Sunday, March 15, 2009
Some of this depends on how a person was raised. If they grew up in an authoritarian household, in rebellion they might flee as swiftly as possible from the expected status quo. Or they might be most rigid as they uphold conservative beliefs and close-minded traditions, in order to gain approval from their early taskmasters.
There are others of us who thrive in a more individualized world, a culture that encourages artists to flourish. Perhaps these people had a more open-minded upbringing. Their parents encouraged them to ask questions. Often times rare in this great land of ours, but present.
Early on in life I learned what was necessary to get along, fit in, and succeed. I sought and won awards. But the awards were empty for me because no matter whether it was Best Dressed, Most Friendliest, Most Likely to Succeed, or Hall of Fame - any adulation or public pat on the back never filled me up. Just like a desired toy, the minute I'd acquired the longed for product, something else on the horizon was more necessary than what was shiny and new in my own hands. When it came to the real internal job of loving, encouraging, accepting and applauding my own self, I didn’t have it, and I didn’t do it.
On the outside it might have looked like I did, but the more I walked the path of not only conforming but showing an example of one who conformed well with slight modulations & modifications, the more internally uncomfortable I got while standing on the pedestal, stuck to the spot where I was expected to perform.
I’ve tracked my life in a diary. In the many pages of my life, there has been a constant communication with the internal depth core part of the self, which is the soul, which connects me to my source. Even at the busiest times of my life when writing quietly off in a corner was difficult and rushed; there was the obvious hunger for depth I wasn't living externally.
When I look back in old diaries and read old dreams I was fortunate enough to capture on paper, I see that many of them were prophetic. What I caught and described from less conscious parts of myself, surprisingly and often, unfolded and came true.
This blog will be about my experience and exploration of denying that internal voice, that instinct as versus accepting it, encouraging it & living according to its teaching. I’ve found that when I'm not hearing my own instinct, I’m constantly seeking externally, trying to find what I should be listening to, learning about, espousing.
It’s not easy to listen within, especially as loud as life has gotten. It surprises and frustrates me how hard it is to find quiet spaces, to listen to that very quiet voice within. It’s hard to listen within when the noise outside is so present and overpowering. Yet much of modern life is that.
Driving on our roads, it's hard to escape noise. Most stores and restaurants bombard us. Marketing experts advise loud music to hype people up into consuming more. Often in living environments, rude unconscious neighbors think nothing of slamming doors, expressing their rage via their power physically release steam. Constantly, we are being pitched and manipulated, from every direction.
Some people can tune this out, but those people are often the same ones who can tune out their own internal guidance and listen only to what is expected of them. That’s not me. It’s taken me a long time to learn to trust this process within.
I hid my deepest self for years. I was frightened that the Moral Majority was going to come after me. On the IDES OF MARCH, Frank Rich in the New York Times hints at a possible 40-year exodus from "Culture Warriors." "Americans have less and less patience for the intrusive and divisive moral scolds who thrived in the bubbles of the Clinton and Bush years." I can't tell you, or show you via this format, but this concept has me both singing and dancing.
After finishing four years at UC Berkeley with an inspired focus on Political Psychology, I thought I'd work in Conflict Resolution. My excuse for not going back to grad school was practical. I couldn't resolve my own conflicts, so why think I could resolve anyone else's? Now I see it was a cop out.
I've since found the field of stress reduction. It's such a simple focus in life, but one that is so highly overlooked. Stress starts within our own self-concepts. What we think, believe and feel about ourselves. It's that basic and fairly simple to heal, even in these times.
For me, being an Authentic Antenna speaks of the need to be honest and upfront. For me, writing deeply about my process helps me clarify personal identity and social responsibility. Capturing momentary prods flowing through me necessitates I be real instead of artificial.
Antenna. Sending and Receiving? Yes, I do both. So can you.
I see as instinct. What goes ahead of me? What checks out the situation? What gives me a sense whether it is safe? Whether this person is on the level? Whether this experience is necessary? It's about knowing self, being realistic, having boundaries. Authentic Antenna. Join me.
In my world, March 15th, signifies the beginning of my favored season. In most calendars, Spring begins almost a week later. Not for me. I stretch my favorites as much as I possibly can. I’ll take the extra five or six days and call them mine.
Having grown up in Southern California, I’m extremely spoiled when it comes to weather. My first eighteen years were lived in smaller communities with less smog. Closer to the beach, we had off shore breezes that kept the dog days of summer doable. I never thought much about weather when I was younger. I took our blue skies, subtle breezes, and colorful sunsets for granted.
During my four winters at Berkeley when the cold air would blow through my bones, I craved Southern California’s more mild climate. During the northern summers which were mostly foggy and gray, I missed the warm sunshine I’d never truly appreciated before.
Then I spent three years in the Washington DC metro area. Three summers with heat waves that necessitated successive showers each day, and winters during which commerce and activity ground to a halt during blizzards. DC was a fascinating city and good people were there. But the thought of facing another winter or summer made the Fall leaves and Spring Cherry Blossoms a slight attraction I could live without, or visit when the itch needed to be scratched.
I returned to Southern California, with many bags and books, my diaries and dreams. I arrived again in May of 1985 and proceeded to chase the ocean for a decade. First I spent a few years on the extremely wide strip of sand they call a beach in Long Beach. I liked looking out at the flat blue mirage a quarter mile away from my window. There wasn’t much of a scent or even a song that emanated from the sands across the street from my teensy tiny one bedroom. There weren’t waves crashing anywhere for miles and the little lapping of water against earth didn’t stimulate or calm me much. At that time the beach was a visual. I knew it was there. I didn’t dip my feet in it very much, but I liked knowing it was close and I could run to it when necessary.
I spent a few years in Huntington Beach. I’d walk in the mornings. Sometimes I’d jog on the bluff all the way from 20th Street down to the pier, walking on wood over water, marveling at the activity that swelled yards below my safe stance. I was there in Huntington Beach during the storm that fell the pier. I was at that restaurant just days before Ruby’s fell into the wet chaos. I didn’t have an ocean view at that time, but I heard the waves and revelled in their effects on my heart.
