staring contests with my cat in downward dog

I can’t speak for anyone but myself here obviously, but this is my take on a particular issue:

Yoga.

Oh yes. Wonderful yoga that turns its adherents from clumsy ducklings to ethereal swans.

If that’s what it’s supposed to do I’ve certainly missed the memo.

There’s days… as in days I’m not following a video where it goes ok, I manage to do dancers pose (the wimpy kind, thank you) without teetering and knocking something over.

Then there’s those other days when I’m *trying* to follow along with a video.

“Okay now breathe into (insert crazy pose I’ve never heard of)” says the instructor on the screen, while I lose my balance, fall on my ass, and watch her go from one contortion to another effortlessly. I purse my lips and say “yeah, you go girl” as I watch stunned and annoyed wondering now how the hell? Still having not gotten back up from my thirteenth fall.

I know. Big time first world problem.

Says a lot though, doesn’t it?

Meaning everyone, provided you’re not living in some blissful black hole that cloisters you from society (I dream of that some days) is probably being bombarded with a variety of messages about what you should be. It differs from person to person, either way they are ideals that represent where we’d like to be but are no where near. On the one hand that can be a great thing! A wonderful little fire to place under your rear when you’re in dire need of motivation. On the other? Discouraging, especially if you’ve been trying a lot to make things better. Why? You’re. Fucking. Exhausted. You want to not try, throw in the towel, and sleep.

Me and my mom talk a lot on the phone. She’s one of those people whom I can’t fully understand, nor can she fully understand me, but we’re there for each other as much as we can be. And she’s awesome. This lady has gone through so. much. shit. But you’d never know it by her smile or her personality, things that would devastate most she’s gotten through and though she’s shed her share of tears she’s glad to be alive. After years of fighting foreclosure on the family home, job loss upon job loss, and a great many other struggles she’s finally in a good place. She’s got a home she loves and a job where people love her and what she does (yes I’m proud). On the phone she’s telling me “yeah, I’m happy, but I’m so damn lazy, it’s frustrating”.

All I could say to that was this; “Mom. I think you need to get used to peace.” She thought about it a little and in her cute, cheerful way nodded.

We’re always told to work hard, hustle, if you don’t like where you’re at then get to work! Yes, there’s some truth to that.

Yet again, maybe where the real struggle lies is the addiction to chaos; if we aren’t running our asses off for something we feel like we aren’t doing enough when really? All we have to do is pour ourselves a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise, take in the fact that maybe we aren’t where we want to be but we’re a lot better off than we might have been in the past. If you aren’t the day will come, but still, it’s okay to breathe.

And breathe I shall, after I shut the yoga instructor up by closing out the tab and just settle for downward dog. šŸ˜›

I wrote this before I woke up

I glare at the computer through my prescription Rayban glasses, you know, like all the cool little hipster girls- except in no universe could I ever be pinned for one. The individual who types at this laptop, smoking her cigarette and hoping she remembers to ash in the tray and not accidentally in her morning coffee feels like 100% undiluted dork. All those pretty self-portraits? (thanks to the work of some very nice filters) are me after I’ve had time to wake up.

I’m still waking up, and I look like a homeless person.

Just wanted to write. This past week was exhausting in some wonderful and hard ways, each taking their turn on a little roller coaster. If I sound like a drama queen, maybe that’s because I am. In my defense, when you face things alone more often than not, things can feel a lot more tumultuous than if you had someone holding your hand through it. Yes it’s self-inflicted, no this is not some desperate plea across the web for someone to “please love me”. God no I’m fine.

Probably the hardest part about this past week is a realization I keep slamming my head against- that though your best intentions may inform your decisions, the people on the other end will not necessarily understand where you’re coming from. People are going to interpret things however they wish or best suits their worldview. Even as I try to express my heart for someone, it doesn’t mean they’re going to get the message.

This has been the case most often with (gulp) my family. Every relationship has an element of this that takes its turn going one way or the other, but when you can work it out that’s when you know you have a treasure in someone. In a perfect world everyone loves each other and gets along, in a perfect world your family is the one who has your back no matter what kind of shit is going down or around. But we all know the world isn’t perfect.

