Let the Right One(s) In

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When you reach a certain age, it seems that you’ve somewhat figured out how “life” works.  You know how to support yourself, you’ve figured out how to pay your bills, and (unlike me), to file your taxes.  You’ve created your patterns of what works for you; settled like sediment into the nooks and crannies of your idiosyncrasies.  You know whether you prefer creamy or crunchy, white or red, and have been through enough relationships to have maybe given up on the possibility that it will ever happen to you and…consequently, found solace in the fact that peanut butter and Netflix is a perfectly acceptable way to spend a Friday night.

And the really deep needs.  The ones you’ve been harboring for years, since childhood, maybe, but have tucked into the dark recesses of your psyche, memory and recall….those are the unmentionables.  Those don’t fit into the category of “vulnerable” that you are willing to entertain.

We create these justifications in our minds—these pre-packaged stories that form safe, little barriers around our soft parts that indicate what we are capable of…what we are worthy of.  We’ve figured out the bare minimum of what we require to sustain some semblance of control around our emotions and reactions, until ultimately you reach a breaking point that reminds you that that precious little shroud you’ve created is as thin as blown, Venetian glass.

That’s the funny thing about life:  just when you think you’ve figured it out, the proverbial rug gets pulled out from underneath you and you are free-falling into a shit-storm of unfamiliar territory.

My most recent life epiphany started with a cold sore.

This was no ordinary cold sore.  Unordinary because I never get cold sores. A cold sore of epic proportions.  Golf. Ball. Proportions.  Forget the fact that four days from the appearance of said cold sore, I had a date, with a guy I really, REALLY liked.  Which was of no importance at this point—because this was not a vanity cold sore. This was an I-can’t-speak-because-my-upper-lip-resembles-goat-balls-kinda-cold-sore. This was also the week when as the owner of a new yoga studio, I had two teachers to fill the schedule.

One was me.

Every moment was planned, every meeting, every class…every photo shoot.  

(Humility is a really good concept to wrap your head around from time to time…)

My sister, nine months pregnant, filled in for classes, brought me liquids I could drink through a straw, and the other teacher stepped up to the plate to fill in the gaps. And at the end of the week, this guy…he took me out to a mountain-top to watch a meteor shower (thank god for all that darkness), but still, he held my hand and held me close and when the sun rose, he looked me in the eyes and past the superficial flaws, even when I wanted to bury my face and disappear.

When a baby followed the cold sore, two weeks early, that was a life epiphany of a completely different color.

Sleepless nights in a hospital, only to go back to the studio to teach because again, you’re short-staffed, and then immediately back to the hospital, because you’re so in love with this tiny thing that you can barely stand time apart, and goddammit, why did you miss her first bath?

The fucking truth of the matter is that when you let go of your need to control; to bear the weight of it all on your single, shaky shoulders, you create all of this space to need each other. My family has rallied to support this baby and my sister. Teachers have rallied to be here for this studio, simply because they care, and the students have been so supportive even when things…(maybe?) don’t run like a well-oiled machine.

This man made me breakfast in bed, for seemingly, no apparent reason, and I almost barfed/bawled into my eggs, not necessarily because of the gesture, but the inherent sadness that NO ONE has ever done this for me before. In 37 years of life.  I crumble under his kindness, question its longevity, and barely believe that I am enough.

But the most ironic thing of all, is when you let down all of your protective barriers, and you allow people to be there for you, to love you, it magnifies ten thousand-fold in your safe-guarded little heart, until you are skipping down the street, and your cheeks hurt because you smile so hard, and all you want to do is nice things for people all of the time because it feels goddamn good.

The hardest, most vulnerable thing we can do is to let love in.

To receive.

 

Hiccups and Heartbeats

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Jerzy has been visiting me in my dreams lately. And they are so vivid. I can feel her fur. She leans her head into my hand, in that way that she did, and in the dream, I know that she is dead, and that I am dreaming, but still, we spend time to say hi. Or maybe she’s jealous. Staking that “first love” claim over my heart. Because, now I got a kitten.

“Now, listen up, girl. You were the cat’s meow; my soulmate sidekick for so long, but the truth is, I needed something fuzzy in my life, and so I adopted a runt kitten, who I named Matilda. You’d like her. Or maybe you’d eat her.”