After many gallon views in Laguna, I finally found myself at Tablerock in South Laguna, in a condo facing north towards the pearl necklace of Long Beach. The waves crashed night and day, fifty feet below where I lived with a man who bought the condo to seduce me. I slept, and tried to write during the hours he didn't need me by his side to be his enchanting companion.
During storms the sound was deafening. During the full moon, the orb’s radiance danced on the surface of the sea, lulling me into many a fine meditation. Here I was on a real beach with visiting whales and dolphins, tide pools thirty yards from the condo's gate. The scent, the sounds, the scenery, was all mine. I’d made it. But who I was with and how I got there haunted me, making many a day that could have been happy, a time of tension and pain. I just wanted God to turn down the noise. Often, I rolled over and pulled the covers over my head because I couldn’t appreciate the beauty before me.
I’ve never chased the waves again. Now I hear the water is rising at an alarming rate. I’ve seen them swallow hundreds of thousands of souls one fine morning, the day after Christmas. Outside my door is a crystal clear day, the best of the best.
The creme de la creme is what Spring in Southern California is to me. Now there is more peace in my heart and I can appreciate every leaf, flower and billowing cloud. I don’t want to leave. I just wish millions of others would.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Funny how reality presents a different picture. When I was most successful in life, winning awards and receiving scholarships, I veered off the health track and into self-destruction. The first poem I ever wrote was about the knot in my stomach and how the harder I try to untie it, the tighter the knot becomes.
Years later after many self help books and countless Oprah shows, I know it is the proverbial peeling of an onion, each layer comes off the one below it. Slicing away so you eventually get to the core, causes tears.
For me I felt troubled when having to don hats and wear masks for different groups. It was hard to be one thing to one person, and something else to someone else. Also stressful for me was the responsibilities success demanded. I hated having a highly regimented life, and yet, in my teens, that’s all I’d ever known.
Occasionally, I’d tell my teachers I was at a school district board meeting and I’d tell the members on the board that there was a test I had to take and couldn’t make up. Having fooled all of them, I’d drive to Sea Cliff Village, buy a piece of honeycomb, and sit on the dock with my feet in the water, watching the boats float in and out of Alamitos Bay.
I didn’t know it was stress. Even though my folks had occasionally gone to workshops and seminars on creating greater psychological health in the family, and we had family counsel meetings, I felt it was my job to be the success. My older brother got in trouble a lot. My younger brother was the brainy misfit. From a young age I felt I had to keep them from fighting, to keep peace in the family so my mom wouldn’t get frazzled. If I was the star, if I won elections and had the popular kids as my friends, my folks were proud of me and had something good to tell their friends.
At Berkeley I started exploring alternative voices within... but it wasn’t till I pushed myself through in four years that the part of me that was tired and needed a rest really spoke. I started a rebellion from success that lasted fifteen years. Pretty much anything I touched during that time was short-lived and preliminary. I couldn’t commit to anything or anybody. I didn’t want the side-effects of success; all the responsibilities, requirements, guilt trips or dotted lines.
It’s funny that so many years later I’m attuned to the stressful lives others are living. I ache for my girlfriends who have three children and careers. I hear that the word nap never makes it onto their calendar. Down time? Time for self? Time to ponder? Non-existent.
In the 2006 Writer’s Market, Margaret Atwood said she’s a Scorpio and a Rabbit, “happiest in the bottom of a shoe where it’s dark” and “at the bottom of burrows.”
I’m a four-planet Sagittarian which is a freedom lover from the get-go, and a Boar, “possessing a luxurious nature that delights in fine love-making” and is quite “magnanimous” to the point of occasionally get stomped on by “less-than-well-intentioned souls”.
The Scorpio and Rabbit go together; both are secretive. The Sag and Pig also mirror each other in their hedonistic love of sex and freedom and the quest for knowledge. Plus, Pigs love to nap. Just had to put that in here.
One of the quotes deleted during last month’s computer crash, talked about self-discovery as the most important quest in life. I’ve certainly discovered myself. Now, I hope, if I can just accept myself enough and give freely of my gifts as I’ve explored and defined them to be, I’ll be the kind of success I can be comfortable being. It’s about time.
Thinking that billions of dollars are being ineffectively siphoned out of the Iraqi Recovery Projects by corrupt and greedy profiteers with no concern or compassion for humanity. North Dakota and more than nine other states are actively maneuvering to dismantle Rowe vs Wade, just as the religious right has been praying. We keep paying taxes yet have borders unguarded and nuclear stations insecure. Plus, I had an intuitive hit about an alcoholic neurologist and one was arrested this afternoon in Oakland.
Some days I feel my upper most appendage almost throbbing like an ultra thick rubber band being stretched around Suzanne Somers’ opening and closing thighs. I try to sit quietly and not push myself to achieve something. I stay away from my desk’s books and papers. I try not to read something and keep my eyes focused and my mind processing. Instead I watch the tube six feet down from my feet. Just wanting to be entertained, I seek escape from encircling problems.
I know the Taliban is heavily recruiting again. I understand there is a banking scandal that is stealing millions under debit card holder’s noses. Only recently did I start watching the news. In the late 80’s I didn’t watch much. I was living in sight of the beach, rushing off to a job every morning, on the freeways daily, sleeping with someone I wasn’t supposed to be with because I was avoiding other people I was supposed to be with...
I honestly never caught the Seinfeld craze. I started watching television after my brother died. I guess that’s how my hopelessness played out. Losing the closest person to me that had unconditional regard for me... losing the man who could see right through all barricades to the intricately conceived jigsaw puzzle of my heart.
I remember driving him from Laguna to Los Angeles on March 11th, 1993. Remembering these last few hours with him, I can still feel the tightness in my chest as I sit in traffic with the six-footer cramped into the passenger’s seat of my little gold Mazda. I smell gas fumes. It’s one of those moments when I can’t make small talk, not that I've ever needed to do so with this brother. At that time, I was torn between two lovers, not meaning to be trite or use a cliche. I was heavily pressured to move in with the older of the two. He had a time line. I had a heart and it was shaking simultaneously with fear and rage.
