Archive for March, 2015

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A gift given to me by Neil Gaiman

March 29, 2015

I don’t have an easy time writing poems that rhyme. Intimidated by Dr Seuss, Roald Dahl, Shakespeare, clever rhymey people everywhere, I find, for the most part, that my rhyming patterns tend to feel a little trite in comparison. But every so often…

Earlier this afternoon, the wind blew me down the hill to my favourite spot on a neighbouring lake. There are 9 tree stumps, sticking up out of the lake in various places near the shore. Each one has a different kind of growth coming from it. Some small trees, some spindly bushes, some just moss and flowers, all very individual. I call them the muses, for good reasons beyond there being nine of them. Actually, it doesn’t go much beyond that. There’s nine of them, everytime I sit near them, the ink flows faster than I can keep up with and I almost always like what comes out.
The poem that appears here is not exactly the one I wrote down earlier this afternoon. Which is a new and glorious feeling for me. The ability to have a moderately critical eye, not to the extent that I criticize and let go of, but understand it’s good, but could be better. If I don’t think it’s great, I’ll delete it, or rip out the page or cross it out, without any regard for the process of getting better. It has to start at better, or best! for me to think it’s worth anything. It’s so damn limiting to have that attitude. I wrote a poem and then I started to edit it and just when I was planning to be distracted by the internet, the wind kicked up a fury and I lost the signal for about 3 hours. Just long enough to finish it. As soon as I was done, the internet started working again. Hmm.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life reading, no devouring books by writers I admire, such as Mr Neil Gaiman, Mr Roald Dahl, Mr Dr Seus, Mr Will Shakspeare, et al. And often I’m left with the feeling that it’s soooo good, I’ll never write that well and so I should just stop. Writing. I know how crazy it sounds, imagine how heart wrenching it feels! Actually don’t, it feels not awesome.
And I know that Neil Gaiman would probably be distressed to know that he might ever make someone feel like that and it started to make me angry that I would allow my insecurities that I can’t write as good as him stand in the way of working out how my voice sounds when I speak.
My voice probably won’t sound anything like his, he’s a very tall english man with dark hair. I am a moderately short canadian girl with (soon to be again) red hair. Why do I get so hung up on comparing myself to people who are nothing like me? I’m sure we have plenty in common (I love his wife too, perhaps not biblically, but very much nonetheless) and could easily have a delightful conversation over tea and gluten free almond tarts, unless he’s allergic to almonds. Then it would be a very short conversation.
“Hello Neil Gaiman, my name is Trish. Would you like a tart? I made them, they’re gluten free.”
“It’s very nice to meet you, Trish. I would love a tart. Have you met my wife Amanda? She also plays the ukulele. I only mention it because i see that you have one.”
“I do and in fact, both of you signed it before but I wiped off your autographs with my boobs while playing because I never covered it with tape. Maybe you could sign it ag-Are you alright? You don’t look very good.”
“Are there almonds in here?”
“Why yes..oh no! You’re not allergic are you?” Cellphones dial 9-1-1, as epi pens are fumbled with and jabbed into various body parts.
Trish prays the earth will open up and swallow her.
I don’t think he is allergic to almonds. Some days I think I might have a sensitivity, but that could also be attributed to how unsettled I am by surrealism. Because surrealists love almonds, of course.

But I had a moment the other day, while walking in the forest and thinking about how much I love that Neil Gaiman writes, how much I appreciate his voice, his imagination, his gift, how lucky the world is to have people like him living and creating.
I suddenly realized, there is every possibility I could do that for someone, if only I would get over these strange habits of personal comparison.
Also, how would he ever have a chance to reciprocate this appreciation, unless I write something? Now, I don’t need for that to happen. I’m not writing with the hope that one day he’ll read my thing, whatever it is and say, wow Trish, this is really good. Almost as good as these tarts you made…wait..is that an almond?

So.
I called forth some strange rhyming schemes, some iambic pentameter, some muppets and even all seven of the endless. I tip my hat to you Mr Neil Gaiman and I appreciate the advice I found on your blog.

“Believe in yourself. Keep writing.”
So I wrote a thing.
Trying to stay enchanted by mystery
Faltering in the realm of get through the day
Inhibited, feeling trapped by my history
Adrift and alone with nothing to say.

I’ve lost sight of truths that might well be apparent
If not for the dischord of internal duality
Trading the beauty of stories inherent
For a has to be more than this mentality

Because this alone, what’s going on
seems like it could be more than enough
When I take the time to acknowledge what’s happening
Without so much focus on stuff.

