Being present

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Breathing in
I am breathing in.
Breathing out
I am breathing out.

When I breathe in, I am in the present moment.
I am not focusing on the future breath, I am not focusing on a past breath.

You and I are here and now. We are immediately present.
I am breathing you in, your presence in, your love in.
I am breathing me out, my presence out, my love out.

I am breathing for me alone. For everyone around me. At the same time.

I am present for me.
I am present for you.

I breathe.

The gardener

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You are my garden.

Not in a sense that I own you. No, you are wilderness that I stumbled across at one point in my life and kept coming back to.

I tended you. Your soil was in need of nutrients, water, and love.
You tended me. My soul was in need of what you alone could give me.

The sunlight warmed you, the rain nourished you, the trees protected you.

But every so often, people would trample through my garden, not paying heed to the rich soil that was underfoot.

It’s been a few years and your soil is ready.
Together we planted seeds. Each one was lovingly and carefully enveloped in the earth.
Each one has so much potential.
Letting go of the seeds to their ultimate destiny made me cry but the thought of what they can become made me smile.

This is my promise to you:

I will tend you as I have from the beginning.
I will water and care for each seedling that appears.
I will learn patience: there is no salad to make yet. To harvest the crops now would mean to kill them.

I love my garden and I know the feeling is mutual. I am here, your gardener, your confidant, your secret-keeper. When harvest time comes, we will be new. We will be ready. I will be here where I have always been.

And our baskets will overflow.

Promises

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I promise:

more authenticity
more integrity
to listen more effectively
that I’ll take a breath before responding
I will be more cognizant of spreading myself too thin
I will live more outside myself than in my cavernous thoughts
I will care first, judge never

I promise:

to fail at each of those promises every day.
to pick myself back up, forgive myself, and try again.

In lieu of biological children, this is my offering to my community and the world around me. I cannot help but believe every day that this will make a difference. A small one, perhaps, but a difference all the same.

 

 

117 faces

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Me at the gate

Last season on the circus, I did a photo project for myself: I wanted to take a photo of me at the front gate every day that reflected the exact mood I was in. I only managed to do it 117 days of our 9 month season, but this is the result: happy, sad, bored, sick, scared, angry, overwhelmed, relieved, calm, and everything in between.

A wintery spring

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Hello grey skies, cold winds, and muted sunshine!

I embrace you. I actually do. You may not be pleasant to deal with right now, but you are my reality. You are my today. You may be my tomorrow and you were certainly my yesterday.

I experience you right now which means I am here, breathing, smiling, thinking, loving. I have so much to be thankful for that unpleasant sensations while walking under the trees means a lot less than it could.

It is brisk, it is exhilarating, and it makes me feel wide-eyed and alive.

I breathe in icicles.
I breathe out understanding.

Knowledge is everything. Fear is nothing. Experiences are worth experiencing fully. People are worth loving completely. And the cold, though not wholly appreciated, is worth acknowledging on our path to sunny days.

Story pitch

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In 2013, a certain author, who wrote a certain young adult series, held a contest in which people submitted their own story pitches set in the universe he had created. I don’t recall the author’s name or the series anymore, but I did submit a pitch that I never heard back about. No matter, I liked what I came up with anyway. It was a reworking of a short piece I wrote in college.

The stillness of Lake Avalon has been interrupted and hundreds of animals steal away from its safety.  She almost steps on a lizard as she hurriedly runs to the edge of the water.

Looking out over the silver surface, she feels a moment’s peace and then accusing eyes peer at her from the waving cat tails and from the mud until she even believes the fish are looking at her with an unanswered question in their eyes.  It’s very bleak, this Thursday evening in the tiny town of Avalon, and the inky color of the water that is slowly lapping at her sneakers matches her mood at the moment.

She bends down, lets the water immerse her hands and they disappear.  She is surprised by this and pushes them down further until she feels the soft mud below.  Both hands are nowhere to be seen.  Now if she can only find a good anchoring rock and some rope.  Her wild mind grasps at this idea as she peers at her rippling reflection in the moonlight: her long black-turquoise hair, her lavender eyes, her emerging claws.

She is a Changeling and things are not going her way.

And just like that…

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prayer flags

…answers, peace, direction, and love re-enter life.

With each step back, I learn to take a new step forward the next time. I learn how to be more comfortable in my own skin. I am humbled, I am embarrassed, but I admit my mistakes and I ask for a second chance. Sometimes I get one; sometimes I don’t.

But the important factor in all of this is to keep moving forward. Be my authentic self. Walk in integrity. Admit when I’m wrong. Ask for forgiveness. Love always. Breathe. Remember to breathe.

Keep breathing. That breath, that single breath will carry love inwards. And with each exhale, the love continues on to others like the unraveling of a prayer flag in the wind.

Thank you for this lesson.

Practicing unconditional, inclusive love

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I was cheated out of the title “daughter-in-law” because of mental illness.

It’s okay; I’ve made peace with that and I harbor no ill will toward those who should have considered me as such.

My life is rich, full of love, support, and loyalty, and I know theirs is not.

It’s enough to make you question the fairness of the world (it isn’t), the justice of loved ones not accepting the help that is needed, and where an all-powerful, omniscient being is when there is so much hurt, pain, betrayal, and anger in just our tiny microcosm of the universe.

But I don’t focus on that. I can’t. I won’t.

Instead, I’ve chosen to stretch myself past being comfortable, ask the tough questions, analyze my thought patterns and habits and break most of them, consider very carefully before letting individuals into my life (I’m still not good at that), and actively decide every day to be the most authentic me I can possibly be.

In the midst of all of that, I can no longer harbor anger or hurt toward the two who have effectively splintered this family. I rarely consider them at all for my own well-being. When they do flit across my mind, I whisper “namaste” and move on. Sometimes I breathe a metta meditation to them and others who are in hurt:

May all beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

May all living beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

May all breathing beings be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

May all individuals be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

May all beings in existence be safe, happy, healthy, live joyously…..

And sometimes I simply hover above the sadness, acknowledge it, allow it to twinge for a second, and blow it away.

E is for Estrangement

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It’s apparently not entirely our fault anymore.

Now it’s someone else’s fault.

Because reality has been rewritten again. And again. And again. And probably a couple thousand more times that we don’t even know about.

I’m amazed that I had any shock left in my system to experience. But there it was…making its way from my heart to my head as I uttered, “Are you f**king kidding me?”. And then I laughed.

I know that memory can be a faulty thing and that we shouldn’t rely completely on it, especially after 10 years.

However

I remember 10 years ago. I remember 14 years ago. I remember what was said, what was accused, I remember the shock of two people who were (and still are) sadly incapable of unconditional love, one by one, pushing most of us away. And then rewriting what happened to make them the unaccused, the blameless, the victims.

And now we’re entering script rewrite #278.

But here’s the thing: I’ve thrown away my script, I’ve purposefully forgotten my lines, and I’m not playing that role anymore. I was cast as “daughter-in-law” at one time in my life, but my obligation to that play has ended.

No regrets, no tears, just happiness, health, strength and love.

We’ve fought damn hard for it.