I had a cat once in college. And it was a cat possessed by Lucifer, himself. That Pet Sematary cat. Enough cat to swear you off of cats for life.

But Matilda. She is a cat of a different color. A calico sweetheart that weighed 1.4 pounds when I brought her home. A teeny-tiny runt of a kitten, who for the first month of her life with me, only wanted to bury herself as deep into the crook of my neck as possible. All she wants to do is cuddle.

Watching this tiny little baby kitten navigate such a big, bold world, which is only the loft of my apartment, but for all I know, for her, might be the Universe. She is getting bigger day-by-day. And it’s come to my attention, which is only 8 months too late, is that my sister is having a baby.

I was unsupportive at first. Shell-shocked was more apropos. I’m pretty sure I politely excused myself from the family table, downed my glass of wine, and then drove home sobbing dangerously, while lamenting on the phone to my best and oldest friend, Kristian. Ask him.

I rebelled against pink shit, and I walked out of the room when baby clothes took the stage. The oohs and aahs were irritating and spoke to something scared and selfish.

A new business and five months in, and we got a newborn on our hands?    

Or something deeper:

“What if it’s never me?”

But there’s something about Matilda that reminds me, “Holy shit. We got a newborn on our hands.”

Newly born.

Experiencing everything for the first and only time. All of the world and the wonder, and the discovery laid out before her. Big and new.  So, soak it up.

I’m going to be an aunt, but more importantly, my sister is going to be a mom. And I’m pretty sure it’s a game-changer when you get that title.

This kid is going to be part of the fabric of our family…for life. Whatever all of that unchartered territory entails….Sure, there’s the obvious family dinners and holidays. But there’s also the days when my sister just needs a nap, and I get to strap on this little person and take her for a walk. Seeing it all through her eyes.  There will be bedtime stories, and camping trips, and homework. First steps and wiggly teeth. And magic. Magic that only little-person perspective provides.

We somehow assembled the village just in time. Somehow, the whole family ended up on the same coast at the same time, and now there’s this baby.

Riley Ava is her name. And she is coming soon.

And for better or worse, I’m gonna aunt the shit out of this kid.

 

Sauvie’s Island

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Apparently, when the mercury rises in the city of Portland, there is a massive exodus. The seemingly entire Rip City population packs up their inflatables and heads out to Sauvie Island.

If you’re not a local, you’ll pronounce it “Saw-vee” Island, but those who live here call it “Sew-vee” Island. And only one person I know makes it possessive and calls it “Sauvie’s Island” as if Mr. Sauvie was the missing triad to the Lewis and Clark expedition and, travel weary and fed up, decided not to reach the Pacific Ocean, threw in the towel and claimed the island as his and “far enough.”

Truth be told, the island was named after a French-Canadian from the Hudson Bay Company, Laurent Sauvé, a dairy farmer who ran farms on the island in the 1830’s, so it was, in fact, Sauvés Island.

To get to the island, you drive. And drive. You watch the city-ness fade into industry. You ride along industry, parallel to train tracks, for quite some time. The road and the tracks and the industry stretches on for so long that you wonder, “what on Earth gets made, manufactured or shipped here?”

Half-way to the turn-off there’s a Bikini Barista and I highly recommend stopping in for a Bob Marley Iced Mocha and the opportunity to stumble upon Superhero Theme Day.

When you get to the turn-off, you’ve only just begun. You feel like you got picked up and dropped into Technicolor Oz.  Farmhouses, and flower fields and green, green rows of corn.  Rope swings and rusty cars and giant trees and cows. The road winds and winds and you feel like you’re travelling back through time. The road winds ever on into this Little House on the Prairie backdrop, but there is no way Dorothy or Laura Ingalls Wilder is prepared for what’s up ahead.   You slam on your brakes suddenly because the car in front of you slams on their brakes, barely noticing in your nostalgic reverie, that ahead of you has been a steady stream of cars winding through this wonderland for the past 25 minutes.

That’s when you know: you’ve made it to the beach.