Spinning in space, do I savour this place
Of synchronous and delightful abstraction?
NO! Instead I seek out, things that blind, cause self-doubt
And encourage narrow sighted distraction.

A bird call sounds, so clear behind me
I don’t fully grasp that it’s real
The life surrounds, I still don’t quite see
But I’m remembering how to feel.

When did I switch my perspective
To expectations broad and limiting
As though I am owed something amazing
Simply for existing?

I would argue all births justified
Since the odds are astronomical
I don’t think this could be denied
Though on paper, it just seems phenomenal.

But the life I live is earned
By every deed and habit
And my choices are unlimited,
I can hitchhike,
Bus
or Yellow Cab it.

And where I end up is my choice too
Wherever I am, whatever I do
Heart open to light, expressive and truthful
Or hide in plain sight, disengaged, even rueful,
That I didn’t soar whenever I could
Be mutable,
mindfully,
Adapt and grow strong
like the trees in the wood
Like dandelions, learn to be free

They might seem to step back,
to reassess a blocked path
Then bloom from a crack
in a sidewalk so tiny
That nobody noticed it there
It didn’t need much, just enough space
For some rain and sunshine and air

We don’t really need
much more than we’ve got
Some warm hands to hold now and then
is a lot.

Or perhaps they’ll just wave
as we’re walking on by
The briefest connection
can help us to thrive
Just a smile and a nod from a soul,
recognized
A kindred existence
I can see in your eyes.

Not all moments are pleasant,
there’s no escaping despair
But we are resilient,
we find ways to repair

We dream, we delight,
we desire great things
We might believe in a destiny
As though someone else pulls the strings
Or prefer a destruction
of traditional past
Find new ways to ensure
Our legacies last

Or take joy in the chaos, the sense of delirium,
the moments we dance outside time.
The creative nonsensical, method of madness
The unreason at home in the rhyme.
And whether the steps that we dance past the evening
Are heavy or soft,
This tapestry that we’re weaving
Contains all the folly, contains all the friend
Contains death, contains life
Without beginning
Or end

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First thought, best thought sometimes makes for weird poetry and/or bouts of self love.

March 26, 2015

How often I’ve been in a situation where I needed to come up with an answer right now and I hesitate. Not because I don’t have an answer, but because I don’t believe I could have come up with the right one so quickly.
So instead of the original thought, I go with the secondary and it’s wrong. Frequently. And the original turns out to be right. This happens most often for me with math questions. My brain loves numbers. Loves them so much that I have emotional attachments to some of them. I used to think things like, of course I thought of that number first, I like it and it’s such a beautiful colour. It was merely a coincidence that it is the right answer.

It’s not a coincidence. It was the right answer, I just didn’t believe enough in my ability to either come up with it or recall it, if it was something I already knew. And it’s not just math where this happens. And I don’t think it’s just me. But since my brain is the only one I live in on a regular basis, I’ll continue to speak from that perspective.

The notion of first thought, best thought as used for every day life decisions might not always work. I think I used it because I woke up with it on my lips and it starts with an F and since this is F day…ok, full disclosure..actually yesterday was F day and I did start to write something about focus but then got distracted and while I find that hilariously ironic, it’s also too close to status quo for me to be completely comfortable about it. It could be argued that I’m not honouring first thought best thought by starting something new, rather than continuing with my post of yesterday but I am a rich and varied creature of myriad contradictions and since it’s my name on the blog…
Anyhow. I heard first thought, best thought used specifically for writing from Sheri D Wilson, a really lovely poet. Who learned it from Allan Ginsberg, who in turn credited Chogyam Trungpa, who founded Naropa Liberal Arts institute (where one day I will attend the School of Disembodied Poetics, as has been my dream since I heard about it from a guy who picked me up hitchhiking when I was 18..I tried to go that day, but there was this border crossing where they didn’t appreciate my candid answers to their questions and so denied me entry). But way before that William Blake came up with “first thought is best in Art, second thought in other matters”. Whatever, it really doesn’t matter where it comes from because it’s a beautiful sentiment.

Here’s why. It suggests a trust that my brain has the ability to call forth that which is most appropriate or inspired or “correct”if only I would get out of the way and let it do so. So often I am struck with inspiration but have been conditioned not to trust those feelings because they’re more than probably irrational or silly.
But irrational and silly really tends to work for me!
I feel as though these moments are opportunities to tap into that voice inside, you know the one that if you actually listen to it won’t steer you wrong because it doesn’t come from a place of fear and second guessing? It’s not necessarily as loud as the secondary voice, or determined to make me see reason (have you ever noticed that the voices most unsure of being right are the ones that tend to be the loudest? As though, if I can convince you that this is true by yelling it in your face, it might actually be true for me too) regardless of whether or not that reasonable argument comes from a rational place or not.