I yelled at my brother, “You don’t know what it is to be a woman.” I don’t know what he said that calmed me down... but I was better after taking that ride with him. His depth, his kindness, his sensitivity helped me feel better. My problems didn't miraculously disappear, but they seemed more distant.
I don’t remember even asking him if he had any problems that day. No sentences of his professed doubt circle my data banks now. I was so self obsessed back then. Wait a minute. That’s right. That was the day he said, “You’re lucky. You don’t have to think of providing for those you’ll leave behind.”
Today I think of how these troubles on this terrorized planet personally affect me. Not too many of those earlier listed problems change how I’m sitting here, in this minute, at this desk, next to this candle. Having studied political science at Berkeley, having studied power consistently in this life, I feel responsible for all that is going wrong in the world. No wonder I have a headache.
Now what did that beloved brother of mine say that enabled me to put the problems farther out in front of me, so they no longer choke me and limit my breath?
There are people in our lives who are miracles, sent to us by God, or the powers that be, to guide and inspire us. Others come showing us other choices, other options, tempting us down roads that teach us much if we’re willing to pay attention. Whether a person is a good influence or less than an optimal persuasion is dependent on our motivation for connection.
Are we wanting to have a body guard, a party, or a fan club? Do we want the person to teach us, show us, or do something for us we are afraid to do for ourselves? Sometimes we think a person will be one thing for us, and throughout the time line of the relationship, they become something completely different to us.
I’ve been asked to write about a specific relationship. I recently received an email from a friend I had previously thought was a good influence on me. We studied massage together. During our three years of conversations we generally talked about healing emotional states, releasing turmoils and bringing on calmer states of peaceful and loving creative flow. I’d shared my challenges and gifts with this person. I thought there wasn’t anything I couldn’t trust her with of mine. I thought she was on my team.
Then this email came from her, telling me how critical and angry a person I am. How nobody can please me. That, of course, everyone lets me down, including myself, thus the reason I hate to leave my apartment.
Let me be the first to admit, I constantly deal with issues involving anger and criticism. It's daily work, releasing stimulants that invoke outbursts. It’s been a big change after having used food, alcohol, drugs and sex to numb myself for so many years. Dropping these activities that distract me from my pain so I can feel authentically what is my lesson and meaning in life, it's hard but someone must do it.
How do I live in society and interact with my fellow man when I’m so raw and in touch with painful emotions? So few others are willing to do the work to get conscious. When you find someone you can talk about this with deeply and then they turn on you, or it feels like they turn on you, it is painful indeed. Even though the day was effective, I did get into clothes and out to return library books and replenish groceries and water bottles, I was back in my flannel pajamas by 4 and in bed soon thereafter with a debilitating headache. Not able to give to another today.
She was supposed to give me my last massage today. But she bailed yet again and instead chose to bring me the $50 as she didn’t know when she’d be able to return. I gave her a card about kindness and didn’t write on the card that I felt she’d been unkind in her email, only that I truly appreciated her skills. I wanted her to feel good about her abilities as that is what started her tirade. I think she felt I was displeased with her performance.
I did let her know, as she was walking away, that I thought her letter to me betrayed our trust. "Your hostility, using my intimate concerns, was not kind." Last Saturday she said, "The mark of truth in spiritual growth is whether it inspires kindness to oneself and others." She didn’t think her letter to me was unkind or angry. What did I want from her as my friend, and what do I want from her from this day forward?
Here I’ve been wallowing in the loss of my lover nonstop the last three months. Bemoaning the fact I can’t call him and get him to deliver within a few hours or days, one of those sessions that use to give my life it’s meaning. I pushed him away. I caused the riff. I said goodbye. Now there are minutes I can’t breathe because the lover he was to me in our deepest moments, is lodged under my breath. If I move, I’ll bust apart.
My mother was sick with cancer last year. We got her through chemo. She stopped taking her thyroid medication and was a day away from death before we discovered the problem. She slept on a hospital bed for four months, and had to be strapped into a wheelchair for much of that time or she’d slither out the bottom like a silver fish. Yet, these past five or six months, she seemed to be getting stronger, returning to her elegantly spunky, opinionated self.
Lately, there’s been talk that in addition to her COPD, which can’t be cured, she also might have Hydrocephalus - Water On The Brain. I had no idea my mother was so much weaker than she was just two weeks ago during my parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary.
I chose to come down and spend Oscar Sunday with the folks. I knew she’d love that. I’d bring the bottle of Mumm’s, given to me on my 45th birthday, I’d not yet had reason to uncork. It’s much more fun to watch the Academy Awards in the same room, than to make eight or fifteen calls back and forth all night. Tonight she took the plates to the table before we'd placed the slices of flank steak on them. This week she was asleep by 7:30. She’s been scuffing the bottom of her right foot on the ground when she walks more than before.
Laying at the foot of their bed, with them holding hands up at the headboard, they couldn’t see my silent tears. Here I’ve been moaning about my celibacy for weeks. Going on and on about what I’ve lost. And like all loving mothers, she listened and sympathized. What about what she is losing? Can I hold her and comfort her when I’m so devastated I might lose her?
Feeling as if an uzi had blasted through my heart region leaving shards and malfunction, I felt the desperation to write and say, I CAN’T STAND NOT TALKING TO YOU. Not wanting to weep, or sniffle, or show my distress I was able to just feel that internal chasm widen and deepen until it took over most my body. We watched the awards and shared the Mumm’s with strawberries and cashews. We talked about the superficiality and hype of the whole dang drama and how distressing it was to have to sit through so many commercials.
I massaged my father’s neck and shoulders. I snuggled and rubbed my mother. I’ve always said, I have the depth of my mother’s emotion, and my father’s inability to deal with it. I’m feeling it now, feeling not only the loss of my orgasms, but also the eventual loss of the one who has loved me more than any other person on the planet, given more of herself to me than any other being. The thought that she’ll leave me had me speechless. Afraid to turn around, afraid to show my tears, afraid to speak and bring to the surface all the terror we three were feeling inside our own hearts at the thought of something breaking up our party.