The line is long today, because the temperature is creeping up towards 100 degrees, and as you inch along in traffic, knowing full well that this road leads to a dead end, where somewhere along the way, you may or may not find a parking spot. After the 45-minute drive to get there, defeat was unacceptable.  There’s no turning back.

Me and a Porsche saw the reverse lights simultaneously and threw on our turn signals, each aggressively nosing our way into the spot. We fought through our dusty windows for a few minutes, before I suggested: “Rock, paper, scissors?”

Rock beat scissors, (or Porsche beat Civic) and I was back on the search, grinning from the brief interlude. #onlyinportland.

You juggle your beach bag, and your cooler and your inner-tube, and nudge the sunglasses up your sweaty nose. To get to the beach, you have to walk through the Frisky Forest, where the only thing certain to be frisky are the mosquitos. Your hands are full, and you cannot slap them away, so you resolve yourself to the bites as necessary and worth-while battle wounds.

It’s as if this whole journey is a series of passages, taking you deeper and deeper into the proverbial Heart of Darkness and asking “how bad do you really want this?”

When the forest opens up to the beach, there, lining the sandy shores of the Columbia River is the entire population of Portland; frolicking, swimming, strolling, floating and….completely, totally: Butt. Nekkid.

I suppose it should be no surprise. This is the city with more strip clubs per capita than anywhere else in the country, and in a place where you can get married in a doughnut shop, participate in the Naked Bike Ride, a yearly event with thousands of birthday-suit wearing participants peddling their nether regions all throughout the city; the notion of Keeping Portland Weird (or naked) does not exclude Sauvie Island.

There are legends here. Urban, suburban or otherwise. For example, everyone knows of the Mayan man with the extremely big, um….walking stick. I saw him once with my own eyes, like a nudie-beach Sasquatch sighting, and it’s true, his staff is quite substantial.

There are so many varying degrees of nude: the tank top with the penis just peeping out of the hemline, the naked except for a tu-tu, and then my favorite…naked while wearing Teva’s. What’s up with Teva’s, Portland, seriously???

But the amazing thing about Sauvie Island is that being naked is the ultimate equalizer. Nobody really looks all that hot when they’re naked. They just look….human.

There, for all to see, is your cellulite, and your nipple hairs, and your tiny penis, and doughy-ness; and when you get a sandy strip of beach lined with a throng of naked humans, you start to realize that all of your notions of hot or cool are just illusions. There are no push-up bras or Spanx.  When you strip it down and peel back all of the layers, all of the outfits that define your personality and style; hide, cover or accentuate the good and the bad, there lies you.

To get to Sauvie Island, you shed your layers. One by one. You shed the city, and the industry, and the wonderland, and a little blood, and then your clothes and all that is left is just you. Flawed, beautiful….human. You.

 

 

 

Wagons and Wine

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It’s been a while. And by a while, I mean….a while. More like, a shit-ton of time. The settling down, the union of pen with paper and usually, blissfully,….some wine.

To write. To put all of the hullabaloo and the mumbo-jumbo that passes through my noggin’ on the daily into some semblance of cohesive form. Writing makes me think about my life more.  Encourages me to dig just a little bit. deeper.

Forget about the fact that I just opened a new business. It’s a valid excuse, not to write, if one were prone to accepting the bullshit we like to cover up in the name of “excuses”. I felt like somehow I had to censor myself all of a sudden. Project only a certain facet of me, because now I wear the “boss-lady” label. Who is going to read this? Is it going to affect sales? God forbid people know that I GASP/HURL/SPITTLE…drink wine.

Oh honey. I drink wine.

The truth is, my writing was always THE most truthful side of myself. And I think for any of you who might still be clinging onto the potential next “edition”; the one thing that made reading it worthwhile was my willingness to bear it all…because in our ability to be authentic, we start to realize that only semantics separates you from me.

So fuck censorship. I’m back.

There might be a select few of you who have been here since the beginning. This all started when I first did my teacher training and then continued, writing and posting every single week (until, aside from the intermittent smatterings, I fell face-mother-fucking-first off of the wagon a couple years ago).

We lose ourselves from time-to-time, don’t we?

You followed me through Central America to Kentucky and Prince Edward Island; to Montreal, Brazil, L.A. and in a 1985 tin-box Vanagon across Canada.   You followed me through some shitty relationships, and then (more shitty relationships) but always, there was yoga.