I’m not suggesting that this is an infallible method and works for every single thing, even writing.

But how much sweeter is it to practice something that allows for a belief that I am capable of good things, or even best ones.

I lack focus,
My relative aperture is stuck
The setting too broad
For the fine tune required
To fulfill these ambitions of mine.

Except that I am still dreaming it
Into fruition
And like the abstract nature of the dream state
I have no idea
What it is about
Or where it might end,

If in fact, that’s what I want.
I can always change
my mind.

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Everyday I think of her

March 24, 2015

Expressive, bright, her laughing eyes
how they sparkle when she thinks of something funny,
which is often
how it frequently translates into a gasp,
a giggle,
a guffaw,
A boisterous expression of joy,
Unrepressed.

Enchanting to some,
by other standards unremarkable
consider her mouth,
A bottom lip full and luscious,
the top, like her grandmother’s,
just too thin to register any colour of lipstick lighter than devilishly red,
Which is, coincidentally,
the only colour she uses,
Unlike her grandmother.

Early on it was pointed out
the lines of her shoulders are broad.
As a result,
now slightly curved from years of insecurity
their breadth might seem less than feminine.
Though the weight they are capable of carrying
Suggests an inherent femininity
like nothing else could.

Each of her arms,
that she wishes were stronger,
that will be one day,
how they can wrap so gently
and squeeze so tight.
Can swing and twist and jive
and can,
for the briefest of moments,
only the amount of time
it takes to do a cartwheel,
Support her entirely.

Examine her hands,
neither soft nor hard.
Both strong and fragile,
A dichotomy of dextrous fortitude and delicate framework
Having known pain and pleasure
In equal measure,
They understand more than any other part,
A need for mindfulness.

Even her torso, all soft curves and fluctuating appeal,
Supple skin, gentle scars,
round hips admired,
breasts just enough,
belly has good and bad days
of too much or just right
depending on which side the gaze comes from.

Elongated, her legs reach down to support,
Reach up to rock out.
Somewhere between fully grounded and high kick
These stems,
These gams,
These lengthy, muscled limbs
Whether encased in stockings
Or sunshine speckled and bare
Are celebrated for the support they offer.

Exposed,
the preferred state of grace
For those most extreme of appendages.
Bare feet coloured dusty summertime brown
Is the sight that makes her happiest.
This callused underpinning,
underfoot,
Carries her to all the places
She dreams of walking.

Erudite, her mind.
The dizzying intellect encapsulated within gray matter
Leaves her breathless in some moments
And like a dervish in another,
Whirling, close to lost
And found again a mere breath later.

Electric,
this passionate character,
her dark eyes encompassing mystery
her skin craving gentle sensuous touch,
her soul filled with a music
That can make stars dance with abandon.

Excessive,
the judgements layered upon these parts,
found woefully lacking or worth celebrating,
reliant on the whims of a fickle perspective.

Esssential,
the patience to allow for time and space,
to grow within
to accept without,
to cultivate a mindset that allows for
perfect flaws
And imperfect wholeness.

She is more than sum
But not less than others.
She is refined and unfinished,a work in progress,
An experiment of what might happen
When silly meets joy
and wild finds focus.

There is delight
Everytime.

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My dog dug up the devil today

March 23, 2015

My dog dug up the devil today, regardless of the fact that I asked her not to. I’m not talking about that one with the capital D, Mr. Meet me at the crossroads because I love me some rock and roll. No, this was the type you’d expect to be buried under a strange rock formation in a forest grove, overgrown with brambles and horsetail.

Enveloped in the lively stillness of the rainforest, the only overt energy being spent was hers as she ferreted out the scents that make her balmy with excitement. Digging at the foundations of places where tree meets earth, rock meets dirt, burrow meets barrow with no expectation of consequence beyond her instinctive need to know.

I didn’t need to know and told her so, though she rarely considers my feelings in moments such as this.

