Dam Ballet Flats

I just climbed a dam in ballet flats. I started my trek with them and ended without them.

I’ve taken a few days off to reconnect with myself, my inner child, my inner artist. I spend so much of my time in the very center of my city and decided to take a drive out to a large reservoir west of town.

Kansas is so flat. And I love that. The big skies dwarf me and every now and then it helps to put things into perspective to remind yourself that you’re a speck of dust on a big blue dot that’s traversing the spacetime continuum. It makes your problems seem small in comparison to the bigger picture, which brings a sense of much needed relief.

As I drove past the megalithic dam, I wanted to climb it. I’ve wanted to climb it since I was a kid. It’s very nearly the closest thing we have to a mountain or large hill in these parts. As I drove towards the structure, surrounded by prairie dotted by the occasional homestead, I swear I heard the cry of a soul who’d died on that prairie over 100 years ago. This woman, who was alone, had come to terms with the length of the remaining winter, the remaining rations, and that her lover would not make it back to her with provisions. She logically thought through what needed to be done and she’d transcended her desperation and was quite at peace with dying alone on the cold prairie. That memory-wave swept across the plains as I tuned in like a radio. I felt admiration for this woman. Perhaps this interception was a projection of my imagination, and I gleaned from it that we are to die to ourselves many times within the course of a lifetime.

Paulo Coelho writes about walking across an iced over fountain in the middle of Switzerland. There was no ‘reason’ behind what he was doing. It wasn’t logical. But the act of doing it brought him to both a place of trust in the universe and confidence in himself and brought him utterly into the present. He did it, just because. It’s a good exercise to get out of your comfort zone. It’s how you grow.

So as I slowed my car down, still not sure I would climb, I knew that just the act of slowing my car down was aligning me with the act of climbing this hill. There was a No Trespassing sign. There were probably snakes, and stickers, and ticks. I was wearing ballet flats and the grasses were as tall as me in spots. But I had left my phone at home, specifically so that I wouldn’t be distracted by any opportunities to be a Kansas kid that might present themselves. And I decided to go for it.

I parked my car on a dirt road, got out, and crossed the street. I stepped into the prairie grass and down into a little ditch and worked my way back out of the ditch, step by step. The grass grew higher around me and seeds began to fill my shoes. I kept on. I tried to look for snakes, to step lightly, to keep an eye out for poison ivy. The flat of the land began to curve upward.

I kept walking, taking tiny steps, feeling how the incline made me slip in my own shoes and I began to wonder if I’d be better off without them. I integrated myself into my new reality, and the tall, well rooted stalks of grass offered themselves to me, they beckoned me to hold onto to them, they told me they’d keep me steady. I learned quickly that I could part the grasses and create a path, ever upward on a 45 degree angle. I stopped halfway, seeing that I was as close to the top as I was the the bottom and it had seemed like only seconds had gone by in my ascent. I felt strong and continued, making it to the top and feeling like I’d done what just a few minutes earlier seemed next to impossible. I looked out over the crest of the dam, shored up by concrete in a banal expanse of visual respite. I saw the mouths of hungry catfish opening like lotus blossoms at the edge where the water met cement.

I let go of a gasp. I made a whoop. And I sat. I had scratches, my shoes were filled with a padding of grass seeds. I found a tick crawling on my ankle, and I wiped it off me, knowing there were probably more. I looked across the expanse of lake and sky, and I felt a sort of nothing, a sort of calm. The moment didn’t last long. I wanted to make my way down. And now there were new thoughts to conquer. I was afraid of falling, of slipping in my shoes, of being caught. Just as I thought that thought a car drove past and honked, so I waved, thinking how out of character this whole venture was for me, which is exactly why I needed to do it.

I scampered my way down, leaning back, realizing that if I fell backwards the angel of the hill would catch me. The same plants that were swirling in the wind and giving me vertigo to look at offered themselves to aid my descent. I planted my heel firmly into each step, and took the climb down inch by inch, using the stocks of grass like reigns, and they cradled my feet making me feel more secure. Halfway down, again, I paused, feeling how doable this whole thing was. At that moment, my worst fear came true and I fell backwards, catching myself in the soft grass. I took this as a directive, a chance to try something new, and turned around to climb down on my hands and feet, like going backwards down a ladder. It helped and I was at the bottom of the hill walking towards the road in no time.