Reese Witherspoon thanked her parents for always being proud of her, regardless of her actions or behavior. I didn’t have that. When I won awards and was popular, they were proud. When I walked off the beaten path and didn’t use my potential to succeed but to burrow down deeper and discover my true self, I felt their lack of pride in me loud and clear.
I know now, they only wanted me to be happy. In their eyes I haven’t been as happy as I could have been. I’ve hidden much of the happiness I have felt, fearing it inappropriate. I want to hide no longer. Every day I have with her left, I want her to know how grateful I am she’s been my mother. How fortunate I am to have her depth, and ability to care and communicate. After all, not having sex isn't nearly as negative as not having life.
The last few days have been emotionally more difficult. I wondered if my body was about to bleed. Yesterday at the network my first client said when I finished the twenty-minute rub, “That was one of your best.” During the time I was working on him, I did have some reprieve from my own agony. I was able to focus on the chronic rubber kitchen mat of a knot under his left shoulder. I was able to give with my hands what I know will bring peace and healing to another and make their day better.
My second client said, “That was good. Now I want to get on the couch and take a nap.” He’s the head of a busy, incessantly stress-filled Department. I told him I’d found in my diary of 1999 that it was suggested to me that I should apply to be his assistant. “I would have liked working for you because you are the most mellow man in this building, but that desk offers no privacy and this department is so loud.” He smiled at the thought that I might have been his assistant. Then he said, “I use to get angry all the time but I’ve learned how to not react as much and I find I can set the tone for my own department. When I go upstairs, it’s another story.”
The other clients I thought I’d have fell through. One was waiting for approval to leave the building. She’s been in agony since February 3rd and the medical establishment is giving her the run around. The other one had someone in his office and I couldn’t wait around... I wanted to get home. I walked out of the building with only $70. I should have tried harder. I should have gone to more floors and asked more strangers if they wanted a neck rub. I didn’t have it in me.
I needed to come home and be quiet. I watched Henry James’ THE GOLDEN BOWL. It saddened me to see that the man who lied to his wife and father-in-law was forgiven but the woman who lied to her husband and best friend was subtley humiliated. The man will swallow up the passion available but not attach love to it. One of the male characters said, “A man doesn’t like it when it’s easy.” I know why this upsets me. If a woman is liberated, is led by her passion as a man is, she isn’t respected as is the more reserved woman who DEMANDS societal respect and position before engaging in sexual relations. This movie was of a different generation, different century, yet sadly, this same double standard continues whether we are conscious of it or not.
Then I watched TIME REGAINED which showed Marcel Proust’s struggle with his appearance oriented culture; how he triumphed, diligently focusing on his craft, eventually able to give the by-products of his life to his world. Kind of enlightening, yet the movie was as hard to follow as his writing is... yet valuable nonetheless because so few know that internal language.
This man I miss protected his proper relationship that was consigned to him by his boss... Yet he didn’t protect the woman involved or her feelings, just the container that they show to the world. All appearances. To realize I lusted and loved a man incapable of inner core directives stymies me. I finally pick up the diary again today, after five days without contact. On every page it is there... I saw it, I felt it, I wanted to change it, and felt incapable to do so. I saw a trickle of blood this morning and it pleased me. It’s been two months since I broke up with him. That’s the last time I bled. I listened to my body. I didn't push when I was crumbling inside. I didn’t rush off to spinning, deciding instead to lay low and go slow. By doing so, I finally found my peace again.
Full of emotion or inspiration is when I write best, not when something is ailing me. Not when a relationship is irreparable or someone I love is dying. Not when I hear that Billy Crystal’s mother’s essence was “stolen” by Mr. Stroke and sitting there in that grand theater on Wilshire Boulevard, my head was already pounding. In the first act it was just gas. I’d cooked what I thought was a healthy lunch with less than fresh onions. Billy had me laughing until he started in on baseball. That’s when I could barely hear him because I was wondering how much more my middle region could expand before bursting.
At half time I walked around the block with my Dad. We’ve been getting so much closer lately. I feel tenderness for him I haven’t felt for decades. I love this man like I once did. I almost can’t remember all the harsh words we’ve spoken to each other, all the pain I feel he’s caused me, all the agony I didn’t mind causing him... Now I only want to comfort him, rub his neck in the way I know brings him peace. He’s always appreciated my hands, but these days the minute I squeeze my fingers gently around his occipital ridge, I know he calms down in a way that is quite foreign but pleasing to him.
For the second act, I shrunk down low in my seat, thinking if I rested my head on the back of my seat I’d feel better. Slowly inching down the zipper on my Liz Clairborne black suit pants, which I wore so I’d look appropriate for the occasion in Mom’s eyes, I was all but demonstrating the “otherness” Billy talked about when his father died, how he was there but not there.
Driving home I found that spot on Louise Hay tape I’d listened to earlier that had shifted my caffeinated anxiety into a more confident hopefulness. “When we really love, accept and approve of ourselves exactly as we are, then everything in life works. It’s as if little miracles are everywhere. Our health improves, we attract more money, our relationships become more fulfilling and we begin to express ourselves in creatively fulfilling ways. All this seems to happen without our even trying.”
Just before the show started I saw one of those miracles happen. Dad ran into a short middle aged brunette who’d been teaching his Opera Appreciation class. Just yesterday, Lynn Sherman asked the class to research where and when Turendot would be playing in California next. Dad went home and immediately googled the information but had no number where to reach her. I thought this woman looked surprisingly like my father’s sister who passed in 2000. I was moved upon discovering she’d been in Italy two day’s prior and at the Queen Mary just this morning. That's a woman who gets around... I can't imagine her jet lag but she was up and energized. She said, “I was supposed to meet my group at a restaurant which is no longer in business. I chose not to have a cell phone so I could spend my money instead on my love of travel and my book addiction.”
I can look at her not having a cell phone in both positive and negative ways. She gained more of the world by giving up what ten years ago was impossible and unavailable anyway. But what was positive about cooking with old onions? The pearl of an experience that manifested after much irritation caused by not loving myself enough?