There was always yoga.

And now, I own a yoga studio. I will spare you the details of the process, (you can read for yourself) but shall we say “diplomatically”–aka—me, censoring. just. a little bit—building it was no picnic in the park.

Now this fucking studio is open and it’s so damn beautiful sometimes I can’t even believe it’s real. I can barely fathom that five years ago this was an idea in my head. A hippie at heart and definitely not a planner, not much in my life has walked the distance between pre-meditation to follow-through.

But. Here I am now.

We’ve only been open just over a month and people are coming, and they are coming back and they are CHANGING. THEIR. LIVES. They are coming every day; committing themselves privately to their own 30-Day Challenge, without pomp or circumstance, without acknowledgment or accolade—they are just showing up. They are nicer, softer, more relaxed and open day-by-day. They are sharing with me the things that they struggle with, and sometimes it’s not even in words. It’s the clenched fists in Savasana. The frenetic searching for breath while trying to find balance on one leg. It’s the gentle learning of who they are and then, the grateful gaze as they leave silently out the front door, with only understanding linking our eyes.

It is magic, being here now. And it is only the beginning.

I won’t make promises and I won’t make excuses, but I can tell you this: There will be writing. There will be yoga. And, oh yes, there will be wine.

E=Mc2 or Some Shit Like That

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In an $80-dollar Uber ride home on New Year’s Eve, I asked the driver the question, which I had previously been asking every new encounter throughout the evening prior to midnight:

“What do you want to leave behind in 2015 and what do you look forward to in 2016?”

Having recently gotten out of a relationship that was fulfilling on many levels, one of the things it lacked was connection. We never really shared hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, secrets or that kind of human intimacy that goes deep into the guts. Feelings made him uncomfortable. So I squashed mine. Or dimmed them down to reading-light wattage. Barely perceptible without squinting.

So 2016 is a year that I want to find spiritual, real, raw and meaningful connection with humans who want to gruesomely feel, share, emote, wail, lament, grow, learn, dissect and eviscerate their insides. Electric. Connection. Like two fingers barely not touching after dragging stocking feet over carpet. But maybe not with men for a while. Or boyfriends, in any case…I’m a little afraid of things with penises at the moment.

Her response was this: “Well, I lost two of my best friends to suicide last year, so there’s that.”

And suddenly, we spent the remaining $63 dollars talking about the thing that nobody talks about, especially not with strangers driving cars during 3.3 times the normal rate: Mental illness. Depression.  Suicide.

It’s acceptable to talk about your skin rashes and your knee replacements. We send sympathy cards when our neighbors’ kidneys need dialysis, and we tell our friends about our UTI’s and our gallstones, but nobody talks about the days when life seems like such an uphill battle all you can do is mitigate the sadness in pajamas and then feel guilty for all of the things you didn’t get done that day.

Nobody even knew her friends were sad.

Not long ago, and for the first time, I saw the watery depths of my darkness and it was a terrifying and shocking place to be. Shocking because I had never previously had any notion that such a place existed within me. I had never felt so annihilated; so worthless, hopeless or insignificant as I did then. I feel better. Much, much better, but sadness is persistent and there are days when I’m just proud of myself for getting out of bed every day, putting food in my mouth and actually being somewhat productive by most peoples’ standards.

It wasn’t always like this. Or rather, I think that for a large part of my life, I was naïvely optimistic. I guess the older I get, it all starts to seem more scary and overwhelming.

Or perhaps it’s because I’m starting to do things that only grown-ups do. And I am throwing a full-out, toddler-style tantrum.

Because I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to apply for health insurance or have mortgage payments (which, actually I do want to own a house, but I’d rather win Powerball and pay for it outright) or have denture care on my health insurance (that I didn’t apply for) or save for my retirement. I feel like I’m too old to grow up. I’m 37 so, like, if I haven’t grown up already, then I’m probably not gonna.

