Sunday, December 25, 2011

What is Christmas?

I've been mulling over the question in my head for a few days. It's not really a date on the calendar or a set of decorations we drag out from underneath our basement stairs and out of our dusty, damp closets each year. It's not the feeling of togetherness as families reunite or the isolation that some feel when circumstances and choices separate them from potential connections. Separations that can either be physical or psychic. Sometimes the loneliest feelings come from being in the midst of orchestrated social activity.

There are the different symbolisms for the same celebration. The birth of goodness and light that will cause the darkness of physical existence to fade, the gradual lighting of the Menorah, a new moon that ushers in blessings and the idea of being connected to something powerful and unseen, an omniscient being that travels the universe in one night and deposits trinkets of wishes, hopes, and dreams. But it all comes down to one thing, I think. The belief that anything is possible.

So much of what we experience as humans occurs in "the dark." It doesn't make sense. It seems outrageous, ludicrous, damaging, painful, destructive, defeating, despairing. I could go on, but I think we all know what a struggle walking in darkness is.

Our entire universe (as we know it) exists within a vast, dark hole of nothing. Yet within that emptiness is something. A lot of some things. Brilliant, bright, self-sustaining, and intelligent somethings. From darkness life creates itself because it believes in the possibility of something good.

During the rest of the 364 days on the calendar we sometimes take for granted that the sun's rays warm up our skin and that miracles can manifest at any time, and in ways that take some effort to notice. It can be an alabaster statue of a deity, overlooking a once prominent neighborhood slowly being overtaken by crime. Or a stoplight on a freeway on-ramp that makes us stop to take notice of the license plate on the car in front of us. Or a Facebook message from an old friend, an invitation from a new one, the mystery of synchronicity that reunites past lives, a message from a recently departed loved one that shows up as an "accidental gift."

Christmas is a reminder of what is possible when we believe in what we can't see. Trust. Hope. Faith. Light. Magic. Kinship. Life. It is the only reason why we are here; the only purpose behind the facades of talent, profession, "project," "ambition," current state of existence. Light illuminates darkness. Possibility makes something of nothingness. Belief transforms sorrow. Giving ensures receiving, until nothing can be seen but a single star.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gratitude in Darkness

I have a few people to thank for this past week and a half. Some I may never see again, some I will work with in the months to come, and others I may never see in this lifetime (but who have been a silent, inexplicable force of guidance and inspiration for more years than I care to count).

Anyone who has ever come here or lived here knows L.A. is a strange city. You arrive and you're either irritated and disoriented or elated and full of excited teenage energy. Then you get homesick and wish for everything you left behind in another reality; a reality that seems like it no longer exists, except in memories and dreams. Somewhere along the way you feel like you've been here before. You've seen the sights, heard the sounds, sensed the history, driven the roads. Finally, you get sad and realize that you're leaving another place that feels like it's home. Maybe this only happens to the people who have lived too many past lives as artists and sensitives. I'm not sure I can really say. I just know what I feel every time I'm here.

The people that I would like to thank may read this and they may not. I hope that they eventually do.

Thank you to my recent workshop leader and current term mentor for showing me that you can't escape a lesson that you thought you could run away from.

To my last term mentor and workshop leader for showing me that you don't always have to know what you're going to learn.

To my workshop peers for advocating for what was right, and being sensitive to encouragement, true support, "what's working," silent thoughtfulness, and allowing yourself to stretch to your fullest potential as an artist.

To the "random" speakers, writers, and beacons of social justice for revealing that I'm far from lost. I just have a lot more "dots to connect."

To the universe for all the repeated, obvious, urgent messages of "don't give up" on the freeways, the streets, and the clocks.

To the old friends and strangers I should have spent more time with, thanks for the advice, the chats, the tears, the laughs, and the insight.

To J for being understanding when I had to cancel our plans. Here's hoping (and promising) for next time.

To my sister and brother for helping me out with "Mr. Scruff."

To my gracious hosts for letting me stay in your guest suite and giving me a place that truly felt like "home away from home." I appreciate all the extras you thought of and for inviting me to spend time with your family and friends this evening.

To the city for being beautiful at night from "above." Beauty and light exist in all different shapes and forms when we stop to breathe.

To the other half of who I truly am-thanks for guiding me to the right street when the directions couldn't, and for your constant "vibes" of understanding and support. I couldn't ask for a more beautiful reflection of my side of the rainbow.

And finally to that part of myself that knows this point in my journey is happening so that I can get "lost" and "let go" in order to become one with whomever and "whatever" I need to serve.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Uncertainty, Surprises, Resolution

It shouldn't surprise me that I got homesick on the second day of my residency. Despite feeling strangely connected to this city, I want to go home. By home, I mean Colorado. Yes, freezing in the winter, boring, conservative, culturally and diversity depraved Colorado. It's Sunday and I just spent another hour or so fighting traffic to get back to the studio apartment I'm renting in the Hollywood Hills while I'm here. I used to hate to drive in this kind of mind-numbing, always have to be in defensive driving mode traffic when I lived in FL. In June, I thought I was homesick because I was staying in a two-star hotel that was missing the conveniences of my condo-a kitchen, a living room, landscaping, etc. It was my first time staying in a two-star hotel in god knows when, but I had decided to be frugal. So frugal that I'd forgotten that once you get used to a certain level of comfort and privilege you can't always regress completely.

I shouldn't be surprised at the fact that I'm ready to leave. I was always the kid that cried herself to sleep at Girl Scout camp and counted down the days until it was time for our parents to pick us up. Meadow Mountain was beautiful and it was wonderful to connect with my peers, but I wasn't comfortable with the sleeping bags, the cool nights, and the orchestration of activities that forced everyone into revealing more about themselves than they may have wanted to.

This MFA program is similar to that. Sometimes I feel elated and inspired, at other times tired and annoyed. A lot of times I wonder what I'm doing here. I don't look like most of these people. I don't have a desire to decorate myself with tattoos, wear combat boots, dye my hair extreme colors, or dress in some art nouveau fashion. Maybe my 17 or 18 year-old-self would do a few of these things. But I'm not 17. And I can't erase the fact that I chose to become someone more conservative and left-brained.

I certainly can't analyze or get energized about literature the same way they do either. Even though I know I'm still learning, I'm aware that a part of me isn't connecting. Sure, my mentor last term said she "vibes" with my work and offered to be my mentor again. I knew she was the "right one" the minute she stood up during last June's panel. She knows I'm having doubts about carrying this through. I didn't have to say anything. She just "knew." And at this point she's the only one from this term's panel that I trust with my writing.

On Saturday, I saw the 222's on the freeways. I heard the words "don't give up" during a wonderful speech by a famous writer. One that I almost didn't attend due to fatigue. Messages of synchronicity seem to be following me and I want to listen. It's just hard to not wonder where this is all going, where it's going to end up, and whether I should just return to that life of soul-sucking jobs that pay enough to afford two or three annual prepaid trips to a tropical beach.

I guess it takes time to go through a metamorphosis. The surprise is that I thought this might feel different. The way I used to feel at 17. But you can only discover something new once. And the minute you decide to abandon something, you can't really recapture what might've been.

What I know from getting lost before is that it's better to stay calm, create a sense of stillness in your mind, and connect to something that knows exactly how to guide you. I also know that there's something about familiarizing yourself with the new that can create a sense of panic and uncertainty. The part of you that is aware of your present surroundings is paradoxically unaware. Another part of you that sees the entire circle of your life gives you the needed answers at just the right moment. Not through something that's obvious, but by means of random synergy.

Maybe there's a place for me somewhere in this world. Maybe it's a wrong exit and I'm going to have to turn around and get myself back on the freeway. A journey that makes the best use of all that you are capable of doesn't end on one street. Within my heart is the urge to write. That alone makes me a writer-not a book deal, a list of published works, freelance gigs, and spending time with a group of "serious writers." This may just be a hobby, not a profession. I'm okay with that.

I'm a woman of diverse tastes, interests, talents, and aspirations. A woman who doesn't want to live in a fishbowl or limit herself to an idealized version of reality. Someone whom I think is willing to listen, but needs a layover in order to hear her own voice and what rings true.

And like a few people have said to me "no matter what you do, you're going to be good at it. You're just that kind of a person."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Miracles on 777 Street

Christmas reminds people of miracles, of hope, and the possibility of goodness that lies within each of us. The light displays twinkle on the lamp posts, the houses, the trees and the shopping malls. Churches become full again and people gather together to celebrate the bond of being in this dream and struggle we call life.

I used to walk the streets in the early morning hours during this season. The air was crisp and cold enough to chap every exposed layer of skin. It was a safe collection of neighborhoods, full of mostly "blue bloods," successful business owners and retirees who were just grateful to get their papers on time and placed in the right spots. I was never scared, even though a twenty something young lady might be by herself in the dark, with nothing but silent stars and colorful displays of Christmas lights left on overnight.

But every season it was the same. I'd get phone calls, extra tips, plates of homemade cookies and cards of gratitude from people who only knew me by my name and my work ethic. In a box those cards still exist, waiting for the right moment to be reopened and reread. Despite the fact that I was only doing this "job" for extra money to pay off my car lease and some of the debt I incurred as an undergraduate student, it became a little something extra. A source of simple joy and unlikely friendship-the kind that's harder to notice as the gray hair and the wrinkles become more prevalent.