No snakes, no cops to tell me I was trespassing. Just an adventure, bringing me into the present, pushing me out my comfort zone, challenging me. And without this written record, no one would know that’d happened but me. I’ll never climb Everest, but for just a moment, I could begin to fathom the appeal.

I got in my car, driving home, itching from grass scratches, and crawling with a few ticks I picked off and threw out the window as they climbed my neck to reach my scalp. The ride home was uneventful. My shoes were ruined and I threw them away, they only cost about the same amount as my latte. I walked into my bungalow and headed straight for the bathroom. I stripped slowly, looking for ticks, and found only one. I hopped in the shower, scrubbing, shaving, and adding peppermint oil to my shampoo and soap to repel any ticks I might’ve missed.

Clean and rejuvenated, I poured myself a water and sat down to write this, this meta-expression of me.

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#icantkeepquiet

milck

You could say that I’m in touch with my masculine side. I spend my days working for men, the last decade of my life dedicated to supporting the oldest and most established fraternity in the world. I grew up as such a tomboy that it could have been said I’d crossed over the line to gender-bending. I have two brothers and no sisters. My mother is six feet tall and for the better part of her life weighed more than most line-backers. My whole life I’ve been surrounded by masculine energy. I’ve embraced it, covered myself in it, embodied it, and worn it as a veil.

That veil was lifted recently.

I’ve never considered myself a feminist, per se. I don’t even understand what the word means or which wave of feminism I’m suppose to identify with when I hear it. I’ve never felt protected by that word. It never held any power for me. When I hear the term, a part of me cringes. I pooh-pooh the notion and I don’t know why.

I was ill the morning of the women’s march, though I could hear it from my apartment situated near my city’s center. From my bed I saw posts about the march from around the country on social media. I could feel the energy from it. But I did not fathom the enormity of it: for the world, for this country, and least of all for me.

And then an anthem showed up in my feed and it broke me. It exposed a vulnerability I hadn’t know I was hiding – a raw nerve I spend tons of precious energy, daily, protecting. A frosty clear callous has built up as a membrane over the most precious part of my essence: my femininity. A pulsating, glowing crimson nerve that I never realized I didn’t feel safe accessing in this society. I had not realized, until this movement, that most of the time I walk around feeling painfully vulnerable, undefended, and unsafe. This relentless feeling and the coping mechanisms I’ve built up as a result are so second nature that I didn’t even realize it was there.

All I could do is sob.

This sudden acknowledgement from the lyrics of this song made me feel supported in a way that I’d never, ever felt before. I cried tears of relief I didn’t know needed to be cried. I’m tough, I am a woman after all. The notes of this song correspond with the markers on the DNA of all women. How many of us have been told to “just lie still”? How many of us have been made into “monsters” and scared away friends or family for having spoken up against the ugly actions taken towards us by our oppressors?

But at it’s heart this song isn’t just for women. This song is for everyone.

At the heart of the human experience is the desire to be known.

“…no one knows me know one ever will, if I just keep quiet, take that dry blue pill…”

If you are human…if you do not feel that you can speak your truth, you are on a downward spiral of what is akin to a primal death: NOT BEING KNOWN.

It is your responsibility to MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN. No one can know you if you are quiet. This song has finally honed in on the worst thing that will happen if you speak your truth: you will scare a few people away, they will feel that you’re a monster. Would that be so bad? These are the same people who are doing you a favor by exiting your life: stage left. It doesn’t matter if these people are “family”; you cannot afford to be your authentic self with people who do not honor your truth: for that is too high a price to pay for silence.

What is the best thing that comes from speaking your truth? YOU WILL BE KNOWN. This is life-giving, aversion of a death-sentence.

If you are being oppressed in any way – you are not the one who should experience shame. The shame lies upon the actions of the oppressors.

This song hit home for me in ways I hadn’t realized that I’d needed: to be heard, healed. I have been told to keep quiet. I have been told to lie still. I have been made into a monster for telling the truth. I have felt forced to cut off familial connections because of abuse and been told that I am the one who’s the monster for having taken these measures of sanity and self-preservation. Somehow I ended up bearing the emotional labor for not just myself, but my quietness was supposed to keep those who’d hurt me from getting THEIR feelings hurt. It’s exhausting.