Mom then asked if I wouldn’t like to get a manicure, pedicure and facial? Wouldn’t I like to come down next Saturday and she would gift me these services. I said I would think about it. Later that night when she called I hadn’t called any of my hometown local friends to see if I could hang out with them while my folks were at the symphony that night, all so I wouldn’t have to drive home in the rush of Saturday activity. She asked, "Don't you want to get your nails done before we see Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays on Thursday night?"
“Mom. I'll look nice on Thursday. I don’t want to take the time right now to get my nails done," I said with exasperation in my voice. "That’s external... What I’m working on right now is so internal and important for me to heal, I can’t be split off from it with something that will just chip in a few days, need constant attention and upkeep. But I do thank you for this generous offer.”
Mom said, “I understand dear. I just wanted to offer you a diversion.” I know she knows I’m in pain. If only getting my nails done could make it better. If only a diversion could ease the daily agony of missing someone who is not good for me. if only it could indeed divert my energy. Nothing is diverting my energy these days.
I read some magazines the gal at CBS gave to me on Tuesday. All day on the 22nd when I wasn’t sleeping due to a lack of sleep the night before, I was reading those magazines and catching up. I use to pay attention to what women magazines said. Now what their proclamations are of little priority in my consciousness. I don’t look at those magazines much anymore because I usually come away from the experience feeling dirty. Madison Avenue hype says life should be glamorous. Reading what they say I should be and seeing pictures of what I should look like by wearing what they determine is worthwhile, makes me hate myself because I don't want to live that way. Closing the magazine, and returning to my life, I usually feel I don't add up and start nit picking myself even more than usual.
When voted Best Dressed (as well as Most Friendliest) in 9th grade, I gave up that award, and chose to receive Most Likely To Succeed because I could only have one award at the end of the year and for insertion into the yearbook. The latter meant more to me than looking good or being popular. This is absolutely still true today. At least some things stay the same.
What's becoming more and more clear to me? Self-loathing causes addiction as well as most of the illnesses or irritations we claim to be part and parcel of our identity.
Most advertising dollars are spent to make you wish you had something you don't have and immediately go out and CONSUME what is being fed to you so you add up in this world. Such a silly surface concept, and yet, most of life in the civilized world buys into it.
Billy Crystal was raised with love, humor and encouragement to shine. When young he was surrounded with a family structure that supported and invested in entertainment and joy. During his first fifteen years every day was alive and exciting. Most situations had a punch line. All this before his father died unexpectedly. After his father died, only the struggle of reality remained. The curtailment of financial ease. The agony of his mother's late night sobbing through paper thin walls. She kept the stiff upper lip during the day, yet at night, behind closed doors the shock of going back to work at 50 having not worked for some twenty years prior was too much.
Life happens. Deep feelings exist. Mostly behind closed doors and hidden from the world. “Smile and the world smiles with you... cry and you cry alone.” I wish I could be funny like Billy and sometimes I can. I’ve made friends cry till they weep or pee or plotz. I’ve done it... but never on demand.
I’m not one to do much on demand. This frightens me. Our world demands ON DEMAND, yet rewards those who break away from the pack and shine their individuality brightly enough to sparkle and get noticed. We pay those who distract us from our pain. What do we do with those who help us go into and make a safe space to feel that pain, those tears that never lift until they are experienced fully? Where is there permission to process? Kind of basic, like budgeting or valuing intuition, subjects necessary in life that are never taught in school.
There are miracles in everyday interactions. Often, when I least expect it, a person I come into contact with has incredibly special significance for me. When I'm paying attention, when I'm listening, when my feelers are up and out, wondrous unexpected moments unfold before my very eyes.
After spinning, I met this incredible French woman named Monique in the 99¢ Store.
I asked as we stood beside each other at the refrigerator door in the back where the eggs were located, "Do you think the eggs here are safe?"
She was wearing a burgundy leather jacket that looked like it had seen better days. Under that she had a red sweatshirt that had fifty stains if it had one. She just happened to be the person standing there when I had that specific question on my mind. I was hoping to save myself a trip to another store and get home, if I could get past the thought that these 99¢ eggs were really too old to be on better store’s shelves.
“Yes, I always buy my eggs here,” the bright eyed red haired woman said with remarkably clean and perfectly capped teeth.
Conversation turned to her questioning whether the Fleishman’s margarine she had in her hand, made with Olive Oil which claimed to have NO TRANS FATS were really without trans fats. In the small print it clearly said the product was partially hydrogenated instead of non-hydrogenated...
We moved my cart over to the bread shelves, out of the way from the masses moving up and down the aisle. We talked about how much hard work health necessitated, how much energy dieting consumes, whether trusting the AMA to care about our health when they care most about the relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. We moved on to the billions of dollars lost in Iraq, Kevin Trudeau’s Natural Cures book and how the FBI showed up at the Trudeau’s house toting weapons. Somehow in just a few minutes, this bright educated woman and I were discussion therapy, relationships with our mothers, and the importance of daily walking. All that in about fifteen minutes.
Many years ago her mother had come to visit from France. After a few days together the older woman said, “Monique, I think there are some things you need to go to therapy to work out.” I asked her how long she’d been in therapy and what she’d gotten out of the process. “I was in therapy for a couple of years. My therapist was amazed because I take notes and ‘so few bothered to really listen much less follow advice given.’ What I learned most was how to accept criticism. I learned that hatred of others only hurts myself, and self love is a most important quality to develop.”
We exchanged numbers, names and went on our way. I threw back my Crispy Rice and Toasty Oats cereals she pointed out how much sugar and salt they both had. I checked out. When putting my bags in the car I remembered I'd also wanted lemons, grapefruits, broccoli, and cauliflower. I went back in and while standing in line again I snagged a Hershey’s Heath Milk Chocolate combo bar. After hearing this older woman in remarkable health, slim and trim, tell me to learn not to put the junk into me or I’d become junk, I still succumbed.
