Monday, December 24, 2012


Serendipity brought them to the ocean that smelled of lavender at midnight
Two sets of pretty sea shells dangled from ribbons
tied up in branches that whispered from the leaves
blocking out the blue sun sky
in slivers here and there

She came back
in the white light
that took her once
wearing the black and gold
she wore in the first recorded scene
saying something unremembered
with that soft smile
the first visitor
to the other's dreams
in a buried basement

It wasn't a rumble
it wasn't a whisper
that kept her collecting
taken out of sand
and put back in it again

Some had waves
some had echoes of crashes
some were silent reminders
pink, pale, purple, shale

He wasn't in them
was he ever
more than just a shadow
of the love they had just remembered

Mirrored reflections
of lazy paradises
and promised seductions
better left to the wind

So they both kept walking
on shards of glass
hidden between the shells
whose edges sometimes scraped them
and sometimes revealed beauty
beneath their eyes

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I often debate whether I should keep this blog going and update all of you about my life, and my reflections. But I figure that some of you are invested enough to keep reading, or keep stalking, or whatever it is that you do. I'm not judging you stalkers by the way. I understand obsessive admiration and the desire to want to get to know someone you somehow find "taboo" (even though I myself am not a stalker). I'm just not sure I'm comfortable being the target of this. But that's not why I'm writing. I'm writing to capture a screenshot so years later I can re-read these words and smile, laugh, or realize that things made more sense than what they seemed to. This week I'm at a residency for my MFA program. It hasn't been a year since I've been to L.A., but it's been a year since I've been in the middle of this gathering. It seems that all those weird "out of place" feelings have finally subsided. I still don't really know what I'm doing here, but at least I don't feel like I need to run. Maybe it's because I no longer care if I only understand the business side of writing (agents, being enterprising, the state of the publishing industry, etc.) and can't see why it's worth extracting the technical ins and outs of writing what is supposed to be from your heart. Or maybe it's because I no longer feel guilty for not wanting to participate in the "la de da" social events or for just chatting one on one with the few friends I've managed to make here. Maybe it's because I've never cared about being published in a review or The New Yorker or inviting all my peers to a wine & cheese reading of my debut novel. No, there's nothing "wrong" with these ambitions. I just write for different purposes. I no longer care that I will probably learn very little from workshops or these seminars that contain information I can find for myself. I no longer care that even some of the mentors that I may get will not be able to guide me towards anything useful (at least in terms of my work). I'm not even upset with myself that I've decided to remain in my CO home, continue working my day job, and be near my family, at least until I'm done with this program. I'm finding that it's better not to have any expectations. It is so much more liberating to just let things be. Gifts come with joys and burdens, as my mentor told me the other morning. She is right. Any dream comes bundled in the same package. There is happiness and there is work. Neither one exists without the other, and it's always a constant balance. So, last time I was "told" not to give up. And I didn't. I'm here. I'm back. And the work that I had to do paid off somehow. This time it's not 222, but 999. So, it seems I have more work to get to. Not the kind that releases me from a piece of myself, but the kind that is supposed to be there for everyone else. Now it's time to do the work that I came here to do. What that is yet, exactly, I don't know. But I'm sure, someday, that the joy will make it worthwhile.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Prayers and Pie

My little six-year old nephew has quite the air of "sass" about him already. I'm fairly certain that it's one of the prerequisites for being born into our family. One of the many things out of his mouth today were the words "prayers and pie, OMG." Yes, he even said it in an almost perfect "Paula Deen" tone. He was mocking last night's church service. I didn't go this year. I haven't been in awhile. But I went once. It was either when I came back for a holiday visit or when I first moved back to town. I can't remember exactly, but my mom's church has "free" pie in the fellowship hall after the Thanksgiving eve service. Whatever you like, it's there for grabs. Pumpkin, apple, cherry, chocolate, even banana creme. The canvas of life is kind of like that. Here's all the flavors. Try one. Try one more. Keep sampling until you find the one that you love. And it doesn't matter what your neighbor chooses -even if it's the one you can't stand. You're all there, eating a bunch of fillings spread over the same kind of crusts. You laugh, you talk, you discover somebody new. Then you leave, full and satisfied. Your heart is light, your stomach heavy, and the sweetness of what's good is still lingering in between your teeth and on the sides of your mouth. You walk out into the parking lot. The air is cold and dry. You watch for patches of ice as you walk to the warm shelter of your car. Against a black sheet of sky hangs a few stars. You look, you smile inside, and you wonder. Will all the prayers and hopes in your heart and those spoken out loud inside a dimly lit sanctuary be listened to? Are those set of ears out there, hidden behind the twinkling lights or have they already recorded what you said? The ignition fires up the whir of the engine. You rub your hands together, shiver a little, and turn the heat dial as far right as it will go. Outside the windows are a few parking lot lights and old, fancy homes that were probably considered estates in their heydays. Back when the town was young and further west was just a bunch of untouched fields full of grass and open possibilities. The evergreens are there. They're always there. A few of them are lit up with the lights of Christmas. As if to say that the twinkling lights exist down here, too. You look around. This is your life. Everything is still here. Everything as you've always known it. Most of who you know is still here, too. The radio starts playing and the two boys in the back begin to sing along. You smile and close your eyes. This is the flavor that you keep coming back to. The one that you love. The voice that says "I hear."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Old Lady with the Knitted Hat

I entered the room full of bluish-purple chairs, lined up in rows like pancake stacks. In front of me was a podium, a makeshift stage hung with studio lights and a white-screen backdrop. I was dizzy and unsure of myself. Lost and spinning in an ungrounded dismemberment of my former ego. I sat in a chair, by myself and looked around for something familiar, something I could know, something I could grasp. You sat behind me, unknown until your small voice gave me that something. I turned around to join you, to acknowledge your presence. There you were in bright blue, my favorite color. A knitted sweater, a knitted hat to hide the hair that you'd lost. The white hair that was growing back. Your skin was worn and fresh. Your face innocent, open, wise and bright. We said a few things. About Eat, Pray, Love. About Emma Donoghue's The Room, where we were from, how we got here, and why. You listened. I listened. I laughed. You laughed. You smiled. I smiled. You said it was okay to feel out of sorts, that was normal. You still did, at times. You asked me if it was okay if you could friend me on FB. I said of course, here's my name. And unlike many people, you lived up to your word. Six months later we sat together in the same room, near the front. You were graduating. I was only in my second term. We listed to other students, famous writers, and teachers read their words. We said more things. I don't remember all of them. Then we left. We both had long drives to make. You somewhere off the 10, me up to the hills just past the 101. "Makes for a long drive, after a long day," and "Have a good night" were our last words to each other's faces. We smiled and you turned down the hallway. I went the other way, out the courtyard with white lights and a staircase up to the 5th level of the parking garage. After a while we'd settled back home. You in the same city I'd departed and me on the plains looking up to the Rockies. You offered to keep reading my stories. I offered to keep reading yours. You published a few things. I read them. I smiled. I told you thank you for being so kind. Thank you for being a light in the darkness. Then you got sick again and somehow I knew that this would be the last time. I waited. I hoped for better. But when silence replaced your posts and your words, I knew that your release would come. And now it has. I hope that the release has brought you peace. In fact, I'm certain you have found it. Because your example has given me peace. If you can do this at the end of your life, without any hope but to leave behind your words of wisdom and light, then so can I. What we knew of each other seemed small and insignificant. But what you gave was part of the greatness of the unseen. An introduction to a writer that taught me to never stray from your instincts. They're always "right." A bright blue knitted hat that made me think twice about giving up on originality. A friend when I had none. And a reason to stay open to the good in the midst of something bad. Thanks "D." Keep shining, keep touching, keep traveling, keep smiling. And most of all, keep writing, in peace.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