I was supposed to scan 25 pages of business receipts to be sent to our accountant on my sister’s scanner; a beast of a machine, which takes approximately 18,571 hours per page to scan. The thought of sitting at her desk for the rest of my life if I’m lucky enough to live until 90 was giving me major anxiety, so I drove down to the FedEx Copy Store in the middle of a snowstorm, where the dude scanned all 25 pages and saved them to my memory stick in 13.6 seconds for $12 dollars. And since time is money, then for $2.08 per page, I just bought 2.12 years of my life back in 0.54 seconds flat!!!

Obviously, this just makes good business sense and basically proves that I’m a grown-up.

Forget the fact, that I just spent an hour on my flight to New Mexico creating and then solving a problem I didn’t have or need or get paid for, so now I guess I’m out .00011 cents, which is probably why I’m terrible with money and can’t save for my retirement.

And pretty much why I’m awesome at math.

Needless to say, the $80 dollar Uber ride was priceless because the first interaction I had with the first person in the New Year was real and open and raw. We both genuinely said “thank you” when I got out of the car and it was her just being honest that spawned a connection that needed no introduction or preamble. Honesty speaks the language of a thousand heart-songs and sorrows.

Life is hard. Overwhelming, big, dazzling, terrifying, exhilarating, long, tedious, beautiful and perfectly unperfect.

Connection is available only if you’re open to it. You gotta intentionally drag your feet across the carpet, hold your finger out and wait for the shock.

Math, on the other hand…..is easy-peasy.

 

 

Snip. Snip.

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I sat alone at a bar two hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve.  I watched couples and groups of friends in their fancy attire, clinking jubilant glasses; their laughter as lively as their libations.  I watched Times Square, already an hour into 2016, in full party mode on the TV above the bar, and as I nibbled the salt off of the rim of my margarita, I couldn’t help but wonder, what in the hell kind of holiday hullabaloo is New Year’s even about?

We spend exorbitant amounts of money to participate in parties rife with high expectations, bad champagne, and usually devoid of any significant payoff.  We make resolutions that last for 2.5 days, or like mine, which don’t actually kick in until January 2nd, because you’re so hung-over after the New Year’s Eve party that all good behavior need not apply on New Years Day.

Now, don’t worry.  This isn’t a doomsday story of a sad, troubled girl sitting at a bar, spending New Year’s drinking all alone.  I spent the next 48 hours with new friends and it was the best two days I have had in a long time.

But I did wonder, where did the traditions come from? The celebrating? The resolutions? The shedding of the old and embracing the new…and so I asked the Oracle. Otherwise known as Google.

In pre-Christian times, based on the Julian calendar, the first of January honored the Roman god, Janus.  After which, January was named.  Janus was the god of gateways, doors and new beginnings.  He was depicted as having two heads, one that looked forward and one that looked backwards.  Which makes sense when you contemplate the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne, the New Year’s song which poses the question: “should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” No matter what changes life brings, what and who do we choose to remember?  What do we leave behind and what do we take with us?

Now based on the modern, Gregorian calendar of Christendom, January 1st was the day Jesus was named and then circumcised.  Talk about shedding! Talk about a day NOT to celebrate: get your dick cut off and have your fate sealed as the Son of God, (talk about nepotism) doomed to persecution, public ridicule and a whole lot of splinters.  Leave it up to the Christians to celebrate a day of foreskin removal and penile mutilation as a sign of hope and possibility.

Now has anybody clued into the fact that Jesus was named Jesus (snip, snip) on the exact same day, which previously celebrated the god, Janus?

Jesus. Janus. Um…hello??? Perhaps the whole thing was a typo all this time!

BOOM!!! I just blew your mind. Da Vinci Code Unplugged!

What I’m getting at (or not getting at) is that everything in my world falls under the category of “new” right now.

It’s really hard to start over. I’m too old for this shit. I was always the new kid. I used to crave being the new kid. I used to move all the time; saw it as an opportunity to re-invent myself.  To be a better version of myself.  But I didn’t come here for that.  I would like, for a time, a little predictability.  Stability.  A comfort zone that feels like home.  Something or someone to stick. A sense of self that feels solid.  And so I feel resistant to all of this newness, because I didn’t ask for this and I certainly didn’t seek it out.

I just moved into a new apartment, have a new job, meeting new friends, flying to New Mexico next weekend (to see an old friend) and let’s not forget, a new studio; my dream and my focus for the last FIVE years is opening at the end of February. Whether I like it or not, newness is something I must accept.  And while newness is supposed to be exciting, fresh and exhilarating, mostly, I feel a little scared and intimidated.

