When I was in college I had an amazing don whom I met with once a week in his office, which was kept in a trailer on the outer rim of campus. I was 18 and he was a famous poet and we had only our mentorship in common. Eventually we started having kind of wild and revealing conversations that had less to do with the mechanics of poetry and more to do with the mechanics of life. The kind of inevitable conversations that would come from required hour meetings once a week. He would put his hands behind his head and say things like “I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately.”

I endearingly made fun of him with my friends. I thought it suggested his age, but mostly his melodrama and his poetness. But now I’m only twelve years older than I was then, already nearing my don’s level of melodrama, and I have the urge to start this post in his manner:

I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. And with that, gardening.

Image

My dad recently took these tulip photos.

In February my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is someone who is exceptionally healthy so the diagnosis shocked and terrified me and my siblings. He’s also the parent we all rely on the most, who despite everything else, has always given us the sense of stability and love.

Then, a few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to take a year long shamanaic herbalism course out on Whidbey Island, which also came with a work study component: I would go out to Whidbey Island once a week to take care of my teacher’s garden.

It’s a 40 minute drive to the ferry at Mulkiteo and then a ten minute ferry ride through the sound to Whidbey. It’s a good amount of time to mull over things, and on my second drive out there I spent time replaying a conversation I’d had with my father. The night before he told me that he has made the decision to receive chemo. Even though I don’t think I would have been comforted by any decision (because the fact of the cancer still shakes, suddenly, just as it did in the beginning), hearing the news set me into a kind of grief again. There were plenty of unknowns before, but now there are these new unknowns: will he survive chemo? will he get to travel again? And the reality of chemo is stepping into sickness, a voluntary sickness for a 30% chance of being cancer free for five years. But I can’t say for sure I’d do anything differently. When facing one’s mortality, 30% is a significant difference.

My don would be so proud because as I drove to Whidbey I thought about death—and I don’t say this in a “Goths in hot weather” kind of way but in the stunning realization that it is real– and how death is like this shoe we’ve always been wearing but didn’t ever expect to have to tie. Not for anyone else, and especially not for ourselves.

It was hard work in the garden–six hours of intense specific weeding “Leave the motherwort, but take the buttercup.” My teacher’s relationship with the earth is in the local shamanaic tradition, mixed with wise woman folk medicine. When I first signed up to work with her we discussed weeding and she said that weeding is a very serious business. “You have to remember that when you weed you are giving death. This is a woman’s role. We give life but we also give death. This is the wise woman way”

So because I was on her land, as I weeded I tried to think consciously in that way– I’m giving death. And some plants came out easily but others required the use of my entire body to get them out. And of course, it made me think in this metaphor: Don’t people transition out of life in the same way? Some gripping, or with violence and others suddenly, like grass pulling up?

Alice Walker has this to say: “Kneeling on the earth as I planted each small seed or set out each tiny plant, I was shocked to realize how many years had passed since I had done this. ‘This’ being the prayer involved in planting that, I am convinced, was one of the first acts of supplication, of worship, in the world.”

Where is the comfort in all of this? I’m not sure. But I do know that it’s true that death is for the living, for the ones who haven’t died. And it makes sense– how can one go back to teaching and to the normal way of things when the portal to everything is open like that? But we do. When someone dies, or when we feel the certainty of someone’s or our own death we see how life and death have always been there, waiting on the same line. Everything about grief is normal– the wanting to talk about it, the not, the impossibility that anything can go on and then the certainty that it must. We are so beautifully alive, and I feel it now like the dirt on my hands or the bee buzzing too close to my ear. Yes we can grieve but we are alive right now. Today. And what am I going to do with that?

When I first heard the diagnosis I spoke to a naturopath about my dad hoping that she would have some sort of medical suggestions like herbs he could take or alternative treatments. She looked at me and everything about her was soft, her breathing her hair, her hands that rested in her lap, and she said “What we need to talk about is changing your relationship with death.”

She eventually said this:

“Every day we wake up and we have life on one shoulder and death on the other shoulder. Life asks us ‘What will you do with your day’ and death asks us ‘Are you doing what you came here to do’?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately, which really means (and what my don meant years ago, I realize now) that I’ve been thinking a lot about being alive: the trembling, the difficulty, and the ease.

