Staying Put

10616094_10153238390444896_1897737932065310690_nI told myself this day would be a day for staying put. There aren’t many staying put days.

I made a batch of blueberry muffins. I didn’t know if anyone would eat them, but I knew I would. The muffins came together quickly, but everyone else ate fast and furiously and was done before the muffins had come out of the oven. I was determined to move slow, even though I felt the quick current of family pace wanting to take me with it.

When the kitchen had been cleaned and the dishwasher was swirling I made myself a tray of “staying put.” I grabbed a small tray at first, but decided this called for lavish and over-the-top and a bit of broodiness to boot. So I got the black metal tray and collected necessities on top of it: Two muffins, 1 half-eaten and 1 uneaten. Three sticks of incense and an incense holder. A tiger lighter. A full Neverland mug of coffee with a hint of cream. A Shalom Auslander book entitled Beware of God. A leftover birthday party napkin with multi-colored polkadots. A yellow Our Lady of San Juan de Los Lagos candle.

I tucked a quilt under my arm, and told my kids I would be in the backyard if they needed me. I was still in my pajamas, a loose nightgown with creamy frill along the edges. I designated a spot for my dog to lay, (he is always my shadow) and then climbed into the comfy wicker chair with green cushions where I landed with an “umph.”

“And I’m not getting up until I’m done here,” I said to no one in particular.

The day before had been a tough one. I was implementing project Emergency Self Care.

I sighed deeply and then lit my candle and the first stick of incense. I yelled at the dog to stop sniffing at my muffins and then tore off a piece and gave it to him anyway because life can’t always be, “no, no, no.” There had been a lot of “no, no, no” to myself lately. I settled in for a long dose of “yesssssss.”

In the morning as the sun was still rising, the air was chilly and I used the quilt and coffee to stay comfortable. I read and read and collected words that could have been mine if I had ever felt freed up enough to say them, knowing full well, from research,that speaking this truthfully had cost this man quite a lot. You don’t question God and His authority without getting a little roughed up by His followers.

It is easier sometimes and healthy to let someone else do the talking for awhile. To let someone else take the flack, wear the bruises, and field the questions of: how could you and what were you thinking and you don’t really mean that, do you and when will you be over that?

I felt myself settling into this little cocoon Auslander had created for me, which is convenient during these moments when I still need to thrash from time to time but just soon not take the pummeling or the awkward silence that comes after the expression. He was bringing comedy to the horror. He was bringing the relief of laughter to the ache. It felt a lot like sipping on hot tea or chicken noodle soup after a 24-hour-stomach bug has left you shaky and depleted. It felt like a warm, strong shoulder to lean your head on and sturdy, nonjudgmental arms that pick you up and carry you into the house the night you had a little too much to drink.

As the sun was rising in the sky and I was lighting my third stick of incense and a couple beads of sweat were rolling down my chest and into my belly button, I had the notion that not only was I going to be able to finish reading this entire book, I was going to feel much better for it. It is hard to give up precious hours in a day to simply sit and flip pages, but oh my was I feeling so very cared for.

I had previously jotted down a list of the authors Auslander loved, and I vowed to look them up, find their books, make time to read them too. Dark humor is how so many of my favorite writers seem to be classified. What does this say? What does this say?

If we all self-medicate one way or another, this was me writing a prescription for future doses of healing. I can’t be alone with the thrashing voices, the MAD ones that will not go away, but seem to always get me into so much trouble. I need someone else to do the transcribing sometimes. I need someone else to say, “It is all very true and you’d be a fool not to acknowledge it as such.”’

auslander book list
From Secret Message Society Zine #18

“Their belief in their belief was unbelievable. They had complete faith in their faith. The only thing they doubted was doubt itself. There were two things, however, that everyone believed, no matter what they believed: Whatever they believed was unbelievably right, and what everybody else believed was unbelievably wrong.”

- Shalom Auslander, Beware of God

Let go, Braveheart

bravery mailing label

Dear Braveheart,

Seasons change. People change. Relationships shift.

When you realize your breathing is shallow, that your can’t seem to relax. When energy or inspiration to continue is nowhere to be found  …

Let go. Please resist trying harder.

Stress and indifference are masks of Fear. When the whispers of Spirit have been ignored so long, the body begins to scream and shut down, and the mind becomes shrouded.