In the official video, which I will post along with lyrics below, Milck is restrained and sitting in a glass tank that is being filled with water. This image represents what we go through as the waters of our life experiences rise. Eventually we become engulfed and it is impossible to breathe. As the inundation of experiences swirl around her and she begins to suffocate in ernest, she does the most counter intuitive thing: she opens her mouth. In the video it is shouting that shatters the glass walls of Milck’s enclosure. Not being quiet opens your mouth and it lets the water in, but it is also what breaks the metaphorical tank holding the water that is drowning you. It’s what takes the experience that is compressing you and it forces it outwards, back onto the source – in the video, her executioner.

We have the privilege of having been provoked. The raw nerve of our collective wound will not stand to be violated anymore and we are taking this opportunity to speak up. “Sometimes we just need to hear a clear voice harmonizing with ours,” as Milck says.

Relieve the pressure that prevents us from connecting with others authentically. Share your human experience by refusing to be QUIET.

“…There will be someone who understands…”

“…Let it out now…”

It is what will save you and by extension: us.

View Video HERE

Lyrics

“Quiet”
Written by MILCK and AG
Produced by AG

put on your face
know your place
shut up and smile
don’t spread your legs
I could do that

But no one knows me no one ever will
if I don’t say something, if I just lie still
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let the-em hear what I have to say

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

I can’t keep quiet
For anyone
Anymore

Cuz no one knows me no one ever will
if I don’t say something, take that dry blue pill
they may see that monster, they may run away
But I have to do this, do it anyway
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh I can’t keep quiet

Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
Must be someone who’ll understand
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands
Let it out Let it out
Let it out now

I can’t keep quiet

www.icantkeepquiet.org

Connections Lost: Relationship Anorexia

A story from one of my favorite films, Lost in Translation:

A starlet humble-brags that everyone thinks she’s anorexic because she is so skinny. She says she’s not anorexic, however: her father is. She goes on to explain that while in a POW camp, he was starving because when his captors gave him food they told him was poisoned.

So, there he’d be: a full plate of food in front of him not knowing if the very thing that should sustain him would possibly kill him. The starlet goes on to explain that he would eat some of the food and then spit it out or force himself to vomit, thus creating an eating disorder that stuck with him.

I think for many of us with traumatic family-of-origin experiences, a parallel can be drawn between this story and what it is like for us to try to experience intimacy in relationships.

I’ve felt like that POW who’s starving and had a plate of food put in front of him and told that it’s poison; starving for a sustaining connection but not trusting that it won’t kill me.

There is healing simply in realizing this powerful parallel and drawing the connection to my disconnection. Most emotional traumas lead to a splitting of self. A new self is created in order to preserve the true self. Not all trauma leads to a full dissociative disorder, but so often in order to survive the pain a certain amount of disconnection occurs as the only way a person can survive.

It’s called coping.

Coping mechanisms can, at times, manifest in varying degrees of self-sabotaging behaviors or chemical dependency, addiction to food, sex or any other number of things that serve the protective discomfort of the split.

This separation from the self is mirrored in our relationships with others. If we have been trained to not trust our families, we have difficulty trusting others and ourselves. The grief of this is reflected in our relationship with ourselves that has been fractured by our very much needed and very ingrained survival mechanisms.

In order to heal, we must heal our relationship with ourselves.

Healing will not result from first repairing our relationships with others, or cutting our ties with our dependencies or unhealthy behaviors. Healing comes from reestablishing a nurturing relationship with yourself. During this time, I recommend focusing on self-love. It is self-loving to maintain a distance from those who hurt you, though you may grieve the hole they leave in your life. Repairing those relationships may or may not come later. Sometimes you cannot afford to be your authentic self around those who’ve inflicted pain on you, and that’s OK.

Your healing will come from within, not from them.

During this time, it might be self-loving to learn to work with your coping mechanisms as you gradually and gently reestablish your relationship with yourself. As you go towards what feels good, to honor your internal compass, you will reestablish the connection with yourself that coping mechanisms have served to buffer.