Working in the garden just supports this—and to a literal effect too. I was so sore after my first day out there that I had to lie on my back, limbs splayed like a rag doll and no one, not even the cat could touch me because I was too sore. But like Levin as he harvested the wheat in Anna Karenina I felt startlingly, breathlessly present.

“In the very heat of the day the mowing did not seem such hard work. The perspiration with which he was drenched cooled him, while the sun, that burned his back, his head and his arms, bare to the elbow, gave a vigour and dogged energy to his labour; and more and more often now came those moments of oblivion, when it was possible not to think of what one was doing. The scythe cut of itself. Those were happy moments.”

Oh jealousy, you pesky beast. You dark little demon. Funny shaped creature that causes shame and exhaustion. Hello. For some reason this week, you are here all of the time.

For me, jealousy feels like vulnerability. I feel disempowered and crave power. It makes me question my motives. Sometimes it feels like the person I’m jealous of has their hand on my head as I’m trying to move forward. Turning the innocent object of jealousy into a bully.

Jealousy has really swelled for me lately and it may be because I’ve been asleep in a kind of depression. I’ve been feeling a general sense that I’ve lost a lot from that period—lost touch with friends, with my writing, with the city I live in. Jealousy swells when I realize there’s something I should have been doing, from this insecurity of having fallen behind where I almost move my feet like a cartoon character ready to run but don’t actually go anywhere, just get exhausted by the riling up of wanting to get there too.

I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist to assist with getting my hormones back on track after going off birth control. This involves getting blood to move through the liver, getting anything stagnant to move again. We were discussing how I felt drained after very little effort, emotionally. How I’d been trying to express anger, but that I felt unfamiliar and exhausted from it. He likes to tell me when a symptom is “classic.” For example, waking up between 2:30 and 3:30 am is “classic liver symptom” and craving sweet is “classic deficient spleen” craving salt, classic kidney. This particular issue is “classic deficient yin.”

Deficient yin is a body type—usually very thin, pale, sometimes emaciated looking (generally under nourished). They can rile up a lot of energy but it’s not energy that gets replenished. As he put it, deficient yin folk get to the “edges of themselves faster” because there’s no deep well of support to continue to dip into.

For a contrast I asked him what deficient yang looked like, and the image surprised me. He said they were very ruddy, solidly built, broader physically but the image is of a really nasty swamp—the dampest swamp you can imagine.

The image of deficient yin he likened to the whole state of Arizona. “Dry, dry, dry,” he said.

This explanation really changed how I thought about yin. This is probably a sign of the deficiency, but I didn’t think of it as being the source that all energy came from. I feared what I was calling yin—stasis, lack of movement, “lying around.” It feels an apt lesson that what I’m feeling now: stasis, lack of movement, lazing on my belly like a defeated sea lion—is a result of not replenishing my yin.

I’ve been trying to use this approach to thinking about these larger emotions when they come up. What is jealousy the lack of, and I think a more positive way to put it is, what can I learn from jealousy that can open my heart? And here it is: The things we are jealous of are actually the things we suppress and fear in ourselves. For me this translates to  these fears: putting myself out there with ease, trusting that what I believe or think is valid, whether I’ll make it as a writer or not, etc.

So my goal is to turn the image of the object of my jealousy with their hand against my head into encouragement, of a hand, instead beckoning me forward. Let’s recognize jealousy and turn it into permission to face what we fear in ourselves, what we even judge ourselves for.

Thank you for reading. I hope this weekend meets you with an ever opening heart. Let’s remind our demons they were once filled with light.

Airport Poem

by Lisa Wells

My lover calls from the Boise airport

to say he’s woken from the demon

of consensual reality. Demons and angels

struggle in the gates. The devil there,

listening. And because I’m scared, I say I know,

though I don’t.

I say, I know it feels real.

In the street, the wind

is balmy and low as a hypnotist’s whisper.

Warm air meets the winter and tornadoes are born.

I climb in my car and drive

where the sky gathers its bruise like a bloom

of ink underwater, groans and snaps. The sky

rains silver pins across the glass

and each drop rings a tiny fractured bell.