We Have Much to Learn

This morning I am finishing up the reading of a book, by Desmond Tutu. I am reminded, this morning, that as a nation we have much to learn from our own history and from the history of other nations. You see, we are not so different from our South African neighbors. We are not so different from Nazi Germany. Not even Iran, Afghanistan, or any other nation that Americans have somehow labeled as "racist," "inhumane," or as "terrorists." It pains me to see propaganda distributed about our current President. Not because of who he actually is, but because of this idea that a certain group will "lose" their political prowess and control over the rest of American society. I am sick that as American citizens we cannot display who we want to vote for or work in that candidate's campaign office without being harassed, shot at, or told that we are "sinners." It pains me even more that this harassment and this hate is coming from the guise of "Christianity" and the "Church." You see, we have much to learn from South Africa if we would only listen.
Everything was subordinated to the security of the state as determined by those in power. It made white South Africans feel that there was a bad world out there, eager to get them, to destroy their "South African way of life." This hostile world wanted to overthrow a Christian government and replace it with an ungodly, atheistic, undemocratic, Communist dictatorship. The apartheid government as propaganda machine was adept at pointing out the disasters that had befallen countries to the north of us in Africa that had adopted socialism - basically they had come to a sticky end because these unreliable, feckless blacks had taken over.
Desmond goes on to say, though, that there is hope. South Africa managed to take that path. I hope that America takes a good, honest look at the values that the founder of its main religion actually stood for, and not the hate, discrimination, and dehumanization that some of its members seem to want to use to rule this country. I hope that Americans choose to take the path of hope and true change (even though it is more difficult) that their fellow South Africans have chosen.
None but the most obtuse can doubt that we are experiencing a radical brokenness in all of existence. Times are out of joint. Alienation and disharmony, conflict and turmoil, enmity and hatred characterize so much of life.
Now and again we catch a glimpse of the better thing for which we are meant - when for a little while we are bound together by bonds of a caring humanity, a universal sense of ubuntu. Then we experience fleetingly that we are made for togetherness, for friendship, for community, for family, that we are created to live in a delicate network of interdependence. There is a movement, not easily discernible, at the heart of things to reverse the awful centrifugal force of alienation, brokenness, division, hostility, and disharmony. God has set in motion a centripetal process, a moving towards the center, toward unity, harmony, goodness, peace, and justice, a process that removes barriers. Jesus says "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw everyone to myself" as he hangs from His cross with outflung arms, thrown out to clasp all, everyone and everything, in a cosmic embrace, so that all, everyone, everything, belongs. No one is an outsider, all are insiders, all belong. There are no aliens, all belong in the one family, God's family, the human family. There is no longer Jew, Greek, male or female, slave or free - instead of separation and division, all distinctions make for a rich diversity to be celebrated for the sake of the unity that underlies them. We are different so that we can know our need of one another, for no one is ultimately self-sufficient. The completely self-sufficient person would be subhuman.
*Excerpts taken from No Future Without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Lyrical Response to America's GOP

I've been listening to this song (off and on) since I was a young eleven-year old. It has such a strong message, and it's so fitting, given this year's political landscape. I try not to judge as the lyrics of this song reiterate. But I feel strongly that there is so much at stake for so many of America's people if a certain party gets elected to the White House. So, because this song sums it up beautifully......take a listen.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Little Boy

A little boy raises his voice and slams his books against the desk. He says he doesn't have to listen. He's not going to detention. He's not going because he doesn't want to. He's getting more agitated, more belligerent, more demanding. He's raising his voice and he's fighting a calm, steady one because the rest of his life is out of control. Outside of these walls, these books and this playground he doesn't have a voice. All of his choices are made for him; even the impending split of his world, of his allegiance, of his heart. Outside of these walls he is not a little boy.

Who is he, you might ask. He even wonders. He is our present and he is our future. He could become anything, anyone. Maybe an astronaut, perhaps a leader, a scientist who finds a cure, an author whose words inspire change and human transcendence, an actor who becomes other people so that people can see a reflection of who they really are, maybe a difference maker who works with the disadvantaged; the unfortunate. Maybe, perhaps, a healer.

Today he is wounded. He suffers. His pain is well-known. His pain is my pain. His voice, his anger, his hurt, and his sobbing makes my own eyes wet. His teacher knows his pain, too. But his teacher is better at hiding that old wound than I am. I force it back, I stuff it down, and I wait until my tears recede from the edges of my lids. I am only here to fix a different problem, and it's not this one.

No matter what he hears, no matter what anyone tells him, no matter how many people try to help him, he's the only one who can solve the problem. Eventually he will learn he has more strength and more power than he thinks he does. If he learns anything from the aftermath of a broken home, he will learn to release personal responsibility for his parents' choices. He will gain insight into the human condition and become compassionate about the darkness. He will see that light is always in the depths of despair. One day he will wake up and be happy. He will forgive his parents for the pain and the suffering. He will simply say "it's not worth it. It is time to let go."