But I came home nibbling on only three little bites, then broke the rest of the bar up into little rectangles and put them in the heart tin given to me the day before for Valentine’s. I hid the tin behind the big leather reading chair, on the third shelf down of my diary section. Maybe I’ll forget they are there. Maybe I’ll throw them out.
So much of life is about awareness... Before meeting her I might have had the bad cereal and the whole bar of chocolate. Now I just might escape the whole incident with only a mere taste of temptation.
This woman having gone through therapy with her eyes open, knew the process backwards and forwards, and was able to elucidate for me some very basics in life. Had I judged her on her stained shirt or the fact that I thought red and burgundy don't look good together, I'd have missed a wonderful encounter. I'm really glad I have that characteristic in my personality, I give people a chance as long as they don't smell horridly offensive to me. Maybe even that limitation I should work on.
Who knew the 99¢ Store offered such profound value?
Friday, March 13, 2009
I am getting ready to get on the road... to go to my folk’s house for an overnight, to help them celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The next day we’re doing another “family” event with the sister-in-law and my nieces for my dead brother’s eldest daughter’s golden birthday. A golden birthday is celebrated when one turns 15 on the 15th, or 1 on the 1rst, or 31 on the 31st.
We are going to a museum to see an exhibit on the Maori culture. I spent $45 last year to hear Joe, the Maori healer, speak about healing pain. The first thing he said is to thank the pain. Often times, just being grateful for its appearance as a guide for knowledge instead of outright rejection because of fear, makes the intensity of it lessen immediately. Ho, it should be so.
Instead of buying an expensive gift to show my appreciation for my folks, I printed out and hole punched into a red folder, forty-six pages that make up this year’s Five Hundred Word Collection. I read through just to make sure there isn’t anything that would drastically offend them. It’s not that I feel I must edit my life in order to be appropriate for them. That’s part of the luck I have in having them be my parents. There is a level of truth in our sharing time together. Genuine caring as well as honesty is passed back and forth between us.
I am an extension of their love. I am the depth of my mother, the devotion of my father, the awareness to details of my mother, the love of distraction of my father. I am the passion they shared as well as the commitment to an ideal. My ideal is different than theirs, but because they had their ideal, I’m able to develop my own.
In going through my pages I can see a judgment that what I’m doing isn’t of enough value. I judge it to be too self-centered. This self-condemnation is part of what I’m trying to heal. Intellectually, I know that the truer we are to our unique individualism, the more we reflect the masses... Everyone is an individual, whether discovered, uncovered, or shared.
George Sand created herself in the middle of the 19th century. Her autobiography that was published in twenty volumes was about how a “woman became who she was, took on an identity, pursued her art, created herself.” She created the portrait of a singular life, a woman’s life, that “could be yours.” This literature she gave the world was favorably compared to The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and The Memoirs of Chateaubriand. Unheard of comparisons back in that day
Mom called me last night, practically in tears, heavily touched by having seen “Warm Springs,” the recent movie about FDR with Kenneth Branaugh and Cynthia Nixon. FDR was president when my mother was born. When their living room was darkened, her family gathered together in mourning on the day he died in 1945. She was eleven years old. I’m not sure whether she handed me my very first biography, the one about Eleanor and Franklin... or if it was my grandmother’s book for her book club that she recycled on down through my father and on to me.
I grew up reading biographies and always thought I’d die writing them. I was always more interested in what made an artist tick than in seeing what the actual work of art their “ticking” inspired.
I must be patient with this process. I know I’m releasing my addictions, learning to feel feelings I’ve run from for many years, getting in touch with deliberate dimensions of my soul I was too embarrassed in the past to claim... I guess I better start thanking the pain of my impatience.
So that’s what a mother feels like. I lost my own dream but was comforted knowing my energy helped him transform his madness into a meaty musing. I comforted the youth. My maturity was salve to his fear.
I’m embarrassed by the truths I expose in my private pages that I’m now typing up to make more public. My lack of spiritual fiber, my lack of ethical appropriateness, my desperation turning to numbing agents which just made it all worse... Yet, it is good to see this. I drank a real cup of coffee today knowing I have a full day ahead at the network and then the party tonight.
I’m hopeful I can go to the party and not do much to alter my natural feeling state... Not drink or smoke... not push beyond that which I’m authentically feeling.
Ever since we talked on Monday about sobriety... I’ve been wondering what I would do come Friday’s party. The only substance I’ve had this week other than this morning cup of joe... was one shot of Tequila after seeing Matthew McConaughey peer pressure Oprah on her universal screen to imbibe same. I wanted a taste of that and did that and was done with one.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.I’ve fantasized about having it and being in it for two full decades. To be so engrossed that eating and sleeping become one and the same as emoting and creating a work to share. I’ve always wondered if I could live my diary in the world. Reading what I wrote that two-week period in April of 1986 when I was out in the desert with Trent and his mother, Mrs. Anderson. I worked so hard every day for fifteen days, all of it on the inner work. The words I wrote in that book exposed so much of my process. Yet, walking away I discovered I had actually accomplished very little that I could share with others at that time.
I felt myself to be such a failure... and yet, some of that is part of this story now. Reading how clear T was about the creative process. He had great insight into my fears, yet was without the facility to deliver his wisdom gently enough to my insides so I could quietly take it in and make it mine.
The coffee gets me to sit at the desk doing the tiresome typing of blue pen into black bytes... But in terms of this sitting and typing straight from my heart, the anxiety that coffee creates is like a storm shifting the waters on my surface so fervently that I can’t see what is going on below. Also... knowing I must leave the sanctity of this space and go back out into the crazy busy noisy world... I’ve been solid here all week only leaving to walk the stairs yesterday and hit the Food4Less at 1AM when no one was on the street or in the store. As much as I enjoy interacting with other human beings, there is something about living in this metropolis that overwhelms me.
Too many people, too much energy. Yet today, I go back out into it to give of my hands and my heart.
It is happening regardless whether I think I’m manifesting or not.