You are in survival mode. You are constantly proving yourself, your value, your place. Because you believe doing so will allow you to maintain the white knuckle grip on What-Is — what you know … what people expect.

Let go. Please resist self-loathing.

You are exhausted; you are not lazy, uncommitted or irresponsible. The energy and vision changed but you were determined not be a quitter — not the one to disappoint or disappear.

New endeavors await. New is not the absence of Before, because you are a Divine blend of all that you have been, all that you are and all that you will be.

Let go. Please resist making it happen.

Because who you are becoming is already there — the details Divinely woven within you before your first breath.

Because you cannot be everything all the time.

Seasons change. People change. Relationships shift.

You are enough. You are changing. Your energy and inspiration is shifting.

Let go … allow space for what is Next.

Love,

A Fellow Braveheart


Letters to Bravehearts is a new feature of letters to self: past, present, future; of love and affirmation; reminders of insights and lessons learned. What do you need to declare or gently remind your-self? Perhaps you would like to share your letter to your {brave-hearted} self? Send a message via our Facebook page.

love’s unacknowledged and wild sister

seasons end

Outrage is love’s unacknowledged and wild sister. —Sue Monk Kidd

Calculating risks requires being honest with your-self about what you know — as well as what you are willing to accept as necessary to remain true to your-self; what is necessary for {your} dreams, your relationships … your sanity. At some point you begin to believe sanity is overrated, that no one is trustworthy and living your dreams is simply a socially acceptable synonym for delusion.

Outrage {self}

Self-doubt is a blade we either press into, allowing it to carve away The Unnecessary, or allow it slit our throat — leaving us to bleed out. Internal outrage — self-loathing, shock, the paralysis of perfection and “shoulding” our-self — is the dark side of self-love. Like the moon, we cycle through this dark into light, light into dark; like the seasons, we cycle through bud, bloom and seed time.

This is a seed time for me. Faded blooms of color reaching for the sky are now shedding petals and dying to produce hulls of possibility.

Outrage {others}

Self-doubt is a wild fire when we become aware the people we trusted are merely kindle awaiting a spark. Like when we allow a circle of women “known” on a casual level via the facade of common groups or interests — locally or linked via social media — to become our gauge of self-worth.

These situations can feel paralyzingly incestuous and shatter our self-trust — with the constant threat of becoming wild fires destroying everything we built and believed in.

I am in an ever-widening circle of realization regarding dream-weaving and friendships — and self-trust. Harvesting seeds of Truth and pressing into forgiveness and honestly.

Love {self}

This is a time of flower stalks stripped of their beauty but I know I was true to my-self. I acknowledge I “love too much” and “trust without warrant” — because I love the possibility of friendships. I savor the days, the promises of a season shared between two kindred coming together — even if that season is short lived. Because my trust in safely wrapped in vulnerability. 

Love {others}

Vulnerability is Brave in-action. And I will not judge my-self or anyone else when wild fires require self-attention and solitude.

After all, each of us wear an invisible warning label:

  • I am human. I will make mistakes but I am doing the best I can today.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. —Maya Angelou

What we feel is temporal. It cannot be blamed on anyone because no one can “make us feel” an emotion. What we feel is drawn from a well deep within.

What we feel can be honored, remembered … learned from. Because what we feel is a gauge. It can an alarm warning us to honor boundaries.

But even within that … We must be true to who we are. We must love who and what we love — and when what we know and what we feel alert us, we must walk away from who and what will never be anything more than the constant thread of a wild fire.


stargardener profile  Teresa Robinson aka stargardener believes each day is a canvas awaiting the collage elements we decide have meaning — splashed with the authentic paint of amazing triumphs and agonizing suffering. Her canvases include her mind’s eye and her stack of journal-planners. She is currently in a season of solitude blanketed with layers of inspiration and depression. Glimpses of what she creatively documents provide the foundations for Right Brain Planner and The Art Journaler.

Without and Within

now II

Won’t you sit beside me, here on the grass.

Show me a labyrinth, show me your skin, show me your worn-in denim and the way cool evening air causes all your arm hairs to rise.

<<<

My very first art journal is almost done, Mandy and Teresa gave it to me before they really even knew me. I wondered what the hell I was going to do with it, but that was kind of a silly thought, I’ve filled it out nicely.

artj I

artj II

artj III

artj IV

artj V

<<<

This summer I grew flowers that I put all around my house and gave to neighbors and friends.