The road’s yellow stitch hems me to earth,

fragile as a swatch of sun, but enough

to keep me driving

like a nail, pounding my fist

against the horn, pleading

Come the fuck on! In the blue above the storm

bolted aluminum keeps my love,

the plane possessed with him.

I see its slow sparkle of lights wink

in the massive clouds. Gear-lowered, posed to wing

his holy body through the black and unto me.

He says angels and demons cycle inside him

and I know it’s true.

Can see them sail through the corridors of his body,

soar up through the dark cathedral in bright streaks,

past the rafters of his skull, out into the night

where they assume the slackened bodies of drunks

and slumbering bums, and jump up and live again.

I work  at a remedy shop that creates various medicinal teas. My current favorite is called “Make Love, Not War.” All of the ingredients have aphrodesiac properties, ease anxiety and even balance hormones. It seemed like a perfect tea for the New Year and gave me the inspiration to really spend the evening mindfully.

In Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids she passes on the advice that her mother gave her: to spend New Year’s Eve doing the thing you hope to dedicate your year to. Smith plays a show in New York City every New Year’s Eve. I decided to take up this advice and for a change have a quiet evening. Janie and I cooked dinner, practiced yoga, ate cake and then we both got writing. I got dressed up to work on my novel– and maybe it was the tea– but I felt sort of swooney for the pile of papers that’s been sitting neglected on my desk the past few months. This evening I finally finished going through the latest draft, then took notes and reimagined the draft to come. I worked up until 3 minutes before midnight, when Janie beckoned me from the kitchen for a champagne toast. Without looking I grabbed a record and set the needle. Otis Redding’s “Glory of Love” clicked on just as the clock turned to midnight. I hadn’t quite listened to the lyrics that closely before but it summed this year up perfectly:

 

You’ve got to give a little, take a little

let your poor heart break a little

that’s the story of, that’s the glory of love

 

I know, cheesey town! And it was such an adorable and gentle way to arrive into 2012. This year I look forward to awakening from the fog and taking action–  to expand within individual pursuits into a collaborative fellowship with friends and loved ones.

Wishing you all an intentional and joyful new year!

 

Sometimes I forget that’s what I did—literally moved from one coast to the other. This manifests in directions. When someone says go towards the water, I instinctively think East and have to realign myself every time. West is where the Ocean is. West is where the sun sets. It’s disorienting to see the sun setting over water.

In Sanskrit paramitas means going to the other shore and is also the term for the six ways of compassionate living: generosity, discipline, patience, joyful exertion, meditation, and unconditional wisdom.

The Wisdom, in this case known as the prajna, is the most important part. It’s the grounding force and makes it possible to see what is exactly happening. Otherwise the other five give the allusion of gaining ground, but not the actuality of it.

I’ve been feeling scared and uncertain here and very far away from people that I love and care about. I feel an urgency because of the potential of Seattle weather, like I need to make all the friends I can while the sun is out because once it’s gone there’s no telling what will happen or how I (or others) will react. I’ve been acting uncentered in addition to feeling it—and what I mean by that is that I’ve given in to the out of control feeling. I feel despair and all the possible causes of despair start to pile on top of each other making any feeling but profound despair totally impossible. In two months I’ve worked five jobs and quit two of them. I’m still navigating were my own writing fits into this, all the while still struggling to break even financially. I’m a foot stomping Rumplestiltskin who actually wants others to guess my name, who wants it all to work right now. There’s a problem—foot stomping doesn’t work. I haven’t yet welcomed in the things that make me feel good and invite joy: writing and my meditation/yoga practice. I haven’t been praying and offering gratitude as I fall asleep at night. All of these things have felt impossible, a stomped foot stuck into the ground.

I forced myself up the other morning and got onto my mat and like a cliché of a person going through their Saturn Return read more of Comfortable with Uncertainty and about the six ways of compassionate living, mentioned above. Then I started to practice yoga.

Every once and awhile I’ll be able to connect a philosophical principle with a physical action in a very specific way and this day it was full of that. I realized as I grunted and clumsily slid my stiff legs forward and back that the paramitas (gone to the other shore) are totally present in the practice of yoga.

Perhaps in a yoga class you’ve heard phrases like “muscular energy” and “create a strong foundation” or “move the tops of your thighs back.”