Newness is inevitable. And I have to figure out how to move forward (snip, snip) and let old acquaintance be forgot.

I choose what to remember and what to carry forward. And maybe that is a new twist to an old story that simply changes everything….

 

Winnebago Wisdom

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“I suppose we’re all possessed in some way. Some of us with dependence on pills or wine. Others through sex or gambling. Some of us through self-destruction or anger or fear. And some of us just carry around our tiny demon as he wreaks havoc in our mind, tearing open old dusty trunks of bad memories and leaving the remnants spread everywhere. Wearing the skins of people we’ve hurt. Wearing the skins of people we’ve loved. And sometimes, when it’s worst, wearing our skins. That’s the worst….” –Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy.

I am trying to ponder on what I would like to put forth for 2016. I am trying to come up with positive sentiments, a bright and cheery outlook and that ethereal silver lining that puts it all into perspective. A motto, an intention or a personal mantra of sorts that will inspire my dwindling readership to throw celebratory arms up in the air in conciliatory support.

It’s there. Somewhere. Like, right on the tip of my tongue.

But what the fuck? Why fake it? Because truth be told, the last three months of 2015 have been shit.

Shit, shit, shit, shit…shit. Shitty, shit, shit. Honey Buckets, Sani-Cans, and Porta-Johns overflowing with rivers of brown, (and blue, cause what is that stuff anyways?) stinky, smelly, Taco-Bell-bean-paste-cat-paté–fois gras-baby diaper-chocolate pudding-liverwurst-doo-doo.

And well, I want to leave all that of shit behind me in 2016.

So what do you do? What lessons do I take from the suffering? When the shit hits the fan, how do you move forward and not feel hardened? Blocked? Like the bowels of a celiac that just binged on biscuits, bagels and beer. How do you turn all of that constipation into unicorns happily dumping rainbow sherbet soft-serve into sugar cones with sprinkles

Santa still hasn’t brought me my Squatty Potty.

I guess the first step is acknowledging and accepting which piles are yours. Oh yes, there is a smattering of little rabbit-turds left behind (my behind) and a lot of them are mine. Hunched over and armed with those biodegradable shit sacs, I am scooping up pellets of bad decisions, enemas of regrets, and undigested moments that probably stemmed from a cramped and clogged sense of self-esteem. Picking up your own poo is a VERY humbling experience. Hopefully, armed with humor, compassion and a Costco-sized bottle of Febreze, we are able to take responsibility for our mistakes and clean up our mess.

“Whoops. I done fucked THAT one up.”
Smooth move, Exlax.”

Within that cleaning-up process, I also need to learn to find confidence and TRUST in my intuition. Sometimes it whispers, but most of time it yells.  And even though I habitually stuff bits of toilet paper so deep into my aural cavities that it tickles that weird little, stirrup-shaped bone, my intuition has been bang-on.

Every. Single. Time. And yet still, I refuse to listen.

So for better or worse, here’s my list for 2016:

I will stop incessantly trying to come up with poo puns.

I will stop buying shit on Craigslist that I already have and don’t need and then resell.

I will stop dating men who have weird, unresolved shit with their exes.

I will not allow hardship to harden me, but will strive to stay open and keep the faith that positivity and love will win in the end.

I will take risks and I will live bravely.

I will not dumb-down my emotions, my sensibilities and my intuition, which guides me like a compass, even when I walk in the opposite direction.  I will work hard to listen and pay attention.

I will not be anything less than real: with myself, with others, but mostly with myself, because nobody likes a liar.  I will not self-medicate with sentimental sentiments (red wine will do) and even that will fall by the wayside in 2016—the wine, or the sentiments?? Hmm…jury’s still out on that one. We do not grow by being happy all of the time. Sometimes anger has its’ place.

I will not self-deprecate. I will accept my follies and my failures. My successes and my triumphs.  I will work diligently and with fervor to define what I want and what I deserve and to draw that line clearly in the sand so that I do not settle or compromise for anything less. I will stop convincing myself that I am not worthy or unlovable.