I also grew vegetables and fruit and explored  the magic found in planting seeds – consider planting seeds next summer, not just plants, I guarantee you will be shocked at how vulnerable it is, how giddy you become when one tiny plant comes above ground, and how proud you feel.

now VI

now VIInow VIII

now IV

<<<

I am this

now I

and this

now III

and other times I’m pretty much just absorbed into this

now V

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To Rest Is To Surrender

Secret Message
Click on image for #SecretMessage art.

“If you want, we can put on a movie.”

“Yes. Yes that is exactly what I want. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to move. I need to just sit still and let my insides stop racing.”

We were sitting outside in our outdoor living room. We are in experimentation mode when it comes to our backyard. We have gone through Gyspy Fort 1.0 and 2.0 which are basically glorified sheet forts like I made as a kid. Currently the Gypsy Fort has been put on hold while we play around with the Gypsy Palace, a tent like structure given to us by that kind Goodwill donation man. He has been known to periodically offer up the best treasures to his storefront neighbors, which just happens to be my Love Interest’s bicycle shop.

On this particular night we had an air mattress with soft sheets set up for a tent floor. I was semi-reclining on it at the end of a long weekend. My kids were in bed. My to-go chipotle and vanilla coke were within arm’s reach. I was slowly beginning to feel the ache of my legs from being on my feet all weekend and the swirl of my head from the adrenaline rush of being “on duty” in a fast-paced environment.

I sunk into the corner of the air mattress and tried to exhale slowly. It felt unfamiliar. My body wasn’t trusting yet that it was allowed to let down. Doesn’t somebody need me? Won’t something go undone?

I watched the flames of the tiki torches flicker. Saw the fire of the Buddha candle dance.

Sshhh…You have worked hard. Rest now.

Still my insides crawled.

The sound of the movie was hard to hear on the laptop, and I found it annoying. I was having trouble swallowing my food because my throat felt constricted with anticipation of some unknown something looming in the future and needing my instantaneous response. A giant spider was camping out in the corner of the tent, and I kept darting my eyes back to the shadows to see if she was still there.

Sshhh…You have worked hard. Rest now.

We were watching Under the Tuscan Sun, a movie near and dear to the heart of Blushing Wild, but I had never seen it.

My Love Interest plugged in a speaker for the laptop which solved the sound problem, and at some point I got swept up in the story. My food swallowing started going better. I forgot completely about the spider. (Okay, that’s not true, but I did at least come to grips with the fact that it would be okay if we shared the tent.) We propped my back up with a footstool and I found myself getting significantly comfier.

By the time this little exchange of dialogue in the movie happened I was thoroughly enjoying myself:

Katherine: It’s a nice little villa. Rather run down, but redeemable. Are you going to buy it?
Frances: No, no, no. I’m, I’m just a tourist. Here for the day.
Katherine: So?
Frances: Well, I mean who wouldn’t want to buy a villa in Tuscany. But, uh, the way my life’s been going, that would be a terrible idea.
Katherine: Terrible idea. Mmmmm… Don’t you just love those?

I whipped my head around to look at my Love Interest, as if to say, “Did you just hear that?”

He smiled and said, “Oh, this movie just got really good for you.”

* * *

I don’t think rest always comes easily. I think a lot of times at the outset it looks like whining and resisting and reeling and wiggling.

It looks like my 5-year-old son seated at the bar at the coffee shop yesterday where he was enjoying a chocolate chip cookie after school and trying to do his kindergarten homework while climbing on the stool, off the stool, on the stool, off the stool much to my chagrin.

And my body at the outset is often saying, like the kindergardener told me, “It is impossible for me to sit still. IMPOSSIBLE.”

And it is. Until it isn’t.

Until one little thing shifts and my body and my mind are offered a portal out of the hustle and bustle of responsibility and they actually vulnerably agree that yes, perhaps it would be okay for me to just let go and not be “on call” for a spell. It’s right about then that the ornery Cheshire Cat smile spreads across my face.

It’s when I say, “Oh, this moment just got really good for me.”

To rest is to surrender and one has to go willingly if it is to be enjoyed.

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“Listen, when I was a little girl I used to spend hours looking for ladybugs. Finally, I’d just give up and fall asleep in the grass. When I woke up, they were crawling all over me.”