It is time to enjoy what beauty exists in the world. And it is time to value and share who I am in this journey. It is time to not hide my pain, not stuff it down, not wish it away, not project it onto others so that it becomes a constant reflection that I cannot break. No, it is time to acknowledge it and make it into something good. Because I am good. Not evil, not bad, not lost, not wrong, not to blame. I am just like you. Just like me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wings of Trust

Trust. It's a heavy and scary word. At least it is for me some of the time. It may be that way for you, too. That's part of being human, isn't it? Sometimes we trust too fast and when we shouldn't. Sometimes we don't trust something or someone we had no reason not to. And some of us find it difficult to trust our own choices. Even when we've trusted ourselves and our decisions before. Even when our younger version gave little thought to the "what-ifs" and the big, long list of pending uncertainties. I think that's because part of being young means you don't always have that lingering experience that's conditioned you to say "remember what went 'wrong' when you did this last time." You start racking up experience and if it's not positive, it makes you more hesitant (maybe even unable) to trust that something or someone.

Trust is one of those internal convictions that requires you to believe in the unseen. On the other side of the coin of trust is its cousin faith. These two don't keep balance sheets, analyze the data, or debate the list of pros and cons. Nope. These two say 'this is what I feel to be my truth' and follow it. These two are the light in ordinary darkness. They don't dwell on what might be 'wrong' with what is; they seek the possibility of change, growth, and progress. These two always say "why not?" instead of making excuses.

Trust and faith helps us reveal something about who we are. Those answers without questions. Answers that only we know. Answers that don't stop revealing their truth. Trust and faith lead us to something we couldn't have seen otherwise. Something that we don't know how to touch. Sometimes we leave that 'something' smiling. We go back to the place where we've always stared at the moon. And sometimes we don't. Sometimes we leave the familiar for that something unseen.

If we're asked if we're happy with our choice, on some days we might say yes and some days we might say no. There is no sense in torturing yourself over lives you wished you had lived. Perhaps we get to live out all of our would-be choices. We split and divide into other people. Whispers that we only hear beneath tree boughs when we stop and wonder ‘what if?’ Sometimes we see each butterfly emerge from separate trees, identical in appearance, identical in the ways they fly. But they land on separate birches, never touching, never embracing, never quite seeing every leaf on the other branch. Once in awhile the butterflies look over at each other. They stare inquisitively, wondering ‘could that be me?’ One flutters its wings. The other sits and keeps staring. For awhile they both realize ‘it is you.’

They each learn to survive on their own birch; in their own tree. And each one learns to trust their choices. Not because those choices are easy or what will happen because of them. Because they know that it doesn't matter what the answer is. It's better to just ask the question and realize that reflection is always both an illusion and a revelation.

We find what we seek, but we also find what we may not want to see.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I've been "undecided" or "unsure" of who I was going to vote for in the upcoming election. I'm usually not someone who likes to get into a debate about politics or ideologies. Given the ideas expressed in my last post, I'm sure most of you might see why. I was "undecided" because I wanted to listen to both sides and do a little research. In every single election since I've gotten the right to vote, I have voted for candidates that represent a political party that won't receive my support in this election. At this point, I'm not sure that they'll ever receive my support again.

Growing up, I remember how our church perpetuated the idea that Planned Parenthood was "evil." I didn't understand why, I just knew to "stay away" from the one in the shopping center off of 35th Avenue. When my doctor offered to put me on birth control pills as a teen because my menstrual cycle had been irregular for years and my mother refused, I didn't understand "why." I was 13, I couldn't make those decisions on my own. What right did I have to question my parents' authority? It was drilled into me that being homosexual was a "choice," abortion was "murder" and "safe sex" was somehow unnecessary.

I suppose it is this same ideology that allowed me to wonder as a 13,14,15, almost 16-year old girl, if it would be safe to walk in my own house everyday. Would I be groped today? Would my ass be grabbed as I walked down the stairs or to the refrigerator? Would my female development be the topic of conversation? Would my nightgown be ripped near my arm or my chest? Would I have to hear lewd comments again? Would today be the day that I would be raped, as the comments continued to threaten? And if I was raped, would my pregnancy be blamed on my promiscuity? On the temptations that my developing body obviously wanted to participate in and invited? If my body hadn't been able to "shut it down," would any of this have been "legitimate"? Of course, I was 15 and a female. Nothing I said or felt was "legitimate" anyway. I must have been mistaken. I must have misunderstood. I must have "imagined" it all. I eventually said I did because somehow I still had compassion. For my father. My mother. My family. I would take the blame (again) because that was my role. And it was one that I had become so accustomed to playing that Oscar-level recognition would have been a no-brainer.

I suppose it is this same ideology that made some of my male peers think it was okay to hold me down on the grass in my own backyard and try to rip off my pants, to shove their hands onto my breasts and into my underwear when all I wanted to do was watch a movie with some friends. Of course I wanted to become a nun because I didn't want to have sex with someone I wasn't attracted to. Of course I must have liked it since I didn't feel I had the voice or the right to complain.

I'm sorry. But I cannot play this role anymore. Anyone (and I mean anyone, regardless of party affiliation, label, gender, religion, etc.) who perpetuates the idea that all members of humanity are not equal and do not deserve the same rights, does not have enough compassion to be in a position of leadership and power. Anyone who thinks that they "know" the mind and intent of a supreme being is arrogant. I do not think that a god who is supposed to be full of compassion for humanity would perpetuate a level of hate and ignorance that says it is "ok" for women to be raped, for women to be denied a choice, for women to be denied a voice, for Caucasions to rule over all other races, homosexuals to be denied basic rights and be fired from their jobs, immigrants to be denied the choice of freedom, and hard workers to be taken advantage of by the wealthy few.

I read a quote somewhere that says "the day we recognize our interdependency, and accept and embrace the oneness of humanity, is the day of resurrection for humanity." It saddens and enrages me that many of us do not get this. Many of us do not see. Many of us have thrown away the ideas and values of being a decent human being and having compassion in favor of maintaining the ideas and values of supremacy and social privileges for a choice few. What saddens and enrages me more is the fact that many do not even take the time to question and investigate what they are supporting. They blindly accept that due to a certain "label" this is the best person to represent their values. They blindly accept ideas that science refutes and use the idea of a supreme being to force it onto everyone else as "truth."

A lack of compassion is not "truth." A desire to dehumanize certain members of society is not "truth." It is about control. It is about power. And most of all, it is about fear. A fear that you may not have the answers, let alone the "right" ones. And a fear that you may have to share. You may have to become interdependent. You may have to become compassionately HUMAN.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Assumptions and Chance

Tonight I've been thinking about two things: assumptions and taking chances. Assumptions are ideas and notions that society seems to believe about certain things. Most assumptions (if not all) contain a degree of prejudice and the idea that 'one side' is 'right' and 'one side' is 'wrong.' Chances are decisions that involve risk and giving up 'something' for 'something else.' We all take chances in our lives, but the definition of what 'chance' is varies. Some of us are willing to risk different things than others. Like assumptions, our separate definitions of what taking a chance is can divide us between who is 'right' and who is 'wrong.' But to me, there is neither 'right' nor 'wrong' when it comes to taking chances and ideas. As someone who tends to understand both sides of the coin and sees why the similarities and differences can matter, I don't see the point in arguing or trying to convince someone that my way is the 'right' way.