Every so often, I still drive down those streets, breathe in the clean, cold air, and see the Christmas lights dancing beneath a dark blanket, sprinkled with reminders of what could be. It was a time in my life that was filled with small miracles that I'll always be fond of. An example of what it really means to have given, received and achieved success; a gesture or two of private recognition for dreaming the dream with conviction, determination, welcoming warmth and spunk. No Oscars, red carpet premieres, or literary Nobel Prizes. Just a group of neighbors saying thanks for making the journey a little bit easier.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Butterfly Colors

The night when the box came I'd buried your name. Irritated with the intrusive sounds of the courtyard gate welcoming the scattered leaves and the doorbell ringing loudly, I dropped it on the floor underneath the edge of the breakfast bar. I cursed the postman for acting like a mischievous teenage lover, running away before I could see who was there. I said I wasn't going to look until the next morning. I had a scene to write, twenty pages to script by an impending deadline that kept screaming "miss me and you'll lose what you thought you wanted."

But I couldn't take the anticipation of not knowing. Patience has never been my virtue. So I stopped writing and I tore the tape off one of the edges. I skimmed over the letters and the paperwork, tossing the quarterly magazine full of contest and publishing opportunities to the side. The outside covers of the books were purple, lavender. How fitting, I thought. I didn't open the one bearing your name. I just stared for a moment and smiled. How amazing that the universe seems to keep showing me signs of "full speed ahead" whenever I'm ready to pack up my bags and turn around.

I remembered you from last time. How could I not. You didn't look like the others with your pristine image and the black dress with embroidered butterflies in blue and green. You spoke of the Appalachian mountains and delivered your image of the world with a smile and a confidence that I recognized. You came from that world I'd decided to leave. The world I no longer needed a map for. And now I was stuck in this one without a compass or a lighthouse to guide me. I thought perhaps you might understand and offer some insight about this journey from one side of the universe to the other. I thought maybe I would switch genres for a semester so I could get the chance to feel at home. The universe must have heard me loud and clear.

What strikes me is that I don't have to do anything but keep walking. There must be something going on here. Something that is making everything fall into place like a stack of dominoes seemingly out of control. I can't give up. I can't stop. I have to see this through. I have to remain strong, but not so strong that I stop myself from feeling. I have to stop saying "I can't" and say "I can."

Humans are like butterflies that can't see their colors before they emerge from their cocoons. But once they fly, the entire world notices every single shade.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Purely Conditional

This week I've been thinking about how our responses and perceptions are largely determined by our past experiences. I had this wonderful epiphany at my day job as I suddenly realized why one of my bosses is periodically asking me how I'm doing with my new assignment. It's not because she thinks I'm incompetent or can't handle it, but because she doesn't want me to get burnt out or hate what I'm doing. As silly as it seems, this kind of consideration from an employer is kind of foreign territory for me after the past five and a half years.

I love the fact that I can actually call in sick and not get raked over the coals for it and come in late with no consequences and guilty looks if the roads are bad or the power goes out at my house. I appreciate the fact that I'm not expected to work more than 40 hours, have a set schedule, and can take comp time if I ever get into a situation where I go over those 40 hours. The 100 percent employer paid insurance plan is nice too and I certainly appreciate the fact that I'm not treated like a complete idiot if I need to go to a co-worker or a boss for assistance. And just about every week there's free brownies, zucchini bread, donuts, pizza or some type of treat for everyone in the office.

Every month there's staff engagement meetings and the Director of Technology actually took the time to have a private meeting with me as a new employee. He thinks it's important to find out what his employees think about the organization and the department. To top it off he sincerely listened to my suggestions and put one of them into practice. It was a simple request to help introverts like me come up with things to say in those meetings. I was kind of caught off guard and flabbergasted. Something like that would have been completely ignored and discounted with my former employer. I would have been made to feel like an outsider and alien for even bringing it up.

They tell me that they think I have "so much" to offer and that I was hired for my communication skills and confidence in dealing with people. When I hear this, I automatically think huh? Wasn't it my former boss who used to say that my weakness was communication and that I didn't do this at all? It was assumed that because I was "quiet," came to work and didn't get involved in office politics that I was "very unapproachable" and "extremely sensitive." Intellectually I realize my former boss wasn't very adept at understanding people different from herself. Or perhaps she was criticizing parts of herself that she was told she shouldn't be. It still stung at the time. It still does. No one had ever told me things like that or been so mean. I asked a few friends and former co-workers to make sure. They all said "no" and I still had a hard time believing it wasn't true. But then again this is the company that likes to point out and focus on any little weakness rather than what's being done right. They would also rather ignore the fact that their own culture and structure creates the situation rather than find some way to make it better.

I've figured out that it's going to take some time to get reconditioned and retrain my internal responses. Rather than assuming I'm the target of someone's dislike of my personality or inability to achieve perfection, I'm going to have to learn to realize that some people want to be supportive and I can depend on them. But this lens isn't just from my former employer. I'm not trying to blame them or point the finger away from myself. There's a reason why I was drawn to that pit to begin with. I was conditioned to think that kind of treatment was okay, normal even. I didn't want to take the time to see that another reality was possible.

We make choices and then we wake up and stare blankly at our surroundings, wondering how we got here and why our lives are a certain way. Sure, we can change it but then we would have to consider the possibility that our responses are triggered by something that isn't really there. It's automatic, it's robotic, it's programmed, it's not real. But we only see what we think we know as truth and then we end up re-creating the past nightmare we weren't even in to begin with.

The universe is funny. We think. We wish. We hope. And somehow we get these lessons and these external fulfillments that end up revealing that we've been asleep and struggling because we've let our conditioning poison our eyes. It's true that the bad exists. But it's also true that it only continues to if we allow it to become real.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Letting Go is a Battle

Sometimes when I'm in the middle of a really good book, I have to put it down because its language and its message inspires me to write. So that's what I'm doing at this moment. Staring at my computer screen, mind suddenly drifting to a make-believe scene and a set of words that's decided to resurface today. Of course at this point in my life journey I'm not so sure anymore how "make-believe" that scene is, or the countless others I probably know too well for someone who never thought she'd grow up to sound like she'd been "ripped from the script." But anyhow, those words are about how letting go is a battle and a fight that takes a little help, a little courage, a little trust, a little hope, and a whole lot of belief.

The battle of letting go can take on many forms in our lives. They may be different for each of us. Who can say what they'll end up being....disease, financial hardship, death, dying, forgiveness, transformation, acceptance, self-discovery, or the resolve to finally make yourself listen to the truth. As much control as we think we have, sometimes our higher self knows better. Sometimes it's not going to let us get away that easy this time with our ability to exercise free will. We've already done that and look where it got us. Time's up, baby. It's not about you anymore. It's time to let go of who you think you are and master this lesson so you can move on to the next one. It's time to serve the rest of who you are-the rest of humanity that you once were and might someday be again. The universe holds more miracles and mysteries within itself than we can ever comprehend. Listen. Pay attention. Connect the dots. Stop resisting and start accepting.

The funny thing is we already know what we need to do, we've known it for a long time, decades even. We just have a hard time doing it. We have a hard time believing in something that doesn't make sense. Letting go and surrendering to something we don't understand yet, that's our battle, that's our fight. It's probably something we don't even like, something that certainly doesn't serve our ego or what we think is in our best interests. In order to do it, we have to shut that half of our brain up (as a wise MFA friend kept repeating to me in June) that doubts, tries to discredit, tries to justify, and tries to preserve the lifesaver that ends up drowning us anyway.

As tough, sad, scary, and completely ludicrous on paper as it is, we don't need a lifesaver. When we let go, we find out just how strong we already were and that we already knew how to navigate and save ourselves. And when we let go, we release what was keeping us from seeing possibility.

We go for it anyway. Despite the risks. Despite the consequences. Because it keeps pulling, it keeps pointing, it keeps whispering until it gives us no other choice.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Dazed and Confused"

Almost everyone knows that HSPs and Libras struggle with decisions. I've written about this before, but since June I've been internally debating quite a few. Not the type that determines whether you'll be eating Subway tonight instead of TGI Fridays or whether you should pick up a bottle of Chardonnay instead of that Menage A Trois red blend you love so much. No, these decisions are a little more complicated than that. And it starts with the truth-I am tired of writing.

I do not see the point in reading books just so you can pick them apart and wonder why something was written this way and not that way. I am tired of hearing opinion after opinion about how to make something better, what "works" and what "doesn't work." I am tired of being told what should be and what shouldn't be. I am tired of reading passionless excerpt after passionless excerpt from my MFA peers and having to make some kind of comment that makes it sound like I enjoyed reading their work. Yeah, I know this sounds stuck-up and snobbish, but I do not want to be molded into someone who only thinks and writes as if technique and structure were more important than feeling and creating. Since June I have picked up more fiction than I have since I was a teenager, but even reading some of it has bored me to tears. Most of the craft books I've had to read have been even worse.

I have cancelled one of my writing contracts because I didn't want to write lies about how the world of academia is of course, the ultimate truth of what actually goes on in the practical world. Besides, this client wanted me to put in the most effort for the least pay. That's not a smart or necessary use of my time. I'm really only still writing with two sites and it's taking me longer than ever to produce my work. Not because I'm slow, but because I get bored, distracted and just don't want to do it. In short, I'm burnt out.

My day job is okay. But now they want me to spend my days in my own office researching and testing software. I now get to contact vendors and write procedural guides. I was elected for this because they know I'm a "writer." I wish they didn't know. But when you mention in the interview that most of your current technical knowledge comes from writing technical articles and you have to request time off to attend your MFA residency in California.......well, there goes that little piece of anonymity.

