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

<<<

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.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.08.29 PM

“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


Avoiding a Room of My Own

I feel as if I am avoiding the written words, MY written words. As if I know that when I put several down in a row a new me will be there waiting to reveal next level madness. I am scared? hesitant? unwilling? to commit to the work of manuscripts and articles and eCourses. Unwilling to devote time to my alone work once again.

Why?

Because I’ll fail?

Because I’ll succeed?

Because of what it costs me? Has cost me?

Because the Leo will have to disappear when she’s just starting to be social? 

Sometimes I want to scream at the MADness, “What do you want from me?!” But we both know my skin is itchy and clawing at myself does no good.

The words are salve. Have always been salve. How come that which soothes me also repels understanding, acceptance and general niceties from others? How come I can’t seem to care for relationships and care for mySelf simultaneously. How come the uninvited bitch always comes out to hack a generous amount of alone space for my vulnerable, sensual, twirling of language?

What I am avoiding is the necessary room of my own. I feel like the little girl in the Sound of Music, reluctantly scooting up the stairs from a glorious and grand party and singing, “The sun has gone to bed and so must I.”

I feel the tug, the urgency to be both inward and outward. And this flavor of both/and is new for me. 



…who shall measure the heat and violence of a poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?

— Virginia Woolf, A Room Of One’s Own

the faces of {my} depression

“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. ”

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
the face of the blank stare; the most common default; make-up, an uncommon default due to MS eye-issues, a lack of energy and desire to “waste” the time

Live everything. Live the questions now. … Live your way into the answer.

I am grateful Rilke wrote those letters to a young poet because these syllables are keys to the locks of treasure chests. Rilke wrote Real {honest, to the point} and did so without judgement or an attitude of superiority — or a desire to “fix” that young poet with “if I were you” advice. He recognized the young poet wasn’t “broken” … 

I collected self-portrait images for this post during a semi-normal day of depression; I am a visual journaler and I know a picture is worth a thousand words … even when it leaves me speechless. My hope is to inspire you, Braveheart, to give you a new lens to see your-self and others close to you.

Perhaps even dare to embrace moments of quiet acceptance, to feel a bit less alone … To seek aid and companionship when {it} all becomes too much. I realize that can feel impossible, too.

We see what we want to see. We see through the filtered lenses of our beliefs, carved via our experiences and what we were told to believe. Until we decide otherwise …

These images are unfiltered as seen through my iPhone camera lens; captured from the time I woke up just after midnight to when I went until sleep for the night around 10:00 p.m. There were several more; this is cross section of visuals from the day. 

A day of 22 hours because I was attempting to “make myself” stay up longer. I was attempting to complete the work projects that lay idle the first three days of this week. Lists and want-to’s noted creatively on the pages of art journals and right brain planners designated by project.

Routines and grace-based accountability is an aid for me; I liken it to a groove to guide me through when mental fog is so thick I cannot do much more than pace or sit quietly, cry softly or tear bits of paper and create collage art. Work was invigorating and joy-full — not an act of fierce perfectionism fueled by angst. The energy was there, and I rode it out; I honored my rhythms.

I worked-through because I hoped to adjust my body clock — to remind it of night and day, resetting the timing of insomnia-induced exhaustion. Depression alters body cycles; and it looks different throughout the day — and it looks different for each of us, Braveheart.

It feels almost impossible to post so many images of my-self … raw and even unnecessary.

upon waking {usually anywhere from midnight to 3:00 a.m. daily}; constricted; overwhelm and doubt; physically limited, mentally dull
breath-work; yoga outside; prayer and meditation; listening and abiding; hoping today will be different than past days

Vain. Arrogant. Even irrelevant to dare state even a word of definition for depression?

I wonder and wrestle with that. But at some point we need to press through, to talk about — name — what we face without shame. Because shame serves no one except an oppressor. It locks us up in a cage with paper tigers while people who genuinely care are locked out because of the lies that drown out the still small voice of Truth.

I am not defining depression. This is my post, about me, and my depression.

It is not meant to evoke sympathy or even elicit support. It is meant to be a statement — declarative, just the facts. (That is why I turned off the comments for this post.)

8:00 a.m. -ish; walkabout with my grrls; stretching and breathwork
pause; anxiety; catching my breath {literally} several times daily; reset
checking in for the day with my online communities; this day’s first smile; it comes naturally as I celebrate a friend’s milestone

 

Upon waking — often in the early hours after midnight — expressionless and shadowed as my mind feels hollowed of purpose or desire to be, or to do, anything more than sit — eyes-closed. Blurts of journal entries and poetry are written of this face.
Upon waking — often in the early hours after midnight — expressionless and shadowed as my mind feels hollowed of purpose or desire to be, or to do, anything more than sit — eyes-closed. Blurts of journal entries and poetry are written of this face.

