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!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Step Right Up

Memoirs of a Downward Dog
Why does heartbreak hurt your heart? I mean, it’s just a muscle. Valves, fibrous tissue and fat; beating underneath my ribcage. Pumping blood through my veins. Heartbreak doesn’t hurt your biceps or your rhomboids, it doesn’t hurt my psoas or the veins that the blood runs through or the ribcage that it beats behind. But it hurts, right deep in my chest, like a vice grip squeezing, clamping and cutting off vital blood supply.

Life can be a mean sumnofabitch. Just like that. One minute you’re sailing high, like the steep incline of a roller coaster track…crank, crank, cranking until you reach that exhilarating apex of ascension and then next minute you’re plummeting. Fast.  Did a screw come loose? Did the track operator forget to grease the wheels? What just happened??

You try to make sense of it all amidst the rubble, but all you feel is the weight of the debris. You come up with all of the stock consolations: “Everything happens for a reason.” “It’s not meant to be.” “Life goes on.” And though somewhere inside you might know this to be true, it doesn’t alleviate the heaviness.

I’m trying to trust that buried beneath the rubble pile is a wide-open space. A weightless space that speaks of a truth to who I am. An authentic place that bears witness to the inherent radiance and worthiness of me. I know it’s there. I feel it floating. Gimmie a sec, I just have to remove a few rocks.

What fun would roller coasters be if they simply sped on a flat track? Would we still pay our ticket fare if they didn’t make us dizzy, or flip upside-down, or sick? Would we agree to that awesome agony of the upward climb, maintaining our belief that roller coasters are better with arms up, knowing full well that a nosedive is inevitable? In normal circumstances, I’d scream “hell YES!” but for now, I can only manage a meek “maybe”.

Each consecutive round in this battle we call love has me questioning: just how many times in the ring can the human heart take before the man slams the mat eight times and shouts “K.O!”? If it hurts in my chest, do the muscle fibers weaken, get bruised, or even scarred? With each beating, does the heart get Punch Drunk Syndrome and we’re left dazed, wobbling and slurring our speech?

There’s no two ways about it: it simply fucking sucks. But for now, I’m trying to remind myself that I LOVE roller coasters. And I’m trying to find the grace to bow in gratitude and say, “Thank you for the ride.”

 

 

Her and Me

Memoirs of a Downward Facing Dog

I had to put my dog down today.  Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Today is the day that I have to put my dog down.”

I woke up thinking today was the day that I take my dog to the vet, have lunch with my friend, take a yoga class and then watch The Taste with my parents in the basement with take-out and wine.  Note to Self: who really has control anyways?

The vet took a routine look at her gums:  pale as a ghost.  I had no idea that dog gums were so indicative of health.  And yet 4 hours, 2 ultrasounds and 1 last car ride later (she always loved car rides) and I am taking her home to await her appointment with the one who would “make her more comfortable.”

She would have died today no matter what.  But she died in my arms, my helpless sorrow dripping onto her face.  And just like that:  she is gone.

We went places.  Her and me.  She was the one thing that stuck….unconditionally stuck.  She was a witness to the highs and lows of my entire adult life; she felt the tear of every heartbreak, the wind of every adventure; the joy of my joy and ashamedly, the verbal sting of my stress.   I don’t think even family puts up with that much.

She was my rock and my anchor…the only constant.  She taught me to care for something bigger than myself.  She helped me put my life into perspective and to consider the simple joys: friendship, playtime, fresh air and a good poo.  Caring for her helped me grow up.  It made me a better person; a thoughtful person.  She went where I went and though there were times when I had to branch out on my own, find my own way…to learn and grow and discover; she was the beacon that brought me back.  And now that she’s gone, I feel scared; alone and untethered.

Who’s gonna stick now???

People said we even looked alike.  For sure, she was a dog version of my alter-ego:  loyal, protective, fun, loving and just the right kind of crazy.  She touched the lives of those she met—ask the cleaning lady whose feet she liked to attack, or my pregnant neighbor whose feet she liked to attack, or the fridge repairman whose feet she liked to attack.  Personally, I think she just had a keen sense of peoples’ personal foot hygiene.   She hated people speaking to her in French.  And she howled–Every.  Single.  Time–I left her outside of a store.

But I get it…I hate it when people I love leave me too.

She gave me something to take care of and along the way, she taught me what we were capable of:  the love, the loyalty, the adventure.  The In-It-Till-The-End.

And then she left me to figure it out….all on my own.

Untethered.