- Under the Tuscan Sun

on forgiveness

A year ago I received devastating news.  Someone I knew made a decision which hurt someone close to me in a tragic, heart rending way.  The kind of hurt that caused more tears than sleep for me.  When I first heard what happened I tried to extend grace to this person – and for the most part was successful.  I hoped they would turn from the choices they had made and reconciliation would happen.  But they didn’t; and as I heard more and learned other things this person had done, and was also continuing to make choices that hurt some of those closest to me, grace became more and more difficult.

If you spend a year with grace as your focus and then wrap up said year at the worst of your worst, only to feel grace covering you like a warm blanket on a winter’s day, you learn a thing or two.

Oh, do not think that my grace is perfect and given freely or even easily (see first paragraph…. and second to last).  But when you realize you have the ability to stand up and walk again after kicking the one in the crotch who is extending grace to you, you have a different perspective.

We don’t live in a world moved or motivated by the notion of grace or forgiveness.  We live in a world that gets high and giddy off shame and degradation and revenge.

We are pleased when someone in a position of power falls on their face in the afterglow of their pride.  We cheer when the celebrity, politician, pastor, someone with a little more clout than we have gets what they “deserve”.

Our society gets high off these things because it makes us feel better about ourselves.

We withhold grace and forgiveness because we believe that these actions mean consequences are absolved, when the truth is quite the opposite.  Your child may steal a cookie and you may forgive them, but they will still pay the consequence of no dessert after dinner because they disobeyed.

This isn’t a religious post.  Forgiveness isn’t about religion.  Even the most atheistic person would have to admit that forgiveness and grace are a crucial part of life.

Over the last year and especially the last seven there are been two individuals who have caused considerable amount of hurt to people close to me.  People I would rather punch in the face and shake them violently, while screaming “How could you do this?  How could you be so selfish?”

The funny thing about forgiveness is a lot of the time our lack of forgiveness doesn’t hurt or even affect the person we’re angry at.  We’re often the only one suffering the affects.  They go on with their lives.  We sit with our anger in the pit of our stomach.

I know some of you will read this and argue that you can’t.  You can’t forgive the person who…  You can’t forgive this person because they aren’t truly sorry for what they did.

I get it.  I honestly do.  There are people in my life I’ve never forgiven for that exact reason.

I write only what I know to be true, and likely because I need to remind myself.  Grace isn’t easy.  Forgiveness isn’t easy.  I don’t want you to think that’s what I’m saying.  They are like love, one of the hardest things we will ever do.

photo(2)Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon. – Nelson Mandela

Practicing Kintsugi

kintsugi

Conversation with Self (including inconsistent use of pronouns referring to self. apologies in advance):

Exhaustion chased me this week. It taunted me with a list of dropped balls, of showing up messy and unprepared, of not so managed chaos. It pinned me in a corner and convinced me that nothing I do is worthwhile, making a difference, or of any importance at all. Oh, the extremes that are thrown when the body, mind, and soul are drowning in fatigue.

Exhaustion is a temporary state. No ultimate or final decisions should ever be made in a sleep deprived, pain muddled state of mind. A little rest, a hot shower, a good cup of coffee and breakfast and all things look new and different. Hope shines again.

Under the light of hope, examination is essential.  Take a look around. Ask the difficult questions. What really needs your attention? What is really important? What and who deserve your time and energy? Because it’s precious, you know … your time and energy.

Is it possible that you have spread yourself too thin? Yes, of course. We all do that from time to time. But I think this is different. I think this goes deeper into how you don’t value your time and energy as an expression of the very spirit of you. When you give to this one and to that one, willy nilly, with no thought of investment and return then you end up that pile of weepy flesh in the center of the bed, too exhausted to even know what it might mean to care for yourself.

It is time to make a change.

It is time to plug up the holes, the cracks and crevices. For you are not a fragmented being. Take the gold and fill every nook and cranny. In this way, you will remember what has been and how it has stretched you, distressed you, recreated you into this entity, this being, this fragile and fierce soul.

Reserve what is yours.

Preserve what is yours.

Hold it within, nurture it, care for it, and don’t release it so easily next time, ok?


kintsugi – (Noun) To repair with gold; The art of repairing metal with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken

Cynthia Lee is reveling in the beauty of the mosaic of brokenness. She has just returned to writing the story at spirituncaged.com