I have long-term side effects from my concussion that I didn't expect. Not being able to sleep more than a few hours at a time, occasional random dizziness and nausea, irritability, not feeling rested after sleeping, taking 3-5 hour naps involuntarily, poor short-term memory, poor concentration, inability to clean my house in one spurt, random sharp pains that feel like an oncoming bad headache. At least I'm alive (for now). I'm aware that plenty of people don't even survive a head injury. This is my second. The first was when I was four years old. I guess I have some reason for survival, some purpose, some work to finish up before I depart this body. I just don't know what that is yet.

This isn't an inspirational post. In fact, it's quite depressing. I'm aware of that. Unfollow if you must, but as I've said before I don't blog for popularity. This is what I'm feeling right now. It's necessary that I have a job or a way to bring in enough income so I can pay my bills. That's why I don't quit my day job or terminate all of my writing contracts. It's not necessary that I get an MFA (which so far I don't think is for me, even though I'm aware some people would give their teeth to be in this program), write a novel, a collection of short stories or poetry, or publish them and then elevate the hell out of myself because now I'm a "real writer." To be honest, that's not even why I applied. I wasn't in this to get a book deal, submit a bunch of my work, or "become what I should be." I applied because I wanted to grow, I wanted to feel passion about something, I wanted to enjoy life. And most of all I wanted to escape.

But the truth is, none of that has happened. The truth is that I barely work on my creative work because it's the last thing on my priority list. Because it's not necessary. Because I have no passion. Because I am done traveling this road.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chances, Love, Light & Rescue

The purpose is never in the action, but rather in the reflection.

Within our human experiences is the point where we can look back at a low point in our lives and realize that something saved us. Call it inspiration, revival, divine rescue, light from the work of an empath, or a simple chance. As I sat in the balcony of a local auditorium last night, slightly dizzy from the height, I got the opportunity to listen to the lyrical and spoken wisdom of someone whose work had a profound effect on my spiritual evolution. By spiritual I don't mean religious, but the journey we take to find our voice, our human identity, and our purpose.

The songs that I used to sing to in my bedroom drifted up to the rafters, somehow instantly transforming into something more meaningful inside my older self. What is the chance that you'll get to sit next to someone that you have a relationship with that's in need of transformation, hear the most poignant songs from that collection you still listen to, have flashbacks to those good childhood moments, hear the voice of your future whispering into your being, have a musician say exactly what needs to be said to the person beside you, and connect with the gift and purpose of a light worker all in the course of a couple of hours? Pretty amazing, I think.

A co-worker and I recently talked about the quote that says you'll find your destiny on the road that you took to avoid it. That wonderful and beautiful novel I read recently said you'll never know when you'll find yourself rescued or what will become your light. It's one of those mysterious aspects of being human that is so exhilarating, peaceful, and beyond expression when it comes together.

Those things I once aspired to be, I already was. I just had to grow up to see. The message was already there. I think it's like that for most of us who discover that the reason we're here is to spread light, compassion, pixie dust, whatever you want to name it. Our eyes "see good where good cannot be found, we see every pain, know what you're going through and feel it the same." If those lyrics don't sum up the empath experience, I don't know what does. Whatever form it takes, whatever our talents, no matter the name we give our beliefs, all we have to do is jump on that train and let it slowly show us the track we thought we weren't on.

Embrace every car of that train, every rail on that track, every scene, every moment. As another greatly undervalued source of light more or less revealed, at the end you might realize that it wasn't quite near long enough.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mauve Ribbons

I realized too late that my ex loved me. Not because he said so, but because the week before I moved back to Colorado his voice got shaky and panicky as he said "you're not going to be here are you?" Then there was the message on my answering machine, left the night before the morning my sister and I pulled away from Golf Village Loop onto US 98 N, headed towards I-75 and Gainesville. And the constant messages on my cell phone as we drove across the country asking me to call him back and let him know where I was and if I was okay. He was good at concealing his feelings at times, like the stereotypical male who isn't sure if it's okay to breathe.

There was the parking lot outside my apartment building that overlooked a golf course and an RV park. Damp rain hung in the air. Stuffy and full, like most Floridian mornings. Like the thin, sticky film of a spider web that you can't quite get rid of because once it sticks, it's home. We said what we thought was goodbye. There was the extended embrace. My tears. His strong, silent, empty eyes that fooled me into thinking that my absence wasn't going to matter. He was trying not to feel too much. I don't think he realized that if he had let himself do that, the scene would have probably been rewritten. When I mentioned it gently over the phone months later, he still thought that expressing himself wouldn't have made any difference. He didn't understand that sometimes I need the obvious to be spelled out to me. It isn't always easy to trust and believe in a formless feeling.

Some might say that one of the dangers of being sensitive is that we can be a little dense at times. Nothing makes sense in the moment. Whether it's good or bad, we may not realize it until it's too late to backtrack. We think that others couldn't possibly be sly, manipulative, cunning or out to bring us down. We don't operate that way, even if we sometimes imagine that we could be.

Love is a tricky enough minefield without having to navigate it with mauve colored glasses. That's what a side of us says right? The omniscient third person voice that sees things from the outside. But inside it's quite a different story. Mauve is everywhere.

When I was 13 and my mom decided we should remodel my bedroom, mauve was the color I chose. For the paint that we brushed on the walls and the carpet that got laid down. For the phone that got plugged into the new jack in the wall for my own private number. Every early 90s teenage girl's dream. See my childhood wasn't all bad. Nothing ever is one or the other. I'm sure the bedspread and sheets that went on my new waterbed had some mauve in it too. But who knows, I don't exactly remember that little detail. Memory is a sort of fiction, as one well-known writer likes to say.

An objective, third person voice has its place when it recounts its version of history, but it's the part of ourselves that doesn't believe. The part that doesn't get lost in the heart of the matter; the dream. Inside is the first person voice that gets lost in the smell of lilacs, the magic hidden between the cheesy scripts and the overzealous, sometimes dry performances, and the visions of a golden coast full of red sunsets and sparkling blue waves. Because you never really know when you might open your eyes and see your heaven shining right in the middle of what everyone else calls an ordinary scene.

A stanza in one of my favorite songs from that year we know as 1990 says "is it so wrong for us to love so much, to feel so much?" Back then I knew a lot more than I thought I did. And what I knew, I felt. I felt deeply as I fell in love with more than what could be seen and heard. If only my 14 year old self could fully realize how accurate those unspoken voices in the summer winds would turn out to be. But she hoped and she believed. Now she gets to see.

And as she still stops to admire and smell the lilacs, she realizes that it was never wrong to love, to feel and to hope. Miracles can work their magic when you're not looking. Anything really is possible despite the wounds and the scars. Buried or not, the first person voice is alive, strong, dancing and twirling with ribbons of mauve, spinning her story.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.
-The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich

There are very few novels that I find myself seduced by. The kind that grabs you from the first line and you can't put down. Or the kind that stir something within you. The kind that make you feel. The kind that you find yourself connected with and whose words and characters are blurred between their identities and your own. The Painted Drum is one of those.

My writing mentor (whom I listed as my first choice because of one of those "feelings" of intuition) suggested that I read it. The author fluctuates between first and third person point of views and that's what I'm trying to do with my own novel. The strange thing about my mentor is that she's one of those subtle intuitive types that seem to address more than just what may be going on with your craft. To say that she knows me completely would be a lie. But it would also be a truth.

Someone once told me that it takes a very strong person to survive what I've survived. But there is a line between strength and self-containment. For me it's not about fear or courage. It's a matter of not making a mistake. Who wants to do that? Who wants to admit that the sun didn't exactly set like the postcard showed it would?

What Erdrich writes so eloquently is true. There is risk in living. There is the chance of falling when you take flight. There is a real possibility that you may have to rewrite your lines, repaint your dream, or perhaps keep dreaming until you wake up in the picture that feels like home. If you're alive, you feel both good and bad. Sorrow and hate. Disappointment and failure. Abandonment. Triumph, joy, and ecstasy. Love. Commitment. Compassion. Connection. Wholeness.

That's why we come here to be human. To become whole. To experience what we could not otherwise. To risk what could and should be. To listen and learn not to resist that destiny we planned before we entered our bodies. To feel the dreamer's firm answer that says go and pack up what you think you know.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Danger of Hurricanes

Hurricanes are scary. Their "downgraded" cousin the tropical storm is just as scary. I know. I've been through a few.

1999. Floyd was a dangerous Cat 5 that was supposed to slam directly into the east coast of Florida. My restless, ambitious and adventurous 22 year old self had decided to run away to a piece of her unexplained past. My five roommates and I were stuck in our Vista Way apartment, a set of the kind of light coral pink stucco buildings seen all over the Sunshine State. Right in-between I-4 and Apopka-Vineland Road near Kissimmee-and of course a 24 hour Walgreens.

Days before they decided to close the parks, the first set of winds had started coming in. In Florida that's a sure sign of trouble-the air is as void as a cave otherwise. "One thing these kids might see is a hurricane," said Mike. An older, slender man with abnormally tan skin, white hair and a set of black rim glasses from Pennsylvania. He and his wife Diane had moved down years ago and ended up working for Mickey. Diane worked full-time in the Christmas shop and still had her thick East Coast accent. She was one of my trainers, warned me how competitive the marketing department at Disney was, and always expressed pity at how little the company paid us "CP's."