In America, society holds the assumption that a private education is 'better' than a public one. But is that really true? I went to a public elementary school, a private middle and high school. I still had to take remedial math classes my first year of college because my high school was experimenting with self-directed learning. They handed me the math books and said 'here, learn it on your own and in groups.' That style may have worked fine for me with other subjects, but with math it was a disaster. Yet people complain about the lack of skills public school students have when they graduate. As an employee of a public school district, I see how hard everyone works every day to make sure that students are set up for success. I can honestly say that it is one of the best places I have ever worked.

I went to a state college for my undergraduate degree. I went to a private for-profit college for my MBA. I learned more in my MBA program because it was taught by professors who had more practical than theoretical experience. Yet there is the perception that online, for-profit colleges turn out crappy graduates and have sub-par programs. I can honestly say that my MBA was the toughest and most demanding degree program I have ever completed. I am satisfied with every penny I spent. In contrast, I have completed one year of an MFA program at a non-profit private university. This MFA program is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 low-residency MFA programs in the country. However, it is not at all demanding and consists of very little practical information about a professional writing career. It seems to be more of a platform for 'look at me and my work,' 'opinion pushing,' and activities that I could do on my own for free. It seems like a waste of time and a very expensive way to validate yourself as a writer, especially if you have no interest in teaching.

Of course, my views and my feelings on this aren't necessarily 'right' or 'wrong.' Someone else could have a completely opposite opinion, and that would be okay. Why? Because not all of us have the same goals, background (i.e. perception based on environment & circumstances), and values. Some of us desire power and our name up in lights on a marquee board. Some of us desire to help people and make a difference out of the spotlight. It doesn't matter. What matters is that we all find a way to work together and appreciate our different roles in society.

I think that's where taking chances comes in too. Some of us think that it's worth it to give up a steady paycheck and our houses for smaller apartments that cost more. We'd rather live somewhere else because we think we'll have more career opportunities there and we'll be happier. Some of us have run away from home before and found out that we needed to make sure the debt was paid first. We learned that we'd rather not isolate ourselves and that a certain dot on the map doesn't mean you'll be happy. Sensibility (or a lack thereof) isn't bad or good. It's both. Taking chances comes down to what you want more. Staying or going. Holding on or letting go. Action or inaction. Both involve risk. Both are taking a chance.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Character Lessons - Part One

To think that we only have a certain window of chance is to render ourselves powerless. There is always a chance. There is always hope. There is always a new beginning, if you're willing to believe and do the work. Anything is possible as long as you still exist.

I pull up my pants leg. My aunt is there, smiling. Hair flowing from her head, lush and thick. Eyes piercing. Eyes welcoming. Eyes soft. When I was little, she took me to the river. El río. She told me, siempre bailar con él corazón. Incluso en la lluvia. Even if it rains, dance with your heart.

You were so right, Tía. So right. La lluvia can’t melt me now. La lluvia can only bring me good. Pura buena. Pura buena. Pura. Buena.

You still hurt, Tía. You are red. Rojo. Inflamado. Como él fuego. Just like you were. Just like I remember. Where are your ashes, Tía? Where is your espíritu? Here, like always? Or thrown up against the sky, like el ave?

You say, Le felicidad es una ilusión mí niña. It is not a mountain that you scale once, but many times. As many times as your eyes desire a new one.

Le felicidad es una ilusíon mí niña. It is in you. In how you see. Mañana le dará. You see. Mañana estará libré.

I park my car across the street by the fairgrounds. I push my purse underneath the seat, lock the doors and start walking towards the grass. My hand is shaking as I dial the number. The sun shines through the leaves above me. They begin to shake gently, like they want to dance.

I hang up the phone and stare back at the sky. The clouds are wrapped on top of the mountains, still. Sitting. No longer grey. Just white.

Siempre bailar con él corazón. Incluso en la lluvia, mí niña.

Monday, August 6, 2012


An airplane ride over the Rocky Mountains almost always brings a little turbulence. Sometimes the force of the wind off the Front Range is enough to make the plane sway back and forth. If you're a novice at Denver International Airport descents, it almost feels like it's going to tip. Sometimes you notice the pilots are flying the plane at an angle--to keep it from doing just that.

Today was one of those days. But as the lady behind me freaked out and one of my iPod playlists blasted in my ears, I had this calm feeling everything was going to be okay. Not only because I've been on these bumpy rides before (and survived without a Bloody Mary), but because the turbulence made me smile.

Turbulence has that power, even though it seems counterintuitive. But, you're up there for the ride anyway--with no guarantees--only faith, and hope, and a view you can only imagine from the ground. You can enjoy those bumps or you can fear them. Either way, you can't stop them from coming. The wind knows what it needs to bring, but it never promises that it will be smooth and easy.

Smile. Laugh. Throw your hands up and pretend you're on a roller coaster ride, like the woman seated a few rows in front of me this morning.

Sometimes turbulence is the only way we stay awake. Sometimes turbulence is the only way we figure out how to survive.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


After my accident, my brain changed. And consequently, my mind along with it. At the time, I was too stubborn and determined to slow down to notice any of it. I had to get back to work the next day so I could get paid, make sure all of my accounts were taken care of, and make sure that no one else at my company was inconvenienced. I also had a final to study for. And like all the finals before it, I was going to get an 'A.' No questions asked.

I was still drinking after work almost every night to wind down from the stress and the emotional taxation, so I didn't notice my inability to stay asleep for more than a few hours at a time. I also didn't notice my brain's inability to calm itself down and drift off into sleep without some sort of sedative as an aid. I didn't notice that I would wake up feeling unrested, as if I hadn't slept at all. I didn't notice the apathy, or the carelessness around my house, or the simple inability to wake up and find something joyful about the life around me. I noticed the dizziness, but I thought it was just because I was tired or exhausted. It was just my job and it would go away once the cause went away too. I don't remember if I noticed the nausea, but because it wasn't as bad as it was during the first week after the accident, I probably shrugged that off as exhaustion, too.

I didn't want to believe that there were going to be any consequences from a contusion, a concussion, a hematoma, and a scalp laceration. I'd stuffed down and ignored "the bad" and "pain" all my life; why should this accident and its aftermath be any different? Well, after I'd gotten all my 'A's' and quit the 'exhausting' job, I finally had to admit that something was different. I was different. And I was going to have to make peace with that and find different ways of doing what I had done for most of my life. And I was going to have to let go of some things, no matter how painful or how much of a struggle it would turn out to be.