So there you have it folks. Without sugar coating, or seeking sentimental satiation; my motto, and my mantra for 2016…and as the wise Winnebago man once said:

“I don’t want anymore bullshit from anyone. And that includes ME!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searching for Samurai

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There is something I forgot.  A lesson once realized, but like most things, gets dulled over time.  Like a sharp knife cutting pennies on a steel chopping block.

I forgot how hard it is to be human.

To watch yourself make the same mistakes.  Repeat the same patterns.  To love and to lose; to fail miserably and to do it all wrong and yet, somehow find the courage to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and hope and pray that you won’t fuck it up all over again.

Hitting rock bottom hurts like hell.

I sometimes get overwhelmed by the fragility of humans.  It’s so hard to be real. To be honest.  To be an adult.  To be scared.

But it’s so easy to criticize.  Ourselves, each other…to measure up constantly to how we perceive “they” see us.  And rarely, when we see sides of ourselves that we could improve upon, do we find compassion towards our fallibility.  Or acceptance.  It’s easier to point fingers and throw insults and lay blame.

So, I’ll say it again.  What if we could be open and undefended?  What then? What if it was okay to be raw, breakable, sensitive and full of flaws?  I’m so tired of all the articles about being strong and independent.  Who made the rule that we had to be cool all of the time?

Guys, we need each other.

You don’t learn anything if you live your life in a vacuum. In the midst of pain, it’s hard to admit this, but you learn from hurting and being hurt. You learn from loving and being loved.  From accepting and being accepted.  And in my story, nobody has ever said, I see it all, and still I choose you.  It sucks sometimes to take a cold, hard look in the mirror and to be real and still love what you see.  But apparently, there is much to learn.  And probably, mostly about myself.

Through my skinny bones I feel my heart.  It beats loudly against the back of my sternum.  And it is capable of so much love.

It’s all quite dull at the moment, but still, I am busting out the whetting stone and searching for my edge.

 

 

Mincing Love

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What is a word but merely a definition of terms as explained by association to objects or ideas; conditioned over time through repeated exposure and experience? What is a definition but merely a gathering of terms collectively agreed upon to infer meaning and imbue characteristics to words?

When we are children we are shown round objects and told “ball”, blocks are “square” and when looking at a clear summer’s day sky, we marvel in the “blueness” of the atmosphere.  But if grass was purple and the ocean was gold, would we inherently experience them differently? Would wavelengths of light suddenly refract or absorb differently off blades of grass to suit our definition of “purple”?

Probably not.

The grass would look as grass always does, and we would think nothing of describing the grass as purple because that’s what we have always been told the color of grass to be.

For the longest time, I was looking for “Love”. Love as defined by conquers-all slogans and happily-ever-after epitaphs. Love as defined by grand romantic gestures, passionate embraces; rom-coms, stories and fairy tales.

I never found it, of course.  Sure, there was innocence and magic, high-hopes and butterflies but always the rose-tinted veneer soon faded and I was inevitably left a little disenchanted.

If we imbue meaning into words with repeated conditioning and exposure, then “Love” by that rationale included a divorce before I was two, followed by a custody battle that was ugly and tense years after the judge finally slammed down his gavel. Both my parents’ second marriages failed, and even though my mom knocked it out of the ballpark with the third, still in love after 26 years, the groove had already been carved; the etch honed and definition ingrained.

“Love” was not all it was cracked up to be.

And now, having been in a relationship for just over a year, I find myself having to reexamine definitions. Because I feel more regarded, listened to and cared for than in any other relationship I have ever been. And yet, we don’t talk about love.

Like, EVER.

He doesn’t hold my face in his hands or gaze dreamily into my eyes while whispering sweet nothings of adoration into my ears, but he puts lasers on the walls and plays punk-rock to set the mood. He doesn’t weep with gratitude or tremble in anticipation at the sight of me, but he does my laundry and he spoons me when I can’t sleep.  And though he may never blast Peter Gabriel out of a boom box over his head outside my bedroom window, he did once play music through the door of a Porta-Potty while I peed at a rock concert.