I saw my dad for the first time in two years this past weekend, and lord was I freaked out. I was the perfect picture of someone trying to sabotage themselves- projecting every unpleasant outcome as if to beat my heart to the punch so I wouldn’t have to be disappointed. Instead, I saw a quiet old man who barely spoke over a whisper. We went off and had coffee- just the two of us and somehow what I thought was lost forever quietly entered my world again stilling a storm in me I’ve felt for a long time. The questions, the way things weren’t right before, they all faded away as we talked (okay, I talked, and he listened) and by the time we said goodbye I hugged him several times before I had the strength to drive away.

As I drove away I was filled to the brim with gratitude, but be damned if I could manage any more than silence. That’s how things feel when the wind and waves no longer roar and a setting sun turns the water into an image of golden glass, you just want to enjoy the silence.

shaky

Processed with VSCO with b5 presetOn this day, “A day without Women”, I want to walk on some shaky ground here.

As a preface, I do believe in women’s rights in the classical sense. Believe me, I love the fact I can vote, that I don’t need to be under the house of a man (my father or otherwise) to be able to take care of myself. I love the fact I can write about my personal beliefs without fear from my posh little perch in a coffee shop. It’s nice to be able to walk down a street by myself, that I don’t need a chaperone and provided I’m smart, I don’t have to worry about getting raped. I love my independence.

However.

I would be a delusional mess if I thought I had only women to thank for these rights. If it weren’t for the upstanding men who passed the laws that insured my freedom and safety, no one would even be able to take part in a national hissy fit. I get it, in a perfect world women shouldn’t have ever have had to plead with said upstanding men. But this is no perfect world and I don’t think it’d be too much of a stretch to say that women have these rights because the men who voted had women they loved, daughters they wanted to protect, sisters and wives whose opinions and support they valued.

The idea behind A Day without Women I suppose is an attempt to get others to realize what we are and what we do, that men wouldn’t be able to do it without us.

Okay.

Ladies, if you are really there, chances are the men in your life already know they can’t do it without you. The funny thing is when you’re more focused on supporting someone than you are on making a point, you end up making your point without saying a word. If you’re focused on making your point- preaching, bashing, posting an endless stream of articles on your feed, chances are pretty good that the men in your life don’t need to imagine what life would be without you because they already know and your message is far more likely to fall on deaf ears.

I wish as a woman I could stand in solidarity with other women, but in this instance I can’t. I see one thing being preached from the pulpits of politicians, the media, and a lot of my friends, but what I experience is quite different. Once I stepped out of the echo chamber of disgruntled women and formed friendships with more men in my private and working life, the whole idea of feminism fell apart for me and it wasn’t because we talked about politics. It was because I heard their stories and saw what it was like on the other side of the fence. There will always be some jerks no doubt about it, but after hearing where they’ve been I felt like I was on the greener side of things.

The point I’m trying to make here is not to bash anyone (though I confess I’m more than a little frustrated) but that both men and women are far stronger if they are supporting each other. If you want love, then give it. If you want appreciation, then appreciate others. If you want freedom then let go of other peoples lives. This is true in all relationships. And if you do that and they don’t reciprocate? By all means, take no shit and walk away. You have that freedom.

the nature of home

This.

by Hannah Kemp
Photographer Hannah Kemp, check her tumblr out here…

I’ve never took a step past my front door without the intention of looking for something.

Twice I’ve been out West, the first experience was for all intents and purposes solitary, most of that trip was spent walking unfamiliar streets and enjoying being a stranger. It was bittersweet, some things were going on in my life that were hard to process. One moment I’d be stealing away to a hiding spot to cry my eyes out, the next I’d wipe my tears and wear a genuine smile as I interacted with people or saw something beautiful that I suspected most people living there had grown to take for granted. The luscious red rose that had wrapped itself aroundĀ telephone pole in a derelict part of town, the wild gardens that seemed to spring up in the oddest places, crossing the river on a huge bridge taking in the expanse of the Colombian, or walking in downtown Portland after the fall of day (that got to be a little creepy).