When I started this blog, I wanted to give a voice to HSPs. But I am more than an HSP. I am also a traumatic brain injury survivor and so today I choose to bring a voice to that experience. I am not complaining. I know I am one of the 'lucky' ones. I am not in a coma, I am not in a hospital bed, I do not have to go through physical therapy sessions, I can still talk, and for the most part I can still think. Even if that 'thinking' is a little slower, a little more haphazard, and more frustrating when I can't quite be as 'sharp' as I used to be. But even the 'lucky' ones know the aftermath is still a struggle. You have to work slower, especially when it involves thinking, writing, or studying. You have to take many more breaks and sometimes you can only concentrate for a few minutes at a time.

Some things you can't control anymore. Like naps. You may have the intention of closing your eyes for only a few minutes, and then wake up 3 to 5 hours later wondering what happened. You want to find happiness and for a few moments you do. But then it's back to the irritation and the apathy, and the 'I just want to sleep and zone out.' Those 3-5 mile runs you used to go on? Maybe tomorrow you'll start. Maybe tomorrow you'll try walking instead. And sometimes you do. For weeks, even. But then you stop. You have to take a break. It's too much. The effort is too much. The effort of living is too much.

Not living, breathing, taking life in. No, it's the demands of living. The demands of 'our culture.' I finished a book this week about learning how to live and what's really important about living. It is only when we learn about 'dying' that we learn about 'living' is the gist of the lesson.

There are all kinds of death. There's physical, of course. And emotional; spiritual. But there's also the death of our self-concept. What we must do; what we must be; who we think we are by definitions and labels. It's all a bunch of nonsense. Silly, really. The truth is, we are everything. We will be everything. If not now, if not in this life, then soon. Pretty; ugly. Young; old. Ambitious; content. Self-serving; self-sacrificing. The list goes on.

Rebirth happens because we die. Is it something to fear? Is it something to avoid? Many of us try. Some of us eventually realize that love is what brings us back. It is what keeps us from staying away. It is why we come back.

And many of us soon find out that we're going to have to tell ourselves "I was who I was, but now I am simply something undefinable. I am simply life."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Values Behind Choices

Everyday we are faced with choices. It's part of the gift that we're given when we come here. By "here," I mean the human experience. I love the gift, even though it brings heartache, deliberation, triumphs, and crises. What I love even more is that you almost always have the opportunity to "re-choose" as long as you keep living.

But why do we make certain choices? And why do people faced with the same set of "circumstances" and/or "facts" make different ones? I think it comes down to values--what each of us deems as more important or more true to who we are. Although I do believe that there are some external things in life that we do not choose (e.g. child abuse, rape, child poverty), at many points in our lives we have the ability to make both internal and external choices.

When faced with an environment, a situation, a job, or a relationship that begins to violate one of your values, you must make a choice. You must decide what is more important. I believe that one of the signs that change needs to occur is unhappiness or conflict. Sometimes that means you change your internal perspective. I think that is a good place to start--the best place to start. But when that doesn't work or it involves violating your truth, it's time to remove yourself from the environment.

So, some of you may wonder or have a hard time understanding why I might remove myself from an environment and an experience that I wanted to be a part of? Because several of my values are being violated and I deem other things to be more important. I value passion, originality, the ability to think for oneself, figuring out what I have to say vs. what others want to hear, hard work, a strong work ethic, compassion, inspiration, a down-to-earth perspective and quiet servitude over the pursuit of potential fortune and fame.

This is my truth. These are my values. These are my choices.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happiness Always

The date is May 25th, 1977. The book is a biography about Clark Gable, a "quintessential Hollywood actor" who perhaps my father admired--like so many things that he admired about the world that brings dreams of the collective human heart to life. I am almost eight months old and this date is my parents' anniversary. My father wishes my mother love, a long life, and happiness always. Of course by giving her a book about Hollywood life for a present he has only wanted to share his love of something he sees as wonderful. So wonderful that he has neglected to realize that she does not care about these things--she is, after all, from California. A place she still speaks of as being "elite, snobbish, vain, self-centered, and about gaining power and recognition at any cost." Their daughter would say that both of them are right, to some degree.

But this book (which is now mine) and his words penned in his own handwriting on the inside flap, is one of the few tangible things I have left of my father. It is one of the few pieces that give me some insight into who he was. And into who his daughter might be. The funny thing is that biology has more influence over some things, I think, than we care to realize. This is a man that did not raise me beyond the age of five, but whose personality and love for that world of "something wonderful" has somehow instilled itself into my veins. At this moment running through the coincidences is too difficult because the realization of what could have been between us is too painful.

Still, what remains in these words from my father is happiness always. The happiness that comes from realizing that I don't really have to wonder who my father was or hold onto the "bad" things that I was told about him. Perhaps they were real. Perhaps he lived in a time when sensitivity wasn't understood at all and perceived incorrectly. Because what I see and feel in these words is human. A little poetic. A little bit of a dreamer. A little bit of me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Breaking Ground

When I started this journey of "reinvention" someone very close to my heart 'told' me that I would need to be strong. That person (or his/her essence) was right. I 'replied' that I was okay with that, I could do it, I would do it. At the time I wasn't sure how I was going to be tested, what obstacles I would need to overcome, what truths I would need to face, and what I would need to let go of in order to gain. But this person had faith that I could and has been an encouraging source of wisdom, even in past words spoken about his/her own artistic journey. The gist of those words is that you can't worry about fulfilling the truths of other people; you have to choose your own.

I'm good at hiding my truth. My entire life I've stuffed it down into the pit of my stomach. And there it has churned, some of it slowly evaporating--the other parts ready to erupt, at any given moment, like a dormant volcano brought back to life.

I wish I could tell you what my truth is; all its pieces. But the thing is, I don't even know. Some of those pieces I've rediscovered. Some of them are hidden even from me. Who wants to dwell in darkness and despair? I worry about it--the darkness. The way it encroaches when you're not looking or not paying attention to anything but the sunlight. It used to frighten me at night so I'd turn up the radio, shivering underneath a pile of blankets in 80 degree heat. My truth could've been so simple, but it wasn't.

I've gotten so close to running away, so many times. Each time I've failed to do it because the path didn't exist yet and I would be alone. At first I didn't want to disappoint her. She was my mother. And she was supposed to love me. But it never felt like she did. So I looked for it in a place I shouldn't have. Behind a desk full of books. A piece of paper. A pencil. An eraser. A somebody who would say you're good enough. Gold stars for doing exactly as I asked.