I know that I will probably never get a love-letter, or even a hand-written card for that matter, but I get his sense of humor when not everyone else does and it is dry, witty, hilarious and just enough raunchy.  He upholds a moral code that is refreshingly innocent in its ideals, although he is certainly no saint, and I’m not sure I’ve seen anything sexier than watching him make popcorn.

We don’t talk about the future, but still we like to build things like furniture, zip-lines and comfortable places in which to call home. He makes no demands and is patient when I struggle, supportive when I am insecure and kind even when I am ugly. He is honest and sometimes brutally so, and though there are a lot of previously acquired, deeply ingrained “man grooves” that usually play a tune of abandonment and infidelity; against all odds, I trust him.

Sometimes, when I cannot find a better substitute, or the emotion wells up to a breaking point, I blurt out “I love you.” It makes him uncomfortable and he usually deflects with a joke or a fart or an incredulous “really?”  Rarely will he reply, “love you too” but never preceded with the pronoun “I”. As if he cannot posses or own his emotion, but allows it to exist somewhere outside himself.

And almost never does this bother me. For I am so happy to finally bask in action instead of longing in pools of false promises. But occasionally, in the absence of words, I wonder what actually exists? Is love there even if it lacks definition in vernacular form?

Definitions confine us.  Words trap us into expectation and disappointment.  And when I sometimes contemplate whether Harry and Sally are out there frolicking in greener (or purple-er) grasses, I remind myself that I would rather be wrapped up in his arms than stuck in semantic squares.

Negotiating Newness

Memoirs of a Downward Dog

I have a secret. I might have told you that I moved to Portland over a year and a half ago to be closer to my family. I might have mentioned something about getting back into nature, blackberries, mountains and fresh, rainforest air.

But the truth is, I moved to Portland to open a yoga studio.

For nearly a year, I spent days searching for a space. Hours working with a real estate broker pretending to know something about commercial real estate, when in actuality his lingo was like a Frenchman trying to speak English. Or an Englishman trying to speak Greek. Intangible, foreign and unfamiliar. The first phone call I made about a particular property and the broker for the space laughed at me kindly, and in a nice, condescending way said, “Honey, this sounds like it might be your first rodeo.”

Over time, I learned to speak the language. I figured out the difference between a triple-net lease and a single-net lease. I started asking about tenant improvement dollars and built-to-suit properties. Like most of my lovers, there were many spaces that I loved and then lost.

And then, as if just by accident, I (we) found the one.

Consequently, this threw me into a new vortex of things I did not understand. Lease negotiations, rental agreements, landlords, investors, lawyers, architects, sub-leases, contractors, sub-contractors, trades, sub-trades, and suddenly I was swimming in an unabridged encyclopedia of “Foreign” that got issued out on re-release at my local library.

My head is still dog paddling, but my arms are stroking forward like an Olympic freestyler.

There is a space. There is a lease: signed, sealed and delivered for the next ten years of my life. And there are days when I wish I could crawl into a cave and forget my name.

Humbling does not even begin to describe the trajectory of this process. But amidst the uncertainty and the unknown there is an exhilaration that comes from learning something new. From being tossed off the dock with no life-raft or water-wings and being asked to swim across a shark-infested channel. I’m learning about R-Values, and U-Values and heat recovery ventilators and click-technology cork; sprinkler codes, fire codes, spray-foam insulation, 240 versus 208, furring walls and reading architectural blabber.

On top of it all, I realize that I have not had much opportunity in my life to develop stress-coping skills.  I think this is a good thing, for my heart and blood pressure and things like that, but for my boyfriend and sister/business partner, perhaps they might have appreciated a couple trips ‘round the block before now.   A previous “breaking-in” if you will.

Last week I had to openly admit to both that I’ve been a total asshole and that tomorrow is Monday and I promise to be a better person.

To cap off the drain of my energies and responsibilities, I travel to Seattle, every weekend, driving 3 hours each way to teach 8 classes in 2.5 days. And it is here that I realize what it is all for:

Squeezing the hand of someone who has not yet learned how to calm their breath. The bliss that causes you to forget your mat and your shoes and walk out into the rain barefoot and oblivious. Watching the heartbeat ripple the sweat in that concave space just below the sternum. Stillness. Space. To grow, sink, swim, discover and learn.  I got this.

Modo Yoga Portland, here I come.

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