Jerzy, I could not have asked for a better friend.  You were my side-kick, my partner-in-crime, my confidante and my anchor.  We had such an incredible, kick-ass, twelve-year ride together.  You showed me the definition of true, unadulterated love and loyalty and it is so hard to imagine my life without you by my side.  I miss you so very, very much. 

Hungry Hippos

gulp

You know when you have an idea that is so great, that from the moment of its inception you get carried away by fantasy, imagination, intuition and premeditated success?  You start planning all of the details down to the nitty-gritty while it is still just a neuron firing in your brain, buried in the dark recesses of your skull.  This idea takes on a life of its own, like a river flowing through a marshland in Africa.  Sometimes it lingers, pools, and even stagnates and other times it rushes, trickles and cascades in a cadence that only moving water can create.

The river of this idea eventually leads to the “end result” which is as limitless as the ocean, as clear as the tropics: warm, inviting and teeming with life.

Well, let me tell you one thing for free.  This river of life is giving me an education.

You see, what I failed to understand is that to take an idea, that spark of neuron, and actually turn it into a “real life event” is proving to be a little more challenging than my quick-to-daydream brain imagined.  I forgot that a river that flows through the African wetlands is teeming with crocodiles, hippos and deadly mosquitoes.  They are bathing in the brainstorm of my genius.  Monsters!  And they want to eat me.

Unlike the above-mentioned metaphor, I have no doubts that this idea is a good one. I can clearly see the enormous potential of its success.  But what if I can’t navigate these muddy waters?  What if this river is headed straight for the precipice of a violent and rocky waterfall?

Turning a dream into reality is harder than I thought.  And I feel a little lost, a little adrift, and A LOT scared.  I’m having a hard time surrendering to trust right now, knowing that even if I do plummet over the edge or fail miserably, that everything is and will be exactly as it should.  I’m having a hard time being patient with the process…and I’m clinging because I believe in what I’m trying to do.  Also, because I didn’t really stop to consider a Plan B.

In my mom’s house there is a quote, “A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.”  Dreams are funny that way.  They take root.  They take on a life of their own.  And they become impossible to shake.

But, don’t fret.  I am not ditching the dream.  I am more tenacious than that.  But it seems as though this river seems to be flowing into a dark, underground cave (also known as reality)….and hopefully, when it spits me out into the clear, tropical waters on the other side,  I will be happily synchronized swimming with my new friends: crocodiles, mosquitoes and hippos—oh my!

boogie

 

 

 

 

Abstruse Absolution

forgiveness

I’ve been learning a thing or two about forgiveness.  In the past, I’ve always thought that forgiveness was simply a matter of releasing someone from fault or wrongdoing.  But there is an inherent flaw in that way of thinking.  Releasing someone from fault or wrongdoing implies that YOU are right.  And when there are certainly two sides to every coin, I’d say that’s a pretty bold assumption.

It’s like telling your parents, out of nowhere, that you forgive them for turning you into such a screwed-up adult.  Whew—pretty big of you.  Not sure how well that statement would be received.   Maybe just a tiny bit condescending?

But what if you took ownership for your part?  What if, in fact, you APOLOGIZED for all of the judgments you’ve slapped on over the years, if you manned-up to your blame, your resentment, your inability to put yourself into their shoes, and the scapegoating that is usually easiest with those closest to us?  And then, with a shred of compassion, stopped to consider that maybe they did the very best of their ability.

And what if, after putting all of that out there…when you’ve owned up to your shit and laid it out on the table in all of its ugliness, and realness, and fallibility and you could see yourself for all that you have been and haven’t been; for your impact, or lack thereof, for your shortcomings and misgivings and oh–the English language is such a tangled mess—and what if, when you saw that stark reality without sugar-coating or shroud and…you forgave YOURSELF?

What if we could stand up for the people that have hurt us the most?  Might we discover the most pure form of compassion possible??  If we could let go of our grudges might we be able to listen with openness and acceptance and unconditional love?

What I’m learning is that it’s easy to stand tall in self-righteousness.  It’s easy to point the finger elsewhere.  But it takes guts to be humble enough to lay our faults on the line, to own up to our 50%.

The payoff, once you get past all that…..I think, is a formula for building relationships filled with acceptance instead of judgment, with understanding instead of blame…and if you can adopt those ways of thinking with others, even with those that you might not even like, then maybe….just maybe, you might be able to look into the mirror and see yourself with those same compassionate eyes.

I have no answers, only questions….but I’m learning.  And it sure ain’t easy.

 

 

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