But that path is just a line of shiny stickers that doesn't amount to much, really. And some things are better left to the heart, dreams, and open possibilities than definitions, thinking, and following the rules of a well-intentioned elite consensus. Surrender. It's not an easy choice. And its scary and it doesn't make sense at first. But somehow the pieces already know how they're going to connect. And you would miss the joy and the mystery of the journey if you didn't allow yourself to discover it as it unfolds.

The changes that we end up making aren't always the ones that we first thought we would. But they're the ones that we need to make the most--the paths that we need to abandon as we break ground on something new and unseen, yet familiar and illuminating. Something forgotten that we once buried beneath sand and have now returned to dig up so that we can finally become free.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


People search all of their lives for contentment. A source of joy. A source of relief. A feeling of freedom. They think that a certain path or a certain destination will make them happy. So they search for it in other people, in things, pieces of paper, careers, a lover, a marriage, a tangible something. When they are done with all those experiments, some of them realize that happiness is something that cannot be defined, bottled, inked, or manifested through something external to one's own mind and heart.

I've learned that the things we get the most excited about are those things that end up disappointing us the most, somehow. As one of the replicas of myself says The air outside the coffee shop felt too much like what she’d left. Always deceiving you with its lazy glamour and promises of paradise. She’d fallen into that trap once and found herself hating what she’d once loved. That's the thing about anything external. It can't live up to promises that the soul wishes to keep.

So the only thing we can do as humans is realize that happiness is not a temporal feeling or something that we can find, or seek, or capture. It is something that is already free, something that already exists and yet cannot be touched, or seen, or realized unless we stop seeing what we see. It is internal. It is peace. It is contentment. It is calm.

It is the place that we never leave, the person that we know and smile back at, the mountain that we only think we have to climb. It is that illusion that we chase. That illusion that changes each time we change. Peace and contentment are not horizons that we imagine we will someday become a part of. They are things that Nature does automatically. Simple breaths. Simple acceptance. Simple Being. Not as what it thinks it should be, but as what it already is.

That elusive thing we humans call "happiness" is an illusion because it can only exist within each of us. It can only exist in how we see.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Butterfly Colors Continued

You’re going to have to choose. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But eventually, you have to choose. It isn’t easy, that choice. And people wait. And people hope. For us to choose. For us to say yes. So that we can start living. And realize how precious time is. How precious those things about life are that we can’t grasp when we’re not sick, when we think we have everything, when we believe in only what we see, when we aren’t forced to tell ourselves the truth.

Some of the paths that we choose to take look polished, pristine, and safe. Some are ambiguous because they're a little narrower, are comprised of gravel instead of blacktop, and curve around the shadows of things we can't see unless we keep following what has already been laid out for us. A few don't exist yet because we're the ones who are going to have to break the ground and carve them out. The few of us who spend the time to envision something that hasn't been done yet, and who might make it a little easier for those who come after us, are the ones that travel alone.

The last stretch of that path was the toughest because the garden was so near. You could say that you saw it without ever walking in it, or sitting on its benches, or touching its orange red flowers, or staring at the city through the outlines of two palm trees, or watching the bird bounce up and down into the valley on a carpet of wind. But that wasn’t what she wanted--a side view or an almost there feel. So there went her left foot, and then her right, and then her left again. She turned on the spicket of water, filling her mouth, her throat, her stomach. It tasted a little like the bronze metal it had come from, but it was cool enough to splash and rub against her skin. Dante’s View, read the sign. Like Dante’s Inferno, she thought. Tricky to get to without a map or a GPS. But like any destination without a blueprint, an adventurous surprise.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


No one can determine who I am But myself My parents can not My teachers can not My friends can not They can guide me But in the final analysis The problem is completely mine For I have abilities That are completely unique to me And the challenge of Life Is for me To discover them To develop them To use them For then and only then Will I know Who I am -Javan
I'm sorry if I have faith in my ability to see my story through and I'm sorry that I know how to follow my own instincts and not be completely controlled by others. I'm sorry I like to think for myself instead of letting my work be created for me by consensus. They didn't think I could actually do my last job either, but I did it. And I did it just fine--my way. As I go through the boxes, the old papers, the old self, I find remnants of yesterday's wisdom. The kind of pieces that make you smile and feel good about today's challenges. You realize that you don't have to apologize for who you are or hide her. There won't be any apologies for following your own vision. There is no more trying to figure out how to please someone else best. You have everything you need. Strength instilled by survival becomes release. There's nothing to worry about, whispers the wind. It doesn't matter what you choose. You are already happy. The courage to awake doesn't need to be found. It has always been and will always be here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Different Type of Calling

I've been thinking about how HSPs and empaths feel different or out of place in many environments, especially in professional or academic ones. Perhaps there are a multitude of reasons for this: overstimulation, a sense of wanting to change the way things are for the better, but not knowing exactly how yet, being more passionate about the profound and becoming frustrated when others just "don't get it," and wanting something more than self-elation and outward success just for the sake of a "pat on the back" from your peers.

One of my former bosses at that so-called company used to say "Imitation is the highest form of flattery." But I disagreed. I thought that almost everyone walked around like robots there and didn't think for themselves because they would rather make money for the sake of making money, and nothing else.

Despite my persistent ability to excel in the world of academia, often by producing mass amounts of "bullcrap" that makes sense somehow (yes, some of my former profs and mentors might disagree), I've suddenly realized that I'm not going to feel comfortable in my latest degree program because my ambitions for myself and my writing projects are different. Instead of hearing "Imitation is the highest form of flattery" the line is "Great writers steal." For some reason, lines like that still make me cringe. Not because I think it is wrong to borrow a technique or two (as long as you make them your own somehow), but because at the core of my being I do not want to be a robot. I want to think for myself. It's one of the main reasons why I left that so-called company.

I want to follow through with that ability that is very difficult to do--the ability to listen to one's own inner voice despite the noise of everyone else's opinions and one's own anxieties. I already learned that lesson. I don't want to repeat the consequences for not doing so in this new environment.

I want to create something that lives beyond the page and makes an audience feel. I want to inspire and create something that speaks to a profound experience that can connect an audience to something that is both inside and outside of their own selves. I don't understand why submitting to literary journals, contests, and AWP awards are more important than what I believe the purpose of art is--to inspire humanity to keep living, despite the darkness that exists in the human condition.