I felt him before he appeared, all wild eyed and attired in brier. My skin started to prickle and my eyes to water, as though someone had just opened the lid of a soup pot filled with rich spices my nose could not discern beyond a cacophony of memories tied to scent. Underneath it all, the familiar stench of rot, of something left alone for too long, or perhaps not quite long enough.
A sense of self preservation settled into the base of my skull and I cast about quickly for a stick large enough to do some damage, if it should come to that. Well aware of the potential futility of this plan, because really, who can tell what kind of powers someone who has been entombed alive in the earth for an unknown amount of time might have, but still needing to make the effort. I laid my hands on a branch the length of my own body and then some, light enough to wield as a staff, heavy enough to smash some otherworldly kneecaps if given the chance.

I watched him climb from the ground, spitting soil from between dark red lips, his long hair and beard a tangle of moss and loam, not yet registering how and why and who had released him from his prison. His clothing was in remarkable condition, considering he had been living under a cairn of sorts, though it was impossible to tell what colour his long shirt and pants had originally been. His bare feet and hands were the same muddy hue as his face, not surprisingly.
My dog had stopped barking and come to stand beside me. We both watched warily from a distance, as he wiped the dirt from his eyes and blinked rapidly, squinting in an attempt to adjust to the sudden brightness of the world outside. The dark of his skin made the green of his eyes unusually bright, now that they were open and mostly free of muck.  He coughed, more delicately than I expected and cleared his throat. He still hadn’t noticed us. I was just wondering what the chances of convincing a dog to tiptoe away from this very curious scene would be, when he spoke, surprisingly in perfectly enunciated English, his voice cracking just a touch from disuse.

“And what exactly are you planning to do with that enormous branch you are holding so awkwardly? You might feel more confident if you had something slightly smaller.”

I don’t know what was worse. That he had seen us, or that he was right.

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Clemency comes cautiously to this contemporarily compassionate character

March 22, 2015

Callous disregard for the opinions of others
Feels like freedom.
Suggests a filter
fine tuned
To keep the white noise of inconsequential information
At bay.
But such an unyielding percolation
Is just as likely to reduce the evidence of worthwhile
As of not.

Learning the difference between callous disregard
and open hearted, yet impervious
Is a struggle I’m only starting to grasp.

My ability to not care what anyone thinks of me
is not an unwise instinct
But how I’ve been doing it
Leaves little space for a compassionate perspective.

This insistence that I have no time for subtlety
Not only does a disservice
to the grace encompassed in nuance,
It leaves me with no avenue besides that
Of broad, brash, obstreperous attempts
To prove the point
That I don’t need bridges to connect.

But shutting the world out
Works just as effectively
To shut me in
And these walls are brittle
As a hesitant heart.
They break not from the pain of having been used
But from the absence of engagement.

Holding the whole of humanity in contempt
For the misguided cruelty of the few
Too blinded by pain to understand
The folly of the reality they feel compelled to inhabit,
At least to my way of thinking,
Allows for no forward movement
To my way of thinking.
Mistaking kindness for weakness
Is a habit long useless
And it’s time to let go.

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Because it’s spring, beauty boldly favors the fervor.

March 21, 2015

This dance with such fire,
Threatens to blister
Hands on my skin
hard as a whisper
Breathe life into these limbs
That are craving a reach
beyond anything tangible enough to touch
or to teach.
This luscious dark place of divine intuition
We’re going by feel,
we lack inhibition
Breath captured and lost
A gasp in the dark,
We don’t need a flint,
We encompass the spark
My shadowy smile
Felt more than seen
Anticipate where
Your lips will have been
Use my skin as a canvas
A place to inspire
This allegory of truth,
The art of desire
We won’t notice the dawn
We’re outside of time
This is no place for reason
And barely for rhyme.

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Accountability, air/fuel mixture, amelioration

March 17, 2015

I want to write something that will make you gasp. That will make you..

Wait.
No.

I want to write something that will make me gasp.
Something that will make my heart burn a hole in my goddamn chest
Will make me fall off a chair with delighted surprise
Will wake me up from the dormant state I’ve spent too much time in
and start remembering
what makes me tick.
What makes me beat.
What makes me thump.

What makes me find ease in spontaneity
And rapture in the silly.
What makes me remember how to not take it so personally
What makes me responsible for my own damn happiness.
I’ve become wrapped up and lost in the dream of you
It’s high time I woke up and started living a dream of my own,
Rather than holding the key to this heart of mine
alongside yours
and wondering why they don’t match.

Of course they don’t match.
No ignition is quite the same.
Oh, it might nearly fit and we might be able to fool ourselves into thinking
you can turn me over and fire me up,
Rev this engine and make her growl
A combustion of senses colliding and creating new stars
From an inferno that threatens to turn sanity
to ashes.