As you go through and towards the growing pains of rebirthing oneness with yourself by honoring yourself, as you sit with yourself and grieve the loss of connection that the trauma you’ve experienced has caused within you, you will become more whole. As you become more whole, this will be reflected back to you as you are open to your current relationships becoming more nourishing and/or creating newer open and connective relationships. It’s possible that certain unhealthy relationships will fall away as you change and go towards yourself. This may hurt, for a while, but over all, you will feel better as you embrace the self you thought you’d lost.

Disintegration of the pain will result from a re-integration of the self, a melding of the split off version of yourself back into your whole, true self – the authentic and beautiful self you were robbed of spending your life getting to know and feed after the time of your trauma.

This is a process. There is no timeline. There will be times where it doesn’t feel good. There will be times when it seems counterintuitive to do what’s right for yourself – that discomfort is a good indicator that you’re doing it right. This can take months or even years, but remember that it’s taken years to arrive at a place where you’re ready to reconnect.

You are your own guide back to yourself.

Focus on the Family

Car rides with mom were tedious. The trips from point A to point B were interposed with a droning AM radio. Jeff and I sat strapped in the back seat looking out the window trying to drown out the sounds of conservative Christian radio that kept my mom brainwashed with ridiculous ideals that we knew would be imposed upon us in some fashion, usually sooner rather than later.

My mother’s favorite was Dr. James Dobson, the conservative Christian radio talk show host of Focus On The Family. When Dr. Dobson wasn’t on, we would listen to oldies which were a much more tolerable. My mother’s favorite oldies song was “One Toke Over The Line” by Brewer and Shipley.

I think she liked this song because it sounded happy and had the word Jesus in it. She would sing this song in the joyful-noise manner that could be pleasing only to the God that had created her. She had no idea what the song meant, but she sang it to the Lord, with us in the back seat hoping it would be over soon because her singing sounded just like her yelling, which was her favorite form of communication. She would let go of the steering wheel and her fists would ball up like that of a happy infant and she would dance in her seat not unlike a Muppet, driving with her knee and singing at the top of her lungs, eyes half closed, encouraging us to join in.

When I was finally old enough to learn what the true meaning of the word “toke”, I laughed, immediately remembering the song it belonged to in my memory being belted out in an ironic praise of the very thing that Dr. James Dobson was so against. I’d always been confused by the word “Toke”, but I’m pretty sure my mother was confusing it for the word “Toe” – the meaning of her rendition was so obviously laced with an “I’ll Fly Away” type nuance, The way she sung it sounded as if she would be going “home” soon…to heaven.

I suppose a “toke” or a “toe” over that line would take you to some form of heaven either way. The idea of my mother flying away in a rapture had always troubled me. On one hand, I would be sad to lose my mother, but on the other hand, maybe it would mean I would get a newer and better one. I just hoped the rapture didn’t happen while she was driving us somewhere, because Jeff and I would be stuck in the back seat of a careening car until it found a telephone pole. So getting into a car with my mother was always a matter of putting my life into my mother’s hands, or her God’s hands and it was always just a little scary.

I would count down the telephone poles until we reached our destination and be thankful when the car came to a stop and we were able to get out. If the rapture happened once we were out of the car, at least my mother wouldn’t have to deal with hitting her head on the ceiling of the car to get to heaven. I was never sure if I would be included in the rapture because it seemed like something set aside for more seasoned Christians. I was just left to worry and wonder about when it would take my mom away.

James C. Dobson talked about the rapture on his show sometimes, a dangerous thing to listen to while riding in a car, because it seemed to be taunting fate. He also espouses ideals that are supposed to make a family run a smoother, better, and more Christian home. But all I remember of my mother trying to impose his ideas were the yelling and screaming they produced with we were unfairly confronted with sudden changes in rules like Alice was faced with in Wonderland, but at least it had been Alice’s chioce to jump down that rabbit-hole.