Andrea, Mikki, Melissa, Kim, and the girl whose name I can't remember put cardboard and tape over our windows in preparation. We watched the news and listened to the radio until we realized we were just freaking ourselves out more than we needed to. I called my mom, wishing for the first time that I could somehow go home where it was safe. Where there wasn't such a thing as hurricanes. Just blizzards and the occasional tornado. Threats I knew how to deal with. She didn't know how to help me, so she called some friends who had been through one. She told me it was just like a blizzard, but with rain. And it was good that our apartment was on the first floor. It might flood and the ceiling might cave in, but at least the winds wouldn't be as strong at that level. The Orlando Sentinel's front page headline that read "Brace Yourselves" seemed to say it all.

It was one of the times in my life that I prayed really hard. I prayed for that storm to turn, like they said it just might. I didn't wish any harm on our neighbors in the Carolinas, but I didn't want to die. I wasn't ready. Not after I'd spent so much of my life just fighting to survive. Not after refusing to give into the temptation of the bottles of my father's pills at 14. Not after choosing to look at the light, see its beauty, and know that it was okay to dream-no matter how illogical or misguided. I was lucky; I had a future reflection to believe in. I had a light that was convincing and comforting enough to make me choose to keep traveling.

After the storm hit Melbourne, the rains kept pouring and the dark clouds kept swirling around the deep green landscape of crabgrass and sabal palms, we learned that the eye of the storm had started to turn. Worst case scenario for Orlando was 60 mph winds and a downpour. The perpetual parking lot of cars and semis that lined I-4 from Daytona to Tampa eventually eased as people realized it was safe to get a hotel. We were lucky this time. Florida was lucky. I even joked about it with Sally when Disney said it was ok to come back to work. "Brace yourself, we've got a 30 mph wind coming through." She burst out laughing, tapped me playfully on the arm and said jokingly "oh go back home, you Rocky Mountain person."

My former home wasn't so lucky a few years later. 2004. Storm after storm. Destruction. Death. Endless calls to the ex to see if he and the kids were ok. Despite the slew of different names, it seemed like the storms were the same unfrozen blizzard that kept coming back for some sort of past indiscretion. But that's a tale that doesn't belong on the pages of this blog. It's a story my characters might get to tell you, after their voices have been refined by my slew of mentors and the author channeling process.

"Seth" tells me that even in the midst of probable death and destruction that if you want to survive somewhere inside you have to choose life. You have to choose to look at the beautiful sunlight. You have to choose.

Alli, one of my friends from elementary school chose differently. We became separated after 5th grade since she stayed in the public school system and my mom steered me towards what she thought was a "safer, respectable" path. She gave up a lot and worked hard to make sure I had a private education. I'm grateful. I just sometimes wonder what would have been if I'd finished growing up with some of the people I first came to know.

I still have the pictures of Alli at my 7 year old birthday party. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Smiling face that portrayed an image of sweetness. She used to walk down the same street as me to get home from school. She used to roller skate under the red, purple, blue and yellow balls at the local skating rink with the girl scouts troop. At 18 she decided it made more sense to jump off a ledge in Rocky Mountain National Park. I don't know why. I stopped knowing who she was at 10 years old. But sometimes I wonder how someone who seemed so full of light could choose something so dark. I wonder if I could have somehow helped her.

Of course I realize this notion is somewhat misguided. Despite my desire to help everyone in distress that I come across, in the end the internal forces that are driving them to these types of choices are as uncontrollable by me as an impending hurricane. In the end people have to sort through their own mess. They have to decide to either rebuild or run away. They have to decide to either see destruction or see possibility.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Dreamer

I walk through the halls of buildings filled with promise and youth. I drive through forgotten streets haunted with pictures of who I was. They're coming back in a bittersweet nightmare that makes me want to run. I realize how empty this vision is, how still, how decrepit, how plain. The gray square building sits there, silent and overgrown with trees that no one has bothered to cut down. A window on the second floor is still broken, boarded up with a piece of cardboard that probably leaks when it rains or snows. The two flagpoles by the left side doors are bare. Blue paint peels from the gym doors on the right, replaced by strips of rust and mold. Sunlight reflects back empty hallways and burned out fluorescent bulbs through the windows. The stone bench remains seated under two evergreens, engraved with the words that the sixty-four of us picked. A group of eighteen and seventeen year olds about to discover that we really didn't know anything at all. Even though we were labeled "snooty," "rich," "professors' kids," "gifted," "smart," "self-directed," "talented," "experiments," and "lab rats."

Our descendants moved to the other side of town, to a new building with the same name. They left the bench, the walls painted with murals of children, yellow, purple, blue and white paint. The gym floor where we ran laps at 6 am, ran up and down the bleachers and spiked balls back and forth across the net until we were too sore to even sit. I'm sure the balcony is still there, resting against the back ceiling, waiting to be filled with the warm flesh and screams of proud champions. The stage, with its long, heavy black curtain still hides the row of colored lights. Echoes of our voices and our lines heard by rows of invisible chairs. We're still in a circle, talking about our problems and our dreams, trying to be supportive, trying to realize that we're not alone. She still slams her locker shut next to mine, figuring out how to work the combination lock much faster than I ever could. Another girl still gives me that wistful stare as I brush my hair before darting to the bathroom to check my face. He glances in my direction as his buddies try to urge him to talk to me. He's wise enough to know he doesn't stand a chance, but not wise enough to realize I'm simply not interested.

I learn to escape to the library, where only a few friends know how to find me. I transform from clean-cut jock to a flannel covered, Doc Marten boot wearing artist with a pack of Marlboro Lights, purchased illegally from the gas station down the street. L shows me how. L still shows me how.

A, T and I stumble into Denny's after midnight and talk about our futures in-between puffs of smoke, bad coffee and a basket of seasoned fries dipped in Heinz. Sometimes we walk through the overgrown vines on the patio of Margie's, lit with tea lights and order grasshoppers and a slice of cheesecake. We feel like grown-ups. We feel limitless, free. We feel ready to touch our dreams. We're alive and it's all we need.

R tells me I remind her of make-believe I. B says our faces look the same. I'm flattered and mystified. I don't see the resemblance until I've forgotten how to pretend. Real I reveals the resemblance was always from within. The other L and I ditch prom in an early declaration of feminist independence. We never feel sorry. We still laugh about it when we see each other. We're still alone. By default or by choice, it doesn't seem to matter. Other L and I know we can always sit down to coffee, dinner or a movie. Best friends never desert each other. Even when one moves to Boston and the other finally starts getting ready to look out over the right ocean.

The parking lot sits empty. The grass is stripped. They say they're finally getting ready to tear the building down. Mr. T and Senor no longer smoke pot together on the sidewalk facing Candelaria Hall. Frau no longer greets me with "Wie hiesst du?" and Mrs. T doesn't pull me aside to discuss the astute political references in one of my papers. D no longer helps me start my mom's stalled Toyota or reminds me that I'm probably the most emotionally mature member of my family. I no longer read Shakespeare and Oedipus or sit in on meetings of the local Amnesty International chapter.

Mr. L's birthday present no longer holds my set of keys. His blue argyle sweater isn't sitting on top of his pressed white collared shirt or resting against his matching slacks. His head remains gray white, skin long wrinkled and sprinkled with brown spots. The philosopher, writer and artist takes us on walks down 14th avenue to see the ugliest building in town. He says there's a lot of them here, but this one takes the cake. His eyes never stop smiling. He gets especially excited when I challenge another student's assignment. I ask how can there be a heaven if there isn't a hell. He becomes my mentor for my senior project and never mentions my "quietness" on any of his written evaluations. Not like the other teachers. "Should participate in class discussions more." "Will gain more if she's not just an observer." "Thought-provoking when she speaks, but quiet." Like it's a bad thing. Like I'm supposed to change something they don't know I can't.

This place, this building. I walked its halls and its stairs. I sat in its rooms, gave speeches, read books, typed papers, wrote on notebooks, watched movies, ate lunches, giggled, cried, listened and spoke. I learned that in the midst of something bad, there's always something good. And what looks good and perfect isn't necessarily what it seems. It doesn't matter because there's always hope. There's always the chance you might get to fly.

I walked the stage in my white gown. Mr. T smiled up at me from his chair. I took the blue booklet containing my diploma. T, A, L and I left the ceremony in the white Toyota wearing our spring dresses and fancy heels, celebrating the end, the beginning and everything in-between.

The student had to be on a wait list for years, have good grades and write an essay to get in. The dreamer still hasn't learned how to get out.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whiny HSPs?

There's this notion that sensitives tend to be whiny, dark, and brooding. Especially if we're writers. And especially if we're the type of writers who journal, maintain personal blogs, and reflect on our observations about life in a creative fashion. The truth is that we are. Whiny, that is. But that's not because we hate life, ourselves, and everything around us. We don't want to commit suicide or go on a mass murder spree, really. It's because we care. We take life personally, with two capital P's.

Is this something as HSPs that we need to apologize for or avoid? I don't think so. I certainly don't see the non-HSPs ostracizing themselves for being a "bunch of complainers" or speaking up about their opinions and the way they feel. HSPs ostracize our own actions because we don't like to cause any problems; we don't want to be viewed negatively. We'd rather make the world more harmonious, beautiful, and free of social injustice. Please feel free to comment if you think I'm "wrong."