But out of a desire to repair my broken self
Using the incompatible parts of another
(parts of you were perfect,
just not for this make or model)
the illusion of calibration
falls out of alignment.

Because without spark
There is no explosion,
There is no roar,
there is no downshift,
no leap,
no forward movement.

And those sunsets
Are not going to drive off
into themselves.

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Day this one; wherein it all fell apart and I use the alphabet to try and put it back together kinda

March 16, 2015

I haven’t written anything in a while and it’s really started to mess with my head. Which I almost shaved just because I was so ready for a fresh start, I thought that might help. (Un)fortunately I don’t have any clippers, so at this point I still have hair. And writers’ block like crazy. And I know what’s happening. I’m having a moment like Willem Dafoe in the Last Temptation of Christ where he’s on the cross and everything is all ouchy and filled with why have you forsaken me-ness and that little girl shows up and tells him, it’s ok, you’re done. You have done enough, you’re not the messiah, you can come down and have some good times and special lady friends and just not suffer anymore. And he is stoked and climbs down and has some pretty chill and lovely times. Until he discovers that it was a damned dirty trick the devil played to tempt him because that’s what the devil does after all.

Ok, to be clear, I am not comparing myself to Jesus or Willem Dafoe. I can tell you, if given the choice to go ice fishing with either of them, I would choose to not go ice fishing because it honestly has no appeal. That link will lead to the strangest fishing show that has ever existed. It’s a beautiful thing, something that is so strange there is no way it could exist by accident. I have much appreciation for the weird. But anyway…

The last post I wrote made me feel really good. But in a way, it was wrong of me to write it. I mean, yes, it’s important to show myself love and not call myself a failure when I don’t maintain a consistent effort. But that seductive siren song of, ‘you’ve done enough. You’ve proven yourself and can come down. You don’t need to suffer anymore ‘ is that old part of my resistance to change attemping to regain control and for the past while, since that last post, 10 days ago (10 days!!) it’s been winning. And it’s been hell. I would sit down and I would try, oh my god I would try so hard, and nothing would flow and I would let myself off the hook. And the harder I tried, the more cluttered and sharp edged I felt.

There is very little that is boxlike about my brain. It is soft and squishy rooms of permeability with train tracks running every which way through it. And there are thoughts that start on top of mountains and race down the sides, with the wind whipping past them faster and faster until their eye sockets hurt from the pressure and there is barely time to register the trees that are being dodged as the snow line thins and disappears and the mouth is just set into a grim line of determination because if I opened it even a little, there will be a harsh and painful wipeout and I really want to see where this idea is going to end up and so cannot summon the wherewithal to interrupt it. Sometimes it starts as a bubble. It might be a tiny soap bubble in a sink filled with suds, or the underwater breath of a sunfish which is large enough to encompass whole universities of variation and maybe it’s strong and maybe the slightest doubt could make it pop and vanish. All of my ideas feel like living, breathing things. I do not just anthropomorphize coffee cups and frozen croissants and books and towels. But what they do not feel like is angles and sharp corners and order.
And for the past 10 days I have been trying to impose order upon my thoughts and feelings and it’s just not working. I’m so scared to read this because I think I might sound like a crazy person. But a crazy person wouldn’t think that, would they? Maybe I’ll just keep going and hope that it turns out alright.

I never did finish that 30 day writing challenge and it’s partly because my resistance goblins started to push a little harder, somewhat because I wasn’t really jiving with every single one of the prompts, and mostly because I’ve started to really question what I’m doing it for. Why am I compelled to write? Is it enough that I am and so I do? Shouldn’t there be a purpose, some end to justify the means? I actually had a moment when I thought, well if I’m not going to write poignant lyrics or beautiful poetry or a fantastic novel or something thought provoking and non-fictional, then what am I doing this for? How long can I continue rambling on the internet about my feelings before it’s too much and pointless and I should just stop and doing something practical instead?

That might be the first time I’ve ever thought that and it scared the hell out of me. It was the first time I ever gave myself an ultimatum of sorts. A ‘if you’re not a legitimate writer by this date, you have to quit and do something practical.’ Um, excuse me, what?