I want to write about the huge gift of this past weekend, the big box that showed up with all kinds of essential oils, facial care products, sweet smelling sachets, bath bombs, three separate cool compact discs, and an expression that someone saw a special part in me and was saluting me from a distance. I want to write about the future... but I’m still stuck in the past. The more I read about this relationship I’ve been obsessed with for close to a decade, the more I see how I was played. I see how a deeper part of me that was calling out for erotic significance seemed to put my many other systems into lock down.
Like Einstein couldn’t tie his shoe, once aware of the combustion generated when uniting physically with this man and how it halted my hives and the grinding of my teeth, every other state of consciousness was lukewarm for me, lacking luster. I was obsessed with this man. Oh, I said that already, didn’t I? Last night before I went to sleep I opened up the diary that portrayed our first six months of sexual interaction. He was traumatized by how his wife left him. He had been as obsessed with her as I became with him. He was the one back then on his knees, drooling, broken. In the beginning he called me every night. I listened and was there for him. Friends said, “Use him sexually. He won’t be emotionally available for eighteen months.” He did feed on me, was nurtured by me.
He knew it was wrong and said repeatedly that I'd get hurt, that this wasn’t going to be good for me. "I cherish our friendship and our ability to communicate. Can't we keep that and let the other more dangerous aspect of intimacy fall by the wayside?" He'd asked me two months into 1997.
I would hear none of it. In those first two months, I’d been swimming with scuba gear and now he insisted I sit on the sand. I don't think so. I hungered for the underwater life, the depth, hearing myself breathing, seeing things that didn’t exist above the surface.
I question how much easier it would be to burn these diaries, toss the box with all the letters he and his brother wrote to me, as well as all the cards, erotic drawings, and the numerous one of a kind gifts he gave me as tokens of his love... Pack it all up and toss it in the bin down below. I can’t do that.
In the 1997 diary he gave me he wrote in red ink:
“Now that you been a guest in this life for lots of delicious, sad, emotional, sexual, intellectual experiences, write them for all of us to read, enjoy.... purchase. Write! Not just a note, a line, but pages... bring it all together. Now is the time. Make a place to write, devote real time to it... give it the attention it so rightly deserves. If you truly want to write, devote real time to it... give it its due... focus, time, attention... your best!”
Fifteen minutes... Can I pull one off in fifteen minutes? Can I let myself loose, flow through these wrists that rest on my overheated white iBox... supple wrists that remain ever ready, willing to transform me through words, and transport others through touch.
I want to let it rip tonight, to flow verbally about the last twenty-four hours, to record my excitement, the amazing high of hearing my voice in the tape recorder say at 3:30 AM, “I LOVE MY DIARY!” Started when I was twelve and a half, it became slightly embarrassing throughout the years. The blank books would first be filled, then gathered like hair into a braid.
I carried them with me. They were on the shelves at home when I went through high school. Then I took them up north during my four years at UC Berkeley. All of them flew with me to the east coast and even more came back to California with me, three years later. I remember storing them at a friend’s twice when I was pet/house-sitting in Snohomish Washington for five weeks and on Connective Avenue in Washington DC for three months. I wouldn’t leave them in storage.
I remember they were one of the things unpacked first whenever I moved into a new place. I moved often. Eight moves in the Metropolitan DC area alone. I think I once counted the different places I’ve lived and I’ve moved twenty-three times. Lots of packing boxes only to unpack them and then repack too soon. Fortunately, I’ve been home here for eight years.
It was kind of like a drug fix... this need I had to document what I was experiencing. Tallulah Bankhead once said, “Good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don’t have time.” In one of my diaries I glued in a snipped article. At the end of her life, Tallulah wandered up and down Broadway, wondering what life was all about.
It was important for me to figure out what life was all about. More than anything I wanted to know why I was here, much more than I wanted to figure out what I could get for being here. Even though I won an award for modeling in the 6th grade, I wasn’t into clothes. I never had a thing about being pretty, yet I look back at old pictures now and know Goddess gave me looks.
I learned early however that there would always be someone prettier, smarter, funnier, more popular, and wealthier than me... therefore the only part of the equation I could control was that I had to be specifically me. I had to know what the me part was, not the pretty, or smart, or funny, or popular, or rich parts were... it was what was underneath it all, that’s what I sought. In myself and in others. That was my focus all these years, when taking time to explore what I was experiencing in words, to figure out what I was feeling on the page. I sought to understand why I was hurting or enraged. By writing about it long enough a deeper explanation would come through, if I could get quiet enough to truly listen.
My writing did that for me all these years. I used to think it was a nasty habit, somewhat wasteful of time and energy. So many pages, so many shelves, leaden with words, frustrations and loaded revelries. The notes I took on a life I was sometimes too afraid to really live.
And yet... what I did do in all those moments I sat posed with fingers over keyboard or when gripping a pen, was to get present in the moment with where me was, what was covering her, challenging her, making her hide.
I can come present, quickly...
Thursday, March 12, 2009
It's easy to lose oneself amidst the cries of others, the delusions of the masses, the ignorance of the selfish and the distractions of the superficial.
It is difficult to listen within to the small quiet voice of instinct, intuition, and internal guidance. It's difficult, but not impossible.
As life continues, the wear and tear intensifies when not maintaining one's own idiosyncratic boundaries. Much like dieting, when one slips up and under peer pressure eats a slice of someone's birthday cake, the indiscriminate sugar can stir up one's own obsession for more. That momentary lack of polite agreement in order not to hurt another person's feelings, can start a roller coaster ride that's not even worth the price of admission.
Yesterday a friend from spinning wanted to accompany me to a yoga class across town. She’s a tiny little twig, weighing no more than a hundred pounds. She’s tight, fit, athletic, and intense, much more a disciplined task master when it comes to the body than I am. I’d put off doing the yoga run with her for a few weeks because I’d noticed she had a tendency to speak and laugh really loudly and I wasn’t open for enduring that much noise.
She picked me up and on the drive across town I listened to her talk about her dating life on the Fitness Singles and Military Singles websites. She recently read a book entitled FEARLESS LOVING and decided to be more open with men and not judge them as harshly. She'd always toppled them after the first date if they didn’t intrigue her. Now she realizes it takes three dates to know for sure if a man was just nervous enough to fumble the first two. She was very confident in how she questioned men and got them to admit their red flags up front. I listened and paid attention to her, while quietly comparing my own b.s. detector and how it fared for me when doing online dating these past four years.