I think this attitude is a bunch of BS. Believe me, I kind of had a hard time getting over it too. But the way I look at it is that we're being "whiny" for several reasons. We notice things that are out of sync that others don't and it affects us more strongly. We see what needs to be changed to make the world or our own lives better somehow and then we advocate for that change until something gives. Non-hsps whine just as much, if not more so. But they don't see the need to change or even know how. They stay unhappy because "it's just the way things are done." I watched it firsthand for almost six years. They'd rather keep on existing in a morally and spiritually crushing environment because there couldn't possibly be another way of living.

I've been writing this blog for a year and a half now. I admit that it's mostly a journal or diary about snippets of my life, my opinions about certain matters, how I think the world perceives HSPs, my own inner experience as one, and some of the experiences I've had or are trying to have. Frankly, I'm amazed that anyone reads it at all. I'm not famous (nor do I wish to be) or have a list of works published by a major house. I'm grateful people do. But I don't write this blog for a particular audience. If a person likes it, wants to read it, and it helps them in some way, great. Honestly at times it feels really vulnerable and ridiculous.

I'm an experimental person. In life and otherwise. I like to try new adventures. I like variety. I like to look for ways to reinvent the wheel. If I don't like something or if something feels a little "off," I change it. But I've also become a practical person, financially. I know when it makes more sense to make a change and when it makes more sense to "wait."

The point of any writing, especially that of a journal/diary/personal blog, is to document what the writer is feeling at that point in time. As humans, we're evolving creatures. Isn't it great that there's a way to capture who and what you are at different points of your existence? You may not have those thoughts again and there might be some "genius" or "epiphany" that you'll read years later, realizing that you've always had all the answers you've needed within. Old words and reflections can bring comfort. They might even make you smile through those tears that are still flowing down your cheeks from a few moments earlier.

As writers, bloggers, authors, creators we can also touch and affect others through our words and use of language. Granted some won't like us, but that's why there's other books, blogs, magazines, and writers that exhibit a style that resonates. It's one of the times that writers make connections, even if they are indirect and remote. Through someone else's words, thoughts, "whining," and ramblings, we all see that we're human. We hear what most don't have the balls to admit or talk about. We finally see and experience truth. We might even make a difference for someone who needs something to hold onto.

So, excuse me for "whining" and "opining." I wouldn't know who I am, what I think, and what I want if I didn't. Sensitive or not, I will be damned if I'm not going to reveal what's real.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Trimming Process

When I was a teenager, I went through this vegan stage. This was before Alicia Silverstone made it popular. And before you could really find a lot of soy substitute products in stores, besides experimental fake cheese and bad tasting soy milk in a box that smelled like it had just been gathered from a sewer. I was in a nutrition class, facilitated by Mrs. "V" who thought it was so fascinating that she had a student who didn't eat any meat, egg, or dairy products.

I think I was 14, maybe 15 at the time. I don't know why I decided to do this vegan thing, but I had read about it. I was intrigued. It was something different, cutting edge, and I had the feeling that I should try it. Making that decision meant that I resolved to cut or trim certain things from my life. That decision affected a lot of things. As a consequence I had to check every nutrition label before eating a meal. In the early 90's this wasn't as easy or forthcoming as it is today. I also had to start taking more vitamins and even stopped getting my periods for awhile. When I became listless enough to start running red lights, I decided to put the eggs and dairy back in. The one upside was I managed to consistently weigh under 120 pounds.

This wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I could no longer stomach the richness of milk, cheese or eggs. To this day I still buy light soy milk and reduced fat ice cream and cheese (made with skim milk) because my system can't handle the richness. I'll eat scrambled eggs and a small omelet every now and then. But I have to sprinkle on a ton of Tabasco sauce. The hotter the better. I still don't eat meat unless I'm feeling super weak. No hamburger, no steak. Just a little salmon, tuna or grilled chicken.

Trimming or cutting things from our lives is something I think most of us do periodically. Especially if we tend to overload ourselves with too many responsibilities, commitments, and interests. I recently accepted a job offer in my small CO city. I didn't do this because I wasn't making enough money with my freelance work or no longer wanted to write. In fact, I'm losing income potential by working this job as a computer tech for the school district. I accepted it because I need balance. My hats go off to all the full-time writers out there who can stand staring at their own four walls day in and day out. I'm not that person. I need interaction. I need to help people. I need to feel like I'm "out there" making a difference. And that's not something I feel like I need to apologize for. It's part of who I am. And yes, I'm still writing. Just part-time. I'm not releasing that part of me either.

Nor am I ruling out a potential relocation in the next two years or so. I've only owned my home for three years. There's no rush, given current market conditions. I do better when I attack change slowly anyway. Less anxiety. Less discombobulating.

But, I have too many writing commitments to be able to juggle this new job. I've thought about giving up my MFA program. After all, I don't need another masters degree. I certainly don't need an MFA to have a writing life, sell a book, or network with a writing community. And it's expensive. Very expensive for such a laid-back, non-academic approach to learning. And it requires me to live in another city for more than a week at a time. When I was working on my MBA I never once entertained the notion of quitting. Sometimes I wonder why I'm thinking about it with this degree so soon. I wonder if I'm still the type of person who is going to be able to get something out of it. I wonder if I will be able to feel inspired again.

I've thought about terminating one of my writing contracts. Do I really need to write for five websites as a part-time freelancer? With minimum contract obligations, that means I'm spending another 25-30 hours per week working at home. At least. If I'm lucky, I might get a chance to speed read through the novels and craft books for my MFA program. If I'm even luckier, I might get my fiction writing project period contract obligations turned into my mentor on time. I might fall asleep during the online conferences, but hey, my name will still show up on the chat roster, right?

This is not a way to live a life. So I must trim. Something. Or maybe two somethings. It's not going to easy. Yesterday I was in one of the local library branches, picking up the books that I've committed to reading for the next month. Reservation Blues, Oryx and Crake, On Becoming a Novelist. I picked up a few others too. One of them is by the author who led my writing workshop in June. She's a "product" of the school's MFA program. I was curious to read one of her works because she was so kind, helpful, and had some similar ideologies. As I was walking through the stacks of books in the library, I thought "do I really want to give this up?" I never dreamt of seeing one of my books in a library as a child. I never really dreamt about writing at all until some of my high school teachers nudged me in that direction. But during those years I did immerse myself in it. I took AP English and just about every film/theatre or literature class I could get away with. I wrote poetry for fun and completed a novella for my senior project. I'm not sure I should just walk away, despite my feelings of culture shock after returning to this world.

I've ran over all my writing contracts in my mind. There's some that have nastier editors than others. Some offer boring topics. Others pay significantly less per article or hour. But they all have some sort of value to me.

The solution might be simple. Reduce output to the minimum for all contracts. Make less money. Pay off the undergrad student loans and the car loan. My bank might miss sitting on a pile of cash. But I doubt I will.

Trimming is about a few things. Priority, need, and want. It's about being truthful and honest about those three things. Subjectively honest. As the author of one of the writing craft books I recently read eloquently said "the truth doesn't come out in bumper stickers."

And Ms. Former MBA, this decision is going to take more than a bumper sticker solution.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why Being an Empath is a Gift-Part Three

I came across a blog post the other morning that briefly stated that empaths have more power than we think we do. By power, the blog's author meant spiritual or thought manifestation. I know this sounds a little too "Secretish." I have two copies of the book (thanks Mom) and sometimes roll my eyes when I read its pages. And I certainly don't back the idea that empaths walk around with the magical powers of "Mickey's Sorcerer" at their fingertips. I do, however, think that empaths have the ability to send and receive energy.

The experience can be kind of freaky, eye-opening and compassionate at the same time. As the blog post suggested, sometimes we wish for a little bit of something and we get a whole lot of it. The other night ABC broadcasted a special segment about how identical twins have a higher occurrence of telepathy between them than the general public. One of my friends and I have this ongoing discussion/debate about how parallel selves have the same sort of "spiritual" relationship. We don't reveal the identities of our "other halves" because of course that would be an astral privacy violation. We just compare experiences. And he helps me understand what's happening and why. He and his parallel self have been consciously "interacting" a little longer than I have with mine. But even that's debatable as I continue to discover more and more synchronicity.

No one knows how the telepathic process works or why it exists. Despite the scientific tests, professional observations and numerous personal accounts, the official stance is inconclusive. Scientists think that there's a higher incidence among identical twins (even after the death of one) because these are essentially two people who directly separated from the same source. Mirrors. Duplicates. One person needed to become two.

Parallel selves are spiritual twins. The same soul or astral body has incarnated twice. They will have many similarities, synchronicities between their lives, and be learning the same lessons. However, if they do interact the relationship will be very similar to that of sibling rivalry. Parallel selves often learned the same lesson from opposite angles, so their perspectives and choices might clash. Despite that they feel intense compassion for each other. Each one of is a guide to the other; a supporter in times of distress. A bright light of inspiration when either one needs it. And they have a lot to learn from each other. How do you recognize a parallel self? In the eyes and the heart. It's like looking into a mirror, but not exactly. Don't be surprised if you "meet" virtually. You'd probably faint otherwise.

So what exactly am I getting at? Is this "energy sending" thing just for the closet psychotic or for those who live in geographic locations famously known for a higher proportion of "fruits" and "nuts"? How is vibe sending, thought manifestation and telepathic communication beneficial? They're gifts because we have the ability to experience and learn to trust the unseen. There's something reassuring about receiving validation that something exists beyond our physicality. It's one of the times that we get a sense that we're not alone. And there's some purpose to our existence besides being the direct descendents of monkeys.