My older brother Mike had a tape collection that he’d been working on for years. After an episode of Dr. James C. Dobson, my mother convinced my father that the music Mike owned was all “Devil Music” and its presence in our house was inviting evil spirits into the house. Mom and Dad decided that instead of letting Mike give his music away or sell it to friends, it was their responsibility to make sure that this music not be spread any further as they didn’t want to be held responsible for the proliferation of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll that the Devil Music promoted. Guns’N’Roses, Metallica, Ratt, Poison, among others had been our rebel yell when mom and dad weren’t home to hear it pumped up. Of course, Mike had some “Christian Rock”, Stryper and the like – most of it gifted to him by our Mom who was well aware of his rock music habit all along and had been trying to subtly infiltrate it with acceptable alternatives.

That night, making Mike watch, they sorted through all his tapes, the tapes that he’d paid for with his own money that he’d earned mowing lawns, and they destroyed them in front of his face, pulling the ribbon from the cassettes while he cried, helpless to do anything about it. Jeff and I also cried upstairs while we had to listen to what was happening down in the basement that night. There was too much sorrow for just one person to express the unfairness of it all. So Jeff and I helped. We cried in sympathy for our brother, we cried because we were upset at all the yelling and screaming that accompanied the cassette-exorcism, and we might have even been crying because the little devils stored in the tape cassettes had been let loose, now free to float around the house and terrorize us, my mom in particular, even more. At least when they had been in their little cassette cases, they had been contained.

So, when it was all said and done, Mike was left with a smattering of “Christian Rock” and a few of the tapes he’d been lucky enough to recover from his friends to whom he’d lent them at the time. When he got those tapes back he hid them well in a gap between the wall and ‘70’s fake-wood paneling in his basement bedroom, the same place he hid his porn, so mom would not find them – but Jeff and I knew about them and were bonded by secrecy and a good ass-kicking if we ever told. The secret made Jeff and I feel special, united, and telling wasn’t an option because we liked the loud music just as much as Mike did. We liked the loud music partially because it pleased Mike that we did and we looked up to our older brother.

The irony of it all is that Dr. James C. Dobson had a program in place to buy back the devil music so that you could send in your tape collection and they would actually pay you for it and then destroy it. If Mike had been able to send in his tapes, he could have at least gotten a little money for it.

I’m pretty sure this program was in place just so Dr. Dobson could amass the most kick-ass metal collection ever under the guise of mere Christianity. His call-to-action when it came to rock music was eerily similar to how he sat around and watched porn so that he could inform the other Christians about just how bad it is. Dr. Dobson does these things because he cares. I was supposed to be thankful that men like that are willing to bear the burdens so that other Christians don’t get caught up in the evil tangle of what the secular world has to offer. It is this kind of generosity that marked Dr. James C. Dobson’s reign over our lives by proxy of my mother, but I am not thankful for it.

I once asked Mike about whether or not he thought there were ever evil spirits in the house in which we grew up. His answer did not surprise me: “The only evil spirits in that house belonged to mom and dad.”

Primal Bond

primal woman

My friend invited me to her house for a Memorial Day cookout with her family. Her family dynamic has been changing, as has our friendship recently. The tap of our friendship flow has been opened a little wider as we have both had room added to our lives due to the men we cared for leaving us. My friend had been with her partner for over ten years.

I was with my partner for a relatively short period of time, but he’d just recently contacted me and I said goodbye for good and meant it. Our bond was finally severed. Those last interactions with him made me open up and let things out that I no longer had a vested interest in keeping bottled up. In contacting me he also gave me a gift. It was more than closure. I got self-expansion. I get to be more self-assured, I get to let go of the angst I was having, not just from his weird behavior, but the angst I was having from keeping things in. I let down my wall – not to let him in, but to let myself out.

This most recent foray into deep feelings and failed relationships makes me feel as though I have faced some demons. I’ve had a mirror held up to me and it showed me my shadow side. It showed me how being pre-maturly separated from my siblings who ended up living out the remainder of their childhoods with foster families, how being kept in my room for days and sometimes weeks at a time, how being abused and neglected by my parents has created in me a deeply felt notion that it is a betrayal of self to allow myself to become attached to anyone, romantically or otherwise. I am an oddity: I am the socially sheltered social butterfly. I’m great as long as I’m flitting about, never getting too close to anyone, always living alone and romantic interests usually fleeting. I took the ACE Questionnaire and scored a 7 out of 10 – anything over 4 is considered extreme. I took an attachment style test and discovered that I have fearful avoidant attachment style. Knowing that I am INFP on the Myers-Briggs has never been quite enough to solve the enigma of how I interact with life.