This is absolutely incredible! How completely ingrained my voice of resistance is that it’s trying to pass itself off as the voice of reason. It’s like Willem Dafoe (he’s everywhere!) in Wild at Heart where he made this educated guess at one thing and that made Nicolas “snakeskin jacket” Cage trust him (a near fatal mistake) with regard to another, because it seemed reasonable.  Sadly, he was a low down dirty double crosser and should have been told to get lost.
I want to trust that all aspects of myself have my best interest in mind when they speak up but sometimes they just don’t know any better. And sometimes they are shadowy saboteurs, hopeful that these new habits I’m attempting to cultivate are just passing fancies and we’ll be back to smoking cigarettes, being incautious of what we’re eating, finding excuses not to exercise or engage with other humans, to drink alcohol more often and definitely, definitely not writing every day. Who do we think we are? A writer? An artist? And arrogant so-and-so who thinks she has what it takes to delight others the way Roald Dahl does her? To breathe another Narnia into being, something so fantastic yet plausible that it becomes true by the telling of it?

So I’ve been wallowing somewhat and finally came to the conclusion that I need help. And even if I didn’t jive with all of the prompts, I liked that they were there. So I’ll start a 26 day challenge of my own. Starting next post. With A. How could I possibly disagree with a letter of the alphabet? Well, there are some that I have feelings about but for the sake of the betterment of the self, I’ll put any objections aside.

These are the rules.
1. I have to write every single day, no exceptions.
2. I am not allowed to skip a letter with the intention of coming back to it.
3. I have to come up with three words that start with that letter and write something creative (fiction or non) as a result.
4. It doesn’t have to be good. It definitely shouldn’t be perfect.
5. If I don’t write it here, I at least have to publish the words here to have a measure of accountability.

ha! First word? Accountability.

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Day 1. Every day I start again.

March 6, 2015

Why is self love so hard? I’m not talking about masturbation, that’s easy. Or at least it should be, if you’re doing it right.  But that’s a conversation for another time.
I speak, of course, of that effusive quality of gentleness and respect that I happily and readily bestow upon those around me whom I consider worthy of such attention which becomes an elusive quality when applied to my own self. I know I’m not alone in this. How did this become so commonplace? Is it just that I have such high expectations of myself I can’t help but be a source of constant disappointment? How is either of those perspectives fair?

Example. I expect that I will use my impressive and delightfully crazy brain to create beautiful things all the time. Every single day I will write words or music that will make the angels weep with it’s relevance. Ernest Hemingway will come back from the grave and desire to take me rhinoceros hunting. I will explain how horrifying and inappropriate that is and we will opt for a whiskey soaked picnic instead. To be honest, I have not read Ernest Hemingway yet and do not know if I would deign to dine with him.

What is the craziest part of this expectation? No, it’s not Ernest Hemingway coming back from the dead, all accounts suggest he was very stubborn. “Every single day I will write words or music that will make the angels weep with it’s relevance.” I do believe I can write something every day and I am trying to stay consistent with that. But some days it’s shite. Some days I just don’t have enough left in my brain to muster up anything more than a limmerick about how I’d rather be watching some television show instead…

My brain would just love to be clever
But creativity might take forever
I’ve got nothing to say
After this hell of a day
So fuck it, I’m just going to watch Firefly again

To be fair, Firefly is awesome so that’s totally okay anytime.

But still, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m somehow failing, even though I’m still here, still doing it. Still trying to shine the glaring light of reason and patience on habits archaic and pointless (just because it’s tradition, doesn’t mean it’s right..looking at you marine mammal slaughterers) in the hope that bringing awareness to them makes for an easier transition. And part of that path involves times when those old familiar voices of ‘it’s so much work, why bother’ and ‘you’re not very good anyhow’ make a compelling enough argument for my sliding backwards into self-loathing and opting out of improving. How quickly that sad shadow relishes in saying, I told you so.

I have a bit of a hard time with milestones. I know that many people do and thrive within them and that’s great. I just don’t and that’s fine too. Saying, I’ve written a page every day for the last 486 days. Or, I’ve filled a notebook every month for the last 14 years. Or I’ve not had a cigarette in 42 minutes. Or I’ve not had a drink in 7 years, 3 months, 4 days and 26 minutes. Whether they are goals one is moving towards or moving away from, they are (to me) static points in an ever evolving experiment that is existence. To have the expectation of myself that I will be doing exactly the same thing every day from now into whatever point in the future is completely insane. I cannot possibly know what’s going to happen and so to demand of myself that I establish a routine that may or may not be practical within every possible scenario that could play out, sets me up for failure and disappointment. Because when I write for 41 days and then go visit some friends in the city and there’s just so much going on that I don’t get a chance to write anything that day, it resets the counter back to one and there’s a glaring red spot on my trajectory graph of accomplishment. I’m that dude climbing on the rickety ladder switching the days without incident number back to zero. Everyone hates that guy. Or more likely, they hate the guy who broke the streak. Who is me. Ouch, self. Give a girl a break.