The second time was to spend time with a friend. I’d missed him so much and the moment I saw him it wouldn’t have mattered where we were, but we were in a beautiful part of the country. That time, thanks to him I got to see a lot more of the place. Waterfalls, the ocean (it was stormy, cold, and fucking glorious thank you very much) after driving miles through mountains and trees, and the bits and pieces of a city which the natives, as I’ve mentioned before, learn to take for granted. Both times I enjoyed, and both times I fell in love a little more.

Today I sit in my crazy mess of a house in the midwest, missing the West terribly. What’s odd though is this sense that I’m looking for something I don’t have. The West is beautiful beyond doubt, and where I sit things are finally thawing out, it’sĀ flat and white. There isn’t much going on really. Like I said, every time I’ve left it was because I was looking for something, and now I realize it’s a sense of home. Here’s the kicker, whether I was in Portland, Duluth, Minneapolis, or stranded in the middle of downtown Fargo due to a storm with a friend’s apartment as the only place to go to, I carried a sense of home with me. I felt comfortable everywhere I went, and sometimes when you’re looking for something all you have to do is sit still long enough to realize you have it.

I hope to go out there again and see far more, other places too, I’ll leave this place for a week, or maybe months or years and it won’t matter. Home at the end of the day is something we carry, a sense of ourselves that is not affected by exterior factors. This is what I hope to remember wherever life may take me.

 

reflections

In the last twenty four hours I’ve smoked more than my share of cigarettes, drank too much coffee, got out of bed several times because I had an idea I couldn’t pass up, felt the warmth of my cat sitting on my lap only to move on to the next thing that piques his interest. Pouring over design resources, getting my ass kicked in Adobe Illustrator and finding my feet in that way can be trying and rewarding all at once. Valentines day was spent in solitude with my computer yet I didn’t feel lonely because I was doing something I loved, and that’s more than I can say for the other years I spent that holiday I love to loathe.

This year a strange thought occurred to me though, I think I’ll actually really like that holiday once I have kids. I can spoil them with horrible things I’d never want to feed them on a regular basis and we’ll have hay day with it. But real romance? Best done in a spirit of spontaneity. Dear future husband, please don’t ever do anything for me on valentines day. Save the roses for when I’m begging for a glass of wine or my baby has puked on me the tenth time that day.

There’s much to be said for cultivating joy in the private realm, the place that doesn’t initially have much to do with other people. There are times that hit everyone where they feel like they are alone, like they’ve irrevocably lost what was most dear to them. Whether they did in fact or not is beside the point, fighting despair is all about maintaining you still have something to live and fight for, gifts to put forth, and things that you need to do that wouldn’t make you feel good if you left the earth before you’ve done them. There’s much to be said for maintaining the belief that you are a good enough reason to keep pushing forward, and what you love may come back to you or something else could come along.

The nature of art has shape shifted. I used to look at it as a means to gain the recognition I was starving for as a child, the sense I had something to offer and that people valued me for it. Now art has very little to do with other people. Inevitably it eventually will, but it’s become a private practice to rediscover the gifts that have lain dormant for so long. To me, creativity is a dialogue between myself and the divine, and since it has taken that form it has brought so much beauty in my life. It has revived the natural curiosity I silenced long ago. It’s no longer a thing through which I am constantly trying to measure up, instead it’s a place where I simultaneously know I am enough and I can always do better. A sweet spot to be in really.

There are things that are not okay in my life, looming questions with no ready answers, broken relationships which I’m not sure how to repair. Life is far from perfect in my corner of the world and there’s no way I can sugar coat it in positivity or just smile and say “everything is going to be alright”, because there have been many times that they simply weren’t. They sucked ass. Yet what I know to be true is I will smile again, I’ll laugh until I cry and see things that stop my heart, be it like the ocean a dear friend brought me to last spring or the fragile substance of another soul. My eyes will behold the wonder of the colors of the sky the same way they did when I was a little girl, tenderness restored.