This morning as I hung over in uttanasana, worked to get my knees in line with my ankles I remembered to move the tops of my thighs back and as I followed through my feet slipped slightly. I wanted to let go, to go beyond my fear, to offer generosity and space to my body but I hadn’t grounded yet. There was no prajna.

From there I allowed the other five principals to manifest and the principal of patience came up again and again. Once I realized that I needed to exert more muscular energy, to set my foundation I couldn’t force myself into poses. I had to allow them to unfold in their own time.

I had to have the discipline to get up in the morning and go to the mat.

A time of moving (on the mat, from one shore to another) is a time of exertion, no matter how organic one’s approach might be. Muscles have to contract and synapses have to fire.  All that stirring up creates another kind of energy, something smooth and expansive. Sometimes a person needs to get out of bed no matter how dark it is at 7 am, the dishes need to be washed, and even binds might need to be held for five breaths. The effort will invite the organic energy, and by grounding we can be available for the organic, which directs us into the bigger openings and bigger moves.

I might not be writing every day, and I might not be practicing yoga in the way I usually do but I understand now that there is a yet waiting near the end of this sentence. Each day I set my foundation, draw in and express out. Some days this expression is bigger and brighter than others and for now any form is enough. I know my name and can use it to call myself home. I can hit post at the end of this entry and make the promise to continue here in this space. Perhaps in your own little corner by your computer, or by your mat or next to your kitchen sink you can set your feet on the floor too. And in each of our corners we can call our own names like a chorus inviting ourselves back to our wisdom, our ground, and the reverberation of our voices can offer encouragement and reminders to each of us to continue to return.

"Therefore, Arjuna, meditate on me at all times, and fight; with your whole mind intent on me, you will come to me —never doubt it." Bhagavad Gita

A little over a year ago I had a wild dream: I was alone at my girlfriend’s apartment taking a nap on the bed. Her cat Madeline jumped up and stood on her hind legs, stretched her paws up over head, and in a very elegant lady operator voice began giving yoga instruction. I looked down at my belly and there were three holes above my belly button the shape of an upside down triangle. A very large bee flew in through the window and came close to these holes and I was suddenly filled with terror that it was going to get in.

This past Monday I had my last day volunteering at Maverick Farms. The group has been hard at work with local youth painting a mural on their chicken coop. It was Janie’s idea to paint a honeycomb. I decided to paint bees.

Well before I had the dream about bees I was afraid of them. When I was six years old I was introduced to stings: wasp, yellow jackets, and little yellow bees over and over again for about six months. It was an unlucky time, particularly one event where I was leaving the house with my mom and I watched three bee-like creatures leave the flower they were enjoying and all at once attack my mom’s ankle.

 How cruel! I thought. All she had done was walk by! And so I started thinking about bees as senseless, blood thirsty attackers. Every time a bee came near me or I heard a buzz I’d take off running (sometimes into traffic) or freeze altogether. If a bee got into the car or into the house I didn’t know what to do. I’d feel that much fear.

I told the story of this dream to a healer who came to this conclusion:

“You’re afraid of your own personal power.”

Why did she say this? A few reasons: we had been talking about an issue with my gut that had begun around the time I started to tell immediate family about my girlfriend. Though I had pursued medical attention (and changed my diet) she was looking at things energetically.

In yoga classes you’ll often hear about the Chakra system—seven centers that propel or pump energy through our system. Each chakra has specific energetic and emotional characteristics and are focused in a different area of the body. The third chakra is located in the gut between the belly button and the sternum and is like the furnace for the whole shebang. If you’ve ever used the term “Follow my gut,” you’re referring to this area. It’s your sense of identity, but more than that, your personal power. When things are out of balance, fear takes over.

In a yoga class I was leading on Wednesday I shared this amazing story about the pose Warrior I, which I read in the lovely blog, Yoga Like Salt

In explaining the energy and lift required, Tony explained that the pose offers a representation of a story in an ancient Vedic text that tells of a warrior, in battle. Lunging forward, he is faced with attack from an enemy soldier, and in his final moments, he reaches forward to pick up a broken cart wheel, and raises it over head with the intention of driving it downward, striking his attacker. At that moment, with pure intent, his heart center is open and vulnerable, and he receives a mortal blow.