A face wanting to be hidden, the face of my alter ego, of agoraphobia; the one needing to know where all the exits are … stifling all invitations to leave home or receive visitors — yet knowing “too much” solitude exacerbates all realities.

being outside is an obstacle course of memories and hope deferred; I am able to be outside with less stress this week because my youngest son is clearing overgrown garden areas
I am able to find comfort in the cleared areas, space to {be} and realize bits of hope; light at the end of a 12+ year tunnel; I had cancer 12 years ago …
depression image
cancer marked the end of my planned gardens and the beginning of realism with regard to my limits + dmitting/embracing my preference for wild, naturalized gardens
nature brings me comfort; I feel safe, grounded and centered when I am outside under the sky and trees of my 2.5 Acre Wood, listening to bird songs and the rustlings of squirrels; walking alone or with my sweet but fastidious little fluff, a Bichon and "self-trained" therapy grrl, a Golden Retriever {adopted as a Rescue, but whose love is a rescue}
nature brings me comfort; I feel safe, grounded and centered when I am outside under the sky and trees of my 2.5 Acre Wood, listening to bird songs and the rustlings of squirrels; walking alone or with my sweet but fastidious little fluff, a Bichon and “self-trained” therapy grrl, a Golden Retriever {adopted as a Rescue, but whose love is a rescue}
dressing in natural fibers, comfortable but stylish {according to my preferences} help me to feel better mentally; I am resistant to this ... I don't want to "waste" the wear and tear of my "good clothing" when home-bound
dressing in natural fibers, comfortable but stylish {according to my preferences} help me to feel better mentally; I am resistant to this … I don’t want to “waste” the wear and tear of my “good clothing” when home-bound
standing on crunchy grass; reminding myself what appears to be dead is merely dormant; roots are vital — not what is seen; grow deep
standing on crunchy grass; reminding myself what appears to be dead is merely dormant; roots are vital — not what is seen; grow deep

Mid-day is the turning point for me; I rarely schedule anything past 1:00 p.m. because it is unlikely I will have physical energy or mental focus to complete tasks or honor appointments. This day I did. The energy was there.

make-up is typically limited to lipstick only; adornments usually limited to ear rings … the necklace I am wearing here is a bola harmony ball, a favorite soother because of its soft chime sounds when I walk; I have favorite items and art mail near; gifts that remind me I am seen and loved, part of a community; tangible evidence to assist me when a twister of paranoia swirls wildly within … I do what works until it doesn’t
depression is like a heavy weight that requires extra time be allowed for deadlines; I mailed items I “planned” to mail three days ago but it was wonderful to be out in the sun and honor my promise to my-self to drive alone “more” and the staff at the post office have become friends over the years; it is always a positive experience to chat with them; I ♥ small towns!
the ever-changing sky of this day felt like an affirmation; blues and shifting clouds and weather fronts, ever-changing as part of a cycle; affirming that change and opposite realities within the same day are part of {living} — part of Creation; the rain of the evening was extra special; rain always feels soothing and like a promise of divine care

The idea for this post came to me some time in the middle of the night as I muttered to myself that I had nothing to write about this week … that I was tired and anxious, and nothing could be done with that.

Suddenly in that moment of naming my angst and frustration with the week, with depression and pain, I realized that I would never respond that way to a friend, or to anyone who believed her situation to be of no consequence.

So, this is dedicated to you, Braveheart. Because our stories matter. And we are not broken — so there is no need to be in the audience of people convinced otherwise.

This post is dedicated to my secret rebel kindred who send me celestial poetry and emoticons, and images of beach views and skies — and color! Who don’t ask “How are you?” because they already know. Who give me space and don’t assume the worst about me in my absence.

My life is not easy, but it is mine. I own every bit of it — the good, the bad and the ugly.

If someone speaks some variation of:

  • “Don’t talk about it. You just need deal with it.”
  • “You don’t look sick.”
  • “You always look so happy.”
  • “What do you have to be sad about?”
  • “Keep it to yourself; you don’t want to be a burden.”

They do not begin to understand what you are living with … Because illness of any kind makes most people uncomfortable and they attempt to unload their insecurity on to you. Those people don’t get endless chances, Braveheart.

Yes. I know that is easy to say and yet feels impossible to accomplish.

But this is your one wild and precious life … handle it with care and respect, and with self-love.

Take care of you; do what you must until you can do what you choose. 


 

National Alliance on Mental Illness is a nonprofit, grassroots mental health education, advocacy and support organization. I link it here because you may be at a place where the face of depression is much more threatening. If so, you are not alone … There are people who care and who can help.

let everything speak

 

paint on her hands

let the world wash over me: in all its harshness and fullness.
i will see it and hold it and love it

and
i will let it go.

within these walls is a holy hush
sprouting green in the silence;

hope-fire through nerve pathways too long ignored,
entering space that is sacred in its brokenness.

let the paint drip all over me 
at rest

with fairy-tale and flower crown;
secret messages in old books.

to hold holy
and let it flow through my painted fingers,

i must quit falling into spaces
that are not my own.

let mystery be what it will.
let everything speak.

i will breathe in the sunrise: warm-light
shed only to see me allowing myself to be what I am.

jamie bonilla

you can always find me where paint, words, and mystery collide

                                   Let the beauty we love be what we do.
            There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. – Rumi