I know that I am not in this for a career. I am in this to make a difference somehow. To make someone else's journey in life easier. I know that I cannot isolate my work, but that I also need to feel like it is ready before I put it out there. And so I do not rush, nor do I follow all the "advice" I am given, nor do I strive to submit something I believe is passionless in order to please or be understood by my peers.

Release is realizing that it doesn't matter what the ending is and that what is, is everything. A friend of mine echoed to me last night what I have been feeling for awhile. "You don't need the program to do what you want to do." And I think that's true. I don't.

But sometimes we wonder if we're not where we are because something else needs us. Sometimes we are faced with making sacrifices and changes that we'd rather not make because we are the ones who "get it." Even if what we say, what we do, and what we produce are not fully realized until we have already disappeared.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Words from a 15 Year Old Girl

It's almost scary how she already knew.....


"When someone special comes into your life you wonder what will happen next. Every day has its turns, its ups and downs. The important thing is to keep going, to never give up. Believe in yourself. Never give up. You'll only regret it if you do. Look towards that person. Learn from them, but don't try to become them. Be your own person. Find yourself, for someday they will leave. Maybe one day they'll come back, but it's unlikely. Even if they do it won't be near the same the second time around. Tell them how you feel, let yourself go, be free. Free to live, free to love yourself, free to be yourself, free to believe that you can do it, free to stand up for yourself, free to accomplish your goals, make your dreams come through. Have fun, for life is short. Make sure those who you love know it. Spend time with them and yourself. Don't try to change anyone, you'll just waste your time. Instead change yourself. Change your reactions. Never mope around the house. Do something about your problems. Solve them positively. You have the power within your mind. Once you become determined, look out world. For no one and nothing will be able to stop you."

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Wisdom is not necessarily comprised of concrete knowledge or the ability to make the "right" decisions according to some generally accepted standard. It is an individual skill, I think--a recognition of what feels right for a single person in a given set of circumstances, an ability to listen and trust your own voice. Not the dichotomous ones that we often hear, but the calm, steady one that seems to come from an internal center-place of peace and omniscience.

I've recently been reminded that I know how to do that. I know how to trust and follow my own calm, steady inner voice, even when it's being shrouded by the opinions of others that I may value and respect. Even when my doubts are trying to silence and discredit it. I've realized that this is a skill that I have not only developed through my own experiences of being "different" in some way, but by living with the example of someone who did just that. Despite the familial abandonment, the years of financial distress, the emotional taxation that came with the job, and the inability to at times, juggle her spiritual and physical purposes. Some of those consequences have more than reconciled themselves or been replaced by something more worthwhile, if not intangible. Some of those consequences are permanent parts of the deal she signed up for. But she never stopped listening, or fighting, or lost the courage to keep doing something that was connected to external and internal parts of her self. She may not always understand or agree completely with her daughter's own inner voice. But she knows that I'm completely tuned in this time--and I'm not switching stations, for anybody.

Sometimes that means going against conventions. Sometimes it means acknowledging and agreeing with the well-intentioned gestures of support from people that you admire, but realizing that you have to accomplish your mission your own way, in your own time. And--not be in a hurry to get it done and over with, because you've been "wasting time." I don't believe that any time is wasted. The calm, steady inner voice of wisdom that we all have doesn't see time as an excuse or even as a valid concept. Periods of stillness and retraction can be just as beneficial as periods of movement. Reflection, after all, is what drives action in the first place.

Sometimes when we are in the middle of something, it can be difficult to know how much or how little to show and how fast (or slow) to move. The most important thing, as my current mentor has said, is to keep moving.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A List of 2012 Mantras: We Believe What We Tell Ourselves.

I took a break from reading the latest novel on my MFA project period contract list and found a link to this great list that a friend of mine had posted on FB. I think it's so great and inspiring that I'm making it a part of my 2012 mantras. I also thought I would share it with all of my readers. I hope you find it as affirming as I did.

The HIYLife - We believe what we tell ourselves.: We believe what we tell ourselves. Tell yourself: Everything will work out. Things will get better. You are important. You are worth...

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Prejudice: 1. an adverse judgment or opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge or examination of the facts; a preconceived preference or idea. 2. The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions. 3. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion. 4. Detriment or injury caused to a person by the preconceived, unfavorable conviction of another or others. (Definitions taken from The Free Dictionary)

Most of us are familiar with the blatant forms of prejudice--racism, sexism, etc. Some of us don't realize that we have prejudiced ideas and thoughts until we are confronted with certain situations and circumstances. Almost all of us have some ideas, opinions, and perspectives that are rooted in prejudice based on our own race, socioeconomic class, religion, sex, life experiences and influences. Subtle forms of prejudice can be harder to recognize or even admit. Challenges to our preconceived notions about others who are different from who we are can make us angry, flustered, and defensive. However, almost all of us are capable of changing that if we're willing to look beyond our own lenses. It doesn't mean that we're going to change our own journeys and our own dreams, but we can at least get to a point where we can acknowledge that there is more than one reality. And those realities are neither better or worse than the others. Each one has its value. Each one can co-exist with the other.

Subtle forms of prejudice are sometimes hidden behind "statistics," "facts," "old wives tales" and similar notions. Differences can scare people because they don't know how to control what they don't know. So we put a name on it, blame the person rather than the real cause, and isolate them in "punishment" for their difference, in a misguided attempt to control rather than understand, change, and heal. And god forbid that we ourselves should be different or go against the "culturally accepted norm." We might find ourselves alone and having to think for our own selves, rather than being "an engine that simply adjusts to the driver's choice of gear."

Subtle forms of prejudice exist everywhere in our world society. Some of them have become accepted theories, ways of life, or "just the way things are." Like the belief that an introvert can't possibly be a good leader or a good salesperson, because he/she must be "timid," "afraid of people," "unable to communicate," "unintelligent," and "not willing to be a team player." Or the belief that a sexual assault victim/survivor/conqueror must have placed herself/himself in that situation, "asked for it," was dressed "inappropriately," "should have known better" or "should have expected to fulfill his/her partner's sexual expectations."

There are more forms of subtle prejudice, such as the belief that someone with a skin disorder doesn't have "good personal hygiene habits," when in reality he/she just got the "bad gene card" and may be on many prescription medications that simply either don't work or aren't as effective as promised. My personal favorite is the preconceived notion that people in bad circumstances or who come from bad circumstances are to be ignored, looked down upon, will turn out to be "delinquents," are "harmful to society," "mental," "in need of serious intervention," etc. One thing that growing up with a social worker taught me is that we're all one paycheck or one step away from those "bad circumstances" and that each member of humanity is more alike than different. Each of us has our own unique value, whether we are homeless or royalty. Each of us has our own set of wounds. Some of them are obvious. Some of them are hidden. But each of us has the power and gift of potential transformation. Sometimes we need a little support in getting there, but anything is possible. And no one is untouchable. The person that ends up rescuing you may be the one who was once in need of rescue.