There's also something beautiful about emotion, which is the vehicle that these methods of "communication" use. Sometimes that emotion can be overwhelming, especially if it's unexpected. There are times that being receptive to the energy and emotions of others makes you want to block it. But then you realize the vulnerability of being able to receive that energy is what makes any type of connection possible.

Recently one of my high school friends posted on Facebook that she felt very alone in this world. It was a feeling that spun from the fact that her mother is battling a terminal illness and she wasn't getting the instant support that she needed. I publicly asked her what was wrong and then privately exchanged some words with her that I hoped would be encouraging. It's not easy to watch your parents decline. They're kind of like bookends that have always been there to lean back on for support and guidance. Their existence makes you feel secure, that you have a connection, and that you're not alone. And for most of us, they're the only ones who have consistently been there from day one.

I suppose it's the emphatic experience and connection with unseen energy that makes us comfortable with the idea of physical separation. Thought manifestation teaches us that what we see stems from what we think-if not instantly, then somewhere in our journey. Nature has this very subtle way of communicating through silent energy that is so primeval and yet freakishly accurate. It's powerful in its own gentle stillness; a nothingness that can suddenly become something beautiful and extraordinary without explanation. Winds that rustle through the trees on a stormy summer night, a rainbow without rain resting on top of the clouds, the sudden foam white whoosh of the ocean against the sand of a beach; the possibilities are endless if we just listen.

The ability to open up to that energy, to listen to it, to become it-that's one of the things about being sensitive that makes it possible to spend our human experience living.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Solace in Goodbyes

I wasn't going to go hiking today, but I felt like I had to. The traffic on the 110 and the 5 agreed with my first inclination to simply crash in my hotel room after attending my last residency seminar. I didn't care. I kept driving to Griffith Park because I needed to relax after an exhausting 10 days filled with doubt, laughter, discoveries, hellos and goodbyes. It was too hot to make it to Dante's View or the Hollywood sign this time, but I met a stranger named "J." His one year old pit bull wanted to say "hi." It's the second pit bull who has wanted to say "hi" to me in the past month. Maybe I have some sort of "dog aura."

We talked for awhile at one of the rest areas, in the shade, as the breeze blew softly through the leaves of the trees above us. I was crying because I'm not good with goodbyes. Just as this residency began to end, I started to feel home again. I wasn't really crying about leaving tomorrow because I know I'll be back in roughly 5 months and see most of the people I just met again. I'll see and feel this City of Angels another time, which strangely feels older and older each time I set foot on its streets. Today as I drove past a section of La Brea I could have sworn those were the houses and buildings from one of my dreams. No, I've never driven that section of street before in my life; at least not this one.

I began to cry underneath those trees in the park because of another type of goodbye. My heart is heavy at its possibility, as if it were my own pain; my own struggle. I've seen too many of them-the goodbyes that don't end; the kind of goodbyes that take away any physical possibility of connection, of taste, of sight, of smell, of touch. It's not enough sometimes that you can still feel the spirit and still talk in dreams. It doesn't seem fair to me that some of the world's most beautiful souls have to endure repeated suffering. Some would say that's what makes them so beautiful. I still don't like it.

I didn't get to see my biological father before he "died." He could still be out there somewhere, living under a different identity. I don't think I'll ever get to know. I've seen my adoptive father whittle away to nothing within the span of five short months, finally expiring in the middle of the night; confirmed by a long distance phone call. I've attended the funeral of a co-worker, killed in a car crash on the icy back roads during a Colorado winter. A childhood schoolmate died while on a family vacation, the victim of carbon monoxide asphyxiation. My high school friend "B" recently passed because he choked and no one was there in time to save him. To me the process of elimination is so random that you can't waste the gift of life brooding about inconveniences, hurt feelings, setbacks and negativity.

But we do. Because we're human. We are dark and light, male and female, a conglomerate of opposites, as my writing mentor would say. I hate the concept of karma or sin, because then there would be a concrete explanation for suffering. Each one of us would have to acknowledge that the dark exists with the light. It is our final choice that releases us from one of those.

The only thing we can do is dig deep enough to find the strength and the will to make the choice that releases us from the one that we no longer want to be. I know that those of us who form bonds with each other don't really say goodbye, ever. I just don't like the fact that it feels so empty when we think we do.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shitty First Drafts

Over the past week I've been exposed to unfamiliar terminology and concepts that got buried under such a thick web of cobwebs over the years that I'm not sure exactly what they mean anymore. I've attended a bunch of seminars and lectures where my brain felt like a deer caught in headlights. The few readings that I've managed to attend have been filled with tales of sexual exploration, head injuries, Appalachian family dynamics and a dog named "Bob" who suddenly dies at the doorstep of a stranger who just happens to have the same name.

There's been people who actually complain about fluorescent lights and talk openly about their psychic abilities as if they were as common as brown hair and blue eyes. I've survived my first writer's workshop where I didn't have a clue what to expect or how to evaluate the work of my fellow students. I didn't realize that submitting a "shitty first draft" would garner such a response. Hell, I wasn't even aware that there was such a thing as a "shitty first draft." In the business world and in many business educational programs, a first draft is all you need as long as it sounds halfway thought out. In my "writing life" all I've ever come up with are "shitty first drafts."

It seems absurd to me that writers work so hard to get abused by editors or peers and get paid so little. Should it really take 70 hours to work and re-work a poem until it's in a good enough state to be worthy of publication? In the corporate world 70 hours would get you a lot more money in the bank than one poem.

I realize that everyone gets criticized as well as praised in a workshop and my peers and leader have been helpful and nice. When my leader realized just how green I was, she stopped me on the stairs to make sure that I was comfortable. The criticism doesn't bother me because there's plenty of praise too and the "negative" is delivered in a soft, very helpful way. It's the process. Everyone else writes narratives on each other's work, with reading suggestions and well-thought out responses. I write out lists in bullet point style and have no idea what I should and shouldn't find "wrong" or "right" with a piece. And a reading list? Please. I've read more non-fiction, dry business textbooks and Wall Street Journal articles in the last 14 years to be bothered with most fiction.

Besides the lectures given by working writers who show up with holes in their shirts and champion the lesbian themes in Mary Oliver's poetry, there's been the sound of jet airplanes flying over my hotel room every two minutes. This is not a good environment for a sensitive to try to get a good night's sleep or work on the writing that she gets paid for, which thankfully is business and technical. I'm finding solace in it this week because it's something I'm comfortable with and good at. I even got hired on as a contributing writer for another web site. Ironically it's an educational site, which is the field that I just got offered a job in back home.

So far I've been getting on the 405 each day and making the drive to Culver City to sit through a day that's focused on writing and what I need to know to make it through this MFA program. I've met a lot of people and talked on a more personal level with a few. Everyone is really nice here. Everyone understands that writers get nervous, need a bottle of water nearby when speaking in public, tend to be "quiet," and need that one-on-one interaction to begin to open up. There's nothing abnormal about seeking a place under the trees or at a table alone to read a book or work on "a piece."

In spite of this, a big part of me feels out of place. Second and third term students tell me that's normal, no one really talks about it, and it will go away with the second residency. Peers in my workshop tell me to keep writing, the story is really good and that it's a very good start. My first term writing mentor brings a bottle of tequila and limes to her lectures and tells me to "surrender" to my characters. She says it was a courageous act to go from the MBA to the MFA. I tell her that the decision didn't really feel that way. I just made it-without any real expectations. Last night I went out for dinner and drinks with another first term student from Colorado Springs. We ditched the campus event at Shanghai Red's in Marina to discuss our common bond of not being supported by our mothers in our writing endeavors.

Then I drive the 405 back to the hotel and have a dream about my dog and his dog girlfriend shitting all over the floor of a room they've been locked up in. In the dream I let my dog, Scruffy, out of the room. But then Chloe starts speaking to me. In a real voice. Like she's human. She watches me clean up the mess on the floor and asks me if I'm male or female. I tell her I'm female, obviously. She escapes from the room after that and I later see Chloe and Scruffy driving past me on the other side of the road. I'm blaming this dream on the key lime and coconut martinis I drank at dinner.

At this point I'm still the former MBA who compartmentalizes, who is logical, who makes decisions mostly based on the bottom line, who feels completely lost in an unstructured, studio, creative environment full of the "types of people" she hasn't been around since she was 18, and who is wondering if this idea to get an MFA isn't just a "shitty first draft."

But then there's this other voice, this "young dreamer who is being awakened and called back," as my mentor told me. She still wants to clean up the floor. She still feels the desire to pull up the "shitty first draft" on her laptop, slow down, expand, be less concise, and effectively juggle multiple points of view. "If someone brought you here, you should be here," said one of my workshop peers. It's just going to take a few revisions before I feel the same way.

Friday, June 17, 2011

This Will Change Your Life

It's funny the way we experience life in circles sometimes. One of the more interesting aspects of being sensitive is that you get these feelings that "something" is about to happen before it does. Some of us "receive" thoughts that later manifest or just "know something" that we shouldn't. So it shouldn't surprise me that I heard the words "this will change your life" this evening. But, I found them to be profound and I found myself responding strongly to them because they represented one of those circles we sometimes encounter.

A long time ago I knew that my life was going to change, but I didn't know exactly how yet. It sounds crazy and there are times when I've wondered if I'm not just a little. But sometimes we forget just how powerful the trait of sensitivity can be. It doesn't always have to make sense. In fact, a lot of times it doesn't.