I need to be kinder to myself than that. Every day I write is a good day. Every day I can play the piano is a lovely day too. Every day I can go for a good walk, do some stretching, drink some water, eat food regularly instead of hours after I’ve forgotten and get swimmy, spend less time looking at pictures of cats who get stuck in places and more time reading. Every day I can is great. But every day I don’t get to isn’t bad. I go to bed some days with this resigned attitude, thinking ‘hopefully tomorrow will be better.’ Like I’m a big fucking letdown. But the only person around here who is feeling let down, is me. The only person who has expectations of the life she should be living is the girl who forgets sometimes to notice that all in all, the life she’s living is pretty good. And getting better all the time. Because every day is an opportunity to be better.
To quote Ruth Gordon as Maude, when Harold asked her “No more revolts?” She replied, “Oh, yes! Every day. But I don’t need a *defense* anymore. I embrace! Still fighting for the Big Issues, but now in my small, individual way.”
Every single day.

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The psychosis of sanity

March 5, 2015

I’m not posting here every day, but I am still writing every day. Which is pretty great. It suggests to me that it’s becoming less about the reaction and more about the work. I’ve had some lovely moments when I put something down and thought, that’s amazing! Then went back, read it and thought, wow! No, it isn’t! Which is great and here is why.
I used to be so insecure that I would write something that isn’t good and so I wouldn’t write. Which is absolutely batshit crazy. (I don’t know why batshit is crazier than any other shit, but there you go.) So the fact that I’m writing, looking over it, thinking it’s not that good and still writing is just amazing to me.
It suggests baby steps out of the I’m not good enough right off the bat (ha!) and so have determined I will never write/say/sing anything of consequence or delightful resonance. It could be that the security is a phase and I’ll find something to be insecure about before too long (it’s sad but I bet that’s entirely true) but I’ve finally started to reach a place where it doesn’t need to be perfect every time. It can’t be perfect every time. Honestly, I don’t know what perfect would look like because my perspective shifts so rapidly depending on seemingly insignificant factors such as water intake, what (if anything) I’ve eaten, did I have a good walk that got my blood flowing or did I cop out and sit on a rock in the sun while watching gala track every wild animal that took a shortcut through the property, did I forget to remove my bra and/or socks as soon as I had left the boundaries of civilization. Truly, if bras and socks are the mark of civilized culture, I believe we’re going about this all wrong.
But unfettered body parts aside, there is a profound self acceptance that is happening for me right now and it’s really really neat. It’s one of those things where I only begin to realize how deeply the psychosis of “it needs to be perfect or I’m not going to fucking bother!” is embedded once I start attempting to lift free from it. I wonder about the difficulty I have in forming new and healthy habits. Typically it looks like this.

I’m going to do something that is good for me to do nearly every day to help myself stay healthy as I live to be 111, like yoga. I have some 20 minute yoga podcasts that are great and what’s 20 minutes? Not much at all. The first day I wake up early, let Gala outside, make a cup of tea and turn on the yoga. I do it and feel great. The second day I wake up, not quite as early, let Gala out, make some tea and turn on the yoga. About halfway through I start thinking about how after I’m finished I’d like to play some piano. That seems a noble endeavor so I stop doing yoga and go play the piano. Third day, I sleep in. I never do yoga again. Until 6 months from now when I think I’m going to do something that is good for me to do nearly every day to help myself stay healthy, like yoga. Where are those podcasts?

It is horrifically hard to form a new healthy habit, but I think, maybe i”m just being too ambitious. (Because 20 minutes of stretching is just so self-indulgent..)Perhaps I should introduce a habit like drinking 2 glasses of water before bed and then again when I wake up. Emily does that and her skin is beautiful. Again. First day..go! Second day…Mostly! Third day..oops, I forgot..oh well, I’ll remember tomorrow. Nope. Nope I won’t.

Is the reason for this that I have spent so long quietly learning bad habits that anything which might shake up the status quo seem a horrifying shift in ideology? Even when the majority of my brain understands that the current behaviour is completely unhealthy and wrong?
Did I just use my own personal scenario as an analogy for what’s happening in canadian politics right now?