I told my students that the fact of the mortal blow wasn’t the point but the grace of this moment, of action, of an open exposed heart, was. This morning, during my own practice, I realized that when I gave this lesson I was telling it to myself, more than to the class.

The letters that I wrote last week never arrived—which feels like part of some very bizarre, Lorrie Moore-esque cosmic joke. There was one aunt who I had told a few weeks earlier via email, who recently called to sort of, vaguely, in an indirect way, discuss the situation.

My aunt has been living with a woman for over 25 years and is not out with the family. What she created is kind of remarkable: our families are integrated, and no one questions it. They are simply companions and friends in everyone else’s eyes, which is the way she chose to do things and I respect her.  This has clearly required a lot of effort on their part, and it’s not the way I want to go about things. Each time a different member of my family has come out she’s become very tense and shaken. Our conversation wasn’t much different.

“You wrote letters,” she said. “Which is fine. Everyone does it their own way. You just don’t want to rub it in their faces so they don’t have a crisis of faith.”

My stomach gave a terrible rumble and I felt sick and shaky. Rub what in their faces? That I was happy? And though, throughout most of this conversation I felt like a coward, I finally spoke up.

“I can’t control whether or not they’re going to have a crisis of faith over this. If they have one they have one. I’m not interested in protecting them from that.”

My aunt was very angry about what I said.  She was shut down and afraid. And even though I felt so much anger, and desperation and pity for my own self I had a flare of compassion for her.

Her reaction is similar to running from the bees. She’d rather run into traffic than let the bee come close.

I wept for a long time after our phone call, struggling with the feeling that I hadn’t been heard and that with all my effort and vulnerability, the result might not be much different from the way this family has done things for decades.

Dealing with this issue with my family has opened the idea of karma, which until this moment I never understood. Take it away, Pema Chodron:

The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings you need in order to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, now you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life.

This morning I remembered the pose Warrior I, the strong supported legs, the open heart. And perhaps, for right now, this is my pose. Strong and open and exposed. This is the pose that needs to be maintained even if the blow is inevitable.

A few weeks ago I was weeding in the herb garden at the farm. In an attempt to make it efficient and to prevent pulling out plants that were beneficial, Hillary gave each of us a different weed to pull. My assignment was mugwort.

“Have you ever worked with mugwort?” she asked. And when I said I hadn’t she got kind of excited. It was one of her favorite stories about weeds.

The Greek name for the weed comes from the goddess Artemis, who in the Greek pantheon is the goddess of the moon. Hillary turned the leaf over for me. It was silvery and glittery on the underside.

“That’s how you can tell they are her plants. They look like the night sky.”

There are many benefits to mugwort, it’s astringent (mugwort in apple cider takes poison ivy rash down) , an appetite encourager, helps to break down fats, but the one that Hillary pointed out was that it enhances the vividness of dreams. I could dry it and put it under my pillow.

“You’re probably going to have crazy dreams tonight from pulling out the weeds,” she said.

And I loved pulling them from the ground, because though it was sometimes tricky to get the entire root, the ground was so wet and the stem was so long and wiry that I could twist it around my finger and feel the earth release around it. This was my weed. When another boy came over to volunteer and was given the assignment of the same one I felt possessive and jealous.

Perhaps I’m just more aware, but since then everything has felt more acute and vivid. It might simply be because it is summer in western North Carolina, which is its own kind of amazing. Things are much more startling here than any other part of the south I’ve lived in so far, mainly because there is still a cool breeze even on the hottest days, and so the bright expansive fact of summer feels appreciated. I’m not struggling to breathe or find shade. Instead I’m shivering in the river, swimming until my teeth chatter and then pausing to pick black raspberries from a wild patch.

I would like if that were the only reason why, but things are heightened because I’m moving and I’ve begun to tell my extended family about my girlfriend. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that my family is split: strict Italian Catholic/Born Again Christian. Even though my mom and my brother are both gay, the family situation does not bode well for me. My brother rarely comes home, and my mom feels very isolated and victimized.