Instead of talking to each other, we assume. Instead of attempting to understand, we either attempt to push people in our own directions or we push them away. We don't want to confront the fact that our nice little outlines of what life should be may, in fact, change when we explore what's beyond the dotted i's and the crossed t's. Because then "right" and "wrong" don't exist, and external validation and exaltation become crutches that no longer stand. We ignore freedom and growth in lieu of fear, resentment, expectation, segmentation, and limitation. We fail to realize that differences are the true path to completeness.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Done Thinking; Out Manifesting

Every great work, every big accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement.-Florence Scovel Shinn

The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.-Vance Havner

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.-Epictetus

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.-John Keats

When a writer is creating a piece, he or she cannot possibly know what’s coming next. The journey of creating anything is analogous to the act of feeling around to see what exists in the dark. You discover bits and pieces of the whole individually and then find the connections later. There is no “yellow brick road” to follow, no sure technique or path that will get you over the last rung. You’ve simply got to trust the voices of your characters, and hope that they’ll lead you to the envisioned destination.

Everything is discovered word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. More importantly, that discovery is hardly “set in stone” or “final.” It is subject to change at any time. The ambiguity in the writing process is analogous to a treasure hunt in a darkened cave with nothing but a small candle flame or flashlight. Who knows what you’ll find and who knows when or how. To further complicate matters, what you think you may see may not be what it first appears to be.

There will be struggles, there will be ambiguity, but there will also be plenty of exhilaration and living if the writer allows himself to let the process lead the writing and the journey. Intuition has a funny way of revealing its mystery at the end of that path, and the only way to get there is to feel each and every scene that it unravels on the way.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Water Under the Bridge

My 15 year old self once stumbled upon a poem with the title "Water Under the Bridge." For some reason my current self can't seem to find it. She's curious to revisit its words, but the search has come up empty. Perhaps she's looking in the wrong place. Perhaps it only exists in the parallel plane of the past. But its meaning and its value have remained intact and I suppose that is what is much more important.

A river or any body of water can separate two sides of reality. It can make it more difficult for humans to switch places, make progress, explore, discover, bridge gaps, and become "something else." The water is impartial because it is omniscient. It reflects and cherishes both worlds. But we humans build these things we call bridges, in order to make it "easier" and more "convenient" to get whatever we want, to open up possibility, to go back and forth between one world and the next as if we could be as carefree as a butterfly and not experience any consequences for our actions. We try to outsmart the water, thinking that if we cover up a portion of its reflection that it will allow us to be blind.

Water cleanses. Water heals. Water knows that you have to let go in order to keep moving. Water sees where you've been, hears every thought and hope, feels everything you've felt, and is well aware of why you chose to cross those safe and trustworthy bridges in the first place. In order to do that you had to turn your back on something. You had to let something go. You had to make a choice. Whatever happened, happened. It is gone. It is "water under the bridge." Making choices for the present based on who you were, where you've been, and whatever occurred in the past is silly and detrimental to your current Self. You are no longer that person. You no longer live there. There is no reason to keep punishing yourself once you realize that the water is the true bridge. And what could have been, what might have been if you had chosen a different one needs to let go, too.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Believing in Yourself

"It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not."-Anonymous

When I was working for a business process outsourcing company, one of the accounts that I contributed to had a supervisor that used to tell me (repeatedly) that it was ok for me to believe in myself. I used to feel guilty at just the thought of being able to believe in my abilities, my potential, my own perspectives, my own journey. I don't need to see a fancy psychologist to know that it stems from being told (in one way or another) that my needs didn't matter and that no matter what I did (or didn't do), it was never good enough. I'd seen and talked to enough of those by the time I was 16 to write a novel. And in the end all they get paid for is to point out what you already know deep inside. You still have to do the work. You still have to change your inner voice.

There was always that stigma that I would turn out to be a "bad, hurtful" person. But the thing is that a child doesn't choose a "bad childhood" or "bad experiences." They just happen. It doesn't make them a bad person. It certainly doesn't mean that they'll grow up and participate in anti-social behavior. Some of the most beautiful people come out of ashes and darkness. And people who have wonderful childhoods can grow up to not be so "beautiful," and commit several "bad" behaviors simply because that's who they choose to be. The real demon that you have to fight is your own inability to believe and value who you are.

Yep, I'm still fighting that demon. I haven't conquered it yet, but I'm trying. Apparently the universe has faith that I can, because it keeps showing up. A former boss who tried to make me feel incompetent and unable to go after what I thought I wanted because in reality she was threatened by my abilities and credentials. A mentor who sees her former self, but wants to project her own experiences and her own capacities onto someone else. It's funny sometimes how we end up trying to sabotage and punish ourselves through other people who either remind us of what we think we're lacking or who we just might be inside. Jealousy, envy, and competitiveness are dark traps that I consciously try to avoid. Sometimes that means ending relationships with people and situations that I otherwise love, enjoy, and truly value in some way. But there's no sense in living a lie of "toxic support."

The thing is I know who I am inside. I know what I'm capable of. I know that I have ability, knowledge, experience, talent, wisdom, insight, determination, and elasticity. And so does everyone else. The difference may be that they grew up in an environment that reinforced these beliefs by the time they were 10. I have to build and re-build my own foundation. So what? At this point I am tired of listening to external opinions about what I may or may not be capable of. Sometimes you have to go through the class twice. And the reality is that each of us are capable of accomplishing anything that we choose. But we have to believe that we can, and then we have to do the work. There's no easy path to graduation-only the inner strength that propels you to keep walking as you say "no matter what anyone thinks, I'm doing this."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

She Decided

She decided that this new world was as corrupt as the one she left
And that she was going to create her own

No more hiding behind safety nets
of academia
and snobbery
that sought to discount the validity
of a simple breath
of just knowing
without analyzation
and justifications
for what makes something "right"
and what makes something "wrong"

No more labels
or bottles of sleeping pills
to calm the uneasiness
the endless mind chatter
the endless seeking
for something that only wants to fly

No more pressure
No more deadlines
No more revisions
until nothing exists but a pile of shredded nothings
No more whys or hows or "this is who you should be"

When all she wanted
was to lay her towel down on the sand
and hear the waves of the ocean
sparkle in the sunlight
and make the words dance
until everything faded
into something more than what it was
into something more than what it could be
without knowing
without articulation
without longing
for something
that was only meant to be