We think we have control; some sort of direction. Three years ago I was sitting on the balcony of a beach condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. I had just attempted to take the GMAT to get into an MBA program. I'd gotten a perfect score on the writing portion, a respectable score in the verbal portion and a dismal score on the math. At that point I'd been out of school for eight years so I knew that getting any kind of decent score on a standardized test was a long shot. I thought, so I still suck at thinking quantitatively when under pressure and can write like a pro even though I'm completely out of practice. As I watched the sun set into the blue green waters along the beaches of Treasure Island and felt the nightly breeze brush up against my bare skin, I resolved to go to school anyway. I was going to get that MBA no matter what and achieve my goal of opening up the doors to the rest of the corporate world.

At the time I didn't know that the decision to get that MBA was really an interlude that made the next act possible. Without that program I wouldn't have met the three professors who I worked with individually over the course of eight weeks of extremely challenging course work that involved a mid-term project paper, a final, weekly class attendance, heavy online discussion and a 20 page term project paper. These are the professors who praised my work, selected one of my final projects as an example for future students and who called me "one of the most outstanding students" they'd seen in the program. These are the individuals who wrote my recommendations so that I could pursue another graduate degree that I wasn't really sure about-until tonight.

This evening I finally sent them an update e-mail as I promised I would. I am grateful that I get this chance, even though I know it is going to be far from easy and I have a lot of growth to do. It isn't going to be easy because I'm going to have to change as a person. I'm going to have to keep changing my life. I don't quite fit in just yet, but I'm not a complete stranger either. This wasn't the plan I had in my mind three years ago. But everything we do, every choice that we make ends up changing our lives in some unforeseen way.

No one can guarantee the finale. Few of us stick to the original script. And I think it would be an awfully boring play if we did.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


A few evenings ago I turned on the television to watch Homeless to Harvard while attempting to make some headway through one of the required readings for my upcoming MFA seminars. It wasn't the first time I'd seen the movie and for some reason I'm more productive when there's something else going on in the background. It's one of those made for TV movies that are based on a "true story." It’s a story about this young girl who overcomes a childhood and background filled with despair, disease, dysfunction and adversity. She decides she's going to make a better life for herself no matter how much she has to push her own spirit.

It got me thinking about what makes some of us persist while the rest choose to accept less than what we are worth. Where does the drive to be something other than what we currently are come from? You look at some people who have made something out of their lives and there's nothing too adverse about their backgrounds to motivate them towards greatness. It may be because they don't tell the truth; the entire picture of their lives. Their former circumstances may become rearranged into a more presentable picture so that there aren't any uncomfortable questions or an end to the game of pretend.

Because I think that adversity is that "thing" that drives us. We can create illusions about ourselves and our environments, but the believability of those illusions rarely lasts for entire lifetimes. I think we spend the majority of our lives always looking for a new one. An illusion is something to hold onto; some idea to believe in. It's something that says there's more to what we see. There are the ideas of hope, faith, and love. Are they too illusions? Or are they something more? Can they last? Are they real? Sometimes it's questionable. You don't have to have had a rough childhood or a series of setbacks to understand those concepts.

Sometimes you wonder what you're doing with your life. It doesn't seem to matter that you're treading water because it keeps coming at you. And there's so much of it so you can't see anything else-or know anything else. And you're alone. There's no one in sight to help or comfort you. There's no answer.

Someone like me spends an entire lifetime trying to become someone they're not, because at least the illusion has tangibility. It has boundaries; an identity. But what happens when those boundaries start to constrict and suffocate what we feel? What happens when that illusion starts to become more of a fishbowl than a spiritual lifeline?

What happens when we're not really sure who we are or if we "fit" into a place that feels safe, neat and comfortable? I suppose some of us are more vulnerable to this "tragic state" than others. Astrology would say that those born under "dual" signs such as Libra and Gemini feel this way because they're really two people. We feel like Buddy the Elf after he goes to New York to meet his biological father because we've got two separate identities.

One of those identities pulls us in one direction while the other is screaming "no, go backwards." It becomes difficult to achieve "something" because you're diverse enough to want a piece of "everything." The illusions that we hold onto sometimes change. Sometimes we put them into boxes inside our hearts and our psyches and we leave them there. Sometimes we revisit them to remind ourselves of something that we used to know and that we need to relearn in order to move forward. Sometimes they become so ingrained in our personalities that we become just like them; a reflection of what we once garnered inspiration from.

Then there are those that invisibly hold our hands the entire time that we exist. They never leave even though at times we may want them to. Full of shadows or light, they shape who we think we can be. But underneath all of that we are all really just nothing. Not anything in the sense of unimportant but in the sense that we are just a series of breaths that doesn't seem to make sense or have any particular meaning.

Definition becomes an escape; a crutch; an excuse to avoid facing that we are indefinable. Our journey is whatever we wish it to be. A series of roads that are parallel and yet each one represents a different color; a different possibility. Each one its own illusion that makes us feel less afraid.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Destination Trust

Is it really possible to go through life without worrying? I'm not sure that it is. Worrying is one of the things we do best as humans. Conceptually, I'm aware that it does more harm than good and often has no merit. Still, those of us who had any sense of security ripped out from under us at an early age tend to be experts at it.

Some of us, like me, tend to blow up a little easier than others. Like Friday when I went to deposit my stock options check, I discovered that my wonderful bank had inadvertently changed my debit card's pin number without telling me. They reissued the card this year, but somehow forgot to send the new pin number in the mail. It figures.

I'm just now finding out because I've been using my other debit card that's linked to my writing income for months now. The banker was very helpful, but now I'm pissed that I have to walk across the street and have the branch verify my identity so they can reset it. This of course has to be done before I leave town in June. Oh, and since they've decided to tighten their security measures, I'll have to inform them I'm traveling so they don't shut off my card like they did last time. There's nothing like trying to confirm a bunch of transactions at Ralph's, gas stations, and the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to a personal banker at 3 in the morning.

I was also pissed because I couldn't deposit my check using the ATM machine. I was forced to go back home, dig up a checking deposit slip and go through the "old fashioned" drive-thru. You know the lanes where you get to speak to an actual person through an intercom, are forced to be courteous, and watch your money shoot up through a tube. Seriously, I don't think I've used those since the 90s.

Now of course this reaction was a little unwarranted. But that's what we perfectionists do when a little bump ruins our picturesque plan. It's also what we do when we feel like we've lost control.

Control is what we think we lose when we have to place trust in something that isn't predictable or tangible. Kind of what I've done to myself at the moment. Some days it drives me nuts that I'm working at home and that it's not a "real job." I've always earned money through a "job." It doesn't matter that I'm still earning fairly decent money and am able to have a little more control over how much I make. Somehow it doesn't matter that I can start as early or as late as I want to or watch General Hospital at 2pm if I so choose.

Sure my higher self has tried to help me realize that I need to change my way of thinking. There's nothing like a series of dreams about airplanes that won't take off or are delayed by storms to make you wonder. And when that dream has you checking into a hotel room to talk to one of your best friends from high school you haven't seen in years about following through on this writing thing, it's an even stronger message.

Lately, I've been told that I'm going to have to trust this decision and life direction. Trust - what is that really? Some sort of blind feeling that seems to say "I don't have any proof, but I'm confident it's ok?" Or is it more of an acceptance that feels truth without the need to verify the facts?

Another pesky part of being me is that once I reach a destination, I can't wait to get somewhere else. It's all about "now what?" and "what can I achieve next?" instead of savoring what's happening before whatever that "next thing" is arrives.

A very wise author whose book I've recently re-read for a pick-me-up says that sometimes you have to change the outside before the inside catches up. Small actions that direct you towards the change you want are what get you there; a simple enough concept.

So if I'm going to change my thinking and finally learn to trust something, I have to start doing the opposite of what I'm tempted to do. Committing actions that turn your back on the destination that you wish for doesn't change the fact that you'll still want it. I've always believed that most people are inherently good, no matter what their prior or current circumstances might be. But believing that about myself, that's been a life long struggle.

This destination - it isn't about trusting something I can't see or verify. It's about trusting me.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Notes that Wind Chimes Play

My brother has always been in love with wind chimes. He's managed to start quite the collection over the years. My mom's main backyard patio is covered with them - from the left to the right corner there's not a hook that isn't occupied. It's because he's in love with the music that plays when the wind makes them dance.

There's a theory that individuals with autism have a sort of sensitivity to music and are able to learn better through its "communication." I like to think that just because the notes do not speak in words doesn't mean that they aren't saying something. Perhaps those of us with fully developed left brains have forgotten how to "listen."

One of my neighbors has a few wind chimes hanging out in her courtyard. I can't always see those wind chimes over the white picket fence that gives each of us privacy, but when the wind blows I can always hear them. The other night a storm pushed its way through and those chimes could be heard all the way in my back bedroom.

It was one of those windy nights that almost reminded me of living in Florida. The last few days were filled with 80 degree temperatures. The front moving in was cold and rainy. It made no secret that its intent was to push its way in, however violently it needed to. Winds, especially those that are turbulent sounding, often signal the struggle of change.

Wind is the result of taking an invisible state of reality and transforming it into something new. The old way of thinking fights to hang on while the "something different" struggles to establish a stronghold and a solid presence. Despite the feelings of fear that arise from those violent sounds of a force that has the power to destroy, the music of wind chimes still manages to play.

It's a calm voice; a beautiful voice; a voice of distraction that subtly entices you to "listen." The mysterious random notes of that music almost make you forget that there's danger in the air at all. It's a source of comfort that the chaos going on outside isn't really anything to worry about. A wind chime's notes are the only gentle, constant whispers during a storm and they only play when there's change.