I’ve put off telling my family about my gf now for awhile and I joke with people I don’t know very well that I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But with this impending move to Seattle—and if a move doesn’t already make things high tension, and shimmering with duties—I feel it’s time to tell them.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

I wrote here about how to leave a place. When I’m transferring a plant from one place to another I hold it in one hand while making sure that the space it is going to be replanted in is ready with the other. I wasn’t going to be replanted so easily, as in, this period of time of being held out of the ground was extended. But here is what I didn’t expect: that this period of time, technically unrooted, would be so wonderful to the point where it actually feels difficult to leave and head towards the place that I’ve spent so much time putting effort into making happen: Seattle.

 

Maybe this is the side effect of working with my hands, of spending Mondays weeding to make space for growing plants, and taking newly seeded kales and putting them into their next home, the individual plastic pots that stay in the green house a little longer until their roots are strong enough to be replanted. Did I just find my metaphor? How long can we extend this for?

 

Maverick farms is part of what’s making it feel so significant to leave. The farm was formed in 2004 to preserve the working farm that one of the co-founders, Hillary Wilson, grew up on. In addition to growing some of the most delicious vegetables I’ve ever eaten, they also offer education and outreach programs.  The past few weeks I’ve I worked their land and fell in love with North Carolina land, the way the dirt crumbles in my hands and the damp look of things in the mornings. They have a conscious way of handeling food, and get weepy at the sight of beets harvested from the ground.

 

I recently spoke with Robert Roskind of the One Love Foundation, who has been preaching this sort of reengagement with nature as well as the choice and commitment to love one another. “This is the arena we are moving into,” he said. “Those who have already made the transition will find that whatever changes happen over the next years will be positive ones.”

 

He’s speaking about 2012, either the end of the world or a shift in consciousness depending on who you ask, but what I’m finding it most relevant to is the changes I want to make in my own life. I want to work towards a sustainable existence that includes my hands in the dirt, and being around conscious people with whom I care very deeply for (not unlike what’s going on at Maverick Farms).

 

Ah, and so why leave? This is the question I’ve been going over and over. Here is the answer that I’ve come up with: I have to be more available and present before I can go remote. That something needs to be established (lets say career wise, lets say experience wise) so that when the time to be a bit more rural comes it can be nurturing for others as well as myself.

 

Susan Ausnit and Joe Miller wrote a really beautiful definition of what it means to engage Mula Bhanda, the muscular and energetic engagement of the muscles of the pelvice floor.

 

Mula bandha, or the “root lock,” is a conscious action, a dynamic engagement and release of the pelvic floor in relationship to the movement of the diaphragm.

 

I love this idea of conscious action and how the engagement suggests that it has a result. It’s not engaging for the sake, but it’s a dynamic one. It means something. It is powerful and creative. By engaging it we can lift our bodies off our mats, or lift a couch, or drag a hoe across the earth. We release it, especially those of us who clench this area, so that we can remember the effect of engaging it. So that action becomes conscious and worth it.

 

If I’m going to leave a place that I think I could love, that I think I could really live and write in, I need to make it worth it. This is conscious action. This is dynamic engagement. This means remembering that I can come back.

 

And says that he is going to keep track of what needs to be kept track of… The punch line is pretty obvious and not that funny. He doesn’t! Ha! It’s  not that I haven’t been keeping track, I suppose my error was a lack of documentation. After starting this blog I sent it off to some people in the hopes of readership but then it was the idea of any readership that made me cringe and not write. “I don’t know the best way to say that yet” and “I don’t want anyone to read about that!” This is the nature of blogging though, especially this kind of blogging. There are blogs where people tell funny stories, and there are blogs where people reveal their wisdom. It’s tricky with a blog where one is admitting or revealing. The process of having a blog like this requires a kind of active disengagement, and the rhythmic mantra that a reader’s response to the blog has to do with the reader not with my experience and not solely with the way it was written.

I think at first glance at a sentence like that it could seem like I’m attempting to shirk responsibility. But it’s not the case. I’ve been thinking much about my relationship as a reader and how active that role is. When I sit down to read and my heart feels open I’ll most likely meet everything that I experience on the page with the same effort that it was offered. If I am in a crap mood and I sit down to read, in most cases, I’m not going to be receptive to anything that I read. I will be able to determine if the writing is “good” but I won’t be open to anything else being offered.

Still—I feel the desire when I write anything to somehow eliminate this variable and to write something bullet proof and to avoid blame or criticism from the person reading it. Totally unrealistic and totally limiting.

I think the same kind of relationship exists with one’s own body.

Read the rest of this entry »

I had a lot of preconceived fears about getting off birth control. Most of which I found online. The big fear I had was turning into a raging maniac that maybe looked something like this.

I was afraid I would hate everyone, be angry all the time, say terrible things, make decisions I really didn’t mean and fall into a sleepy depression. The first few days off I did have a headache which eventually, carefully eased. In place of the headache came a calm. A really easy calm.

I wasn’t sure if it was really there, or if part of it was just the fact that I was getting ready to be home for the holidays. But I started to notice that with this calm I also became slightly more pliable. I actually noticed that I wasn’t getting as frustrated anymore.  My emotions  in the past two weeks have felt quite fluid. I used to think of myself as someone who usually doesn’t cry. But now I do. I cry at videos from facebook, when someone does something nice, when my Stepmom told me that she loved me. My girlfriend’s cat fell asleep in my lap and tears came to my eyes. It feels good, all this unnecessary weeping. These emotions are mine. They feel like mine. I didn’t realize, for those ten years that I was on the pill, that what I was feeling was synthetic emotions piled on top of my own. That is what it feels like, my emotions and sense of things are lighter and clearer.

The crying has been necessary, especially when I think about release. When I say I didn’t cry I mean I didn’t unless things were really beyond terrible and even then I held it in stony faced until tears sort of exploded out of me. Everyone seems to have difficulty with the holidays, especially if you’re queer. I come from a big queer family– My mom, my brother, and my closeted aunt and her best friend. But as Sarah Schulman would point out, we’ve enabled the homophobic members of the family to have the strong hold by not holding them accountable. They’re born again and their stance is firm. My brother doesn’t come home very often, my mom does little to fight it. My aunt has so carefully put her life together that she’s the matriarch of the family but has made it clear thus far that she doesn’t want to change the set up, mainly because it supports her.

That being said, my extended family doesn’t know what I’m up to. And as I drove back to North Carolina from New Jersey I had a long quiet cry. It felt healthy to release the tension that was building up for those days at home, and to release the fear of what other people (my extended family) will think when I tell them that I’m dating a chick now. It seems that part of my work in 2011 will be to reach out to my extended family and face these aunts and cousins that I love very deeply. My intention for 2011 is sure-footedness.

It probably should also be getting off sugar for good too. The only downside I’ve  noticed in this second week off BC is some very vivid anxiety dreams.

1. I had to go to war. For real. I was getting shipped off to Iraq and my aunt and little cousin (of the religious family) were driving me to boot camp. I was desperately trying to figure out a way out of it because it occurred to me near the end of my dream that I wouldn’t be able to write for two years. What a thing to worry about.

2. Someone stole all of the mechanical parts out of the hood of my car. Plus they stole my iPod and my preschool diploma.

3. I was teaching yoga  and this woman did not understand what I meant by pulling the flesh out of the way in cross legged so that her sit bones could root more firmly into the ground. I was actually doing it for her and she still didn’t understand. Britney Spears was having a concert in the next room.

I think this might have something to do with having sugar late at night, even if it is a piece of chocolate. I think I’m going to have to find some way of replacing that craving in the evening. It’s probably for the best.  In the next post I’ll discuss more about sugar and the spleen and why it’s a good idea to avoid it before and during menstruation.

In the mean time here’s to sure-footedness and continued calm in 2011.

I thought about starting this blog a year ago but put it off. I loved reading blogs but didn’t consider myself one to blog. It seemed to very easily go the way of rambling and neglected that lovely format of the essay, which, in its simplest form, enables for what’s said in the beginning to make some sort of leap by the end.  It also seemed rare that the thing I’d want to express would be of use to someone googling on the internet.

But I am a googler. I’m also a writer, but I have the bad habit of using google to search for the answers to unanswerable questions. I think almost everyone I know has googled their “symptoms” before. A terrible, terrible idea that always leads to the online diagnostic tool proclaiming cancer. Lately I had been searching for answers about what happens, exactly when you go off birth control if you’ve been on it, say, for ten years.

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