In this season I may have more time on my hands than I’m used to, but this time I want to make it count. I may be alone, but I don’t want to succumb to the seductive sentiment that I’m lonely. Looking back on my loneliest times, I find they were far sweeter than I could’ve grasped. It’s going to be similar this time around, except I want to see the sweetness in the moment. Ironically when my life is again filled with people and places I’ve been dying to go to, I’ll miss the times I’ve spent learning a new craft and rediscovering old passions.

the innocence I miss

Bring me back to the days
When boring intersected effortlessly
with inspiration
When the brooding storm clouds above
electrified my imagination
On the outside
I appeared sad and lonely
But my brain and heart
had the wings of young hope
In a hesitant state of rebellion
Against an oppressive religious system
Innocence still intact
Unknowingly I dreamt
As if tomorrow could never come
Misery and joy
Loneliness and love
Freedom and bondage
They danced
They did not collide within my psyche
They coexisted
I did not think they need be
An indication of cognitive dissonance
Rather you can’t have one without the other
I saw enough ugly things
I wished I could unsee
But beauty still unfolded
before curious, frightened eyes
before I embraced the fabric of my being
To have that
But to be back to innocence
once more
Bring me back
if not to those days
To that state of mind

2016

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I think it’s safe to say 2016 has been rough, regardless of your political persuasion. It was a year where both sides went straight for the necks of their perceived rivals, drawing blood every time and eagerly forgetting that a common thread ties us all together. Our common sense of humanity might have been the greatest casualty.

Personally I faced my own set of troubles and heartaches, things that tore me to pieces and aroused the determination to not let some shit keep me down. I saw my former self burn, the lies I once believed about myself both complimentary and brutal lost their power each time something bad happened. My heart flew among the heights of joy and passion and felt the icy grasp of the depths below, often within minutes of each other. That kind of shit either makes you old or wise really fast. In the middle of it, a bittersweet taste of a silent agony mixed with a hope that refuses to die, even as I try to take its life by my own hand presided.

It was a year filled with beauty too, my best friend brought me to the ocean for the first time in my life and I witnessed something sacred in the vast cracks of the grand canyon. Like every year before that, I also learned the deeper meaning of love and in a few ways how costly it can be, but don’t think for two seconds I’d trade the lesson or the beauty of what was built through it for anything.

The beauty and pain never came exclusively, every time they came hand in hand in some strange dance.

Last but not least, I’ve learned a little bit more about what it means to choose a battle and to bite the loss when necessary. PartĀ of this is I lost my job of three years, it was a place and people I’d invested far more than usual into. I’d shared my life with these people. Sometimes what you are meant to be and what’s written on your soul lead to inevitable departures, you can feel it coming on for months and fight against it with all you have but like a cord that’s been holding too much weight, it snaps. I learned to walk away, to walk through the shit the abrupt yet inevitable end brought out, and to make peace with it knowing somehow that letting go of what was lead to an open door for better things to come to play.

The hardest thing to learn with all the twists and turns thrown my way was a sense of my value and dignity. It’s easy to get bitter or believe you are a piece of shit when a lot of bad things happen. Often we believe that what is happening in our lives is a reflection of who we are, and my god I can’t say this enough; it’s not. Some of the best people I know trudged through the mire before rising, and I’ve seen some serious piles of dung that pass for human beings seemingly flow through life from success to success, that is until what they are catches up. Our circumstances are not necessarily reflections of who we are, but it’s easy to believe they are. I’ve had to adopt the attitude that no matter what’s been thrown my way, I’ll do my best to learn from it and let it form me into something better.

I’m nothing in the grand scheme of things, just a speck of dust on a speck of dust in the universe, really nothing special. What has formed me is my experiences, and in their commonplace natures I find beauty and life. In this polarizing year we learned to look at friends and family through the lens of who we agree or disagree with, deeming them good or evil accordingly. This year I want to be rid of that perspective, to maintain my own ideals but not let that play a part in how I judge others. There’s so much goodness to behold in even those we despise.

Telling the truth about the things we see and not turning a blind eye to them is important, it’s essential for healing and I think there’s people in the world who do that very well. I’m not one of them, or at least I haven’t learned to do so with a degree of grace, so until then I want to appreciate the beauty in what I behold and nothing more. What’s hard is my heroes tend to be the brazen, in-your-face characters that call things for what they are. I envy them to a certain point, but find that while that is what I admire, it’s probably not what I’m hardwired to do.

Ultimately, I guess I just hope we can heal.