I don’t think that the bad habits I’ve formed were ever on purpose. And I don’t know that they are a result of any direct influence from anything or anyone in particular. They deserve to have some light shined (shoned?) on them but the reality is, where they came from really doesn’t matter. They just have to go. To make room for the good stuff. The mindful dietary choices. The understanding that if I’m peckish, I should just drink some water and see if it’s still there. Grasping that my muscles feel amazing when I stretch them regularly.
And letting those distracting voices have their moment but ultimately letting them drift away and bringing my focus back to the task at hand, whether it be writing, cooking, pianoing, dog walking, whatever.

Also, a happy side effect when I was having resistance to sitting and writing was that I was playing more piano, anything to keep from sitting and writing. ANYTHING. And piano was happy to fill that spot. I’m not sure if the two are related but recently,  there are new things floating around in here. There are musics roaming the interior hallways of this crazy delightful brain. Snippets of songs, lyrics and all, sometimes just instrumentalisms. They show up mostly when I’m walking and often since I have little or no reception, I have no recording device with me to capture them. So I hum or sing on a loop in the hope that I maintain it until I get home. It’s really quite delightful but at the same time, it means that I’ll have to learn the basics of recording music (I’m told that the technology of now is very friendly for those with limited understanding of such things) because it feels like there’s a lot more in there. Honestly I never really expected it. I’m super intimidated by it and have now noticed that when I sit down at the piano, I think to myself..perhaps I should be at my desk! And immediately run away. Oh resistance, you silly old fool. When are you going to stop being so damn pushy and join the revolution?

Until that day though, I’ll keep struggling with the part of my brain that wants the normalcy of discomfort even though it shares space with the rest of us who are so ready for a shift in the body politic.

In the meantime, here is some Steve Brockley. Do you know him? I find him pretty awesome. He is one of those musicians who plays music I feel like listening to anytime at all. I believe he has found a permanent place on my ipod since I first encountered him I don’t even know how long ago in Ymir, thanks to Shawn and Carla and their impeccable ability to find incredibly talented musicians and convince them to play shows in what might be the smallest town with the biggest heart in the kootenays.

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The dearness of you

March 2, 2015

Self loathing can only get so much traction when I look around. This argument that the dark, sad self comes up with, suggesting that there is an inherent unworthiness we aren’t acknowledging is so easily refuted when I consider people I love, who love me back. It’s not always so easy to remember to do so, the shadows have such convincing whispers when I haven’t been eating good food, drinking water, taking time to ensure that my perspective is coming from a place of balance. Reality is subjective and in the moment, something really ridiculous can feel so true.

I know a lot of people. I know a lot of really really good people. Talented, creative, hilarious, compassionate, mindful, sincere. People that, when I’m with them, make me worry less what’s happening in the world. And we make each other laugh. We dance with one another. We stay up late talking and wake up early to take roadtrips. We ride bicycles with abandon and own the streets, yelling joyfully through intersections. We high five over a parking spot and we console each other when that parking spot turned out to be a loading zone and we makes jokes in the cab on the way to the impound yard. We play music that makes us laugh and cry and look at each other with surprise at how fan-freaking-tastic we sound. We share secrets and jokes and recipes. We make the world smaller, less scary, more fun, more interesting.

Here’s the sad shadow self head talk. For a really long time, I had a small voice in my head that tried to convince me I was fooling all of these awesome people, that I didn’t actually deserve to have such good friends. I imagined over time, I would have less and less as people worked out that I wasn’t as worthy of their company as they had originally thought. But completely the opposite has happened. As I grow older and more comfortable in my skin, I’m learning that I’m just as dear to them, as they are to me. The person I am is good, but the person I am with them is much more. And I like to think this goes both ways. I have to think that, why would we seek each other out, unless it was so? How do I know I deserve to have such wonderful people in my life? Because you’re there. It’s exactly the same, in my mind, as any kind of existentialist conundrum.

The very fact that I exist is justification of my existence. The odds that the me who is here typing this, the me who loves being barefoot with red hair, who believes a thumb is the best form of transport, who thinks that engines make sense and math is sexy and hulahooping is a perfectly acceptable form of meditation (along with writing and piano playing) would have been born are an unbelievably high number to one and since I’m here, it’s no accident. A mystery perhaps, but not an accident. And so that leads me to believe that I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time when we encountered each other. Because we did and you’re lovely. And I’m so glad you’re here.

This is as close as I can come to saying this to you in person, right this second, so that you know how much you mean to me and can carry that around with you in those times when sad shadow feels like it’s winning. You can say, ‘hey sad shadow, back off! I am loved by good people because I deserve to have awesome like them in my life.’ And if nothing else, me writing this to you is proof of that, documented.

love you
miss you
kiss you
t.

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