She has an estranged sister who starts chemo and was feeling guilty for being in yoga. Driving back she shared a cut apple and pear. She said, “I’m not hungry but I have to pay attention to my blood sugar level.” We discussed breakfasts and I realized what I’d eaten wasn’t enough to carry me. When she admitted to having a sweet tooth and being unable to keep the stuff around I listened extra hard. “I only allow myself to eat dark chocolate with the real cocoa. I can eat just a tiny bit of that everyday. If I get a little crazy with it, then I cut it out till the obsession subsides.”
She knows more about nutrition than I do, and is rigid in her habits surrounding food. I only know I must keep a bit in my mouth or there is little restraining the wild animal wanting to graze constantly. One bite of chocolate is such a tease to me... often necessitating I pull myself up short before more damage is done. Is the bliss of that one bite worth the drama of the unquenchable longing kicked up as a result?
She felt she missed her calling.... she’d gone early into the corporate structure even though she’d wanted to be a fitness trainer and stand up comedian/actress. Now without a job she wonders what steps she should take next. She saw a therapist for six months until the therapist said, “I can’t take your money anymore.” I'm not sure why she told me that tidbit.
Driving up my street I finally explained with few details of the long nine-year arrangement I'd had and what I gave up to get what I got. She said, “I could never do that. Now that you are changing your outlook, don’t you think you are loving yourself more?” Loving myself more... I hadn't thought of it in those terms.
I did give up my sense of self in order to inhabit those hours of almighty orgasm. I gave my power away, knowing I denied my heart so my loins could rejoice. Seduced, transfixed, under the influence, in those moments-during those years I felt that experience was better than anything else available or offered. When someone told me there are more important things than orgasmic sex I always thought they hadn’t had orgasmic sex...
It is one thing to listen to hearsay, to believe others regarding their Truth.
Quite another to discover for one's self... to walk the path and reach one's own summit.
Quite another to explore within, follow one's paths even if it leads into pain,
learning the breadth and width of the arena one has chosen to explore.
It doesn't make these moments of loss less painful.
I explore my pain and my pleasure.
I expose my process of self-examination and transformation.
I face nerve-wracking mistakes and cherished successes.
Doing so, I become empowered.
I strip away the layers of denial.
I refuse to live anything but my AUTHENTIC LIFE.
This is me connecting to my truth.
This is how I speak, how I think, how I love.
This is how I push away the pathology I was raised into... and am surrounded by...
Life is changing very quickly in the 21st century.
Those willing to adapt just might survive...
Tears well up when I question deep inside, what do I really want? Why do I have to be plagued with The Questioning Disease? I thought human beings gave up the "Why WHY WHYYYY?" upon maturing to first grade, but definitely by high school.
I know some people never question. They move forward easily; hit a snag, remove it, and keep on trucking. Why is that not easy for me?
Why must I question deeper, my motives, and examine the possibility of changing for the better? I've always been told I'm too analytical, too sensitive, that I think too much. Yet, the people I admire most think and feel deeply. They use their brain fodder and heart excess give wisdom and beauty to the world. I know this is a good way to be, to live, to grow. However, WHY does it have to be so painful? Maybe it's just my attitude that has to change? That's a concept.
Sometimes, when attempting to raise my consciousness, nausea overcomes me. I find myself shaking, as unsteady on the outside as I am on the inside. That's when I wish I wasn't conscious. Yet when I interact with people who are unconscious, I want to get away as far as possible from them.
The incredible magnitude of my emotions overwhelm me. The enormous amount of pain, suffering, doubt. Even during moments of bliss when I'm oozing ecstasy and others are in agony, I don't think I have a right to be so fulfilled when those in Africa and elsewhere are so traumatized. It's difficult to vibrate in a vulnerable zone when I know there are people who wake up everyday looking for someone not on guard they can prey upon.
I can only imagine what emotional life is like for others. I know not for certain and I have no way of knowing if my intensity is common. Art, literature, music, architecture, even sports... sublimate emotions no one necessarily wants to spell out. Why must I spell it out? Why not just feel and then create? Twala! No explanations necessary.
Only from what I hear others tell me can I get a sense of where they are at. The happiness I experience at times also seems to be magnified in comparison to other's joys.
But how do I know for certain and why should I care?
Why can't I just enjoy whatever comes my way? Next?
If I find happiness with less struggle - why struggle again?
I question my martyr syndrome. I think of and want him.
I think of love and want it. I think I want our love.
I feel like I'm giving up the fighter within, the one who defends me.
Good God Lord, help guide me.
But, where are you guiding me?
I'm lost and confused.
I don't know what I should do - but I know what I want (for now) and is that enough.
I just want to be quiet.
I'm so torn in two. Half my books talk of love. Half, or more, the work aspect of life.
I'm disillusioned with the work aspect because of past successes.
Confused with my love because of past disappointments.
Today I don't know where to focus my energies.
I do not want to move or talk, only listen for guidance.
- WHAT IS THE AUTHENTIC ANTENNA?
- MY IDES OF MARCH-here it is again!
- THE LESSON FROM LIVING A DEEPER LIFE
- PUTTING PROBLEMS INTO PERSPECTIVE
- BODYGUARD, PARTY, OR FAN CLUB?
- GROWING UP, GROWING OLD, GROWING GRATEFUL
- LISTEN TO THE BLOODY BODY
- THERE BUT NOT THERE
- IF ONLY A DISTRACTION COULD DIVERT MY DISCOMFORT
- THE OUTER WRAPPER IS ONLY THE OUTER WRAPPER
- THANK THE PAIN
- WHITE HEAT
- MY BODY IS MY THERMOMETER
- TUMBLING ONTO THE BLANK PAGE
- WELCOME TO MY WORLD!
- WHY MUST I COMPARE MYSELF WITH OTHERS?
- I JUST WANT TO BE QUIET
- MY NAME IS OF NO IMPORTANCE
- ▼ March (19)