To get Freudian on you, I truly danced with the shadow of my father in my last relationship. Our interactions amounted to a seemingly never-ending cycle of catch 22. Towards the end of our relationship, I stated my needs and backed away. They were not met.

When you take the risk to give someone the opportunity to meet your needs and they do not, it is time to leave. If they let you go and then try to re-insert themselves into your life when you walk away, then you’re dealing with a child who only wants their toy when someone else has found a use for it.

The painful privilege of being stripped to your gears means that you also get to clean them. It can hurt like hell, it can be messy, but it can also be healing if you let it. I’ve been fortunate to find a male counselor who’s helping me keep my vulnerability muscles exercised, work through my complicated grief, and re-wire my brain to a more secured attachment style as a byproduct of our interactions. I’ve been letting friends get closer to me and have been there more for my friends who are now more like a chosen family for me.

Ask Polly recently advised a reader that [to paraphrase] “…you do not have the luxury of being authentic with your family, that it would only hurt you more, trust me…” and for once I am so thrilled to run across advice that recognizes that some things are so broken that you cannot fix them, that trying to will only hurt and frustrate and drain you more. Walking away from a family or a person who’s abandoned you is an act of self-love. It is also an act of self-love to affix yourself to a community or family of your choosing. Though, I still believe that blood is thicker than water – this is why adopted children go in search of their birth parents.

But familial bonds between friends can still be quite powerful and healing.

And with my friend this weekend, Memorial Day weekend, we built a tribal bond.

We did something primal.

We made fire.

We found a pile of brush and stuffed it into the seldom used backyard chiminea. We found a way to make the kindling burn and we fed it sticks for over an hour as a pile of brush whittled down to nothing. We worked like ants, moving back and forth between the chiminea and the pile of brush. The physical activity was invigorating. The burning of brush was symbolic and we both knew it. We talked about letting go and moving on and made a ceremony of what started as a trivial idea. This is how my life has been going lately, as I move forward the Universe provides opportunities to support that process.

This time in my life has brought me through some of my greatest grief and has also made it clear to me: “Ok. Enough. There are good things in store for you, no more beating yourself up about and re-living your past. You are being set free from some deeply ingrained patterns and it’s time to step forth in confidence of that.”

Am I changed? Yes. Am I done changing? Never.

Memorial Day is a good time to mourn those who have passed and those who have passed through our lives and are no longer in it. As I stepped into the shower later to wash off the cleansing pyre smoke I was veiled in, I felt renewed.

Bowing Out

My brain had a talk with my soul last night.

I’ve been trying to make a play-date for them for over a week. Long walks in the sun, check. Sitting in silence, check. Writing in my journal, check. A drive into the Kansas prairie, check.

Nothing seemed to be working and I wasn’t at peace. My spirit was restless. I knew what was going on. My brain knew something that my heart didn’t want to know. Or perhaps it was the other way around.

My heart was heavy with holding on to the anchor it knew was sinking it. Last night I came home, feeling too drained to move. Hitting the Y is so often the answer to whatever is plaguing me. My reserves were empty, my resilience low, so the Y was out. I sat quietly in my apartment, random noises of lives being lived nearby interrupting the quietude. A half an hour passed. It was nearly six. My stomach gurgled and I knew that I needed food. Now I had a plan. I went into the kitchen for some Netflix and food the hour that followed was more bearable than the previous one. I felt calmed and relaxed once I ate enough food to stabilize my blood sugar and sate my belly. The next round of self-care was to take an Epsom salt bath. This is akin to meditation. It’s quieting, except for the thin stream of steaming hot water I leave running once the bath is full to keep the bath hot and its splash is like a white noise, calming me.

Clean, relaxed, and my movie watched, I called my mom. She heard my voice and flat out stated “I do not like the sound of your voice.” She knew something was up. In some ways, I am lucky that my mom is a therapist – I can go to her with my problems and she listens to me like a friend and gives advice like a professional. After uncorking me with her observation, I spilled. For an hour. As I worked things out in my own voice, she echoed my sentiments, filling in the gaps with stealthy observations. She amazes me with her intuition about things and her ability to share them without attempts to control or judge.

