or not, but it is no longer inside tormenting me, continuing the abuse and manipulation.  I’m being honest, because it’s helping to uncover the anger. And I’m counting on that anger to drive me far away from the flame. To help me learn this lesson and learn it well.  To trust my instinct that the flame which is hot will indeed burn.

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The Truth About Lies

The other day, I was flipping through the photo stream on my phone looking at all these word/quote images I’ve collected through Pinterest recently.  I was preparing to post this one to my Facebook wall. I was as close as only having to touch the post button when I was like “fuck that, this is so messed up.” I had saved this image because at the time I came across it, it struck a chord in me and I felt in agreement with it. But not now and hopefully not ever again. And I hope you won’t be either.

I recently was faced with the very real possibility that a relationship I cared very much about and had invested a significant amount of time and energy into was based primarily on lies.  And for a not-so split second I thought I might fall apart.  And truth be told (ha!), I kinda did (little bit).  But then I was like “fuck this!”   The way the relationship made me feel at the best of times, the good things that came into my life because of it, shouldn’t be diminished because some asshole doesn’t have the balls to be honest and truthful with himself, me, or anyone probably.  Unlike him, I was all-in.  For  reasons I won’t disclose, I felt safe–completely safe to be totally me: authentic, emotional, crazy, raw, sexy, giving, trusting … all-in!  And I learned so much about myself.  And I won’t let someone else’s lies take that away from me.

When someone lies to you, it has very little to do with you as an individual and has absolutely nothing to do with your worth.  Lies are about the other persons concept of self and worth.  Either they don’t believe they deserve to be authentic and honest themselves or they have an inflated sense of self that allows them to use lies to take what they want and move on.  I think this is true in all relationships — friendships, business, etc.

Here’s what, I know we all tell a little “white” lie from time to time to get out of sticky situations or whatever.  I’m not talking about those kinds of lies.  Although I do believe that these kinds of lies have their own impact on our lives and we all have the ability to rise above them.  I’m mostly referring to the lies that have the greatest impact on someone’s life.  Those that change the way a person may react, that impact the decisions of an individual, that manipulate and twist the truth into something unrecognizable.  I encourage you to not be that kind of person.  And most of all, I want you to believe that when someone else tells you this kind of lie, it is not about you!

Here’s how I’d rewrite this quote: