Frankly, my dear

In every season
My sensuality flips sides (of so many)
Forming
Another
Layer.
Lilting
In
Nuances.
Grinding
Interminably
Nearer towards a ringing realization
Louder than ego, against my “will” like
Om.
Voraciously, oh how I grin
Etching your image in phrases
Wearing your smell in graces
Inevitable.
Tough, I realize, to accept
Her allegiance, openness, will to try &
Yet.
Om.
Undeniably auspicious, harmonious along the subjective edge of miracle.

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The What Side of the Bed

I have never been a morning person, but for the most part my resistance to first light is a matter of delicious comfort, pure and simple, that I’d prefer not to disturb. My bed is firm, my body warm, my face cool where I just flipped the pillow. If I am alone, I relish the spaciousness of my queen mattress, and stretch, spread-eagled; my petite frame barely finds the boundary where this dream space ends and The World begins – why acknowledge its existence at all? If I am partnered, the scent that swells from the nape of your neck when you adjust to my rustling…it drives me awake with adoration, and then the core of your heat draws me to you and invites me to slip back into that safe goo of shared semi-consciousness.

Having grown up in the Northeast, I associate early morning with wet curls that crystallize and snap while waiting for the bus; a father’s gentle insistence that we help shovel last night’s snow; braving frozen campus bridges and the winding of winter sirens pummeling us with micro daggers of ice, all so that we could graduate and “get the fuck out of here”…

Now in the relative comfort of Northern California, having been a singleton lately, and on a regular schedule for over two years, I’ve found myself suddenly more adept at Being a Morning Person than ever before. I wake up quite precisely an hour before my alarm, and wallow around in the In-Between while I snooze until absolutely necessary, but rarely with dread or discomfort. Sliding the scale between sleep and waking life is a rush all it’s own. I am on my own. I am my own. The day does not threaten, and indeed even feels promising. When you are creating a world you love, the temptation to deny it is so obviously folly, and you laugh at your Old Ways.

Then I woke up angry. More than once. I almost wish I could say it was a blatent feeling – a seething, violent rage that chews at my ribs and spine, so that I snap at every person I see and argue with everyone, including myself, in my head. A physical tension that I allow to manifest by lashing out at others, some abuse in my glare or my words, a whipping unwillingness to see anything but the blinding red hotness of my fury. This classic expression I could at least pinpoint, and likely even handle well; its irrationality and negative influence on others would allow me to detach from it rather quickly.

But this Anger is not dramatic. I used to have the temper of a succubi, a teenage passion for screams and righteous vengeance that left my eyes bloodshot and ashamed, my throat ravaged to the point of disfunction. I hurled defenses and accusations at my parents, crying a mantra of victimization and bitter injustice until I collapsed in exhaustion, barricaded from my foes and my problems by a chair propped against my bedroom door. A letter, a hug, a mature, loving conversation was the calm after the storm, and the catharsis of my physical rage left me well-rested and open to renewal. But just thinking about how draining and painful it was makes me praisefully grateful that I don’t tend to have that kind of conflict any more, and that my wonderful parents are some of the realest people I have been blessed to love as family.

This anger is different – wiser, maybe, certainly more complex, and very very crafty. It has to be, to get to me – I make a conscious effort to observe myself in Ego, to see where I become reactionary and defensive, to measure out Grace and Patience as an antidote when I occasionally feel a rush of heat swell dangerously close to expression. Not that all anger should remain unexpressed – standing up for one’s Self, or against injustice, oppression and abuse, may have its place, with a strength born of passion – but I now aim to sit with and transform my anger, rather than hurling it at the supposed cause, or attempting to remove it from myself completely, like a surgeon cutting away at symptomatic rot.

The calm steadiness of this rage is almost sinister, and it frightens me, but I acknowledge that its paradoxical tranquility allows me to observe it in new ways. I ask, “Where do I feel you, Anger?” I sit up in bed and the space from my belly button to the top of my throat seems to lead my movement, as if to say “Come on, what are you waiting for? I’ve been ready for hours.” It is tepid, not boiling, and asking for more anger-enjoyattention, more fire, more focus. My movements are a little faster than usual, my grip on my toothbrush a little tighter. I stop and breathe deeply, allowing myself to witness my face in the mirror and make a silent promise: “This feeling will not define your life. It might not even define your day.” I deadpan back, a vague defiance.

Again, on my lunch break, I tune in to where this turmoil is rooted, giving it the attention for which it clamors. My monkey brain immediately starts listing through the words spoken, the feelings dismissed, the seemingly obvious faults of The Other. Someone or something to blame. The ache of this anger is almost sensual, in that the longing for its release seems to ripple over my skin, anticipating action towards closure. Goddamnit, there it is! The rage forgets about The Other and turns on my Self, on us, working in tandem towards the laughable goal of Peace, although right now that seems a long way off. It tries to convince me of what’s wrong with me, that I’ve done this on purpose, and that I even enjoy it. I deserve it! Bitch.

Oh, I see now. At whom, now, is my anger directed?

“When our anger is placed under the lamp of mindfulness, it immediately begins to lose some of its destructive nature. We can say to ourselves, ‘Breathing in, I know that anger is in me. Breathing out, I know that I am my anger.’ If we follow our breathing closely while we identify and mindfully observe our anger, it can no longer monopolize our consciousness. Awareness can be called upon to be a companion for our anger. Our awareness of our anger does not suppress it or drive it out. It just looks after it. This is a very important principle. Mindfulness is not a judge. It is more like an older sister looking after and comforting her younger sister in an affectionate and caring way…”

[Ok, got it, but WHAT IF MY ANGER FEELS CONSTANT?!?]

“…When we are angry, our anger is our very self. To suppress or chase it away is to suppress or chase away our self. When we are joyful, we are the joy. When we are angry, we are the anger. When anger is born in us, we can be aware that anger is an energy in us, and we can accept that energy in order to transform it into another kind of energy. When we have a compost bin filled with organic material which is decomposing and smelly, we know that we can transform the waste into beautiful flowers. At first, we may see the compost and the flowers as opposite, but when we look deeply, we see that the flowers already exist in the compost, and the compost already exists in the flowers. It only takes a couple of weeks for a flower to decompose. When a good organic gardener looks into her compost, she can see that, and she does not feel sad or disgusted. Instead, she values the rotting material and does not discriminate against it. It only takes a few months for compost to give birth to flowers. We need the insight of non-dual vision of the organic gardener with regard to our anger. We need not be afraid of it or reject it. […] Gradually we can transform anger into peace, love and understanding.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh on Anger, from “Peace is Every Step”

This ache in my belly, I know it teaches me patience – with myself, with them, with you. This fire in my throat, I know it teaches me restraint – how sweet and cool compassion feels, knowing that I did not retaliate out of spite. My fluttering chest, full of caged doubts and grudges, teaches me non-attachment – I can let each hurtful word go, let each mistake be a lesson, allow myself freedom from suffering.

I will go on breathing while my Anger seethes, coughs, kicks or screams – whatever it must do for me to hear it, see it, understand it. Much like a teenage girl, infuriated in the Overwhelm of life. And while it IS me, Anger is not all of me, and I have the capability to choose not to mimic its forceful patterns (not that it’s always easy to make that choice). It is safe here, watched over, inside of me. Tomorrow will always be a new day, and one of these mornings I will wake up feeling lighter. “Go on without me,” my Anger might suggest, “I’m not feeling myself today…” And it will hand me a single bloom, petals arranged in fractal grace atop a strong, thorny stem.

 

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Sure Lines

Both walking along the beach, minding our own paths, stopping to examine the various stones and shells that our toes dosey doe’d with when whirls of saltwater nudged them over cooling sand. We occasionally crossed paths, and often complimented one another’s finds, exchanging cautious glances through the wind and spray, through sun and fog. Always laughing.

The laughter remained, and the brief gazes rested a little longer, until they became soft murmurs. Like in the twisted dome shells we sometimes found together, there was an echo between us, a hushed pulse that sang to itself.

After days of ankling through the shallows, we waded into the water, anticipating goose bumps whatever the temperature. Suddenly no longer bound to our footprints in the sand, we rode one perfect wave after another, rolling through each one until we found ourselves on the other side of a powerful crest, in a relative calm. We took it in, holding each other there in the deep, unsure of what to do next. Letting ourselves drift through sunbeams and bobbing tangles of seaweed, I held you close and laughed off the slime. You kissed my hand and let go, submerging yourself. I followed suit, and, head under, I felt myself swerve and twist through the rush of green and blue light that cradled and pushed me from all sides. I let my ears hear the roar of one world and the peace of another’s absence.

Popping back up with a grin, I saw you were suddenly across a distance, closer to the shore. You waved, but you were no longer laughing. I started back towards you, when a current suddenly drew me sideways. It was stronger than I expected, and I heard a murky shout. When I came back up I had to spin around to find you again. You had turned away from me, and were practically to shore. I could not see your face. I would have to ride the wide way back.

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I cannot share its name.

I have a secret in my pocket but I cannot share its name.
It’d be the breast pocket but I prefer v-necks and denim, so right buttcheek it is.
But yes…it’d be right over the breast, over the chest, over the rest. My heart.
The smooth weight of this secret. A grooved fate.
I feel it there when I’m staring out at water that is far too vast and deep and patient for my small body and fledgling mind to comprehend.

Please, secret, remind me to breathe towards a non-culmination and be okay with that lack of finality.
Sweet secret, gentle nudges towards blissful acceptance will help me, help me more than the hard-bodied self-catapulting tactics of my alternatingly eager and meager drive to Know. For sure. The resulting bruises of Impossible seep darkly, in rusted blueberry, and fade quickly. And despite enjoying the cool recession to calmer waters, I slam myself, over and over, against that cliff face, wishing I were a fish that flew. How terrifyingly free it would be to skip across the wave peaks, circumnavigating the fleshier folds and crevices with Lightness.

My secret recognizes this compulsion.
When I was littler I had a fever that raged in my pupils and palms.
The fans placed around me beat at the air in a pulsing rhythm that harkened not to the rooty campfire of those first primal congregations, but a detached and ominous algorithm, stoic and not at all concerned with my fitful quaking.
I was a grain of prehistoric dust, enmeshed in the seemingly dead lattice of a glacier.
Ice and silence pounded at my field of vision and I feared that I would become the static of the radio, the blue blipping buzz of the TV. Succumb to the siren of Time, jailed in Forever.

My solace was my own pulse, an assurance that Life, and Breath, were the only real measures. The façade of looming Nothingness melted away, creaking under the weight of my sudden confidence. “Ground thyself!”, Ancient I told Child Me, and where friends saw only morbid mystery, I became fascinated with my blood, my tissue, my heart.

There, now, I keep this secret. I cannot share its name, but it soothes. As honey drizzles on a homemade loaf, kneaded lovingly by hands with cracked cuticles.
I cannot share its name, but it sparks a thread of molten awareness. As brightness glimmers in stones made wetter.
I cannot share its name, as your chin settles into my clavicle, the mortar and pestle of some divine molecular design.

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Get down.

Last night I got real down on myself. Real down. Not so much on my Self, at least not at first, but on my body, which was suddenly, yet again, alien to me. I recall gazing at, prodding, examining my body as a young child, and while it was quite mysterious then, it was not so much alien as animal. I was in awe of the biological wonder that made up a human being, and in recognizing my own anatomy – a working muscle under this calf, peach fuzz on my forearm, delicate veins under my eyelid – I realized my own Humanity, and for the first time received a sense of being both special and Special. I am a human. We are many, I am one. “What fun!” I thought. “What will I grow into? What kind of women will I look like?” I asked, perhaps too eagerly. Even then, unaware of the weight and meaning of the words, I knew that it was valuable to be beautiful, sexy, pretty… and I wanted those adjectives mightily without even knowing why.

I have grown since then, and yet gazing into a full-length mirror is still a mystery. This time it was this space between my breasts (breasts I only started wholeheartedly loving within the last year) and my rather ample hips and thighs (still working on those) – this space where a flat stomach could, would, should (?) be. What is this torso, and to whom does it belong? Me? Really? How did I become this way? Is this okay? I saw laziness. And sadness, and boredom. Heartache, failure, fear, stress, apathy, and, best of all, insecurity. I really just love that one.

Objectively, I could say I saw fat, but if it were that simple I wouldn’t be writing this. For one, I don’t want to say that one body type is better than another and there is SO MUCH INTENSELY COMBATIVE discussion of fat and fat-shaming and thin-shaming and disorder and pride that I am even tentative to write this at all. But I will, because looking in the mirror is a subjective experience for every single one of us, and shame and pride and love and loathing come in all sizes and shapes and moles and hairs and scars.

I acknowledged that I’m probably sucking in at least 30% of the time, maybe 80%, I have no idea. Sometimes it’s conscious and sometimes it’s not. I also have no idea why I do it (aside from mass media capitalist hegemonic patriarchal antiquated ancestral traumatic spiritually disconnected material culture). Body dysmorphia – often described as a preoccupation or obsession with a minor or imagined flaw, often to the point of disordered behavior- is not easily understood because it varies so greatly in its manifestation from person to person. But I would go as far as to say that everyone experiences some level of misperception of self (side note: we are all divinely beautiful and powerful creatures). Of course, some of us come to a point of ill health and chronic suffering, while others may fleetingly wallow in loathing for just a day or two – but we have all had the experiences of self-doubt, illusion, and fear, particularly around our body-image and notions of attractiveness and worth. I once offended a group of friends, some of whom had suffered through anorexia and bulimia, by suggesting that if I’d ever had body dysmorphia, it was in reverse, or somehow scrambled. I would look in the mirror and see someone beautiful, only to see a photo, later, of the same night and feel horrified at the denial I had allowed myself concerning my fitness and appearance. Insecurity transcends time and place because it isn’t really about this or that body part or awkward phase so much as a deep internal conflict about who we are.