Paulo Coelho states that intuition is “…a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life.” It’s when our soul talks to our brain that we become ready to act on our gut from a place of wholeness and decisiveness. Second guessing is over, mental flow charts have been reviewed, and we’re ready to face the consequences of our choice and be at peace with the pieces falling where they may.

I fell asleep after talking to my mother to the droning of a podcast that lulls me to sleep ASMR-style. Josh and Chuck, they relax me. With my mind focused on what they’re saying, I slow down my own thoughts enough to shut down. I awake, several hours later to dreams, two of them. They have spoken to me literally and symbolically. I don’t have to search for clues, they are in plain sight of my mind’s eye. I know what they are telling me. I am ready to act. I write them down to commit them to memory. I call my mother in late morning to verbalize them.

Part of me worries that I am making the ‘safe’ decision. I want to be sure that I’m not having a knee-jerk reaction to the vulnerability I’ve been placing myself in the way of for months. Making ‘safe’ decisions is not what I’m guilty of. Your being knows what it wants; it knows its path even if you don’t. The bravest thing you can do is follow it.

Crying Over Spilled Coffee

I cried three times yesterday.

Over coffee.

Or, more precisely, over not having coffee.

Coffee has become my raison d’être. I consider it my personal responsibility to patronize as many local coffee shops as possible. It’s part of my identity. It’s motivation for getting up in the morning. Sipping my two shots of espresso (doppio), in a proper demitasse, jolts me awake and makes me feel GREAT! In the mornings I can barely mumble a proper ‘hello’ to my co-workers, but there’s something about the magic of a barista’s smile that makes me perk up, even before they’ve delivered my elixir of hope.

But after the initial rush, after being sent to my happy place, there is the come-down. There are the jitters. There is the need to pee. There is the anxiety. There is the sleeplessness that leaves me so very alone with my thoughts at night, usually to be drowned out and dulled by Nyquil or melatonin, only to feel foggy the next day and in need of that cob-web clearing nectar-of-the-gods all over again.

I am always either up, or down. But beyond that, I’ve begun to wonder, what is really going on?

I read a quote from Cheryl Richardson that made a lot of sense to me:

…”quit running in circles and come to home to ourselves“…

I tend to want to identify whatever I’m feeling, and either augment it, in the case of happiness; or fix it, in the case of sadness. Coffee is always the answer. I haven’t been comfortable spending time in the in between in a very long time. Just being. That middle ground makes me want to crawl out of my own skin. But why?

This journey I’m on is all about connection: to myself and to others. Letting ourselves just be, and to be at home with ourselves, puts us into more authentic communication with our ultimate needs and wants – it’s pursuing those needs and wants that will bring about a greater sense of fulfillment and the sense of purpose that we all need. As with any habit that needs to be broken or tempered, there is the reason behind the habit – which tends to slam into us when we stop running long enough to hold still. I’m realizing that it’s wonderful to know that I have the ability to make myself feel better when I’m feeling down, sometimes a cup of coffee is part of that simple self-care – a salve for the human condition. But when it’s running your life and becoming a quad-shot-of-espresso-a-day habit, it’s time to take a deeper look.

I’m short-changing myself if I don’t take the time to sit with this uncomfortableness. If I keep smoothing it over with a temporary caffeine-patch I am also distancing myself from exploring other options for feeling good naturally. I believe that if one maintains a lifestyle of substitutes, I might be blocking the real thing from coming along – or at the very least, I’m denying myself the opportunity to discover what’s truly missing in my life, identify it, and go after it.

The frustration of choosing to not just launch myself anew into a caffeinated stratosphere when I’m uneasy, the tears that have come from sitting with whatever I’m experiencing on planet Lisa instead of seeking instant comfort, are subsiding. I’m calming down, my senses almost seem sedated, and my general well-being seems to be restoring itself. I still need that barista interaction, and seeing my coffee-community, I’m keeping that habit of regular human interaction. A shot of decaf or a SMALL cup of coffee helps to take the edge off because it’s important to be kind to yourself.