We fight change and we struggle internally with it. It takes some force and some time to push out what we know and let the unfamiliar in. "Destruction creates and creation destroys," as one of my favorite high school teachers, "Mr. L" reiterated in a poem he wrote before he got sick. He used to tell me that I "had talent" and had a strong distaste for Ivy League schools, as well as other prominent societal displays of value. He enjoyed life for each moment that it was and could always be seen walking around with a smile. His smile seemed to say "I'm alive and that's all that matters." I should have listened to him a little better.

Change may be turbulent and we may fight it. But it doesn't carry the violent sounds that we think it does. Its intent isn't to bring harm; its intent is to wipe harm away. The real sound of change just might be spoken through the music of a wind chime. A little sprinkle of magic, a little sprinkle of miracles, and a strong push into a transformed reality that we didn't realize we needed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ok So Far

I would be lying if I said that this first month as a self-employed writer was easy. The first two weeks were more about getting a routine down and having my body readjust to less physical exhaustion, stress, junk food, and irregular sleeping patterns. I've freaked out about my identity, my school loans, not being an "employee," health insurance, and whether I should be making all these changes at once.

I've debated whether I should collect another degree, sell or rent my house, stay home and find another sales/service job, etc., etc. I've spent too many hours doing a lot of worrying and watching a bunch of old demons come back to life. I've woken up in the middle of the night to a random religious sermon on television about how your value is not what you have but who you are. This somewhat feisty female minister was preaching to her audience about America's identity crisis epidemic and how we should learn to value our spirits rather than appearances, degrees, titles, and the work we do. The gist of the message is that our identity is separate from what we are attached to or what we were once associated with. We are still valuable and worthwhile.

It was 4 in the morning. I was suddenly awake and willing to listen to the words of a Christian minister. I found myself comforted and smiling back in agreement. It was certainly not a coincidence.

Some of the things that I wanted to get accomplished in the past month haven't been done. I haven't gotten around to getting my dishwasher replaced, my stock options cashed out, my garage cleaned out, my outside bulbs changed out, sorting through my entire house, making it to the gym five times a week, or getting serious about searching for a job. It's mostly because I've been busy writing to keep the same amount of money coming in.

Old demons. Old habits. Old thought patterns that aren't helpful.

Last night I started to laugh because after I convert my 401(k) to yet another Roth IRA account, I'll have enough to live off of for two years. Not that this is a license to get lazy, but I realized that I should stop putting so much pressure on myself. Maybe it's not a coincidence that the money is there. Just perhaps I really am supposed to focus on writing for the next two years.

I've applied for a few jobs in the past few weeks, but not many. The few that I have applied to I'm overqualified for. Positions that require a bachelor's degree are paying $12 or $13 dollars an hour. It doesn't help that I have an MBA, five years of sales experience, seventeen years of customer service experience, and so on. Eventually I'll find a match, but right now I'm not driving to Denver for $12 an hour when I can write at home and earn anywhere from $20 to $30.

This morning I drove across town to drop off a job application and resume to an organization that makes a difference. My brother actually takes some of his life skills classes there. The position doesn't pay more than $13 an hour, they prefer someone who can speak Spanish, and it is only 36 hours a week. Still, I figured I'd give it a shot because being involved with an organization that makes a difference is something I'm drawn to.

Of course it wasn't any coincidence either that I saw a car parked in the parking lot with a certain license plate attached to it; right next to another one with a set of numbers that seemed to whisper "don't give up."

I think that's one of the dark sides of humanity. We try to sabotage our own happiness sometimes. We can't quite accept who we are outside of a certain fish bowl or two.

So I drove out of that parking lot, Kesha cd blaring through my side door speakers. And I started to laugh again. Obviously the universe thinks I still need to be reminded of what I should be focused on.

Yes, the plane tickets are still reserved with a certain destination. This new life-I haven't had it long. But it gives me what I need and I'm happy. It's only been a month. Why not give it a chance?

The other night I dreamt I was in an airport. It wasn't just any airport. It had movie theaters and banquet halls full of the most incredible gourmet breakfast dishes. Blueberry pancakes, oranges, strawberries, coffee, good china, and fancy servers. But I wouldn't eat. I just wanted to get on a plane that I couldn't find. No matter which line or gate I went to, I still couldn't reach the one that would take me to the destination printed on my ticket. None of the lines really led anywhere. You just had to keep going. Even though you couldn't see the end, you had to trust that you would eventually get there. You had to believe.

I woke up before I could see the end or find my plane. Sometimes even when you have a ticket, you never reach your intended destination. So what if I never reach my plane? So what if this ticket turns out to be useless or a waste of time or a false illusion? I'll still end up somewhere.

And like the tag said on that blue van that passed me on the bypass this morning, I'm "ok so far."

Sunday, April 24, 2011


One of the things that I have a hard time understanding is how some of us can get so adamant about religious beliefs. A few think that what they choose to believe in holds some sort of "absolute truth" over what someone else chooses. Personally, I think it's all nonsense. Not the idea of believing in a higher power or the spiritual realm. It's the idea that there are any differences between those beliefs at all.

There are people on this planet who feel justified in harboring negative feelings about the doctrines of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Paganism, and so on. Perhaps they had a bad experience with someone who claimed to practice that faith. Maybe it was a series of hurtful actions committed against them that were "done in accordance with" some sort of doctrine. Or it might just be an intense desire to be different and break away from the person they once were.

I'm not going to deny that "religious" people do bad things. Some use the "scriptures" to justify horrendous acts against humanity. There are certainly enough interpretations of "holy teachings" to make your head spin. Not all of it makes sense. Some of it resonates. A lot of it makes you question the meaning of existence.

But what I've noticed from my own spiritual experiences and the readings I've done from different religious "scriptures" is that they're really all the same. We humans are more than what we see in our individual mirrors each morning. We're all connected to something that is unseen and yet very alive and real at the same time.

The death of Jesus is as much a symbol of transformation as is the Buddhist teaching of enlightenment. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying. However, to me the idea that we can be changed and released from the negative thoughts and labels that aren't who we really are deserves to be celebrated. There's hope in that message. Some interpret one doctrine as someone else doing it for us. The other doctrine is often interpreted as a self-journey; something self-initiated and done for one's own self.

I say there's another way to look at both of those interpretations. Yes, Jesus made a sacrifice. But that sacrifice was an example of what can be. The believer still has work to do; their own work and self-journey that brings them to that same point of spiritual resurrection and transformation. They are not "rescued" unless they choose to be.

I think the second set of believers are right about transformation being a choice and something that must be accomplished within one's own "spirit," if you will. But that transformation doesn't happen alone. How could it? For no one exists as a single person. Everyone is each other and a part of something that doesn't have an end and doesn't have a beginning.

Life; Consciousness; God; Jesus; Allah; Buddha; The Source; Mother Earth. Whichever name you choose, it is all Truth.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Bright Side of Disappointments

Each day I become more convinced that there are no accidents. We stumble onto books, films, art, jobs, companies, and situations that teach us something about ourselves. The hardest lesson, I think, is when we stumble onto another person who gets us to reexamine a piece of ourselves we'd rather leave hidden in the shadows.

They may come in the form of an overbearing parent who doesn't understand us, an unlikely friendship that causes us to awaken to a parallel choice and consequential loss, or a mentoring source of support that pushes us because they know we're limiting our own capabilities. The most difficult ones are those that end up disappointing us.

We have our hopes high. We take a chance. We think this might lead to something good and beneficial. There's possibility and the idea that we might just finally find what we've been yearning for.

In middle school there was this boy. He lived around the corner and he was of course one of the popular ones; a preppy jock type. This is the type that I'm still ridiculously drawn to today, even though I know that self-absorbed, superficial jerks and compassionate, absent-minded, random, self-contained creatives tend to not mix.

Anyway, we were friends for the most part. We talked and joked around in class. We helped each other with the parts of our schoolwork we didn't understand. We liked each other. He used to follow me to the nearby park, trying to appear somewhat nonchalant as he made his brothers tag along. Sometimes he would hide up in the tree in his backyard and tease me as I walked past his street on my way home. We even held hands once on the field at school.

But our would-be romantic montage was suddenly interrupted by the blonde. Her parents allowed her to wear heavy makeup and tons of hair spray. It was the late 80s and Aqua Net, teased hair, and pore clogging base were still in. She didn't have much substance as I recall and their "middle school crush" was more of a display for his father who didn't approve of his "all-star athlete" son liking the "smart girl," with the "reading glasses." Not to mention, I never caught on to the "teased hair, heavy makeup" look. In short, the blonde was a "better" trophy.

Good thing young hearts are so resilient. Five months later I was completely over him and when I ran into him in high school and later in college, I couldn't quite figure out what I ever saw in his 7th and 8th grade self. The only regret I had was that my younger self didn't think she was as worthy as his "blonde trophy" at the time.

Despite his obvious lack of good judgment, that boy still managed to do me a favor. Besides the fact that I might have ended up in a miserable, unfulfilling teenage romance, I discovered that I was ok with being me. I knew that I didn't want to change my outward appearance or my inward one either just so I could be someone else's arm candy.

Disappointments aren't meant to hurt us. So much of life is a process of trial and error that it doesn't really matter if someone decides that we aren't going to "suit" them. It usually means that they're there to help us figure out what it is that will eventually fit us.