Me, as a child...

Me, as a child…

...Not giving a fuck.

…Not giving a fuck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want familiarity with my body again – I long for the confidence and awareness that came with regular yoga practice, the smoothness and precision that came with being a dancer for most of my life. I catch a glimpse of my hands, my knees, and yes, my fat, and I think “Where did that scar come from? Are these the pizza dough arms Grandma is always talking about? Ouch, I should have stretched before doing a victory split at the bowling alley, white Russian cocktail sloshing onto the waxed floor while I lie here, hamstrung out.”

Me, as a teenager, very much giving a fuck.

Me, as a teenager, very much giving a fuck.

While this familiar scene of “Ugh” was playing out in front of my mirror, my actual Voice spoke up, from somewhere between my spine and heart and skin and brain and vagina, all like “Girl, why you doin’ this again?”

I didn’t have an answer for her, er, Me, at that moment, but the question itself may have been enough. This Process, the self-critique/shame/grossout-leading-to-hopefully-a-new-burst-of-inspiration-and-motivation thing, is not new. It happens here and there- usually when I’m a little heartbroken (I am), a little unsure of my direction (I am), a little disappointed in my seeming inability to get up just 20 minutes early to do yoga (I am), and when all my finances and hygiene and immediate food supply are in order (they are). The triple combo of Vulnerability, Awareness and Stability force me to hone in on what, if anything, is keeping me from Happiness. So, Girl, I am doing it again, but it’s not about the fat, or all the clothes I just bought with my tax refund to look hot, or the fact that a guy I really loved is probably eating something greasy and delicious with his very beautiful, thin, new girlfriend. These are symptoms.

The disease is, I think, Fear. As usual. Fear that I won’t be beautiful enough for the next partner. Fear that there won’t be a next partner. Fear that if I REALLY went after my dreams it would mean a whole lot more responsibility, and power, than I’ve ever had. Fear that if I really ate healthily and exercised every week for me, and not for x-y-him, I’d have to stick with it, day after day, and that’s hard. Fear that I quit things when they’re hard. Fear that if I don’t make this decision now it will affect me for the rest of my life. Fear of the rest of my life. Fear that the person I keep claiming I am, or claiming I will be, is in fact right here, and always has been, and will be for the rest of my life, and it’s MY FAULT that I don’t feel connected to her, that I shy away from her, intimidated by her immense potential, unexplainable wisdom and seemingly effortless awareness and confidence. I am afraid of myself, and I’m sorry.

Once I manage to forgive myself (I do), and acknowledge that this wave of despair will pass (it has), the obvious remedy is Love. But I don’t mean love in just the sense of self-acceptance and compassion – both of which are extremely important, valid and needed, as well. I mean love in the celebratory sense – to revel in one’s own existence and honor it by the perpetuation of a thriving life. To get up and stretch, or skip that cocktail, or go for a run (or even just a walk) because you love You so much that you want to ensure a long, healthy life in which you can learn constantly, share your abundance with others, contribute to other’s happiness, and find contentment in your own.

Okay, well…I took notes this time, so I think I’ve got it. Thanks, Jessalyn. I’m gonna hold you to it.

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If you love something…

I love writing. It is by far the activity in which I feel the most relaxed… yet stimulated. Playful, yet serious. I speak, think, and feel – (perhaps I should reconsider that order) -through the written word with both confident comfort and consuming wonderment.

Still, sometimes, life rushes in on itself and becomes dream-like in its vibrancy and contrast, and I am just too damn busy having a Now to write about it.

So I let it go. I miss it the entire time, and when I return, I come meekly. If the craft were a professor in zes office, I’d be knocking the (always open) door lightly, with just a third of my side body inched into the entrance. Tilting my head in so as not to seem too bold, I’d ask “May I come in?”

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(k)NO(w)SE in a Book

Jessalyn:

Great piece on the power of narrative in cultivating community and Self, by my good sister friend.

Originally posted on Relatively Raro:

You’re sitting in your house, the freezing rain pounding on the windows as you sit in your pajamas even though its 1pm. Your cat looks at you as if she’s asking you what you’re doing there, this is her spot during the day when everyone is at work, and shouldn’t you be out somewhere, doing adult-human things? But it’s your vacation, and you’re at home, and you have spent the last few days only emerging out of your comfy space late in the day, because otherwise you have your nose in a book and you can’t get out of it. The story is currently your overwhelming reality. You’re thinking about it and dreaming about it and no matter where you go, you can’t stop thinking about the family that is split apart and at war, or the lost soul being tortured in an Indian prison, or the young girl trying…

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